Section C - Relationships, Families and Children

Pretty much what it says on the tin.

HideShow resource information

Key Words (Part1)

Marriage - A religious or civil ceremony joining two people in matrimony.

Divorce - The legal dissolution of a marriage.

Monogamy - Marriage/commitment to one partner at a time.

Polygamy - Marriage/commitment to more than one partner at a time.

Serial Monogamy - Marriage/commitment to one partner at a time. Divorcing and          then marriage/commitment to another partner.

Promiscuity - Having sexual relationships with lots of different partners.

Nuclear Family - Mother/father and children living together as a family unit.

Extended Family - Nuclear family + Grandparents/aunts/uncles living together as a family unit (or in close proximity to one another).

Single/One Parent Family - One parent living with their children.

1 of 13

Key Words (Part2)

Cohabitation - Living together without being married.

Separation - A couple living separately although they are not divorced.

Adultery - A married person having a sexual relationship with someone other than  their partner.

Reconstituted Family - When two sets of children become one family after their parents become a couple.

Homosexuality - Sexual behaviour or desire directed toward a person or persons      or one's own sex.

Celibacy - To abstain from sexual relationships.

Contraception - Prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various     drugs, techniques or devices; birth control.

2 of 13

Order of Service (Christian Marriage)

Hymn - to focus everyone's minds on God.

Opening statement - summarises what marriage is for.

Declaration - the witnesses and the couple are asked if there is any reason why the couple cannot gert married.

Promises or Vows - the couple make their promises to God and to one another in the presence of witnesses.

Exchange of rings - the couple are now husband and wife.

Proclamation - the couple are now husband and wife.

Prayers for the couple - and often a talk or a sermon about marriage.

The register is signed by the couple and witnesses - to record that the marriage is legal.

Closing worship - followed by photos and a reception or party.

3 of 13

Christianity and Marriage

The Christian wedding service combines both legal and religious aspects. The marriage takes place in the sigh t of God and it is intended to be permanent. The vows made by the couple stress their faithfulness to each other through every possible experience of life.

The Roman Catholic service ends wit a Nuptial Mass. During the Orthadox service, the couple wear crowns - these show the joy and the self-sacrifice needed for a successful marriage.

The wedding service and the Bible both place emphasis on the fact that marriage is for ever. Some churches will remarry divorced people but most will not. The Roman Catholic Church grants an annulment in some circumstances but not a divorce.

4 of 13

Why Cohabit? Why Marry?


  • Some couples see marriage as unnecessary to their happiness.
  • Some couples see cohabitation as preparation to marriage.
  • Some couples do not want to spend money on weddings.


  • Some couples want to show their commitment to each other through marriage, in front of their family and friends and also in front of God.
  • Some couples believe that they must marry their partner before they have children due to their religion.
5 of 13

Christianity and Family Life

Some Christians believe that the woman's role in a family is to support the man and look after the children. Others believe that marriage should be an equal partnership.

Christians believe that parents should provide for their children in a loving and caring environment. They believe that children should respect and obey their parents. Children should also look after their parents in times of need - particularly old age.

The Church is a family - it should be involved in the spiritual welfare of children. Infant baptisms and confirmation are important in this respect.

Christians believe that family life is very important because:

  • Children gain a sense of identity from their families.
  • They are taught what behaviour is or is not acceptable.
  • They are provided with a first experience of 'bonding'.
  • It is the basic way for the most vulnerable members of society to be looked after.
6 of 13

Christianity and Sex

According to the Bible, God's first instruction to Adam and Eve was to provide children and God said that everything, including sex, was good after creation.

Christianity encourages chastity and fidelity as 'Do not commit adultery' is one of the Ten Commandments.

Promiscuity and prostitution are discouraged as it says in the Bible '...Your bodies are parts of the body of Christ... the man who is guilty of sexual immorality sins against his own body'.

7 of 13


Contraception is very important as a means of limiting family size - especially in countries with a high birth rate. Religion has traditionally looked upon large families as a sign of God's blessing.

The Protestant Churches came to accept the need for contraception during the Great Depression when there was huge poverty. The Roman Catholic Church, however, has always been against it. It still teaches that only natural forms of birth control are acceptable (e.g. withdrawal or the 'safe' time of the month).

In 1968, the Pope wrote the book 'Humanae Vitae' outlawing the pill, condoms and sterilisation. He said in his book that "each and every married act must be open to the transmission of life".

Most Christians use a combination of their conscience, the teachings of the Bible and their Church, thought and prayer to determine their own attitude to contraception.

8 of 13

Homosexuality and the Church

Most Christians draw a distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual activity. Nothing can be done about the first - it is a fact of life. However, no Christian homosexual should be involved in sexual activity.

The vast majority of Christians would say that homosexual activity is sinful, including most Protestants and Roman Catholics. There is, however, a minority who distinguish between a casual sexual relationship and a lifelong partnership.

Some Christian Opinions:

  • AIDS is God's punishment for sexual immorality.
  • Gay people are going against nature.
  • Gay people cannot help being gay but they should not practice it.
  • People have the right to love whoever they want.
  • Jesus loves everyone so it shouldn't matter if you are gay.
9 of 13

Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering involves the manipulation of genes, allowing particular characteristics to be changed. This could lead to cures for  amny fatal diseases. Gene therapy involves replacing a defective gene with a new one.

Protestant Attitude:

They believe that humans have been given God's will to look after the whole of creation and that genetic engineering should be used to help the sick. However, they are worried that scientists will go too far. They also believe that human life must be created in the natural way and not by cloning.

Roman Catholic Attitude:

Some Roman Catholics believe that genetic engineering is morally wrong, with no exceptions, however, other Roman Catholics can accept that there are some benefits from it but they are against research on human embryos.

10 of 13


IVF - In Vitro Fertilisation - When an egg is taken from the mother's womb, fertilised in a test tube and then placed in the womb to grow normally.

AIH - Artificial Insemination by Husband - When a woman's partner's sperm is placed in her uterus to fertilise an egg.

AID - Artificial Insemination by Donor - A donor's sperm is used to fertilise a woman's egg.

Egg or Sperm Storing - When a woman's eggs or a man's sperm is stored, in case they are needed at a future date.

Fertility Drugs - Drugs which assist conception but th enumber of babies conceived after treatment cannot be controlled, often leading to multiple births.

Surrogacy - A surrogate mother is one who agrees to carry and give birth to a baby for someone else. It is illegal for this to be done for money.

11 of 13

Christianity and Infertility

Childlessness in Biblical times was looked upon as the will of God and so had to be accepted.

Most Churches today accept IVF and AIH as being acceptable because childlessness is no longer viewed as being God's will.

The Roman Catholic Church is opposed to all infertility treatment as it often involves the destruction of some embryos; it involves the sinful activity of masturbation  and denies the right of every child to know the identity of both parents.

12 of 13

The Church of England recognises that divorce has become socially acceptable, although it will not usually remarry divorced people. It encourages divorced people to remarry in a civil ceremony and then go to church for God's blessing.

The Roman Catholic Church believe that the marriage vow cannot be broken - the couple made a promise before God that they would be married forever, which they will break if they get divorced. An annulment can be granted, but this is not a straightforward process.

Some nonconformists do allow remarriage in church, some do not. All believe that anyone who has made a mistake, deserve a second chance.

13 of 13


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Marriage and Relationships resources »