The marriage relationship is the basis of the family, which in turn is
the core of a stable society. As the primary physical analogy of God's
plan for mankind, marriage, child rearing and the family are given
preeminent place in the teachings of the Bible and the church. Although
roles are defined, men and women have equal spiritual potential before
The church believes and strongly teaches that marriage is of divine
origin and is a sacred institution in itself. Marriage and the family
picture the family relationship of God. God reveals Himself as a family
composed of two persons-Father and Son-which is now reproducing itself
through mankind by the addition of sons and daughters. In like manner,
mankind physically demonstrates this God-plane relationship through
marriage. Man can, like God, build a family and add to it while
experiencing the joys and happiness that family life involves. Paul
refers to this analogy between marriage and the family and God's purpose
and plan of reproducing Himself through Christ and the church as "a
great mystery" (Eph. 5:32) because it reveals the very purpose for which
God created mankind.
True happiness and personal fulfillment for both sexes can result from a
proper understanding and application of God's instructions concerning
the roles of men and women. All people-regardless of race, nationality,
social status or sex have the same ultimate goal and are spiritually
equal before God. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither
slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in
Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). God's purpose of reproducing Himself in
mankind clearly applies to both male and female, because all shall be
"sons and daughters" of God (2 Cor. 6:18).
When it comes to the marriage and family relationships, however, both
male and female have certain roles of responsibilities which are not
interchangeable. In procreation the male and female roles cannot be
switched. In less mechanized and specialized societies the strength of
the male makes him better suited for hunting and defending the
community, while the activities for which the female is most suited tend
to center around the home, children, and agriculture. The children take
their place in the family and community as they mature. It is not a
question of superiority or inferiority but of contributing to the common
goal in the way each is most able.
The modern family also requires each of its members to fulfill a certain
role, whether that of husband, wife or child. Someone has to have the
final say when a decision is required. On the other hand, the sharing of
responsibility based on physical strength is no longer so essential in
most modern societies. There are different kinds of intelligence
demonstrated by males and females (leaving the traditional question of
the relative importance of environment and heredity moot), though each
area of intelligence is broadly overlapping between the sexes. Natural
intelligence is thus equally distributed between husbands and wives.
Therefore, the wife should contribute fully to any decision even though
the husband is the one who bears final responsibility.
Furthermore, just as the husband has the final responsibility for family
decisions, he must also shoulder the task of seeing to their needs. He
is a leader, not a taskmaster; a father and husband, not a boss; one who
looks out for the welfare of his entire family and puts them before
himself. He should be respected because he has earned respect. The wife
and children should be willing to submit to his decisions because he has
demonstrated wisdom and sound judgment and has taken their desires and
suggestions into account. The wife content to have her own desires
overruled on occasion because she knows that her husband will give
preference to her judgment when it is clearly the sounder. The husband
should be the leader of the family showing the same love and respect for
his wife as Christ shows for the church. A husband is instructed to love
his wife as Christ loves the church-that is, to be willing to sacrifice
himself for her in every way, for her benefit (Eph. 5:25). This basic
principle can be expanded by analogy and comparison with Jesus' life and
death for humanity to every conceivable aspect and area of life. Women
are instructed to "be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the
husband is head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church...As the
church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything
to their husbands (Eph. 5:22-24). Paul then follows this admonition to
wives with an equally strong admonition to husbands that they must love
their wives just as much as they love their own bodies (Eph. 5:28); to
indeed nourish and cherish their wives (v. 29). Husbands and wives are
therefore to be joined to each other as "one flesh" (Eph. 5:31 quoting
Gen. 2:24). It is interesting to note how much the Bible is ahead of its
time in championing and upholding the equal position of women in
marriage and society.
The very analogy of God's church as the "mother" of Christians shows
that from God's point of view both father and mother have specific roles.
Both are absolutely essential. The spiritual, responsibility of the
church to nurture, protect, care for, instruct and even discipline God's
spiritual children is analogous to the wife's responsibilities to
nurture, care for, instruct and discipline the family's offspring. This,
of course, no more negates or diminishes the husband's responsibilities
in such matters than it does God's responsibility as a spiritual Father
toward His children. In addition, the Bible describes that a fundamental
responsibility of a wife is to sustain the home environment ("keepers at
home," Titus 2:5 KJV, "domestic," RSV.
But Proverbs 31 reveals that a woman's area of responsibility and
opportunity is far broader than those who might interpret "domestic"
responsibilities as only scrubbing floors and cleaning bathrooms.
