The definition of marriage is being discussed a lot these days as people change their views or challenge the traditional definition. So many are wondering, what does the Bible say about what marriage really is?
There are many references to marriage, husbands, wives, and the like in the Bible, but it’s hardly a dictionary or handbook with all the answers step by step.
So it’s no wonder many are hazy about what God intends for us to know about what marriage really is. Instead, the Bible has hints here and there, which means we must study and pray about what we read to truly gain knowledge of what it all means.
But there are some moments of clarity about what marriage is in the Bible.
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What is marriage in the Bible: 3 definitions
Biblical marriage is based on keeping the basic elements of the relationship in mind. These guide the couple to achieve a better balance in marriage.
Here are three main points that help us learn the definition of marriage in the Bible.
1. Marriage is ordained of God
It’s clear that God not only approves of biblical marriage—he hopes all will enter into this holy and sacred institution. He promotes it as it is part of his plan for his children. In Hebrews 13:4 it says, “Marriage is honorable.” It’s clear that God wants us to aspire to holy matrimony.
Then in Matthew 19:5-6, it says,
“And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Here we see that marriage isn’t just something man made up, but something “God hath joined together.” At the appropriate age, He wants us to leave our parents and marry, becoming “one flesh,” which can be interpreted as one entity. In the physical sense, this means sexual intercourse, but in the spiritual sense, this means loving each other and giving to each other.
2. Marriage is a covenant
A promise is one thing, but a convent is a promise that also involves God. In the Bible, we learn that marriage is a covenant.
In Malachi 2:14, it says,
“Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.”
It clearly tells us that marriage is a covenant and that God is involved, in fact, God is even a witness of the married couple. Marriage is important to Him, especially in how the spouses treat each other. In this particular set of verses, God is disappointed in how the wife was treated.
In the Bible, we also learn that God does not look fondly on the non-marriage arrangement or “living together,” which further proves that marriage itself involves making actual promises. In John 4 we read of the woman at the well and her lack of a current husband, though she is living with a man.
In verses 16-18 it says,
“Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.”
What Jesus is saying is that living together isn’t the same as marriage; in fact, marriage must be the result of a covenant or marriage ceremony.
Jesus even attends a marriage ceremony in John 2:1-2, which further shows the validity of the covenant made at the marriage ceremony.
“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.”
3. Marriage is to help us better ourselves
Why do we have a marriage? In the Bible, it’s clear that God wants us to take part in marriage so as to better ourselves. In 1 Corinthians 7:3-4, it tells us that our bodies and souls are not our own, but our spouses:
“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.”
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Top 10 Biblical facts about marriage
Marriage is a significant topic in the Bible, with numerous passages that provide guidance for couples. Here are ten biblical facts about marriage, highlighting its sacredness, unity, and purpose.
- Marriage is a sacred covenant ordained by God, as seen in Genesis 2:18-24, where God created Eve as a suitable companion for Adam.
- Marriage is intended to be a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman, as Jesus stated in Matthew 19:4-6.
- The husband is called to be the head of the household, and the wife is called to submit to her husband’s leadership, as outlined in Ephesians 5:22-33.
- God created sex to be enjoyed within the context of marriage, as seen in the Song of Solomon and 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.
- Marriage is designed to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the Church, as stated in Ephesians 5:22-33.
- Divorce is not God’s ideal plan for marriage, as Jesus stated in Matthew 19:8-9.
- Marriage is meant to be a source of unity and oneness, as described in Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:31-32.
- Husbands are called to love their wives sacrificially, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, as seen in Ephesians 5:25-30.
- Marriage provides a foundation for the family unit, as seen in Psalm 127:3-5 and Proverbs 31:10-31.
- God desires for marriages to be filled with love, respect, and mutual submission, as seen in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and Ephesians 5:21.
Biblical examples of marriages
- Adam and Eve – The first marriage in the Bible, created by God in the Garden of Eden.
- Isaac and Rebekah – A marriage arranged by God and exemplifying the importance of faith and obedience.
- Jacob and Rachel – A love story that endured years of obstacles and challenges, demonstrating the value of persistence and trust.
- Boaz and Ruth – A marriage founded on loyalty, kindness, and respect, despite cultural differences.
- David and Bathsheba – A cautionary tale of the devastating consequences of adultery and misuse of power.
- Hosea and Gomer – A prophetic marriage illustrating God’s enduring love and faithfulness towards His unfaithful people.
- Joseph and Mary – A marriage founded on faith, humility, and obedience to God’s plan, as they raised Jesus.
- Priscilla and Aquila – A supportive and loving marriage, and a powerful partnership in ministry, as they worked alongside the apostle Paul.
- Ananias and Sapphira – A tragic example of the consequences of deception and dishonesty within a marriage.
- Song of Solomon – A poetic depiction of the beauty, passion, and intimacy of marriage, emphasizing the importance of mutual love and respect.
These biblical examples of marriages provide valuable insights into the joys, challenges, and responsibilities of this sacred covenant.
What does the Bible say about marriage?
The Bible has some beautiful verses on marriage. These biblical marriage phrases help gain more insight and understanding of the marriage. Following these verses on what God says about marriage will definitely add a lot of positivity to our lives.
