Christian views on marriage

Christian views on marriage
Orthodox betrothal depicted by Vasily Vladimirovich Pukirev, 1862.

Christian views on marriage typically regard it as instituted and ordained by God for the lifelong relationship between one man as husband and one woman as wife, and is to be "held in honour among all...."[Heb 13:4][1]

Civil laws recognize marriage as having social and political status. Christian theology affirms the secular status of marriage, but additionally views it from a moral and religious perspective that transcends all social interests.

While marriage is honored among Christians and throughout the Bible, it is not seen as necessary for everyone. Single people who either have chosen to remain unmarried or who have lost their spouse for some reason are neither incomplete in Christ nor personal failures. There is no suggestion that Jesus was ever married.

Divorce or dissolution of marriage is generally seen from a Christian perspective as less than the ideal, with specific opinions ranging from it being universally wrong to the notion that it sometimes is inevitable.

The Bible holds that sex is reserved for marriage.[1] It says that sex outside of marriage is the sin of adultery (for the married person) if either sexual participant is married to another person. Voluntary sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other is considered the sin of fornication.

Ideas about roles and responsibilities of the husband and wife is the long-held male-dominant/female-submission view.

A small but growing number of Christian denominations conduct weddings between same-sex couples where it is civilly legal. A few others perform ceremonies to bless same-sex unions without recognising them as marriage.


Biblical foundations

Christians believe that marriage is considered in its ideal according to the purpose of God. At the heart of God's design for marriage is companionship and intimacy. According to Genesis, marriage was instituted by God in the Garden of Eden.

The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him"...and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the ribor "side" he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Genesis 2:18,21-24

The biblical picture of marriage expands into something much broader, with the husband and wife relationship illustrating the relationship between Christ and the church.

It is also considered in its actual occurrence, sometimes involving failure. Therefore, the Bible speaks on the subject of divorce.[1] The New Testament recognizes a place for singleness. Salvation within Christianity is not dependent on the continuation of a biological lineage.[2]

Old Testament

Christians regard the foundational principle of the lifelong union of a man and a woman to have been first articulated biblically in the Book of Genesis.

Rembrandt's depiction of Samson's marriage feast

The Old Testament describes a number of marriages, some of the best known being Adam and Eve,[Gen 2:15–3:13] Abraham and Sarah,[17:1–8,15-22] [21:1–7] Isaac and Rebekah,[24:24–67] Jacob and Rachel,[29:1–30] Boaz and Ruth,[Ruth 2:1–13] [4:1–17] David and Abigail,[1 Sam 25:14–42] and Hosea and Gomer.[Hosea 1,3] Polygyny, or men having multiple wives at once, is one of the most common marital arrangements represented in the Old Testament,[3] yet scholars doubt that it was common among average Israelites because of the wealth needed to practice it.[4]

Betrothal (erusin), which is merely a binding promise to get married, is distinct from marriage itself (nissu'in), with the time between these events varying substantially.[3][5] Since a wife was regarded as property in biblical times, the betrothal (erusin) was effected simply by purchasing her from her father (or guardian);[3][5] the girl’s consent is not explicitly required by any biblical law.[5] Like the adjacent Arabic culture (in the pre-Islamic period),[6] the act of marriage appears mainly to have consisted of the groom fetching the bride, although among the Israelites (unlike the Arabs) the procession was a festive occasion, accompanied by music, dancing, and lights.[3][5] To celebrate the marriage, week-long feasts were sometimes held.[3][5]

In biblical times, a wife was regarded as chattel, belonging to her husband.[3][5] The descriptions of the bible suggest that she would be expected to perform tasks such as spinning, sewing, weaving, manufacture of clothing, fetching of water, baking of bread, and animal husbandry.[7] However, wives were usually looked after with care, and bigamous men were expected to ensure that they give their first wife food, clothing, and sexual activity.[Ex 21:10]

Since a wife was regarded as property, her husband was originally free to divorce her for any reason, at any time.[5] A divorced couple were permitted to get back together unless the wife had married someone else after her divorce.[Deut 24:2–4]

Jesus and the Gospels

Sometimes used as a symbol for Christian marriage: Two gold wedding rings interlinked with the Greek letters chi (X) and rho (P)—the first two letters in the Greek word for "Christ" (see Labarum)

Have you not read that at the beginning the Creator "made them male and female," and said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh"? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.

