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The Sanctity of Marriage

“MARRIAGE is a sacred, covenantal union of one man and one woman formed when the two swear before God an oath of lifelong loyalty and love to one another, the sign and seal of which is sexual intercourse... Marriage is also God's unique gift to provide the framework for intimate companionship, as a means for procreation of the human race and as the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards.” (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

1.  Marriage exclusively between one man and one woman was God's original design and permanent intention.

Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement'... Then the LORD God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man. And the man said: 'This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called 'woman', for she was taken from man.' This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:18–24)

Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2:15)

But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate.” (Mark 10:6–9)

2.  Marriage is intended to be a life-long commitment to one partner of the opposite gender.

A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:39)

For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.” (Romans 7:2–3)

3.  Marriage is to be held in high honor and the finding of a spouse viewed as favor from the Lord.

A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:22)

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (Hebrews 13:4)

4.  Divorce has always been and remains contrary to God's design for married couples.

I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.” (Malachi 2:16)

To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:10–14)

5.  Unjustified divorce is determined by God and declared by the Bible as committing adultery.

But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:32)

He told them, 'Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning. And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.'” (Matthew 19:8–9)

And Jesus said to them, 'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. Also, if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.'” (Mark 10:11–12)

Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and everyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” (Luke 16:18)

6.  Husbands and wives are to live in mutual love, honor, respect and submission to one another.

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:22–31)

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Colossians 3:18–19)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” (Titus 2:3–5)

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)

7.  Husbands and wives are to be mutually responsible in fostering their marriage relationship.

But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does. Do not deprive one another sexually—except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:2–5)

Marriage, Divorce, and Singleness” (John MacArthur)