Roles of Men and Women

Roles of Men and Women

Traditional View

Genesis 3: A woman’s role is to have children. Her desire will be for her husband and ‘he will rule over you’. A man’s role is to work to provide for his family.              

Against female priests - During Communion, the priest physically represents Jesus. Jesus was a man, so it’s not appropriate that a woman performs this role.

Liberal View

Galatians 3: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ.’

For female priests - The Bible shows educated women in leadership roles in the early church. It’s not about gender, it’s whether you’ve got the skills.

The Catholic church has never allowed women to be priests. Other Protestant churches take a more liberal view.

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Marriage and Civil Partnerships

Men and women are joined by God when they marry. They become ‘One Flesh’.

Exodus 20: ‘Do not commit adultery’.

A Civil Partnership is a legally-recognised relationship between two people of the same sex. It has no religious content.

Many Christians have no objection because society has changed since the Bible was written. Many of the Biblical objections to same-sex relationships were based on the idea that it was unnatural.

Homosexuality is a perfectly natural state to many people. God loves everyone equally. It is unfair to ban same-sex couples – God loves them too! 

On the other hand, other Christians object because in Genesis God creates Eve to be with Adam. This clearly shows that God’s created order is male / female not same sex. Natural Law – the purpose of bringing 2 people together in marriage is the chance of having children. Same sex couples cannot reproduce so it is against natural law.

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Divorce and Remarriage

Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage leaving both partners free to marry again.

Catholics do not agree with divorce as they believe that marriage is a Sacrament (something made by God that cannot be un-made). 

Remarriage in Church: Catholics will allow remarriage in church if their previous marriage has been annulled.

An annulment is a declaration from the church that your previous marriage never counted because it was flawed.

Protestants do not encourage divorce but will allow it under the right circumstances. They see marriage as a Covenant (a legal agreement between two people. It is possible to break a covenant if either party fails to live up to their promises).

Remarriage in Church: Catholics think that divorce shouldn’t prevent anyone from remarrying. Most Protestant churches agree with this point.

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Sexual Relationships

All Christian denominations teach that the only proper context for sex is within marriage. None of them teach that it is acceptable.

Many churches don’t agree with this - it is not what God had in mind for couples and is seen to lack the commitment of a marriage bond. 

Catholic - completely against co-habitation

Protestant churches are against it in principle but may accept co-habiting couples

Exodus 20 – Sex Stays Inside Your Marriage ‘Do not commit adultery’

The Catholic church follows Natural Law and teaches that the purpose of sex is reproduction. This means that they disagree with artificial methods of contraception designed to prevent pregnancy. They will, however, allow Natural Family Planning methods (e.g. Withdrawal Method) 

Protestant churches accept all methods of contraception.

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Abortion and Sanctity of Life

Abortion is the deliberate artificial termination of a pregnancy that results in the death of the foetus.

Voluntary abortion is performed for social reasons (there are no health issues). Catholics do not accept it.

Abortion for medical reasons is performed to save the mother’s life. There is no time limit on this type of abortion. 

Pro-Life arguments (Catholic) consider the life of the foetus to be as important as the life of the mother. They are against abortion. Abortion is murder and against the Sanctity of Life.

Pro-Choice arguments (protestant) emphasise the woman’s right to choose. They don’t encourage abortion but argue that women should have the option. An abortion is never a ‘good’ thing to do but sometimes it may be the most loving (agape) to do in the situation

1. Life is a gift from God. It should be respected and protected.

2. Humans are made in God’s image – we should treat human life as particularly special. They all accept abortion for medical reasons.

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Euthanasia and Suicide

Voluntary Euthanasia is when the patient asks for medical help to end their life. 

Involuntary Euthanasia is when a doctor makes a decision to end a patient’s life without consulting them, even though they could give an opinion. This is  seen as murder in most cases. 

Non-Voluntary Euthanasia is when a doctor makes a decision to end a patient’s life when they are not able to consent (e.g. in a coma).  

Passive – when you stop artificially keeping someone alive and allow them to die.

Active – when you deliberately do something to kill the patient. It is seen as murder and is against the Sanctity of Life. 

