Religion and human relationships Religion and medical ethics - views of Christians and Moslems.

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Religious Studies

Religion and human relationships

Religion and medical ethics

Religion, peace and justice

Religion and equality

Nature of God

Death and the Afterlife

Religion and Science

Good and Evil

Religion and human relationships (Christianity)

A family is:

  • A husbands and wife with their children
  • The group that someone grows up in.
  • Basic social unit.
  • Biologically related group.
  • The group in which most humans spend a lot of time
  • Base for care for its dependants.

There are two types of family – the nuclear family and the extended family. The nuclear family is the on most often shown in media today. This is where a husband and wife live alone with their children, without any close relatives living in their household. In the extended family, there are several generations of the family living together. This is not so prevalent in Britain but is still common in other countries and societies.

Every family is different but most do the same things.  They provide certain economic rights and responsibilities; teaches us an acceptable way to behave, and the customs and traditions of our society; family also allows wealth and property to be passed on to a new generation.

Christianity believes that there is a need for mutual respect and tolerance in the family and that there are 3 main elements necessary and essential for bringing up a family: love, freedom and discipline.

Family is still the foundation of society. Families and their homes are still the platform for life, as we know it. Family defines individuals, who will in turn shape their world.  However, I doubt that here, in Britain, family is as important as it used to be.

Christianity teaches that children should be brought up in a family unit with both parents, a father and a mother. It is one of the purposes of Christian marriage, to form a family to bring the children up in a loving Christian environment.

Various ceremonies outline the nature of Christian family life. Parents should:

  • Provide their children with the necessities of life, a home of Christian faithfulness and love. (Ephesians 6 tells parents to treat their children in way that will not provoke them to anger).
  • Teach their children to pray, morality and how to live a Christian life. (Discipline your son, and he will give you peace. Proverbs 29:17)
  • Set a good Christian example and celebrate Christian festivals, take their children to Sunday School and encourage them to be confirmed/ baptised.

Children should:

  • Obey and respect their parents. (Honour your father and mother. Exodus 20:12; Listen to your father… do not despise your mother. Proverbs 23:22)
  • Look after their parents when they are incapable of looking after themselves. (If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. I Timothy 5:8)

Family is important in Christianity as it is created by God as the only place in which children should be brought up. Without it – the most important part of society- society would collapse.

A Christian family is:

  • Where children introduced to the faith
  • Important for Christianity to grow

However, there are more important things than family. Roman Catholic priests, nuns and monks leave their families to serve God and can never marry, because of their belief that the Christian family and their work for God is far greater than a human and earthly family. Jesus did not marry and said ‘whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother(Mark 3:35).  Also Jesus once left his parents to be in the Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2).

However, this does not mean Jesus was unconcerned for his mother. At his crucifixion, he asked John to look after Mary, John 19: 26-57.

With regards to family, the Catholic Catechism says ‘Family life is an initiation into life in society.’ However, the Methodist Church says that ‘the family is not an end in itself. While parents are to be honoured, they are not always to be obeyed,’ and, ‘Human fulfilment is possible without marriage’.

Describe Christian teachings on family life (8)

Christianity teaches that the family is created by God as the basic unit of society and as the only lace in which children should be brought up. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that family is ‘the natural society in which husband and wide are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life.’

In the family, children are introduced to the faith and learn the difference right and wrong. The Catechism teaches that the family ‘is the community in which from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honour God and make good use of freedom.’

The Bibles gives clear instruction to both parents and children on how they should behave. Parents should provide for their children and give them guidance.

The Old Testament tells fathers to ‘discipline your son, and he will give you peace’, but the New Testament also states ‘do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.’

In the book of Exodus, children are told to ‘honour your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.’  St Paul also says ‘Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.’

Christians believe that children are responsible for the welfare of their relatives. St Paul taught that anyone who does not provide for their relatives ‘has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever’.

Jesus taught that the Christian family is greater than any human family. In Mark’s Gospel, he says ‘whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister and mother.’

Christians believe that through the sacrament of the Eucharist they become one family in Christ, ‘one in the sharing of his body and blood.’

