Marriage and the Family: The Biblical Ideal & Modern Practice

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Introduction

Marriage is a social institution in which two or more individuals come together and form a relationship. In most cases, individuals get married to form families where there are intimate and sexual interpersonal relationships. The culture of the individuals who are getting married determines the form of relationship that the individuals will be involved in. different individuals marry for different reasons. Different individuals marry for different reasons. The may include religious, economic, social, and others. Marriage began shortly after creation when God created Eve to offer a companion to Adam. The bible offers a lot of teaching about marriage and the family. Marriage according to the bible is an institution where the individuals who are involved have an aim to procreate and raise children. It is a covenant where individuals make vows to each other. Marriage is based upon love where in most cases, parties engage in courtship before starting their life together. From the bible, the husband is the head of the family and should submit himself to God while the wife should submit to him. Marriage according to the bible should also be based upon love. This is the element that keeps the couple together for life. The couples in a marriage are charged with the responsibility of bringing up their children together. Modern marriage and the family are faced with many challenges with many divorces, abandoned children, same-sex marriage, and many others. This can be attributed to the changing states that modern marriage and family are going through. In the United States, same-sex marriage is accepted in some states through marriage is not federally accepted. In the United States, there are many childless couples, children born out of marriage, and a high rate of divorce that separates children from their parents. Women work outside the home and there is equal power in decision making in a given family. This paper will seek to analyze marriage and the family by examining the biblical teachings about marriage and comparing these with the modern practice by those who are in a marriage.

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The Biblical Study of Marriage

The bible acts as a guide for the individuals who believe in it. It contains incidents of both polygamous and monogamous marriages. The bible treats marriage as a social institution that is given by God -a gift from God. It begins when a man and a woman decide to leave their parents, cleave to each other and become one flesh (Bacchiocchi, 2000, par.5). It is divine and true believers should always follow the principles that govern marriage. The individuals in a marriage relationship are supposed to live together for the rest of their lives after they wed. There is not a single person who is allowed to separate two who are married. Couples swear to love each other at all times regardless of the hard times that they may experience.

Marriage and Creation of a Woman

God created man and woman as equal beings before him and to help them better the life of each other. As stated before, marriage began as early as the creation of the world. The bible is the book of Genesis chapters one and two tell us of how God created man and woman in his image. Both the man and the woman were created in the image of God. The man and the woman were created to enjoy oneness of fellowship just like the holy trinity does. The male and the female are equal before the eyes of the lord. Marriage in the bible is a partnership. A helper was created for Adam and they were both bestowed with power over earth, they were both blessed and asked to manage resources. God did not ask Adam to till the land and Eve to take care of animals. It was His will that they both equally and mutually perform duties given to them by the creator. Partnership hence calls equal participation of the couples in matters about the marriage. After the creation of Adam, God felt that it was not good to create man as a single being. He decided to create a helper after which he created Eve. God made Adam sleep after which he removed a rib from his body and used it to create Eve. When Adam woke up, he appreciated the beauty that Eve possessed. Eve was not only created just as a helper but as a suitable helper for Adam. Eve became the second half of Adam and the two halves made a complete whole. According to the bible, a woman is not a man’s slave but a counterpart. The two should agree mentally, physically, and spiritually. When a woman gets into the life of a man, she should make the man a larger person than the man could have become if the woman never came into the life of the man (Bacchiocchi, 2000, par.3). The man on the other hand should make the woman a larger person than she could have been if he had never come into the woman’s life. In addition to companionship, a marriage between a man and a woman should make them fuller and more complete. The man and the woman were created so that each could bring more happiness in the life of the other.

A man and a woman were created to bear children and care for them and the earth. In the previous chapter, a woman was created to offer companionship to God. Other than the purposes mentioned above, God created a man and a woman so that they could procreate and raise children. When God created Adam and Eve, he told them to go, multiply, and fill the earth (Bacchiocchi, 2000, par.7). This shows that God created people so that they could bear and raise children. It is therefore the responsibility of a couple to bear and provide for their children. From the bible, many couples had children and took it as their responsibility to care and provide for their needs. For those who did not have them as early as they wished, they kept waiting for the lord and prayed that they could be blessed with one. A person like Abraham and Sarah waited for long before they were blessed with Isaac. Sarah suggested that Abraham bear a child with their servant which Abraham did. This is an indication that they both knew that it was their responsibility to bear children. In addition, Adam and Eve were given the task of caring for the earth, ’tilling the land. While creating man, he was given power over all creatures of the earth, and his helper- the woman was created to join in the same call. This is a marriage translates to hard work that a marriage is made up of with which comes to the duty of providing for the family, especially where children are concerned. It is, however, important to note that some individuals are called by God to serve him as a whole, and a marriage relationship is likely to disrupt this mission. Both men and women who have this call do not get married or even bear children. All the same, God created the marriage institution to help them bear children.

