Marriage is a divine institution, established by God Himself. It is not a social evolution or a heritage from any alleged brute ancestry. As the gift of God, sex, marriage, and family life are holy; and even though disfigured by sin, they should be honored by all men as divine bestowals. ... Christian marriage is a blessed ordinance, which leads to multiplied benedictions both for those in wedlock and for the race in general. Faithfulness to its requirements, under God, promotes individual and national well-being and progress. ... The marriage union is lifelong, and termination, except by death, always involves a transgression of the divine Law by either husband or wife or both. Divorce is permitted only in the case of marital unfaithfulness. Malicious desertion breaks the marriage relation. ... In the Christian family the husband is the representative head before God and man; the wife is the helping companion. The sphere of her highest activity is the home. ... An avowed purpose of Christian matrimony is the procreation of children. Where this first injunction, “Be fruitful and multiply," is willfully disregarded and artificial means are employed to evade the responsibilities and privileges of parenthood, the full blessings of marriage will be sacrificed. ... Christian marriage must have a spiritual basis in the reverent acknowledgment of Jesus Christ, the Savior of all men, and in the abiding presence of His comforting and sustaining Spirit. The family altar is to be the effective pledge against shattered promises and broken hearts. ... Christian marriage must be marked by an intensity of self-sacrificing love. ... The following pages seek to describe the constructive contributions which Christianity makes to married happiness.
Written by Walter A. Maier, Ph.D., of Concordia Theological Seminary, For Better, Not for Worse: A Manual for Christian Matrimony (1934) addressed the challenges of modernism and sought to restore and preserve a biblical understanding of marriage. His insights remain highly relevant today. The Orthodox Lutheran Confessional Conference has prepared this on-line edition of several chapters, with the remaining chapters forthcoming.