The Methodist Church teaches that ‘family is not and end in itself’. Some Christians choose to stay single.  This offers them opportunities to work in the service of God, e.g. as missionaries, priests and nuns.

The Church can help families by:

  • Providing a sense of belonging
  • Encouraging them in the faith
  • Being a meeting place for interaction
  • Being a community centre
  • Charitable work (benefit schemes)
  • Ministers and elders who can advice and counsel impartially
  • Place of learning (of teachings)

Roles of men and women

Order of service

  1. Hymn to focus everyone’s mind on God
  2. Opening statement summarises what marriage is
  3. Declaration the witnesses and the couple are asked if there is any reason why the couple cannot get married.
  4. Promises or vows the couple make their promises to God and to one another in the presence of the witnesses
  5. Exchange of rings
  6. Proclamation        the couple are now husband and wife
  7. Prayers for the couple and often a talk or sermon about marriage
  8. The registry is signed by the couple and witnesses to record that the marriage is legal
  9. Closing worship followed by photos and a reception or party

Divorce and marriage

The rate of divorce has increased as time goes on. Modern society increasingly accepts divorce.

The Old Testament writers believed that part of God’s purpose in creating people was marriage. It is not a human invention, an accident but part of the way the universe was planned. ‘For this reason does a man leave his father and his mother and is united with his wife, and they become one’, Genesis 2:24. Marriage is a fundamental part of being human and of God’s purpose for mankind. The verse also suggests that married love should be creative and life giving. Becoming one flesh refers to sexual union.

Marriage is seen as something holy, protected in the Old Testament laws. Adultery is condemned in the 10 Commandments. ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’, Exodus 20:14. The punishment for adultery was death (Leviticus 20:10). Even the great heroes of Israel were expected to obey God’s laws. However, even though the sacredness of marriage is much explored, a man could divorce his wife, (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).

Although the Old Testament law allowed divorce, Jesus did not (Mark 10: 2-12). However, he offered forgiveness for those whose marriage had failed, for example, the woman who was accused of adultery John 8:3-11.

St. Paul says that ‘husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies, and, the wife must respect her husband.’  (Ephesians 5:28-33).  Paul says that the love and unity between a Christian man and wife is symbolic of the love between Christ and the church, of the love that exists between Christ and every Christian.

Marriage is an important institution for Christians. Most of them get married in a church, by a legally authorised minister. Usually they undergo some form of preparation, where the minister will emphasise that marriage is a serious step while counselling them on what is ahead.

Most Christians agree that sex should be restricted to marriage; one does not have to marry. It is an individual decision by each person to decide what he or she feels God wants him or her to do with his or her life. Marriage is intended as a lifelong union, and if they feel God wants them to share their life with someone, they should marry.

Sacraments are outward showings of inward grace. The Roman Catholic, the Orthodox and the Anglican churches believe that marriage is a sacrament; the marriage ceremony gives the couple the grace of God to help their marriage work. Other churches feel that the grace comes from the prayers. Pope John Paul II said marriage is ‘an unbreakable alliance of mutual self-giving’, ‘a total union of love’.

In most churches it is necessary that both the bride and groom be Christians, sometimes both must belong to the same church for a full wedding ceremony.

There are 5 implications for the biblical definition of marriage of marriage in Genesis 2:24.

  1. Monogamous
  2. Heterosexual: ‘ a man and his wife’
  3. Publicly acknowledged: ‘leaving parents meant to be a public occasion’
  4. Consummated in sexual union: ‘one flesh’
  5. Life long: ‘let no one separate’.

The Anglican Church believes that marriage is a loving, sexual, social, biological and economic relationship.

The purpose of marriage

Marriage is a gift from God so that a man and woman can share love and companionship; enjoy sexual intercourse, so that children can be brought into the world, so that these children can be brought up in a Christian family. It is a way for a couple to show their love for each other and to gain God’s grace to help them.