Instead, the ideal wife is pictured as one who has creatively developed
her talents and interests. She is fully trustworthy, skilled with her
hands, hard-working and industrious, intellectually stimulated, wise and
kind. She has a keen sense of financial risk and responsibility (Prov.
31:16), has sharp business acumen (v. 18, 24), and is a competent
administrator (v. 15). Such a woman is depicted as being "far more
precious than jewels" (Prov. 31:10). (Once again, this passage evinces
biblical superiority over other ancient literature in promulgating an
expanded view of the role of women, thus foreshadowing and anticipating
our modern era.)
Even in contemporary society, it is still normally mutual advantageous
(in addition to being biblically proper) for the wife to maintain and
build the domestic area while the husband maintains a job or business.
But at times, such as when the husband is unemployed or pursuing an
education, it may be necessary to share or exchange certain duties which
would usually be done by the other partner. The important thing is that
the family activities be conducted in mutual love with respect and
appreciation for the needs and wishes of the other (Eph. 5:21-33), and
in accordance with the basic biblical principals. Many wives are
completely fulfilled in caring for their homes and children. Those who
have adequately fulfilled their domestic responsibilities (e.g., whose
children are grown or in school) and who feel the need for further
self-expression should be given the opportunity to the extent that their
family situation allows. Improper suppression of any human's
potential-male or female-is both physically unwise and spiritually
contrary to the plan of God.
The Bible also teaches that a healthy and joyous sexual relationship
should be present within Christian marriages. God created the sexual
differences and attractions between male and female for several reasons.
Besides the obvious purpose of procreation, sexual relations within
marriage are God-ordained as a means whereby a husband and a wife can
express their love for one another (1 Cor. 7:3-5; Heb. 13.4). Any sexual
relations other than with one's marriage partner (such as premarital
intercourse, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, etc.) are condemned in
Within marriage the bed should be "undefiled," meaning not corrupted by
adultery or immorality (Heb. 13:4, RSV). Aside from the common-sense
instruction that couples should abstain from sex during a woman's
menstrual period (Lev. 18:19), the Bible-and hence the church-has no
proscriptions against specific acts of sexual relations except to teach
that they must express mutual love, concern and be consistent with basic
biblical principles (Sadomasochism, for example, would be clearly
contrary to such principles.)
The church recognizes that even as God determines how large His family
will become, a couple has the right to mutually agree upon, and to
determine, the size of their family. Wise methods of birth control which
cannot adversely affect the body are encouraged, but such decisions are
best left to the individuals and the proper medical authorities.
Because of the sanctity of marriage, the Church of God strongly
discourages divorce among its members. As a last resort, there are only
three scriptural reasons why church members may divorce each other-with
subsequent rights of remarriage.
Fraud. This amounts to an annulment, though divorce is usually required
to terminate the marriage. The marriage covenant was made under a false
pretense. One party later finds that he or she has been defrauded and
decides to take action. (Deut. 22:13-21) (The spirit of this scripture
may be applied to other acts of fraud besides the pretext of virginity.)
Illicit Sexual Activity: In Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, Jesus Christ states
that "whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity [porneia] and
marries another, commits adultery." The Greek word porneia includes
fornication, adultery, harlotry, homosexuality, etc.; it is best
translated "unchastity" as in the RSV. When porneia has been committed,
the offending party and the marital bond may be broken (Deut. 24:4; Mt.
5:31-32; 19:9), though Christians should surely be counseled to be
forgiving towards their mates.
(3) Desertion: If one member of a marriage is or becomes an
"unbeliever," and deserts his or her mate-not being "pleased to dwell"
with her or him-the offended party is freed from obligation. He or she
may formalize the separation and any subsequent divorce gives the right
to remarry since "in such a case the brother or sister is not bound" (1
If no adequate scriptural grounds for divorce are present, the church
strongly recommends that the couple not divorce though they may choose
to live separately. (If they do divorce, they should not remarry.)
Reconciliation should be achieved at the soonest possible time. If this
is not possible, they should remain single. If adequate biblical grounds
for divorce are present, the couple may divorce if they have first
exhausted all other attempts to resolve their differences.
While the church allows its members to divorce and remarry under the
above biblical conditions, it does not generally recommend it. God says
He hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), and that should be the attitude of the
church, its ministry, and each of its members. The church insists that
every possible effort be made to reconcile offended parties. Forgiveness
is an intrinsic part of the Christian character (Mt. 6:14-15) and must
be given a prominent role in resolving marital problems. The church
lends its counseling services to aid in achieving such reconciliation's.
