Monks' Dyke Technology College, Louth
Room Q12
GCSE Religious Education Short Course
Interview Lesson of 30 Minutes 30 November 2007

Christian Marriage and Divorce



Subject areas - includes parts of 1, 2, 3, 5, implies 6, touches on 7 below
Main GCSE exam areas, consisting of questions like...

  1. Explain Christian teachings about marriage.
  2. Explain why some Christians believe that the family is important.
  3. What do Christians believe about divorce and remarriage?
  4. Describe a Christian marriage service.
  5. Explain the importance of vows made in church.
  6. Describe Christian beliefs about divorce.
  7. Explain how a Christian marriage might guide a couple.
  8. Why might some Christians disagree about the use of contraception?
Objective: By mainly looking at biblical texts, students will be able to refer directly to a Christian or Jewish text accepted by Christians to show biblical sourced ethical views of marriage.


5 minutes (quick lesson start):
Symbols of marriage - The Ring
Why might the husband or wife wear a ring - the minister or priest saying, "With this ring I thee wed"?
Suggested answers (mouseover):

Ideas like continuous love, time, together, property, both gold and third finger of the left hand represent the sun (astrological), public evidence of marriage (sexual unavailability).


10 minutes: Focus on Christian Marriage
When answering questions...

  • Focus on Christian beliefs, rather than just marriage in general.
  • Show how belief affects how a married couple interacts.
  • Refer to Biblical teachings.
  • Refer to the teachings of the Churches.
So, people can get married in Register Offices and according to many other religions. What is particular to Christians?

Write down differences you can think of between getting married or having a Civil Partnership in a Register Office and getting married in a church. Include differences of meaning to the couples.
Suggested answers (mouseover):

A secular wedding or Civil Partnership is a contract between two loving people that is intended for life and has all the benefits of marriage in a church, but does not involve God or a religion (also excluding Christianity); and whilst a secular wedding and to a lesser extent Civil partnership copies some biblical ideas and ethics (two people, lifelong), these ideals are not always obvious in the more limited ceremony provided by the State. Much understanding depends more on the couple.

Marriage in a Christian church involves a Covenant between two people and God, according to the Bible and Church tradition, and a marriage between man and a woman (who go on to procreate) may be seen as a lifelong outward sign of God's eternal love for his creation.

Some further details apply (students may examine in own time):

  • Marriage is an exclusive covenant (a two-sided promise) relationship. A covenant is a biblical concept involving the people of God.
  • Christian concept of joining 2 people into "one flesh"
  • The love between a married couple should reflect the love Jesus Christ has for his Church
  • Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe that marriage is a sacrament (an outward sign of unconditional and beneficial love of God as in grace)
  • Marriage shows two people's love for each other in front of the community and, especially, God.
  • Church wedding has blessing of God in Christian tradition
  • Promises before God : church wedding gives added weight to making vows
  • Stress on lifelong marriage: "Have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for better for worse"
  • Prayers are important to Christians at this important time
  • Following others who have used Bible and church teachings
  • Whilst people can cohabit, most Christians disagree
  • Some Churches tolerate divorce, some refuse to remarry divorcees
  • God intended marriage as the only place for sexual intercourse to take place
  • Children should only be conceived and brought up within a marriage
  • Christianity values the stability of the family for raising children.
  • Christians offer support
  • Children are brought up to love and honour their parents (10 commandments)
  • Raising children with Christian beliefs and discipline (christenings, Sunday School, family services, confirmation)


10 Minutes: What is involved in marriage according to the Bible?
(Look at texts, feedback)
Look at some Jewish (Christian accepted) and Christian texts (pairs and small groups).
(No particular order...)

Genesis 2:18-24
Song of Solomon 8: 5-7
Ephesians 5: 23-33
1 Peter 3: 1-7
1 Corinthians 7:1-16
2 Corinthians 6: 14-18
Matthew 19: 3-11
Matthew 22: 23-30
1 Timothy: 8-15


Genesis 2: 18-25

18 Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.'

20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner.

21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.

22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

23 Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.'

24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.

25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Ephesians 5: 23-33

23 For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Saviour.

24 Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

26 in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word,

27 so as to present the church to himself in splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind - yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.

28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

29 For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church,

30 because we are members of his body.

31 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.'

32 This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.

33 Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

1 Peter 3: 1-7

1 Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands, so that, even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives' conduct,

2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

3 Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing;

4 rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God's sight.

5 It was in this way long ago that the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by accepting the authority of their husbands.

6 Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord. You have become her daughters as long as you do what is good and never let fears alarm you.

7 Husbands, in the same way, show consideration for your wives in your life together, paying honour to the woman as the weaker sex, since they too are also heirs of the gracious gift of life - so that nothing may hinder your prayers.

1 Corinthians 7:1-16

1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: 'It is well for a man not to touch a woman.'

2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.

4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

5 Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

6 This I say by way of concession, not of command.

7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am.

9 But if they are not practising self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

10 To the married I give this command - not I but the Lord - that the wife should not separate from her husband

11 (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.

12 To the rest I say - I and not the Lord - that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.

13 And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.

14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you.

16 Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.

2 Corinthians 6: 14-18

14 Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness?

15 What agreement does Christ have with Beliar [of darkness, Anti-Christ]? Or what does a believer share with an unbeliever?

16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, 'I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

17 Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you,

18 and I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.'

Matthew 19: 3-11

3 Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?'

4 He answered, 'Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning "made them male and female",'

5 and said, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh"?

6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.'

7 They said to him, 'Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?'

8 He said to them, 'It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but at the beginning it was not so.

9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.'

10 His disciples said to him, 'If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.'

11 But he said to them, 'Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given.

Matthew 22: 23-30

23 The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying,

24 'Teacher, Moses said, "If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.'

25 Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow to his brother.

26 The second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh.

27 Last of all, the woman herself died.

28 In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had married her.'

29 Jesus answered them, 'You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

1 Timothy: 8-15

8 I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument;

9 also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes,

10 but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God.

11 Let a woman learn in silence with full submission.

12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve;

14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

5 Minutes: Feedback session of texts
What essential point or points do the texts highlight? Give the source of the reading and highlight one or two aspects that were striking.
Note the widespread use of Galatians 3: 26-29 as a corrective to inequality...

Galatians 3: 26-29

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.

27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.


5 Minutes: Summary of the main part of the lesson
Biblical texts represent a set of ancient teachings, some of which are not maintained, some of which are central, to Christian marriage. Some texts are unenthusiastic about marriage: they just avoid "sexual immorality". Texts emphasising inequality seem to be losing their importance today. Christians may not all agree about marriage as expressed in the Bible.


A Resource:


Adrian Worsfold