God’s Word teaches;
That Marriage is binding for life. Monogamy is the uniform teaching of the Bible. Polygamy is contrary to God’s perfect will and institution. Also, under the New Testament dispensation, no one has a right to divorce and remarry while the first companion lives. When a person becomes con-verted, necessary restitution, on this line, must be done without delay if he has married wrongly. Genesis 2:24; Deuteronomy 7:1-4; Job 23:11-13; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Proverbs 31:10-31; Malachi 2:14,15; Romans 7:2,3; Ephesians 5:31-33; Matthew 5;31,32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; John 4:15-19; Genesis 20:3-7.
Marriage is a holy union, a living symbol, a precious relationship that needs tender self-sacrificing care. It is God’s idea and not a derivative of any culture. It is a gift from God to man and it has three basic aspects: (i) The man leaves his parents, and in a public act, pledges himself to his wife; (ii) The man and woman are joined together by taking responsibility for each other’s welfare and by loving the partner above all others; (iii) The two become one flesh in the intimacy and commitment to the wonderful union which is reserved for marriage. By so doing, marriage provides the needed fellowship, comfort, companionship and partnership. It is one of God’s methods to keep men and women free from fornication and immorality. With very few exceptions, most men and women are to marry. These few exceptions are to receive God’s guidance and are not to be the product of infantile decisions, misguided imitations, faithless consecration or frivolous religious compassion (Genesis 2:18-20, 22-24; Matthew 19:4,5; Ephesians 5:31; I Corinthians 7:1,2,25-29,32).
Marriage is part of God’s plan to raise the Christian family. But the believer is not to go searching for a wife or husband, neither are they to resort to the abominable method of ‘sampling’ or ‘picking and choosing’. And the Lord God, said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him ” (Genesis 2:18). God seems to be saying, “ I am not going to allow the man to choose for himself”. “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman and brought her unto him ” (Genesis 2:22). God did not bring a girl, an immature female or a teenager, but He brought a woman – (intelligible, sensible and mature) unto the man. He brought a perfect fit – two of a kind! God still leads His children to His will in marriage today. He does this through (i) His Word (Psalm 119:105,130; 2 Timothy 3:16,17), (ii) the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, prompting, directing, influencing or checking (John 10:4,5,27; Romans 8:14; Proverbs 20:27; I Samuel 9:15-21; 16:12,13; Joel 2:28,29; Acts 9:10-15). However, any revelation that is received must be diligently compared with the Scripture. If any revelation, visions or dreams contradict the Scripture in anyway, such revelations, visions or dreams are to be rejected as false (Isaiah 8:19,20; Jeremiah 23:21-32; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Revelation 22:18,19). Once the will of God is known, believers are to seek and obtain their parents’ consent before going on with any further plans (Genesis 24:15-29; 34:3-12; Exodus 22:16; Deuteronomy 7:3; I Samuel 18:20,21; I Corinthians 7:36-38).
It is ungodly for any believer to elope with a woman or man no matter the divergent and unyielding stance of their parents (Genesis 31:20-51). People in such a situation must pray and trust in the Lord who gave the revelation of His will, to finish the work, for “ with God all things are possible ” (Mark 10:27; Psalm 37:4; Philippians 4:6; Proverbs 21:1). Thereafter, payment of bride price or dowry shall be executed in line with the Scripture. It is an ungodly practice to borrow money or go into debt to impress the woman’s parents or invitees. It is also considered sinful for two people to live together without meeting the requisite obligations to their parents (Exodus 22:17; I Samuel 18:25-27; Hosea 3:2,3; 1 Corinthians 14:40; Romans 13:7,8). The parents’consent will lead, naturally, to a period of courtship to be determined by the church leadership but preferably not longer than nine months. This affords the intending couple the opportunity to understand each another and plan for the future together. It is a time to be spent together not in secrecy but in the home of a Christian family where movement of people is not restricted. It is during courtship that the intending couple will discuss their expectations of each other (on finances, size of family anticipated, extended family, etc). Purity must be maintained before, during and after the courtship (I Thessalonians 4:3-7; 5:22). Visitations and exchange of gifts at this stage are not acceptable, before the wedding. The Christian wedding is preceded by ‘filing in of notice’ at the Marriage Registry. This is to enable the public inform the Magistrate should there be any objection to the proposed marriage. The church wedding will take place after the Pastor had received a certificate from the magistrate.
The church will not join a couple in marriage where (i) one of them had been previously married and is separated from his or her partner (Matthew 19:4-6; John 4:18); (ii) the lady has not obtained the consent of her parents; (iii) the lady is already pregnant (iv) the couple is in unequal yoke – one of them is not born again (Deuteronomy 7:3; 2 Corinthians 6:14).
Therefore, no believer will marry an unbeliever or a divorced person. Moreover, God’s word forbids the believer marrying “any that is a near of kin”, that is “a relative ” (Leviticus 18:6). Marrying relatives was prohibited by God for physical, social, and moral reasons. Children born to near relatives may experience serious health problems. When improper sexual relations begin, family life is destroyed. “For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled …” (Leviticus 18:27).
From the parables and actual marriages in the Scripture, weddings were moments of rejoicing and feastings (Jeremiah 33:11; John 2:1-11; 3:29; Isaiah 62:5) and special garments were provided for the bridegroom, bride, and guests at the wedding (Matthew 22:12; Revelation 19:7,8). Yet, Christian practice must be guided by the uniform teaching of Christian living in the New Testament (I Corinthians 7:29-31; 6:12; 8:9,13; Romans 14:15; I John 2:6; 3:2-4). The believers therefore must shun every form of worldliness and worldly imitations in dressing and in the manner of entertaining guests. Simplicity and modesty must characterise the wedding in order that God’s name may be glorified.
The first step in creating a new union with one’s spouse is the dissolving of the old one: a severence of relationship with one’s parents (Genesis 2:23,24; Ephesians 5:30,31). He is to ‘leave father and mother’, which means departing, loosing oneself, finding freedom from them. Many who have violated this scriptural principle have discovered to their chargrin a hurt to their marital joy. Marriage is “until death do us part”, and God did not make any provisions for divorce or re-marriage.
In marriage, lack of spiritual, emotional, and intellectual intimacy usually precedes a break down of physical intimacy. When couples fail to expose their secret thoughts to one another, they shut off the line of communication to one another. The great secret of conjugal happiness is mutual love, kindness, tenderness and loveliness of character in the home. The wife should respect and obey the husband and the husband should love and care for the wife (Ephesians 5:22-31). “Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord …” Submission is not the obliteration or nullification of the woman’s personality. It is neither subjugation nor an imposed obedience. Submission is a voluntary subordination. It is obedience motivated by love (Philippians 2:5-8). “Likewise, ye wives be in subjection to your own husbands …” (I Peter 3:1-6). Such a life speaks loudly and clearly, and is often the most effective way to influence a family member. Christian wives should develop inner beauty rather than being overly concerned about their appearance. When the wife lives the Christian faith quietly and consistently in the home, her family would see Christ in her.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it … So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself ” (Ephesians 5:25,28). Christ is the model of love. The husband can never love his wife too much; yet, that love is inconsequential when compared to his love for the Lord. The husband’s love makes him to be considerate, understanding and is able to bear with his wife.
The husband is also the head of the family. This headship has the idea of authority, an authority after the analogy of Christ’s headship. In that sense, the husband is the spiritual head of the family and his wife goes along with his leadership. A wise and Christ-honouring husband will not take advantage of his role, and a wise and Christ-honouring wife will not try to undermine her husband’s leadership.
“Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband ” (Ephesians 5:33).