Marriage

21 Bible Verses About Marriage

Janel Breitenstein and Silverio Gonzalez


Is it possible an ancient book could offer wisdom to make your marriage happier and stronger here on, say, an average day — even with your fights about the credit card, the phone that keeps dinging with texts, maybe even a modern-day porn problem? 

Billions throughout every generation and countless cultures have found the Bible a refuge and anchor not just for morality and truth but for poignant and startlingly relevant insight. More than any other book, the Bible teaches broken humans how to love well and create fulfilling, forgiving, weatherproof relationships.

How could the Bible turn your relationship on its head?

Start here.

In a hurry? Grab shortcuts to specific sections of this post: 

   

The Gift of Marriage

   

1. “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:27–28, New International Version).


Following His creation of the world, God commissions Adam to name the animals — which arrive in pairs. In this parade, it becomes clear to Adam that, in contrast, he has no suitable companion, no life partner. 

God responds to Adam’s felt need by creating an equal, worthy partner, an intimate ally. 
 

2. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, English Standard Version).


In marriage, God intends a man and a woman to bond together and create, and doggedly hold to, a new family, superseding relationships with mother, father and children.
 

3. “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6, NIV).


In ancient Israel, it was legal for a husband to divorce his wife if he found any “indecency in her” (Deuteronomy 24:1). This could lead to a man divorcing his wife for almost any reason, leaving women in that time financially destitute without land and a way to survive. 

Jesus exposed this injustice for what it was. He reminded people that divorce was never God’s desire and only exists because of human beings’ failure to be just and loving: “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8, NIV).
 

4. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! … And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12, ESV).


A healthy marriage possesses a robust “Team Us” quality, creating lives more than the sum of their parts. A good marriage is a holy partnership.

Making Jesus Christ the “third cord” of your relationship supernaturally strengthens it.


 

   

Passion and Romance

   

5. “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:9, ESV).


In 1 Corinthians 7, the apostle Paul argues that while singleness is good and allows a person to devote more time to God and others, it’s not meant for everyone.

Sexual passion outside of marriage is misdirected and inevitably destructive. But within marriage? Sexual desire, passion and romance are healthy, natural and a gift directly from God, replaying your unity: “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19, ESV).
 

6. “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised” (Song of Solomon 8:6-7, ESV).


In ancient Israel, a seal signified possession. The beloved in this poetic passage wants his lover to immovably, tenaciously own his heart.
 

7. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you. Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers” (Song of Solomon 1:1-4, ESV).


Solomon’s beloved expresses her ardent desire for physical affection and sex. In the entirety of this book of the Bible, God reinforces his approval and good creation of passionate love and sex within marriage. He loves it when a husband and wife are holistically intimate, when they are “naked and unashamed” (Genesis 2:25).
 

8. “Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves” (Song of Solomon 1:15, ESV).


In the Song of Solomon, both Solomon and his bride repeat their enthusiasm for each other’s hearts and bodies. Here Solomon revels in his wife’s attractiveness. Her eyes remind him of peaceful rest after a storm (compare with Genesis 8:8-11).


 

   

Love and Friendship

   

9. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV).


In this famous passage describing authentic love, the apostle Paul teaches that love is the greatest gift and highest mark of spiritual maturity and character. 

Love isn’t a cheap word flung out without action and commitment. It’s a way of being. “You complete me” and all the tingly butterflies alone can’t meet the extensive, daily challenge of love’s demand, express the beauty of love’s perspective, or display the faithful tenderness of love’s all-in embrace. 

True love requires virtuous, each-for-the-other actions from the dishwasher to the diagnosis, the candlelit dinner to the carpool.
 

10. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10, ESV).


Not all love between a husband and wife is rose petals (trust us: there’s a lot of laundry and car maintenance, too). And most of the Bible’s teaching on love deals with non-romantic forms of love. We can glean truth from passages about friendship and the affection between brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, and friends.

It’s healthy and constructive for any couple to invest in developing and maintaining friendship and companionship.
 

11. “We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16, NIV).


“God is love” means love is essential to God. Wherever you see real love, it’s a seed of who He is.

As Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God is three persons in a loving relationship. Through believing in Jesus, God brings people into a loving relationship, transforming their character and experience of life through His Holy Spirit. 

The love of a healthy Christian marriage springs from the genuine love they first encounter in the Trinity. Their relationship spells out the fervent commitment, perpetual companionship and self-sacrificial care God pours over humanity through Jesus.


 

   

Humility and Gentleness

   

12. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV).


God’s Spirit lives within those who believe God — who allow Him the position of Master in their lives (Romans 8:9,14; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 1:13-14). 

How can you tell if you and your marriage are tuning in to the voice and influence of that Spirit? 

These verses offer nine key clues. God’s Spirit transforms our relationships into something wholly other than what the rest of the world’s relationships look like. He changes our conflicts, our anxieties, our passions, our parenting and our lives into vibrant virtue.
 

13. “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3, NIV).


