Christianity Essay Research Paper Religious Studiesa Describe

Christianity Essay, Research Paper

Religious Studies

a) Describe and explain the Christian teaching about marriage (be sure to include Biblical evidence). (24)

b) Choose two different Christian denominations and explain how they apply this teaching to the issue of divorce and remarriage today. (21)

c) “Divorce and remarriage can never be justified.” Give reasons to agree and disagree with this statement, using evidence from Christian teachings and practice. What is your opinion? Give reasons when you explain it. (15)

a) Describe and explain the Christian teaching about marriage (be sure to include Biblical evidence). (24)

There are many reasons as to why a couple wishes to be married, these may include:

? A baby is on the way and they want the child to have married parents

? The couple will be better off financially, as the man gets a married, man’s tax allowance.

? It is less confusing if the couple have the same surname.

? The couple wants to show their love for each other by having a wedding ceremony.

? It gives both parties security under the law.

The fundamental basis for Christian teaching on marriage is that God created man and woman for each other and it is in the Old Testament that we are first introduced to this concept. The Old Testament writers believed that married love was part of God’s purpose in creating people. “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”(Genesis 2:18)

It also clearly states in the Old Testament that marriage was so important, that adultery was a crime fit only for the severest punishment. “You shall not commit adultery.” (Deut.5: 18) “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife – with the wife of his neighbour – both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. (Lev. 20:10)

The teachings of St Paul and the teaching of Jesus are recognised in the New Testament. St Paul and Jesus did not change the laws and stories, but simply built on them in their own teaching.

Jesus and St Paul taught that marriage is for life until one of the partner dies. Jesus, being an orthodox Jew accepted that divorce took place, but according to biblical interpretation was probably unhappy with the position that Jewish woman was left after divorce. ‘Moses gave permission for a man to write a divorce notice and send his wife away.’

Marriage has three purposes: the good of the couple (it enables then to have a life-long relationship of love) and the procreation of children and their education.

The union of husband and wife is designed not only as a way of expressing their love for each other, but so their love can give new life.

These purposes are outlined in the wedding service. Two people vow to ‘love and cherish, for better for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.’

The priest asks for God to protect the couple and help them through their marriage so they can remain faithful to each other.

Marriage is a commitment and given by God as a means for a man and woman to find happiness together. In marriage, a man and woman are called to help each other to live out a life of love: in sharing the good times, and the bad. By their mutual self-giving love they help each other to come to know, understand and live the real meaning of love. Their love helps them to become truly and fully alive.

‘The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptised persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1601)

At the wedding, the bride wears a white dress. This is a tradition that the bride would be a virgin on her wedding day. Once they are married and have sexual intercourse, they become ‘one flesh’ (Ephesians 5:21 – 33) and only God can end this bond. They are no longer two, but one. ‘A man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.’ (Mark 10:7-8) White symbolises purity.

Rings are placed on each of the spouse’s fingers symbolising the unending love and marriage. ‘I give you this ring as a sign of marriage. 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.’ The joining of hands at the declaration symbolises unity together. ‘That, which God has joined together, let man not divide.’

The Roman Catholic Church regards marriage as a sacrament, which is an outward sign of an inward blessing from God. The wedding at Cana in John’s gospel is an example, where Jesus performed a miracle of water changing into blood. This is an outward sign of an inward blessing. The sacrament will remind them is that their commitment to journey together in this life is the very way in which they will discover how to journey through human life to eternal life.

The Catholic Church believes strongly in the celibacy of the clergy. They believe that they should remain more focused on God and the Church rather than marriage and sexual intercourse. However, the Protestant Churches believe marriage is a normal way of life for the clergy. Children can be brought up under God’s will, in a happy, loving and stable environment.

b) Choose two different Christian denominations and explain how they apply this teaching to the issue of divorce and remarriage today. (21)

Most Christians when they marry take vows promising to remain together until either one of the partners dies. ‘Until death do us part.’ They believe that you cannot take life-long vows twice. However, when it comes to the matter of divorce and remarriage, Christian denominations take different views.

The Roman Catholic Church believes that divorce is wrong. They take the words from the Bible literally. When the two become one, they have become ‘one flesh’.

Jesus taught that divorce was wrong – ‘Back in the house, the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she is guilty of adultery too.” (Mark 10:10-12.)

The Roman Catholic Church believes that when the couple have made a promise before God in the sacrament of marriage, no earthly power can break this. ‘Thus the marriage bond has been established by God himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptised persons can never be dissolved.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1640)

In the Roman Catholic Church, marriage is part of the seven sacraments, and when a couple consent themselves to marriage, the civil Court has no power or authority over this indissoluble bond. Jesus himself teaches, “Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate. They are not free to marry again while their previous wife or husband is still alive.

