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The Biblical Definition Of Marriage - What Does The Bible Say?
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The biblical definition of marriage may seem to be a boring topic to many, but actually the Bible gives wonderful principles that can lead to exciting, happy, and successful marriages that can be filled with bliss. As we ponder the biblical definition of marriage, we will ask ourselves, "What does the Bible say?"

My son-in-law used to tease us about being "old boring married people"--that is, he said that before he got married. Now we get excited about being able to tease him with the same comment. Marriage does not have to be boring.

There seems to be some confusion as to what marriage is in America today. We are taking the traditional approach that focuses, as we said, on "What does the Bible say?"

What are the elements of that biblical definition of marriage?

1. Leave. First of all, according to the Bible, a man is to leave his father and mother. We can expand on that principle also by saying that a man should leave past relationships behind (if those are relationships that would damage the marriage). Then we can indirectly expand on the idea even further, and say that we should leave any "baggage" behind too. In order to get rid of the "baggage," we may have to learn to forgive others and even to forgive ourselves.

2. Cleave. Second of all, according to the Bible, a man is to "cleave" unto his wife. By implication, the wife is also to cleave unto her husband. One connotative definition of "cleaving" is "to stick like glue." The couple is to have a commitment to stick to each other even when life gets hard.

3. Become One Flesh. Third, according to the Bible, the two parties in the marriage are to "become one flesh." This is a statement describing the physical intimacy that is required for a good marriage.

(The leaving, cleaving, and becoming one flesh all refer to the union between a man and a woman in the Bible.)

4. Legal Significance. The biblical view of marriage carries with it the idea of legal significance. Therefore, marriages are to done according to the laws of the community in which the couple resides--so long as those laws do not contradict the Bible otherwise.

Besides the four elements just mentioned, there is one more at which we should look when dealing with the question "What does the Bible say?" in regard to Christian marriage.

5. Lasting Commitment. The biblical definition of marriage carries with it the idea of lasting commitment. That is why many Christian marriage ceremonies have the phrase, "so long as we both shall live," or "till death do us part," or some similar wording, included in them.

These are five elements related to "What does the Bible say?" when it come to the definition of marriage.

These five ideas about the definition of marriage ares also similar to the six keys for marital bliss, which are essential to successful marriages.


Street Talk

Interesting, but . . . unstudied, I guess. You superimpose today's understanding of Biblical passages [translated many times over from the original languages, I might add] onto the composition of the Bible, which is factually inaccurate. For example: in Jesus's day His statements . . . such as the on casting the first stone . . . were considered utterly radical. The understanding of marriage in the Old Testament was not as you describe at all. Adultery, in fact, [and you can actually tell this by where the command is positioned in the Ten Commandments] was a property crime. The romanticized "partnership" you describe did not exist in the Old Testament. A man became a woman's owner upon marriage in that day. As late as Jesus' day, and in some cultures long after, only a WOMAN could commit adultery. A man could not ever commit adultery, because a man could not be the marital "property" of a spouse [although he could be a slave owned by a slave owner generally.] A woman who had relations with another was considered damaged goods, and to have sinned by diminishing the value of her spouse's material property: there was no spiritual aspect to it whatever. This is why teachings of Jesus such as that a man who divorces his wife commits adultery against her led to schemes to defeat Jesus: there was no concept of such a thing in that culture. While being the Word of God some of what you describe crept into the Old Testament, the authors were human and labored under the worldview I described that marriage actually constituted a contract for the man to assume literal ownership of the woman as a peice of tangible property. And, indeed, right up through Jesus' day, most marriages of that time were arranged marriages set up by the parents or guardians of one or both of the people entering into the marriage [depending on age]. It's highly likely, in fact, that the marriage between Mary and Joseph was arranged at least on Mary's side of the marriage. She was only 13 or 14 at the time of their marriage: though Joseph may have been far older and may have been a widower with children from a previous marriage. Because the human instruments God used to compose the Bible would have no concept whatever of your view of marriage . . . marriage for love was almost unknown in those days . . . they would not have had the purpose of describing marriage in the terms you suggest.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Christine, you have some interesting statements; however, the principles behind the "leave, cleave, and become one flesh" come right from Genesis 1:24, so that would be an "Old Testament" concept. You have given some insight into a cultural understanding of the Old Testament and the understanding of property rights. However, the principles applied across cultures, in my opinion, can be very helpful. I also understand that some "romanicized" ideas of love are more shallow than those of which I view as constituting love. Thank you for your concepts; however, some of what you say seems to be no less "unstudied" or "opinionated" than what you seem to imply is in the background of the article. We may have to agree to disagree, hopefully in agreeable manners. Aside from our debate of some of these foundational issues, I certainly stand by the idea that these principles, properly applied, will benefit many modern-day marriages.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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