Order of Contents

Marital Advice
Doctrinal Issues
    Mutual Consent Makes a Couple Married
    Marriage with the Sister of a Deceased Wife is Prohibited
A Wedding Service
Birth Control



Marital Advice 

Dod, John and Cleaver, Robert – Duties of Husband and Wife, 1603, 20 paragraphs, being excerpts from A Plain and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandments

Some of the best marital advice there is, from a standard English Puritan treatment of the ten commandments.

McCurley, Rob – Biblical Marriage  2010  55 pp.  being notes to 4 linked hour-long audio messages 

Here are blueprints for a godly and spiritually fulfilling marriage, from a seasoned pastor.  These warm audio messages and notes are filled with Biblical wisdom, to guide you into the richest blessings of the Lord.  They are helpful for premarital counseling and any stage in marriage, whether one needs an encouraging check-up, or a wholesale turn around.   




Doctrinal Issues


Mutual Consent to the Institution of Marriage Makes a Couple Married

It is not the confirmatory declaration of the civil magistrate or the Church which makes a couple married (there was no such institutions in Eden up through Gen. 9-12), but rather it is the mutual consent of both parties towards the natural institution of marriage which makes them married, which is normally and appropriately expressed in vows (though not always, as in the case of marriage by common law, Gen. 24:67).

That the Church makes persons married has been the view of Roman Catholicism (which was attended with so many ill effects), which the reformers so strongly protested against.  In our day, many people believe it is the civil magistrate that marries a couple, this having equal ill effects when the magistrate then attempts (it believing it has the power) to change the definition of marriage, and consequently confer marriage on persons to whom it was never designed, and to possibly withhold it from persons to whom it is due.  Rather than the Church or State having any intrinsic power to make persons married, they only have the authority to recognize and enforce which persons are married (by their entering into that bond through mutual consent) in their jurisdictions, and to declare this if it is beneficial to the public.


Samuel Rutherford

A Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery in Scotland  1642

p. 262

“…because the mutual consent betwixt A. B. and his wife,
being essentially marriage, as the canon law, divines,
and sound casuists acknowledge, it makes A B. a husband,
and also the husband of such a wife, during their lifetime;”

p. 265

“For a father to give his daughter in marriage to one is an authoritative act of a father; but for the daughter to consent to the choice, is no act of authority, but an act of her private choice.”

A Survey of the Survey of that Sum of Church Discipline

Book 3, ch. 1, p. 283

“The man comes from China acknowledging God in all his ways, as Abraham left his country, Gen. 12; if he be an idolater, they should not lodge him, 2 Jn. 10; he comes not as indifferent to be married to this or this church, or to none at all, as a man sins not if he marry none at all, 1 Cor. 7, but if he be a professor that joins to no church, he lives scandalously; therefore the adequate cause of membership, or to this membership, is not mutual consent, as in marriage…”

Book 3, ch. 3

p. 308

“Mr. Hooker, Mr. Thomas Goodwin, and Mr. Philip Nye [congregationalists] give them [the eldership of a local church] only an authoritative directing power [to ordain new elders], such as parents have in the marriage of their daughter, which is an authority extrinsic, which the magistrate and pastor in their kind have; but the virgin has the only formal and intrinsic power to consent and so to make the marriage, and to dissent so as it shall be no marriage:

In which case the Fraternity only, or Male-church formally [according to congregationalists], intrinsically judges, and may judge, though there were no officers, as the maid may marry, though parents and tutors were dead; and the directive authority of the officers may be wanting [lacking], as the directive authority of the magistrate may be wanting.”

p. 309-10

“…for as the woman is independent in regard of intrinsic power of consenting or dissenting in point of marriage, the parents’ directive power of extrinsic commanding, as the judicious [congregationalist] Prefacers say…

How are [ecclesiastical] leaders and overseers [according to congregationalism,] in the same managing of censures, equal in power, and not above those whom they lead and oversee, yea, to whom they are to yield obedience, as Mr. Hooker cites to that purpose the place Heb. 13:17?  Are parents equal in power who do command the virgin, whose it is to consent to the marriage?”


John White, a New England Puritan

A Commentary upon the Three First Chapters of the first book of Moses called Genesis (1656), pp. 109-110

“When Adam embraces the woman as bone of his bone, etc., he does not only point backwards at her original, but withal expresses his acceptance of her, as God offered her to be one flesh with him in marriage, by which consent of his the marriage was concluded.  Whence, 3. Observe, it is consent that must make the marriage between man and wife.  And consent:

1. Of those in whose power the persons to be contracted are, and do remain, especially if they be parents: Now that may be either general, as Jacob was permitted to marry whom he pleased, so it were of his mother’s kindred; Or more particular, to marry such a person, which were fit rather to be a direction by way of advice than a peremptory command. Thus Hagar took a wife for Ishmael (Gen. 21:21), Judah for Er (Gen. 38:6) and Naomi advises Ruth in her match (Ruth 3:1-2). And this is most seasonably performed before the parties’ affections are engaged, lest afterwards they be forced either to consent to the match already made or to suffer a worse inconvenience.

2. The consent must be specially between the persons to be contracted, as in Rebecca’s case, whose parents would not force her beyond her own liking (Gen. 24:57). This consent must be every way free, neither stolen by fraud and false informations, nor purchased by rewards and expectations of outward advancements or other carnal allurement; not forced by terror or importunity, but grounded upon an evident manifestation of the piety and fitness of the persons approved by those whose counsels they ought to embrace. And upon the observation of God’s providence directing the choice, which was the main argument that swayed in the match of Isaac with Rebecca. Upon both these, Adam’s consent seems to be grounded in this place, that the woman was provided for him by God and was the only fit match that was to be found for him amongst the creatures.”



Marriage with the Sister of a Deceased Wife is Prohibited

Gibson, James – The Marriage Affinity Question: or, Marriage with the Sister of a Deceased Wife, Fully Discussed, in the Light of History, Ecclesiastical and Civil Law, Scripture, Reason and Expediency  Buy  1854, 198 pp.

The last half of Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) 24.4, defining the extent of the laws of consanguinity from Leviticus 18, was cut out by the American revisions.  The original Confession was right.  Gibson’s book is an exhaustive defense of the Biblical (Lev. 18:9) and historic view of the Reformation and puritan era.



A Wedding Service

Fentiman, Travis – A Christian Wedding Service, two pages

Need help planning a Christian wedding service?  Here is a Christ exalting, beautiful and simple wedding service according to historic reformed principles. 



Birth Control

Kayser, Phillip – ‘Conception Control: Avoiding Antinomianism and Legalism’  2017

This is the best and most in-depth, Biblical treatment available.  Kayser argues against those who argue for no conception control at all.  While affirming that children are blessings from the Lord and that generally speaking we ought to aim for large families, yet certain forms of birth control for certain reasons and in certain degrees are morally lawful.  Kayser rightly makes clear that hormonal birth control involves an abortive, back-up function.  You will learn a lot from Scripture and medicine in reading this booklet which will richly repay your time.

Alcorn, Randy – Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?  Buy  1997  197 pp.

The birth control pill works in three ways: (1) by inhibiting ovulation, (2) thickening the cervical mucus, and (3) thinning and shriveling the lining of the uterus to the point that it is unable or less able to facilitate the implantation of the newly-fertilized egg.  

This third effect of “The Pill” is abortive.  Alcorn’s short and very readable book is heavily documented with scientific journals and is Biblically accurate. 




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