Buddhism Basic Teachings

Basic Teachings of Buddhism on Marriage-related Issues You Need to Know

While there is a belief that Buddhist monks do not marry, chances are you have seen a married Buddhist monk. As such, you wonder why it is like that. Is marriage a choice for the monks? Or, are there rules guiding the Buddhist marriage? Of course, there should be, then what are the rules?

Actually, many religions have a lot to say about love and marriage. As such, Christianity even speaks of “holy matrimony.” And, Catholicism regards marriage as a sacrament. But, you see, the idea of unconditional love is what Buddhism teaches. Marriage is a social construct that transformed vastly throughout history.

Conversely, people married for a variety of reasons, including status, wealth, power, and love. But, Buddhist text does not delve too deeply into the idea of marriage. This is because Buddhism leaves the decision to marry up to each person. Thus, Buddhism views marriages as a secular affair. And as such, not deeply considered.

However, the ceremony itself is civil. And, many Buddhists obtain the blessing from monks at the local temple after the completion of the marriage.

Nevertheless, with this post, you are on the journey of learning fascinating facts about Buddhism and marriage-related issues. As a result, we encourage your maximum attention as you go through this boat land of knowledge.

What Does Buddhism Say About Marriage?

In Buddhism, marriage is not a religious commitment. Or, a means for procreation. Nor, a romantic notion of love. It is simply an option for each to make. If an individual solely believes marriage will bring them happiness, or, bring them on the path of enlightenment, then it is left for them to make that choice.

Nevertheless, Buddhism does not provide rules or traditions about marriage. Instead, religion offers teachings to help their followers live happily, even while they are married.

This advice is meant to help give people the best chance at a happy relationship. Therein, Buddhist texts do make it clear. That a man should limit himself to one wife. Thus, a fundamental belief in Buddhism in regards to marriage is that one should not wander from their wife and family.

What Did the Buddha Say About Marriage?

Obviously, in the Buddhist text, the Buddha believed that the biggest challenge of man is their weakness to other women. Certainly, he thought of this weakness and trouble that other women brought to a family and advised against it.

What Are the Buddhist Views On Cohabitation?

Buddhists never had any specific view of cohabitation. This is so because no stipulated rules were laid by the Buddha on marriage. Rather, He provided a piece of simple advice for living a happy life in marriage. However, there was a mention of cohabitation in the Buddhism scripture as a major act. Thus, the scripture instructed that one should keep away from and respect women under the guidance of their parents, relatives, or brothers. That is to say, getting into a relationship with such women, will lead a person into committing Kamesumicchacara, which is a sexual violation or adultery.

Despite this declaration, still not all that practice Buddhism accepts nor uphold this. Hence, some believe that there is no scriptural authority for marriage. Therefore, they engage in cohabitation without fearing sanctions or seeking blessings.

Can A Buddhists Be in A Romantic Relationship?

In regards to romantic relationships, Buddhism has very liberal views. As a result, Buddhism encourages independence through non-attachment. That is the idea which states that to live a fulfilled life, a person cannot get attached to any one thing. Basically, such a thing can cause suffering.

Also, Buddhism teaches people to discard all things that can cause internal pain in their life. This idea does not refer to worldly objects in the physical sense. Instead, one can better understand it in a spiritual sense. Therefore, to achieve non-attachment, one must avoid the idea of a perfect person.

Instead, you must accept your partner for who they are unconditional. Thus, that is the key to a happy romantic relationship. This implies accepting a partner for who they are throughout their life. No matter what changes.

Besides, making the best of every situation is how one achieves personal fulfillment in a marriage relationship.

What Makes Up Marriage in Buddhism?

Marriage in Buddhism is made up of a civil ceremony that legally unites two people. Hence, a Buddhist monk may bless a marriage. However, does not have permission to bless the actual marriage ceremony. Therefore, the main message of Buddhist marriage ceremonies reveals the culture of the country the couple lives in. hence, it is more significant than religious content.

What Does Buddhism Believe in Marriage?

Most Buddhists believe that the purpose of marriage is to:

  • Marry someone they cherish or who is also a good partner in other admirations
  • have children and
  • create a sound foundation for their extended family, including their parents

Furthermore, Buddhists also believe that marriage may cause suffering. As a result, one should be conscious of this before getting married. The second Noble Truth, ‘That is the truth of the cause of suffering,’ refers to attachments which can cause frustration. Therefore, a Buddhist will try to practice teachings from Metta and ahimsa within the marriage so that the couple can sustain an encouraging relationship.

