- Awareness of how Christian marriage ceremonies reflect Christian belief and teaching about marriage.
- Understanding of different Christian views on divorce and remarriage.
- Consideration of why some marriages succeed and others fail.
- Reflect on the pros and cons of marriage as an institution.
- Evaluate different attitudes towards marriage represented in a film clip.
- Analyse Bible passages to discover Christian teaching on the subjects of marriage and singleness.
- Analyse the perspectives of different Christian traditions towards divorce.
- Analyse a Christian wedding service to determine how Christian beliefs about marriage are demonstrated in liturgy.
- Synthesise learning by writing a number of recipes for a successful marriage.
Divide the students into two teams. Tell one half of the class that they are to make the case in favour of marriage (as an institution, not necessarily the case for them to get married right now!) and the other half that they are making the case against marriage. Alternate between the teams, building up an evenly matched list of pros and cons. Keep this going until one team begins to run out of ideas, or until you think that the lists are big enough.
Explain that today’s lesson is going to be about marriage, and in particular looking at different Christian understandings of marriage and divorce.
Introduce the clip from the film Twilight: Eclipse (E1 Entertainment, 2010, certificate 12). Click here to buy the film online.
Explain that Edward (Robert Pattinson) is a vampire who is in love with Bella (Kristin Stewart), a human. She wants him to change her into a vampire so that they can be together forever. He is reluctant, as he believes that he lost his soul when he became a vampire and does not want her to suffer the same fate. Explain that in this scene the couple discuss their different attitudes towards the idea of getting married. Ask the students to pay particular attention to the arguments presented on both sides of the debate.
- Start time: 0.02.22 (in chapter 1 of the DVD)
- End time: 0.05.02
- Clip length: 2 minutes and 40 seconds
The clip starts with Bella reciting, ‘Some say the world will end in fire…’ It ends with Bella saying, ‘I can’t – I have to be back at four,’ before kissing Edward and walking away.
Ask the students to summarise Edward and Bella’s respective points of view about getting married. Write their answers on the board as the discussion continues. The end result may look something like this:
Bella (against getting married)
- Marriage is just a piece of paper.
- In her culture and at her age, it’s usually a sign of unplanned pregnancy.
- Two-thirds of marriages end in divorce.
Edward (in favour of marriage)
- Marriage is a way of publicly marking your love for someone.
- It doesn’t matter what other people think.
- The divorce rate between vampires and humans is significantly lower than in human marriages.
How did Edward and Bella’s views compare with the lists generated by the students in the opening activity? Ask the students whether they agree more with the argument put forward by Edward or by Bella. What difference – positively or negatively – does marriage make for a couple?
Divide the class into pairs or small groups and ask them to read 1 Corinthians 7:1-9 and 32-35. More able students could tackle the whole of the chapter, but may find they get unnecessarily bogged down with virgins and unbelieving husbands. Ask the students to produce a list of the case for marriage and the case for singleness according to these passages.
Some possible answers:
- Helps to avoid immorality (v2).
- You can have sex (v3).
- Good not to marry (v1).
- Can focus on serving God, rather than being distracted with worldly problems (vv32-34).
Take feedback from the students, and compare their answers with the list you generated earlier. Do the students feel that this passage makes enough of a case to justify the early statement, ‘It is good for a man not to marry’? If they take sex out of the equation, do the students think that marriage or singleness looks like a better option? How do they think that the picture of marriage and singleness described here (and written approximately 2000 years ago) compares with modern attitudes towards marriage and singleness?
Ask the students to read Genesis 2:19-25. Working in pairs or small groups, ask them to make a list of Christian principles about marriage that are underpinned by these verses.
Some possible answers:
- Marriage provides a depth of companionship that is hard to find elsewhere (verse 20).
- The marriage bond is a deeply intimate one (verses 23, 24, 25).
- Marriage is an exclusive bond that surpasses other existing family relationships (verse 24).
Take feedback from the students and allow some time for discussion. You could ask the students – particularly those who were siding with Bella in the earlier activity – whether they like the picture of marriage that can be drawn from this passage.
Remind the students of Bella’s comment that two-thirds of marriages end in divorce. (Actually, recent statistics in the UK show that just under 40% of marriages end in divorce, with the number of divorces in the three years prior to 2008 going down rather than up. This makes for slightly better odds than Kevin thought, but doesn’t significantly undermine his point.) Explain that attitudes towards divorce have changed considerably over recent years. Once there was a time when a divorce was considered to be a shameful thing, whereas now divorces are much more common and are accepted as a fact of life. Ask the students what they think a Christian perspective on divorce might be.
Ask the students, in pairs or small groups, to look up the following Bible passages which show Jesus’ teaching on the subject of divorce. The students should summarise Jesus’ teaching, and then discuss in their small groups the extent to which the comments in the two passages agree with each other, or seem to contradict each other.
Matthew 5:31-32 (parallel passage which could be used as an alternative: Luke 16:18).
Matthew 19:1-12 (you might like to point out that Jesus refers here to the passage from Genesis that the class looked at earlier) (parallel passage which could be used as an alternative: Mark 10:1-12).
Take feedback from the students, and draw out that while Jesus seems to recognise that sometimes marriages come to an end and divorce is necessary, he also seems to regard this as a serious matter, and something not to be entered into lightly. Ask if any of the students were surprised by Jesus’ views on divorce.
You might also like to refer students to the following summary of the different positions on the subject of divorce taken by different denominations. If you have Internet access during the lesson, refer students to:
If you have Internet access during the lesson, direct the students to the text of the Church of England wedding service which is available online at:
If Internet access is not possible, you could print out the wedding service from the site in advance of the lesson and distribute copies to the students.
How would having made vows like this provide someone with additional reasons for working to avoid a break up? What difference might a Christian faith make in the attitude that someone took to keeping these vows?
Explain that whilst words are often considered cheap in our society, Christians believe that their words matter, especially promises made in the presence of God.
SUMMARY AND ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING:
Ask students to write a recipe for a successful Christian marriage. Use quantities (e.g. in grams or some other unit of measurement) to show the relative importance of different aspects of a marriage and refer to what you have learnt about Christian marriage from this lesson. You could ask them to write alternative recipes reflecting other perspectives on marriage, either secular or from other religious faiths, to help demonstrate any distinctive features of Christian perspectives on the matter.
YOU WILL NEED:
- A copy of Twilight: Eclipse and the means to play it.
- Internet access or print outs of wedding service liturgy.