Matthew 19:4–6; also Mk 10:7–9

In both Matthew and Mark, Jesus appealed to God's will in creation. He builds upon the narrative in Genesis 1:27 and 5:2 where male and female are created together and for one another. Thus Jesus takes a firm stand on the permanence of marriage in the original will of God. This corresponds closely with the position of the Pharisee school of thought led by Shammai, at the start of the first millennium,[8][9][10] with which Jesus would have been familiar. By contrast, Judaism subsequently took the opposite view, espoused by Hillel, the leader of the other major Pharisee school of thought at the time; in Hillel's view, men were allowed to divorce their wives for any reason.[8]

Where there was failure in the marriage, Jesus found husband and wife equally responsible. The two are joined together by God so that "they are no longer two, but one." He brought together two passages from Genesis, reinforcing the basic position on marriage found in Jewish scripture. Thus, he implicitly emphasized that it is God-made ("God has joined together"), "male and female," lifelong ("let no one separate"), and monogamous ("a man...his wife").[11]

Jesus used the image of marriage and the family to teach the basics about the kingdom of God. He inaugurated his ministry by blessing the wedding feast at Cana. In the Sermon on the Mount he set forth a new commandment concerning marriage, teaching that lustful looking constitutes adultery. He also superseded a Mosaic Law allowing divorce with his teaching that "…anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery."[12]

There is no evidence that Jesus himself ever married, and considerable evidence that he remained single. In contrast to Judaism and many other traditions,[2]:p.283 he taught that there is a place for voluntary singleness in Christian service. He believed marriage could be a distraction from an urgent mission.[13]

He believed he was living in a time of crisis and urgency where the Kingdom of God would be established where there would be no marriage nor giving in marriage.

"I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life."|Luke 18:29–30

New Testament beyond the Gospels

The Apostle Paul quoted passages from Genesis almost verbatim in two of his New Testament books. He used marriage not only to describe the kingdom of God, as Jesus had done, but to define also the nature of the 1st century Christian church. His theological view was a Christian development of the Old Testament parallel between marriage and the relationship between God and Israel. He analogized the church as a bride and Christ as the bridegroom─drawing parallels between Christian marriage and the relationship between Christ and the Church.

Saint Paul Writing His Epistles, 16th century.

Both Jesus and Paul seem to provide "exceptions" to marriage as being its ideal according to the purpose of God because of extraordinary circumstances ("because of the impending crisis"), see also Pauline privilege. Their concerns were that marriage might be a distraction from the work of discipleship.[14]

It remains unclear if Paul was even himself married. Some scholars have speculated that he may have been a widower since he was a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, positions in which the social norm of the day required the men to be married. But it's just as likely that he never married at all.[15]

Yet, Paul acknowledges the mutuality of marital relations, and recognises that his own singleness is "a particular gift from God" that others may not necessarily have. "Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."[1 Cor 7:8]

The New Testament and sexual conduct

The New Testament holds that sex is reserved for marriage, according to classicist Evelyn Stagg and New Testament scholar Frank Stagg.[1] They maintain that the New Testament teaches that sex outside of marriage is a sin of adultery if either sexual participant is married, otherwise the sin of fornication if both sexual participants are unmarried. An imperative given in 1 Corinthians says, "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins people commit are outside their bodies, but those who sin sexually sin against their own bodies."[1 Cor 6:18] Those who are sexually immoral or adulterers are listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9 in a list of "wrongdoers who...will not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19 and 1 Corinthians 7:2 also address fornication. The Apostolic Decree of the Council of Jerusalem also includes a prohibition of fornication.

