Mennonite Articles of Faith (1766) - Article 31
XXXI. Of Marriage.
We believe that the married state should be held in honor by all (Hebrews 13:4) and that it is not only permitted but also needful (Genesis 1:28), expedient (Genesis 2:18-24; Proverbs 18:22), and well pleasing to God (Matthew 19:4-6), if it is entered upon in the true spirit (Genesis 24; Proverbs 19: 14; 31:10-30; 1 Corinthians 7:39) and so continued in. Ephesians 5: 22-33. We are assured of this through the fact of God's own appointment (Genesis 2:18-24), and the reaffirming of the same (Mark 10:3-12) and through the action of Jesus, who hallowed a marriage by His presence (John 2:1-11), as well as through the example of the most eminent saints who, living in a married state, walked with God (Genesis 5:22) and had the testimony that they pleased God (Hebrews 11:5), including even the priests (Leviticus 21:7-9), the high priest (Leviticus 21:1315), the prophets (e. g. David, Ezekiel, Hosea) and the apostles of the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:5; Matt. 8:14). It appears indeed that the teaching of the Bible holds this state to be expedient for overseers in the church (1 Timothy 3:2, 12; 5:9, 10; Titus 1:6) wherefore we are certain that the throwing of suspicion on the married state proceeds from superstition and the prohibiting of it is anti-Christian and an abomination. 1 Timothy 4:3.
On the general question involved the will of God concerning this state is clearly expressed, viz., that only two persons free from all others and not of too close blood relationship may enter into it, to be united and bound together without any reserve even unto death. Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:28. The separation of such is moreover, altogether prohibited except for the cause of fornication. Matthew 5:31, 32; 19:7-10; 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11.
Further, we believe that in cases of marrying as in all things, the Lord our God directs and disposes -- yet so as not thereby to annul man's freedom -- be it that He in His goodness graciously brings them about (Genesis 24: 14, 50; Matthew 19:6; Joshua 23:12, 13) or that He in His righteous displeasure and chastisement permits them (e. g. Judges 14:3, 4, 14; 1 Kings 11:1-6; Ezra 9:10-15; Nehemiah 13:23-27.) Therefore marriage is not to be regarded as an explicit general command (Matthew 19:11, 12; 1 Corinthians 7: 7, 17, 27, 28) or as a universally ordained destiny, but as a thing in which man may act with freedom, so far as this is not limited by God's holy directions, and that it be in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:39. These limitations are clearly to be seen in the prohibition of marriage with unbelieving persons (Genesis 24:14, 50; Matthew 19:6; Joshua 23:12, 13); the transgression of God's repeated command in this respect (Genesis 6:1-3; 26:34, 35; 27:46) and God's holy displeasure thereat (1 Kings 11:1-9); and in the necessity of putting away the strange wives out of Israel in order that the enkindled wrath of the Almighty might be turned from them (Ezra 9:10-15; 10:1-19; Nehemiah 13:23-28) as well as many occurrences showing the evil and hurtful consequences of carnal marriages in which only the natural passions are followed. Luke 17:26-28.
For this reason it is exceedingly important that a person purposing either to enter this state or to abstain from it should examine himself, consider well his qualities, in faith seek to know God's will concerning himself (1 Corinthians 7:12-17), take counsel of God and His Word (Proverbs 3:6; Psalms 119:9-11; Philippians 4:6, 7), and not decide upon one or the other course until in faith and with a good conscience he is convinced that in that course he will be pleasing unto the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 10: 31; 2 Corinthians 5:9, 10; Colossians 3:17. Those who thus marry have good reason to hope that it is in the Lord and that His blessing will accompany it.
If matrimony is thus begun in the fear of the Lord and conducted in a Christian manner (Ephesians 5:22-33) in accordance with the principles of the gospel, as laid down for the direction of both husbands and wives (1 Timothy 2:813; Titus 2:3-8; 1 Peter 3:1-7), then shall the man, who is the head of the woman, strive to be a worthy copy of Jesus Christ in His relation to His church. The wife shall be saved through the child-bearing (1 Timothy 2:15, R.V.), her seed shall be blessed (Genesis 18:18, 19; Ephesians 6:4) and all things shall work together for good to them. Matthew 6.33; Romans 8:28.
That this married life may be a happy one we consider it essential, as much as possible, to remain within one's own church communion (after the example of the patriarchs, Genesis 24:3, 4; 28:1-8; Romans 15:5, 6; Philippians 2:1, 2) to avoid disgraceful contentions and many unpleasant consequences which are so apt to arise out of differences in the bringing up, in the manner of life, and in intellectual views (as exemplified in 1 Corinthians 3:4) and which crop out when it comes to bringing up their own children as well as in other things, being often discovered too late. It is, therefore not only proper but also to their advantage for young people to counsel-next to God-with their parents and other intimate relatives, listen to their advice and not to grieve them but rather give them cause for joy. Proverbs 10:1. But everything in the fear of the Lord.
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