With a large percentage of American marriages ending in divorce, it’s important to understand the Creator’s idea of marriage by studying the Bible.

Marriage is an agreed union between one man and one woman—an institution created by God for his glory (Mark 10:7-9, Colossians 1:16, 1 Corinthians 10:31). Therefore, no man or woman can dictate what marriage is and how it works. God is the author of marriage.

When you study Leviticus 18, verse 28 reveals that God’s laws about marriage and other practices apply to every nation and human being on earth; not just Israel. Everyone has a conscience and will be judged by what they know to be right and wrong regardless if they specifically know of the written laws of God.

People cannot dictate what marriage is and how it works. God is the author of marriage.

  • Marriage is designed to glorify God (Colossians 1:16, 1 Corinthians 10:31).
  • Marriage is designed to build families and nations (Genesis 1:28, 2:18).
  • Marriage is a reflection of the relationship between Christ and his Church; God and his people (Ephesians 5:32-33).

With that introduction, here are ten surprising biblical facts about marriage you may not have known:

1) Marriage is not mandatory

Some cultures pressure their children to marry and shame older unmarried singles. If you desire marriage, you should marry, but it’s not required to please God.

Often, Paul says it’s better to remain single if you want to serve the Lord better (1 Corinthians 7:38, 7-8). This doesn’t mean single people love God more than the married, for both married and singles glorify God in different ways.

Some people won’t marry because they are physical or spiritual eunuchs (Matthew 19:10-12). Spiritual eunuchs have been given a gift of singleness in which they don’t desire a spouse.

2) After puberty is the earliest one can get married

Ezekiel 16:7-8 and ancient Israelite customs suggest after puberty is the earliest people can begin to marry. After puberty is age 15 and later for most males and females. However, it’s important to note maturity and puberty are two different things.

Overall, a loving community should help young people understand the importance of the institution, and make sure they’re capable and mature.

3) A marriage lasts until death

1 Corinthians 7:39 says, “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives.” A marriage isn’t dissolved because some paperwork is signed. God considers anyone who enters into marriage to be bound for life.

The above scripture also reveals that God no longer confines a marriage partner to one’s own nation or “race.” Anyone in Christ can marry anyone who’s also a child of God.

4) You don’t need your country to validate your marriage

A marriage is formed when a man and woman consent to unity for life. Understanding and agreement is all that is required (Mark 10:7-9). Registering your marriage and paying a license fee with your state may provide civil benefits but is not necessary, and in some cases, can hurt both parties later.

5) Marriage is the only place sex should be experienced

1 Corinthians 6:13-16, 7:2-5, and Hebrews 13:4 are clear about this. Sex outside of marriage is fornication and damages the participants. However, confession, repentance, and the blood of Jesus can mend the wounds of fornication and sever ungodly soul ties.

6) Marriage is patriarchal

1 Corinthians 11:3 establishes the order or marriage: Husband > Wife > Children. Patriarchy is a social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the tribe or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line.

If a wife is dominating or partnering with the husband, it is a dysfunctional marriage, and the man must resume full leadership to please God.

7) A husband doesn’t override a wife’s obedience to God

Wives must obey God over their husbands if their husbands command them to break God’s law. God judged Sapphira for lying even though she obeyed her husband’s command to lie (see Acts 5:1-11).

8) A man can have multiple concurrent marriages

A man in multiple marriage covenants with separate women is called polygyny. God never commanded monogamy. Lamech is the first man recorded in Scripture to have two wives (Genesis 4:19). Many of the original Israelite patriarchs (Abraham, Issac, Jacob) and kings of Israel had multiple wives (2 Samuel 12:8-10).

Pastors and deacons are prohibited from having plural marriages to perform their jobs effectively (Titus 1:6, 1 Timothy 3:12). If prescriptive monogamy was the norm or the will of God, there would be no prohibition for certain leaders in the Church. God also gave rules to govern polygynists that still apply today (Deuteronomy 21:15-17, Exodus 21:10).

A marriage does not include polyandry or polyamory

  • Polyandry is a woman in multiple marriage covenants with separate men; this is adultery.
  • Polyamory is multiply people, male and female, in one union (often including bisexuality); this is sexual immorality.

A marriage is not a person in weird covenants

Marriage does not support a union with:

A marriage is not “open”

An open relationship is when a spouse consents to their spouse having sex with others outside the marriage; this is fornication and/or adultery depending on who’s involved.

A polygynist man is also not open to casual sex with women that are not his wives. A godly man should alert his other wives of a new courtship and only have sex with a new woman after he’s married her.

9) A divorce does not dissolve the marriage

Because marriage is until a spouse dies, divorce does not dissolve the marriage. A divorce is defined as the following:

  1. The separation of a married woman from the bed and board of her husband.
  2. The disunion of a man and woman who were closely united.
  3. A divorce is the “putting away” of the wife or husband. God hates divorce.

Note: Martial unfaithfulness is divorce. Martial unfaithfulness is not adultery (see Malachi 2:14-17).

10) Adultery has a broader definition than we think

Adultery is biblically defined as the following:

  • When a man has sexual relations with another man’s wife.
  • When a wife has sex with anyone except her husband (Deu 22:22-24).
  • When a husband divorces his wife and marries another woman (Mark 10:11).
  • When a wife divorces her husband and marries another man (Mark 10:12).
  • When a woman is divorced by her husband and marries another (Luke 16:18).
  • When a man marries a divorced woman who’s husband is still alive.

Notice: If a man is divorced by his wife, he can remarry, but if a woman is divorced by her husband, she cannot remarry; for it’s considered adultery. I know this sounds unfair.

What facts about marriage surprised you the most? Leave your comment below and stay subscribed for more information on the topics covered in this article.

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  1. Can you explain in detail what fornication is. In Matthew 6:32 Jesus says whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery. It appears this verse is directed to the wife committing fornication, not the husband.

    1. Hi Tony,
      There’s an entire sermon coming on the topic of Fornication. What Jesus meant was that if, during the betrothed period (engagement period), the woman you’re about to marry is caught having sex with another man, he can divorce her. They considered the man and woman married as soon as they agreed and not after the ceremony. Yes, the verse was directed at the wife. The woman was to remain a virgin or a least keep from entertaining other men if she was already betrothed to be married.

    1. Hi Dee,
      True, a marriage is between just two people (man and woman). However, one man can belong to multiple marriages. He has separate covenants with each woman. Each woman is a separate marriage and separate relationship.

  2. Hi Neal. I’ve been reading your articles for about a year and a half. I’ve learned so much and I enjoy them.
    I want to make sure I’m clear on this topic. I’m not married, but I hope to be.
    If a man divorces his wife, it’s considered adultery and she can’t remarry. If a wife divorces her husband, it’s considered adultery and he can remarry. If he divorces her, can he remarry and if she divorces him, can she remarry?

    1. Hi Michelle, to answer your questions:
      If a man divorces his wife, it’s considered adultery and she can’t remarry. Answer: YES. If a wife divorces her husband, it’s considered adultery and he can remarry. Answer: NO, she can’t remarry. If he divorces her, can he remarry and if she divorces him, can she remarry? Answer: NO, if a woman gets divorced she can never remarry until her husband dies no matter if she or he initiated the divorce. Sorry. This is what I see in scripture and the references are in the article.

  3. Thank you for clarifying. Christian woman are using this verse to claim that they can divorce the husband if he commits this act. Others translations use sexual immortality.

    1. Yeah, other translations do use “sexual immorality” in place of fornication which confuses things, but if you read the other gospels like Mark, people will find the exception clause isn’t there and they have to ask why. The reason: this applied to the engagement period.