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Marriage According To The New Testament

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The new Testament has shown to demonstrate the efforts of a young community, and the teachings of Jesus Christ our Savior, and the way He influenced the community in a significant way. The confrontation with the Jewish culture which holds true for the Judeo-Christian traditions, and the Hellenistic traditions, as seen in the Pagan Christian traditions, which was influenced by the Hellenistic Judaism models. Because of this the New Testament cannot be approached without carefully distinguishing the different cultural settings of the Christian tradition which faced the young community.

The Teachings of Jesus

Jesus wants to remind us of Gods promise, by explaining Gods plan which is also his promise. In focus of Gods will, it can be understood that any man who abandons his wife is guilty of sin, its not so much seen as a moral dilemma as it is with the fact that it interferes with Gods plan, Gods will, and Gods promise. Thus, the focus is moved from the understanding of marriage as a natural reality, to a practice of moralities of do and don’ts, to a point where marriage is seen trough the perspective as the place of man and woman apprehending the promise and the grace of God. The Gospel of Matthew reports that the disciples said to Jesus his teaching on marriage : ‘ If such is the case of a man with marriage out of the purely juridical significance . I will return to notice what the Gospel of Matthew after hearing his teaching on marriage if such is the case with man.

In the teachings of Jesus on divorce, Jesus, does not talk much about the law but rather focuses on the reality of marriage. The words of Jesus makes it clear that divorce is against the original will of God. The will of God continues to exist and qualifies the disunion, but it can however not maintain the union beyond its breakdown.


The meaning of marriage and family in its central theological meaning consists of an ensemble of four symbols. The implications of marriage and the development of the covenant and vocation it can be seen how the primacy of the nature of communion shifts to the importance of the grace of God. The movement shifts from understanding marriage as a metaphor to the manifestation and the redemptive purpose of God and the purpose of recreating our world.

In order to understand the role of the church within the dynamics of marital communion, we have to remember the importance for perfect publicity. Second, we have to remember the importance of the churches role in the redemptive thrust of God’s grace. In relation to the communion of marriage the church must first focus on the cultivation of the perfect realm presented by God to humanity. The first action is to focus on the importance of witness and public action. And the second action that needs attention is how the natural fact of marriage can advance Gods Republic.

At the centre of the conception of the sacraments is the action of Ritual. A sacrament can be defined as a symbolic ritual action. It can be defined as a ritual because of the fact that it has a definite pattern of action that has been established by tradition. Its symbolic in a sense that it widens our pattern of understanding, association and our expectations. Its action because we move as well as the fact that we are being moved. Sacramental actions provide us with a pattern and the meaning of acting on the drama of birth, death, commitment, failure and renewal.

Sacramental action therefore enhances the meaning of our culture, values, and the motivation to live our life to the full glory of God. Sacraments are a action that not only brings together thoughts and emotions, but it can also bind public and people of various sizes together.

Just as the Holy Bible can first be seen as a parental covenant, so are the sacraments of the church firstly focused on parenthood, and not spousal communion. The communion of the couple is grounded in nature. The acting of their parenthood however is participated in and also formed by the community. The young are a reminder of the couple’s faith in the future, and the church as a sacrament can cultivate a more perfect publicity.

Over the last few centuries Christians have been trying to find sacramental responses to vocation first in the manistic life and then in clerical ordination. This however has been used to the constriction of the call to a wider publicity. In resent times the meaning of vocation has been rediscovered by the Christian public. In regards to the sacrament of marriage the importance of the call of the couples should increased in their pursual to joint vocation.

Sacraments are not the only actions that are available to our use in order to establish the psychological conditioning and cultural bonds that make it possible for a man and a woman to enter into communion with one another. In baptism it provides us with the understanding ourselves and the fact that we are equals in Gods public. Vocation enables us to engage as actors in response to God and ourselves, and gives us the power to live our own life and engage into the conversation of the living.

In the observation of this dynamic view we can understand the influence that the symbols have in order to fill the circle of life and how each symbol reinforces the other in its own particular way. Structure in the covenant is found through communion. Parenthood and vocation is found through the covenant. Communion is an essential aspect in the grounding of the sacraments. In turn it can create the means of communion.

The Early Medieval Inheritance

In so far as we can understand the and know of the fundamental rules and customs can be derived from the Roman law: marriage was part of the Christian churches inheritance and was seen as a secular custom, it was a part of their law of nations. In the Roman law there was an agreement between the spouses and their families, and the fact that there had to be consent and an intent to marry one another. But in the twelfth century it was not a real problem if you wanted to leave the marriage. It was easier to get a separation than it was to get married. This however was not seen in a good light with the Christian emperors of the time. Divorce in principle became more difficult to achieve. As the barbarian kingdom of the west came to maturity with time, there were records of great attempts in the ninth century, that prevented kings to change wives and get divorced. But for centuries the barbarian tribes were in alliance with the Roman law, which made divorce a legal action. This was the case in even so late as the thirteenth century in surviving texts of the welsh law, that there was no moral compass to the idea and reason for wanting to divorce.

