The Salvation Army affirms the New Testament standard of marriage, that is, the voluntary and loving union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, this union being established by an authorised ceremony.
‘Voluntary’ indicates that the parties freely choose or, in some cultures, agree to enter into the marriage. ‘For life’ indicates there can be no such thing as a trial or temporary marriage. ‘One man and one woman’ means that marriage is possible only between members of the opposite sex, and ‘to the exclusion of all others’ stresses the fidelity inherent in the marriage bond.
By its nature, marriage rests on a relationship of love, a reflection of God’s love for the human race. The permanence of the marriage bond provides for security and developing mutual trust, and is referred to in Scripture as a ‘one flesh’ relationship (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:21-23), which Jesus affirmed: ‘What God hath joined together let no man put asunder’ (Matthew 19:6, AV).
The exclusive nature of marriage leaves no room for sexual infidelity. In sexual intercourse spouses express to one another profound feelings of love, mutual respect, interdependence and belonging. Sexual relations outside of marriage will always fall short of this. Only the assurance of each other’ s total loyalty leads to the proper growth of the marriage relationship.
The Salvation Army asserts that God’s standard concerning marriage, revealed in Scripture, pertains to all people everywhere.
Jesus taught that divorce is failure (Mark 10:2-12; Matthew 19:3-12). Salvationists believe, however, that his attitude to those caught up in marital strife would never be anything but loving and compassionate.
Therefore, The Salvation Army, while defending vigorously the ongoing relevance of God’s will for men and women in relation to marriage, recognises the reality that some marriages fail and is willing, under God, to offer counsel and succour to couples so affected.
Where remarriage could lead to the healing of emotional wounds, the Army will permit its officers to perform a marriage ceremony for a divorced person. Sound doctrine with practical mercy are the hallmarks of the Salvationist’s approach to marital and emotional strife.
The Salvation Army reasserts that the strengthening and encouragement of the institution of marriage remains an essential pre-condition for sound family life which is, in turn, crucial to a stable society.