Uploaded by Danies Wilson

Marriage and Counselling

A seminar on
Marriage and Family in the Bible. Their
Theological View.
In Partial fulfillment to
Marriage and Counselling
Submitted to: Dr. Cherian Mathew
Submitted by: Aaron Thomas Mathews and Abel K. Chacko
Marriage and Family in the Bible. Their Theological View.
1. Understanding Family and Marriage
2. What is Marriage?
3. Principles of marriage
3.1 The permanence of marriage
3.2 The sacredness of marriage
3.3 The intimacy of marriage
3.4 The mutuality of marriage
3.5 The exclusiveness of marriage
4. What is Family?
4.1 Family in the OT
4.1.1 Family and faith in the Old Testament:
4.1.2 Family's involvement in Old Testament Salvation History
4.1.3 Family in the OT as a means of revelation
4.2 Family in the NT
4.2.1 The NT places the family at the focus of religious life
4.2.2 Family and Belief in the NT
4.2.3 Family as a symbol or representation of the Church
5. How sin Affected Marriage and Family?
5.1 Polygamy
5.2 Divorce
5.3 Adultery
5.4 Homosexuality
5.5 Sterility
5.6 Gender Confusion
6. The restoration of God’s original design for Marriage and Family in Christ.
Bibliography and Webliography
In this Seminar Paper, we will delve into the fundamental aspects of marriage and family,
exploring their significance, principles, and historical context. We will also examine how sin has
affected these institutions and discuss the hope of restoring God's original design for marriage and
family through Christ. By gaining a deeper understanding of these topics, we hope to enhance our
relationships, promote healthy family dynamics, and strengthen our commitment to marital bonds.
Social anthropologists and sociologists view the family as a living and changing entity that
grows and develops as society progresses. Just like how we grow and become more mature as we
get older, the family also goes through different stages of development. It starts from a simpler
form and gradually becomes more complex and advanced, adapting to the changes happening in
society. Also, the process of change and evolution in marriage goes beyond the limits of time and
distance. And when we look at marriage, as a social institution, it has also gone through various
modifications and is still going through changes to stay relevant and adapt to the changing times.1
Marriage is an institution which leads to the formation of family. Here, it would suffice to
say that families can be formed even without marriage, but marriage leads essentially to the
formation of family. Thus, both the institutions, which form the basic unit of society, are essentially
complementary to each other.
2. What is Marriage?
Marriage is a covenant, a sacred bond between a man and a woman instituted by and publicly
entered into before God and normally consummated by sexual intercourse.2
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, marriage is the “state of being united to a person
of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by
law or the institutions whereby individuals are joined in marriage or an intimate or close union”.
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution
in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of
ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found. Such a union, often formalized
via a wedding ceremony, may also be called matrimony.3
Marriage is usually recognized by the state or a religious authority, or both. It is often viewed as a
contract. Civil marriage is the legal concept of marriage as a governmental institution irrespective
of religious affiliation, in accordance with marriage laws of the said government. If recognized by
Nilima Srivastava, MWG-002 Gender and Power (New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Open University, 2012), 198.
Andreas J Köstenberger, THE BIBLE’S TEACHING ON MARRIAGE AND FAMILY (Washington, D.C.: Family Research
Council, 2011), 6.
George Merriam, “Marriage Definition & Meaning,” Merriam-Webster, 2016, accessed July 16, 2023,
the state, by the religion(s) to which the parties belong or by society in general, the act of marriage
changes the personal and social status of the individuals who enter into it.
Marriage is a covenant, a sacred bond between a man and a woman instituted by and publicly
entered into before God and normally consummated by sexual intercourse. God’s plan for the
marriage covenant involves at least the following five vital principles:
3.1 The permanence of marriage:
Marriage is intended to be permanent, since it was established by God (Matthew 19:6;
Mark 10:9). Marriage represents a serious commitment that should not be entered into lightly or
unadvisedly. It involves a solemn promise or pledge, not merely to one’s marriage partner, but
before God.
3.2 The sacredness of marriage:
Marriage is not merely a human agreement between two consenting individuals (a “civil
union”); it is a relationship before and under God (Genesis 2:22). Hence, a “same-sex marriage”
is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. Since Scripture universally condemns homosexual
relationships (see further under Homosexuality below) God will never sanction a marital bond
between two members of the same sex.