This is a good example of secular customs of canon law, there is also a great deal of evidence that even due to the fact that the church brought marriage under its courts, there are many of the older believes and practices that survived. In this long period during which the church approved of the Roman law of marriage underlines the fact that there were strong elements of the Bible and traditional practices. However, a remarkable revival happened with the cult of celibacy in the eleventh century, and the gap between sexual morals expected of laity and clergy widened.

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The Bible

We were given the doctrines of marriage from the Christian and the Jewish roots by the Bible, but the word does not only provide us with that information, but also prescribed stories read by the middle ages. While the Bible enlightens both the spiritual and cultural heritage as a whole civilization, the Word on marriage brings both confusion and meaning to its readers. One of the great Authors of Genesis gave us a very inspirational image within the creations of Eve where man and wife became One in flesh. This is where the confusion and meaning comes into place due to the fact that this phrase can be interpreted in the metaphorical or allegorical direction, because the union of marriage can be seen as the type of relation were Christ and the church as the authors of Ephesians said that the man is the head of the house as Christ is the head of the church, by describing men as the dominant entities of the society he also complimented man and woman as the highest union which could be imagined.

The tragic stories come from the early prophets on Hosea to cherish an unfaithful wife and the allegorical meaning of Israel as a child. The remarkable Jewish hymns from the song of Solomon and Psalm 45 came later which was admirably suitable for the medieval allegorical interpretation on the rhapsody on marriage in Ecclesiasticus. As the Word said, “what God had joined together let not put asunder”. The conscience of a husband or wife was explained in the marvelously evocative loyalty between them but will not be seen the same way in a lawcourt. If there was a witness to the marriage of a couple who can say that they were joined together by God? The medieval Church where on many grounds permitted annulment. The argument of Moses starts by the same token in common sense and human understanding but falls under the legalism it explains before the end. A husband was permitted to dismiss his wife by Deuteronomy, it did not guarantee any responsibility for her – yet, Jesus appeared to say: if she had been maidenly and after her redundancy falls into unmaidenly, the husband whom deserted her is to blame.

To some this may seem as a very harsh saying, but it’s in a different order than from the version in Matthew 19: 9 where it extends the argument with Moses to a ceremonial prohibition of divorce, except where one partner is abstinent – save for adultery. There is no doubt that Jesus set a peculiarly high store on marital loyalty, and that the medieval Church accurately described this, and proceeded to act upon it. Matthew’ s phrases a legal statement which inspired it to a ceaseless argument on the topic of divorce, its meaning and the prohibition of divorce.

The Interpretation of the Bible

In the middle of the twelfth century the pope of England was challenged with the problem of validation of the marriage of slaves. The consequences of the fall has always been accepted by the church as due to slavery and lordship, and as a part of the Roman empire. The law did not condemn slavery neither did it restrict a lord’s rights over his slaves. It has always been viewed as acceptable in the community that a slave may not be able to marry if at all, especially not without his lords’ consent. But for the English pope however marriage was seen as a Christian sacrament. They fully accepted the words of Paul’s famous words in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”. Just as in Christ Jesus there is neither a free man nor a slave, who may be prevented from receiving the sacraments of the Church.

In the traditions of the canonist Gratian the church fathers declared that heathen marriages are acceptable, and converted the law to prevent heathens from abandoning their spouses. A deep considered question was answered by Pope Innocent III (1198 – 1216) on the debate of heathen marriages. The first address was to an Italian bishop, in which he quoted 1 Corinthians 7 : it is better for the Christian partner in a marriage to preserve the marriage ; but if the heathen partner wishes for separation , the Christian cannot be bound – he or she is free , says the pope , to marry again.

The second address was to the bishop in the holy land, in this address he hammered on the case of non-Christians who had several wives or married within a forbidden degree of some sort. According to the Apostle the marriages could all have been deemed as valid marriages, but in Christian law however only one of the marriages could have been valid. The four children that was conceived in heathendom were all legitimate. The decision was related to the doctrine of putative marriage : that a child born of parents reasonably supposed to be married could be reckoned legitimate even if the marriage was later annulled.

