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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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucy December 6, 2017 at 4:29 pm

M not a virgin . Can I do holy matrimony ???


Jack Wellman December 6, 2017 at 4:37 pm

Yes, a believer has been forgiven and what is past is also forgiven. I see no reason you cannot get married, as long as you are not living with someone right now.


Everette Tarver February 25, 2018 at 5:15 am



Mtk March 14, 2018 at 2:19 pm

I’ve slept with my girlfriend but no sex. Can i do holy marriage?


Jack Wellman March 15, 2018 at 10:23 am

Hello Mtk. Please read this: https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/is-it-sin-for-unmarried-christians-to-live-together-a-pastors-counseling-session/?preview=true You are not even to give the appearance of evil. You cannot sleep with someone who you are not married to…even if there is no sex. Sexual temptation or lust in the mind is still sinful in this living arrangagment.


Angela Brookshire April 19, 2018 at 10:38 pm

Okay so me and my fiance been together for 9 years we’re getting married next months will I be forgiven for all this time we slept together after we’re married


Jack Wellman April 20, 2018 at 9:04 am

Hello Angela. God forgives all our sins, but He does hold us accountable on the day when see Him for every idle word and every thing done in the body here on earth. You can be forgiven so must concentrate on having a godly marriage and you both finding a good, strong, biblical church home.


Ayodele James April 11, 2019 at 2:03 am

There is traditional wedding in the african culture. This is where bride price is paid and parental consent sought and granted.
1. Does parental consent mean marriage as Christians.
2. Is parental consent above the holy matrimony.
3. Can couples begin to have sex after parental consent is given or bride price paid and before the holy matrimony.


Jack Wellman April 11, 2019 at 10:14 am

Hello friend. Does parental consent mean a marriage as Christians? A Christian is commanded to only marry other Christians. That’s what the Bible teaches. Parental consent is not needed for a marriage to be a holy matrimony. And no, couples cannot begin to have sex until AFTER they are married. Otherwise it is sexual immorality. To pay for a bride and parental consent is not only wrong, but it is not biblical.


Ayodele James April 11, 2019 at 1:58 pm

But david paid a price of 100 philistines foreskin to saul to have micah. Shechem was also willing to pay a price to marry Dinah as wife. Also, exodus 22:16,17 say customary bride price be paid a virgen that is defiled. How do we relate all of these. And are these not ways of seeking parental consent and blessings?


Jack Wellman April 11, 2019 at 2:46 pm

These are all Old Testament Laws that applied to Israel only. We are under a new covenant. There is no such teaching in the New Testament.


zpmm July 25, 2019 at 11:46 am

I think differently marriage in the African setting needs parental consent – Honor thy mother and father – God is glorified when we honour our parent. Parental consent is big here in Africa

Bride price -where it is devoid of sacrifices and alcohol(depending on belief) is not unbiblical and honors the African story. -Everything is permisible but not beneficial

I agree sexual union is only after you are married before God

Benedict Uwem November 22, 2019 at 9:36 pm

Great you meant that we only married according to the new testamentent law?, parental consent is advisable,not the one by the spirit of immortality,parents are the one given their daughter to marriage.this is only acceptable materials union.thanks.i.love you.

Ann June 1, 2019 at 10:55 am

Hello when the bible talk about matrimonial bed does they mean only the bed itself or


Jack Wellman June 1, 2019 at 11:59 am

Hello Ann. I think it means the private relationships that take place on a married couples bed. The context of the teaching is not about a bed but about what goes on on that bed of a married couple. I hope this helped you my friend. Thank you for your comment.


Hualngo February 5, 2020 at 11:49 am

Is the practice of elopement acceptable for Christians?


Jack Wellman February 5, 2020 at 2:18 pm

I see no sin in this anywhere in the Bible. I think eloping is fine as long as both couples are believers, as I believe you two are. God bless your marriage.


Sam April 16, 2020 at 4:10 am

On the section, purpose of marriage. Quote,
” but it is also to have a helpmate for one another (Gen 2:18)”. The word used in the scripture is “helpmeet” or ” a helper suited to his needs”. Not “helpmate”.
I believe this is the purpose of God for the man ” he(God) has made, a man who is living to fulfil the will and the purpose of God at his work and through his marriage.


Jack Wellman July 25, 2019 at 11:57 am

Thank you my friend. Good for us all to consider.


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