Open Marriage & More: What the Bible Says

The Bible typically advises against open marriages, encourages marrying within the faith, doesn’t explicitly mention common law marriages, allows remarriage after a spouse’s death, and views both breaking up a marriage and abandonment as serious matters, generally advocating for reconciliation and commitment.

Open Marriage and the Bible

When exploring what the Bible says about open marriages, it’s clear that the Scripture advocates for exclusivity in marital relationships. For a deeper dive into the Biblical perspective on marriage overall, you might want to check out this insightful article which covers a broader range of marital topics according to the Bible.

The Bible, while not using the modern term “open marriage,” consistently emphasizes monogamy. For example, in Ephesians 5:31, it states,

“For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

This unity suggests a deep, exclusive bond between spouses.

Moreover, the Bible addresses infidelity and loyalty in marriage quite directly.

“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”

Proverbs 5:18

This verse encourages rejoicing and finding contentment in one’s spouse, which implicitly negates the concept of seeking romantic or sexual fulfillment outside the marriage.

So, is an open marriage against the Bible? Considering the verses and teachings we’ve discussed, the Bible’s stance leans towards promoting a monogamous and exclusive marital relationship. This perspective suggests that open marriages, which involve romantic or sexual relationships outside of the marital bond, don’t align with the Biblical definition of marriage.

Marriage to a Nonbeliever: Biblical Perspectives

Discussing marriage to a nonbeliever, the Bible offers specific guidance.

“If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 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.”

1 Corinthians 7:12-13

This passage suggests that while marrying a nonbeliever isn’t the ideal scenario, if you’re already in such a marriage, maintaining it is important.

Then there’s 2 Corinthians 6:14, which warns,

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.”

This verse is often interpreted as advising Christians against entering into significant relationships, including marriage, with those who don’t share their faith. The concern here is about deeper harmony and shared values, which are crucial in a marriage.

In essence, when the Bible addresses marriage to a nonbeliever, including a non-Christian or an atheist, it emphasizes caution. The scripture advises believers to consider the potential challenges and differences in core beliefs and values. While the Bible doesn’t explicitly forbid such unions, it clearly values the unity and strength found in shared faith within a marriage.

Arranged Marriages: A Biblical Viewpoint

Arranged marriages aren’t just a historical footnote; they’re a vibrant part of the Bible’s narrative, mirroring the customs of ancient societies. These marriages were less about romantic sparks and more about strategic alliances, family decisions, and sometimes, divine intervention.

Take Isaac and Rebekah’s story, for instance. It’s a classic tale of an arranged marriage with a twist of fate. Abraham’s servant, loaded with gifts, sets out on a mission to find Isaac a wife, leading him straight to Rebekah:

“…and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor.”

Genesis 24:10

It’s like a scene from a movie: the servant prays, and before he’s even done, Rebekah appears, water jar in hand, as if on cue:

“Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah… came out with her water jar on her shoulder.”

Genesis 24:15

This isn’t just matchmaking; it’s a divine setup, suggesting that even in arranged marriages, there’s room for a little bit of destiny.

But here’s the kicker: the Bible doesn’t just leave us with stories. It offers some real talk on marriage. It’s not about how you meet, but about nurturing a bond with love and respect:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Ephesians 5:25

“…and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Ephesians 5:33

These snippets from Ephesians drive home the point: a marriage thrives on mutual care, not its origin story.

Fast forward to today, arranged marriages might seem out of place in the West. Yet, they’re still going strong globally. The Bible nudges us to look beyond the ‘how’ of marriage to the ‘what now’—building a relationship on solid ground, with shared values at its core.

Cousin Marriages: What’s the Biblical Verdict?

Ever wondered if the Bible has a stance on marrying your cousin? Spoiler: it’s not a black-and-white issue. The Bible is chock-full of family trees but stays mum on giving a clear rule about cousin marriages.

Back in the day, tying the knot with a relative wasn’t just common; it was the norm. Take Isaac and Rebekah, or Jacob with Leah and Rachel—these were all in-the-family matches.

“Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her.”

Genesis 24:67

    Fast forward to modern times, and folks are still asking: “What does the Bible say about marrying my cousin?”

    While the Bible doesn’t outright ban cousin marriages, it’s all about wise, loving, and committed unions. It’s less “Is this okay?” and more “Is this wise?” Whether you’re eyeing a first or second cousin, the Bible nudges us to think about the health of the relationship and the family as a whole.

    In short, the Bible doesn’t dish out a direct yes or no to cousin marriages. Instead, it hands us the principles to make smart, caring choices that honor our relationships and our beliefs.

    Common Law Marriage in Biblical Teachings

    The Bible doesn’t specifically mention “common law marriage,” but it does emphasize the sanctity and commitment of the marital relationship.

    For instance, in Genesis 2:24, it’s stated,

    “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

    This verse highlights the importance of a deliberate and committed union, which is a key aspect of marriage, whether formal or common law.

    The Bible, while not specifically mentioning common law marriage, focuses on the commitment and moral responsibilities within a marital relationship. This suggests that, regardless of the formality of the union, the principles of commitment, faithfulness, and mutual respect are key. So, while common law marriages aren’t directly addressed, the underlying values of a Biblically-aligned marriage still apply.

    Biblical Views on Marriage After Death

    Discussing what the Bible says about marriage after the death of a spouse, it’s clear that the Scripture views the marital bond as lasting until death.

    “For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.”

    Romans 7:2

    This indicates that upon a spouse’s death, the surviving partner is no longer bound by the marriage vows.

    “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.”

    1 Corinthians 7:39

    This passage suggests that remarriage is permissible, but it should be within the Christian faith.

    These verses collectively provide a Biblical perspective on widowhood and remarriage, acknowledging the end of the marriage covenant with death and permitting remarriage, with an emphasis on maintaining Christian values.

    Breaking Up a Marriage: What Does the Bible Say?

    The Bible addresses breaking up a marriage with seriousness and specificity.

    “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

    Matthew 19:9

    This verse indicates that divorce is generally discouraged, except in cases of infidelity.

    Additionally, 1 Corinthians 7:15 offers insight into situations where spouses have differing beliefs:

    “But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases, the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.”

    This suggests that while divorce is not ideal, it’s permissible in certain circumstances, particularly where there’s a fundamental disparity in faith that leads to irreconcilable differences.

    These passages collectively show that while the Bible views marriage as a lifelong commitment, it also acknowledges specific situations where ending the marriage may be allowed. The overarching message is one of commitment and reconciliation but with an understanding of the complexities of human relationships.

    For a more in-depth understanding, especially regarding the Biblical perspective on divorce, you might find this detailed article particularly enlightening.

    Addressing Abandonment in Marriage Biblically

    The Bible’s perspective on abandonment in marriage is both clear and compassionate. It addresses this issue in 1 Corinthians 7:15:

    “But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases, the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.”

    This verse acknowledges that in cases of desertion, especially where there’s a significant difference in belief, the abandoned spouse is not obligated to remain bound within the marriage. This guidance offers a sense of freedom and peace to those who have been left behind.

    This perspective shows that while the Bible holds marriage in high regard, it also recognizes the reality of marital abandonment. The scripture provides a compassionate and pragmatic approach to such painful situations, focusing on the well-being and spiritual peace of the individual who has suffered desertion.


    The Bible’s stance on marriage is timeless and nuanced, addressing exclusivity, faith, and commitment. It discourages open marriages and advises believers to marry within their faith for a harmonious union. Common law marriages aren’t mentioned, but the spirit of commitment they embody resonates with Biblical teachings.

    After a spouse’s passing, the Bible supports remarriage, provided it aligns with Christian beliefs. In cases of divorce and abandonment, it promotes reconciliation but also offers solace for those facing such hardships.

    Cousins and arranged marriages are also covered, reflecting the Bible’s historical context and its adaptability to modern interpretations. These insights compel us to deliberately consider our relationships, ensuring they are rooted in love, respect, and divine principles.

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