Marriage and early Church Fathers

Building on the example of Jesus and Paul, first-century Christians placed less value on the family, and rather saw celibacy and freedom from family ties as a preferable state.

Nicene Fathers such as Augustine believed that marriage was a sacrament because it was a symbol used by Paul to express Christ's love of the Church. However, there was also an apocalyptic dimension in his teaching, and he was clear that if everybody stopped marrying and having children that would be an admirable thing; it would mean that the Kingdom of God would return all the sooner and the world would come to an end.[16] Such a view reflects the Manichaean past of Augustine.

Both Tertullian and Gregory of Nyssa were church fathers who were married. They each stressed that the happiness of marriage was ultimately rooted in misery. They saw marriage as a state of bondage that could only be cured by celibacy. They wrote that at the very least, the virgin woman could expect release from the "governance of a husband and the chains of children."[17]:p.151 Tertullian argued that marriage "consists essentially in fornication."[18]

Some Fathers of the Church advocated celibacy and virginity as preferable alternatives to marriage. Jerome wrote: "It is not disparaging wedlock to prefer virginity. No one can make a comparison between two things if one is good and the other evil."[19] St. John Chrysostom wrote: "...virginity is better than marriage, however good.... Celibacy imitation of the angels. Therefore, virginity is as much more honorable than marriage, as the angel is higher than man. But why do I say angel? Christ, Himself, is the glory of virginity."[20]

Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, said that the first commandment given to men was to increase and multiply, but now that the earth was full there was no need to continue this process of multiplication.[21]

This view of marriage was reflected in the lack of any formal liturgy formulated for marriage in the early Church. No special ceremonial was devised to celebrate Christian marriage—despite the fact that the Church had produced liturgies to celebrate the Eucharist, Baptism and Confirmation. It was not important for a couple to have their nuptials blessed by a priest. People could marry by mutual agreement in the presence of witnesses.[16]

At first, the old Roman pagan rite was used by Christians, although modified superficially. The first detailed account of a Christian wedding in the West dates from the 9th century. This system, known as Spousals, persisted after the Reformation.[16]

View of Catholic Church

Catholic couple at their Holy Matrimony or marriage. In the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, during the celebration the priest imposes his liturgical stole upon the couple's hands, as a sign to confirm the marriage bond.

The Catholic Church teaches that God Himself is the author of the sacred institution of marriage, which is His way of showing love for those He created. Marriage is a divine institution that can never be broken, even if the husband or wife legally divorce in the civil courts; as long as they are both alive, the Church considers them bound together by God. Holy Matrimony is another name for sacramental marriage.

Marriage is intended to be a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman. Committing themselves completely to each other, a Catholic husband and wife strive to sanctify each other, bring children into the world, and educate them in the Catholic way of life. Man and woman, although created differently from each other, complement each other. This complementarity draws them together in a mutually loving union.[22]

The valid marriage of baptized Christians is one of the seven Catholic sacraments. The sacrament of marriage is the only sacrament that a priest does not administer directly; a priest, however, is the chief witnesses of the husband and wife's administration of the sacrament to each other at the wedding ceremony in a Catholic church.

The Catholic Church views that Christ Himself established the sacrament of marriage at the wedding feast of Cana; therefore, since it is a divine institution, neither the Church nor state can alter the basic meaning and structure of marriage. Husband and wife give themselves totally to each other in a union that lasts until death.[23]

Arbëreshë Albanian couple during marriage in an Italo-Greek Catholic Church rite.

Priests are to remember that marriage is part of God's natural law and to support the couple if they do choose to marry. Today it is common for Catholics to enter into a "mixed marriage" between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic. Couples entering into a mixed marriage are usually allowed to marry in a Catholic church provided their decision is of their own accord and they intend to remain together for life, to be faithful to each other, and to have children which are brought up in the Catholic faith.[24]

During the Warsaw Uprising (1944), a Polish couple, members of an Armia Krajowa resistance group, are married in a secret Catholic chapel in a street in Warsaw.

