The Salvation Army affirms that marriage is the voluntary and loving union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, this union being established by an authorised ceremony.

'Voluntary' indicates that the parties freely choose (or, in some cultures, agree) to enter into the marriage. 'For life' indicates that The Salvation Army does not support the idea of trial or temporary marriage, or of cohabitation by unmarried couples where sexual intimacy is involved. 'One man and one woman' means that marriage is possible only between members of opposite sex and 'to the exclusion of all others' stresses the fidelity inherent in the marriage bond.

The exclusive nature of marriage leaves no room for sexual infidelity. In sexual intercourse spouses express to one another profound feelings of love, mutual respect, inter-dependence and belonging. The assurance of each other's total loyalty leads to the proper growth of the union.

The Salvation Army is firmly convinced that the support and encouragement of the institution of marriage is vitally important to the maintenance of secure family life, and that this, in turn, is crucial to stability in society as a whole.

Biblical principles

The Salvation Army asserts that God's standard concerning marriage is revealed in Scripture. By its nature, marriage rests on a relationship of love, and reflection of God's love for the human race. The permanence of the marriage bond provides for security and the development of mutual trust, and is referred to in Scripture as a 'one flesh' relationship (Genesis 2:24) which Jesus affirmed: 'What God has joined together let man not separate' (Matthew 19:6).

Marriage is a unique reflection of God’s love for all humankind. The relationship of husband and wife reflects both the image of God and the self-giving love between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:21-33).

Divorce and remarriage

Marriage, however, is affected by human fallibility and sinfulness. For this reason, marriage must be cared for and nurtured and pastoral support provided. If a couple separate, skilled, supportive pastoral guidance may help them to come to an agreement to reunite and work on their issues more positively. In other situations, the relationship may be finished; there can be no further salvaging of it. But God does not abandon His own at this time when they are most in need of healing and reaffirmation. Nor must the Church. Pastoral and community support are crucial for the recently divorced, and for previously married people preparing for remarriage and for the children of divorced parents.

Approved by International Headquarters
October 2005