Christian Marriage

Man was created to be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth. It is not good for Man to be alone, so Woman was created from Man as Man’s helper. Once united in marriage the two become one flesh, indivisible. This union is as the union of Christ and the Church. The sex act, by itself, is enough to create this union. Any sexual relation outside of this union of this is a sin against God and against one’s own body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and is taken very seriously by God. Marriage is to be held in honour by all and the marriage bed is not to be defiled by sin.

The fall led to Man’s work being unyielding and ultimately fruitless and Woman’s submission being to a fallen Man who can never fully be what she needs. Yet, in Christ and His kingdom, Man can build a home eternal where his treasures never rust or decay. In Christ, Woman can submit to Man as to Christ.

Marriage is not eternal; it is made for this world. The dead and the resurrected do not marry for they cannot die. Marriage does not carry from this world to the next; marriage ends with death, and with death alone.

Some men are meant to be alone; they are made eunuchs by birth, by men, and for the sake of the kingdom. It is good for a man not to have sex and not to marry, for he can devote himself fully to the Lord. But not every man is given the gift to remain chaste, remember, Man was not meant to be alone. It is better to marry than burn with passion; if a man cannot exercise sexual self-control, he should marry. Each man unable to do so should each take his own wife. Both marriage and celibacy are good, neither is a sin, but neither Man nor Woman should primarily be focusing on either marriage or being free from marriage. Young women, particularly widows, are given extra encouragement to marry. One should not be burdened or restrained whatever one’s choice, as the choice of whether to marry is for a person’s own benefit, to best promote order and devotion to the Lord. Those who forbid marriage are deceitful; each man should live as he is called. The unmarried should be devoted to the Lord, while the married will necessarily split their devotion.

Marriage has two biblical purposes: to sate passion to avoid sin and for man to have a helper in his mission (to be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth). In addition to the commandment to be fruitful, Women will be saved from responsibility for the fall through child-bearing. Any marriage taken should be for one, but optimally both, of these purposes.

To marry a divorced man or woman is to commit adultery. For a man to marry a prostitute or non-virgin or marry more than one woman is less sanctified and may prevent a man from having a position of leadership, but is not necessarily sin.

Christ is the head of man and the husband is the head of his wife for Woman was created for Man.  A wife is to submit in everything to her husband, as the Church to Christ, for the Church is Christ’s bride. No woman should have spiritual authority over a man, yet a wife has authority over her husband’s body, while the husband has the same over hers.  Likewise husbands should love their wives as Christ does the church and as they love their own bodies. A Christian’s submission to Christ and God is to be total and absolute, so should a wife’s submission to her husband. As well, Christ’s love for the church was absolute and self-sacrificing, so should a husband’s love for his wife. Neither man nor women are independent.

To divorce and remarry is sin. A woman is bound to her husband until he dies and a husband should not  divorce his wife, for it is to commit violence. There are only two acceptable justifications for divorce and remarriage: adultery and abandonment by a unbelieving spouse. Separation without remarriage and with attempts to reconcile is acceptable, but not recommended.

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With all the discussion of marriage around these parts I decided to create a summary for myself of what I could find in the Bible on the issue.

Marriage is both a less important and more important than much of modern Christianity makes of it. It is less important In that being married is not necessary to the faith, as some seem to advocate.

But it’s more in that if you do become married, it is a major dedication for both men and women. Men are to be as Christ, women are to fully submit; there are no outs and there is Biblically no such thing as asking too much in a marriage, for either men or women. Also, Simon is right, Woman was created for Man, and a married woman does not submit to God and is not accountable to God, but to her husband.

The common manosphere meme of divorcing if your wife doesn’t provide sex does not seem to have any support, unless adultery is defined far more broadly than would seem prudent. You have to love her anyway.

So, before you marry, count your costs and be prepared to carry your cross. Biblically, it is a huge, irreversible step with very limited escape clauses.

29 comments

  1. If we are even thinking about escape clauses marriage is probably not the right situation in the first place. The body of Christ needs to start putting distance between ourselves and worldly/Churchian marriage if we are going to be left with anything. The infection goes beyond a lack of submission on to another and quickly bleeds into a lack of submission towards God.

    Yes, I submit myself towards my wife, but by following the example of Jesus Christ, nothing like the nonsense that an Evangelical Feminist would call “mutual submission”. Drawing the lines o distinction is going to be important if we are going to find the heart of Christ on this subject.