‘The remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ. They are not separate from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharist communion. They will lead Christian lives especially by educating their children in the faith.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1665)

However, the Catholic Church does allow annulment, if:

a) One partner suffered from mental problems at the time of the marriage.

b) One partner was forced into the marriage

c) One of the partners was not baptised at the time of the marriage

d) One partner did not intend to keep the marriage vows.

The Church of England allows divorced people to remarry. They follow the teaching in

(Matthew 19:9) Jesus says “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 but they usually require them to talk to the minister about why their first marriages failed. They are sometimes asked to show repentance for the failure and required to promise that this time their marriage will be for life.

Under Church law, no Anglican priest is allowed to marry a divorcee. But, some priests get round this by using civil law. The Bishop of Birmingham himself has married a divorcee. In January 2000, The House of Bishops, as part of the General Synod put together the Winchester Report, where the main findings had been that the public was overwhelmingly in favour of allowing divorcees to remarry in church. The General Synod is shortly to consider these recommendations. It is likely that the vote will go to individual dioceses.”

Many Christians believe that divorce is a grave offence against the natural law. It breaks the contract to which the husband and wife freely consented, to live with each other until death. Most Christians believe that divorce is immoral because it introduces disorder into the family and into the society. It brings harm to the deserted spouse and often children are torn between both parents.

c) Divorce and remarriage can never be justified.” Give reasons to agree and disagree with this statement, using evidence from Christian teachings and practice. What is your opinion? Give reasons when you explain it.

I believe that divorce and remarriage is not part of God’s plan and should therefore be avoided. In the story of creation, God created the Earth, but also created mankind to live in love. Only God can break such a sacred bond. The only time in which a marriage may end is due to the death of one of the partners.

The couple stood before God and made vows to remain together until ‘death do us part.’ I believe that no civil law can end this bond and only God. And in God’s eyes when a civil divorce takes place the couple have not broken the bond and therefore if either of the partners remarries they will be committing adultery.

‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she is guilty of adultery too.’(Mark 10: 10-12)

God’s love has no ends, just as marriage should. If the love is broken, Christians believe that divorce is breaking the bond between Jesus, God and his Church.

The children can also suffer if the mother and father separate. Most Christians believe that marriage is the environment in which the mother, father and children live within. When a divorce occurs, upset can arise and the safe secure environment is jeopardised.

If a couple decide to divorce purely because they are no longer getting along anymore, I believe that a divorce is not necessary. Part of marriage is struggling through the hard times ‘for better for worse’. This can strengthen the relationship. I believe that if the couple can not uphold the relationship and eventually end in divorce, then they do have the right to remarry in a church. They have broken the promise they have made to God.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that if one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law: this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. ‘There is a big difference between a spouse who has tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.’ (Catechism of the Church 2386)

I believe. If either of the partners is mistreating the other, either by physical or mental cruelty then a divorce can be justified. ‘Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.’ (Ephesians 5:21-23) If this teaching is not upheld then either partner has the right to want a divorce.

A couple may wish to divorce for many reasons. Each spouse vows to ‘be faithful for as long as he shall live.’ If this promise is broken, one of the partners may want a divorce.

I believe that the victim of physical or mental abuse has the right remarry once again. I believe that because it is the not the victim’s fault that the marriage had broken down it is only fair that he/she can remarry in a church.

I think that when a couple make promises before God in a marriage ceremony to stay together until death do part, they should do so. However, if one commit adultery, the other should be free to choose whether she or he should divorce. If one partner is treating the other unreasonably, by physical or mental cruelty, or even by insanity, one also has the choice whether to divorce. I think that the divorcee, who suffered from his or her partner by abuse or adultery, then they have the right to remarry.

If the marriage is suffering from difficulty, due to arguments and disagreements, then the couple should work to make the marriage work. Suffering can sometimes strengthen the relationship, so what would be the point of giving it up?

I believe that annulment can take place if:

a) the partner was forced into the marriage

b) one partner suffered from mental problem at the time of the marriage

c) one of the partners did not intend to keep the marriage vows

d) One of the partners was not baptised at the time of marriage.

I believe that divorce and remarriage can be justified, but only under some circumstances of adultery and abuse. I believe that God does not want any one to live in sadness or hurt.


Catholic Christianity Today – M.Elson and V.W Watson

GCSE for you – Christianity and Moral Issues –Anne Jordan

Understanding Catholic Christianity – Thomas Zanig and Barbara Allaire

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Exploring the Sacraments – Robert. B Kelly

‘WGGS’ resource sheet


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