Christ declared marriage to be the lifelong union of one man and one woman joined together by God, holy and instituted by him from the beginning: “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:6–9; Gen 1:27, 5:2, 2:24 )

Jesus had great joy in marriage and performed his first miracle at a wedding by changing water to wine (John 2:1–11). We too rejoice whenever a man and a woman are led by God to love each other and vow to be faithful to each other for life. In the church community, marriage vows are made publicly before the gathered members as witnesses, and the marriage is then confirmed by the church through the laying on of hands.

As a creation of God, marriage is not a human invention (Matt 19:6). It is a sacrament that precedes and transcends the authority of the state. When a man and a woman become one flesh in marriage, their union has a deep connection with God. He made man and woman for each other, each in his image and likeness, and yet each incomplete without the other (1 Cor 11:11–12; Gen 1:26–27, 2:18–24 ). He intended their union – a relationship unlike any other – for the bearing and rearing of children (Gen 1:28; 9:1). In a true marriage, husband and wife will have an attitude of welcome toward the conception and birth of new life, even if this seems unlikely or impossible in their individual case (Mark 9:37; Ps 127:3–5).

Christ honors the mystery of marriage so highly that he demands a life of chastity (Matt 5:27–32; Song 2:16; 1 Cor 7:3–7 ). Sex is a gift from God, but if it is isolated from him and his will, it defiles the soul; apart from marriage, it is sin (Heb 13:4). The Bible clearly requires abstinence before marriage and outside of it. In fact, Jesus warns us that even a lustful glance is adultery of the heart (1 Thess 4:3–8; Prov 5:1–20; Matt 5:28).

Since marriage is the lifelong union between one man and one woman according to God’s creative will, and since God intended sexual love to be shared only between a husband and a wife (Matt 19:3–9; 1 Cor 6:12–20), the church community can never recognize a homosexual relationship as a marriage, regardless of whether it is termed as such by law or society (Rom 1:21–32; 1 Cor 6:9–11).

We are called to represent God’s love toward every person, including those who experience same-sex ­attractions (John 3:16–17 ). We condemn no one. Yet Christ declares: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (John 8:3–11; Luke 9:23) He calls every disciple to keep to this narrow way. The church community welcomes into its midst all who are willing to accept Christ’s call and to forsake everything for him (Matt 7:13–14; Matt 11:28–30; Titus 2:11–14).

With regard to divorce and remarriage, Christ says: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:2–12; Matt 5:32, 19:9; Luke 16:18)

The church community must uphold Jesus’ teaching, which is the only stand consistent with real truthfulness and love (Matt 28:20). Even if separation should occur in isolated cases, no member of the church community may divorce his or her spouse (Rom 7:1–3; 1 Cor 7:10–11). Further, no divorced member may remarry if a former spouse is still living.

The New Testament speaks of the union of bride and bridegroom as a sacred mystery, a symbol of Christ’s love for the church. Jesus himself compared the kingdom of God to a wedding feast (Eph 5:31–32; Hos 2:14–23; Matt 22:1–14; 25:1–13). Here we gain a glimpse of the deepest meaning of marriage: as a sign pointing to the coming of Christ’s perfect reign of love (Rev 19:6–7).