We believe that God instituted marriage and the family and has given us His design for them in the Scriptures. In the opening chapters of the Bible, we read, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18). And so, God made Eve from Adam and he received her as his wife. Scripture comments, For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). God then blessed Adam and Eve; and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it,” (Genesis 1:28).
We believe that Christian marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with His church (Ephesians 5:22-33). As the church is to be subject to Christ, so a wife is to be subject to her own husband (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Peter 3:1-6). As Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, so husbands should sacrificially love their wives (Ephesians 5:25-28). A husband should nourish and cherish his wife, “just as Christ also does the church” (Ephesians 5:28). He should “grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7).
We believe that a Christian should only marry another Christian (1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
We believe that God designed sexual union as an expression of love to be enjoyed between a husband and wife (Song of Solomon 4:1-5:1). It is also the means to complete God’s command to be fruitful (Genesis 1:28). Christians should flee all forms of sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage (Romans 1:24-27; Hebrews 13:4). Sexual immorality is a sin against the body, which for a Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:9-20; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).
We believe that the unborn child has a God-given soul from the moment of conception and should be protected as a precious gift from the Creator (Psalm 139:13-18).
We believe that the Christian whom God has called to remain unmarried is freed from certain concerns and is more readily able to live with undistracted devotion to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:7-9; 25-35).
We apply these doctrines as follows
Parents are responsible to raise their children in the knowledge of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6). They should be diligent in teaching them God s Word (Deuteronomy 6:6,7). Scripture instructs parents to discipline their children when necessary. This is to be done with self-control, never in uncontrolled anger or in an injurious manner (Proverbs 19:18; 29:15; Galatians 5:22,23; James 1:19,20). Scripture cautions fathers about being overly demanding and thus provoking their children to anger or causing them to lose heart (Colossians 3:21). Rather, they are to nurture and instruct them (Ephesians 6:4).
In many countries today Christian parents have a variety of options for the education of their children. These include schooling at home, Christian or secular private institutions, public schools, and private tutoring. Each of these can make a beneficial contribution in the education of children. Parents should regularly consider the needs of their children as individuals, the educational opportunities available, and the status of their family as a whole in deciding which option is best.
Keeping all our responsibilities as Christians in their proper balance can often be difficult. Though our families should have a special place in our hearts, we can unwittingly make them our top priority. Christ, however, must be at the center of our hearts with all our responsibilities arrayed around Him (Mark 12:30; Luke 14:26; 1 Peter 3:15). Only then can we be found faithful in all that God has given us to do. Only then can parents model lives of devotion to Christ before their children.
Christians differ as to whether married couples should practice birth control. Some see contraceptives as a provision from God to enable couples to manage the size of their family responsibly. Others believe couples should leave the matter to God, saying that children are a gift from the Lord and that He has told us to be fruitful. Most agree that when the health of the woman is at stake, birth control should be used as a necessary remedy for a known malady. A Christian, of course, should never consider abortion as an option for controlling family size.
Though the use of contraceptives should be addressed in the teaching of the church, the decision is best left as a personal one for each couple to decide. Couples should be careful, however, to make their decision for biblical reasons, not worldly ones. They should also be aware that some forms of birth control do not always stop conception, but prevent the fertilized egg from successfully implanting or remaining implanted in the womb.
Divorce and Remarriage
God instituted marriage as a lifelong union. Many marriages fail, however, because of sin. When they do, Christians seeking to please God should be careful to follow biblical principles and the counsel of their elders. Christians who simply are unhappy in their marriage should remain together and work on their relationship. They should make every effort at reconciling their differences, forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32; 1 Corinthians 7:11). One should not divorce the other (1 Corinthians 7:10,11). “I hate divorce,” says the Lord (Malachi 2:16). Should they choose to separate, they must live in that condition or be reconciled; they are not free to divorce and remarry (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). God views marriage as a lifelong covenant before Him that must be honored (Malachi 2:14). In death, however, the bond is broken. The surviving spouse is free to remarry, but only to another Christian (1 Corinthians 7:39).
Some Pharisees asked Jesus, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all? (Matthew 19:3). He responded by reminding the questioners of the significance of marriage, saying, “They are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate (Matthew 19:6). When they pressed Him further, Jesus added, “I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery (Matthew 19:9). Here Jesus makes an exception for the case in which one spouse has committed sexual immorality. The other person may divorce. This is not required, but only permitted. Every attempt should be made at repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. When these efforts fail, divorce may be warranted. Since divorce is the dissolution of marriage, the person is no longer bound and may remarry in the will of the Lord.
Scripture also gives guidance for when one spouse is a Christian and the other is not (1 Corinthians 7:12-16). If the unbeliever is willing to continue in the marriage, the believer should not consider divorce. Yet if the unbeliever leaves the believer, “the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15). The Christian would be free to remarry as the Lord leads, but only to another Christian.
The effects of divorce are severe and long lasting. It is only the step of last resort when it is clear that sexual immorality or desertion by an unbeliever has completely destroyed the union.
Those whose marriages have failed should not despair. God is a master at rebuilding broken lives. The church of God likewise should be a place were all can find love, hope, and practical assistance.