Marriage in the Bible: Frequency and Symbolism

Discover the biblical truth about marriage: its significance, challenges, and how it shapes our lives. Uncover the answer to how many times marriage is mentioned in the Bible.

Last Updated:
January 17, 2024
8 Minutes

Table of Contents

Definition of marriage in the Bible

Marriage is defined in the Bible as a sacred and lifelong covenant between one man and one woman. In the book of Genesis, it states "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). This verse clearly outlines the biblical view of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The Bible also teaches that marriage reflects the relationship between Christ and the church, emphasizing the importance of love, faithfulness, and sacrifice within the marital relationship (Ephesians 5:22-33).

Key elements of a biblical marriage include mutual respect, love, communication, and commitment to each other and God. These elements guide couples to achieve a better balance in marriage by prioritizing their relationship with God, valuing their partner, and working together to navigate life’s challenges. Holy Matrimony is another name for sacramental marriage.

In summary, the Bible defines the institution of marriage as a sacred and lifelong covenant between one man and one woman, reflecting the relationship between Christ and the church. The key elements of a biblical marriage guide couples to prioritize their relationship with God and each other, fostering a strong, balanced, and loving partnership.

What does the Bible say about marriage?

The Bible provides several verses that address the topic of marriage. Some of these verses include:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:13: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
  • Isaiah 62:4: "No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married."
  • Deuteronomy 24:5: "If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married."
  • Song of Songs 4:7: "You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you."
  • Ephesians 5:31: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
  • Ephesians 5:28: "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself."
  • Ephesians 5:33: "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
  • 1 Corinthians 7:5: "Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
  • The union between Christ and His people is binding (Matthew 19:3): “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality and marries another woman commits adultery”

These verses emphasize the importance of love, mutual respect, commitment in marriage, and the special bond between husband and wife.

Importance of marriage in the Bible

Marriage is important in the Bible as it reflects the love and commitment between Christ and His Church. Ephesians 5:25 states that husbands should love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. This implies that marriage represents the sacrificial and unconditional love that Christ has for His followers. Additionally, marriage provides companionship, as seen in Genesis 2:18 when God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Moreover, marriage serves the purpose of procreation, as mentioned in Genesis 1:28, when God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number." Through marriage, God's love is displayed as a husband and wife are called to love and honor each other, just as Christ loves and honors His Church.

Overall, the meaning of marriage in the Bible is significant in reflecting the divine love and commitment and serves the purposes of companionship, procreation, and displaying God's love.

Marriage as a Covenant Relationship

Marriage is more than just a legal or romantic partnership; it is a sacred covenant relationship, often recognized as a spiritual union between two people. This unique bond is not easily broken and involves a commitment to love, honor, and support one another in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, until death do us part. The concept of marriage as a covenant relationship has deep roots in many religious and cultural traditions, emphasizing the enduring and unconditional nature of the bond. In this context, marriage is viewed as a solemn promise and a sacred commitment, calling for mutual respect, sacrifice, and unwavering loyalty. Understanding marriage as a covenant relationship can help couples approach their union with a deeper sense of purpose, responsibility, and dedication, fostering a stronger and more enduring connection.

The covenant between God and His people as a model for marriage

The covenant between God and His people serves as a model for marriage in the Jewish tradition, where a marriage contract, known as the Ketubah, is established. This contract outlines the husband's responsibilities to provide for and support his wife. Similarly, in the marriage covenant between God and His people, both parties have specific roles and responsibilities to uphold.

The symbolism of the marriage covenant reflects the divine establishment of marriage as a sacred and lifelong commitment. This serves as a reminder of the spiritual representation of the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the Church. Just as God remains faithful to His covenant with His people, so should a husband remain faithful to his wife, and vice versa.

The Ketubah, with its specific terms and obligations, highlights the seriousness and sanctity of the marriage bond, mirroring the covenant between God and His people. The husband’s responsibilities outlined in the Ketubah emphasize the importance of providing and caring for his wife, serving as a model for all husbands. This deep connection between the covenant with God and the marriage covenant reinforces the sacred nature of the marital relationship.

Symbolism of marriage as a reflection of Christ's relationship with the Church

In ancient Jewish culture, selecting the bride for the groom was a symbolic and significant process, reflecting the relationship between Christ and the Church. The bridegroom's pursuit of the bride parallels Christ's pursuit of the Church, showing his relentless love and desire for his people. Similarly, accepting the bridegroom's offering by the bride's father signifies the Church's acceptance of Christ's sacrifice and the covenant between Christ and the Church. Just as a price was paid for the bride in ancient times, Christ paid the ultimate price for the Church, demonstrating his sacrificial love and commitment.