In Catholicism, marriage has two ends: the good of the spouses themselves, and the procreation and education of children (1983 code of canon law, c.1055; 1994 catechism, par.2363). Hence "entering marriage with the intention of never having children is a grave wrong and more than likely grounds for an annulment."[25] It is normal procedure for a priest to ask the prospective bride and groom about their plans to have children before officiating at their wedding. The Catholic Church may refuse to marry anyone unwilling to have children, since procreation by "the marriage act" is a fundamental part of marriage.[26] Thus usage of any form of contraception, in vitro fertilization, or birth control besides Natural Family Planning is a grave offense against the sanctity of marriage and ultimately against God.[26]

View of the Eastern Orthodox Church

The Wedding of Nicholas II and Grand Duchess Alexandra Feodorovna, by Ilya Yefimovich Repin, 1894 (Russian State Museum, St. Petersburg).

In Eastern Orthodoxy, marriage is treated as a Sacred Mystery (sacrament), and as an ordination. It serves to unite a woman and a man in eternal union before God.[27][28][29] It refers to the 1st centuries of the church, where spiritual union of spouses in the first sacramental marriage was eternal.[29][30] Therefore, it is considered a martyrdom as each spouse learns to die to self for the sake of the other. Like all Mysteries, Orthodox marriage is more than just a celebration of something which already exists: it is the creation of something new, the imparting to the couple of the grace which transforms them from a 'couple' into husband and wife within the Body of Christ.[31]

Byzantine wedding ring, depicting Christ uniting the bride and groom, 7th century, nielloed gold (Musée du Louvre).

Marriage is an icon (image) of the relationship between Jesus and the Church. This is somewhat akin to the Old Testament prophets' use of marriage as an analogy to describe the relationship between God and Israel. Marriage is the simplest, most basic unity of the church: a congregation where "two or three are gathered together in Jesus' name."[Mt 18:20][31] The home is considered a consecrated space (the ritual for the Blessing of a House is based upon that of the Consecration of a Church), and the husband and wife are considered the ministers of that congregation. However, they do not "perform" the Sacraments in the house church; they "live" the Sacrament of Marriage. Because marriage is considered to be a pilgrimage wherein the couple walk side by side toward the Kingdom of Heaven, marriage to a non-Orthodox partner is discouraged, though it may be permitted.

Unlike Western Christianity, Eastern Christians do not consider the sacramental aspect of the marriage to be conferred by the couple themselves. Rather, the marriage is conferred by the action of the Holy Spirit acting through the priest. Furthermore, no one besides a bishop or priest—not even a deacon—may perform the Sacred Mystery.

The external sign of the marriage is the placing of wedding crowns upon the heads of the couple, and their sharing in a "Common Cup" of wine. Once crowned, the couple walk a circle three times in a ceremonial "dance" in the middle of the church, while the choir intones a joyous three-part antiphonal hymn, "Dance, Isaiah"

The sharing of the Common Cup symbolizes the transformation of their union from a common marriage into a sacred union. The wedding is usually performed after the Divine Liturgy at which the couple receives Holy Communion. Traditionally, the wedding couple would wear their wedding crowns for eight days, and there is a special prayer said by the priest at the removal of the crowns.

Divorce is discouraged. Sometimes out of economia (mercy) a marriage may be dissolved if there is no hope whatever for a marriage to fulfill even a semblance of its intended sacramental character.[31] The standard formula for remarriage is that the Orthodox Church joyfully blesses the first marriage, merely performs the second, barely tolerates the third, and invariably forbids the fourth.[32]

Orthodox Church prepared for a wedding (Hagia Sophia, Thessaloniki.)

Early church texts forbid marriage between an Orthodox Christian and a heretic or schismatic (which would include all non-Orthodox Christians). Traditional Orthodox Christians forbid mixed marriages with other denominations. More liberal ones perform them, provided that the couple formally commit themselves to rearing their children in the Orthodox faith.

