Religious Studies - Marriage and the Family

The Marriage and the Family topic of the Religious Studies course. With reference to the Folens, edexcel Religious Studies textbook.

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Keywords 1

Adultery: a sexual act between a married person and someone other than their marriage partner.

Civil Partnership: a legal ceremony giving a homosexual couple the same legal rights as a husband and wife.

Cohabitation: living together without being married.

Contraception: Intentionally preventing pregnancy from occuring.

Faithfulness: staying with your marriage partner and having sex only with them.

Homosexuality: sexual attraction to the same sex.

Nuclear Family: mother, father and children living as a unit.

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Keywords 2

Pre-marital Sex: sex before marriage.

Procreation: making a new life (Having a baby)

Promiscuity: having sex with a number of partners without commitment.

Re-constituted Family: where two sets of children (stepbrothers and stepsisters) become one family when their divorced parents marry each other.

Re-marriage: marrying again after being divorced from a previous marriage.

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Changing Attitudes

Marriage: Marriage is much less popular than it used to be several years ago. Most modern couples are opting for cohabitation instead. Some will choose to marry later. Also the age at which people are marrying is rising because now premarital sex and cohabitation are more accepted in society.

Divorce: More than one in three marriages nowadays end in divorce. An average marriage lasts eleven years now. Attitudes to divorce have also changed so that it is much more acceptable to enter into a divorce.

Family Life: The increase in divorced and cohabiting couples means that family life has changed. In the past a nuclear family was common but now many children live just with their mother, with fewer children living with their fathers. The availability of IVF has allowed many women or homosexual couples to have children.

Homosexuality: In 1967 homosexuality was still a criminal offence. In 2005 civil partnerships were legally recognised. It is also not uncommon for a homosexual couple to raise a child now.

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Is sex outside of marriage acceptable for Muslims?

Muslim Views: Sex outside of marriage is totally unacceptable in Islam, they believe that sex belongs in the marriage and nowhere else. They believe that Allah gave people sex in order to procreate, children should only be born within a marriage. Sex outside of marriage either pre-marital or adultery has severe penalties according to Shari'ah law. They are also forbidden from cohabiting as it is immoral and sinful.

Some useful quotes:

Nor come nigh to adultery for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils) (Qur'an 17:32)

The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication (immorality), flog each of them with a hundred stripes. (Qur'an 24:2)

When a husband and wife share intimacy it is rewarded and a blessing from Allah; just as they would be punished if they had engaged in illicit sex.

A grievously heinous sin in the estimation of Allah is to commit adultery with a woman living in one's neighborhood.

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Is sex outside of marriage acceptable for Christia

Christian views vary, but all agree that sex should only be part of a loving and meaningful relationship. All Christians are very against the ideas of adultery and promiscuity.

Roman Catholics: Roman Catholics believe that marriage is a sacrament and belongs only within a marriage. The Catholic Catechism states 'Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children.'

Other Christian Responses: Many evangelical churches do not accept sex outside of marriage as they think that the commandment 'Do not commit adultery' refers to all sex outside of marriage. However many more liberal churches think that sex outside of marriage if fine as long as it is part of a stable and loving relationship.

Church of England: The Church of England believe that marriage is the correct place for sex and the best place for children. But they do accept the changing nature of relationships. They also regret the number of couples cohabiting.

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The Muslim attitude to divorce.

Islam accepts that some marriages will not work. If the couple and their families have all tried to resolve that problems then divorce is accepted as a last resort solution. In Britain Muslims require a legal divorce from a court as well as an Islamic divorce.

How does a Muslim Divorce Work?

1. The parents and extended family of the couple attempt to help the couple to resolve their differences and any conflicts.

2. There is a three-month waiting period. The couple live together in the same house but do not sleep together. Three times during this time the husband announces in front of witnesses 'I divorce you'

3. At the end of three months, if the wife is not pregnant, and reconciliation attempts have failed, the marriage is over. No blame is attached to either party. Both people are allowed to marry again and this is often encouraged.

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The Christian attitude to divorce.

The Church of England: The Church of England believes that marriage is a lifelong commitment, however they accept that sometimes if the marriage is completely broken down divorce may be the best option for everyone involved. The Church itself takes not part in the divorce (it is done in court). They accept divorce because Jesus allowed it for adultery and also because Jesus taught that love was the most important thing.

The Roman Catholic View: Roman Catholics believe that marriage is a sacrament, a promise made in front of God. Therefore they do not agree with divorce. They accept that sometimes if a marriage breaks down it may be better for the couple to live apart but it is never acceptable to divorce. Only death ends marriage.

Useful Quotes:

I tell you, then, that any man who divorces his wife for any cause other than her unfaithfulness, commits adultery if he marries some other woman. (Matthew 19:9)

A man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against his wife. (Mark 10:11-12)

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