Over the years, I have talked with hundreds of young people about sex, abstinence, and marriage. One single young man’s statement in 2009 shocked me.
He proceeded to tell me "We are married”. I asked what made him think that. He said they had made their vows to each other and consummated the relationship, and though not legally married he felt that they are married in the eyes of God. He also stated that nowhere in the Bible does it state you have to go through a "ceremony" and he felt what they did was enough. A marriage license was just a piece of paper.
This is an idea floating around among back-slidden Christian kids and adults. It is the result of the ignorant and unstable twisting the Scriptures to their own destruction. Genesis 24, for instance.
Genesis 24:67 says,
“Then Rebekah lifted her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel; for she had said to the servant, “Who is this man walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took a veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death” (Genesis 24:64-67).
I recently heard from an older individual in Loma Linda who called into question the intelligence level of a portion of my anatomy because I spoke against fornication. His power argument? Genesis 24.
Notice that the context of Genesis 24 involves the groom’s father, God Himself, a servant emissary, a willing bride and an expectant groom all operating publicly in the arrangement of this marriage.
Let’s review the way the Bible approaches the concept of marriage. I think marriage is woefully misunderstood in our society, and by examining how the Bible defines marriage we can better grasp how we should enter into a marriage relationship.
1. Marriage is an institution created by God and therefore is holy.
Jesus confirmed this in Matthew 19 when He said,
"Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
Because God created marriage, it becomes more than just a cultural idea. It is a holy union blessed by God. Recognizing this, it deserves a certain amount of respect and recognition beyond "We say we're married—so we are".
2. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
In creating marriage, God defined it precisely. Genesis 2:24 states,
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."
Marriage can only be between a man and a woman where they are joined together as a single entity. It involves the leaving of the old, childhood life and starting something new.
There are many kinds of unions between people. However, that does not make them equivalent to marriage. Living together may be a type of union, but it does not join the participants into a single entity. Our laws recognize that spouses cannot testify against one another; precisely because they are joined in such a union.
It also answers the question of so-called "homosexual marriage". Since, by definition, marriage can only be between a man and a woman, homosexual unions are not marriages. They cannot be. You may use some other term to describe their relationship, but to use the word marriage is incorrect. The definition won't allow it.
3. Marriage is more than a commitment.
These two individuals stated that you could make ‘vows’ to each other and just consummate the relationship, and boom. The young man also stated that nowhere in the Bible does it state you have to go through a 'ceremony' and he felt what they did was enough." He said he felt making vows to each other was enough to constitute a marriage in the eyes of God. However, the Bible takes a different view.
You see, marriage is more than just making a commitment to someone else. It is also entering into a holy covenant before God. In Malachi, God is rebuking the people of Judah for not following His laws. There we read,
"'Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion, and your wife by covenant.. For I hate divorce,' says the Lord" (Mal 2:14,16).
God says here that marriage is a covenant, one witnessed and sealed by Him. A mere commitment is a civil agreement. A covenant is religious by nature and should be presided over by a religious official. Breaking a commitment can be done by mutual agreement. However, a covenant is considered binding and can only be broken if God has provided for such a dissolution - such as overt adultery.
4. Marriage is to be witnessed.
Because marriage is a covenant to be entered freely by two individuals, it must be witnessed by at least two or three people. This idea is confirmed in Matthew 18:16, where Jesus quotes Leviticus,
"Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed."
Ruth 4:9-12 shows this applies specifically to marriage when Boaz seeks out witnesses to secure his right to marry Ruth, the Moabitess. There, the witnesses even pronounce a marriage blessing on them.
5. Marriage is to be held in honor.
If we take all of the above into account, we can see that marriage is an institution not to be taken lightly. In fact, it is a union of the highest honor.
"Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled..." (Heb. 13:4).
Interestingly, this verse links the idea of marriage to legal custom. In Romans 13, Paul tells us that we are to be in subjection to governing authorities. In other words, we are to obey the laws of the land because God has placed those people in power. Then, in verse 7, he writes, "Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor."
We know that marriage is honorable and the Bible commands us to render it honor properly. Further, it shows that we are to obey the governing laws and respect the customs associated with Biblical marriage.
Our laws recognize the holy union of marriage (point number 1), require it to be between a man and a woman (point number 2), recognizes the covenant nature of marriage by sanctioning clergy to perform marriage ceremonies (point number 3), and requires witnesses (point number 4). Therefore, in order to give marriage proper honor and to render the proper respect to the governing authorities, legal marriage is both required and appropriate. It does not follow that legal marriage is not necessary in today's society.
Taking all into account, the Bible clearly shows that an official marriage ceremony governed by clergy and affirmed by witnesses is entering into marriage appropriately.
Jesus blessed official marriage by performing His first miracle at the marriage feast in Cana (John 2).
His relationship with the church is compared to a bridegroom and his bride, again showing the holiness of the marriage relationship.
It is an unfortunate commentary on our society that we've reduced the idea of marriage to one of comfort. With Las Vegas 30 minute weddings, no-fault divorce, and LGBTQ hoax marriage, we are straying farther and farther away from the idea of the holy covenant God set forth. It is to be binding, not broken by any man, or culture.
I question the sincerity of the people that I cited above in their intent for marriage. If they truly are serious in vowing "until death do us part", then why would they be resistant to making that vow legal?
They aren’t entering into a covenant relationship, but merely a temporary agreement — and that isn't marriage.
Sex before marriage is just as wrong as adultery and other forms of sexual immorality because they all involve having sex with someone other than your spouse.
An additional reason that marriage exists only when a covenant is entered into is found in 2 Samuel 15. Amnon wanted to “take” Tamar in a physical relationship. She pleaded with him to not do this “evil thing, and to ask her father and he would give her to Amnon.” If the sexual union creates a “marriage” then she would have no basis for her plea to Amnon to wait and ask for her hand in marriage.
You cannot marry yourself any more than you can baptize yourself. Fornication does not create a marriage, it creates pain & consequences. And that sin has to be repented of in order to experience purity and freedom.
I met a young couple three years ago who said scornfully that a marriage certificate is “Just a piece of paper.” After a few minutes of conversation, I asked the young man if he had any cash in his wallet. Could I see it? He pulled it out—$50 dollar bill.. I held out my hand “Give that to me, please.” He hesitated, glanced at her and then me again. I said “Don’t worry, it’s just a piece of paper.”
After a moment, they both said “I see your point.”
Do it God’s way for maximum joy and fulfillment!
Choose wisely and treat kindly.