All people are called to celibacy—human beings are all born into virginity, and Orthodox Christians are expected by Sacred Tradition to remain in that state unless they are called into marriage and that call is sanctified.[31] The church blesses two paths on the journey to salvation: monasticism and marriage. Mere celibacy, without the sanctification of monasticism, can fall into selfishness and tends to be regarded with disfavour by the Church.[31]

Orthodox priests who serve in parishes are usually married. They must marry prior to their ordination. If they marry after they are ordained they are not permitted to continue performing sacraments. If their wife dies, they are forbidden to remarry; if they do, they may no longer serve as a priest. A married man may be ordained as a priest or deacon. However, a priest or deacon is not permitted to enter into matrimony after ordination. Bishops must always be monks and are thus celibate. However, if a married priest is widowed, he may receive monastic tonsure and thus become eligible for the episcopate.

The Eastern Orthodox Church believes that marriage is an eternal union of spouses, but in Heaven there will not be a procreative bond of marriage.

View of the Oriental Orthodox Church

The Oriental Orthodox Churches hold views almost identical to those of the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria allows second marriages only in cases of adultery.[33]

Views of Protestant Christians

The Wedding of Stephen Beckingham and Mary Cox by William Hogarth, c. 1729 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y.).


Essentially all Protestant denominations hold marriage to be ordained by God for the union between a man and a woman. They see the primary purpose of this union to be to glorify[34] God by demonstrating his love to the world. Other purposes of marriage include intimate companionship, rearing children and mutual support for both husband and wife to fulfill their life callings. Protestants generally approve of birth control and consider marital sexual pleasure to be a gift of God. While condoning divorce only under limited circumstances, most Protestant churches allow for divorce and remarriage.[35]

Conservative Protestants take a stricter view of the nature of marriage. They consider marriage a solemn covenant between wife, husband and God. Most view sexual relations as appropriate only within a marriage. Divorce is permissible, if at all, only in very specific circumstances (for example, sexual immorality or abandonment by the non-believer).[36][37]

Roles and responsibilities in Marriage

Roles and responsibilities of husband and wives now vary considerably on a continuum between the long-held male dominant/female submission view and a growing shift toward equality (without sameness)[38] of the woman and the man.[39] There is considerable debate among many Christians today—not just Protestants—whether equality of husband and wife or male headship is the biblically ordained view, and even if it is biblically permissible. The divergent opinions fall into two main groups: Complementarians (who call for husband-headship and wife-submission) and Christian Egalitarians (who believe in full partnership equality in which couples can discover and negotiate roles and responsibilities in marriage).[40]

The Complementarian view

The Complementarian (also known as Traditionalist or Hierarchical) view of marriage maintains that male leadership is biblically required in marriage. Complementarians generally believe that the husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image, but that husbands and wives have different functions and responsibilities in marriage.[41] According to this view, the husband has the God-given responsibility to provide for, protect, and lead his family. Wives are expected to respect their husbands' authority and submit to it.[42] However, some Complementarian authors caution that a wife's submission should never cause her to "follow her husband into sin."[43]

The Complementarian view of Christian marriage has been articulated and defended by several evangelical leaders in what is called the Danvers Statement.[44] Their understanding of the necessity for gender-based roles and authority structure in marriage is based on their interpretation of various scriptures: Eph. 5:21–33, Col. 3:18–19, Tit. 2:3–5, 1 Pet. 3:1–7[44]

A more detailed statement of the Complementarian view of marriage appears in Southern Baptist Convention's Baptist Faith and Message (2000):

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to his people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

Article XVIII. The Family. Baptist Faith and Message 2000

Many complementarians also interpret Scripture as forbidding women from holding positions of authority in the religious and/or political worlds.[42]

The Egalitarian View

Christian Egalitarians believe that full partnership in an equal marriage is the most biblical view. As persons, husband and wife are of equal value. There is no priority of one spouse over the other. In truth, they are one.[1] Bible scholar Frank Stagg and Classicist Evelyn Stagg write that husband-wife equality produces the most intimate, wholesome and mutually fulfilling marriages. They conclude that the Apostle Paul's statement sometimes called the "Magna Carta of Humanity"[45] and recorded in Galatians 3:28 applies to all Christian relationships, including Christian marriage: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus."[46]

