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What Does the Bible Say About Marriage?

The Bible’s answer

 After creating the first man and woman, God brought them together in marriage. He instituted marriage as a special bond between a man and a woman as a foundation for the family unit.—Genesis 1:27, 28; 2:18.

 God wants married couples to be happy. (Proverbs 5:18) In the Bible, he provides standards for marriage as well as principles that can help a marriage succeed.

In this article

 What are God’s standards for marriage?

 From the beginning, God created marriage to be a union of one man and one woman. (Genesis 2:24) God does not approve of polygamy, homosexual acts, or couples living together without marriage. (1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:3) Jesus taught his followers to adhere to God’s original standard for marriage.—Mark 10:6-8.

 In God’s eyes, marriage creates a permanent bond. When a man and a woman get married, they promise to be loyal to each other and to stay together for as long as they are both alive. God expects them to keep that promise.—Mark 10:9.

 What about separation and divorce?

 There may be times when a husband and wife must be apart from each other, such as when one mate needs to travel to care for a family emergency. But the Bible discourages separation resulting from marital problems. Instead, it urges couples in such a situation to work toward reconciliation.—1 Corinthians 7:10.

 Adultery is the only Scriptural grounds for divorce. (Matthew 19:9) Hence, if a husband and wife decide to separate or to divorce for any reason other than adultery, neither partner is Scripturally free to date someone else or to remarry.—Matthew 5:32; 1 Corinthians 7:11.

 Does a marriage need to be registered legally to be approved by God?

 God expects Christians to obey secular laws regarding marriage. (Titus 3:1) When it is possible for a couple to register their marriage legally, their doing so shows respect for secular authorities and for God’s standard that marriage is a lasting commitment. *

 What roles and responsibilities does the Bible assign to husbands and wives?

  •   Shared responsibilities. Husbands and wives should treat each other with love and respect. (Ephesians 5:33) They should care for each other’s sexual needs in a loving way and avoid all forms of unfaithfulness. (1 Corinthians 7:3; Hebrews 13:4) If they have children, husbands and wives share the responsibility of raising them.—Proverbs 6:20.

     The Bible does not discuss in detail how married couples should share secular work and household chores. They can decide together what will work best for their family.

  •   A husband’s role. The Bible says that “a husband is head of his wife.” (Ephesians 5:23) He is the head in the sense that he should guide his family and make decisions that will benefit his wife and children.

     He should strive to ensure that their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are cared for. (1 Timothy 5:8) He shows that he values his wife’s qualities and capabilities by working closely with her and by carefully considering her opinion and feelings when making decisions. (Proverbs 31:11, 28) The Bible says that a husband ought to care for his responsibilities in a loving way.—Colossians 3:19.

  •   A wife’s role. The Bible says that a “wife should have deep respect for her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33) God is pleased when a wife respects the role that he assigned to her husband.

     Her role is to assist her husband, helping him to make good decisions and supporting his headship. (Genesis 2:18) The Bible speaks highly of a wife who fulfills her important role in marriage.—Proverbs 31:10.

 Does God require married couples today to have children?

 No. In the past, God commanded some of his worshippers to have children. (Genesis 1:28; 9:1) But Christians are not bound by that instruction. Jesus never commanded his followers to have children. Neither did any of his early disciples say that married couples must have children. Couples can decide for themselves whether they will raise a family.

 How can the Bible help my marriage?

 The Bible contains principles that can help couples get their marriage off to a good start. Bible principles can also help couples to avoid or overcome difficulties.

 Bible principles can help a married couple to . . .

^ Regarding the Bible’s view of customary or tribal marriages, see The Watchtower of October 15, 2006, page 21, paragraph 12.