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What the Bible Says about Marriage By John Coblentz

1. Marriage is the joining of an unmarried man with an unmarried woman to form a home of their own.

"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).

"Thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac . . . . And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. . . . And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her" (Genesis 24:4, 58, 67).

Whatever else we may conclude from these Scriptures, we can safely say that marriage is the joining of a man and woman in a lifelong bond. The man and woman leave the home of their father and mother and establish a home of their own.

2. Marriage is a covenant relationship for life.
"Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave" (Song of Solomon 8:6).
"Yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant" (Malachi 2:14).
"For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband" (Romans 7:2).

Marriage is not only the joining of a man and woman, but it is also a covenant to be faithful in that union for life. There is a proper jealousy in marital love, an exclusiveness which says in effect, "The love which I give to you I will give to no other, and the love which you give to me, you must give to no other."

We might note here that while this exclusiveness is prescribed in the Bible, it is also to a certain extent inherent in marital love. There is an unwritten but very evident expectation of faithfulness in the love between a man and a woman. It is ironic that this generation which so sings the praises of love with no strings attached is also saturated with songs of heartache, betrayal, and disappointment and regularly hears the news of violence and murder due to the unfaithfulness of these "lovers."

In light of the covenantal requirement in marriage, such variations as trial marriages or contract marriages, which place limitations on time or responsibilities, violate what the Bible teaches about marriage. These contracts form a cooperative relationship, but fall short of the lifetime oneness and commitment required in marriage. From a Biblical standpoint, therefore, a contract marriage would not be a true marriage, but rather, an illicit relationship.

3. Marriage begins with an event (a wedding) which marks for the couple and for observers a change from singlehood to marriage.

"And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage"
(John 2:1, 2).

We have seen that marriage is the joining of a man and woman and that it includes a lifelong commitment. Now we are noting what at first thought may seem obvious: marriage has a particular ceremony, announcement, feast, or suchlike event which marks its beginning. This event may vary in its details from culture to culture, but for both the couple and the public, it marks the beginning of the marriage. Before it, the two are recognized as single and unmarried, but afterward, they are known to be joined in marriage.

In the Bible, any relationship which assumes privileges of marriage before the wedding is considered a morally wrong relationship. It is not considered valid marriage. Thus, a "common-law marriage" is not true marriage. Even when recognized by the state as official (after a given time of cohabitation), it fails to meet Biblical criteria. The line between fornication and marriage is virtually impossible to draw if the beginning of marriage is not marked by a particular event, by some form of a wedding.

4. Marriage should include those social or civil steps which make it a legitimate marriage in one's society.

In the Book of Ruth we find Boaz taking careful socio-civil steps in his marriage to Ruth (see Ruth 3:12, 13; 4:1-11). Jewish social practices by the time of Christ included a covenant with witnesses at the time of espousal and a feast with family and friends at the time of marriage. Although the Bible does not prescribe any socio-civil steps for marriage, we can assume God's people have followed and should follow social propriety and civil guidelines in getting married. (See also Romans 13:1.)

As we noted in the preceding point, civil law may recognize as valid that which does not meet Biblical requirements (as in a common-law marriage), but a valid marriage should include those social and civil steps which make the marriage legitimate in society.

In North America, this would include public announcements (usually following an espousal), a marriage license, a ceremony performed by a recognized minister or magistrate, and an official record of the ceremony.

5. Marriage gives the right to experience the bond of physical union.

"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).

"Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other" (I Corinthians 7:3-5).

On the basis of the above Scriptures, some people consider physical union integral to marriage, so that if no sexual relations follow the wedding ceremony, it is not a valid marriage.

The point is debatable. Rather than absolutely requiring physical union for marriage, the Bible would rather seem to expect it. The sexual relationship is a very fundamental and tangible expression of the oneness and commitment of marriage, and to deprive one another sexually in marriage is wrong.

Others have carried the point of physical union even further, saying that it IS the marriage bond, that those who have a sexual relationship have formed a marriage bond. According to I Corinthians 6:16, sexual relations certainly do form a bond (for which cause harlotry is not merely a sinful act, but a sinful bond), but the Bible does not equate marriage with sexual union. This is clear in Exodus 22:16, 17, where it says if a man has sexual relations with a virgin, he has the obligation to take her to be his wife unless her father refuses. Then he must pay the price of her dowry. The point is clear: by doing to her what only a husband ought to do, he owes her all the obligations of a husband, but his sin does not automatically make him her husband.

Nine Suggestions for an Ailing Marriage

  1. Never consider divorce an option. It is not a solution to your problem. Divorce is not an acceptable alternative because God says it is not.

  2. Do not compare your mate or your marriage to others. There is not another person on earth like you. Your mate is also unique. This means that your marriage is unique. Let God make it what He wants it to be. He will make it perfect!

  3. Forgive your mate. You are to forgive as Christ has forgiven you. You are a sinner. He or she is a sinner. You are not perfect-so be willing to forgive one another. And do it right away before any bitterness can build up.

  4. Stop all criticism. Love does not criticize and find fault. Therefore, if you are critical of your mate, you do not have a heart of love. Stop all criticism. Instead, try a little praise. It works like magic!

  5. Start communicating with your mate. Communication is completely broken down in many homes and marriages. Start listening to what your mate is saying as well as to what he or she is not saying. Break down the barriers by being vulnerable. Try saying, "Honey, what is the biggest fault I have?" Then say, "Would you please help me, by the grace of God, to gain victory over that fault?"

  6. Refuse any relationship outside your marriage in which affection is sought or given. This substitute could even be a relative, a friend, or a neighbor. Do not seek to make someone else a substitute for what you are not getting in your marriage. You will never solve your problem doing this.

  7. Trust your mate. Trust your spouse, even if he or she is wrong -you are right in trusting. A marriage must be based on trust. It cannot survive without it.

  8. Do something every day to please your mate-something that you know will bring your partner joy and happiness. This is not asking much-to do one thing-but it pays big dividends.

  9. Thank God every day for the 25 best qualities in your mate. Write them down. Concentrate on them and the positive will soon outshine the negative


Luk 5:5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

Luk 5:5 - And Simon answering said unto him, master,.... Or Rabbi, as the Syriac version renders it: he knew him to be the Messiah, the king of Israel, and a teacher sent from God:

we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing; which carries in it an objection to what Christ advised and directed to: they had been fishing that "night", which was the best time for catching fish; and they had been at it all the night, and had "laboured" hard; and were even "fatigued", and quite wearied out; and what was most discouraging of all, their labour was in vain; they had caught "nothing":

nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net; which showed faith in Christ, and obedience to him: thus the faithful preachers of the Gospel, sometimes labour and toil in the ministry of the word a great while, with little or no success; and are discouraged from going on, and would be tempted to leave off, were it not for the commission and word of command they have received from Christ, which they dare not be disobedient to; and for the word of promise he has given them, to be with them, on which they depend.


Water is a symbol of life for all life is dependent upon water.

If a child lives with criticism, she learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule, she learns to be shy.

If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilt.

If a child lives with tolerance, she learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise, she learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.

If a child lives with security, she learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance, he or she learns to find love in the world.

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward not tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.



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Today's Bible Verse

"Marriage is to be honored by all, and husbands and wives must be faithful to each other. God will judge those who are immoral and those who commit adultery," Hebrews 13:4

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