Marriage: was instituted in Paradise when man was in innocence (Gen.
2:18-24). Here we have its original charter, which was confirmed
by our Lord, as the basis on which all regulations are to be
framed (Matt. 19:4, 5). It is evident that monogamy was the
original law of marriage (Matt. 19:5; 1 Cor. 6:16). This law was
violated in after times, when corrupt usages began to be
introduced (Gen. 4:19; 6:2). We meet with the prevalence of
polygamy and concubinage in the patriarchal age (Gen. 16:1-4;
22:21-24; 28:8, 9; 29:23-30, etc.). Polygamy was acknowledged in
the Mosaic law and made the basis of legislation, and continued
to be practised all down through the period of Jewish histroy to
the Captivity, after which there is no instance of it on record.
It seems to have been the practice from the beginning for
fathers to select wives for their sons (Gen. 24:3; 38:6).
Sometimes also proposals were initiated by the father of the
maiden (Ex. 2:21). The brothers of the maiden were also
sometimes consulted (Gen. 24:51; 34:11), but her own consent was
not required. The young man was bound to give a price to the
father of the maiden (31:15; 34:12; Ex. 22:16, 17; 1 Sam. 18:23,
25; Ruth 4:10; Hos. 3:2) On these patriarchal customs the Mosaic
law made no change.
In the pre-Mosaic times, when the proposals were accepted and
the marriage price given, the bridegroom could come at once and
take away his bride to his own house (Gen. 24:63-67). But in
general the marriage was celebrated by a feast in the house of
the bride's parents, to which all friends were invited (29:22,
27); and on the day of the marriage the bride, concealed under a
thick veil, was conducted to her future husband's home.
Our Lord corrected many false notions then existing on the
subject of marriage (Matt. 22:23-30), and placed it as a divine
institution on the highest grounds. The apostles state clearly
and enforce the nuptial duties of husband and wife (Eph.
5:22-33; Col. 3:18, 19; 1 Pet. 3:1-7). Marriage is said to be
"honourable" (Heb. 13:4), and the prohibition of it is noted as
one of the marks of degenerate times (1 Tim. 4:3).
The marriage relation is used to represent the union between
God and his people (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 3:1-14; Hos. 2:9, 20). In
the New Testament the same figure is employed in representing
the love of Christ to his saints (Eph. 5:25-27). The Church of
the redeemed is the "Bride, the Lamb's wife" (Rev. 19:7-9).