The King’s School Religious Studies Department GCSE Short Philosophy and Ethics Topic 6 Religion and Human Relationships "God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God: and God lives in union with them" - 1 John 4:16 Name _______________________ Religious Studies Group _________ TOPIC 6 Religion and Human Relationships Each of the religions studied will be examined according to the issues specified below. Candidates should be able to support their answers with reference to the teachings and sacred texts of the religion where appropriate. Candidates should be aware that the importance attached to particular issues will vary from religion to religion. Issues to be addressed This Topic is concerned with religious responses to ethical questions raised by human relationships. Understandings of the roles of men and women within a family Issues related to marriage and divorce Marriage ceremonies and the ways in which they reflect belief and provide guidance Issues related to sexual relationships and to contraception Christianity The roles of men and women within a Christian family; Christian marriage ceremonies, and the ways in which these reflect and emphasise Christian teaching about marriage; Christian beliefs about the ethics of divorce; Christian beliefs about sexual relationships and contraception. Introduction Some Christians believe that only by being totally celibate (that is, abstaining from any form of sexual relationship) can a person be truly blessed in the eyes of God. All Roman Catholic Priests, monks and nuns, see celibacy as an integral part of their faith. They follow the example of Jesus and remain unmarried throughout their lives. Some of Jesus' disciples were married. The apostle, Paul was celibate but did recognise that sexual relations were perfectly natural. He wrote that such relationships were acceptable but only within the sanctity of marriage. Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: 'It is well for a man not to touch a woman.' But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (I Corinthians 7:1-2) Catholic priests, whilst not advocating celibacy for their parishioners, teach that a man and a woman must be married before they have a sexual relationship: Every sexual act must be within the framework of marriage. (Casti Conubii, Catholic Truth Society) Homosexuality is totally disapproved of by most parts of the Christian church because homosexual acts are seen as disordered and immoral. Christianity - marriage and divorce Christianity values marriage very highly and the union of a man and a woman in holy matrimony is seen as representing the union between Christ and his followers. The love the couple share will also bring them closer to God and closer to an understanding of God's love for his creation. (Marriage) is given, that they may have children and be blessed in caring for them and bringing them up in accordance with God's will. (Church of England marriage service) The Roman Catholic Church also regards the procreation of children as the main reason for a couple to marry: The intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable unity between them. (Roman Catholic marriage service) Roman Catholics believe that marriage is a sacrament; a religious act of union which channels a blessing from God and is therefore unbreakable. They do not allow divorce but a marriage can be annulled under certain circumstances. An annulment is a public declaration that the marriage bond never existed; if for example, a partner has been forced into marriage or if a partner was unable to carry out the duties of marriage, due, for example, to mental illness: To the married I give this command - not I but the Lord - that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. (Corinthians 7:10-11) This quotation from Paul's letter is reflected by the position held by the Church of England for centuries. Today the Church does recognise that many couples find it difficult to live together. Topic 6 – Relgion and Human Relationships Roles of Men and Women For much of history men have held positions of power and for the last 3,000 years or so people have lived in social structures controlled by male attitudes and values. Historical and religious writings over the last 2,000 years illustrate the way that societies have treated women. "I permit no women to teach or have authority over men, she is to keep silent 1 Timothy 2:12 "Women should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear children" Martin Luther (1483-1546) "The souls of women are so small that some believe they have none at all" Samuel Butler (1612-1680) Christianity is the product of a patriarchal society (were men have the dominant role). This is reflected in the Old Testament that gives laws about how a man could divorce his wife if he wanted to, but it does not say anything about allowing a woman to divorce her husband (Deut 24:1). The laws about rape imply that an unmarried woman is the property of her father (Deut 22:28-29). In the book of Genesis it was Eve who first introduced sin into the world and this has been used to show how weak women are. However there are some powerful and influential women in the Old Testament such as Deborah, Delilah and Jezebel. Esther and Ruth have Old Testament books of their own. Jesus and women Although the church has been guilty of sexist behaviour Jesus did not show sexist behaviour. He preached to women as well as men (Luke 10:38-42), revealed himself as saviour to a Samaritan woman (John 4:7-30), had women disciples and after the resurrection appeared first to a woman (Matthew 28:110). Christians believe, and Jesus said, that God created all people equal. Elsewhere in the New Testament a very patriarchal view of women is evident, such as in the