Christianity and Marriage
"...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 then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." ~ Matthew 19: 5-6
Most Christian denominations view marriage as a permanent and life long commitment between a man and woman. Christianity also views marriage as a holy sacrament and as a reflection of the relationship of Jesus Christ and the Church, in parallel to the Old Testament's teaching of the relationship between God and Israel.
"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church--he himself being the savior of the body. But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious--not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great--but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." ~ Ephesians 5: 22-33
In Roman Catholic teachings, marriage is the expression of the underlying purpose for man and woman. It is the basis for procreation and the symbolic expression of the union of Christ and the Catholic Church. It also provides mutual support to the married couple and provides legitimacy for sexual relations between them. Traditionally, the marriage is considered a contract between a man and a woman, consummated and respected, where each takes control of the other's body, and sexual congress is expected and welcomed.
In Eastern Orthodox teachings, marriage is also considered a sacrament. Additionally, it is viewed as an ordination. This concept of ordination is considered to be a martyrdom in which each spouse symbolically dies for the sake of the other and, in so doing, confirms and sanctifies the relationship.
Protestant denominations vary in their particular individual doctrines regarding marriage, but have in common some fundamental beliefs. Most Protestant denominations view marriage to be a union of a man and a woman, ordained by God, with the primary purpose being the celebration of God's love for the world. Marriage is also the vehicle for raising children and providing mutual help and support to each other.
Evangelical Protestant Christians take a biblical and literal view towards marriage. Considered a covenant between the couple and God, marriage is also a profound expression of the teachings of the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians.
"and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ" ~ Ephesians 5:21
By including the concept that all true believing Christians should submit one to another, the Evangelical view of marriage is considered hierarchical in nature with a loving dominance of the man over the woman. This loving dominance brings with it the responsibility for the care, sustenance, support and well being of the woman. The woman, who has submitted to the man in loving respect to him as the head of the family, sees herself as a follower in this family with the man heading his family as Christ heads the Church.
Liberal Theological Christians, in keeping with the overall view of individualism and personal interpretation, have taken a much more encompassing view of marriage. With a wider acceptance of humanity's infinite variety, and accepting that theological and philosophical tenets change as humanity progresses, the definitions of marriage are now evolving to include same sex marriage.