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Christianity 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.

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“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, …


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