  2. I could agree that men in sexless marriages are stuck if one of the commonly accepted purposes of marriage were not “to sate passion to avoid sin.” A purpose of marriage being to “become more holy” would work better, but then again you can become more holy just fine on your own living the chaste, single life. Not to mention, the bible says to marry if you burn, so marrying for sex does seem a main purpose. We can’t say the purpose of marriage is for sex and children when it seems like more people than we know are not having sex and/or can’t have children. The purpose seems more to be a joint effort of suffering and cross bearing. In essence the purpose of marriage is suffering so that we can become more Christlike. But of course this doesn’t market well when trying to sell marriage to men.

  3. Interesting. The sex act by itself constitutes marriage, but Lev 21 seems to differentiate between divorced and ‘defiled’ women:

    “They shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled, neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband, for the priest is holy to his God.”

    The bible often strikes me as deliberately inscrutable on the morality of sex and the severity of the sin of fornication.

    In any case Deuteronomy 22:13 is my personal biblical rationalization for being a man whore:

    “But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and bthe men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has cdone an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. dSo you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

    When I sleep with girls, I have *every intention* to marry them. But if I later find out they aren’t virgins – Quelle Suprise! – I, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, am minded to put her away privily.

    Cheers,
    Frost

  4. @Solomon

    God doesn’t exist to remove our pain, we exist to worship Him. You are operating from a very self-centered worldview. Christianity makes no sense if you look at it through those glasses.

    There are many reasons why pain on this earth is actually good for us. One, it usually is indicative of our sin. Two, it is the primary way God forges souls. Three, it causes a groaning throughout all Creation for redemption and our true home.

  5. @Northerner

    While I agree with your assessment of marriage, I am confused by your agreement with this Simon fellow. I didn’t read his entire blog post, but I do not believe at all in his primary premise that women are not to submit to God. I can look into scripture to defend this, but it does not strike me as holding any water at all.

    Did I miss sarcasm? Did you link the wrong blog?

    He has other things in his blog post that are not biblical at all. For polygamy, he absolutely conflates what is described in the old testement with what is actually prescribed and commanded by God. This is a very lawyer way of interpreting things. In explanation, it is the idea that (explicit) laws shift with a changing precedent instead of assuming deviation from the explicit law is wrong and appealing to original law for the truth. That is lawyering, not interpreting. God makes it very explicit that marriage is between a single man and woman. That is the model of Adam and Eve, and that is the model of the second Adam, Jesus. It is one husband and one bride, the Church.

    There are a lot of good things in the manosphere in regards to rightly interpreting scripture. There are also a lot of subtly poisonous things. Stay on your toes.

  6. Simon went wrong in his reasoning here:

    “Woman was not intended to worship God or serve God.”

    I wonder how one would reconcile this position to the following:

    “The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” (1 Cor. 7:34)

    Furthermore, many women served God, even in the Old Testament: there was Deborah the judge (most obvious), and there were prophetesses (among whom were Isaiah’s wife and Miriam, Moses’ sister). Hannah prayed in a way not even Eli the high priest understood, and her reward was her son Samuel. (Who, by the way, she promptly yielded up for the service of the Lord rather than to his father Elkanah.)

    Jael is revered as a heroine for having done in the ally (Sisera) of her own husband (Heber the Kenite). Rahab the prostitute surely turned against the men of her own people in favor of the people of God. Rebekah tricked her own husband in order that Jacob could have his father’s blessing.

    There were the women who went to the tomb of Christ, to serve Him even after His death. Mary and Martha served Him, and implored Him for their brother’s life. There was the repentant sinning woman who washed His feet. There was the Canaanite woman who begged Him for help (and was rewarded).

    …I’m sorry that this ran so long and a bit disjointed. These are just the bits I can remember off the top of my head. I’m sure there are more. And I would be curious to know how these don’t conflict with the position that women only and ever answer to their direct-report male relatives.

  7. @ IAL: Once in marriage, no one should even be considering an escape clause, but those considering marriage it is important to count the cost beforehand.

    @ Yaakov: While the Bible doesn’t seem to condemn polygamy, it does seem lift a single wife to a single husband as the ideal.

    @ lgr: In marriage, a wife should not be denying her husband (and vice versa). That a partner can so thoroughly violate the marriage covenant contract by withholding sex is one of the corruptions of our age. That people are marrying and not having sex or children is another corruption of our age. Us corrupting a holy institution does not remove the ideal form of the institution.

    @ Solomon: We do not exist to be happy, but to God’s will. On the other hand, God’s will is for everybody to live holy and pleasing lives; if all did so, life would be paradisaical for all.

