First Family Church believes that marriage as given by the Word of God is a spiritual and physical union between a man and a woman, established by willful vows in accordance to God’s Word, for as long as both shall live on earth.
Biblical References on Marriage:
Genesis 2:18- The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” NIV
Genesis 2:23- The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called’ woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” NIV
Genesis 2:24- For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. NIV
God as Witness/Vows
Malachi 2:14- You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. NIV
Malachi 2:15-16- Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith. NIV
Matt 22:29-30- At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. NIV
Roles of Each Spouse
First Family Church believes that all men and women are created equally, but have different roles to fulfill within the marriage covenant. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul lays out the basis for the ideal Christian marriage. Marriage is to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Church, in which Christ initiated His love for us and we respond to that love by grace through the Holy Spirit.
Paul begins by telling us that we are to submit to one another.
This doesn’t make one person superior over the other; it only makes us the more compatible and recognizes our need for each other. Although we are to submit to one another, there is a clear line of authority for a marriage. Christ is the head of the family. Following in succession are the husband, wife, and then children. Jesus and God the Father lived out such a relationship of submission among equals, as Jesus submitted himself to God the Father — even though they have equal claim to all glory and honor and praise. Jesus does this to achieve the overarching goal of his ministry – to serve as a sacrifice for the sins of all men allowing us to be reconciled to God. In turn God the Father glorifies his son and proclaims His love for Jesus.
The overarching goal of a marriage is to treat each other in a manner that creates the kind of peace and harmony that glorifies Jesus Christ. In the marriage relationship, the man is responsible to initiate a loving relationship with his wife and provide the necessary physical, spiritual and emotional support for her and their family. This line of authority also means that the husband is held responsible for the overall health of the family unit. This overall responsibility requires that the husband participate in his household and be communicating with his wife and children, if any. God the Father communicated regularly and personally with Christ, who was God in the flesh. How much more do imperfect men need to be in communication with our families to support and encourage them in addition to meeting their physical needs?
The wife’s role is to respond to her husband’s love and respect her husband’s significant responsibility as head of the family. As his helpmeet, the wife is to support her husband in his decisions to meet these responsibilities by using her talents and gifts. God has specifically given the wife the responsibility of managing the home and being the primary nurturer of the children of the household, if any. While this does not prevent the wife from working outside of the home, the priorities for managing the household and nurturing the children are predominant to a career. The harmony created by a husband fulfilling his overall responsibility as a husband and his wife responding with respect and meeting the needs of the household exemplifies the relationship between Christ and His church to the glory of God.
Common Law Marriage
Although quite “uncommon” in the 21st Century, common law marriage is still a legally acceptable proof of matrimony in ten states, Iowa being one of them. But just what is common law marriage? For a couple to be defined as being married by common law (within these states), the two parties must: agree that they are married, live together, and hold themselves out as husband and wife. In other words, common law marriage seems to be a legally permitted union in these ten states through the parties’ conduct, instead of through a ceremony.
However, the necessity of common-law marriage stems from the concept of “estoppel” – meaning that a couple who has told the world and lived as though they are married, even though they weren’t legally united, should not be allowed to claim that they are not married in the event of a divorce or a dispute. So it seems that the idea of common-law marriage was developed as a result of a dispute, not as the result of a pursuit.
Furthermore, what is legal may not always be biblical. And it seems that the roots of common law marriage find soil in unnecessary secrecy, unhealthy avoidance, and self-protection.
Consequently, common law marriage often encourages fraud, condones vice, and debases traditional marriage. In fact, many common law marriages were actually immoral relationships that simply continued unchallenged and eventually became comfortable to both parties. It was sin to begin with and only became legal; it may never have been biblical.
Additionally, common law marriage seems to frown upon what is a biblical role for men: the initiator. God asks men to lead the way in the home and the church, and this action should be seen in the beginning stages of a relationship – when a man pursues a woman. To engage in a relationship in a way that undermines the foundational roles of men and women is unwise and will eventually crumble.
Summarily, FFC discourages common law marriages. To be sure, both legally and biblically, mere cohabitation cannot, by itself, rise to the level of constituting a marriage. However, when it is clear that all the elements for a common law marriage have occurred, we highly encourage the couple to honestly deal with the beginning motives for their marriage, make amends, and to solidify openly their marriage vows based on God’s roles for a husband and wife. A suddenly legal union now called marriage cannot be a cloak for what was initially immorality and disobedience.
Marriage to Close Relatives
First Family Church believes that the marriage between a man and woman who are closely related does not fit into God’s design for a marriage. While the bible does not list out the possible genetic problems faced with the mixing of two closely related genetic pools, it does give a detailed account as to how we are to act morally and to have relationships that are God honoring and are not adulterous. We will find that when it comes to the moral laws set forth by God, we are called to be holy just as He is holy10 and we are to live our lives in this manner being a people set apart from those who do not hold to God’s standards, (i.e., the world).
