Bible Studies/marriage defined


Does the Bible specifically define marriage as a union between one man and one woman"? If so, where? Thanks Jo


This is a great question to ask, especially considering some current events which have made headlines in the news.  While I believe that the Bible clearly illustrates marriage I want to point out that Biblical marriage is a spiritual covenant, not a political one.  In other words, I can give you a Biblical understanding but I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable trying to extrapolate that into the state's definition of marriage.  I want to take time to delve into each particular point in your questions: 1) Marriage as a union and 2) Marriage between man and woman (exclusively).

My short answer:
The Bible operates from an understanding that marriages is between a man and woman.  You will not find it as a dictionary definition within the text as it was culturally understood and there was no need to define it.  However, every time marriage is brought up it is referenced as a man and a woman, and God makes it clear that He is opposed to same sex intimacy.  The Bible is less specific when it comes to ONE man marrying ONE woman.  Many men who are considered holy in the eyes of God had multiple wives, but this practice seems to have died out by Jesus' time.  Today the church will only endorse monogamy, as this is what Jesus, the Apostles and the early church supported.

My longer answer:
In the past I've had people ask me, "Does the Bible specifically say two of the same sex cannot marry?".  The Bible simply doesn't tackle this issue, in the same way it does not tackle whether or not someone should stomp on their little sister's foot.  While not directly addressed there is still clear teachings in the Scripture which cover the issue.  The church's belief that marriage is between one man and one woman comes not from an individual Scripture, but an understanding of the entire Bible.  Below I tackle each issue, and all the Scriptures should show up as a hyperlink.

Marriage is a union:
Genesis 2:23-24
Malachi 2:14
From the moment the first woman was created marriage was shown to be a union between one man and one woman.  In Malachi the prophet tells Judah that the reason it seems God has abandoned them may be that they have turned their backs on their wives.  He identifies the union as a covenant.

Marriage is between man and woman:
Leviticus 18 lists several sexual relations that God condemns, one of which is homosexuality.  Every reference to marriage (at least a God approved marriage) is between man and woman, but often that isn't enough for someone who is looking for the Bible to say, "Marriage is ONLY between man and woman".  If God lists homosexuality as a detestable form of sexual relations the need for such a claim is negated.

The Bible isn't a rule book, it is the history of God's interaction with human beings.  Not every social, political or cultural issue will be directly addressed, but by understanding the totality of Scripture we can come to a good understanding of God's will for our lives.

I also feel compelled to mention that nowhere in the Bible, or in any definition of marriage, is the church called to persecute homosexuals or anyone who does not subscribe to a Biblical definition of marriage.  Sadly, the divinely inspired covenant of marriage seems to have become fodder for hatred in many cases, which is downright sinful.

I hope this helps to answer the question.  If I can be of more help please feel free to follow-up with me.  

Kris Browning

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Rev. Kristopher Browning


Prolegomena: Theology of Inspiration, Theology of Revelation, Theology of Authority, Doctrine of the Holy Trinity (historical and contemporary), Cosmology (creation), Theodicy (existence/creation of evil), Hamartiology (Sin), Salvation, Ecclesiology (Theology of the Church) especially missiology, Eschatology (Last things, second coming, rapture).


Independent academic research, guided study, practical application via the local church ministry. 2013 to Present: Family Life Pastor, Shawnee Alliance Church (Lima, OH) 2010 to 2013: Lead Pastor, Fellowship Alliance Chapel (Huber Heights, OH) 2009-2010: Shawnee Alliance Church (Lima, OH) 2008-2009: Hope Community Church (Mount Vernon, OH) 2006-2007: Bladensburg Church of Christ (Bladensburg, OH)

The Christian and Missionary Alliance

Inspire Magazine, Spring 2012

BA in Religion, Mount Vernon Nazarene University M. Min, Mount Vernon Nazarene University Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership (expected 2017), Indiana Wesleyan University

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