3.3 The intimacy of marriage:
Marriage is the most intimate of all human relationships, uniting a man and a woman in a
“one-flesh” union (Genesis 2:23–25). Marriage involves “leaving” one’s family of origin and
“being united” to one’s spouse, which signifies the establishment of a new family unit distinct
from the two originating families. While “one flesh” suggests sexual intercourse and normally
procreation, at its very heart the concept entails the establishment of a new kinship relationship
between two previously unrelated individuals (and families) by the most intimate of human bonds.4
3.4 The mutuality of marriage:
Marriage is a relationship of free self-giving of one human being to another (Ephesians
5:25–30). The marriage partners are to be first and foremost concerned about the wellbeing of the
other person and to be committed to each other in steadfast love and devotion. This involves the
need for forgiveness and restoration of the relationship in the case of sin. Mutuality, however, does
not mean sameness in role. Scripture is clear that wives are to submit to their husbands and to serve
as their “suitable helpers,” while husbands are to bear the ultimate responsibility for the marriage
before God (Ephesians 5:22–24; Colossians 3:18; see also Genesis 2:18, 20).5
Andreas J Köstenberger, THE BIBLE’S TEACHING ON MARRIAGE AND FAMILY (Washington, D.C.: Family Research
Council, 2011), 7.
3.5 The exclusiveness of marriage:
Marriage is not only permanent, sacred, intimate, and mutual; it is also exclusive (Genesis
2:22–25; 1 Corinthians 7:2–5). This means that no other human relationship must interfere with
the marriage commitment between husband and wife. For this reason, Jesus treated sexual
immorality of a married person, including even a husband’s lustful thoughts, with utmost
seriousness (Matthew 5:28; 19:9). For the same reason, premarital sex is also illegitimate, since it
violates the exclusive claims of one’s future spouse. As the Song of Solomon makes clear, only in
the secure context of an exclusive marital bond can free and complete giving of oneself in marriage
take place.
4. What is family?
The Bible defines “family” in a narrow sense as the union of one man and one woman in
matrimony which is normally blessed with one or several natural or adopted children. In a broad
sense, this family also includes any other persons related by blood (the extended family). In the
book of Genesis, we read that God in the beginning created first a man (Adam) to exercise
dominion over his creation and subsequently a woman (Eve) as the man’s “suitable helper”
(Genesis 2:18, 20). Then, the word says that, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother
and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 ESV).6
4.1.1 Family and faith in the Old Testament:
Old Testament faith had a strong corporate dimension. People did not participate in the
covenant as isolated individuals, but as members of families, clans, and tribes. Religious
commitments made by the head of the household involved the whole family. For example, Joshua
spoke for his whole family when he said that he and his house would serve the Lord (Josh. 24:15).
In early Old Testament times, the family was the center of worship. The father, as head of the
household, was the priest for the household (Gen. 22: 1-14; 26:23-25; Ex. 12:3-11).7 Later the
center of worship shifted to the tabernacle and the Temple, and an official priesthood was
established. Even after the Temple was built, however, families continued to observe Passover;
perform circumcisions, marriages, and funerals; observe the dietary laws; and engage in religious
instruction. Teaching the law to one's children was one of the obligations of the covenant.
4.1.2 Family's involvement in Old Testament Salvation History:
The biological family has a significant impact on the history of Old Testament redemption.
God gave Abraham a promise of numerous children, land, and blessings—exactly the kinds of
things that any ancient family would desire. This promise was made to Abraham in order to bless
his family, then through him to bless all of Israel, and finally through Israel to bless all the families
Sajan George, “Biblical Understanding of Family””, Bethany Journal of Theology, 4/1 (April 2012): 39-40.
“Family"; Colin Brown, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids:
Zondervan,1978), 367.
Hereafter cited as NIDNTT.
on earth (Genesis 12: 1-3). The Messiah, who was both David's and God's son, ultimately brought
to fruition God's promise to David that He would place a son on his throne who would rule over
an eternal kingdom. God blessed all homes by means of the mansion he built for David (2 Samuel
7:11–16). For instance, even though his promise of blessing was passed down via familial lines,
God chose to bless Isaac (Gen. 21:9–13), Jacob (Gen. 25:23; 27:1–29), and Judah (Gen. 49:3–4,
8–12) instead of Jacob, who would have received the blessing as the firstborn son customarily. In
order to fulfil the promise, God blessed Sarah and Rebekah, two barren women, with offspring
(Genesis 21: 1–7; 25:21). God chose Israel, but He also gave the blessing to non-Israelites, such
as the Moabite lady Ruth (Ruth 4: 13–22) and the Canaanite prostitute Rahab (Josh. 2:8–14; Mt.
1:5). According to Matthew 1:18–25 and Luke 2:4–7, the Messiah was born to an unmarried
Israelite girl when he arrived.