Marriage as a Relationship between a Man and a Woman

According to the bible, marriage is a social institution between a man and a woman. When God decided to create a companion for Adam, he never created another man but a woman. If God wanted a marriage to be between a man and a man, he could have created another man to accompany him. All the marriages that are found in the Bible involved a man and a woman. In some instances, one man gets married to several women but there are no cases of individuals of the same sex getting married. When Adam woke up and expressed his appreciation for the creation of Eve, God joined them saying that a man will leave his father and mother and get married to a woman. The two will join and become one flesh. God never talked of a man leaning his parents to get married to another man. Neither did he talk of a woman leaving her parents to start a marriage relationship with another woman. Same-sex marriage is not only immoral but a sin. Again, when Jesus was teaching about divorce, he repeated that a man and a woman shall leave their parents and get into a marriage relationship. Paul in the bible recommends that if a man or a woman cannot remain faithful when single, he or she should get married. If same-sex marriage was not a sin, we could have one instance of same-sex marriage and at least a faithful preacher preaching about the goods of sex marriage. In all the instances above, there is not a single case of same-sex marriage. This is an indication that marriage should be an institution between a man and a woman.

Marriage as a Sacred and Permanent Covenant

The Bible presents marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman. From the book of Genesis chapter two, a man and a woman shall leave their parents and cleave to each other. The two are joined to become one flesh. In the book of Malachi chapter two, the bible talks of a witness to the covenant between a man and the wife of his youth. It continues to say that though the man has been faithless with the woman, marriage makes the woman a companion to the man and a wife by covenant (verse 14). Marriage acts as a prism in which Christ reveals his covenant with the church and God reveals his covenant relationship with his people. This could be the reason why some churches like the Roman Catholic refer to it as a sacrament- Sacramentum for the oath. Comparing a marriage covenant with a contract, it is clear that marriage is a sacred covenant. There is a very great difference between a covenant and a contract. A covenant such as the marriage covenant engages people themselves but a contract engages the services of the people (Palmer, 1999, p.639). A contract in most cases is varied for a specific period whereas a marriage covenant lasts forever. If an individual in a contract breaks the terms of the contract, he or she will suffer material loss but this is very different in a covenant because a covenant cannot be broken in the first place. A covenant can only be violated and an individual who violates it suffers personal loss and broken hearts. A marriage covenant has vows made in the presence of God and people and unlike a contract that is only witnessed by people. Greatest of all, God is the guarantor in a covenant. The Greek translation of oath is a mystery, something we may not decipher unless we have the power to do so. Marriage is therefore a covenant. A man and woman call a curse upon themselves if they do not fulfill their part of the bargain which calls for fidelity and unending permanence to what they profess. The fact that a marriage covenant is a permanent commitment between a man and a woman witnessed and guaranteed by God makes it a sacred and permanent covenant (Bacchiocchi, 2000, par.6).

Marriage is an indissoluble covenant between a man and woman. There is not a single person who is permitted to separate two who are joined in a marriage covenant. When individuals make vows to each other, they promise to stick to each other in happiness and sorrow, in good health and sickness, and many others until they are separated by death (Bacchiocchi, 2000, par.9). This is a clear indication that they should remain together for the rest of their lives. Earlier, it is mentioned that marriage is a covenant where God is the witness. God does not break covenants and therefore marriage is a covenant that binds the man and a woman forever. Believers believe that whatever they do to their marriage partners is done to the lord. When one loves his or her partner, he loves god. If he or she divorces him or her, he or she divorces God. The bible is the book of Malachi chapter two verses fifteen and sixteen says that God hates divorce. A married couple should therefore remain in their relationship forever.

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Marriage Out of Love

Marriage should be based upon love. The bible talks of true love and not lust. Love begins before marriage and should continue till those who are married are separated by death (Grunlan, 2001, p.112). The man as the head of the family is commanded to love his wife with a special kind of love. He should be selfless and should be self-sacrifice for his wife. The man should love the wife as Christ loves him and his love for the wife should remain strong forever. When a man loves and cares for his wife, she feels safe and cherished. On the other hand, the bible says that the wife should submit to the husband. This is an indication that the woman should respect the man and his will. However, the will of the husband should be the will of God since the bible assumes that the man loves and fears God. The two should make their decisions together and involve God through prayers. The wife should always respect the husband and should never speak ill of him in public. She also should not do anything that can put him down or hurt his pride. There are some differences between the couples in a marriage relationship but these differences should not divide them. The two must learn to accept these differences and view them as complementary. The wife must accept the husband as he is and the husband must accept the wife as she is. The two should therefore love each other with a love that endures and is above all.