Effective child rearing is also basic to the building of a strong and
healthy family unit. It is as important as marriage in portraying the
plan of God in that the relationship between parent and child is the
physical type of the spiritual relationship between God and man.
As in other areas of the Christian life, God's Word allows great
latitude of approach in the rearing of one's children within the general
biblical guidelines. Of course, it is self evident that a father and
mother must clothe, feed and shelter their youngsters as best they can
within their means. For a parent to ignore these basic responsibilities
is, in God's sight, to be "worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8).
But the principles of proper child rearing must be far more inclusive
than the basic necessities of life.
The Bible's primary admonition is that parents show deep love and
manifest real affection toward their progeny, just as God does for us.
This love will take many forms: protection from harm, instruction,
encouragement, respect, participation in family activities, and balanced
correction when necessary. The need for parents to express their love by
spending much time with their children in both work and play is
especially stressed by the church. Likewise, great emphasis is placed
upon the need for parents and children to communicate with one another,
and to show genuine interest in each other by active listening. To this
end the church encourages its members to set aside at least one day a
week for a "family night" of planned activities and recreation together.
Parents have a responsibility to provide moral and spiritual guidance
for their children and to establish values consistent with the goals of
Christianity, through their example as well as by formal religious
instruction. The establishment and nurturing of true values and moral
behavior will at times necessitate punishment for wrong-doing in the
form of removal of privileges or spanking. All such punishment is done
in love only (never in uncontrolled anger), is always reasonable,
consistent and never injurious to the child emotionally or physically.
The proper balance in discipline of one's children is important to
achieve. Two scriptures that can help define the boundaries of such
balance are Proverbs 13:24 and Ephesians 6:4. In the former, parents are
instructed that "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves
him is diligent to discipline him"; in the latter, parents are cautioned
never to "provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the
discipline and instruction of the Lord." Thus parents are entrusted by
God to generate and nurture physical, mental, moral, and spiritual
growth in the children that He grants to their care.
Likewise, children have responsibilities toward their parents. While it
is true that the obligation is first the parents to properly rear their
child, it is also true that a child is responsible for his own actions
after a certain age. A child is required by God to positively respond to
his parents. He must love, respect, honor and obey his genitors and
guardians. In so doing, he will contribute to harmony within the home
and receive for himself the blessings of obedience. Indeed, the fifth
commandment, "Honor your father and your mother" is called "the first
commandment with a promise" since God states that as a result of
obedience, "it may be well with you and ... you may live long on the
earth" (Eph. 6:2-3).
Although the building of a family is and can be a training ground for
learning important spiritual lessons, God in no way commands everyone to
marry. On the contrary, the apostle Paul states in I Corinthians 7:25-40
that at various times and for various reasons some may find it better
not to marry. Indeed, these verses indicate that some unmarried persons
may find a better opportunity to serve the church physically and
spiritually because of greater amounts of available time and fewer
personal cares and concerns. Neither the married nor the unmarried state
has any inherent spiritual superiority over the other, however. Everyone
should evaluate his own circumstances and make his own decision in this
very private and personal matter.
God is working out a great purpose here below. He has given men and
women great latitude of roles and responsibilities within certain basic
guidelines so they may reach their ultimate physical and spiritual
READ THESE SCRIPTURES FROM YOUR OWN BIBLE:
5:32 - A "great mystery" solved by seeing relationship
between physical marriage and Jesus Christ and the church.
Galatians 3:28 - All are one in
2 Corinthians 6:8 - We shall be sons
and daughters of God.
Ephesians 5:21-33 - Husbands and
Ephesians 5: 25 - Husbands, love
your wives as Christ also loved the church.
Ephesians 5: 22-24 - Instructions to
husbands and wives.
Ephesians 5:28 - Husbands love your
wife as your own bodies.
Ephesians 5:29 - No man hates his
Ephesians 5:31 - Husband and wife
become one flesh.
Titus 2:5 - Admonition for wives
Proverbs 31 - Women's areas of
responsibility and expertise.
1 Corinthians 7:3-5 - Sexual
responsibility in marriage.
Hebrews 13:4 - The marriage bed
should not be corrupted by adultery or immorality.
Leviticus 18:19 - Sexual relations
during woman's menstrual period should be avoided.
Deuteronomy 22:13-21 - The element
of fraud expressed.
Matthew 5:31-32, 19:9; Deuteronomy 24:4
- The marital bond is broken by illicit sexual activity.
1 Corinthians 7:15 - Christian not
bound to marriage if mate deserts that marriage.
Malachi 2:16 - God hates divorce.