4.1.3 Family in the OT as a means of revelation:
Since the authors of the Old Testament describe God's nature and relationship to Israel in
terms of families, families also function as a means of revelation. For instance, God is frequently
referred to as the father of Israel (Isa. 64:8; Jer. 31:9) and as the eldest son of Israel (Ex. 4:22; Is.
1:2). Throughout their wanderings in the wilderness, He carries Israel like a kid (Deut. 1:31). Even
when their own families abandon them, He continues to be their Father (Isa. 63:16; also Ps. 27:10).
God is also represented as a mother, giving birth to Israel and raising them: "You were unaware
of the Rock that bore you; you ignored the God who gave birth to you. When the Lord saw it, he
became envious and rejected his children (Deut. 32:19). In maternal imagery, Isaiah assures Israel
of heavenly comfort: "Can a mother neglect her nursing infant, or show no compassion for the
child of her womb? As a mother soothes her kid, so will I comfort you (Isa. 49:15; 66:13). Even
they may forget, but I will not forget you.
God is also referred to in the Old Testament as the divine husband of Israel,
who is his only wife. The metaphor frequently appears when the prophets condemn Israel for being
unfaithful. By breaking their marriage vows and developing connections with other deities, God's
wife has committed adultery, according to the Lord (Jer. 31:32; see also Ezek. 16). Hosea makes
the most extensive use of this picture. In Jeremiah 50:33–34, God is also referred to as the go'el,
or kinsman-redeemer, who will rescue Israel from captivity and save them from their adversaries.
In the New Testament, the revelation of God as a family is expanded upon and strengthened. For
instance, the Gospels' use of the phrase "adulterous generation" perpetuates the concept from the
Old Testament that God is the unfaithful wife of his unfaithful people (Mt. 12:39; Mk. 8:38).8
However, the marriage metaphor is applied to Christ and the church in the New Testament. In a
spiritual connection as close as the one between a husband and wife, Jesus is the bridegroom, and
the church is the bride of Christ (Mk. 2:18–20; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Eph. 5:31–32; Rev. 21:).
NIDNTT, "Marriage," by W. Gunther, op. cit., 187.
4.2.1 The NT places the family at the focus of religious life:
The family is once more at the center of religious life in the New Testament.9 In John 4:19–
24, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that worshipping God no longer needs to take place only in
one location but may now take place wherever there is truth and spirit. Household conversions and
baptisms are mentioned in Acts and the Epistles (Cornelius in Acts 10, Lydia in Acts 16, the
Philippian jailer in Acts 16, Crispus in Acts 18, and Stephanas in 1 Corinthians 1:16). The family
served as the foundation for the early church's structure (house churches) (Rom. 16:5, 1 Cor. 16:19,
Col. 4:15, Philemon 1:2).10 In this situation, it was crucial that the household's borders be open in
order to welcome strangers into the community. The Lord's Supper (Acts 2:46), Christian
education (1 Cor. 14:35; Eph. 6:4), baptism (Acts 16:15), teaching (Acts 20:20), and a large portion
of church activity took place in homes. Family contexts served as a model for leadership
structures.11Elders may have served as the heads of families based on the criteria in the Pastorals.
One way that household worship in the New Testament differs from that in the Old Testament is
that the father of the family is not the family's priest. All Christians are now priests, and Jesus is
their high priest, receiving them into God's presence from His throne at the right side of the Father
(Rev. 10:11–25; 13:10–16; 1 Pet. 2:9–10).
4.2.2 Family and Belief in the NT:
The entry of the kingdom of God in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection results in even more
dramatic transformations in family and faith. For Christians, a new primary group identity—that
of the kingdom of God—has replaced the previous group identities of family, clan, tribe, and
nation. According to what Jesus says, loyalty to him and to his kingdom comes before all other
considerations. Jesus says that the demands of the gospel would sever even familial relationships
in Mt. 10:34–38 (cf. Mic. 7:6). The extreme need of the gospel is expressed even more forcefully
in the Lukan version as loathing of all human relationships, including one's own (Lk. 14:26). If a
believer's new citizenship is in God's kingdom, then the believer's new family is the family of faith.
Because they have joined a new family with a new master, Jesus warns his followers to expect
strife in their previous relationships (Mt. 10:24–25). However, so that we don't misunderstand,
Jesus "did not expect biological family to be denied or eliminated," claims Clapp. However, he
relativized and decentered it.12
4.2.3 Family as a symbol or representation of the Church:
One of the key New Testament depictions of the I church is made up of family
representations. A noteworthy change from the Old Testament is this. God has a dwelling in the
Old Testament, but no household. The Temple is nearly often referred to as the "house of God"
(bet Yahweh) and not God's people (e.g., 1 Kings 8:13, 27; Is. 66:1). God's residence is his abode,
John Driver, Images of the Church in Mission (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1997), 150.