    @ Frost: The BIble does seem inscrutable at times. As lolz was saying on here a few days ago, the Bible was written in a high-context culture. A lot of sexual morality was probably implied/assumed by the writers. For example, porneia, usually translated simply as sexual immorality, was probably well understood by those reading the NT at the time.
    http://freenortherner.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/omegas-guide-mind/#comment-5700

    That rationalization, while tempting, seems to be violating the spirit of the law, even if conforming to the letter. I would not like to try explaining that distinction of judgment day.

    @ mwain & Sigyn: As per the linked verses above, man is the head of women and a wife is to submit to the husband as the Church to Christ, and the husband it to love her as Christ does the Church. The married woman

    There’s Woman as the general and women in the particular. A married woman is to submit to her husband as the church to Christ. The unmarried woman is to serve and submit to God directly, as a man would.

    The vast majority of women are to marry and do marry and Eve was created so as to help man. So, one can say Woman is meant for marriage and to submit to her husband in the general, even though a minority of particular women are to submit directly to God. A generality is not an absolute.

    As for polygamy I’m not sure what you are referring to mwain,

  8. @mwcain

    Description does not trump prescription.

    In His Law God very plainly does not define marriage as one man and one woman only. Instead not only does He not forbid polygyny, He also regulates and in some instances would even require it.

    In His Holy Word God’s Law is described as perfect, holy, just and absolutely righteous. Were it, however, the case that God was “allowing” the sin of polygyny in His Law, then it would not be perfect, nor holy, just and absoultely righteous. That would mean that His Word is self-contradictory, and something that is self-contradictory cannot be the truth.

    Further: Description does not equal prescription. Were it true that God wanted marriage to be monogamy only, then surely He would have stated that in His Law. It should not be forgotten that sin is the transgression of the Law. In the creation account we have the description of what God did; in His Law we have the prescription of what He wants. Remember: Sin is the transgression of the Law, and as long as heaven and earth exist every jot and tittle of the Law will stand.

    If we deny the righteousness of polygyny, then we deny the righteousness of God’s Law. If we cast out God’s Law as imperfect and unrighteous, then we are left with nothing.

  9. @yaako,

    First, the Law doesn’t cover everything that displeases God. Just see the words of Jesus – he extended the law against adultery to lusting. The law against murder to hate. Appealing to the old testament when we are covered by a new covenant is meaningless.

    I know there are a slew of people that explain away the prescription for one wife for elders/deacons/etc. What I will point out is that the Holy Spirit actually convicts new believers to give up the practice, Missionaries who have gone to other tribes and explicitly adopted the practice of allowing the Holy Spirit to convict the new tribes about their cultures sin have seen these tribes come to the conclusion that having multiple wives is actually a sin because it is not ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’ because every extra wife an alpha takes is another beta who doesn’t get one.

    Word smith all you want Yaako, but I am going to side with the Holy Spirit on this one.

  10. @northerner

    You misread me, or you didn’t actually read the article you linked. A woman, even a wife, needs to submit to God. She doesn’t reach God through her husband, she comes to the cross as an equal just like everyone else, ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, man or woman, master or slave.. etc’.

    The article you linked says that woman goes through man to reach God. Absolute blasphemy.

    Is a wife to submit to her husband in all things? Yes. However, she cannot follow her husband into sin and be blameless before God. There is a higher authority than her husband.

  11. @mwcain

    Sorry, but you are not siding with the Holy Spirit, if you do not follow the Word, because the Spirit is the author of the Word.

    God does not change; neither, therefore, does His Law. If men of God had more than one wife before the advent of Christ and that was seen as a blessing, the same applies for the time after Christ’s advent.

    This is not “word-smithing”; this is solid exegesis.

    Read the book I referenced in my first post, if you are truly interested in the truth. Refute it, if you can.

  12. @yaako,

    I don’t need to read a book to know you are wrong. See Paul’s letter to the Galatians to see where your thoughts fit in. Watch yourself dude, running around teaching people to abide by the old testament and the new lands you in Paul’s book of false teachers. There is a greater judgment for you, so do some serious praying before you continue in your path.

  13. MwCain and FN: I don’t think that Solomon was saying that the point of life is to reduce suffering (a contrapositive to hedonism, I guess) – I think both of you took his inherently reasonable statement, made it into something else (not saying you did it intentionally) and took down a strawman.