These Five Precepts makes up an important source of authority in Buddhism. Whereas, the third precept offers guidance on how to achieve a successful marriage.

Herein, “do not engage in sexual misconduct,” instructs Buddhists. We should be content in o marriage. And, not to commit adultery as this will cause suffering.

Can Buddhist Monks Get Married?

Preferably, Buddhists monks choose not to marry. But, instead, to remain celibate while living in the monastic community. As such, they can concentrate on achieving enlightenment. Certainly, they understand that the demands of marriage, which implies raising and supporting a family can alone be overbearing. Then, imagine combining with their monastic life. Of course, there will be a distraction from the whole-time effort needed to follow the Buddhist path.

More so, in the sense of Theravada Buddhist tradition, a monk who has a wife and living together is not a monk. Hence, traditionally any robed Lama, Rinpoche, Geshe, or monk represents an ordained member of their lineage holding lineage vows. Of which celibacy is one.

Accordingly, Buddhist kneel and bow toward the monks because they are acting or living like an Arahat. The regular monk may break minor rules, and they can admit, as such clearing things up. However, having sexual activity may amount as one of five major wrongs. This together with killing another human being. And, on the other hand, lying the attainment of enlightenment without attaining, etc.

What Is Buddhist Guideline to Marrying Monks?

Generally, monks do not have to spend the rest of their life in the monastery, they are entirely free to leave at any time. Therefore, some only spend a year as a monk.

As a result, the Sigalovada Sutta advises new Buddhist couples on how to treat each other and have a fruitful marriage. This guiding principle is for both the wife and husband.

Hence, the husband can guarantee a good relationship with his wife by:

  • being attentive and courteous to her
  • being faithful to her
  • sharing his authority with her
  • not looking down on her
  • providing her basic needs e.g., cloth and jewelry

This ancient text assumes that a wife should not be financially dependent. As a result, the wife can ensure a good companionship with her husband by:

  • being faithful to him
  • performing her household duties well
  • budgeting properly within the household and protecting family resources and
  • being welcoming to all their relations

All the same, the Buddha advised that a married couple should not be harsh. Neither should they be unjust with each other. Instead, they should choose to be calm and compassionate.

Can Nuns Get Married?

Basically, there is no law that prohibits nuns from getting married. Nor, is there a rule against being in a relationship. Nuns can choose to do what they want. They are women and human beings. More so, as adults living in the free world, they can do anything within their own limitations. As a result, they can walk freely, can eat chocolate for breakfast, and can put on t-shirts and obviously get married as well.

But for your knowledge, most Buddhist nuns do not get married. Yes, by not marrying, nuns had the opportunity to educate themselves to any level. Work and tour the world. And, of course, make their personal choices.

As the scholar, Paula Arai wrote in a review of Richard Jaffe’s book on clerical marriage, “Men escape domestic duties by marrying. Women escape domestic duties by taking monastic vows!”

Can A Buddhist Marry a Non-Buddhist?

Traditionally, a Buddhist can marry from any other religion. Therefore, the act is neither mandatory nor forbidden. Buddhists marry as non-Buddhists do. The most crucial factor is the love and agreement between both parties, which is to respect each other’s religion.

Likewise, countless highly successful marriage has been documented from a union of Buddhist and non-Buddhist couples.

Although, in most cases, there is often an outright rejection from the male family. Thus, this can terminate the relationship. But, proper exposure and maturity from both parties have always turn out to be the best scenarios.

Can a Buddhist Divorce?

The way Buddhists view divorce is interesting. Religion may not prohibit it. But, the idea of living a Buddhist lifestyle would suggest that one not need to divorce. Hence, if someone is living by the ethics of Buddhism and accepting someone for who they are, and following the path of enlightenment, it simply means that they would never need a divorce. Basically, this is as a result of the fulfillment he or she gets within their marriage and their partner.

But preferably, separation is better than having a miserable marriage. Thus, the religion prefers that a couple separate rather than live together and be a hindrance to their personal enlightenment.

Buddhism also made it clear that to avoid divorce, older men should not marry much younger wives. The reason was that the age difference would make them incompatible. And thus, resulting in separation.

Nevertheless, Buddhism encourages that any person is free to divorce. Especially, if it is impeding their path to personal enlightenment. However, it makes the vital fulfillment that living a Buddhist lifestyle would mean creating a happy and healthy relationship that would not end in divorce.