Alby Mathew and Bibin Baby, “Marriage and Family in the BIBLE,” Marriage and Family Counselling (2016), 5.
Rodney Clapp, Families at the Crossroads: Beyond Traditional and Modern Options (Downers Grove, IL:
InterVarsity Press, 1993), 78.
the location where he is to be found. The Temple is still referred to be God's house in the New
Testament (Mt. 12:4), even though it will eventually be destroyed (Mt. 24:1-2). The people of God
are now, more crucially, the "house (hold) of God" (i) or the "household of faith" (oikos tes
pisteos).13 Whether via adoption (Paul) or rebirth (John), believers are children of God. Believers
are related to one another and to Christ as siblings since they are God's offspring. Gentiles are
described in Ephesians 2 as "members of the household of God" rather than "strangers and aliens"
(Eph. 2:12–13,19–20).
5. How Did Sin Affect Marriage and the Family?
Knowing the divine ideal for marriage, and aware that marriage and the family are divine
institutions, we are now able to move from God’s creation of man and woman and his institution
of marriage to the Fall of humanity and its negative consequences on the marriage relationship. As
a study of biblical history shows, humanity’s rebellion against the Creator’s purposes led to at least
the following six negative consequences: (1) polygamy; (2) divorce; (3) adultery; (4)
homosexuality; (5) sterility; and (6) gender role confusion.
The first shortcoming, polygamy more specifically, polygyny, marrying multiple wives—violates
God’s instituted pattern of marital monogamy. While it was certainly within God’s prerogative
and power to make more than one wife for the man, God only made Eve. Yet within six generations
after the fall of humanity, barely after Adam had died, Lamech took two wives (Genesis 4:19).
Later, prominent men in Israel’s history such as Abraham, Esau, Jacob, Gideon, Elkanah, David,
Solomon, and others engaged in polygamy. However, not only did polygamous marriage fall short
of God’s original design, it regularly resulted in disruptive favoritism, jealousy between competing
wives, and decline into idolatry. 14
The second compromise of God’s ideal for marriage was divorce, which disrupted the permanence
of marriage. While divorce became so common that it had to be regulated in the Mosaic code
(Deuteronomy 24:1–4), the Bible makes clear that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Divorce is
also used repeatedly as an analogy for spiritual apostasy (Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:8).
A third shortcoming was adultery, the breaking of one’s marriage vows. The Decalogue stipulates
explicitly, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18). An egregious
case of adultery was David’s sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). In cases such as these, the principle
of marital fidelity to one’s marriage partner was compromised. The Book of Proverbs calls adultery
both foolish and dangerous (e.g., Proverbs 2:16–19; 5:3–22; 6:32–33; 7:5–23; 9:13–18). In the Old
Driver, Images of the Church in Mission, 139.
Testament, adultery is frequently used as an analogy to depict the spiritual unfaithfulness of God’s
people Israel (Jeremiah 3:8–9; Ezekiel 16:32, 38; Hosea 1:1–3:5).
Homosexuality, fourth, marks another falling away from God’s creation purposes in that it
violates the divine will for marriage to be between one man and one woman. As Genesis 2:24
stipulates, “A man [masculine] shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife
[feminine], and the two shall become one flesh.” Heterosexuality is the only possible arrangement
for marriage, as the Creator has commanded and expects married couples to “be fruitful and
multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Since homosexuality involves same-sex intercourse
that cannot lead to procreation, it is unnatural and cannot logically entail the possibility of
A fifth shortcoming of God’s ideal for marriage is sterility, which falls short of the fertility desired
by the Creator. Fertility is implicit in the biblical reference to the “one flesh” union. At times, lack
of fertility is said in the Old Testament to be the result of personal sin (Genesis 20:17–18; 2 Samuel
6:23), while on other occasions sterility is presented as a simple fact of (fallen) nature (Genesis
11:30; 25:21; 30:1; 1 Samuel 1:2). However, God is often shown to answer prayers for fertility
offered by his people in faith (e.g., 1 Samuel 1:9–20).15
Gender role confusion is a sixth and final result of humanity’s rebellion against the Creator. Where
God’s design for man and woman to be distinct yet complementary partners in procreation and
stewardship of God’s earth is diluted, people will inexorably be confused about what it means to
be masculine or feminine, and the lines between the two sexes made by God will increasingly be
blurred. Despite the above-mentioned ways in which God’s original design for marriage and the
family was compromised, however, the Bible in the Old Testament continues to extol the virtues
of the excellent wife (Proverbs 31:10–31) and to celebrate the beauty of sex in marriage (Song of
6. The restoration of God’s original design for Marriage and Family in
The New Testament declares that as part of God's realignment of all things under Christ's
rule and reign, God has restored His original intention for marriage in Christ. The goal of God,
according to the book of Ephesians (Ephesians 1:10, NIV), is "to bring all things in heaven and on
earth together under one head, even Christ." Therefore, marriage is not a goal unto itself but a
means to the restoration of all things by God in the latter days via the person of Jesus Christ. All
demonic forces are subdued and subjected to the all-powerful rule of Christ as part of this
restoration (Ephesians 1:21-22). Later in the same epistle, in the context of Christians having to be
filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), Paul discusses marriage in general and marital roles
in particular.
