Marriage is the state of a man and a woman who have come together as "one".
In the general description of the creation of mankind, God created the man and the woman as a single event, both reflecting the image of God. As he had done with the animals created on day five, God commanded the two of them to "be fruitful, and multiply." A main purpose of the creation of both male and female was procreation -- the working together to produce more humans. This was the establishment of "marriage" in the world. No other social contract could ever replace it.
Lest there be a mistake of the intent and seriousness of the institution of marriage, Jesus Christ himself affirmed it's truth when he gave his opinion on divorce: "the two shall become one... what God has joined together, let no man separate." Any concessions later made in the Law were to alleviate suffering due to sin.
In the languages of mankind, the word "marry" has come down from the Latin term "maritus," meaning "a married man" (masculine noun, formed from the verb). Beyond the Latin, it is assumed that this came from Indo-European roots, especially the word "mari" (young woman, as in "provided with a wife"). A related root was "meryo" (Sanskrit is "marya," a young man, a suitor). In the Hebrew language, the concept of marriage is found in the "giving" of a woman, and the subsequent "taking" (or receiving). It remained a family affair throughout Biblical times.
As for the words translated "marriage" in the Bible, the Old Testament has is only one word, of unknown origin, used once in Exodus. The word translated "marriage" in Psalm 78:63 is usually translated "praise." In the New Testament, a family of words based on the noun "gamos" appear numerous times. This concept, of giving and taking in marriage is confirmed to have had its origin "in the days of Noah" by Jesus as he speaks of "life as normal" with both, along with eating and drinking!
The design was for one man and one woman at one time. However, this was laid aside by a notable descendant of Cain, a man named Lamech. This man proclaims in verse to be a murderer, and may have even took his wives by force, so the fact that he had two wives in no way condones it. By the time of Abraham, years after the Great Flood, multiple wives had become part of the cultures that spread out from Babel. Though most of the secondary "wives" are called concubines, the grandson of Abraham, Jacob, accepted the fate thrust upon him by his father-in-law, the brother of his mother, namely Laben. The rivalry between the women, including the use of their slave girls to have children when they could not, serves as a warning against multiple wives.
This strife among women under the care of a single husband undoubtedly lead to the Law against kings "multiplying wives." Unfortunately, when David fell into the trap of taking wives and concubines as a political maneuver, it proved disastrous as his sons fought him to take over the kingdom of Israel. His disregard for the Law in this regard was passed on to his son, Solomon, resulting in the latter taking 700 wives and 300 concubines, most of who were foreign wives that he "loved." These "lovers" lead to idolatry in the palace and near apostasy of the man known far and wide for his wisdom.
Early in his reign, Solomon penned his "love song" to his dark skinned "Shulamite" wife. One can only imagine this was his first wife, the daughter of the pharaoh of Egypt. This explicit book tells of a great love between a man and a woman. During his reign, the son of David would pen several proverbs concerning the dangers of "strange" women and even the annoyance of a nagging wife. The last chapter of the Proverbs contains words from a king "Lemuel" who remembers his mother's words about a good wife. Finally, late in life, Solomon comes back to God, writing a warning against living for this world. In the middle of near despair, though, he remembers his youth, and the "wife of [his] youth." He admonishes his reader to enjoy life, especially the companionship of one's wife.
Multiple wives became rare by the time of the New Testament, but when Paul is giving the requirements for church leadership, he specifies "the husband of one wife," with the assumption being that more than one wife would disqualify a candidate. Following the doctrine of the "wife of God" in the prophets, Paul would use marriage as a metaphor for the Church as the "bride of Christ." In the Revelation, John would see the Church on display as the "bride of the Lamb."
However, marriage between persons in this world are not transferable into the next. When the Sadducees tried to trap Jesus with a hypothetical situation following the Law of Levirate marriage, Jesus scolded them for their ignorance. There is no "marriage" in heaven, according to Jesus, since the resurrected believer takes on a body that does not need to reproduce! Husbands, wives, and their children all become of one status -- siblings -- all living and worshiping God together.
- ↑ Genesis 2:22-24
- ↑ Genesis 1:22, 28. No such command was given to land animals, which came under the care of mankind (v. 28).
- ↑ Matthew 19:3-9
- ↑ Online Etymology Dictionary: "marry"
- ↑ Matthew 24:38
- ↑ Genesis 4:19; 6:2. Both Lamech and the "sons of God" took their wives.
- ↑ Deuteronomy 17:17
- ↑ 2 Samuel 5:13; 12:11
- ↑ I Kings 11:1-4.
- ↑ Song of Solomon 6:13
- ↑ Proverbs 2:16; 5:3; 5:20; 6:24; etc.
- ↑ Proverbs 9:13
- ↑ Ecclesiastes 9:9
- ↑ 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6
- ↑ Revelation 19:7
- ↑ Matthew 22:30