Since God is timeless, and therefore his moral laws are timeless, what He says is still the law of the day concerning our moral conduct. To understand the moral law with regards to the marriage of close relatives we will look to the book of Leviticus and see that God has given us a detailed account stating “No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations.“ Some of these laws point us directly to adultery within the family unit and others are listed as wickedness as is spoken of at the end of the chapter. Either way they are not pleasing to the Lord.
But does this change now that we are under the New Covenant? While a number of things do change from the old to the new covenant, God’s moral law does not. God states in 1st Thessalonians14 that we are to stay away from sexual immorality not unlike what we were just talking about in Leviticus. God also calls us to be holy and because He dwells within us, we are to keep ourselves pure because we are a temple of God.
First Family Church believes the practice of polygamy and polyandry, the condition of a man having more than one wife and a woman having more than one husband, is in direct violation of God’s design for a marriage. We are to be one with our wife/husband for life. This practice not only destroys the sanctity of marriage, but it also allows our natural sinful desires to creep in. This practice lends its self to open the doors of our pride, power, and sexual desires. To marry another would be no marriage at all. God only recognizes a one spousal relationship at one time. So, this would place you in disobedience to God’s seventh commandment which states, “You shall not commit adultery.”16 Adultery is a grievous sin. We are to remain with our one partner and never seek to fulfill our desires with multiple marriage relationships. Furthermore, we are to honor the marriage bed and keep it pure17 by staying with the wife/husband of our youth.
The first recorded incident of polygamy was recorded in Genesis when Lamech (from the lineage of Cain) took for himself two wives. According to many scholars, Lamech may have been responsible for triggering the chain of events that led up to the world wide flood, “God’s judgment on man.” This incident led to the demoralizing nature of man and his conversion of what was a healthy sexual relationship with his one wife, to the duplicity of multiple wives. This led to all kinds of evil thoughts and sexual lust. Men were marrying anyone they so chose and God said his spirit would not contend with man any longer. 19 He was sorry he created man.
Polygamy in the Old Testament was commonly used for the purpose of giving the captured women of war a home. Many wives meant prestige and power for the conquerors. Today, polygamy is present in many of the cults. Men will build their own little kingdom without the need of God. They procreate from within their compound making a large community through their seed thus eliminating the need for God. They are god by their own standards. They make their own rules and anyone not living by their rules will be strictly disciplined.
Same Sex Unions
First Family Church believes that immoral behavior of all types are the result of sinful choices we make – whether homosexuality (same sex sin), adultery (immorality by a married person), or fornication (immorality by an unmarried person). The Bible is the only belief that is true and it soundly condemns any type of immoral activity, namely in this case homosexuality. While our sinful nature is our natural condition at birth, the specific sins we commit are choices we make to give in to that sinful nature. Homosexuality, which by definition refers to sexual orientation to and relations with others of one’s own sex (i.e. male with a male or female with female) is no more a birth trait than stealing or lying. It is thus as illogical and unbiblical to excuse a homosexual from responsibility, as it would be to excuse a murderer from culpability. Both are sinful choices.
There is good news in this biblical foundation that FFC holds to – homosexuality is a sin that can be overcome. Just as liars, thieves and adulterers gain victory through Jesus Christ, so, too, can those tangled in the web of same sex sins. And though the sin of homosexuality is an abomination unto the Lord, the sinner – the homosexual – is loved by God and can be freed from the damning lust of sinful bondage through the saving power of God – the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Truth is, that’s what all of us sinners receive the moment we believe – freedom from sin and unto Christ!
Consequently, FFC sees no biblical basis for same sex unions and considers it a sinful attack upon God’s original pattern for men and women. It breaks down the traditional family and is a perversion of scriptural marriage values. It is a distortion of natural sex within a normal marriage and it destroys the procreation concept within a marriage. Regardless of what the culture says, no one benefits from a homosexual relationship. It is far better to follow God’s design and enjoy the freedom found in a moral, biblical, and heterosexual marriage relationship.
Divorce, Reconciliation and Remarriage
Divorce: Divorce is a civil ordinance that recognizes the legal dissolution of the marriage and details the legal obligations of a husband and wife created as a result of the divorce. Divorce was not a part of God’s plan for us. Christ’s teaching only allows Christians to pursue a divorce in the event that their spouse has committed adultery. 25 Even so, divorce in this situation is an allowance and not a commandment.
Reconciliation: In addressing all situations of marital strife – including adultery – Christians should always work and pray for reconciliation as long as it is possible (e.g. the ex-spouse is still living and remains unmarried). Showing such continual, forgiving love in our marriage covenant is a testimony of God’s love for us.1, 26 Who can fathom what God’s grace may provide as a testimony to Him as a result of your commitment to your marriage vows?
Remarriage: The Bible only allows Christians to remarry a different spouse under three circumstances:
1) the death of a spouse
2) those who pursued a divorce in the event of infidelity on the part of a spouse – this includes the circumstance where an ex-spouse remarries after the divorce, or
3) an unbelieving spouse pursues a divorce and deserts the Christian.