Most Christian denominations have no objection to passive euthanasia. Sometimes, keeping a patient alive artificially is inappropriate. Allowing someone to die is not the same as killing them . 

These days, churches realise that suicide is the last resort of people that are desperate. The churches feel that counselling and support are important, not judgement.

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Fertility Treatment and Cloning

Some Christians feel that fertility treatment goes against God’s plan for their lives.  
Other Christians will agree with fertility treatment as it brings life. All life comes from God and anything that brings life must be good. 
The Catholic church teaches that ‘life is God’s gift and we do not have the right to a child’. 

Protestant churches have no specific teaching on fertility treatment but they do disagree with embryo research after 14 days. 

IVF: Eggs are fertilised outside the womb and the resulting embryo(s) are implanted later. Catholics disagree with the creation of surplus embryos as they feel that life begins at conception so destroying these embryos is murder.

Artificial Insemination: Sperm is collected and inserted into the uterus where fertilisation should occur normally. Generally it is considered fine as it is the most natural of all the methods. However, Catholics feel that using donor sperm can be considered to be adultery.

Genetic Engineering is ‘altering something’s DNA for a specific purpose’. Cloning is ‘creating a genetically identical animal or plant from another’

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Animals in Medical Research

Animal testing is any scientific procedure that uses animals as a live test subject. The animals are destroyed afterward and examined to see whether the procedure has been successful. Xenotransplant – taking genetically modified organs from animals for transplant into humans.

FOR: It has saved millions of lives – both animal and human.
AGAINST: Animals have just as much right to live as us.

The animals used should not suffer needlessly and should be cared for properly. The research is actually necessary. Most Christians are less happy with cosmetic testing as it can be argued that much of it is unnecessary and is motivated by money.

Humans are in charge – we are given the authority to rule by God (Dominionship).
Genesis 1: 28 'Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature…’ 
We should use this authority wisely - we have a responsibility to look after the world for God and for the next generation (Stewardship). 
Genesis 2: 15 ‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it…’

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Key Christian Teachings

Catholic ethics are ‘Absolutist’ – the rules apply in every situation because God decided what they were at the beginning. There is a definite ‘yes / no’ answer.  

Protestant ethics are ‘Relative’ – every situation is different so you cannot write rules that apply to all of them.

Situation Ethics – the right thing to do in every situation is the most loving (agape) thing. It may an extremely difficult thing to do.

‘Agape’ – The most loving thing to do. The Bible asks people to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’
The ‘Golden Rule’ - Jesus says we should ‘treat people the way we would like to be treated...’
The ‘Sanctity of Life’ - All life is a gift from God and should be respected. Human life is particularly special.
The ‘Image of God’ - All humans are made in God’s image. We are all equal and should be loved equally.

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Just War and Pacifism

Just War: Christians are basically pacifist but occasionally they will agree that there may be no other alternative but to fight.

Reason to fight - To protect the innocent or in selfdefence. The war must be the last resort and must be legal.  

Way of fighting the war - Not targeting civilians or using WMDs. Limits should be put on the use of force and lives should not be wasted needlessly. The war should have a clear aim and stop when it has been achieved.

Restoring justice after the fighting has stopped - punishing war criminals. The ‘good’ gained by winning the war must outweigh the ‘evil’ of fighting it.

Holy War: fought in defence of a religion. No Christian church teaches that Holy War is acceptable today (Crusades are an example of fighting).

War is a ‘moral evil’. Conscientious Objectors – many Quakers faced prison for refusing to fight.

'for all who draw the sword will die by the sword’ (Matthew 26)

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Crime and Punishment

Deterrence - The punishment is designed to put people off doing the crime.

Protection - The punishment is designed to protect the society/ offender from harm.

Retribution - Society and the victims of crime can see that the guilty have been properly dealt with.

Reformation - The punishment is designed to give the offender a chance to change their ways.

Some Christians believe that Capital Punishment (the death penalty) is acceptable in certain situations. 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth' - Exodus 21: 23 – 25

Other Christians believe that it is wrong because of their view of the Sanctity Of Life - the criminal should be offered the opportunity to reform and be forgiven. ‘If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her’. - John 8: 7

The 3 main types of punishment were execution, banishment or fines.

