THE CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE
WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO MARRY?
- Divine Origin and Purpose
- Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make
him a helper comparable to him."
- Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.
- Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill
the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over
every living thing that moves on the earth."
- I Corinthians 7:2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife,
and let each woman have her own husband.
God's plan for marriage is to provide companionship, to prevent sexual immorality, and to
provide children with loving parents. One wife was permitted for one man at the beginning of time.
One wife was authorized for one man by Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul. Elders and deacons are
allowed only one wife.
- Who May Marry
People marry in every place on earth. This has been true throughout all of earth's history. Every government on earth has laws about marriage. Those laws must be followed for a man and woman to be married in the eyes of God.
- Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no
authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever
resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on
The governments know that marriage is good for the nations. The joining of a couple as
husband and wife creates one new family. The family is the building block for the rest of society.
When the families are good, then the nation is stronger. When Christian families are strong and happy, the church is stronger.
Marriage was not some convenient invention dreamed up by men or governments. God has
authorized that a man and a woman may marry. God wanted people to marry from the beginning of
time. When man is alone he is incomplete. When woman is alone she is incomplete. (God said, "It
is not good that man should be alone." Genesis 2:18.) The greatest happiness that can be found on
earth can be found in the Christian marriage relationship.
- Matthew 19:5 Jesus said, "A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one."
Men and women who are mature enough to leave their father and their mother are old enough
to be married. If the man can provide money, food, and a home for himself and a wife, he is old
enough to marry. If a woman is responsible enough to take care of the duties of the home for herself
and a husband, she is old enough to marry. They should also be able to supply the needs of children
that will be born.
- I Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his
household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
God does not allow a man to have more than one living wife. God does not permit a woman
to have more than one living husband.
- Matthew 22:30 Jesus said, "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in
marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven." Jesus makes it clear that after death we will no
longer be married. This means that if a man's wife dies, he is free to marry another. If a woman's
husband dies, she is free to marry another.
- Romans 7:2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long
as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.
- I Corinthians 7:39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband
dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
- I Timothy 5:14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the
house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
Those who have been divorced on the basis of their spouses' unfaithfulness are free to marry
again. The New Testament gives only one reason where God will permit divorce. Matthew 19:9
Jesus said, "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries
another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." If the
husband commits adultery with another woman, God permits his wife to divorce him and she is free
to marry again. If the wife commits adultery with another man, God permits her husband to divorce
her and he is free to marry again. Note that God does not REQUIRE divorce when adultery occurs.
If the marriage can be saved, that would be better. However, it is then very difficult for the faithful
spouse to trust the one who committed adultery. A marriage is built on trust that should never be
According to the laws of God, those who are free to get married are those adults who have
never been married, those who are widowed, and those who are scripturally divorced.
At least one religion today teaches that their priests are not to marry. Yet this is not what
God intended. This doctrine is one introduced by man that was prophesied by the apostle Paul.
- I Timothy 4:1-3 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the
faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their
own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods
which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
- Who May NOT Marry
A man, who is divorced for any reason other than that his wife committed adultery, is not free
to marry again according the Bible. A woman, who is divorced for any reason other than that her
husband committed adultery, is not free to marry again.
- Malachi 2:14-16 Yet you say, "For what reason?" because the Lord has been witness
between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your
companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the
Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal
treacherously with the wife of his youth. For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce,
for it covers one's garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. Therefore take heed to your
spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.
- Matthew 19:8 Jesus said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted
you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so."
God hates divorce.
- Luke 16:18 Jesus said, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery;
and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery."
- Romans 7:3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called
We see that God looks at divorce as sinful when the persons involved marry someone else and
become guilty of the sin of adultery.
- I Corinthians 7:10-13 A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart,
let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.
But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing
to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if
he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.
- I Corinthians 7:15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not
under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.
These verses teach us that when a Christian is married to a non-Christian, a divorce may occur
that is not under the control of the Christian. If divorce does not occur because of the scripturally
allowed reason of adultery, then the Christian is not permitted to remarry. He or she must remain single.
In Leviticus 20:10-21 there are examples of whom God says the Jews were forbidden to have
sexual relations with. Therefore, these are examples of whom they could not marry. I believe we are
expected to follow these same principles. A man cannot marry another man's wife. He cannot marry
his mother, his step-mother, his daughter-in-law, his mother-in-law, his sister, his aunt, his sister-in-law, another man, or an animal.
- Mark 6:17-19 For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John [the baptist], and bound him
in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; for he had married her. For John had said
to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Therefore Herodias held it against
him and wanted to kill him, but she could not.
- Romans 1:26-27 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women
exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use
of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and
receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
God forbids a divorced person from marrying unless the marriage was ended because of
adultery committed by the other person. God prohibits us from marrying a close relative. God will
not allow two men to marry each other. He will not permit two women to marry each other. God
will not allow a person to marry an animal.
Michael S. Cole, M.D.
THE CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE (part 2)
Bible study, 22 - 26 September 1993
Tabwakea Church of Christ, Christmas Island, Kiribati
Copyright © 1993
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