Marriage is the divinely ordained union between one man and one woman. (Genesis 2:24) It has been practiced as such in most cultures across geography and time. Marriage is a life-long commitment, and typically this involves a public ceremony (a wedding) in which vows are exchanged by the parties and before God. Approximately half of all traditional marriages in America end in divorce.
Dinesh D'Souza wrote:
- Marriage requires a) two people who are b) of legal age and c) not closely related to each other who are d) one male and one female. Note that this definition excludes people who want to marry children, or guys who want to marry their sisters, or Muslims who want to take four wives, or that strange guy who wants to marry his dog.
The unity between a man and a woman in marriage is an expression of the relationship that God desires to have with his creation. The first marriage occurred nearly 6,000 years ago in the Garden of Eden, in the area of the world that we now know as the Middle East. The first couple was Adam and Eve.
Bill Bennett wrote:
- Based as it is on the principle of complementarity, marriage is also about a great deal more than love. That "great deal" encompasses, above all, procreation. The timeless function of marriage is childbearing and child-rearing, and the best arrangement ever developed to that end is the marital union between one man and one woman ... 
What Bennett's words ultimately imply is that, in terms of the value of marriage to anything which stands outside of it, marriage is most principally for the production of additional marriages, and, thus, is a progressive type of scale-invariance such as the Mandelbrot fractal.
So, marriage is the most glorious kind of relation between human individuals because it alone is what most essentially defines humanity. The good of humanity is defined as an integration of all naturally enduring mutual benefits between all free individuals. But, all those benefits are created-and-sustained by the existence of marriage as that one relation for the preservation of which is invoked the most special legal recognition.
Biblical marriage advice
1 Corinthians 7:1-16:
|“||Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But this I say by way of concession, not of command. Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?||”|
Modern marriage licenses
In the present-day United States, "getting married" typically involves a marriage license issued by the state government or a subdivision thereof (e.g., a county). However, marriage licenses are nowhere mentioned in Scripture; in fact, they are a relatively recent innovation and originally applied only to marriages that were otherwise forbidden.
Definition of marriage
For Christians, marriage has traditionally been seen as "a union that takes its distinctive character from being founded, unlike other friendships, on bodily unity of the kind that sometimes generates new life." As such, marriage is the one and only form of companionship from which all other forms spring: it is the single irreducible core of society.
Attacks on the institution of marriage
Any society which has lessened the sanctity of marriage has perished, whereas those that have upheld the sanctity of marriage have endured. It has been argued that Ancient Rome's decline and its eventual fall in A.D. 476 were due in no small part to a growing tolerance of extramarital sex, particularly of homosexual acts, beginning in the Late Republic period ending in 27 B.C.
Since the middle of the 20th century, Liberalism has sought to dismantle the societal pressures that dissuade people from engaging in extramarital and premarital sex. Removing the stigma from these behaviors, creating no-fault divorce laws, exalting adultery as liberating, rejuvenating, and "stimulating", and especially the de-stigmatizing of homosexuality all weaken the institution of marriage.
A recent Newsweek article complained that Biblical figures have not provided good historical examples of marriage, noting that Abraham begat Ishmael by a maidservant and Jacob had two wives and had sons with both of their servants. The article also criticizes Jesus and St. Paul for remaining single. 
- "Because there is a natural complementarity between men and women - sexual, emotional, temperamental, spiritual - marriage allows for a wholeness and a completeness that cannot be won in any other way. (Bill Bennett, The Broken Hearth, Page 197)
- Gay Rights vs. Democracy
- The Broken Hearth, Page 197)
- Scale-invariance as a unifying psychological principle; 1999
- Information on marriage licenses from Mercy Seat Christian Church 
- Gay Marriage, Democracy, and the Courts
- Is there anyone left to defend traditional marriage?
- Form of Solemnization of Matrimony, an example of a traditional marriage service
- Civil marriage
- Marriage in the Unification Church
- Essay: The Irreducible Core of Politics