Some authorities view them as applicable to 1st century new Christians living under an oppressive Roman legal system, while others believe they were intended to apply to all peoples of all times to come, including today.
These views range from one that believes the New Testament teaches complete equality of authority and responsibility between the man and woman in marriage, all the way to one that calls for a return to complete patriarchy in which relationships are based on male-dominant power and authority in marriage.
The great debate about marriage in contemporary Christian circles is among three primary groups—"Christian egalitarians", "Complementarians", and "Biblical patriarchists".
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church is explained that "the intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws.
God himself is the author of marriage." The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator.
He maintains that the New Testament Household Codes are attempts by Paul and Peter to Christianize these harsh Codes for Roman citizens who had become followers of Christ.
Stagg writes that there is some suggestion in scripture that because Paul had taught that they had newly found freedom "in Christ", wives, children, and slaves were taking improper advantage of the Haustafel both in the home and the church.
Christians seek to uphold the seriousness of wedding vows.
Yet, they respond with compassion to deep hurts by recognizing that divorce, though less than the ideal, is sometimes necessary to relieve one partner of intolerable hardship, unfaithfulness or desertion.
While marriage is honored and affirmed among Christians and throughout the Bible, there is no suggestion that it is necessary for everyone.
Single people who either have chosen to remain unmarried or who have lost their spouse for some reason are neither incomplete in Christ nor personal failures.
" By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God."This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple's love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity.