R17 The relationship of marriage

The biblical relationship of marriage is intended to be between two people and God. However, they are subject to many influences and pressures – from family, from church, from culture and social expectations. These can be particularly strong if the couple marrying are from different cultures, religions or countries. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights states clearly that people can choose to marry regardless of race, country or religion.

In some cultures, parents traditionally choose and arrange marriage partners for their children. This can have advantages in ensuring their children are similar in social, cultural and educational backgrounds. However, the practice can also result in forced marriages, where huge pressure can be put upon the young people concerned, particularly girls, to marry against their will.

In many countries, women are regarded as the property of their husbands. This makes it difficult for them to share their views openly, and to work or take action without their husband’s permission. It also means they are more vulnerable to domestic violence.

Within marriage each partner is equal and should love and respect the other partner and accept their differences. Stable marriages are vital to the wellbeing of our communities.

  • Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-7. How do you respond to Paul’s comment in verses 1 and 2 about marriage?
  • In verse 4 Paul’s teaching is quite radical. At the time of writing this would have been seen as an extraordinary statement! The accepted view would be for the husband to have authority over his wife. But Paul does not say this! What is unusual about this teaching? What can we learn from it? How would it benefit a marriage?
  • Does our church help to prepare couples for marriage? Would this be helpful? If so, how could this be done?
  • When marriage partners in our community are having problems with their relationship, who can they turn to for wise support and advice?
  • Who could a wife turn to for advice in our culture, if she is experiencing domestic violence and fears for her own life and the life of her children?
  • What laws are there in our country concerning divorce? What is the biblical teaching about divorce? How can we support people dealing with the pain of divorce?
  • How does our government support Christian marriage? Are there any laws which we think could be changed to strengthen the relationship of marriage?

Articles 12, 16, 19 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights