What does Christianity say about marriage?

Most Christians believe marriage is an important part of life. They believe the purpose of marriage is to:

  • unite with someone they love for the rest of their lives
  • to be faithful and make this sacrament with God’s blessing and in God’s presence
  • to have children who can also be part of the Christian faith

Christians believe that marriage is a covenant before God. Their marriage will take place in the presence of family and friends who act as witnesses. This shows that they are committed to each other.

Marriage is mentioned in the Bible many times. Most Christians regard the Bible as an important source of authority. They believe in its guidance to marry. In the Gospel of Mark Jesus says:

quote
But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.Mark 10:6-9

What does Christianity say about cohabitation?

There are different Christian attitudes towards cohabitation:

  • some Christians believe they do not need to get married to show their love for each other and cohabitation is therefore acceptable
  • some Christians, eg members of the Church of England, accept cohabitation if it will lead on to marriage, while still advocating marriage as the ideal
  • some Christians, eg Roman Catholic Christians do not accept cohabitation as they believe sex should only happen in marriage

What does Christianity say about civil partnerships?

There are different Christian attitudes towards civil partnerships and same-sex marriage:

  • Most Roman Catholics do not believe that homosexual feelings are a sin, but they do believe that the homosexual sex act is sinful. They do not agree with civil partnerships.
  • Many Evangelical Christians believe that homosexual feelings are a sin and therefore they do not agree with civil partnerships.
  • Many members of the Church of England support civil partnerships, but believe it is different to a religious marriage between a man and a woman.

What does this mean in practice?

Marriage

When Christians marry they are making a promise in the presence of God to love each other for the rest of their lives. This love is reflected by their wedding rings which symbolise everlasting love. The bride may also wear a white wedding dress. This is a symbol of her purity and respect for God.

Some Christians may choose not to get married in a church and will have a civil marriage ceremony. Although the marriage is legal, some Christians believe that only a church ceremony is binding in the sight of God.

Cohabitation

Some Christians will choose to cohabit as they believe their love for each other is enough to demonstrate their commitment. Many members of the Church of England believe they may only cohabit if it will lead to marriage. If they are right for each other then living together will give them an insight into married life.

Many Roman Catholic Christians will not cohabit as they believe it is sinful. This means that a couple will only live together when they are married.

Civil partnerships and same-sex marriage

The Church of England does not regard homosexuality as a sin. However it regards sex outside the confines of marriage as being sinful. The Church defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, although it supports civil partnerships for same-sex couples. The law prevents ministers from the Church of England from carrying out same-sex marriages. The Church does not allow its clergy to enter into sexually active relationships outside of marriage.

Some Roman Catholic Christians who believe they are homosexual will not express these feelings sexually as they believe these sex acts are sinful.

Some Evangelical Christians also believe acting on homosexual feelings to be sinful.