How long does marriage last?

Perhaps you have wondered, “how long does marriage last?” Well, you wouldn’t be the first, and you certainly won’t be the last.

American societies’ views on marriage were initially shaped by the Bible and the practice of marriage in Europe. From then until the 1800s, it was typically recognized that marriage was between one man and one woman, which was binding until death (with a few rare groups or churches teaching marriage was plural, eternal, or both).

What does the Bible teach in regards to the lasting nature of marriage? We see three main passages which are relevant to the discussion are Matthew 19:1-12, Matthew 22:23-33, and Romans 7:1-3 (all quoted below). The Bible teaches that a man and woman bound in marriage are to remain so until death. Upon death, the marriage is no longer binding. Paul, writing to those called “saints,” that is true believers in Christ, who have been redeemed by God’s grace through their faith, are not given a law of eternal marriage. There is no textual evidence that this has been changed, as some claim of the Bible.

Therefore, if you are married, enjoy marriage during this life!  God’s intention for marriage is procreation, enjoyment, and protection from sin (Genesis 1:28; Proverbs 5:18, 19; Ecclesiastes 9:9; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5). Ultimately, our satisfaction should be in Jesus, for “For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Romans 10:11).

Matthew 19:1-12, which is often quoted without context, reads:

Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”
He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”
He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

Matthew 22:23-33 reads:

The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. Mat  In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”
But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”

Romans 7:1-3, written to those called saints (Romans 1:7):

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 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.
Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.