 Elizabeth Fry was a Quaker who spoke out for the need for prisoners to be given basic human rights. She worked to improve conditions for women.

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Social Justice

Justice: Fair treatment for everyone.

Social injustice examples - sexism/ ageism/ poverty/ racism/ poor welfare

Liberation Theology - based on the idea that everyone is equal. God is seen as a Liberator, setting the people free from injustice. Christians will give practical help and actively stand up against injustice.

Mother Teresa set up an order of nuns to work with the poorest sections of society in India.  

Martin Luther King organised a successful boycott of the bus company. He only did peaceful protests. MLK’s movement won equal civil and voting rights from the US government for black people.

Oscar Romero formed a powerful popular movement to stand up to the corrupt government in El Salvador. He felt that by not standing up for the poor, he was encouraging the government to keep exploiting them. He was killed for his beliefs but his death united Christians in the cause.

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Principle of Equality

Equality is a key ethical concept. It guides Christians in their dealings with people. Matthew 22:39  ‘Love your neighbour as yourself...’

1. We are all born free & equal. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way. 

2. Don’t discriminate. These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.

Agape - John 13:34 ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.'

Golden Rule - Matthew 7:12 ‘In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.'

Principle of Equality - Galatians 3:28 ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.'

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Race, Gender and Religion

Everyone is born equal.

The Modern (Liberal) View - Modern Christians point to Biblical passages that show real equality between the sexes. Jesus had a very positive attitude to women and had many female disciples.

The UN Declaration of Human Rights states that all humans have freedom of belief. Christianity agrees with this entirely. However, Christianity is a proselytising religion – asking people to join. This could run the risk of sounding intolerant or disrespectful of other faiths but modern churches actively try to respect and work with other faiths for the benefit of all people

Exclusivism - Believing that there is only one way to experience a relationship with God and that this is through Jesus. 

Ecumenism – Churches working together. The Christian faith is broken up into many different churches. Over the years, these churches have argued and even fought against each other.

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Forgiveness and Reconciliation

All Christians - Believe in the need for forgiveness. The central Christian act of worship, the Eucharist, celebrates God’s forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with people.

Catholics - Believe in the Sacrament of Reconciliation/ Confession. The confession is made to a Priest who grants absolution. Based on Jesus’ teaching, the disciples were given authority to forgive in God’s name.

Protestants - Agree that we need to repent and be forgiven but feel that confession should be made to God not the priest. We can ask God directly for forgiveness and know that He forgives us because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Repentance - Asking for forgiveness and resolving to change your ways.

Forgiveness - Pardoning someone for something they have done wrong. 

Reconciliation - Rebuilding a relationship between people who have been in dispute or enemies. Comes after forgiving each other.

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The Nature Of God

Christians are monotheist (they only believe in one God however, they understand that God as a trinity - One God In Three Persons).

The Father - God transcendent. All powerful. Creator. 

The Son - God incarnated as Jesus. Immanent and personal 

The Holy Spirit - God immanent. 

  • Analogy – we describe God using words that remind us of similar qualities
  • Myth – using a story to describe the truth (like the moral of a story)
  • Symbol – not descriptive at all but pointing us towards a deeper truth

All - powerful (Omnipotent)/ knowing (Omniscient)/ loving (Omni-benevolent) and everywhere (Omnipresent)

Anthropomorphism - God being male or female. God is a spiritual, not physical being – your sex is physical.  He's referred to as ‘Father’ and there are aspects of God’s nature that are masculine: strength, power. There are some aspects of God’s nature that are feminine: love, nurture.

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Reasons for a Belief in God

  • Cosmological Argument - Everything that exists has been caused by something. The universe exists, so it must have a cause that existed before the universe. We call this First Cause ‘God’. Thomas Aquinas argued this.
  • Time and space began with the Big Bang. The cause of the Big Bang must therefore be outside time and space.
  • Teleological Argument argued by William Paley. The universe is just too perfect to be an accident. It seems to follow a pattern. The pattern is logical so it must come from a someone’s mind (God). A problem with this is that Charles Darwin wrote that life evolves through ‘Natural Selection’. It is chance and environment, not design. 
  • Ontological Argument is the idea that if God is the best thing it is possible to think of, it is logical to assume that He exists.
  • Theist – someone who has looked at the arguments  and accepts the existence of God
    Agnostic - someone who is not convinced by the arguments for God’s existence but has not ruled out the possibility. 
  • Atheist - someone who has completely ruled out the possibility of the existence of God.
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Jesus’ miracles are called ‘signs’. These signs point to Jesus’ true identity as the Messiah – the leader that would lead people back into a good relationship with God.

