What is Christian marriage?

What is the Christian ideal for marriage?

Dean Snyder on a comment on Talbot Davis’ blog wrote the following:

If medicine, science, research and experience tell us that for some percentage of people, the ideal of marriage –which is not limited to but includes sexual desire and passion– is possible only in same-gender relationships and that such relationships can manifest the fruits of the Spirit, we should honor them. You are right that committed marriages between two people who love each other spiritually and physically is not the exclusive biblical model but it is the Christian ideal.

Among other things, Snyder’s comment got me wondering what the Christian ideal of marriage is.

Our United Methodist Social Principles, interestingly, do not mention sexual desire and passion as a necessary aspect of marriage:

We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman. We believe that God’s blessing rests upon such marriage, whether or not there are children of the union. We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage. We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

This is not an exhaustive description of marriage, so I’m interested in other ideas.

What is the ideal of Christian marriage as you understand it?


7 thoughts on “What is Christian marriage?

  1. “Our United Methodist Social Principles, interestingly, do not mention sexual desire and passion as a necessary aspect of marriage”

    I am currently researching this notion at length because I sense it (enjoyed sex as a necessary aspect of marriage) is a false ideal that has somehow seeped into current Christian understanding. I suspect at this point that the church has reacted to the sexual revolution in a way it felt it could but inadvertently created a thought in the church that is not based on Scripture. In the desire to identify with the culture and affirm that sex is good we have (perhaps) gone too far and said it is a necessary pleasure. Any current Christian marriage book has at least one chapter devoted to how ‘important’ the enjoyment of sex between a couple is. I am left wondering where this conclusion comes from….design….or idealization. I find it is a very complicated issue to decipher.

  2. Some time ago, I read an article about the history of marriage in the Orlando Sentinel. It pointed out that marriage based on love is a fairly modern concept. Rather, the article pointed out, the article pointed out, marriage has been primarily an ECONOMIC arrangement. The need for partners to be “in love” was not a consideration until the Renaissance. Shakespeare’s play, “Romeo and Juliet,” reflects a fairly new (at the time–17th century) understanding of the importance and value of love within a marriage.

    I’ve tried to find a link to this article and can’t put my hands on it. If I find it, I’ll link to it for you.

  3. What is the ideal of Christian marriage as you understand it?
    As the marriage of Christ is to His church so is marriage of man to woman

    “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
    (We are taken back to the Genesis account of marriage not by just any man but by the God man Christ.)

    They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
    He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.  And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

    The disciples of Christ are so shocked at the statement they say:
    “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

    Moses was given the authority to decree the certification of divorce and Jesus explains why.
    That would change and the apostles understand the enormity of what Christ is declaring and are taken back by the statement.
    The response of Christ usurps Moses authority, reinstates original marriage law and declares Gods original intent.
    Matthew 19

    Luckily God does not treat his covenant with man as man treats covenant among themselves.

  4. Here is an article about the history of marriage that is thought-provoking.


    It is not the article I was thinking of in my post above, but it makes some of the same points. It does not deal with the nature of “Christian” marriage, however. For that, I think we need to look at the New Testament witness—especially St. Paul.

    Not an easy topic. Certainly, “Christian” marriage mandates that the parties involved are in a covenant relationship with Christ. It also appears to me that Christ’s presence at the wedding in Cana of Galilee is an affirmation of marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman. I also take Paul’s words about marriage and sexuality as normative for Christians.

    1. Thanks, Holly. It is interesting to try to sort out what are the essential elements of marriage from a biblical point of view from what are the accidental aspects added by this or that culture over the centuries.

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