A Handbook of Bible Law - Marriage & divorce

Copyright 1991 by Charles A. Weisman. 2nd Edition: Aug., 1992; 3rd Edition: Dec., 1994


Comments: In the Bible marriage belongs within the sphere of private law, that is, it took place through an individual or private agreement. This agreement was concluded between the man who wished to marry and his future wife along with the consent of her father.

Marriage, by its nature, is also a civil thing, being that all of society is not only based and depended upon marriage, but also the fruit of the marriage, children, will impact the nature of society. Marriage is the very basis of the family unit and of the whole fabric of civilized society.

These principles have come down to us through the English Common Law, which recognized this unique nature of marriage as being a civil institution established by private agreement. As a legal agreement, marriage requires that certain duties and responsibilities be kept by the parties entering into it.

Marriage is based on the Biblical principle of a holy union of man and wife ordained by God. By such union husband and wife are, in law, regarded as "one flesh" (Mark 10: 8), which forms the basis of the legal status known as coverture: "By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law, that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing; and is therefore called in our law-french a feme-covert, . . and her condition during her marriage is called her coverture" (1 Blackstone Comm. 442).

As a Divine union, marriage is meant to last for the life of the parties which have entered into the covenant promising, "until death do us part." The Divine origin of marriage, and the early state of the institution, are clearly recorded in the instance of the pairing of Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:18-25), whence it appears that woman was made after man to be "a helper suited to him.

5A - Principles of Marriage

  1. Marriage between man and woman is instituted by God as a good and natural thing. Gen. 2:18; Prov. 18:22; Matt. 19:4; Mark 10:6.
  2. Husband and wife are to remain together for life (marriage vows to be kept). Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5; Mark 10:7; 1 Cor. 7:10-11, 27.
  3. A woman is bound by the law to her husband so long as he lives; but if the husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. Rom. 7:2-3.
  4. Husband and wife regarded as one flesh. Gen, 2:23-24; Matt. 19:5; Mark 10:8; Eph. 5:31.
  5. Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled. Heb. 13:4.
  6. Husband and wife are to have children (be fruitful and multiply). Gen. 1:28; Gen. 9:1, 7; Gen. 35:11; Psa. 127:3; Jer. 29:6; 1 Tim. 5:14.
  7. Marriage bonds are of God and not to be put asunder by any man. Matt. 19:6; Mark 10:9.
  8. Man is not independent of woman, nor is woman independent of man. 1 Cor. 7:4; 1 Cor. 11: 11.

5B - Husband's Duties & Responsibilities

  1. Husbands are to have authority over their wives. Gen. 3:16; 1 Cor. 11:3, 7-9; Eph. 5:23.
  2. A husband is to live with his wife in an understanding way, and give honor and respect to her. 1 Pet. 3:7.
  3. Husbands are to love their wives and be not bitter against them. Eph. 5:25, 28-33; Col. 3:19.
  4. A husband is to be faithful to his wife. Prov. 5:18-20; Mal. 2:14-15.
  5. Husbands are to be satisfied with their wives. Prov. 5:18-19.
  6. Let the husband render to his wife due benevolence or affection. 1 Cor. 7:3.
  7. Husband to provide for the family. 1 Tim. 5:8.

    5C - Wife's Duties & Responsibilities

    1. Wives are to obey their husband. 1 Cor. 14:34; Titus 2:5.
    2. Wife is to remain with her husband for life. Rom. 7:2, 3.
    3. Wives to be in subjection to their husbands. Gen. 3:16; Eph. 5:22, 24; Col. 3:18; 1 Pet. 3:1, 5-6.
    4. The wife is to take care of the house and family needs. Prov. 14:1; Prov. 31:10-31; 1 Tim. 5:14; Titus 2:5.
    5. Wives are to be modest, chaste, discreet and sober. 1 Tim. 2:9, 15; Titus 2:4-5.
    6. Wife not to usurp authority over the man. 1 Tim. 2:12; Titus 2:5.
    7. The wife is not to raise questions in the church but to ask through her husband. 1 Cor. 14:34-35.
    8. Wives are to render due benevolence or affection to her husband. 1 Cor. 7:3.
    9. A wife is to be virtuous. Prov. 12:4; Prov. 31:10-11.
    10. Wife is to love her husband and children. Titus 2:4.
    11. A woman of valor is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is as rottenness in his bones. Prov. 12:4.
    12. Wife is to reverence her husband. Eph. 5:33.
    13. Wife is to be faithful to her husband. 1 Cor. 7:3-5, 10.
    14. Wives are to love their children. Titus 2:4.

