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Is child marriage a sin in Christianity?

Postby Good Man » Sat Jul 13, 2019 2:42 pm

Are there any verses in the Bible which says an 80 year old can't marry a 3 year old? Or is it allowed in Christianity?
Good Man

Re: Is child marriage a sin in Christianity?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Aug 11, 2019 6:20 pm

No, such an arrangement would not be allowed in the neither the Old Testament or the New Testament. In the OT, marriage was an expression of a covenant relationship, generally an aligning of families, and with a purpose of producing offspring. So right off the bat we can see that a girl would never be married until after menarche, which was older in those days than it happens now. Secondly, in the marriage there was an exchange of goods (called a dowry) to provide economic security for the wife. There would never have been thought to include a 3-yr-old in this arrangement. Third, the bride price reimbursed the bride's family for a lost laborer. Children were not part of this economic picture.

In other words, this scenario is never addressed in the Bible because (1) it is absurd, and (2) it's contrary to all we know about what marriage meant to the Israelites. Since Israel was established to be the covenant people of God serving as hosts to His presence, they were expected to maintain order in the conduct of marriage and family, according to the concept of order as it was perceived in the ancient world. There is nothing about an 80-yr-old marrying a 3-yr-old that fits any picture of acceptability.

When we get to the NT, the ideas become even more conservative. Jesus portrays (as does Genesis 2) marriage as being two persons becoming one flesh. Ephesians 5 portrays marriage as a picture of what the church is. Ephesians 5 speaks of sacrificial love, mutual submission, and commitment mirroring one's relationship with Christ. Your hypothetical situation doesn't even come close to these things.

While the Bible wouldn't have any objection to, say, Paul Simon, at age 52, marrying Edie Brickell, age 26, we can be confident that that in every corner except extremism such a marriage between an 80-yr-old and a 3-yr-old would be considered out of the question.

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