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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Biblical Principles of Marriage

On Saturday, March 24, I gave a talk on the Biblical Foundations of Marriage at the PreCana Classes held at St. Mary of the Assumption in Upper Marlboro, MD. Some of the notes are give in the immediately previous posts. There is a joke that if you get two ministers in a room, you will get three different interpretations of Scripture. Given that biblical interpretation is so volatile these days, I first gave the gathering my five basic presuppositions. Next, I gave the ten basic principles of marriage from Scripture.

Presuppositions As we Begin

1. The Scriptures are inspired by God and teach truth.

2. We must have the mind of the Church in how Scripture is interpreted.

3. The Bible is not a marriage manual.

4. Better understanding of Scriptural truth comes through a contextual approach.

5. The truth about marriage in the Bible is revealed in a progressive way, culminating in the New Testament.

A Few Basic Biblical Principles

While the Bible is not a manual for marriage, there are some basic principles we can derive from God’s inspired Word. Here are a few:

1. Men and women were made for each other. Most men and women are called to marriage.

2. Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman. They pledge themselves to each other in vows made in the sight of God.

3. The husband is the head of the home and the wife is its heart.

4. While the Bible speaks of the wife’s submission to her husband, there is mutuality in this surrender since the husband is commanded to practice sacrificial love for her, even offering his life as Christ did on the Cross.

5. The husband and wife are dependent co-creators with God.

6. The spouses are called to be helpmates to one another in grace and holiness.

7. Marriage is a vocation that takes precedence over other preoccupations. Your attention and energies must first be focused toward one another.

8. Marriage is a sexually intimate relationship between a man and woman.

9. Christian marriage infers a third in the marriage, Christ. Couples enter into the mystery of Christ and his Church. Our Lord identifies himself with the beloved.

10. Couples should come to the marriage bed undefiled. All sexual activity outside of marriage was regarded by the Jews as a violation of the commandment against adultery.

One Response

  1. Dear Fr Joe,

    If we are to believe, verbatim, the human attempt to understand creation as defined in Genesis, then either there must have been some sort of incestuous relationship between Cain and his sisters,or Cain and his mother, or possibly this other woman who suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

    Let’s face it, the story of Adam and Eve is just a very simplistic and primitive attempt to get a handle on why we are here and how we got here.

    The whole of the Old Testament is a progressive development, possibly inspired by God, or perhaps just a humanistic style of understanding, and it moves from a so called God approved Holy War against the enemies of The Chosen Race, and a celebration of the God engineered success by the raping and killing of the enemies’ women and children, the barbaric ritual circumcision of innocent male babies, and the elevation of themselves to a superior position; and specifically with regard to marriage, the more powerful the male, then the more women he was able to have sex relations with.

    Even Abraham produced two sons, one from his wife and the other from his mistress, and all, according to them, approved by The Lord God.

    Certainly the Old Testament condemns the ‘illegal’ violation of women, and the rewards for contravention of ‘the law’ was execution, so I do not believe much of this to actually be ‘the word of God’. At best it is inspired by God, but much of it, I believe, is just man’s single development towards civilisation and respect for his fellow. Is that ‘God inspired?’ Well, possibly it is, but it was not until Jesus specifically and very clearly defined the marriage relationship, especially with His condemnation of divorce that we start to get a proper understanding of God’s Word and expectation of humanity, His creation.

    Most people that I have had contact with who claim to hear God talking to them are diagnosed as scitzophrenic and have stopped taking their medication. And as for Joan of Arc……..well that’s another story, I do believe.



    The Church insists upon intelligent design. There is no absolute prohibition against elements of evolution. Pope Pius XII clarified that the human soul was directly infused by God and was not subject to any type of organic or material development as theorized by Darwin. The belief in first parents is crucial to our appreciation of the unity in the human family and the consequences of the fall and original sin. There are many questions left open, as in the relationship between the offspring of Adam and Eve. There has also been some speculation about proto-humans who may have preceded and lived for a short time alongside the human beings called to stewardship over the beasts. It must be said that such an idea is controversial. When a body had been created of possessing an immortal soul, God freely infused it. Of course, such is all in the area of speculation but it is an attempt to harmonize the datum of science with that of faith.

    The story of Adam and Eve was never meant to be read in either a fundamentalist fashion or as straight science. In terms of salvation history, the story is rather sophisticated and says what it has to say:

    God is the Creator.

    God has placed mankind at the head of his material creation.

    Everything that God creates is good.

    Sin, suffering and death come into the world through sin.

    God gives them the hope of future redemption.

    Everything was viewed through the prism of religious faith; there was nothing in the way of humanism. Such a concept would be totally foreign to them. God approached his people where he found them, with all their weaknesses and barbarity. Everything belonged to God and God had made them a people and would give them a land of their own. As for circumcision, it is still practiced by Jews and I suspect they would not regard it as cruel. Indeed, in the United States most boy babies, Jewish or Gentile, are routinely circumcised in the hospital after birth.

    The Word of God is the whole witness or story of Israel. It is proof that God can write straight with our crooked lines. It does not mean that every action, even those attributed to God, always perfectly reflected God’s actual will. Revelation and discipleship is messy, both in the past and in the present.

    Hopefully there is a progression or deeper appreciation of God’s revelation to men. But I am not all that convinced about any development of civilization. Indeed, man’s inhumanity to man is even more evidenced in modern times than in the past. We have seen racial cleansing and genocide in Europe and Africa. Children have been destroyed in the womb. Millions have been murdered.

    The prophets and patriarchs are the precursors to the authority that God would one day establish in his Church. The finger of God was upon them. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Spurning the former would cost us the latter.

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