Christian egalitarian theologians also find it significant that the "two becoming one" concept, first cited in Gen. 2:24, was quoted by Jesus in his teachings on marriage.[Matt. 19:4–6] [Mk. 10:7–9] In those passages he reemphasized the concept by adding to the Genesis passage these words: "So, they are no longer two, but one" (NIV). The Apostle Paul cited the Genesis 2:24 passage.[Eph. 5:30–32][1]

A New Testament passage that has long been interpreted to require a male priority in marriage are these verses: "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord," and "the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church…."[Eph. 5:22–24] Both Christian Egalitarians and Complementarians agree that the Apostle Paul wrote that the "husband is head…" and "wives, submit…," and that he was divinely inspired to write what he wrote, but the two groups diverge in their interpretation of this passage.

  • Complementarians understand "head" to mean "leader" and "authority figure" like the head of an organization being its president or chief executive officer.[47]
  • Christian Egalitarians consider this understanding to be contrary to the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Therefore, they believe more attention needs to be given to discerning (1) what Paul actually meant when he penned those instructions, (2) to what extent his gender-based guidance was intended for an abusive 1st century culture in which women were considered disposable entities, chattel (property of husband) and permanently minors legally and to what extent he was prescribing a hierarchical relationship in which wives must be under husband authority for all people in all times.[1]

Much has been written concerning the meaning of "head" in the New Testament. The word used for "head," transliterated from Greek, is kephalē—which means the anatomical head of a body. Today's English word "cephalic" (/səˈfælɨk/ US dict: sə·făl′·ĭk) means "Of or relating to the head; or located on, in, or near the head." In the New Testament, a thorough concordance search shows that the second most frequent use of "head" (kephalē), after "the structure that connects to our neck and sits atop our bodies," is the metaphorical sense of "source."[48][49]

In Hebrew thought throughout the Old Testament, primarily because of the law of primogeniture—the right of the firstborn to preside over the affairs of the family[50] it was very important to determine who came first in birth order. Therefore, Paul and other rabbis pointed to the Genesis record,[Gen 2:22] "the LORD God made a woman from the rib[51] he had taken out of the man," making it clear that the male was the first-created (first "born") and therefore perpetually entitled to special rights and privileges under the primogeniture doctrine. The wife's submission is seen in the context of Paul's injunction[Eph. 5:21] for all Christians to submit to one another.[1]

A straightforward reading of Matthew 20:25–26a, Mark 10:42, and Luke 22:25 suggests that Jesus even forbids any hierarchy of relationships in Christian relationships: "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you!" While "lord it over" implies abusive leadership, his words "exercise authority" have no connotation of abuse of authority.[52]

Views of Non-Trinitarian denominations

A Celestial Marriage must be performed in an LDS temple.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("LDS Church"; see also Mormon), "Celestial Marriage" is a sacred covenant between a man, a woman and God performed by a priesthood authority in the temples of the Church. Eternal Marriage is legally recognized, but unlike other civil marriages, Eternal Marriage is intended to continue into the afterlife after the resurrection if the man and woman do not break their covenants. Eternally married couples are often referred to as being "sealed" to each other. Sealed couples who keep their covenants are also promised to have their posterity sealed to them in the after life. Thus, the slogan of the LDS Church: "families are forever." The LDS Church encourages its members to be in good standing with it so that they may marry in the temple. "Cancellation of a sealing," sometimes incorrectly called a "temple divorce," is uncommon and is granted only by the highest authority in the Church. Civil divorce and marriage outside the temple is somewhat of a stigma in the Latter-day Saint culture although currently the Church itself directs its local leaders not to advise members about divorce one way or another.[53]

In the New Church (or Swedenborgianism) teaches that married love (sometime translated conjugal love) is "the precious jewel of human life and the repository of the Christian religion" because the love shared between a husband and a wife is the source of all peace and joy.[54] When a husband and wife work together to become angels in heaven, their marriage continues uninterrupted even after the death of their bodies, living together in heaven to eternity. Emanuel Swedenborg claimed to have spoken to angels who had been married for thousands of years. Those who are never married on earth will find a spouse in heaven.

