Chapter XXIV - Of Marriage and Divorce

I. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.(Gen 2:24, Matt 19:5, Pro 2:17)

II. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife,(Gen 2:18) for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed;(Mal 2:15) and for preventing of uncleanness.(1 Cor 7:2, 9)

III. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent.(Heb 13:4, 1 Tim 4:3, 1 Cor 7:36-38, Gen 24:57) Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord.(1 Cor 7:39) And therefore such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.(Gen 34:14, Ex 34:16, Deut 7:3-4, 1 Kings 11:4, Neh 13:25-27, Mal 2:11-12, 2 Cor 6:14)

IV. Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden by the Word.(Lev 18, 1 Cor 5:1, Amos 2:7) Nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.(Mark 6:18, Lev 18:24-28) The man may not marry any of his wife's kindred, nearer in blood then he may of his own: nor the woman of her husband's kindred, nearer in blood than of her own.(Lev 20:19-21)

V. Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, gives just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract.(Matt 1:18-20) In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce and, after the divorce,(Matt 5:31-32) to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.(Matt 19:9, Rom 7:2-3)

VI. Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God has joined together in marriage: yet, nothing but adultery, or such wilful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church, or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage:(Matt 19:9, 1 Cor 7:15, Matt 19:6) wherein, a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it not left to their own wills, and discretion, in their own case.(Deut 24:1-4)