A Methodist viewpoint is that ‘Christian marriage has a twofold purpose – fellowship and parenthood. Permanence in the union is an essential condition.’  Marriage is about sharing your life completely, deepening your love for the person and having children and caring for them in the way God wants. These beliefs are highlighted with questions the priest asks the bride and groom in a Catholic wedding.

The marriage vows

I (name) take thee (name) to be my lawful wedded wife/husband

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

Until death do us part

When a couple give one another their wedding rings, it symbolises two things. Firstly, the promises they have just given each other and secondly, the belief that marriage cannot be ended. What God has joined together let no man put asunder. Mark 10:9.

A Catholic wedding ceremony

  • Catholic weddings often take place during a special mass called Nuptial Mass.
  • This is a popular choice.
  • Parts of the wedding service are interwoven with usual order of the Mass
  • The questions for the bride and groom, the vows and the exchange of rings all happen after the homily, where he will have explained the meaning of Christian marriage.
  • The couple’s love as they give themselves to one another in marriage s a powerful symbol of the love of Christ who gives himself to Christians in the Eucharist.

An Eastern Christian wedding

  • The service begins at the door of the church with the wedding vows and the exchange of rings.
  • The couple processes to a table at the centre of the church.
  • The whole congregation listen to the readings
  • The couple hold lighted candles as a symbol of Christ’s presence
  • Crowns are put on the head of the bride and groom, symbolising that they are to make their family an image of the Kingdom of God.
  • The wedding at Cana story is read.
  • A cup of wine is given to the couple as a sign of their new unity.
  • A priest joins their hands and leads them around the centre table. The circle they make is a symbol of the eternal nature of the sacrament.
  • The mystery and sanctity of marriage and sanctity of marriage to such an extent that the priest is held to marry the couple.

Christian marriage in practise

  • The couple might set aside to pray together to pray.
  • They will try and make sure they follow the teachings of the Bible.
  • They may join organisations within the Church.


Adultery is a serious sin because it breaks the commandments and goes against Jesus’ teaching, as well as breaking the vows made to one another at their wedding. It involves deception and the breaking of trust, as well as threatens honesty and a stable relationship, which is necessary for the security of the children. Adultery cannot be a sign of the sacrament.


Most Protestant and Orthodox churches allow divorce and remarriage, on the premise that Jesus allowed divorce in Matthew 19:9. Since Christianity is about forgiveness of sins if people repent, they should be allowed another chance. If these people want to remarry, often the church will want them to have special preparation. For those who have taken their vows before God as Christians, there is no divorce. Baptist church.

The Roman Catholic Church does not allow divorce. The only way out of marriage is by death, since marriage is a sacrament, it cannot be dissolved.

However, they do allow annulments as annulments, which are different from divorce say that the marriage never existed in the eyes of God, and therefore was not a proper marriage. Annulments can be granted if one of the parents was not baptised at the time of marriage; or was forced into the marriage; or did not intend to keep their marriage vows; or if one of the partners was mentally unstable at the time of marriage.

The Church of England disapproves of divorce but recognises it can be the lesser of two evils, for example, it is better to leave an abusive relationship, even if that results in divorce. This means that it is up to the priest to decide whether to allow a divorcee to remarry or not. The founding principle of the church’s view is forgiveness- and recognising that people make mistakes.

The Eastern Orthodox Church believes that the church has the authority to end marriages, and the church can therefore grant divorces. There have been divorce services. Remarriage is allowed in church. However, you cannot keep on getting divorced; a third marriage is rarely allowed.

Christianity and contraception

A contraceptive us something which allows sex to take place but prevents conception from occurring. The contraception can be a physical barrier such as a condom; a drug such as the pill or morning after pill; or an operation such as a vasectomy. The use of condoms in the West has meant that population growth has slowed, but in less developed counties, the population is still rising significantly. This is leading to great pressure on food and health supplies as well as education. As a result of this, many governments are encouraging their population to use contraceptives with massive family planning programmes. In addition to this, the rise of AIDS infection has led to worldwide campaign for safe sex, which involves the use of condoms in preventing infection. So, contraception is now being encouraged everywhere.