letters of St. Paul. It is often pointed out that Jesus himself called God ‘Father’ and his closest disciples were men. The church and sexism Like all institutions that are dominated by men, the church has been guilty of sexism. Women have had little to do with the power in the church, even though they have traditionally made up the majority of the members. God is assumed to be a man and still in most churches women cannot rise to the highest positions. Over the last few years a new force has arisen in the Christian church which is sometimes called feminist theology. Feminism and Feminist Theology Over the Twentieth century women have moved to gain equality with men in most western countries. It was inevitable that this secular movement should also influence Christianity. Feminist theology began in the 1960s and has grown in strength. Women are slowly beginning to make the church think again about its male dominated language and sexist attitudes. ".. the effect of not having to regard woman as fully human means that their experiences, complaints and joys do not have to be given the same validity. Male experience is regarded as normal; female alternatives to this experience are regarded as being abnormal. Prostitution has always been considered as a provision for men." Over the last few years in the Anglican church the issue of women priests has been very important. It has caused widespread division in the church with some male leaders leaving the church. "The language of the church is sexist too. Why is God always Male ? Surely God, the creator of everything, is both male and female. As women we want to be consulted about attitudes in the church and not be expected just to make cups of tea !” The Anglican church now ordains women as priests and also as bishops whilst the Roman Catholic Church remains resolutely against the ordaining of women priests who would have to take the role of Christ in the Mass. Marriage The Christian religion sets a high value on marriage. The joining of a man and a woman in holy matrimony is thought to reflect the union of Jesus and his followers (the church). In the gospels Jesus taught that God's purpose was that marriage should be lifelong and intimate. "In the beginning God created them Male and Female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" - Mark 10:7 Why get married ? The church recognises three reasons for getting married: the couple's mutual help and relationship, the right relationship for physical intimacy, the procreation of children. In Britain most people, even though they may not be Christians, get married in church. They feel it is important to make the solemn and important promises of marriage in a special place. The Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox churches regard marriage as a sacrament. Through the blessing of marriage each partner become the channel of God's love to the other. In the Church of England the marriage service reminds couples of this. "God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God: and God lives in union with them" - 1 John 4:16 "No human being must then separate that which God has joined together" Mark 10:9 A simple summary of the teachings of the marriage ceremony can be remember by using the acronym 'purpose' Procreation - having children Union - a loving partnership of living together Rearing children - providing nurture & security Pattern for society - family unit of mutual support One flesh - sexual intimacy Sacred - blessed by God Eternal - lifelong faithful relationship In order to help couples prepare for their marriage many churches insist that they attend a number of "engaged couples" courses. These will cover subjects such as: cohabitation , commitment , compromise , communication, cash ! (or lack of it). The marriage service The marriage service is different in different Christian denominations but two things are common, the exchanging of rings and the making of vows. The symbolism of the ring is taken from the Jewish tradition and rings are said to be: round - to symbolise the eternity of marriage, gold - to symbolise the purity of marriage, plain - to symbolise the simplicity of marriage. it is also worn, traditionally, on the 3rd finger of the left hand, said to be where a vein runs directly to the heart. The teachings of the marriage ceremony The vows vary but the ones below from the Church of England's marriage service are typical. "I (N) take you (M) to be my 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 till death do us part, according to God's holy law; and this is my solemn vow." - (from the Alternative Service Book p291) Divorce and Remarriage Key Idea: Most Christian churches regard divorce as a last resort - only when all else has failed. This century there has been a decline in first marriages and an increase in second marriages. There has also been a major rise in the divorce rate. Many reasons are giving to explain the break down of marriages but one factor is that divorce has become accepted by society in a way that it was not a generation ago. In 1971 the divorce reform act allowed a couple to divorce on the grounds of adultery, cruelty, desertion for at least 2 years, mutual consent (after 2 years), or if one person only wants a divorce after 5 years. The 1984 Matrimonial and Family proceedings act allowed divorce after one year of marriage. In 1995 Lord Mackay introduced a white paper removing the need for "fault" in a marriage, but compelling couples to spend a year in meditation and encouraging them to negotiate either a reconciliation or a mutually agreeable separation. A Christian response The Christian ideal is that marriage is a lifelong commitment, "No human being must separate what God has joined together" - Mark 10:9 so divorce is seen as a