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Flashcards in Issues of Relationship Deck (27):

What is family?

A foundation for all human activity.
All human relationships begin and are developed.
Within each family the norms and values of society are lived out in practice.
A new generation of children are brought up into adulthood.


Types of family

Nuclear: two parents and one or more children living in the same house.

Extended: a number of adults and children related living in the same house. (Could be grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles etc)

Reconstituted: some divorced adults choose to remarry or live in a cohabitating relationship

Single parent: one parent raises children alone.

Childless: a married or cohabitating couple who do not have children


Roles of men and women in society

Patriarchal- family or society controlled by men
Matriarchal- family or society controlled by women.


Roles and Responsibilities within a family

Caring for children
Caring for other family members
Maintaining a family home
Earning money to support the family


What have families got to do with religion?

Parents are:
Expected to take children to place of worship
Teach them how to read sacred texts and understand them
Teach them how and when to pray
Join in the celebration of festivals
Understand the importance of rites of passage


The Nature and Purpose of Marriage

Marriage is:
-God given
- the basis for creating an environment into which children should be born
- a lifelong commitment

A wedding ceremony is an important rite of passage. It is a celebration that recognises the importance of marriage and it includes lots of symbolism, which reflects the purpose of marriage.


Christian attitudes to marriage

Marriage is important for Christians because: it's a gift from God; it's part of God's plan for creation that men and women should live together. it provides a relationship through which husband and wife support each other; this relationship is built on love and faithfulness.


The christian wedding ceremony

Christians believe that marriage is a gift from God, one that should not be taken for granted. It is the right atmosphere to engage in sexual relations and to build a family life. Getting married in a church, in front of God, is very important.

A marriage is a public declaration of love and commitment. This declaration is made in front of friends and family in a church ceremony.


Vows and exchange of rings

Vows: The couple then make their vows to one another.
to have and to hold
from this day forward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death do us part

Traditional Church of England wedding vows

Rings: The couple exchange rings and say:
With my body I honour you,
all that I am I give to you,
and all that I have I share with you,
within the love of God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Traditional words for the exchange of rings


Muslim wedding ceremony

Muslim weddings vary enormously according to the culture of the people involved.

Many people in the UK, for example, confuse the celebrations at a Pakistani or Bangladeshi wedding with an Islamic wedding, and assume they are the same thing. This is not so, of course, for many of the Muslims who marry are from widely different cultures - for example European, Turkish, African, Malaysian, and so on.

Secondly, it is important to realise that the 'wedding' means different things too. For many Muslims, it is the Islamic ceremony that counts as the actual wedding, and not the confirmation of that wedding in a registry office.

Oddly enough, although mosques are obviously places of worship, the majority of them in the UK have not yet been officially registered as such, and so any Islamic wedding that merely takes place at a mosque has to be registered legally with the UK law as well, in order to be seen as valid in the UK.

Having said that, of course it is a fact that many couples live together these days as 'partners', and 'common law wives' have recently been accorded various legal rights they were not entitled to previously.


Attitudes to cohabitation (live together in sexual relationship without being married)

Christian views
Although Christian doctrine traditionally prohibited cohabitation there has been an increasingly more tolerant view taken. Cohabitation is permitted in a committed loving relationship. Although marriage would be the ideal. Some Christians fully disagree as they believe it devalues the special and sacred nature of sex, which should only take place within marriage.

Muslim views
Although in practice some Muslims may choose to cohabit


Attitudes to adultery- Christianity

Christianity teaches that adultery is wrong because…
Against the ten commandments “You shall not commit adultery”
Destroys special relationship between husband and wife
Understand marriage is a sacrament-a gift from God
Leaves people feeling cheated and betrayed
To commit adultery can harm family unit
Exclusivity- you shouldn’t share sex with anyone else
Relationships should be special
You shouldn’t do it


Attitudes to Adultery- Muslims

Islam teaches adultery is wrong because…
Sex outside marriage is wrong
Marriage is a lifelong union based on trust, morality and devotion
Vows promising to be faithful may be exchanged in the ceremony
Adultery is harmful to society- goes against peace and unity in the Ummah
Adultery is seen as theft of the worst possible kind
The Qur’an says it is wrong “it is evil as a way” (Qur’an 17:32)


Divorce and separation- Christian attitudes

The teaching of Jesus in the New Testament is against divorce (the legal ending of a marriage before the death of a spouse).

