marriage

In the OT marriage is assumed to be a normal relationship, ordained by the Creator (Gen. 1:26 f.) though the initial period of innocence and joy gave way to ‘hardness [[➝ hardening]] of heart’ (Matt. 19:8). Then rules became necessary, though there are many references in the OT to happiness in marriage (e.g. Prov. 5:18 f.; the S. of S.; Tob. 7:8–10:13), and the means of ensuring posterity—even sometimes a marriage within what were later to be forbidden degrees of kinship (Gen. 24: cf. Lev. 18:6–18). Marriage with foreigners became forbidden after the Return from Exile (Ezra 9–10), but numerous wives and concubines had been available for kings in the period of the monarchy (1 Kgs. 11:3). Husbands were allowed to divorce a wife (Deut. 24:1–4) and were in general allowed more licence in relationships than women, but there was also a strong strain of objection to the idea of divorce (Mal. 2:14 ff.), based on the analogous relationship of the covenant between God and Israel—human marriage being a reflection of that bond.
In the NT there is a similar theme of the covenant relationship, but the parallel is now that of Christ and his Church (Eph. 5:22–33). That marriage is the normal form of adult life is endorsed by Jesus' presence as a guest at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1–12), and some if not all of the twelve apostles whom he chose were married (1 Cor. 9:5). The sayings of Jesus about marriage that are recorded do not imply that a marriage is indissoluble in the sense that a relationship has been created by God which cannot be terminated by human action, though he warns couples of the great human responsibility they undertake under God's general provision for marriage (Mark 10:6–9). It is characteristic of Jesus' ethical teaching not to lay down precise rules but to indicate qualities of behaviour: anger is as bad as murder; absolute non-resistance is preferable to retaliation. Lifelong marriage is better than divorce—but divorce is not inherently impossible, and perhaps sometimes (as in the case of a Christian married to an unbeliever) it could be desirable (1 Cor. 7:15), and the divorcee is no longer ‘bound’, that is, he or she is free to remarry.
In the time of Jesus a marriage was initiated by two families who negotiated a betrothal between their offspring which was a more solemn and binding commitment than our engagements, even though the bride and bridegroom were much younger than is usual in modern western countries. The marriage was finalized, sooner or later after betrothal, when the man led his wife from her parents' home to his own. Joseph was disconcerted according to Matt. 1:18–19 when Mary was found to be pregnant after betrothal but before they were cohabiting and, in accordance with Jewish law (Deut. 24:1), he resolved to terminate the contract. But being of a generous disposition his intention was to act without attracting any publicity.
The two stages of contracting marriage survived in the Church, where it was not uncommon for bride and bridegroom to live together before a church ceremony had taken place: the parties are themselves ministers of the sacrament; the priest in church blesses the union. In Britain it was not until Lord Hardwycke's Act of 1753, in attempting to eliminate the scandals of clandestine weddings, established the public service of holy matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer as the sole legitimization of marriage. From that date prenuptial cohabitation attracted social and religious disapproval.

Dictionary of the Bible.

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  • marriage — mar·riage / mar ij/ n 1: the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a legal, consensual, and contractual relationship recognized and sanctioned by and dissolvable only by law see also divorce 2: the ceremony… …   Law dictionary

  • marriage — is traditionally conceived to be a legally recognized relationship, between an adult male and female, that carries certain rights and obligations. However, in contemporary societies, marriage is sometimes interpreted more liberally and the phrase …   Dictionary of sociology

  • marriage — marriage, matrimony, wedlock, wedding, nuptial, espousal are comparable though not always synonymous because they all refer directly or indirectly to acts by which a man and woman become husband and. wife or to the state of being husband and wife …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Marriage — Mar riage, n. [OE. mariage, F. mariage. See {Marry}, v. t.] 1. The act of marrying, or the state of being married; legal union of a man and a woman for life, as husband and wife; wedlock; matrimony. [1913 Webster] Marriage is honorable in all.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • marriage — (n.) c.1300, act of marrying, entry into wedlock; also state or condition of being husband and wife; from O.Fr. mariage marriage; dowry (12c.), from V.L. *maritaticum (11c.), from L. maritatus, pp. of maritatre to wed, marry, give in marriage… …   Etymology dictionary

  • marriage — ► NOUN 1) the formal union of a man and a woman, by which they become husband and wife. 2) a combination of two or more elements. ● marriage of convenience Cf. ↑marriage of convenience ORIGIN Old French mariage, from marier marry …   English terms dictionary

  • marriage — [n] legal joining of two people; a union alliance, amalgamation, association, confederation, conjugality, connubiality, consortium, coupling, espousal, holy matrimony, link, match, mating, matrimony, merger, monogamy, nuptials, pledging,… …   New thesaurus

  • marriage — [mar′ij] n. [ME mariage < OFr < marier: see MARRY1] 1. the state of being married; relation between spouses; married life; wedlock; matrimony 2. the act of marrying; wedding 3. the rite or form used in marrying 4. any close or intimate… …   English World dictionary

  • Marriage — For other uses, see Marriage (disambiguation). Married and Matrimony redirect here. For other uses, see Married (disambiguation) and Matrimony (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

  • MARRIAGE — This article is arranged according to the following outline: the concept in the bible in sectarian teaching in rabbinic literature in medieval and modern times marriage ceremony in the bible in the talmud post talmudic period the marriage… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • marriage — /mar ij/, n. 1. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. 2. the state, condition, or relationship of being married; wedlock: a happy… …   Universalium

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