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What does the Bible say about marriage?

Marriage is a precious bond that embodies the love of God and serves as a foundation for society. The Bible affirms the sacredness of marriage and speaks to its importance in multiple passages throughout the Old and New Testaments.


A traditional viewpoint on marriage often emphasizes the union between one man and one woman as a bedrock of community and faith. For example, the passage from Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." This verse is often cited in traditional circles as a blueprint for the way in which God intends for marriage to be conducted.

However, progressive or centrist beliefs on marriage acknowledge that the Bible is not always the best guide for a healthy marriage. The Bible includes examples of multiple wives, forced marriages, and polygamy, which are not held up in contemporary society. Exodus 21:10-11 outlines a man's ability to marry multiple women, which may be viewed as immoral and unjust as it does not uplift women as equal partners in marriage.

Jesus and Paul both provided alternative viewpoints on marriage. Jesus never married and, as such, his teaching did not focus on marriage and family. Paul, on the other hand, spoke about the complexities of marriage, noting that it was a challenging institution that required constant effort to maintain. In 1st Corinthians 7:32-35, Paul contemplates whether staying single was a better choice than getting married, saying “…An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife…”

Ultimately, the Bible presents a diverse set of examples and viewpoints on marriage, making it challenging to have a definitive stance on what is considered a traditional or progressive view. However, one overarching theme is the importance of love and commitment in marriage, as stated in passages such as Ephesians 5:25, which says, “…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...” No matter the viewpoint, it's essential that married couples strive to emulate love, grace, and selflessness in their lives together to honor God's intentions for marriage.

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