    5D - Marital Adultery

    1. To lie carnally with another man's wife is forbidden. Exod. 20:14; Lev. 18:20; Lev. 20:10; Deut 5:18; Deut 22:22; Matt. 5:27; Matt. 19:18; Mark 10: 19; Luke 18:20; Rom. 13:9; 1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:19.
    2. Whosoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery. Luke 16:18; Mark10:11.
    3. If a woman divorces her husband and marries another man she commits adultery. Mark 10:12.
    4. For an engaged woman to have sex with another man is to be considered as adultery. Deut. 22:23-24.
    5. Adultery not to be committed in the heart. Matt. 5:28.
    6. Instances of Adultery. 2 Sam. 11 , etc.; Jer. 3, etc.; Jer. 13:27; Ezek. 22:11; Mark 6:18; John 8:3-11; Rev. 2:22.
    7. A childless widow is not to marry a stranger, but rather the brother of her dead husband. Deut 25:5; Matt. 22:24.
    8. Marriage of a divorced woman is adultery. Jer. 3:1; Matt. 5:32; Mark 10: 12; Luke 16:18; Rom. 7:2-3.
    9. Procedure regarding a jealous husband who believes his wife has been unfaithful and gone astray to defile herself with another man. Num. 5:11-31.
    10. God will judge adulterers. Heb. 13:4.

    5E - Fornication and Sexual Immorality

    1. It is the will of God that you abstain from fornication and sexual immorality. Acts 15:20, 29; 1 Cor. 6:9, 13, 18; 1 Cor 10:8; Eph. 5:3-5; Col. 3:5; 1 Thes. 4:3.
    2. A woman married who is believed to be a virgin and found out not to be, shall be stoned to death for playing the whore in her father's house. Deut. 22:14-21.
    3. If a man entices a woman not engaged, and lies with her, he must endow her to be his wife. Exod. 22:16.
    4. To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and every woman her own husband. 1 Cor, 7:2, 9.
    5. There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel. Deut. 23:17.
    6. law does not sanction fornication. 1 Tim. 1:9-10.
    7. God will judge the sexually immoral acts of persons. Heb. 13:4; Rev. 21:8; Rev. 22:15-16.
    8. Fornication is ruinous. Prov. 6:26; Prov. 23:27; Prov. 29:3; Prov. 31:3; Hos. 4:11.
    9. You shall not approach a woman unclean by menstruation to uncover her sexuality and lie with her. Lev. 18:19; Lev. 20:18.
    10. We are not to associate with fornicators. 1 Cor. 5:9.
    11. Repent of any fornication committed. 2 Cor. 12:21.

    5F - Divorce

    1. One should not depart from their spouse. 1 Cor. 7:10-11.
    2. We should not separate from our spouse because of their disbelief. 1 Cor. 7:12-14.
    3. A bill of divorce can be written when some uncleanness is found in a woman recently married. Deut. 24:1.
    4. Divorce of a wife permitted for her act of fornication. Matt. 5:32; Matt. 19:9.
    5. If a man divorces his wife and marries another he commits adultery against her. Mark 10:11.
    6. If a woman divorces her husband and marries another she commits adultery. Mark 10:12.
    7. A woman, even if divorced, cannot marry another man as long as her husband is alive. Rom. 7:2-3.
    8. A man or a woman is not bound to an unbelieving mate that departs. 1 Cor. 7:15.

    5G - Prohibited Marriages

    1. With father or mother. Lev. 18:7-8; Lev. 20:11; Deut. 22:30; Deut. 27:20.
    2. With one's sister or half-sister. Lev. 18:9, 11; Lev. 20:17; Deut. 27:22; Ezek. 22:11.
    3. With one's mother-in-law. Deut. 27:23.
    4. With a grandchild. Lev. 18:10.
    5. With one's aunt. Lev. 18:12-14; Lev. 20:19.
    6. With one's uncle or uncle's wife. Lev. 18:14; Lev. 20:20.
    7. With one's daughter-in-law. Lev. 18:15; Lev. 20:12; Ezek. 22:11.
    8. With your brother's wife. Lev. 18:16; Lev. 20:21.
    9. With a woman and her daughter or her grand daughter. Lev. 18:17; Lev. 20:14.
    10. With two women who are sisters. Lev. 18:18.
    11. With thy neighbor's wife. Lev. 18:20; Lev. 20:10; Ezek. 22:11.
    12. We are not to intermarry with those who practice idolatry. Exod. 34:16; Deut 7:3.
    13. We are not to marry unbelievers. 2 Cor. 6:14-17.
    14. We are not to marry those of other races. Gen. 28:6; Exod. 34:15-16; Num. 25:6-11; Deut. 7:1-3; Josh. 23:12-13; Judges 3:5-8; 1 Kings 11:1-2; Ezra 9:1-2, 12; Ezra 10:2-3, 10-11; Neh. 10:30; Neh. 13:25-27.

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