Why Are Buddhist Nuns and Monks Are Celibate?

You may be aware that Buddhist monks and nuns take vows of celibacy. It is mostly right, although there are exemptions.

A giant exemption is Japan. Their Emperor stopped celibacy in the 19th century. And, since then many Japanese clergies are more married than before. Same applies to Japanese Buddhist schools that have been introduced into the West.

Similarly, during the Japanese introduction of Korea in the 20th century. Some Korean monks imitated Japanese practice and married. However, married monastic life does not seem to have caught permanently in Korea.

Nearly all Korean monastic orders remain officially celibate.

Does Tibetan Buddhist Practice Celibacy?

In reality, within the Tibetan Nyingmapa tradition. There are both celibate and non-celibate sub-schools. Hence, the same upper-class and non-celibate clan has headed the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism since the 11th century. Leadership positions are often by inheritance. However, even within celibate orders, there may be spiritual marriages between tantric practitioners, discussed below.

Therefore:

Some monastic orders in Mongolia closely related to each other. Whereas, operationally separate from Tibetan Buddhism—are celibate. And, others are not.

All the same, the ordained clergy of all other schools of Buddhism is celibate. However, this has been in existence since the time of the historical Buddha. The vast majority of Tibetan monks and nuns remain unmarried. Also, this includes the monastic orders of Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Why Did the Buddha Establish Celibacy?

Actually, the Buddha’s guidelines for the monastic orders he founded were documented in a collection of texts called the Vinaya. Or, sometimes Vinaya-Pitaka.

Thus, as Buddhism spread through Asia over the centuries. There came to be at least three different versions of the Vinaya. But, they all maintain the rules of monastic celibacy. This shows that the celibacy rules have been since the early days of Buddhism, 25 centuries ago.

At that time, the Buddha never established celibacy not because there is a shameful or sinful thing about sex. Instead, it is because sensual aspiration is a fetter to enlightenment. And, for most people, sexual desires are the most disturbing and persistent of attractions. As a result, the ideal is for the desire itself to drop away. And as a consequence, celibacy in this case. For that reason, one should refrain from any form of sexual gratification.

What Does Buddhism Teach About Adultery?

Traditional Buddhism treats adultery and sexual relations out of wedlock as a serious transgression that furthers suffering.

Consequently, it is viewed as harmful to oneself and others. It is typically accepted that within the framework of the third of five fundamental precepts of Buddhist morality, that:

  • Buddhists must refrain from taking life.
  • Committing theft.
  • Indulging in sexual misconduct.
  • Giving a false speech and
  • Using intoxicants.

Moreover, these guidelines form the basis of Buddhist morality for both the laity and the clergy. Most of all, what defines sexual misconduct varies between these two groups.

So, monks and nuns are to be chaste. While the laity is, above all, charged to avoid sex with another’s a partner—marriage. In other words, a dignified union should be the proper context for sexual relations between two people.

Overall, the primary focus of the third rule is to avoid causing harm to others through one’s sexual attitude. Thus, to restrain one’s sexual desire.

What’s Buddhism View On Same-Sex Love and Marriage?

Early Buddhist texts said nothing specific about homosexuality. But, with other matters of sexuality, whether it violates the Third Precept is more of a case of local socio-cultural norms than religious doctrine.

Definitely, there is a comment in the Tibetan Canon that prohibits sex between men. However, there is no such specific prohibition in the Pali or Chinese canons. Although, it is a violation of the Third Precept in some parts of Buddhist Asia. In other regions, it is not.

In the United States, Buddhist churches were the first Buddhist institution to conduct same-sex marriages.
As a result, a Buddhist monk named Rev. Koshin Ogui performed the first recorded Buddhist same-sex marriage ceremony in 1970. Though, these marriages were not yet legal. Of course, but, performed as an act of compassion.

Today, many Buddhist sanghas in the West are in support of same-sex marriage even though it is an issue of contention in Tibetan Buddhism.

Endnote

Unquestionably, you must have understood the nitty-gritty of Buddhism and marriage-related issues. You have learned that there is no obligation for Buddhists to marry. For most Buddhists, marriage is a choice. As long as they are both happy to do so.

Likewise, Buddhists may cohabit. As a result, Buddhists do not have any formal teachings. On what the marriage ceremony is all about. The closest that Buddhists come to one is to hold a blessing or celebration. But, there are no religious elements to the event.

In general, this page treated marriage in Buddhism to its most comprehensive form.