Maurice Wiles - God only does one miracle (keeping the universe going). If God is going to be loving to everyone then He wouldn’t do a miracle for one person and not help another.

David Hume - Miracles are practically impossible because they break the laws of nature. You can’t test them or repeat the experiment to see if they were true so they probably don’t exist.

R F Holland - There is nothing miraculous about miracles. They are just extremely unlikely co-incidences.

Thomas Aquinas - Miracles are God’s good action in the world. They fall into 3 types: God could break the laws of nature. God might act within the laws of nature but in an unexpected way. He might act within the laws of nature – just much quicker than we thought.

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Public Worship

A ‘Religious Experience’ might not have anything to do with a religion. Beyond your everyday understanding.  Worship is a form of religious expression in which people experience their relationship with God.

  • Eucharistic Worship - the service focuses on Holy Communion.
  • Service of the Word - no communion.

Orthodox/Catholic worship tends to use a liturgy; other Christians might not.

Charismatic Worship - Extremely lively, up-beat worship with a great deal of participation from the congregation and music. 
Quaker Worship - Quiet, reflective worship. Quaker meetings are held in silence, waiting on God. 

  • Orthodox/Catholic - believe in ‘transubstantiation’ (Christ’s presence in the bread & wine transforms its substance)
  • Anglican - believe in ‘consubstantiation’ (Christ has a ‘real presence’ in the bread and wine, but they don’t change)
  • Other Protestants – it is a symbol
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Private and Personal Worship

Private Worship - Reading the Bible/ Prayer/ Meditation

Informal worship is based around small groups of Christians worshipping together outside of church.

Adoration - worshiping God for who He is

Confession - saying sorry and asking God for forgiveness 

Thanksgiving - praising God for what He has done  

Supplication - asking God to help, either for yourself or other people

Fasting - a common form of worship in many different faiths. When a believer fasts they give up food for a while in order to concentrate on their relationship with God. Christians traditionally fast during Lent.

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The Church as a Symbol

Traditional Catholic churches are highly decorated (statues). They are arranged to reflect their focus on the altar and the eucharist.

Protestant churches are arranged to reflect their focus on the word of God, with the pulpit and lectern taking more prominent positions. 

Idol - A statue of a god that is worshipped they act as symbols to help the believer focus on the concept or quality they represent. Icons and statues of various Saints are not intended to be worshipped. 

Traditionally, churches were built in the shape of a cross, with the ‘head’ of the cross facing east towards Jerusalem.

The Altar - Where people come to receive the Eucharist. Symbolises Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

Pews/Chairs  – people sit together to worship. Symbolises equality of believers.

The Lectern - A stand for the Bible. Symbolises the importance of the Bible in explaining the word of God.

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Symbols in Worship

Symbols communicate ideas without words. Christian worship is full of symbols that express people’s beliefs. Seen in the use of music/ art/ food.

Christians regularly use food especially during the Eucharist. During the service, Christians will be given bread and wine to symbolise Jesus body and blood. It is a sacrament - a way of coming closer to Jesus and receiving God’s grace. Symbolises equality as everyone shares.

Communal Praise - Fairly upbeat music. Very expressive and based on people celebrating their relationship with God as a group, for example hymns or choruses.
Music For Reflection - Generally more low-key. It allows people to focus their thoughts on more personal matters.
Music For Specific Occasions

A Dove - symbol of peace and hope.

Alpha and omega - represents Jesus as the beginning and the end of all things.

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The Problem of Evil

Evil is basically anything that results in suffering.

  • Natural Evil – when suffering is caused by a natural disaster (e.g. earthquake, tsunami)
  • Moral Evil – when someone’s decision leads to suffering, even if it was an accident.