It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Matthew 5:31-32

Adultery (sex with someone who you are not married to) is also wrong according to the teachings of the Ten Commandments:

You shall not commit adultery.
Exodus 20:14

Many churches now allow divorce but a marriage can only be ended by an annulment in the Roman Catholic Church. This means that the marriage is regarded as never having taken place for special reasons.

In 1981 the Church of England allowed people to marry again after a divorce. Many other churches now hold this position.

The Roman Catholic Church is totally opposed to people cohabiting (living together without being married). Sexual intercourse outside of a marriage is a serious sin and couples who sin in this way cannot receive communion in church. Some Protestant churches accept cohabitation although they hope that the couple will choose eventually to be married in church.


Divorce and separation- Muslim attitudes

Divorce is allowed in Islam, although it is regarded as a last resort.

Muslims accept that sometimes marriages break down. As a legal contract between two people it can be ended. This is done if the marriage brings unhappiness to the couple and to their children and relatives.

A man cannot seek a divorce from his wife until it is certain that she is not pregnant, as he might then change his mind. During a period of three months (called iddah) reconciliation should be attempted. If reconciliation doesn't work then divorce can take place.

A man and a woman can remarry twice, but after a third divorce remarriage to each other cannot take place unless the woman has been married to another man in the meantime.

A woman can also obtain a divorce, either by an agreement with her husband or because of his treatment of her.


Christian attitudes to sex

Sex should take place in marriage.
It is viewed as a gift from God and is holy and sacred.
It is something you should do with the person you love.
Casual sex (promiscuity) is seen as devaluing both people and sex itself and is unacceptable. There is a concern that children may be born outside a stable home environment.


Muslim attitudes to sex

Love is often used to describe a close attachment to another person. Sex means sexual intercourse between two people. Most religions have views on love and sex. Islam considers sex as an act of worship.

Islamic views
Islam has very strict views on love and sex. These are based on passages from the Qur’an and Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad).

A muslim couple
Arab husband and wife

Muslims view sexual intercourse as an act of worship that fulfils emotional and physical needs as well as being procreative. Having children is the way in which humans can contribute towards Allah’s creation.

Sexual intercourse is a gift from Allah and therefore can only take place within a married relationship. Islam encourages people to marry and not to lead celibate lives. Marriage places a responsibility on both the husband and the wife to meet each other’s sexual needs.



Chastity is when a person does not have a sexual relationship until married.
In traditional religious teachings a person would remain chaste until married.
In America the “silver ring thing” was promoted as a physical expression of this viewpoint. Unmarried Christian teenagers and young adults wear a silver ring of their wedding finger to show they will remain chaste until they are married. When they get married they will replace the silver ring with a wedding ring.



When a person decides never to have sexual relationships.
In the Catholic church there has been a tradition of celibacy. Monks, nuns and priests take a vow of celibacy. It is a vow not marry or have any sexual relationships. It is made as a positive choice of lifestyle in order to dedicate one’s life to the service of God.


Christian attitudes to contraception

Contraception or 'birth control' is used for a variety of reasons:

when pregnancy might harm the mental or physical condition of the mother
to limit the number of children people have to ensure they don't damage living standards or affect other children
to prevent pregnancy in people who do not want a child at this stage in their lives
Christian beliefs about contraception
The various Christian churches have different views on contraception:

The Roman Catholic Church says that the use of contraception is against natural law (which means it is not in keeping with human nature). It is natural that conception may happen with intercourse and therefore this should not be prevented. The only form of contraception permitted is the ‘rhythm method’ where intercourse takes place at a time when the woman is least fertile.
Most Protestant churches (eg, the Anglican Church and the Methodist Church) now see the use of contraception within marriage as a responsible way of planning a family. It allows sex to be enjoyed without the fear of an unwanted pregnancy.


