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What Does the Bible Say About Marriage and Divorce?

What Does the Bible Say About Marriage and Divorce?

Marriage is considered one of life’s most sacred institutions, yet it is also one of the most complex. In a society with high divorce rates, many wonder – what does the Bible really teach about the covenant of marriage and grounds for ending a union?

This post will explore key biblical passages related to marriage, divorce, and God’s design for this important relationship through exegetical analysis and application.

Marriage: A Divine Design

The Bible provides important context for understanding God’s original intent for marriage from the very beginning. In Genesis 2:18, God said “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” He then created Eve from Adam’s rib as a “suitable helper.”

This account establishes some fundamental truths about marriage. First, marriage was divinely ordained and instituted by God for companionship and procreation. Second, it involves a “leaving and cleaving” – leaving one’s birth family to become united with a spouse. Third, it involves a heterosexual relationship between one man and one woman for life, with the two becoming “one flesh.”

Later biblical passages like Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9 directly reference the Genesis account to affirm God’s design and intent for the boundaries and covenant of marriage between a husband and wife was established from creation. From the outset, the Bible provides a “what does the bible say about marriage” foundation for believers.

Permanence and Faithfulness

When exploring “what does the bible say about divorce,” one important theme is the permanence and binding nature of the marriage covenant. Malachi 2:14-16 directly addresses unfaithfulness in marriage, saying God hates divorce because “he has been witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth.”

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Echoing God’s ideal for lifelong commitment, Jesus refers back to Genesis in Matthew 5:31-32 and 19:3-9, explicitly stating “let no one separate” what God has joined together in marriage except in cases of unfaithfulness. The Bible presents marriage as a sacrosanct, exclusive relationship to be upheld in faithfulness “till death do us part.”

Divorce breaks this sacred covenant and is presented infrequently in scripture as acceptable “only on grounds of unfaithfulness” to directly protect the innocence of the faithful spouse. This emphasizes God takes marriage vows extremely seriously and desires spouses commit to lifelong faithfulness and unity through patience, forgiveness and reconciliation whenever possible.

Roles and Responsibilities

The Bible also provides clarity for “what does the bible say about marriage” regarding roles within marriage. Ephesians 5 lays out a beautiful design where husbands are called to sacrificial, Christ-like love for their wives through things like valuing, cherishing and protecting them.

Correspondingly, wives are called to respect and submit to their husband’s authority and leadership as the household “head,” just as the church submits to Christ’s authority. However, this in no way implies inferiority – rather, it establishes an interdependent structure where both spouses thrive by fulfilling harmonious, God-given roles valuing each other in a selfless, grace-filled dynamic.

Mutual submission is emphasized in Ephesians 5:21 by both spouses submitting to each other through love, respect, honor and care. Overall, scripture paints a picture of “what does the bible say about marriage” regarding partners serving one another and meeting each other’s needs through Gospel-centered love, devotion and commitment.

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Marital Intimacy and Purity

The Bible also provides guidance for intimacies within biblical marriage. Scripture views physical and emotional marital union between a husband and wife as holy and beautiful when kept within God’s boundaries.

In 1 Corinthians 7:1-5, Paul acknowledges the hazard of sexual temptation and advises newlywed couples prevent this through regular physical intimacy. Hebrews 13:4 honors marriage as the only appropriate place for such bonding, marking all other sexual acts like adultery, pre-marital sex and homosexuality as sinful perversions of God’s created order.

Overall, scripture sets a golden standard for husbands and wives to meet each other’s sexual needs faithfully with joy, care, generosity and purity. Self-giving love between spouses fosters unity, trust and a deep experience of “what does the bible say about marriage” in all its intended wholeness.


The Bible presents a vision for marriage that calls couples to radical, sacrificial love like Christ demonstrated at the cross. While not overlooking the difficulty of following Christ perfectly, scripture establishes vital principles for believers:

  • Marriage was instituted by God as a sacred covenant between one man and one woman for life.
  • Divorce breaks this covenant and is only permissible on grounds of unfaithfulness, with reconciliation the ideal wherever possible.
  • Roles call husbands to sacrificially love/lead and wives to willingly submit/respect, with mutual submission through Christ-like servanthood.
  • Physical intimacy within the covenant of marriage is a beautiful gift to be enjoyed solely between husband and wife in purity and unselfish care for one another.

Rather than following popular divorce trends, may couples look first to God’s design in scripture for guidance on building healthy, life-giving marriages through commitment in good times and struggles alike.

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With Christ as our example, focus on personally adhering to biblical standards enhances commitment to lifelong faithfulness for the benefit of families and society.



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