Chapter 24: Marriage and Divorce - An Ordinance to be Held By Church a nd State
Chapter 24: Of Marriage and Divorce
24:1 Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband; at the same time (Gen_2:24; Pro_2:17; Mat_19:5, Mat_19:6).
24:2 Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife (Gen_2:18), for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed (Mal_2:15); and for preventing of uncleanness (1Co_7:2, 1Co_7:9).
24:3 It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent (Gen_24:57, Gen_24:58; 1Co_7:36-38; 1Ti_4:3; Heb_13:4). Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord (1Co_7:39): and therefore such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies (Gen_34:14; Exo_34:16; Deu_7:3, Deu_7:4; 1Ki_11:4; Neh_13:25-27; Mal_2:11, Mal_2:12; 2Co_6:14).
24:4 Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden by the Word (Lev 18:1-30; Amo_2:7; 1Co_5:1); nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife (Lev_18:24-28; Mar_6:18). The man may not marry any of his wife’s kindred nearer in blood than he may of his own; nor the woman of her husband’s kindred nearer in blood than of her own (Lev_20:19-21).
24:5 Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, giveth just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract (Mat_1:18-20). In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce (Mat_5:31, Mat_5:32): and, after the divorce, to marry another, as if the offending party were dead (Mat_19:9; Rom_7:2, Rom_7:3).
24:6 Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God hath joined together in marriage: yet nothing but adultery, or such willful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage (Mat_19:6, Mat_19:8, Mat_19:9; 1Co_7:15): wherein, a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it not left to their own wills and discretion, in their own case (Deu_24:1-4).
Summary statements we are taught:
A. God has ordained monogamous marriage (WCF 24.1)
B. Marriage serves various purposes (WCF 24.2):
1. for mutual help of husband and wife
2. for the increase of mankind
3. for the increase of the Church with an holy seed
4. for preventing of uncleanness
C. Celibacy is not to be regarded as holier than marriage (24.3)
D. Christians should not marry unbelievers nor people that hold to dangerous error in doctrine (WCF 24.3)
E. there are certain restrictions regarding whom Christians may marry due to existing relationships (WCF 24.4)
F. there are two possible grounds for proper divorce (WCF 24.5)
1. Adultery and fornication
2. Desertion of a Christian by a non-Christian
G. It is the Duty of Both Church and State to uphold this divine ordinance (WCF 24.6)