The marriage between Joseph and Mary is seen by most theologians as the most holy of communions. As legend has it in the stories of our Holy Bible we read that Jesus Christ was conceived by a virgin called Mary who was the wife of Joseph. But when Joseph herd of Marys pregnancy he wanted to divorce his wife Mary. He did not want to expose Mary to the public. However before Joseph could follow through with his decision to separate with his wife, Joseph had a dream that the child Mary will conceive is of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was commanded to take Mary as his wife. Joseph did as he was commanded, did not have intercourse with her until her son was born. It has been believed in the time of the fifth century and even before the fifth century that the marriage between Joseph and Mary was never consummated. The communion of Joseph and Mary is a perfect illustration of the fact that a marriage is constructed by consent and not consummation.


Although a lot of theologians and canonist agreed on the fact that the communion of Joseph and Mary was perfect in its own ways, there were other arguments that denied the union as a respectful model of the Christian marriage. According to Paul, in his very specific writings made the statement that a husband and a wife should not deny themselves from one another. Carnal union was a powerful tradition stemming from Judaism at the center of marriage.

When Augustine spoke of the good things about a marriage, Augustine made the statement that a child is the first good fruit of a marriage. In Augustine’s view it was possible to support the notion that the woman can be viewed as the temptress, and that she is inferior to the man. “If man perchance were weary of being alone , how much more suited for common life and good conversation would have been two male friends living together than a man and a woman”, According to Augustine, Eve was created to have children, but Augustine strongly disagreed with St Jerome’s statement of female wickedness. Augustine also made the statement that in his view that a carnal union after the fall cannot avoid at least some taint of cupidity, which only gets worse as passion enters the communion.

Augustine saw the difficulty in making marriage wholly indissoluble in the light of Matthew 5 : 32 and 1 Corinthians 7 , but came steadily to a fairly ‘ strict and rigorist position ‘ in his later life which deeply affected his medieval successors . He accepted in principle that it was consent not consummation which made a marriage — and the prime purpose of his book was to addressed that hen all was said and the first aim of o that there was convince the ascetic nuns to whom it was address marriage was no inferior state . Yet when all was sa done his voice was heard to say that the first marriage was to have children – and so , that the something incomplete about marriage unconsumm and the book itself is deeply concerned , not to obsessed , with the sexual element in marriage.

The Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries

If we look into the eleventh and twelfth centuries, we can see marriage defined under five aspects. First there is a liturgy of marriage : In the regions of England and France a complete ritual of marriage consists of the betrothal, the exchange of promises or vows, the blessing of the brides chamber. The next aspect states that the church has full jurisdiction over the marriage, they at least claim to be. The third aspect, theologians are compiling lists of the sacraments, which include the sacrament of marriage and it defines the nature of the act and its symbolism or meaning. Poets were also developing their own writings of human love and affection and the various attitudes in marriage are set in opposition to other kinds of human affection. Marriage was also the main key to the inheritance of land, estates and kingdoms in the late Middle Ages was a very rare event , and the conqueror ‘ seat – grandson, Henry II, built up a great empire out of the alliances of his ancestors , his wife , and his children.

In the essence of the law of marriage in the twelfth century are in the affirmation of positions have already been established in earlier times. Consent is what makes a marriage not consummation, yet the essence of a marriage consisted of children. Marriage is a sacrament, and the doctrine of these laws are largely found in the New Testament, the paradox that marriage is a holy communion but still inferior to virginity is nothing new.

If we go back and focus our attention on the seventh or eighth century, marriage was still a civil institution and one did not need blessing of any sort to be able to get married, neither was it normal occurrence for a second marriage after a spouse had passed on to the afterlife, we also do not have any records of a marriage that consisted of a complete ritual earlier than the eleventh century.

The marriage customs of the church had been inherited from Rome, and from the barbarian tribes that has also been under the influence of Rome. But the civil courts however did not intervene in the affairs of a married couple, as long as these unions did not involve legal irregularity or violent scandals. The council however did take strong actions against infanticide, abortion and contraception, adulterers and fornicators experienced a heavy penance if they broke the rules. Furthermore, a woman was prohibited to enter the church during menstruation, nor may they have entered the church for forty days after giving birth. Intercourse was prohibited during this time as well. A man may not get married to a woman that he has committed adultery with. And perhaps the most frowned upon was the idea of incest. A man did not have the right to get married to his cousin for example, and this has been the case from the sixth century onwards. A legacy has been left behind from the early middle ages that is filled with love and lust and a high on asceticism, consisted of sweet reason venom and sin, all to set aside the nature of human emotion. The aspects of the human affection can at a moment be more perverse than any other animal, and on the other hand lower than angels. Human affairs are full of paradox ; and the inheritance of eleventh and twelfth century marriage was infinitely rich.

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Marriage According To The New Testament. (2022, February 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 30, 2023, from
“Marriage According To The New Testament.” Edubirdie, 18 Feb. 2022,
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Marriage According To The New Testament [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 18 [cited 2023 Sept 30]. Available from:
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