Marriage symbolism is deeply rooted in the relationship of Christ with the Church, portraying Christ as the bridegroom and the Church as his beloved bride. The parallels between the rituals and traditions of ancient Jewish culture and the spiritual significance of Christ's love for the Church illustrate the profound symbolism of marriage as a reflection of Christ's unwavering and selfless relationship with his people.

God's Design for Marriage

God's design for marriage is rooted in the belief that it is a sacred union between a man and a woman, established and ordained by God. This divine plan for marriage is intended to be a lifelong commitment, a reflection of God's love, and a source of joy, companionship, and support. In the Bible, the foundation of marriage is based on the principle of leaving one's parents and cleaving to one's spouse, creating a strong and exclusive bond. This design also emphasizes the roles of mutual submission, love, and respect between husbands and wives and the importance of unity, faithfulness, and the nurturing of a family. Understanding God's design for marriage provides a framework for couples to build a strong and lasting relationship that honors God and enriches their lives.

Biblical definition of marriage

The biblical definition of marriage, as described by David J. Ayers in 'Christian Marriage: A Comprehensive Introduction,' is a union between one man and one woman in a lifelong covenant relationship. This working definition is founded on biblical principles, including the creation account in Genesis, where God created Eve as a suitable partner for Adam, emphasizing the complementary nature of male and female marriage. Additionally, the Bible clarifies the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives in marriage, emphasizing mutual love, respect, and submission to one another. The foundation of biblical marriage is rooted in the love and unity of Christ and the church, as described in Ephesians 5:22-33, further highlighting marriage’s sacrificial and selfless nature.

The biblical definition of marriage emphasizes the sacred and exclusive union between one man and one woman, reflecting the love, commitment, and unity found in the relationship between Christ and His church.

Marriage as a biblical lifelong commitment

According to the Bible, marriage is designed to be a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. This commitment is rooted in spiritual truth and symbolizes the covenant relationship between Christ and the church. Genesis 2:24 states that a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, who shall become one flesh. This union is portrayed as inseparable and enduring, reflecting the unbreakable bond between Christ and his followers.

The biblical definition of marriage is based on God's original design and intention, as stated in the creation story. Marriage is a sacred institution established by God, and its irreplaceable nature is emphasized throughout the Bible.

The biblical perspective on marriage as a lifelong commitment remains relevant and crucial in the face of modern challenges and hardships. Despite the prevalent cultural attitudes towards marriage, the commitment to stay together through thick and thin is deeply rooted in biblical teachings. It is a beacon of hope and stability in a world of increasing divorce rates and relational instability.

In conclusion, the biblical view of marriage as a lifelong commitment emphasizes the enduring nature of the marital covenant and reflects the deep spiritual truth it communicates. In a modern context, the importance of this commitment remains vital in overcoming challenges and maintaining the sanctity of marriage.

The role of husband and wife in a biblical marriage

In a biblical marriage, the husband and wife are called to fulfill their God-given roles within a voluntary and public social union between one man and one woman. The husband is called to sacrifice his wife as Christ loved the church, providing for her and leading his family with love and humility. The wife is called to submit to her husband's loving leadership and to respect him, while also caring for the household and nurturing the spiritual well-being of her family. Both husband and wife are to serve God through marriage, seeking to honor Him in all they do.

A God-focused marriage is of utmost importance, and the "three strands" concept from Ecclesiastes 4:12 emphasizes this. "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." This verse illustrates the significance of having God as the third strand in the marriage relationship, as it provides strength, stability, and unity that cannot be easily broken. A God-focused marriage is rooted in love, respect, unity, and a commitment to serving God.

Symbols of Marriage in the Bible

In the Bible, marriage is often used as a symbol to represent the relationship between God and his people. Throughout the scriptures, various symbols of marriage highlight the significance and sacredness of this union. These symbols signify the deep spiritual connection between God and his people and provide insight into the importance of marital relationships in the Christian faith. From the metaphor of the bride and groom to the imagery of a wedding feast and the covenant of marriage, the Bible uses these symbols to illustrate the love, commitment, and faithfulness essential in human and divine relationships. By understanding the symbols of marriage in the Bible, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the spiritual significance of this institution and the profound truths it conveys about God's love for his people and the union between a husband and wife.

