The common thread with part viewed last week is the un-anticipated consequences of the freedoms enabled by the concept of the ‘priesthood of all believers’ – the Church no longer had absolute say over people’s lives. This episode focused on the personal relationships, that marriage was a goodly (Godly) state; that family life could demonstrate a loving, caring supportive, even worshipful companionship. An example of living a life of Christian values. This lead to a gradual recognition of the equality of the sexes. Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer provided the first formal structure for a marriage ceremony (very informal beforehand with little/no church involvement); recognised that marriage was for fun as well as support for each other and children that was regarded very positively by God. This was in contrast to the RC elevation of celibacy.
In the home the wife was the heart of domestic spirituality – especially with longer and defined working hours for the (male) earner. This was elevated a step further by Queen Victoria. In the late 19th/early 20th centuries wealthy women became urban missionaries as they sought to bring order/assistance to less fortunate families; this brought a recognition of the very difficult social circumstances which lead women to recognise that they needed political power to effect significant social change. 20th century has seen women gaining more freedoms (the pill) and equality in business and politics. There has been an increasing recognition of need for equality for different races (US Civil Rights Movement headed by Martin Luther King Junior, end of Sth African apartheid) and sexual orientation (gay marriage); the rise from mid 20th century of conservative Christian right in the US to counter these trends – culminating in election of GW Bush.