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Lessons from the World's Religions: Love and Marriage

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Because marriage sets the stage for our most intimate contact with another human being, most of the world’s religions have offered believers guidance on both the why and how married life. As the various faith traditions have encountered modern psychology — and one another — some common understanding have emerged about what a marriage means and how to keep it together, but important differences remain.

This article appeared in the Fall 2000 issue of Spirituality & Health. Christianity Love is the most Direct Experience of God The loving union of Christ and Church as divine bridegroom and bride underpins the Christian understanding of marriage. The selfless love, concern, and care for others personified in the life and death of Christ serves as the model of all relationships, including marriage. The Apostle Paul’s description of love reads almost like a modern marriage manual: “Love is patient; love is kind; love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful… It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Cor. 13:4-5, 7) Religion professor Don Browning from the University of Chicago’s Divinity School suggests that respect, forgiveness, an awareness of our own fallibility, and “treating your spouse as a child of God” are Christian principles that can help us define what it mean to love — and that modern communication theory is giving us new tools to put them into practice. “Researchers have found that it’s not the coup …

Ann Kathleen Bradley’s articles have appeared in Elle, Tricycle, Healthy Living, and other magazines. She is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary.

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