It should come as no surprise to anyone that the institution of marriage has fallen on hard times. The divorce rate has soared even among couples who would label themselves as “Christian” and even where divorce has not actually taken place, many marriages are unhappy, unhealthy, and unfulfilling.
A quick search through a local bookstore or online will turn up thousands of books on the subject of married life. Even after allowing for what could be termed the “celebrity factor” well-known people writing books on a topic because it’s fashionable one is still left with an overwhelming list of books and the unmistakable sense that many peoples’ marriages are in trouble.
God, the inventor of love and marriage, has much to say about love and marriage in the Bible. It has rightly been said that married life can be either a Heaven or a Hell on earth. Which one it is will depend on how well a couple is able to adopt God’s view of marriage and to put His principles into practice in their relationship.
What Does the Bible Say about Marriage?
Though there are many Bible verses for married couples, here are seven Bible verses about love and marriage to get you started.
Marriage was invented by God
And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.- Genesis 2:22
One of the first things that we notice about marriage is that it was invented by God. This may seem basic but it is such a profound truth that it has affected the history of mankind ever since creation.
It was God who created the first woman and God who brought her to the man. Marriage was God’s idea.
Marriage is a good thing
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. – Proverbs 18:22
In this verse, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, tells us that finding a spouse is a good thing. This is a natural conclusion to be drawn when we understand that God invented marriage and that “it is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).
Furthermore, Solomon tells us that one who finds a spouse “obtains favor from the Lord,” meaning that our spouse is a gift given to us by God Himself! Where two partners are striving to live lives pleasing to God, these things are true of marriage.
The bad news, of course, is that people and their relationships are not what they should be and couples often do not seek to live their lives according to God’s Word. However, the fault for this lies squarely at the feet of mankind and the corrupting power of its sin, not in the institution of marriage.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. – Proverbs 19:11
How often in your married life has your spouse done something to irritate you? Probably daily. How did you react? Did you let your anger loose and snap at them?
Again, Solomon tells us that being “slow to anger” displays good sense and this is nowhere more true than in married life. We shouldn’t let little things irritate us and when they do irritate us, it is to our glory to overlook them. How much more peaceful would our homes be if we were to put this principle into practice?
God hates infidelity
…the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant . . . guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. – Malachi 2:14-15
In this passage, we see God’s view of infidelity in marriage. Some translations actually prefer the word “treacherous” in place of “faithless” which rightly gives it a much more sinister and menacing tone.
We have developed an amazing range of words to soften this particular sin. We call it “having an affair,” “cheating,” “a fling,” “playing around,” etc. anything to avoid the force of the word adultery. God calls it “faithlessness” and points it out as a sin.
Because adultery strikes at the heart of the covenant relationship that was made before God that lies at the center of marriage, there is never any excuse or justification for it under any circumstances. It is always wrong, always a sin, no matter what. Period. End of story.
God hates divorce
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. – Matthew 5:31-32
In our time, divorce is available to anyone for any and every or even no reason and the reasons society invents are endless. “We just don’t love each other anymore,” “He says mean things to me,” “Our sex life has grown stale,” “All we do is argue all the time,” “I don’t feel fulfilled,” “It was time for a change,” or “We’re incompatible,” are just a few of the excuses that people give for seeking a divorce.
In this passage, however, Jesus narrows down the legitimate reasons for divorce to just one namely, infidelity. In 1 Corinthians 7, the Apostle Paul adds one other legitimate reason abandonment by an unbelieving spouse. Any reasons other than these two are not biblical and are therefore sinful.
These are hard words to hear in a culture dominated by easy, no-fault divorce. But Jesus didn’t come to give us words that we want to hear He came to give us words that we need to hear. Other than for the exceptions mentioned above, God intends for marital issues to be worked through, not divorced over.
God loves forgiveness
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
Every one of us are sinners and we sin against our spouse and against God every day. Though the primary reference is to the church, this passage has much broader applications for all of our relationships. The Apostle Paul teaches us that we are to be characterized by forgiveness in our relationships.
We are to not merely forgive in a grudging way (which is not really forgiveness at all), but to be “tenderhearted.” This means that our forgiveness is to be at hand, ready for when it is needed.
Why is our forgiveness of others so important? The rest of the verse tells us it is because we have been forgiven by God. If you are a follower of Christ, then you have no reason in the world not to forgive and every reason to forgive. After all, when Christ has forgiven you such a huge load of sin, how can you not forgive your spouse’s sins against you?
As Ruth Bell Graham has said, “A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
Marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. – Ephesians 5:25
In this verse, we read that husbands are to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the church. This is a tall order. Christ loved the church by sacrificially giving Himself to die for her. While, admittedly, most husbands will not be called on to die for their wives, they are nevertheless called to live sacrificially for her good.
In Ephesians 5:27, Paul reveals that marriage is a picture of Christ and His church. This makes the command for husbands to love their wives even more urgent. Imagine how many fewer divorces and how much greater marital harmony there would be if more husbands sacrificially loved their wives this way!
Love and respect
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:33
Here we read that there is to be a mutual love-respect relationship between husbands and wives. The husband is commanded to love his wife “as himself” and the wife is to make sure to respect her husband.
It might be tempting to conclude that the husband somehow needs to learn to love himself before he can love his wife but that is absolutely not Paul’s point. On the contrary, the implication is that the husband already does love himself in that he does good to himself by nourishing and caring for himself. In the same way, he is to love his wife by nourishing her (physically, emotionally, intellectually, etc.) and caring for her.
Wives, on the other hand, are to respect their husbands. One of a husband’s greatest needs (relationally speaking) is to know that his wife respects him. It may be many wives’ greatest struggle to respect the man she married. She may love him, but respecting him may be hard.
None of this is to say that husbands don’t have to respect their wives, nor wives love their husbands. Rather, Paul tells husbands and wives what they most need to hear.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. – Philippians 2:14-15
It may be against the common wisdom to say that married couples should avoid arguing and fighting, but the common wisdom is not always wise. In this passage, Paul tells us to do all things “without grumbling and without disputing.”
This is not merely to retain marital harmony, though that certainly is in view. We are to maintain peaceful relationships because the society around us is watching. Paul tells us that we are to appear as “lights in the world” that show up in contrast to the “crooked and twisted generation” around us.
This is, of course, an ideal. Very few married couples are able to go through life without any arguing or fighting. However, even when they do, it is to be overcome and handled in a way that is pleasing to God.
Christian Marriage Counseling in Newport Beach
Does all of this strike you as idealistic and impossible to put into practice? That’s not surprising, because it is. As an unbeliever, you won’t have the power of the Holy Spirit to help you overcome your native sin and selfishness and so you will struggle to even accept that these things are necessary for your marriage.
Even if you are a believer who has the power of the indwelling Spirit of God to help, you will still struggle with the sin that remains in you even after you became a Christian. The sinful self always struggles to dominate the life of the Christian even though it is “on its way out,” so to speak.
Prayer, a necessary element of the Christian life, is a vital component to any marriage. Through prayer, we communicate our trials, struggles, and temptations to God, the only one who can truly help.
If you struggle to put these things into practice in your marriage, and you do not have a pastor available to help, try seeking out a Christian counselor to assist you in working through these things for your marriage.
A Christian counselor can come alongside you and share the joys and pains of living the married life before God. They can help you work through the problems or issues that might arise and be a neutral party in settling disputes.
May your marriage grow and prosper and may “God, the best maker of all marriages, Combine your hearts into one.” (William Shakespeare)
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