Check these references to Bible Verses about marriage:
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
People will not call you Deserted anymore. They will no longer name your land Empty. Instead, you will be called One the Lord Delights In. Your land will be named Married One. That’s because the Lord will take delight in you. And your land will be married. As a young man marries a young woman, so your Builder will marry you. As a groom is happy with his bride, so your God will be full of joy over you. Isaiah 62:4
If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year, he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married. Deuteronomy 24:5
You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you. Song of songs 4:7
For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. Ephesians 5:31
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:28
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33
Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:5
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The meaning and purpose of marriage
A Christian marriage is a union of two people in front of Gods, their family, relatives, and ancestors for utmost marital bliss. Marriage is the beginning of a new setup in terms of family and a life-long commitment.
The purpose and meaning of marriage are to basically honor the commitment and reach a level of fulfillment in life. We can divide the biblical purpose of marriage as follows:
In the biblical marriage, both the partners become one identity.
The purpose here is mutual love and growth where both the partners support each other and selflessly follow the path of love, respect, and trust.
The concept of biblical marriage has one important purpose of having a lifelong companion.
As humans, we survive on social connections and companions, and having a partner along our side helps take away the loneliness and the need for partnership at both young and old age.
Related Reading: 5 Pros and Cons of Recreational Companionship in Marriage
This is one of the biblical reasons for marriage, where one of the important goals after the marriage is to produce children and further the tradition, and contribute to moving the world ahead.
Sex can be a vice if unregulated. Biblical marriage also lays down the concept of the purpose of marriage as regulated and consensual sex for peace in the world.
When we talk about marriage in the Bible, God’s view on biblical marriage is to establish a divine connection between Christ and his believers. (Ephesians 5:31–33).
The biblical marriage also establishes that the man must protect his wife at all costs and woman must protect the interests of the home (Ephesians 5:25, Titus 2:4–5 respectively).
Check out this speech by Jimmy Evans explains in detail the purpose of marriage and why rejecting marriage is equal to rejecting God in our homes:
God’s ultimate design for marriage
Marriage comes with a lot of responsibilities and accountability to fix and keep things going.
Every marriage has its own ups and downs and no matter how many marriage manuals you read, some problems need to be tackled head-on.
For such cases in biblical marriage, Genesis defines God’s design for marriage in Gen. 2:18-25. It reads as follows:
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam[a] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[b] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[c] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 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.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
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Does the Bible say there is one specific person for us to marry
There has been a debate about whether or not God has one specific person planned for someone. This debate exists only because the Bible doesn’t specifically answer the question in Yes or No.
Christians who debunk the idea express the belief where there could be chances of marrying the wrong person and then, there could be an inevitable cycle of wrong happening in life not just in our lives but the life of their ‘soulmate’ as well considering they could not find each other.
However, the believers present the idea that God has everything planned out for each of our lives. God is sovereign and He will bring about situations that will lead to the planned end.
God works all things according to his will. Here’s Ephesians 1:11: “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Let me say it again. He works all things according to the counsel of his will. . . . that means he always controls everything.
Related Reading: Forgiveness in Marriage: Decrypting the Bible Verses
Biblical view of marriage vs. the world and culture
What is marriage in Christianity?
When it comes to biblical marriage or definitions of marriage in the bible, there are various facts that present a biblical portrait of a marriage. They are mentioned below:
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of that he created them; male and female he created them.”
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?”
When it comes to the world and culture today with respect to the understanding of marriage, we have taken a ‘Me approach’ where we only focus on Scriptures that focus on the self. Once this happens, we lose the fact that Jesus is the center of the Bible and not us.
Related Reading: What Does the Bible Say About Divorce
More questions on what does the Bible say about marriage
God’s view of marriage according to the Bible is that it’s an intimate union between partners, and the purpose is to serve God through the union. Let’s understand what does the Bible say about marriage further in this section:
What are God’s 3 purposes for marriage?
According to the Bible, God has three main purposes for marriage:
God created Eve as a companion for Adam, emphasizing the importance of a husband and wife sharing life together.
2. Procreation and family
God designed marriage as the foundation for procreation and the building of families, as stated in Psalm 127:3-5 and Proverbs 31:10-31.
3. Spiritual unity
Marriage is intended to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the Church and a means of growing closer to God through the shared journey of life and faith.
What are God’s principles for marriage?
God’s principles for marriage include love, mutual respect, sacrifice, and faithfulness. Husbands are called to love their wives sacrificially, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. Wives are called to submit to their husband’s leadership and respect them.
Both partners are called to be faithful to each other and to prioritize their relationship above all other earthly commitments.
Additionally, God’s principles emphasize the importance of forgiveness, communication, and seeking wisdom and guidance from Him in all aspects of the marriage.
What does Jesus say about marriage?
Jesus teaches that marriage is intended to be a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman, as stated in Matthew 19:4-6. He also emphasizes the importance of love, sacrifice, and mutual respect within the marriage relationship, as seen in Ephesians 5:22-33.
So in the marriage union, we are learning to be less selfish and to have faith and give of ourselves more freely. Later in verse 33, it continues that thought:
“But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.”
Throughout the Bible, God has given commandments and instructions on how to live, but being married causes us all to think and feel differently—to think less of ourselves and more for another. Premarital counseling can be an invaluable resource for couples who are preparing for marriage because it helps them understand that being married requires a shift in perspective from thinking primarily about themselves to considering the needs and desires of their spouse.