Wedding ceremony as a biblical symbol of commitment and unity

The wedding ceremony holds a significant biblical symbol of commitment and unity, as it reflects the selection of the bride for the groom, just as God selects His people to be united with Him. Marriage is considered a picture of God's love for His people, with the husband representing God's sacrificial love and the wife representing the beloved bride. In ancient Jewish tradition, the first step of marriage involved the groom proposing to the bride, and upon her acceptance, they would enter into a covenant of commitment.

The wedding ceremony represents the unity and commitment between the husband, the wife, and God, forming a sacred bond that mirrors the union between Christ and His people. The joining of the bride and groom in marriage symbolizes the unity of Christ and the church, highlighting the profound love and commitment between God and His people. Thus, the wedding ceremony is a beautiful reflection of the divine love and unity between Christ and His beloved.

Rings as biblical symbols of eternal love and fidelity

In Christian weddings, the exchange of rings carries rich biblical symbolism. The circle of the ring represents eternal love, with no beginning or end, symbolizing the undying nature of God's love for humanity and the love between a husband and wife. The ring also represents fidelity, a continuous loop without breaks or seams, signifying the commitment to remain faithful to one another.

Furthermore, the exchange of rings in marriage holds a deep meaning in the relationship between Christ and his bride, the Church. Just as a husband and wife are bound together in love and fidelity through the exchange of rings, Christ's sacrificial love for the Church is demonstrated in Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." This parallel emphasizes the profound significance of exchanging rings in Christian marriage, reflecting the selfless and enduring love between Christ and his Church.

In Ephesians 5:22-27, the apostle Paul uses the imagery of a husband's sacrificial love for his wife to illustrate Christ's love for the Church, emphasizing the sanctifying and purifying nature of Christ's love. This elevates the exchange of rings in Christian weddings to a profound spiritual symbol of eternal love and fidelity, reflecting Christ's eternal and faithful love for his bride, the Church.

Marriage vows reflecting the biblical covenant relationship

In Christian wedding ceremonies, traditional marriage vows often include promises to love, honor, and cherish one another in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, and to be faithful until death. These vows reflect the biblical principles of covenant and commitment, symbolizing the lifelong promise and dedication between the husband and wife.

The concept of covenant is deeply rooted in the Bible, as it represents a sacred and unbreakable commitment between God and his people. Similarly, marriage vows signify the covenant relationship between the couple, where they promise to remain faithful, supportive, and loving regardless of their circumstances.

The historical and biblical significance of these marriage vows in Christian wedding traditions dates back to the early church, where the exchange of vows was seen as a sacred and binding agreement. Through these vows, the couple affirms their commitment to each other before God and the community, mirroring the profound covenant relationship between God and his people as depicted in the Bible.

In essence, the traditional marriage vows in Christian wedding ceremonies are a solemn reflection of the biblical covenant relationship, emphasizing the unyielding commitment and love between the husband and wife.


Matthew 19:5

Peter 3:7

Frequently asked questions

Are there any examples of unconventional marriages mentioned in the Bible?

The Bible mentions marriage 47 times and provides valuable lessons on marriage diversity.

  • Jacob's marriage to two sisters, Leah and Rachel, exemplifies an unconventional marriage.
  • These stories remind us that marriage, in all its forms, requires love, commitment, and God's guidance.
  • Unconventional marriages can be seen as a challenge to traditional views of marriage.
  • Biblical examples offer insight into approaching marriage diversity with grace and compassion.
  • Marriage is a sacred bond and should be respected and honored.

What are God’s requirements for marriage?

God’s requirements for marriage are based on His design for the marital relationship. He ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman, as seen in the heterosexual, monogamous nature of Adam and Eve in the creation account (Genesis 2:24). Additionally, God’s purpose for human reproduction is a divine aspect of marriage, as He commands couples to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28).

Biblical analogues of Yahweh's relation with Israel (Isaiah 54:5) and Christ's relationship with the church (Ephesians 5:21-33) illustrate God's design for marriage. Husband and wife are to reflect the sacrificial love and submission seen in these relationships.

Ephesians 5:31-32 emphasizes that marriage is a profound mystery that reflects Christ’s love for the church. In Revelation 19:7-9, marriage is depicted as the union of Christ (the bridegroom) and the church (His bride), illustrating the ultimate union and intimacy between Christ and His people.

Therefore, God’s requirements for marriage are a heterosexual, monogamous union designed for human reproduction, reflecting the divine relationship between God and His people.

What is the purpose of marriage according to the Bible?

