Can you briefly contrast marriage in Islam and Christianity?

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The Treatment of Women

Islam advocates the inferiority of women in the marriage relationship in comparison to that in Christianity. The Quran in Surah 4:34 reads: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.” Mohammed Pickthall’s translation of the Quran.

From the above passage we learn that:

A- The Quran sanctions for Muslim men to beat their wives. Some translations minimize the directive by adding “lightly” (Ali, Raza Kahn) and “without harshness” (Qaribullah and Darwish), but the original Arabic text clearly states the word “beat.”

The Bible never teaches that husbands have a right to beat their wives. Rather, it teaches that the marital relationship between the husband and wife should be built on love: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesian 5:25).

The supreme test of love is whether one is prepared to forgo happiness in order that their spouse might have it. In this respect the husband is to imitate Christ by giving up personal pleasures and comforts to obtain his wife’s happiness, standing by her side in the hour of sickness. Christ gave Himself for the church because she was in desperate need; He did that to save her.

In addition, according to the Bible the husband is to treat his wife with honor: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). The husband will give himself for the salvation of his wife, ministering to her spiritual and physical needs, and she to his, in a spirit of mutual love. For both male and female were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).

B- The Quran commands a husband to sexually banish his wife, without her consent, as punishment for displeasing him. In contrast, the Bible teaches a married couple is not to refrain from sexual relations except by mutual consent, and then only for a brief period:

 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:2-5).

Polygamy

The Quran sanctions for a Muslim man to marry up to four wives consecutively (Qur’an 4:3).  However, Muslim sources such as Sahih al-Bukhari, the History of al-Tabari, etc., report that Muhammad had at least nine wives at one time. The Islamic response to this is that the Qur’an 33:50 gave only Muhammad special permission to have as many wives as he wanted.

In contrast, the Bible presents monogamy as God’s ideal for marriage. The Bible says that God’s original intention was for one man to be married to only one woman. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife [not wives], and they will become one flesh [not fleshes]” (Genesis 2:24). Unfortunately, humans didn’t abide by God’s instruction.

Even kings were not allowed by God to have many wives. In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God says, “…you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses… But he shall not … multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away…” The Scripture has always commanded monogamy (Psalms 128:3; Proverbs 5:18; 18:22; 19:14; 31:10-29; Ecclesiastes 9:9).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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