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.
Here are three main points that help us learn the Bible definition of marriage.
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 honourable.” It’s clear that God wants us to aspire to holy matrimony.
“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.”
The Bible has some beautiful verses on marriage. These biblical marriage phrases help gain more insight and understanding of the marriage. Following these will definitely add a lot of positivity in our lives.
Check these references of 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
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.
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.
Christ & church
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 the 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.
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.
Bible’s 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 God 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’?”
In short, 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.
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.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.