XXIV. Of Marriage and Divorce

1. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time. (Gen. 2:24Matt. 19:5–6Prov. 2:17)

2. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, (Gen. 2:18) for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed; (Mal. 2:15) and for preventing of uncleanness. (1 Cor. 7:29)

3. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent. (Heb. 13:41 Tim. 4:31 Cor. 7:36–38) Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord. (1 Cor. 7:39) And therefore such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies. (Gen. 34:14Exod. 34:16Deut. 7:3–41 Kings 11:4Neh. 13:25–27Mal. 2:11–122 Cor. 6:14)

4. Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden by the Word. (Lev. 181 Cor. 5:1Amos 2:7) Nor can such incestuous marriage ever be made by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife. (Mark 6:18Lev. 18:24–28)

5. Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, giveth just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract. (Matt. 1:18–20) In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce. (Matt. 5:31–32) and, after the divorce, to marry another, as if the offending party were dead. (Matt. 19:9Rom. 7:2–3)

6. Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God hath joined together in marriage: yet, nothing but adultery, or such willful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church, or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage: (Matt. 19:8–91 Cor. 7:15Matt. 19:6) wherein, a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it not left to their own wills and discretion in their own case. (Deut. 24:1–4)