Jehovah's Witnesses view marriage to be a permanent arrangement with the only possible exception being adultery. Divorce is strongly discouraged even when adultery is committed since the wronged spouse is free to forgive the unfaithful one. There are provisions for a domestic separation in the event of "failure to provide for one's household" and domestic violence, or spiritual resistance on the part of a partner. Even in such situations though divorce would be considered grounds for loss of privileges in the congregation. Re-marrying after death or a proper divorce is permitted. Marriage is the only situation where any type of sexual interaction is acceptable, and even then certain restrictions apply to acts such as oral and anal sex. Married persons who are known to commit such acts may in fact lose privileges in the congregation as they are supposed to be setting a good example to the congregation.[55]

Same sex marriage

A small but growing number of Protestant denominations such as the United Church of Canada and some non-trinitarian denominations, perform weddings between same sex couples. Other churches perform ceremonies blessing same sex unions, but do not refer to them as marriages. The Roman Catholic Church does not perform or recognise same-sex marriage. Whether to bless same-sex marriages and unions is a matter of debate within some denominations.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Stagg, Evelyn and Frank. Woman in the World of Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978. ISBN 0-664-24195-6
  2. ^ a b Fahlbusch, Erwin and Geoffrey Bromiley. The Encyclopedia of Christianity." Brill Academic Publishers (November 2000). ISBN 9004116958.
  3. ^ a b c d e f This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia article "marriage", a publication now in the public domain.
  4. ^ Gene McAfee "Sex" The Oxford Companion to the Bible. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds. Oxford University Press Inc. 1993. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. 19 March 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g This article incorporates text from the 1903 Encyclopaedia Biblica article "Marriage", a publication now in the public domain.
  6. ^ William Robertson Smith, Kinship and Marriage in early Arabia, (1885), 81
  7. ^ Genesis 29:9; Exodus 2:16;[1], 8:13
  8. ^ a b Gittin 9:10
  9. ^ Sotah (Jerusalem Talmud only), 1:1
  10. ^ Sotah (Jerusalem Talmud only), 1:16b
  11. ^ Stagg, Frank. New Testament Theology. Broadman Press, 1962. ISBN 0-8054-1613-7
  12. ^ cf. Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:19, Mark 10:11, Luke 16:18. Similar Pauline teachings in 1 Corinthians 7:10–11
  13. ^ Armstrong,Karen. The Gospel according to women: Christianity's creation of the sex war in the west, Anchor Books, 1991. ISBN 978-0385240796
  14. ^ Rubio, Julie Hanlon. A Christian Theology of Marriage and Family. Paulist Press, 2003. ISBN 0809141183.
  15. ^ Adams, Jay E. Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, Zondervan, 1986, ISBN 0310511119
  16. ^ a b c Armstrong, Karen. Gospel According to Women. Anchor Books, 1991. ISBN 978-0385240796
  17. ^ Scholer, David M.Women in early Christianity. Garland Publishing, 1993. ISBN 9780815310747
  18. ^ Tertullian. "An Exhortation to Chastity." ANF, v. 4, p. 84.
  19. '^ Classical library from 'Select Letters of St. Jerome. Letter 22. tr. by F. A. Wright. Cambridge MA: Harvard Univ Press, 1963.
  20. ^ St. John Chrysostom, Homily 19 on First Corinthians, NPNF, s. 1, v. 12, pp. 248–262
  21. ^ St. Cyprian, "Of the Discipline and Advantage of Chastity," ANF, v. 5, p.1251.