In particular, the Roman Catholics believe that artificial contraception (methods such as the pill and condoms) is wrong. By ‘artificial’ they mean and kind of birth control that relies on more than just the woman’s natural menstrual cycles. So choosing to have intercourse only at the least fertile times of the month is seen as ‘natural’. This is observing the Natural Law: allowing nature to take its course.

They believe artificial contraception is wrong because:

  • Sex was designed by God for a purpose. It was intended to express love between a man and his wife, but also for reproduction. Love becomes creative in sexual intercourse, like the life forming love of God. ‘Be fruitful and multiply’. Genesis 1:28. The two functions of sex are naturally expressed in one action – making love- which is the sign of the Sacrament of Marriage.
  • Contraceptives separate the creative function from the expression of love in an unnatural way.
  • The use of contraceptives is contrary to Natural Law, thus a sin Sex is spoil is it not an expression of love or if there is no chance of children being conceived. If God created something for a reason, people should use it for the right purpose. Natural methods of contraception are not very reliable, so there is always a chance that if God plans, a child may be conceived.
  • Contraception is dangerous to society, if its use is accepted, sexual immorality increases, and women are increasingly seen as sexual playthings.

Roman Catholics also feel strongly about methods of contraception which allow the egg to be fertilised but prevent its growth and development as this, in their view is destroying human life and thus is abortion, which in turn is abortion.

‘To render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil.’ Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The Catechism also says that although it is part of being a responsible of being a responsible parent to limit the amount of children you have, this does not justify ‘recourse to morally unacceptable means’.

Even though Protestants once thought contraception was sinful, most have changed their minds because of:

  • The increase in the world’s population (contraception is way to control it)
  • The growing appreciation of the importance of sex as a means of sharing love and not just the way children are created.
  • The development of new contraceptive techniques, which do not actually interfere with the act of making love, such as sterilisation.

Their members, and Methodists, Baptists and the United Reformed Church believe that is the responsibility of adults to decide when to have children, if at all, how many to have and the age gaps between them. For them, contraception is sensible and should be encouraged as children are more likely to be loved if their parents wanted them and can afford to bring them up well. Contraception can help in ‘healing and development of a marriage’, says the Methodist Church.

Describe Christian beliefs about divorce [8]:

Description should include views from both the Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions. Candidates could show that divorce is never encouraged, but is accepted by some Christians as inevitable in some cases. Issues relating to the remarriage of divorced people could be explored.

Explain how a Christian marriage service might guide a couple in their married life [7]

Candidates might demonstrate understanding of the main elements of a Christian marriage service, and show how the beliefs expressed might support a Christian couple. They could include the emphasis on marriage for life, on faithfulness, and on marriage as sanctified by God; there might also be a discussion of the expectation that a married couple will want to have children. The ways in which Christians might use these beliefs for guidance could be considered.

‘Divorce is never the best way to solve problems with a marriage.’

Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. You must refer to Christianity in your answer. [5]

Discussion could include an exploration of circumstances under which divorce might seem to be the right solution, for example in cases of desertion or ‘irretrievable breakdown’. Christian principles of compassion might be expressed, or Roman

Catholic views about the permanence of the marriage sacrament.

Religion and Equality

Islam teaches that Allah created everyone equal. The Koran says that ‘all men and women are created from a single soul, Surah 4:1’. We are all equal because we are all created from a single soul. It also tells you that different variations are all signs of Allah’s plan.

Before Islam, Arab men and women were not equal, as it was common for Arabs to kill their daughters; women did not have the right to own property, and were dependent upon their fathers or their husbands for all their basic human needs. Widows and women who had been deserted could be left destitute.  The revelations Muhammad received in Mecca challenged many of these practises. Allah had said that women were to have rights to property and that the female infanticide should stop. He helped to improve women’s status and conditions. Although the rights of women are different to those of men, they do have the basic and fundamental rights to marry, divorce, to study, conduct business and take part in politics as well as to own property.  I command you to be good to women, Hadith. Also in the Hadith, we find that whoever has a daughter and treats her well, God will enter him into paradise. The Koran states that men and women were created by Allah and He puts equal religious duties on men and women, Surah 33.