None of us long for homes (or relationships) of arrogance, harshness and impatience. Each of these makes it hard to thrive and support each other. 

But being married to someone who’s humble, tender and patient? Who loves peace and army-crawls toward togetherness? That’s character worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, His own humility and gentleness and patience with us. (“Bearing with one another in love” = persevering in love even through the hard, even the ugly.) 

This kind of character yields a more weatherproof relationship, eager for peace and continued connection.
 

14. “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:1-5, ESV).


In the churches at Philippi, pride and selfish ambition among leaders meant less effective work for God (Philippians 2:19-23, 4:2-3). To be united in a ministry and mission, God’s people have to work out their personal differences, subverting conceit and self-centered drive with humility and consideration.

You see the parallels, right? A husband and wife, too, must learn to live with each other and work together toward common goals for God’s purposes (see Matthew 6:33). 

If you’re looking for a God-honoring marriage, it’s critical to consider your spouse’s needs and nix every shred of self-importance.


 

   

Compassion and Forgiveness

   

15. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:12-13, NIV).


Even if you and your spouse are compassionate, kind, gentle and patient, you’ll still blow it. You’ll still need forgiveness. 

See, forgiveness doesn’t deny that a person needs to change. It’s not okay to be harsh, critical or inconsiderate. But releasing our anger and resentment — effectively canceling a spouse’s debt (while maintaining accountability) — can help you move forward together toward empathy, humility and unconditional love.
 

16. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, ESV)


As Christians, we are a forgiven people. Love contributes toward genuine peace because it graciously forgives as opposed to living in denial, making excuses, dwelling on injustice or meting out paybacks. Though some acts in marriage (like abuse or adultery) warrant separation, love chooses to lift shame and mutually work toward solutions. 

Love can overcome most struggles in a marriage (“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” [Romans 12:21, ESV]). It can cultivate heartfelt change, compassion and forgiveness.


 

   

Faithfulness

   

17. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4, NIV).


In the ancient Greco-Roman world, it was common for men to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage. Monogamy was not the norm. Some Greek philosophers “even thought marriage burdensome but sexual release necessary.”1 Let’s just say their society did not have a high view of marriage.

But God’s values effortlessly trump cultural models. For Christians, marriage between a husband and wife warrants respect, dignity and the honor of ceaseless commitment.
 

18. “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:32, ESV).


The Bible describes the bond between spouses as “one flesh.” It’s a comprehensive connection so close that it’s almost as if a husband and wife share one body. To betray that pledge of faithfulness through adultery destroys trust, crushes love and sours a marriage. 

Further, the wisdom of Proverbs exposes the foolishness of adultery: The adulterer destroys themself in the process.


 

   

Advice to Husbands and Wives

   

19. “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7, NIV).


In the ancient world, patriarchal societies were the norm. Men governed, owned land, waged war and held most of the power. 

As a result, women were imminently vulnerable: less rights, a harder life and dependent on men for safety and well-being. In this society, men had a responsibility to provide, protect and care for their wives, daughters and sisters from a society that could exploit them. In that world, wives were the “weaker partner.”

While some modern societies carry less patriarchy than in the ancient world, it’s still true that women are often more vulnerable. A husband is to respect and love his more vulnerable wife — not expect his relationship with God to go well if he allows or contributes to the harm and exploitation of women, especially his own wife.
 

20. “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones” (Proverbs 12:4, NIV).


In the ancient world, a wife usually managed her husband’s affairs, involving herself in the family business. A wife of good character brought honor to her husband, but a wife’s vices brought shame upon her husband. In the ancient world and in some cultures today, shame and honor was shared among family members. 

In a marriage today, honor and shame is often shared. It’s common for a husband to credit his greatest achievements to the love and support of his wife, and vice versa — because they’re a team. 

Supporting spouses, like a crown, pull each other, and others’ attention, toward what’s honorable.
 

21. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

   

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of His body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:21-33, NIV).


Greco-Roman society, like Greco-Roman epic tales, lauded power, dominance, heroism, honor, glory and war. These values built empires through bloodshed and violence. The very act of crucifixion reflected Rome’s commitment to power and order at the cost of public humiliation and torture. 

Christian marriages reflect different values than society’s power structure. For a husband’s role, Paul uses Christ as an example through the metaphor of a slave who was responsible to wash his master — and through talking about Christ’s own sacrifice for His cherished bride (His church), whose feet He also washed (John 13:1-17). Husbands are to love their wives with a greater love than the love expected of slaves and to wash them with that which is greater than water, the Word of God. 

In this context, a wife was to love and submit to her husband’s sacrificial service. This kind of submission was not a submission to violence, exploitation, abuse or power (see Psalm 5:6, 11:5; Proverbs 6:16-19, etc.). It was a submission to husband’s love, care, service and provision.

 

Next Steps


God is cheering your marriage on to a more life-giving relationship of wholeness. Want resources that can help?


1
Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Heb 13:4.

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