Therole of marriage in the current society is indispensable. Staggparticularly documents the benefits of marriage. One of theadvantages of marriage is that it marks the beginning of the familyand provides the opportunity for one to nurture and exerciseselflessness in serving the partners and children1.Secondly, marriage creates the allowance for partners to legitimizetheir bond and live together as one, working together to address lifechallenges to make life more meaningful2.Thirdly, marriage exists to foster the virtue of purity. This viewfollows that, in theconvention, people are always under the differentforms of temptation for which marriage functions to provide supportto overcome through satisfying love3.Lastly, marriage serves as a platform for parenting. The role ofmarriage in parenting success hasbeen widely acknowledged, and thatchildren born and raised by marriage partners tend to be moresuccessful than their counterparts in single-parent and divorcedfamilies4.Allthese benefits have served as an impetus for the society to strive tosupport the family ties to prevent breakups in different possibleways. However, the efforts have been marred with various emerging,contentious issues on the position of marriage. Some of theoutstanding disputes have revolved around the definition of marriage,the roles of husband and wife, the meaning of headship, theimplication of submission, the circumstances under which divorce andremarriage are permissible, and leadership requirements associatedwith marital status. The purpose of this paper is to define theposition of marriage, focusing on the areas of contention from aChristian standpoint.
Thedefinition of marriage is one of the contentious issues that thecontemporary society is grappling with5.It is noteworthy that the subject has been characterized by variouscritical questions that must be addressed. For instance, when willpartners said to be married? What should happen before partners canbe said to be married? Is it necessary that partners in a marriageneed to have different sexes? Is marriage a contract or a covenant?
Basedon the biblical teaching, marriage is perceived as a covenant betweena man and a woman, which is publically instituted and entered beforeGod, and it 6consummatedby an act of sexual intercourse. In essence, marriage is aimed atbeing permanent and should not be taken lightly7.Marriage is also seen to be sacred and should not be simply perceivedas a relationship between two people — it is entered before andunder God8.Moreover, marriage is intimate because it unites man and woman intoone flesh9.The Bible also stipulates that marriage is a fruit ofmutualrelationship10and is exclusive to the extent that no other human relationshipsshould interfere with it11.
Inlight of such definition, one could easily infer the answers to thecritical questions. First, partners will be said to be married ifthey come together and institute their relationship publically andbefore God, and consummate their relationship by way of sexualintercourse. Secondly, marriage is only legit when it involves a manand a woman. Second, polygamy is unjustifiable because the Bibletalksabout one man and one woman. Lastly, marriage is essentially acovenant and not a mere contract.
The Roles of Husband and Wife
Theissue of the roles of husband and wife in marriage has also beencontentious. It has been characterized by questions that thediscussions will seek to answer. For example, is it exclusively therole of man to provide for the family? In case this holds, what couldthis imply for the cases in which a woman is the sole breadwinner ofthe family? Considering the dynamic nature of the culture of theindustrialized world in which gender equality is sought, questionshave also been raised whether such social developments should haveany implications for marriage.
Accordingto the Bible, wives are expected to play different roles, whichincluding helping, respecting, loving and submitting to theirhusbands. The role of the wife is particularly seen when God, aftercreating Adam, realized that it was not good for a man to be alone,creating Eve as the helper12.Some of the roles of wives in helping are procreating and parenting.The role of respect is inferred when Paul asserts" … the wifemust respect her husband."13Thisview essentially implies the need for a woman to accord reverence,recognition, and honor and submits to the husband. The call for wivesto love their husbands requires accepting them unconditionally.
Onthe other hand, the role of the husband includes being the head, theprovider, and protector14.Indeed, several biblical verses provide evidence of these ascribedroles of husbands. One of the outstanding verses is 1 Corinthians11:3, which guides
"But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ,and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”15
Based on this verse, the role of the husband is to lead based onbiblical teaching. Besides, the aspect of providing and protecting isalso notable can be depicted by the following verses.
"Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especiallyfor their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than anunbeliever.” 16
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”17
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live withyour wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and asheirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing willhinder your prayers”18
The Concept of Marriage Headship
Theconcept of marriage headship has also been another emergingcontentious issue. One of the questions underlying the subject iswhat should constitute marriage headship? Besides, who should be thehead of the marriage? Also, would there be a problem if a womanbecame the head of the family, contrary to the popular view thatrequire a man to be the head?
Successful families should be anchored on the principles of marriagethat are stipulated in the Bible. The husband should demonstratemarriage headship through creating positiveinfluence on importantlife and family decisions that involve creating a good leadershippersonality characterized by clear communication, care, and concernto his family. As a helper, the wife should be involvedin the majorplans to demonstrate mutual respect and unity between the couples.
Thedifferent responsibilities in the current society that women playthe role of the husbands in many households, it does not change thebiblical fact about family headship. Men should stand out anddemonstrate leadershipqualities using their voice and actions toexhibit good leadership to influence their wife’s into submission.A change in the family roles has been the cause of many marriagessquabbles in many families living by the kind of order where womenplay the role of the family head. They are always marred withdifferences and clashing of the household roles due to poorcommunication. It is the responsibility of the couples to exerciseheadship to designate roles between themselves, basing on theirpersonal attributes, and understanding of each other, and the manshould be particularly proactive in ensuring these are accomplished19.
The Concept of Submission
Theconcept of submission has been a sensitive subject and can be arguedto be one of the problematic areas triggering conflicts in marriage.In reference to thebiblical verse that calls upon women to submit totheir husband, the main challenge has been what should constitutesubmission.