In society, although men and women may be equal, they have different roles in life and in the family. Each has their own rights and duties set out by Allah in the Koran and expanded upon by Mohammad. Ending the difference between their roles is unthinkable to Muslims, having observed how the West has tried or do away with traditional roles lead to catastrophic consequences including family breakdown, stress and sexual immorality.

The Koran teaches that men and women were created to marry and provide mutual support, emotional and spiritual well-being. Women cannot be forced to marry anyone without their consent, according to Islamic Law.  Both partners have equal rights and claims on one another, except the responsibility of leadership, which belongs to the man. ‘And they (women) have similar rights to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Surah 2:228. Men are in charge of women… so good women are the obedient. Surah 4:34.

Women can keep their dowry, and the husband has to be kind and considerate towards his wife, even if his wife falls out of favour with him. His character will be reflected in his treatment of women. ‘The most perfect believers are best in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives, Hadith.’ ‘It is the generous who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them, Hadith.’

In the family

‘Paradise lies at the feet of your mother, Hadith’. The traditional role of women in Islam is to have children and to create a halal home, bringing up their children to be good Muslims. The father’s role is to protect the home, thus making the women’s role possible. The man should provide by working to bring money in. Men should insure that their children are brought up as Muslims, and take their sons to the mosque to worship Allah. Women can perform their religious duties in the home. The father has to be strong and honourable; he is to be a responsible and dutiful leader, involved in the world of economics and commerce. If the man does not fulfil his role, divorce is straightforward, and the woman may look for a better husband.


‘The search for knowledge is a duty for every Muslim, male or female. Hadith.’

Legal rights

Justice is genderless; both genders are entitled to equality before the law.

Responsibility in Society

Within the Ummah, a Muslim woman is expected to take responsibility for things such as food for the hungry; refuge for the weary; hospitality for the guest; encouragement for the weak and peace for the troubled. The man is expected to provide the means to make this all possible.

Financial rights

Women should only inherit half of what men do as they are not financially responsible for the female relatives- wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters- like men are. However, they retain their share of financial security, without legal obligation to spend any part of it. A woman may have a career if she can do so without neglecting their family.

Religious responsibility

Women may attend the mosque, but in order to preserve their dignity when prostrating before Allah, and also to avoid distracting the men, they perform salah behind the men, in a separate area. They are expected to take part in Friday communal prayers, but usually do this at home, as their role is to put the family first.

Political rights

Women have the right to vote, to be elected as well as nominated to political offices. They can participate in public affairs. We can find examples of women who took part in serious discussions and arguments with Muhammad himself.

Nevertheless, Muhammad did not accept that a woman could be Head of State. ‘A people will not prosper if they let a women be their leader’, Hadith.  It is because the job is not thought compatible with the physiological and psychological make-up of women in general. The decisions made require a maximum or rationality and minimum of emotionality. There are natural and indisputable differences between men and women, which do not imply supremacy of one over the other. The difference means that they can complement each other, instead.

Women in Saudi Arabia

  • Controversy over getting girls to go to school
  • 5% of workforce is female – least in the world.
  • Strict segregation
  • Houses are shuttered to shield women
  • Women must wear modest dress, and there is a regulation dress code.
  • Women aren’t allowed to vote.
  • Women must receive permission to leave the house

Women in the UAE

  • Progressive
  • Prominent in society, there is a large women’s federation
  • Women are active in business and management
  • Women can wear what they want, often wear western fashions.
  • Shakira was performed there.
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Muslims believe that Christians and Jews will be found in Paradise, as they essentially believe in the same God.

Explain how Muslims may respond to respond to racial discrimination.

Some Muslims, being guided by their religion, may take action by confronting the problem. They may approach the cause of the trouble and try and to teach them more about their ways.

However, they may also withdraw and isolate themselves, in an effort to prevent further confrontation. As they draw back they segregate the community, finding refuge in the presence of their kind.

Some Muslims may join with other ...

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