It’s not unusual for believers to have questions about marriage. How does the bible define marriage? Is it important for Christians to marry? Is a marriage ceremony required or is it just a man-made tradition? Do people have to be married legally to be married in the eyes of God? Does the bible encourage Christians to marry more than one wife? Esther Namutamba reached out to Christians and religious leaders to find answers to these questions.
Generally, everyone understands that the meaning of marriage is when two people make a public pledge or commitment to live together and share their lives in a way that is recognized legally, socially and sometimes religiously.
In trying to define Marriage, in the Old Testament, God sketched his original plan for marriage in Genesis 2:24, when one man Adam and one woman Eve united together to become one flesh.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become on e flesh (Genesis 2:24).”
In the Jewish custom, God’s people signed a written agreement at the time of marriage to seal the covenant and in doing this means that marriage is a holy covenant before God as described in Malachi 2:14.
This was done through a marriage ceremony indicating that marriage is meant to be a public demonstration of couple’s commitment to a covenant relationship. However it’s not a ceremony that is important but it’s the couple’s covenant commitment before God and men (people).
According to many Christian denominations, Christian Marriage is the union between a man and a woman, instituted and ordained by God as the lifelong relationship between one man as husband, and one woman as wife.
Pastor Elijah Kintu, who is a senior pastor at Kabowa Redeemed church in Kampala, said that in marriage a man has to marry one wife and not to marry his fellow man.
While responding to the question of whether a Christian is allowed to marry more than one wife or man, Kintu looks at them like a driver who drives a car when they do not have a driving permit.
He also adds that one is allowed to divorce and get another wife or man only when one of the couples is found in adultery but no Christian is allowed to marry more than one partner.
Pastor Deo Musoke defines marriage as a life of forgiving and loving one another.
Musoke said that though the scriptures are against marrying a second wife, the flesh does not stop to demand for what it likes but one has to follow the word of god and overcome the flesh.
When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, he revealed something significant that we often miss in this passage. In verses 17-18, Jesus said to the woman:
“You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”
The woman had been hiding the fact that the man she was living with was not her husband.
According to the New Bible Commentary notes on this passage of Scripture, Common Law Marriage had no religious support in the Jewish faith. Living with a person in sexual union did not constitute a “husband and wife” relationship. Jesus made that plain here.
Therefore, position number one (the couple is married in the eyes of God when the physical union is consummated through sexual intercourse) does not have a foundation in Scripture.
Romans 13:1-2 is one of several passages in Scripture that refers to the importance of believers honoring governmental authority in general:
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
The Apostle Paul gave a similar directive when he wrote, “Let marriage be held in honor among all”. Conservative Christians consider marriage as the most intimate of human relationships, a gift from God, and a sacred institution.
Pastor Alex Muhumuza of Kamwokya Church of God, defines Marriage as a union of a man and a woman.
While quoting Genesis 2:18, Pr. Muhumuza thinks that the importance of marriage is companionship.
“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
“The Bible doesn’t support a man having more than one wife and in the above scripture it talks about the two becoming one flesh or body.” Said Pr. Muhumuza Alex.
The Protestants consider marriage to be a sacred, holy and central to the community of Faith said Rev. Alex Bwambale in charge of St. Francis chapel Makerere university
Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Christians consider marriage as a sacrament.
However, there are various other interpretations of marriage.