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Marriage, Family and Sexuality

Marriage, Family and Sexuality

Author: Ted Fairchild

This lesson will discuss ideas on marriage and sexuality from various religious traditions.

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Hello and welcome.

Marriage and family are sacred and central to most of the world religions. Marriage practices and the laws that surround them are very diverse across cultures. In some forms of the Christian tradition, the primary purpose of marriage is to glorify god. It is an affirmation and a demonstration of god's love.

In the Book of John in the New Testament, it says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son." And the bride of Christ is the church. The Catholic church teaches that god himself is the author of the sacred institution of marriage, which is his way of showing his love for those he created.

Marriage is a divine institution that can never be broken. Even if the husband or wife legally divorce in the civil courts, as long as they are both alive, the church recognizes them and considers them bound together, bound together by god.

Holy matrimony is another name for sacramental marriage. However, different Christian denominations have various ideas on marriage. For example, same sex marriage is not permitted in the Catholic tradition. But many Protestant nominations will recognize such decisions.

Other purposes of marriage in Christian teachings include intimate companionship, rearing children, and mutual support for both husband and wife to fulfill their life callings.

Attitudes toward sexuality differ across religious traditions, and different religions have developed moral codes covering issues of sexuality. The idea is to regulate situations which can give rise to sexual interest and to influence people's sexual activities and practices.

Looking at the monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, they generally maintain that sex and reproduction are holy acts, as one imitates the creator. In traditional Judaism, for example, the word sex comes from a root meaning, to know.

However, it is also understood that an individual's sexual desire stems from the evil impulse, the yetzer ra. This is fine. It's a part of life. It just needs to be used appropriately and with conscience to know what is right, dutiful, and healthy in this regard.

Within Judaism, marriage is viewed as a contractual bond by god, commanded by god, in which a man and woman come together to create a relationship in which god is directly involved. Though procreation is not the sole purpose, a Jewish marriage is also expected to fulfill the commandments to have children.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, sex and sexuality between a man and a woman demonstrates a theology of the body, which has the unique and holy capacity for making the invisible visible. Procreation, the giving of life.

And the sacred attitude toward sex and sexuality is shared in Islam. There are some practical differences with respect to activity during fasting and certain biological cycles, et cetera. And sex is regulated by boundaries and guidelines in these traditions. Adultery and homosexuality are prohibited, as the purpose of sex is seen as procreation.

However, today, issues of sexuality is very much debated and a topic of great controversy.

In the east, in China especially, the teachings of Confucius stress the five important relationships that an individual is a part of, one of which is the marital relationship. It is believed that if one is dutiful in marriage, it will assist society in prospering and allowing a culture to flourish.

In the Hindu faith, Hinduism, Hinduism follows the dharma, or sacred duty, in many facets of life. And marriage is one that entails both religious and social obligations.

So now let's review. Across the religions, there are diverse attitudes toward marriage, sex, and sexuality. In general, the Christian traditions view marriage as a holy matrimony reflecting god's love for the world.

In traditional Jewish faith, these are also sacred partnerships and acts, which need to be approached with care and discernment. Confucianism values marriage as one of the five central relationships that has great potential for improving and transforming society and the life of a culture.

And not entirely unsimilar to other Eastern religions' attitude toward marriage and sexuality, we ended up with the Hindu faith, Hinduism, which values marriage as a sacred duty or dharma, which includes duties to the faith as well as duties to society.

That wraps up the tutorial for now. We look forward to seeing you next time. Thanks.

Terms to Know
Confucian Relationships

The five relationships specified in Confucianism, including marriage, that tend to stabilize society.


In Hinduism, a sacred duty.

Holy Matrimony

Marriage when sanctified specifically by religious authority; specific to Roman Catholicism and other form of Christianity.