Matthew 6:14-15 - Forgiveness is a
intrinsic part of Christian character.
1 Timothy 5:8 - A parent who ignores
his or her responsibilities is worse than an unbeliever.
Proverbs 13:24 - He who spares the
rod hates the child.
Ephesians 6:4 - Provoke not a child
to anger but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
|1 Corinthians 7:25-40
- Marriage is not mandatory.
1] Marriage, child rearing and family are physical
analogies of God's Plan for mankind. True or False?
2] Which of the following statement are true?
a. marriage is of divine origin
b. marriage is a sacred institution in itself
c. God reveals Himself as a family
d. the God-plane relationship is shown through marriage
3] All people -regardless of races, nationality, social status or sex
have the same ultimate goal and are spiritually equal before God.
True or False?
4] In marriage and the family the roles of both male and female are
interchangeable. True or False?
5] Natural intelligence is equally distributed between husbands and
wives. True or False?
6] The wife should contribute fully to any decisions even though the
husband is the one who bears final responsibility. True or False?
7] Which of the following statements are true?
a. husbands are responsible for providing for family needs
b. the husband is the leader of the family, not the taskmaster
c. the man is the husband and father, not the boss
d. the husband should be respected because he has earned respect
8] The wife and children should be willing to submit to the husbands
decisions because he has demonstrated wisdom and sound judgment and has
taken their desires and suggestions into account. True or False?
9] The wife is to be content to have her own desires overruled on
occasion because she knows that her husband will give preference to her
judgment when it is clearly the sounder. True or False?
10] A husband is instructed to love his wife as Christ loves the church
and to be willing to sacrifice himself for her in every way for her
benefit. True or False?
11] Which of these statements is false?
a. women are instructed to be subject to their husband as if to the Lord
b. the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the
c. God made the husband more intelligent than the wife
d. Husbands and wives are to be joined to each other as one flesh
12] From God's point of view both mothers and fathers have specific
roles. Both are absolutely essential. True or False?
13] The spiritual responsibility to nurture, protect, care for, instruct
and discipline belong to...
a. the church [responsibility to members]
b. mothers [responsibility to children]
14] In the area of women's responsibilities, which of the following
a. domestic duties - keeping the home
b. development of her talents and interests
c. to be skilled with her hands
d. to be hard-working and industrious
e. have keen sense of financial risk and responsibility
f. be a competent administrator
g. all of the above
15] The church does not condone husbands and wives exchanging duties if
necessary [example: the wife taking a job]. True or False?
16] Improper suppression of any human's potential -male or female- is
both physically unwise and spiritually contrary to God's plan.
True or False?
17] The Bible teaches that a healthy and joyous sexual relationship
should be present within Christian marriages. True or False?
18] Any sexual relations other than with one's marriage partner (such as
premarital intercourse, adultery, homosexuality and bestiality)
are condemned in the Bible. True or False?
19] The church proscribes for its married couples which of the
a. sexual positions or practices it feels appropriate
b. size of the family (number of children)
c. birth control to be used
d. all of the above
e. none of the above
20] How many biblical grounds are there for divorce?
g. no set number
21] If no adequate scriptural grounds for divorce are present, the
church strongly recommends that the couple not divorce. If they
divorce, neither is free to remarry. True or False?
22] Which of the following statements are true?
a. the church does not recommend divorce
b. God hates divorce
c. ministers and members should hate divorce
d. every possible effort should be made to reconcile a troubled marriage
23] What biblical principle should be given a prominent role in
resolving marital problems? [name the one-word principle]
24] Child rearing is as important as marriage in portraying the plan of
God. True or False?
25] Which items apply? Parents manifest love of their children
a. providing their necessities of life
b. protecting them from harm
c. giving them instruction, encouragement and respect
d. participation in family activities
e. balanced correction
f. spending time with them in both work and play
g. active listening and communication
h. establishing family nights
i. all of the above
26] Parents have a responsibility to provide...[which?]
a. moral and spiritual guidance
b. a nurturing of true values and moral behavior
c. punishment done in love only [never in uncontrolled anger] which is
always reasonable, consistent and never injurious to the child
emotionally or physically
d. all of the above
27] Which of the following statements are found in your Bible
a. he that spares his rod hates his son
b. provoke not your children to wrath
c. Honor thy father and mother
d. all of the above
28] The church advocates and strongly encourages all adult members to be
married. True or False?
29] The married state is inherently superior spiritually to the
unmarried state. True or False?
30] Regarding marriage and/or having children: everyone should
evaluate his or her own circumstances and make his or her own decisions
in this very private and personal matter. True or False?