What is the marital pattern in the Bible? The simplest way to see this is to
carefully examine Ephesians 5:21–33, the most important text on marital duties in the New
Testament. In this section, wives and husbands are both given instructions in the form of a "house
table," which includes directives provided first to the one who is subject to authority and then
directives for the person in a position of power. Following this pattern, the text addresses first
women, then husbands (Ephesians 5:22–33), then children, then parents (Ephesians 6:1-4), and
first slaves, then masters (Ephesians 6:5–9; other passages referred to be "house tables" include
Colossians 3:18–4:1 and 1 Peter 2:1–13).
For their part, wives are obligated to treat their husbands as though they were the Lord.
According to Ephesians 5:21–24, wives should submit to their husbands in every way just as the
church does to Christ. In turn, husbands are expected to care for and sacrifice for their spouses in
the same way that Christ did for the church. According to Ephesians 5:25–30, men are obligated
to take care of their wives both materially and spiritually and to value them as God's particular
provision. God's original creation plan for marriage will be realized once again if Christian
husbands and wives carry out these marital roles: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and
mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Ephesians 5:31, referencing
Genesis 2:24).16
The greater framework of Christ's supremacy over all other authorities, which Paul
addressed at the opening of his epistle to the Ephesians (see Ephesians 1:10, 20–23), is where this
pattern of headship and submission is situated, as was previously noted. Paul returns to this topic
at the conclusion of his letter, advising all Christians—including spouses, parents, and kids—to
put on the "whole armor of God" in order to be able to resist the devil (Ephesians 6:10; for a
breakdown of the many components of this spiritual "armor," see Ephesians 6:14–18). According
to Ephesians 6:12, believers are engaged in a spiritual battle against evil, not against physical
enemies. They will be able to withstand the devil "in the evil day" (Ephesians 6:13) if they are
armed with truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and God's word. At least in part, why
there is so much strife in so many marriages and families today can be explained by the reality of
Satan's strength and his troops. It also contributes to understanding why divorce is so common and
why marriage is under such severe attack in our culture today.
K V Elias, Understanding of Marriage and Family in the Old Testament (2014),
0V%20Elias.pdf, 6.
This seminar on "Understanding Family and Marriage," we have delved into various facets
that shed light on the significance of these sacred institutions. We explored the principles of
marriage, emphasizing its permanence, sacredness, intimacy, mutuality, and exclusiveness.
Additionally, we examined the concept of family, tracing its roots in the Old and New Testaments,
recognizing its role in religious life and its representation of the Church.
Furthermore, we acknowledged the impact of sin on marriage and family, addressing issues such
as polygamy, divorce, adultery, homosexuality, sterility, and gender confusion. However, in the
midst of these challenges, we discovered the hope of restoration through Christ. By embracing His
teachings and grace, we can strive to align our marriages and families with God's original design,
fostering love, unity, and harmony.
Clapp, Rodney. Families at the Crossroads: Beyond Traditional and Modern Options, Downers
Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.
Driver, John. Images of the Church in Mission, Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1997.
George, Sajan. “Biblical Understanding of Family”, Bethany Journal of Theology, 4/1 (April
Washington, D.C.: Family Research Council, 2011.
Mathew, Alby, and Bibin Baby. “Marriage and Family in the BIBLE.” Marriage and Family
Counselling (2016).
Srivastava, Nilima. MWG-002 Gender and Power. New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Open
University, 2012.
Elias, K V. Understanding of Marriage and Family in the Old Testament (2014).
Merriam, George. “Marriage Definition & Meaning.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, Inc,
2016. Last modified 2016. Accessed July 16, 2023. https://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/marriage.