What Does Holy Matrimony Mean? A Bible Study

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Bible says a lot about marriage but what does the phrase “holy matrimony” mean?

Matrimony Defined

If you looked at the secular definition of matrimony it simply means the state of voluntarily being married. Christians believe it as a sacred covenant and the marriage ceremony is a sacred ceremony and assembly before God. The word itself is from the Old French word “matremoine” which comes directly from the Latin word “matrimonium” and means “wedlock” or “marriage.” It has the idea of being locked together on a permanent basis, unlike the way it is in the world today where your chances of getting divorced is more than 50/50.

What Does Holy Matrimony Mean

Marriage is Honorable

The author of Hebrews wrote “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb 13:4). Here and in many other places in Scripture, God shows that sex within marriage is the only honorable thing because “God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” The lake of fire is the final destination for all who live in sexual immorality without repenting (Rev 21:8). Some in the Corinthian church had trouble controlling their bodies and so Paul wrote “if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Cor 7:9).

Purposes for Marriage

Obviously one reason for marriage is to procreate as God told them to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen 1:28) but it is also to have a helpmate for one another (Gen 2:18). The Bible is clear that “two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil” (Eccl 4:9) and “if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up” (Eccl 4:10) but there’s even a deeper meaning for marriage. It is symbolic of the relationship that Jesus has with the church. He is the Bridegroom and He is preparing to marry the Bride someday, which is the church. The husband is told to love his wife “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25).

Holy Matrimony: Two Become One

Jesus said of marriage that “a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife” and “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:7, 9). The man must leave his family and cleave to his wife. The two shall hold fast to one another and they are not to let any man separate. Why? It’s because it was “God” who “jointed together” the two and now they are legally married before eye witnesses and before God. Jesus warned that “everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matt 5:32). By seeing that it is God Who joins together the two, we get the “holy” part of the matrimony. We’re not responsible for the holy; God is.

To say that a couple is being joined together in holy matrimony is to say that they become one flesh as Jesus said; “the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mark 10:8) and even in the first God-ordained and God-sanctioned marriage ceremony it says “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). In writing about marriage in Ephesians 5:31 Paul writes “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” When my wife is hurt, I feel it; when she cuts herself, I bleed; when she cries, I weep. That’s because we’re one flesh or one new family unit that cannot be separated and we’re no longer two but one.


Men and women clearly have different needs. Men yearn for respect while women desire to be loved. When a man is respected, he feels loved; when a woman is loved, she feels respected. I’m not exactly sure how that works but I do know that it does. Paul wrote “let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph 5:33). If you are even considering marriage with someone right now, let me tell you what God’s will is for your life; “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor” (1 Thess 4:3-4). The divorce rate is higher for even engaged couples who have premarital sex than for those who abstain from it. Remember, it is “because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Cor 7:2) and that is what we call “holy matrimony.”

Take a look at these Bible verses: Bible Verses About Marriage

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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