What do I do now?
If you are reading this and you have already divorced, and perhaps even remarried in a manner inconsistent with God’s word; please be comforted in the forgiveness offered through Christ’s sacrifice. We have provided some Biblical Guideposts below for anyone who is divorced or is considering divorce or remarriage. However, human’s sinful nature can present many circumstances that are too complex to address in this paper. Please feel free to contact one of our elders for direction and counsel if you are struggling with how to honor God in your decision. Finally, it is never God’s will for you to remain in a household where the physical or emotional abuse of you or your children is evident. Anyone in this circumstance should take appropriate action to safeguard their health and their children’s health and then seek Godly counsel to address the situation.
Biblical Guideposts for Divorce and Remarriage:
1) Reconciliation and commitment to the current marriage covenant by each spouse is always consistent with God’s plan. Preferably, a husband and wife will engage in this instead of pursuing a divorce in the first place.
2) In the event of a divorce, it is preferable not to seek remarriage to a different spouse. Rather prayerfully commit to living in obedience to God’s desire for your life as laid out in His Word.
3) In the event of a divorce for a reason other than adultery or abandonment by an unbelieving spouse, you should seek reconciliation as long as the ex-spouse is alive and remains unmarried. However, you are not bound by your marriage covenant if your ex-spouse engages in sexual relations with someone else.
4) If your unbelieving spouse has divorced and abandoned you, then you are not bound by that previous marriage.28 However, Guidepost 2 should still be applied before exercising your freedom in Christ to remarry.
Ephesians 5:21-5:33- Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (22) Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. (23) 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. (24) Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (26) to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, (27) and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (28) In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (29) After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church- (30) for we are members of his body. (31) “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (32) This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church. (33) However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. NIV
Genesis 2:18- The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” NIV
Philippians 2:5-11- Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, (7) but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (8) And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! (9) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, (10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. NIV
Mark 1:9-11- At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. (10) As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. (11) And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased. NIV
Proverbs 31:10-31-A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. (11) Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. (12) She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. (13) She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. (14) She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. (15) She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. (16) She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. (17) She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. (18) She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. (19) In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. (20) She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. (21) When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. (22) She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. (23) Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. (24) She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. (25) She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. (26) She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (27) She watches over the affairs of her household and does note eat the bread of idleness. (28) Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: (29) “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” (30) Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (31) Give her the reward she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. NIV
Currently, Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and the District of Columbia recognize common-law marriages contracted within their borders. In addition, five states have “grandfathered” common law marriage, allowing those established before a certain date to be recognized.New Hampshire recognizes common law marriage only for purposes of probate, and Utah recognizes common law marriages only if they have been validated by a court or administrative order.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 (3) It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; (4)
that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, (5) not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; (6) and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. (7) For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (8) Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. NIV
Ephesians 5:25- Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her NIV
James 4:17- Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. NIV
1 Peter 1:15-16- But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; (16) for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” NIV
Leviticus 20:26- You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. NIV
Hebrews 13:8- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. NIV
Leviticus 18:6-30- “’No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the LORD. (7) “’Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her. (8) “’Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father. (9) “’Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere. (10) “’Do not have sexual relations with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter; that would dishonor you. (11) “’Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father; she is your sister. (12) “’Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative. (13) “’Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, because she is your mother’s close relative. (14) “’Do not dishonor your father’s brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt. (15) “’Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; do not have relations with her. (16) “’Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother. (17) “’Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness. (18) “’Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living. (19) “’Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period. (20) “’Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her. NIV
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8-It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; (4) that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, (5) not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; (6) and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. (7) For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (8) Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (16) Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? (17) If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
Exodus 20:14- You shall not commit adultery. NIV
Hebrews 13:4- Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. NIV
Malachi 2:15- Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. NIV
Genesis 6:1-7- When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, (2) the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. (3) Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.” (4) The Nephilim were on the earth in those days and also afterward when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. (5) The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. (6) The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. (7) So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air for I am grieved that I have made them.” NIV
Romans 1:26-27-Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. (27) In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. NIV
1 Corinthians 6:9- Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders. NIV
Romans 1:16- I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. NIV
Malachi 2:16- “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith. NIV
Matthew 19:3-6- Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” (4) “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ (5) and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? (6) So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” NIV
Matthew 19:9- I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” NIV
Jeremiah 3:8-14- I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. (9) Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. (10) In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the LORD. (11) The LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. (12) Go, proclaim this message toward the north: ” ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will not be angry forever. (13) Only acknowledge your guilt you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’ ” declares the LORD. (14) “Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you one from a town and two from a clan and bring you to Zion. NIV
1 Corinthians 7:39- A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. NIV
1Corinthians 7:12-16- To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. (13) And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. (14) For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (15) But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. (16) How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? NIV
Matthew 19:8-11- Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. (9) I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (10) The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” (11) Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. NIV
1 Corinthians 7:32-35- I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs how he can please the Lord. (33) But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world how he can please his wife (34) and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world how she can please her husband. (35) I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. NIV