A Woman's Place: What the Denominations Think

How about The Southern Baptist Convention amended its statement on "Baptist Faith and Message" last week, to declare, among other things, that wives must "submit graciously" to the leadership of their husbands. Here are the views of some religious denominations on marriage, divorce and the role of husbands and wives.

Southern Baptist Convention:

Marriage: The uniting of one man and one woman in a covenant commitment for a lifetime.

Divorce: Civil divorce is recognized, but the church considers divorce to be an extreme position for extreme cases.

Birth Control: The choice is up to the individual couple.

Abortion: The church opposes it, except in cases that require saving the life of the mother.

A Man's Role in Marriage: The husband and wife are of equal worth before God. Both bear God's image but in differing ways. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has a God-given responsibility to provide for, protect and lead his family.

A Woman's Role in Marriage: A woman is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.

A Woman's Role Outside the Home: It is up to the individual family to decide whether she works outside the home.

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Buddhism (American Zen in the Japanese tradition)

Marriage: The lifetime union of a man and a woman in holy matrimony.

Divorce: Civil divorce is acceptable.

Birth Control: The choice is up to the individual couple; there are no specific guidelines.

Abortion: There are no specific guidelines, but the decision making belongs within the context of Buddhism's 16 precepts, a code for moral living that includes a "non-killing" precept.

A Man's Role in Marriage: To be an equal partner with his wife. If there are children, it is incumbent on the man to share in the maintaining of the household and family, as equally as possible.

A Woman's Role in Marriage: To be an equal partner with her husband. Neither wife nor husband has a particular job within the household. Division of labor depends on the couple's circumstances.

A Woman's Role Outside the Home: Whether she works is a decision made by considering what would be the "right action" for the good of the household. It depends on the couple's circumstances.

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Church of God in Christ (Pentecostal)

Marriage: A lifetime union before God, between a man and woman.

Divorce: Civil divorce is acceptable but is not encouraged.

Birth Control: Acceptable, a matter of conscience.

Abortion: Not acceptable, except in the case of incest or rape, or if the health of the mother is at stake.

A Man's Role in Marriage: To be the moral and spiritual leader, a protector and provider for the household.

A Woman's Role in Marriage: She is an equal partner. The role of both wife and husband is to be mutually submissive.

A Woman's Role Outside the Home: Working outside the home is acceptable and often unavoidable.

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Episcopal Church:

Marriage: A lifelong union between a man and a woman for their mutual joy that may or may not hold within it the procreation of children as a goal.

Divorce: An irretrievable breakdown of a marriage that is always regrettable but may be necessary.

Birth Control: Couples are free to decide whether birth control is a way they want to plan a household.

Abortion: It is never good but may be necessary in some circumstances. It lies within the realm of a woman's decision, to be made with her doctor and family members.

A Man's Role in Marriage: Men and women are absolutely equal in marriage.

A Woman's Role in Marriage: In the marriage rite, women and men make the same promises and accept the same responsibilities. Both husband and wife are submissive to Christ.

A Woman's Role Outside the Home: It is a woman's choice whether to work, to be made with the good of the household in mind. The same is true for men. If there are children in the home, the children must be a priority.

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Islam:

Marriage: The union of a man and woman joined together under God of their own free will, in a lifetime relationship. The woman receives a dowry from the man.

Divorce: Religiously guided arbitration is required in an effort to resolve differences and prevent divorce. Civil divorce is recognized. In addition, a divorce needs to be announced and witnessed by members of the Muslim community.

Birth Control: It is acceptable but not encouraged.

Abortion: Prohibited, unless the well-being of the mother is at stake.

A Man's Role in Marriage: A man should provide for the family. The money he earns belongs to him and the family.

A Woman's Role in Marriage: She oversees the health of the household, which includes physical, spiritual and material well-being.

A Woman's Role Outside the Home: Working is acceptable. The money she earns is her own. She has the option of using it for the family.

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Orthodox Judaism:

Marriage: The joining of two individuals with the goal of living a constructive, harmonious life and creating a good environment for bringing up children.

Divorce: Civil divorce is not recognized, only religious divorce. A court of three rabbis draws up and signs the divorce document. The husband then hands it to the wife.

Birth Control: It is acceptable if the physical and mental health of the wife is at stake, but it is discouraged. A husband and wife should have as many children as they can.

Abortion: Generally considered unacceptable except under some circumstances where the health of the mother is at stake.

A Man's Role in Marriage: A man's role is to oversee teaching and religious ritual for the family. He plays the dominant role in the marriage but defers to his wife concerning domestic matters.

A Woman's Role in Marriage: A woman's role is to oversee the nurturing of the family. She defers to her husband concerning decisions of religious ritual and study.

A Woman's Role Outside the Home: There are no restrictions against a woman working outside the home as long as she recognizes her major concern is the family.

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Reform Judaism:

Marriage: The sacred union of a man and woman in a loving, faithful monogamous relationship.

Divorce: Civil divorce is recognized.

Birth Control: It is acceptable.

Abortion: Acceptable when it is for the sake of preserving the life and health of the mother.

A Man's Role in Marriage: It is the shared role of husband and wife to create a small sanctuary in the home, with shared responsibilities.

A Woman's Role in Marriage: Both partners are equal. There are no particular assigned roles.

A Woman's Role Outside the Home: Women who work outside the home are in no way denigrated. Men and women are free to work and maintain a family as they deem necessary.

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)

Marriage: A sacred institution uniting a man and woman for life. If the ceremony is performed in the temple, the marriage will continue through eternity.

Divorce: Civil divorce is recognized but considered regrettable.

Birth Control: Acceptable, a decision to be made by a married couple. Creation of a family is greatly encouraged.

Abortion: Acceptable under some circumstance, including rape and incest. The health of the mother is a paramount consideration. A husband and wife make the final decision.

A Man's Role in Marriage: The husband presides over the family in love and righteousness. He is responsible to provide the necessities of life for his family.

A Woman's Role in Marriage: Women are primarily responsible for raising and nurturing the children.

A Woman's Role Outside the Home: If possible a woman ought to be in the home with the children, but she is not to be judged or denied any church rights if she works outside the home.

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Roman Catholic:

Marriage: A covenant relationship between a man and a woman in which they establish family life.

Divorce: Civil divorce is not recognized. A marriage cannot be dissolved except by the death of one of the partners. The church recognizes annulment, which says no valid marriage ever existed.

Birth Control: Artificial means of birth control are opposed by the church. Periodic abstinence is an acceptable means of natural family planning.

Abortion: The church opposes abortion. If a pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, doctors and nurses should do all they can to save both mother and child, but cannot will to save one or the other.

A Man's Role in Marriage: He is in a partnership with his wife. Husbands should be self-giving in their love for the family, as Christ was prepared to give his life out of love.

A Woman's Role in Marriage: Women and men are equal but not the same. Wives should try to make the will of the husband be the will of the family.

A Woman's Role Outside the Home: Working outside the home is acceptable, in light of fiscal realities. It is desirable, if possible, that the mother be at home with the children.

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Unitarian Universalist:

Marriage: A union between equal partners.

Divorce: Civil divorce is recognized. Divorce is a tragedy but sometimes a necessity.

Birth Control: It is supported by the church as a means of family planning.

Abortion: Acceptable, as a conscientious decision made by a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy.

A Man's Role in Marriage: He is an equal partner.

A Woman's Role in Marriage: She is an equal partner.

A Woman's Role Outside the Home: It should be strongly supported.

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