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Religious Tolerance logo

Bible themes


Marriages & family forms: opposite
and same-sex, in ancient times and now

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bullet"God's authentic plan [for the family was founded on] the stable and faithful union of a man and a woman." Pope John Paul II, in a speech on 2003-JUN to an audience in Croatia.


"If marriage means everything, it means absolutely nothing." Dr. James C. Dobson, of Focus on the Family.

bullet"I regard the blessing of gay or lesbian couples by the church to be inevitable, right, and a positive good." Retired Episcopal Bishop John Spong.

bulletAn exchange on an Christian forum:

bulletJohn D. Wagner says: "I just support the Biblical view of marriage".
bulletAnalyst responded: "Really? One man, and as many wives, concubines, and sex slaves (of either sex and any age) as you can afford? You support that do you?"

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Marriage -- now:

There are a relatively few types of families in Christian countries today. Essentially all are one of the four following types:

bullet Living together arrangements of opposite-sex and same-sex couples: These are common-law, informal co-habiting arrangements, which can sometimes be registered with the government. Most North American heterosexual couples who eventually marry, have spent an interval of time living together before marriage. Some choose to never marry.

bullet Opposite-sex marriages of one man and one woman. These are formal marriages registered with the government. Many are performed in a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, etc. Others are civil ceremonies.

bullet Polygynous marriages, which involve one man and a number of women. In North America this was practiced extensively among Mormons, but was largely phased out during the 19th century. Today, it appears to be confined to small Fundamentalist Mormon groups which have been excommunicated by the main Mormon church: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Attorney General of British Columbia, Canada, originally decided to not prosecute Mormon splinter groups in that province for polygyny. He assumed that he would lose any case that he initiated because the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms' guarantees of religious freedom might well nullify the Province's marriage act in these cases. This gives such marriages a degree of legality, at least in one province of Canada.

Tens of thousands of polygynous couples live in Utah, Arizona and other states where their illegal marraiges are largely ignored by police.

bullet Same-sex marriages and unions of two men or two women. Same-sex couples can marry in Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, the Netherlands, South Africa. In the U.S. they can marry in the District of Columbia and six states. More information. Same-sex residents of Israel can get married elsewhere, return to Israel and have their marriages registered. The Knesset is attempting to close this loophole.

Numerous countries in Europe and some states in the U.S. allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, domestic partnerships, etc. and obtain most or all of the state marriage benefits. However, in the U.S., they receive no federal government benefits because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

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Marriage -- now and in the past:

Topics covered in this section:


Bible passages describing eight family / marriage types

bulletA Bible passage you won't hear mentioned in religious services
bulletBible passages opposed to marriage

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Related section:

bulletThe Bible and same-sex marriage

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Site navigation:

Home > Christianity > Bible themes & topics > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Religious impact > here
Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Marriage > SSM > Bible > here

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Copyright © 2001 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JUL-3
Latest update and review: 2012-AUG-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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