    All he said, written another way, is that God loves us, and while on Earth healed us and offered as life abundantly. While suffering is part of the path, as FN pointed out, following his Will for our lives, including Christian behavior, would actually reduce a lot of suffering. Plus, wasn’t there laying on hands of the sick and other such ministries? Aren’t things like healing the sick and feeding the poor part of the Christian walk? Sounds like imitating the Great Healer and reducing suffering to me. Reducing suffering is generally inherently good – this is only not the case where it gets in the way of a larger, more important goal.

    @Lgrobins

    In essence the purpose of marriage is suffering so that we can become more Christlike.

    Errr…that doesn’t sound right. What Scriptural case can you make for that? I thought that purpose was procreation and raising children. Once again, just like MwCain and FN, you take one aspect (suffering) and monomaniacally focus on just that, to the exclusion (or least total overwhelming of) all else.

    Suffering is in fact part of life and part of the Christian life, but in the Gospels and the rest of the Scripture we do see both. Saying life is suffering is actually a buddhist teaching, not a Christian one. As G.K. Chesterton brought up – while there always is the problem of pain…what about the problem of pleasure?

    While suffering is part of making one more Christlike, His Life and Ministry was not so one-dimensional as that. He suffered, yes, but even on Earth, much less now, experienced joys as well. I see no reason why we are not to do the same. So while suffering is necessary, it is not sufficient nor the whole game plan. Life has both pleasures and pains in abundant measure.

    Christianity is not just about suffering. While the cross is a major symbol of the faith, a little bit of Christian history may clear this up a bit: Art Historian Kenneth Clark (quoted in John Eldredge’s book Waking the Dead which I recommend very highly) stated:

    We have grown so used to the idea that the Crucifixion is the supreme symbol of Christianity, that it is a shock to realize how late in the history of Christian art its power was recognized. In the first art of Christianity it hardly appears; and the earliest example, on the doors of Santa Sabina in Rome [around A.D. 430], is stuck away in a corner, almost out of sight … early Christian art is concerned with miracles, healings, and with hopeful aspects of the faith like the Ascension and the Resurrection.

    So many people focus on only the Crucifixion and death and never the Resurrection that came afterwards. As per 1 Cor 15:14, the Resurrection is the whole point.

  14. addendum,

    to be fair, I mistyped to say that FN was monomanically focusing on suffering. Sorry about that FN.

  15. “Errr…that doesn’t sound right. What Scriptural case can you make for that?”

    I can’t, but that is the message I keep seeing over and over again at blogs when sexless marriages are brought up. That one in a sexless marriage should take up their cross and endure the suffering like Jesus would. This would be fine if Christians could offer some relief for that sort of pain and rejection. Some way to find joy, but they don’t—they just say “such is life, we all suffer, that is your cross to bear”.

  16. “The common manosphere meme of divorcing if your wife doesn’t provide sex does not seem to have any support, unless adultery is defined far more broadly than would seem prudent. You have to love her anyway.”

    For a women to refuse her husband sex is a sin and a sexual one at that. There is a path laid out to rectify it:

    I’d suggest the following action for sexless marriages and move up one step each times she refuses to end her sin or comply with these biblical mandates:
    1. Talk to her of her sin and remind her of her duty.
    2. Bring her before the elders church and have them chastise her for her sin.
    3. Bring her before the entire church and chastise her for her sin.
    4. Have the church expel and excommunicate her and then as she is no longer a Christan you can divorce her biblicaly for being unequally yoked.

    Christan and churches need to get into the practices of expelling and excommunicating unrepentant sinners and heretics. It will restore honor, vitality, and goodness to your churches.

  17. “To marry a divorced man or woman is to commit adultery.” is not true and Christ never said that. He said to marry a woman divorced, except for infidelity ON HER PART, constitutes adultery; as adultery = wife stealing, not husband stealing. This is why your next statement about polygny can be valid. I.e. the husband can’t put a woman away unless she broke the covenant, otherwise, the covenant is still valid, and he must continue to fulfill his part.

    A married man CAN add another unattached woman to himself; he’s not breaking a covenant, but ADDING one unto himself, like companies add contracts for new clients. Yes, this applies, as economia, which principles are used by govts & companies, originated in the FAMILY and literally means “household management”. So companies get their ideas from household govt.
    Biblical adultery depends on the marital status of the WOMAN; it’s adultery for the man if he (single or married) takes a married woman. Think of it as an employee (woman) going out to work for your rival; wouldn’t you fire her? But can she fire YOU, the CEO, if you choose to hire another needy person (woman) to work for you & grow your business (household)?
    So, if she’s single or properly divorced, she is up for grabs by any single or already married man, as man was made for woman, not vice versa.

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