Modern Marriages

Modern marriages have changed where the ideal biblical marriage no longer exists. Most of the individuals who are joined in the church never live to their vows. There are many children born out of marriage, many childless couples, same-sex marriages, high rates of divorce, and many other issues. Marriages are currently faced with challenges where individuals in marriage relationships are quite unhappy.

Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage is currently present in the United States. Same-sex marriage takes place when individuals of the same biological sex get married. There has been a great debate on same-sex marriage where some states do not accept it while others have no problem with it (Cahil, 2004, p.46). Many states have had the debate on the ballot but many have opposed it so that it is not recognized as a form of marriage. In the United States, states such as Lowa, Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts allow individuals of the same biological sex to get married. Such individuals receive state-level benefits from their state. This has allowed men to get married to other men and ladies to get married to other ladies. However, most of these marriages are between men. This is totally against the bible especially considering that a couple is charged with a responsibility to bear and raise children. All the same, there are several same-sex marriages in the United States.

The decline of Marriage and Many Children Born Out of Wedlock

Marriage has recently been on the decline in the United States but the percentage of children born out of wedlock has been on the rise. A few years ago, over ninety percent of men and women above the age of forty-five were married or had been married. The problem with the case is not the fact that individuals are not getting married but the fact that they are living just like married couples. There has been an unprecedented and dramatic rise in the number of children born out of wedlock (Institute for American Values, 2000, par.4). The number of non-marital births in the United States is currently over thirty percent. It is very unfair to have over a third of children born of unmarried parents. These children are most likely to be brought up by their mothers. A child should be brought up by two parents as the bible takes it as the responsibility of the father and the mother to raise a child. Individuals fail to get married so that they do not endure bad marriages and painful divorces. However, they do not achieve it. They cannot abstain and end up doing it against the will of the lord. The number of marriages in the United States has been on the decline while the number of children born out of wedlock has been increasing as time goes by.

Divorce

The rate of divorce has been on the increase and this has eventually increased the separation of children from their parents. The rate of divorce has increased to double in the last three decades. The probability that a couple will divorce has also increased where most divorces are permanent. When a couple of divorces, the children are the ones that suffer most. Over half of the couples who separate in the United States have children who are less than eighteen years (Institute for American Values, 2000, par.6). Children experience divorce before they are mature enough to leave their homes. Worst of all, some children will experience divorce two or three times as their parents get divorced and remarry only to experience another divorce. Couples do not see children as a deterrent to divorce. About a third of children in the United States are not brought up by their biological fathers since the children in most cases end up with their mothers. In addition to the increase in the rate of divorce, the quality of marriage has been on the decline. Many partners are unhappy in their marriages and this increases the probability that such couples will divorce. In general, the rate of divorce in the United States has been on the rise and this has eventually increased the number of children separated from their parents.

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Conclusion

A marriage takes place when two individuals come together and form a relationship where there are intimate and sexual interpersonal relationships. The Bible presents marriage as a social institution where a man and a woman come together for a purpose. When God created man, he felt that the man was lonely and needed companionship. He created a woman as another half for the man so that the two could combine and become one. Both the man and the woman are equal before the eyes of God and they were created so that each could help better the lives of the other. One of the major reasons why God created them is for them to procreate and raise children. He sent Adam and Eve to go, bear children and fill the earth. The bible presents a marriage purely as a relationship between a man and a woman. The bible tells us that a man and a woman shall leave their parents and join to become one flesh. Marriage according to the bible is a permanent and sacred relationship. It lasts forever and no one is allowed to separate two who are married. It is witnessed and guaranteed by God himself. Marriage according to the bible should be based upon love. The man should love the wife just like Jesus loves the church and the woman should love and respect the man equally. Modern marriages are faced with many challenges and couples are unhappy in their marriages. In the United States, there are several incidents of same-sex marriage. The percentage of individuals getting married has declined whereas there are very many children born out of wedlock. Divorce has also been on the rise and this has separated very many children from their parents. About a third of children are brought up by their mothers.

Reference

Bacchiocchi, S. (2000) The Marriage Covenant: A Biblical Study on Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage. Web.

Cahil, R. S. (2004). Same Sex Marriage in the United States: Focus on the Facts. New York: Lexington Books, 43-48.

Grunlan, S. A. (2001). Marriage and the Family: A Christian Perspective. Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 109-114.

Institute for American Values. (2000). Marriage in America: A Report to the Nation. Web.

Palmer, E. P. (1999) Christian Marriage: Contract or Covenant?” Theological Studies vol. 33, no. 4: 639.

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Premium Papers. 2022. "Marriage and the Family: The Biblical Ideal & Modern Practice." April 26, 2022. https://premium-papers.com/marriage-and-the-family-the-biblical-ideal-and-amp-modern-practice/.

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Premium Papers. "Marriage and the Family: The Biblical Ideal & Modern Practice." April 26, 2022. https://premium-papers.com/marriage-and-the-family-the-biblical-ideal-and-amp-modern-practice/.