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Roles of men and women. What does Christianity say about family life?

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Christians believe that children should be brought up in a loving and supportive family, founded on marriage and that the Church should be a model of family life.

Roles of men and women

Jesus and early Christians lived in a male-dominated society and the Bible reflects this. The belief that men and women should have different roles is still common in some Christian communities today. This is because they believe that God made men and women differently.

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
St Paul's letter to the Ephesians 5:21-22

Other Christians believe that men and women were both made in the image of God and should be treated equally – they should share responsibilities and privileges.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
St Paul's letter to the Galatians 3:28

Many Roman Catholics believe husbands and wives should respect each other's roles within a marriage and value both equally. These roles include those of care within the home, and that of earning money to provide for the family.

Men should truly esteem and love women with total respect for their personal dignity, and society should create and develop conditions favouring work in the home.
Pope John Paul II

The book of Genesis gives different accounts of the order of creation of men and women which have been interpreted differently.

The Lord God said 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'
Genesis 2:8

In the Roman Catholic Church only men can become priests and bishops. They have to remain celibate because their position means they are married to the Church and need to be free of family responsibilities to be able to perform their duties fully. Women have different roles in the Roman Catholic Church.

Unordained members, called laymen and lay women, are equally allowed to help in giving out the bread and wine at Mass, to read and to perform social roles such as visiting the sick.

Nowadays, most Protestant churches allow women to become ministers or priests. In 2014 the Church of England finally voted, after years of debate, to allow women to become bishops and the first women bishops were ordained in 2015.

In many denominations of Christianity, men and women can devote their lives to God by becoming a monk or nun.

bbc.co.uk

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