  22. ^ Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ed. Catechism of the Catholic Church. pp. 1602–1605. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  23. ^ Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ed. Catechism of the Catholic Church. p. 1643. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  24. ^ Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ed. Catechism of the Catholic Church. pp. 1633–1637. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  25. ^ McLachlan, P. "Sacrament of Holy Matrimony."
  26. ^ a b Pope Paul VI."Humanæ Vitæ." 1968-7-25. Accessed: 2009-7-22
  27. ^ Marriage. OrthodoxWiki (2009-08-05). Retrieved on 2011-01-30.[unreliable source?]
  28. ^ Catholics and Orthodox: On Marriage and Family (Pt. I) – International – Catholic Online. (2008-12-17). Retrieved on 2011-01-30.
  29. ^ a b John Meyendorff, Marriage, an Orthodox Perspective, YMCA Press, 1986; chapter: Old and New Testaments
  30. ^ Is Marriage Eternal? | Kyria. Retrieved on 2011-01-30.
  31. ^ a b c d e Gregory (Grabbe), Bishop. The Sacramental Life: An Orthodox Christian Perspective. Liberty, Tenn: St. John of Kronstadt Press, 1986
  32. ^ Hapgoood, Isabel F. (1922), Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church (2nd ed.), Englewood, N.J.: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, pp. 291–305, 604–605 
  33. ^ Coptic Pope resists court ruling on divorce, remarriage | Al-Masry Al-Youm: Today's News from Egypt. Al-Masry Al-Youm (2010-04-04). Retrieved on 2011-01-30.
  34. ^ Praise, honor[clarification needed]
  35. ^ Rubio, Julie Hanlon. A Christian Theology of Marriage and Family, Paulist Press, 2003. ISBN 0809141183.
  36. ^ "What are Biblical grounds for divorce?". , (Bible Questions Answered), Got Questions Ministries
  37. ^ "Is abuse an acceptable reason for divorce?". , (Bible Questions Answered), Got Questions Ministries
  38. ^ Steil, Janice M. Marital Equality: Its Relationship to the Well-Being of Husbands and Wives. Sage. 1997. ISBN 0-8039-5251-1
  39. ^ Throckmorton, Anne. "The Lives of Wives: Their Changing Roles." University of Virginia, January 9, 2008. Accessed 11 May 2009
  40. ^ Neff, David (2004–08–01). "Editor's Bookshelf: Creating Husbands and Fathers". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2007–02–11. 
  41. ^ Core Beliefs. CBMW. Retrieved on 2011-01-30.
  42. ^ a b The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, Southern Baptist Convention, 2000 revision
  43. ^ Piper, John and Grudem, Wayne (eds.) Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991, p. 57
  44. ^ a b The Danvers Statement. Prepared by several evangelical leaders at a Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) meeting in Danvers, Massachusetts, December 1987.
  45. ^ Jewett, Paul K. Man As Male and Female: A Study in Sexual Relationships from a Theological Point of View. Eerdmans, 1990, p. 142. ISBN 978-0802815972
  46. ^ See for example Christians for Biblical Equality[not specific enough to verify]
  47. ^ Grudem, Wayne. “The Meaning Of Kephalē (“Head”): An Evaluation Of New Evidence, Real And Alleged,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 44:1 (March 2001) pp. 25–65.
  48. ^ Kroeger, Catherine Clark. "Toward an Understanding of Ancient Conceptions of 'Head'." Priscilla Papers, Volume 20:3, Summer 2006.
  49. ^ Johnson, Alan F. "A Meta-Study of the Debate over the Meaning of 'Head' (Kephale) in Paul's Writings."] Priscilla Papers, Volume 20:4, Autumn 2006
  50. ^ International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. "Primogeniture." Accessed 11 May 2009
  51. ^ Meaning of Heb. word translated "rib" unclear. Lit. "side" according to TNIV translation.[not specific enough to verify]
  52. ^ Marsh, Clive, Steve Moyise. Jesus and the Gospels. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006. ISBN 0567040739
  53. ^ "Mormon view of divorce."[clarification needed]
  54. ^ "Married Love." see Married Love 457[clarification needed]
  55. ^ The Watchtower 9/15/2006, 3/15/1983, 11/1/2008

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