Marriage is a significant institution in many cultures and religions, and the Bible also addresses the importance and sanctity of this union between a man and a woman. The first mention of marriage appears in the Book of Genesis, where it is described as a sacred bond in which a man and woman become one flesh, obtain God’s blessings, and are instructed to be fruitful and multiply (source). With numerous verses and teachings related to marriage, the Bible provides a strong foundation for understanding the purpose and meaning of this unique relationship.
What Does the Bible Say About Marriage?
As emphasized in the Bible, marriage is a divine institution established by God himself. According to Bibleinfo.com, marriage is an honorable union, and God performed the first wedding at the end of Creation week, blessing the couple. Furthermore, the New Testament reiterates the importance of marriage, stating in Matthew 19:6 that a man and a woman become “one flesh” and that this oneness should not be separated by humankind.
Various aspects of married life such as love, respect, and commitment can be found in different verses throughout the Bible. For example, wives are advised to submit to their husbands as they would to the Lord, recognizing the husband’s leadership role within the family (source). Additionally, according to Bible Study Tools, the Bible also affirms that finding a wife is a good thing and brings favor from the Lord, underscoring the value placed on marriage in the Scripture.
Old Testament Teachings
In the Old Testament, marriage is portrayed as a permanent, covenantal relationship between a man, who provides protection and provision for his wife, and a woman, who remains monogamous to her husband (source). This view is established in the Book of Genesis, which states that marriage involves a man and a woman becoming one flesh, and it sets the foundation for the importance of marriage within the covenant (source).
The Old Testament also stresses the need for husbands and wives to share similar beliefs, goals, and objectives. This concept is supported by verses such as II Corinthians 6:14 and Deuteronomy 7:3-4 (source). Furthermore, Ecclesiastes 9:9 highlights the lifelong commitment expected in marriages, and Ephesians 5:28, 33 promotes mutual love and respect between spouses (source).
Some of the key principles regarding marriage in the Old Testament are:
- Marriage as a permanent, covenantal relationship (source)
- Marriage is established in the Book of Genesis (source)
- Sharing similar beliefs, goals, and objectives (source)
- Lifelong commitment, love, and respect for one another (source)
Despite the presence of different types of marriage in the Old Testament, the core message of marriage as a sacred union between a man and a woman remains constant. In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus reinforces this idea by referencing the Genesis account and stating that what God has joined together, no one should separate (source).
New Testament Teachings
The New Testament presents a nuanced view of marriage. Jesus mentioned that marriage in the afterlife will not exist, as people will have undergone transformation, making marriage—a social reality—irrelevant (Matthew 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-40). The Bible also states that marriage is a blessing from God, meant to enrich our lives and foster closeness to both our spouse and to God (Bibleinfo.com).
Marriage is described as a union where the husband and wife become “one flesh.” This oneness is most notably manifested in the physical intimacy of the marital relationship (Matthew 19:6). The New Testament also emphasizes the importance of maintaining this union, stating, “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).
Wives are instructed to submit to their husbands, as the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:22-24). Husbands, on the other hand, are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25-27).
In contrast, the New Testament also offers an alternative view, where singleness and celibacy are held in high regard. Celibacy was considered a superior option as it allowed an individual to be closer to God, placing the married state as secondary to celibacy (Baptist News Global).
Roles in Marriage
According to the Bible, marriage roles involve the husband as the head of the household and the wife as his helper. In Ephesians 5:22-23, it states that wives should submit to their husbands, as the husband is the head of the wife, similar to how Christ is the head of the church (Open Bible).
Moreover, husbands are called to love their wives unconditionally and provide for their families. They are also instructed to serve their wives and lead in their marriage (The Raineys). In Ephesians 5:25, it says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
For wives, the Bible instructs them to respect their husbands. In Ephesians 5:33, it commands wives to revere, admire, and honor their husbands (Mad About Marriage). Proverbs 31:10-31 also gives an idea of what a virtuous wife looks like, highlighting attributes like trustworthiness, wisdom, and strength.
In addition to these specific roles, both spouses must work together as a team and make decisions that benefit the marriage and family (ACCounseling). While the Bible provides a general framework for marriage roles, it is essential for couples to communicate and adapt to each other’s needs in their unique relationship.
The Purpose of Marriage
According to the Bible, marriage serves several distinct purposes. One primary purpose of marriage is companionship. In the book of Genesis, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). This statement highlights the importance of companionship and partnership between spouses in a marriage.
Another significant purpose of marriage is procreation. The Bible states, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), signifying that married couples are meant to have children and raise a family. The family unit plays a crucial role in carrying out God’s plan and maintaining the stability of society.
Marriage also serves as a representation of the relationship between Christ and the Church. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:25-32 that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the Church, and wives should submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ. This symbolic connection demonstrates the sacredness of marriage and highlights its significance in the Christian faith.
In addition, marriage provides a safe and loving environment for redemption and sanctification. Through the challenges and joys of married life, spouses can grow together spiritually, constantly learning to love and serve one another, just as God loves and serves His people.
The Sanctity of Marriage
The sanctity of marriage in the Bible is presented as a sacred and divine institution, established by God from the very beginning. In the Book of Genesis, we read about the first marriage, when God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18).
Another important verse highlighting the sanctity of marriage is found in Genesis 2:24, where it states, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This passage emphasizes the bond between husband and wife as a lifelong commitment.
In addition to these foundational passages, the Bible also provides guidance on how spouses should treat one another. For example, husbands are instructed to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Furthermore, the Bible teaches that love is the core of marriage: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
As a testament to the sacredness of the marriage relationship, the Bible also warns against adultery and holds up marriage as an honorable institution: “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
Divorce and Remarriage
The Bible has clear teachings on the subject of divorce and remarriage. In general, divorce is considered against God’s will, but there are specific cases where it is allowed. One of the key verses related to divorce is found in Luke 16:18, which states, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Active Christianity).
However, there are exceptions in which divorce is permitted. Jesus mentioned adultery as a valid reason for divorce in Matthew 19:9: “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Bible Study Tools). Another exception can be found in 1 Corinthians 7:15, where believers who are abandoned by unbelieving spouses are allowed to divorce: “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases” (The Gospel Coalition).
As for remarriage, it is generally permitted in cases where the divorce was based on biblical grounds. In 1 Corinthians 7:39, the apostle Paul wrote: “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (The Gospel Coalition). This suggests that if the divorce is justified by biblical reasons, remarriage is allowed, but must be done in accordance with the Lord’s guidance.
In conclusion, the Bible emphasizes the importance of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. It describes marriage as a covenant witnessed by God, and it highlights the complementary nature of the relationship between the two individuals involved. The Bible teaches that the purpose of marriage is to provide companionship, support, and love, as well as the opportunity to raise a family and to represent the love between Christ and the church.
Furthermore, the institution of marriage is seen as a gift from God, and it is not to be taken lightly or entered into casually. Couples should strive to honor God in their marriage by seeking to serve one another, upholding their vows, and remaining faithful to one another.
Therefore, while the Bible provides guidance about the purpose and nature of marriage, it is important for married couples to embrace the responsibility that comes with this sacred covenant. By treating each other with love, kindness, and respect, married couples can create a strong and lasting relationship that glorifies God and serves as a positive example for those around them.