In the context of the Bible, submissiveness does not legitimatewives to be overly subservient to take in any intimidations from men.It only implies that women should nurture the mindset of a servantfor the sake of marriage harmony, while husbands are required totreat their husbands based as required by the Bible. In essence, theBible rejects mistreatment and dictatorship, including other forms ofdisrespectful treatment.
Being subservient, in this case, does not imply going against theauthority of God, but focusing on achieving the goals of marriagebased on what God wants his followers to do. Submission has nothingto do with compromising the personal stances, but sitting back andtrusting that the actions of their husbands will deliver the intendedmarriage goals. Even so, as wives submit, husbands need to ensurethat the choices that they make on behalf of their family andmarriage are objective and reflect the values of the biblicalteaching20.
Circumstances under which divorce and remarriage are permissible
Variouspremises have been cited as the reasons for legitimating marriagebreakups, many of which have come to be questioned. Moreover, whilemany breakups have always accompanied by the reunion, these havealways elicited tough questions. Therefore, this issue primarilyrevolves around the question of what circumstances should divorce andremarriage between partners be seen to be permissible.
Themost widely accepted view is that divorce is should only be permittedunder circumstances of unfaithfulness. Indeed, based on biblicalteaching, Jesus provided the interpretation of permissibility ofdivorce, asserting that it should only be accepted under theconditions of sexual immorality.21Nevertheless, divorce should be seen as being merely permissible, andthat the society should neither encourage nor tolerate it. The maindefense against the divorce is the view that God’s purpose formarriage is permanence, as exemplified in the teaching that a man anda will leave their parents and unitethrough marriage, becoming ‘oneflesh.` The aspect of permanence is also inferable from the versequote "What therefore God has joined together, let not manseparate."22
Armstrong have discussed that since God purposed marriage to bepermanent, the action of uniting after separation would be mostwelcome. Moreover, the fact that the Biblecalls upon the society notto tolerate or encourage divorce essentially implies that itremarriage would be welcome as the most popularact and that there isno boundary as to what circumstance should legitimate reunion.Remarrying is a way of safeguarding the permanence of relationshipsin marriage23.
The leadership requirements related to marital status
Theissue of leadership requirement related to marital status hasrevolved around the roles and responsibilities that married peopleshould play in the society. The question of particular intrigue iswhether partners need to have any exceptional leadership skills tomake their marriage and families to succeed24.
Marriage, in most cases, is associated with a family, which is termedcomplete when it results in children. God commanded Adam to have manychildren and fill the whole earth. However, children requireknowledgeable parents that will nurture and influence their behaviorand character leading togood personality. This aspect calls onparents to poses some leadership skill that will enable them toaccomplish this responsibility of upbringing their children. Thesurrounding environment plays anenormous role in the upbringing ofthe children. Children more often tend to reflect the real image oftheir surrounding in the characters. This point stresses theimportance of parents to exhibit leadership qualities to ensuresuccessful modeling of their families.
Many divorces and separations have been attributed tomisunderstandings, and poor communication and listening skills, aswell as the lack of proper planning. The absence of these factors hascaused disagreements, loss of temper and fights in extremesituations. Eventually, the union is characterized by commotionsleaving couples not knowing what course to follow, leading to divorceand separations. Leadership is expected to play a crucial role inameliorating such challenges.
Inconclusion, the aim of the paper was to define the position ofmarriage, focusing on various areas of contention. It has beenacknowledged that some of the outstanding contentious issues haverevolved around the definition of marriage, the roles of husband andwife, the meaning of headship, the implication of submission, thecircumstances under which divorce and remarriage are permissible, andleadership requirements associated with marital status. Based on thebiblical teaching, marriage is seen as a covenant between a man and awoman, which is publically instituted and entered before God, and itis consummated by an act of sexual intercourse. According to theBible, wives are expected to play different roles, which includinghelping, respecting, loving and submitting to their husbands. On theother hand, the role of the husband includes being the head, theprovider, and protector. The most widely accepted view is thatdivorce is should only be permitted under circumstances ofunfaithfulness.
Gottman, John. The Seven Principles for making Marriage Work.Harmony, 1999
Piper, John. This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence.Crossway, 2012.
Stagg, Frank. New Testament Theology. Broadman Press, 2012
Armstrong, Karen. Gospel According to Women. Anchor Books,2013
McSheffrey, Shannon.Marriage, sex, and civic culture in late medieval London. Universityof Pennsylvania Press, 2013.
1Stagg, Frank. New Testament Theology (Broadman Press, 2012), pp 32
2Ibid, pp 36
3Ibid, pp 67
4Ibid, pp 45
5 Piper, John. This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence. Crossway, 2012
6Ibid, pp 48
7 Matthew 19:6 Mark 10:9
8 Genesis 2:22
9 Genesis 2:23 -25
10 Ephesians 5:25-30
11 Genesis 2:22-25 1 Corinthians 7:2-5
12 Gen. 2:18
13 Ephesians 5:33,
15 Corinthians 11:3
161 Timothy 5:8.
181 Peter 3:7
19McSheffrey, Shannon. Marriage, sex, and civic culture in late medieval London (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), pp 67
20 Ibid, pp 35
21 Matthew 19:9
22 Matthew 19:6.
23Armstrong, Karen. Gospel According to Women (Anchor Books, 2013), pp150
24 Gottman, John. The Seven Principles for making Marriage Work. Harmony, 1999