Muslim attitudes to contraception

Contraception or ‘birth control’ is used for a variety of reasons:

when pregnancy might harm the mental or physical condition of the mother
to limit the number of children people have to ensure they don't damage living standards or affect other children
to prevent pregnancy in people who do not want a child at this stage in their lives
Islamic beliefs about contraception
Islam teaches that life is a sacred gift from Allah (God):

To Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He pleases.
Surah 42:50

Children are also a gift:

Allah bestows females upon whom He pleases and He bestows males upon whom He pleases; or He mixes them, males and females; and He makes whom He pleases barren.
Surah 42:50-51

For these reasons contraception has been seen to be against the teachings of the Qur’an (the Divine Book revealed to the Prophet Muhammad).

In recent years, the Conference on Islam and Family Planning has agreed that contraception can be used if:

the mother’s health is threatened
there is a chance of a child being born disabled
the family do not have the money to bring up a child


Same-sex relationships

1967- homosexuality decriminalised in UK
2004- Civil Partnership Act enabled same-sex partners to have the same legal rights as married couples
2013- Marriage Act- same sex marriages legalised in England and Wales


Christian attitudes to same-sex relationships

Despite what the Bible says there is a difference of opinion between Christian groups.
Most conservative (fundamental) Christians believe the Bible to be the word of God and believe homosexulaity to be sinful.
Roman Catholics believe homosexuality to be sinful. If someone is homosexual they have a duty to remain celibate so as not to live in sin.
Sex is only to take place within marriage between man and wife.
The Church of England is divided. Some may accept practicing homosexuals. In fact there is a Gay Christian movement. Others remain opposed to it and believe the teachings of the bible.
In Summary: The vast majority of Christians believe homosexual activity to be sinful, including Catholic and Protestants. However a minority believe it is acceptable and base the belief on the idea that God loves everyone.


Muslim attitudes to same-sex relationships

Islam forbids same-sex relationships, sex should only take place between husband and wife.
Muslims say marriage is the only place where sex should take place and regard marriage as a sacred contract between only man and woman.

”Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds? Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people” (Qur’an 7:80-81)


Humanist attitudes to same-sex relationships

Humans should find personal happiness and same-sex relationships are a positive expression of this view.


Muslim attitudes to the roles of women and men in worship and authority

Attitudes towards women
Islam also teaches that men and women are equal in the sight of Allah. They are individually accountable for their actions, and will be judged equally by Allah.

However, although men and women are equal, they are not the same. They have different purposes. It is part of Allah’s design and purpose for men and women to have different physical characteristics; likewise it is the duty of a man to provide for the financial needs of his family, and for a woman to look after the home and family.

Some of these differences and responsibilities are mentioned in the following words from the Qur’an:

O Prophet, direct thy wives and daughters and the women of the believers that they should pull down their outer cloaks from their heads over their faces. This will make it possible for them to be distinguished so that they will not be molested.

Surah 33:59

Wives have rights corresponding to those which the husbands have, in equitable reciprocity, though, in certain situations men would have the final word and would thus enjoy a preference.
Surah 2:229

Men are appointed guardians over women, because of that in respect of which Allah has made some of them excel others, and because men spend of their wealth.
Surah 4:35

Although the rights of women are different to those of men, they do have the right to choose whom they marry, to divorce, to study, to own property, to conduct business and to take part in politics.

The Prophet Muhammad stressed the importance of women and the respect that should be shown to them when he said: Paradise lies at the feet of your mother. (Sunan An-Nasa’i).


Christian attitudes to the roles of women and men in worship and authority

Inequality in the Christian Church
Many people think that the Christian Church is sexist. It does not treat men and women equally.

The teaching of St Paul is often quoted to support the way some churches today treat women. From the extracts below, it would seem that he believed that the role of women was different to that of men, and secondary to it.

St Paul said:

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to enquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head - it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.
1 Corinthians 11:3-7

Jesus, however, always showed by his actions that he respected and valued women. He included them among his closest companions, and sometimes went against the conventions of his time which kept men and women apart. Jesus made it clear in the Parable of the Good Samaritan how his followers should treat people – he made no distinction between men and women.

Some Christian denominations have recently begun to allow women to be priests or ministers (eg, Church of England and the Methodist church). Some remain opposed to this (eg, the Roman Catholic Church). Some Christians believe that women are second to men, that men should lead and women should follow (see 1 Timothy 2:8–15).

So although Christianity teaches that everyone should be equal and should be treated the same, this doesn't always happen.