According to the Bible, the purpose of marriage is multi-faceted, serving the overarching theme of serving the purposes of God in the world. The three main answers to this question are procreation, intimacy, and social order.

Firstly, marriage is intended for procreation, as stated in Genesis 1:28, "Be fruitful and multiply." This emphasizes the importance of growing the family and populating the earth as part of God's plan.

Secondly, marriage provides a platform for physical and emotional intimacy between a husband and wife. This deep level of connection is highlighted in Ephesians 5:31-32, emphasizing the oneness and unity in marriage.

Thirdly, marriage contributes to social order by creating stable family units and fostering a sense of community. This is reflected in the biblical teachings on mutual submission, love, and respect within the marriage relationship.

Ultimately, the purpose of marriage from a biblical perspective is to serve God by fulfilling the "goods" of marriage: procreation, intimacy, and social order, and by reflecting God's love and unity in the world.

Why is marriage so important?

Marriage holds significant importance in the Christian life as it is a commitment ordained by God. In Ephesians 5:22-33, the Bible teaches that marriage reflects the relationship between Christ and the church, emphasizing love, respect, and mutual submission. This sacred union provides practical benefits such as companionship, emotional support, and a stable environment for raising children, aligning with biblical teachings on love, and unity.

Furthermore, marriage reflects God's Kingdom by portraying the unconditional love and commitment that mirrors God's love for his people. It also symbolizes the unity and partnership between Christ and the church. In addition, marriage can bring deep healing, offering a safe space for individuals to grow, heal from past wounds, and experience God's grace through their spouses.

From a personal standpoint, my marriage has brought immense joy, support during difficult times, and a deep sense of fulfillment. Through our commitment to each other, my spouse and I have experienced personal growth and have been able to reflect God's love to one another and those around us.

Overall, marriage is crucial in the Christian life, embodying the biblical teachings of love and unity, reflecting God's Kingdom, and offering healing and fulfillment through the God-ordained union.

How many times can one get married, according to the Bible?

According to the Bible, marriage is intended to be a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. In the book of Mark, Jesus affirms this when he says, "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate" (Mark 10:9). This indicates that marriage is not something that should be easily dissolved through divorce.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus also teaches that divorce is only permissible in the case of adultery (Matthew 19:9). In this case, the innocent party is allowed to remarry. However, if a person divorces for any reason other than adultery and remarries, they are committing adultery themselves (Matthew 5:32).

Based on these teachings, one can conclude that according to the Bible, a person can only get married multiple times in the case of divorce due to adultery. Otherwise, remarriage after divorce is considered adultery. It's important to note that God's intention for marriage is lifelong commitment, and divorce should not be taken lightly.

What are the consequences of divorce according to the Bible?

The Bible views divorce as a negative consequence with significant implications. Below are some key points to consider:

  • Remarriage after divorce is discouraged, as it is seen as adultery.
  • Divorce hurts children, causing emotional and relational difficulties.
  • The Bible emphasizes the importance of commitment and encourages couples to work through their differences and seek restoration.
  • The Bible also teaches forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • Despite challenges, a thriving and lasting marriage should be pursued.

Does the Bible mention any specific roles or responsibilities for husbands and wives within a marriage?

  • Husbands and wives have distinct roles and responsibilities within marriage.
  • Husbands are to lead and provide for their families, loving their wives selflessly as Christ loves the Church.
  • Wives are to submit to their husbands and provide a nurturing environment.
  • Both partners should work together to build a strong respect, love, and teamwork partnership.
  • Marriage is a divine covenant which requires both spouses to honor their roles.

Are there any instances in the Bible where polygamy is practiced or accepted?

  • Polygamy was practiced and accepted in biblical times, though cultural influences shaped its understanding.
  • The Bible presents marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
  • There are instances of polygamy in the Bible, but negative consequences often accompany them.
  • It is clear that monogamy is God's design and ideal for marriage.
  • Understanding the Bible's stance on polygamy is important for a healthy understanding of marriage.

Does the Bible guide how to handle conflicts or disagreements within a marriage?

  • The Bible emphasizes the importance of love, forgiveness, and communication when handling conflicts in a marriage.
  • It encourages couples to address their issues humbly and patiently, seeking reconciliation instead of holding grudges.
  • Practicing these principles will help couples navigate conflicts in their marriage and grow closer to each other.
  • Keeping an open dialogue and showing understanding and compassion can help strengthen the bond between a couple.
  • Developing a lasting foundation of love and understanding is key to having a healthy and successful marriage.

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