The Bible’s Viewpoint
Why View Marriage as Sacred?
MOST people today would likely claim that they believe in the sanctity of marriage. Why, then, do so many unions end in divorce? For some, marriage is little more than a romantic promise and a legal agreement. But promises can be broken. People who view marriage this way find it quite easy to give up on their marriage when things go wrong.
How does God view the marital arrangement? The answer is found in his Word, the Bible, at Hebrews 13:4: “Let marriage be honorable among all.” The Greek word translated “honorable” carries the thought of something that is precious and highly esteemed. When we value something, we take care to preserve it and not to lose it, even accidentally. The same should be true of the marriage arrangement. Christians are to view it as honorable—as something precious that they want to protect.
Obviously, Jehovah God created marriage as a sacred arrangement between a husband and wife. But how can we show that we share his view of marriage?
Love and Respect
Honoring the marital arrangement requires that marriage mates honor each other. (Romans 12:10) The apostle Paul wrote to first-century Christians: “Let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband.”—Ephesians 5:33.
Granted, at times a spouse may not act in the most lovable or respectable manner. Still, Christians must show such love and respect. Paul wrote: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also.”—Colossians 3:13.
Time and Attention
Married couples who view their union as sacred take time to fulfill each other’s physical and emotional needs. This includes sexual intimacy. The Bible says: “Let the husband render to his wife her due; but let the wife also do likewise to her husband.”—1 Corinthians 7:3.
However, some married couples have felt the need for the husband to move away temporarily in order to earn more income. At times, the separation has become unexpectedly prolonged. Often, such separations have put a strain on the marriage, sometimes leading to adultery and divorce. (1 Corinthians 7:2, 5) For that reason, many Christian couples have decided to forgo material advantages rather than put at risk the marriage they hold sacred.
When Problems Arise
When difficulties arise, Christians who honor their marriage do not hastily separate or divorce. (Malachi 2:16; 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11) Jesus stated: “Everyone divorcing his wife, except on account of fornication, makes her a subject for adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:32) Opting for divorce or separation when a couple has no Scriptural grounds dishonors marriage.
Our view of marriage is also shown by the advice we offer to those with serious marital problems. Are we quick to recommend separation or divorce? True, there may be times when valid grounds for a separation exist, such as when there is extreme physical abuse or willful nonsupport.* Also, as noted above, the Bible allows for divorce only when one’s mate is guilty of fornication. Still, Christians should not unduly influence the decision of others in such situations. After all, it is the person with the marital problem—not the one giving the advice—who will live with the consequences of the decision.—Galatians 6:5, 7.
Avoid a Casual View
In some areas it has become common for people to use marriage to gain legal residency in another country. Usually such individuals make an agreement to pay a citizen of that country to marry them. Often these couples, although married, remain separate, perhaps not even maintaining a friendly relationship. Soon after obtaining the desired legal residency, they divorce. They view their marriage strictly as a business agreement.
The Bible does not endorse such a casual view. Regardless of their motives, people who marry enter into a sacred arrangement that God considers binding. The parties of such agreements remain bound as husband and wife, and the Bible requirements for a valid divorce with the possibility of marrying someone else apply.—Matthew 19:5, 6, 9.
As is true of any worthwhile endeavor, a good marriage requires effort and perseverance. Those who fail to appreciate its sacredness give up more easily. Or they may resign themselves to living in an unhappy marriage. On the other hand, those who acknowledge the sacredness of marriage know that God expects them to stay together. (Genesis 2:24) They also realize that by making their marriage work harmoniously, they honor him as the Designer of the marital arrangement. (1 Corinthians 10:31) Having this viewpoint gives them the motivation to persevere and work at making a success of their marriage.