The story of Adam & Eve is a symbol of humanity’s selfishness. God creates a world that is perfect and gives humans a choice about how to act. Adam & Eve use that freewill to disobey God.

Many people see the Devil as a representation of humanity’s tendency to do what is selfish or easy rather than what is difficult or good.

Augustine (Freewill Argument) - God has given us freewill. If God is all-loving He has to let us make our own choices. Suffering is caused by people’s poor choices.

The existence of evil suggests God  might be either - Able but not willing to help (in which case He is not all-loving). Willing but not able to help (in which case He is not all-powerful). Neither willing nor able to help (in which case He is not allloving or all-powerful).

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Responses to Suffering

Original Sin - the idea that everyone is basically selfish as a result of Adam and Eve turning away from God. Original sin prevents us from reaching God. Jesus’ death & resurrection bridges the gap - it atones for our sin.

Going down into the water during baptism symbolises ‘dying’ to the old, sinful nature of Adam. Coming up out of the water symbolises being resurrected with Jesus, washed clean of sin and ready to enjoy a new relationship with God.

Job is a rich, successful family man who loves God. One day, all of this is taken from him: he loses his family, wealth and his health. In all of this he stays faithful and trusts in God. He is eventually rewarded for his faith. The response to suffering should be to trust God and persevere, even when things look bad. You should also bring your problems to Jesus. Today that would mean to pray about the issue. 

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Sources of Moral Behaviour

  • Upbringing (Parents, family)
  • Friends
  • Personal Experience
  • Religious Teachings
  • Role Model 
  • Your Conscience (everyone’s personal sense of right and wrong)
  • Society (Law, education) 
  • Media

Voice of God - some Christians feel that everyone has a conscience and it is in-built guidance from God. 

Upbringing - non-religious people (such as Humanists) feel that ‘conscience’ is just a word we use to describe the rules we automatically apply to a situation as the result of our upbringing.

Jesus had not sinned and yet allowed himself to be crucified in order to give everyone a chance to be reconciled to God. This shows his selflessness.

Matthew 22:39  ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’

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Origins of the World and Humanity

 Scientific Fact – data that is supported by evidence. Can be tested and measured.

Religious Truth – the moral of a story.

Evidence: Red shift; background radiation from the Big Bang; planetary track.

Evidence of Natural Selection: Fossil record; observation of specialised adaptations in animal species.

Creation - Day 1: Light and Dark / Day 2: Sky and Sea / Day 3: Dry land and Plants / Day 4: Sun, Moon and Stars / Day 5: Sea creatures and birds / Day 6: Land animals and Humans (made in God’s image and given authority to rule the earth) / Day 7: God rests

Paley’s Watch – William Paley argued that if you found a watch you would never think it happened by accident - it’s too complex. It needs a designer. The universe is much more complex.

Evolution explains how it happened but God is behind this perfect process. He sets the rules.

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People and Animals: The Soul

Christians believe that humans are made up of a physical body and spiritual soul that lives on after death.

As far as Evolution is concerned, there is no difference whatsoever between a human and an animal. This is because humans and animals are made out of the same chemical components. Humans and animals are the result of chance and specialised genetic adaptations. Humans simply have different survival characteristics

Genesis 1: 26-27 - So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. We are rational beings and are responsible for our actions. Animals are not made in his image.

Stewardship and dominionship

All the churches agree that animal life should not be abused or taken unnecessarily.

St Francis of Assisi – animals and humans are all God’s creations and loved equally.

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The Environment

Humans are given the authority to make decisions on God’s behalf and rule over the natural world. However, that doesn’t mean we can abuse nature. It’s not in anyone’s best interest

How people have hurt the environment: Acid Rain/ Global Warming/ Depletion of the Ozone Layer/ Pollution

Destruction of animal habitat: Over-fishing (destroys marine eco-systems). Intensive Farming methods (leads to ********* land and battery farming).

Methodist (Protestant): People are to be stewards not exploiters of nature’s resources

Church of England (Protestant): The dominion given to people by God is that of stewards who are accountable for what they do.

Catholic Church: Earth and all life on it is a gift from God. It is to celebrated and enjoyed, not exploited.

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