failure. The teachings' of Jesus also are very strict about divorce; "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 However the church realises that some relationships do break down for various reasons and that while not desirable divorce should take place. They take the view that if the marriage becomes destructive, such as when there is abuse, it is not in the best interest of those involved for it to continue. The exception to this is the Roman Catholic church which does not accept that the religious marriage can end, though they accept that the couple may go through a legal divorce. In very rare cases a marriage may be annulled: If If If If the marriage has not been consummated (no sex) one partner had been forced to marry one partner can't meet the requirements of marriage one partner was not baptised a Catholic The other Christian churches will allow couple to remarry though they may be reluctant to carry out the remarriage. Sexual Relationships Key Idea: Sex is a beautiful, natural God given activity but should ideally be confined to the loving stable relationship of marriage. Sex Most healthy human beings have the ability to reproduce. Unlike some other less complex forms of life, we do this sexually - involving the male and female of our species. Without this ability to reproduce there would be no biological survival, we would die out as a species. For humans sex is an emotional and psychological experience as well as a physical one. It is easy to feel under great pressure about sex. Young boys are under great pressure to talk about "sexual conquests", yet girls are called names if they it is believed that they have had sexual relationships. The media and peer pressure make out that it is easy to have "sex without feelings". In order for people to grow up experiencing happy and fulfilled sexual relationships they must learn the value of respecting other human beings not as objects of their own gratification but as other people with the same feelings, emotions and hopes as them. Sex outside marriage It has been said that for previous generations sex outside marriage was not as common as it is today because of three fears; 1. fear of detection - getting caught. 2. fear of infection - getting ill. 3. fear of conception - getting pregnant. Sex outside marriage, which means premarital (before marriage) and extramarital (during marriage) has now become more common possibly for the following reasons; 1. Virginity is not considered to be so important. 2. Contraception has improved and is available. 3. Education about contraception has improved. 4. Abortions are easier to obtain. 5. Sexual permissiveness is encouraged. 6. Fewer people follow the teachings of the church. 7. Adultery is no longer illegal. 8. Medical facilities have improved. 9. Sex and romantic love are more closely linked. However, the results have been very serious: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Sexually transmitted diseases are increasing. More children are being born outside marriage. Young people are becoming sexually active at a younger age. Divorce rates have risen. There is a greater risk of diseases such as AIDS The availability of cheap, reliable contraception has removed the fear of infection and conception from sexual activity and so the church needs to address this issue. Christians would say that sex outside marriage is generally wrong not just because of the problems above but because Jesus spoke out against it. Some Christians would say that sexual relations between couple in stable loving relationships is acceptable. Although sex and fornication are condemned over 30 times in the New Testament Christianity teaches that; Sex is a beautiful gift from God which demands responsibility, commitment and total love. It is always wrong to use a person as a thing. Sexual Intercourse is a special thing, it can be the start of a new life. Sex is the most beautiful expression of a deep, loving life-long union between two people. Contraception The Roman Catholic Church teaches that contraceptives like condoms, the Pill, sterilization and vasectomy separate the creative function of sexual intercourse from the expression of love in an unnatural way. Contraception is contrary to Natural Law and therefore sinful. Contraception encourages immorality and the exploitation of people for sexual gratification. The Catholic Church does allow couples to limit the size of their families using natural methods such as the rhythm method. The Protestant churches now allow the use of contraception due to the need to control the world’s population and there is an opinion that sex is an expression of love between man and wife as well as a means of procreation. Homosexuality Homosexuality is the emotional, psychological and physical love shared by two people of the same gender. If the church begins to accept that sex is the expression of love as well as for procreation then it needs to look at the traditional attitudes to homosexuality. " no -one who is guilty of homosexual perversion shall enter the kingdom of God" [1 Corinthians 6:9-10] A homosexual relationship can be as loving and caring as any heterosexual one. Most Christian churches now accept the concept of homosexual love while finding the actual sexual act more difficult to tolerate. Chastity, Celibacy and Virginity In the Roman Catholic church priests must be both celibate (not married) and chaste (sexually pure). This allows them to dedicate themselves to their work without distraction. In most other churches the leader is allowed to marry. The Christian ideal is that a person should be a virgin until they marry. The important thing is that sex should be an important issue that should not be taken lightly.
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