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How did marriage begin? What do we know about marriage from the Bible?

how-did-marriage-begin-what-do-we-know-about-marriage-from-the-bibleThe vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures and spiritual attitudes.

—CCC, no. 1603

Sacred Scripture begins with the creation and union of man and woman and ends with “the wedding feast of the Lamb” (Rev 19:7, 9). Scripture often refers to marriage, its origin and purpose, the meaning God gave to it, and its renewal in the covenant made by Jesus with his Church.

God created man and woman out of love and commanded them to imitate his love in their relations with each other. Man and woman were created for each other. “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him. . . . The two of them become one body” (Gn 2:18; 24). Woman and man are equal in human dignity, and in marriage both are united in an unbreakable bond.

But fidelity to God’s plan for the unity and indissolubility of marriage developed gradually among the people of ancient Israel under God’s providential guidance. The patriarchs and kings practiced polygamy, and Moses permitted divorce. Jesus later cited this case as a toleration of human hardness of heart and taught God’s plan for marriage from the beginning (cf. Mt 19:8). It was the prophets of ancient Israel who prepared for Jesus’ renewal of God’s plan for marriage in their insistence that the permanent and exclusive fidelity of marriage illustrates the unending fidelity of God to his covenant with Israel and his will that Israel be faithful to him alone (cf., e.g., Hos 3 and Ez 16:59-63).

The books of Ruth and Tobit witness the ideals of marriage. They describe the fidelity and tenderness that should exist between the spouses. The Song of Solomon pictures a human love that mirrors God’s love, which “many waters cannot quench” (cf. Sg 8:6-7).

You can read more from the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, order your own copy, or read questions about it at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.

Copyright © 2006, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.