Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
MARRIAGE – SO, WHEN ARE YOU MARRIED?
Until a very short time ago, I was of the impression that as long as you were married with “God’s blessing”, it was actually okay to live together as a married couple…. But here, I have changed my mind as well by reading the word of God – and one of the reasons I have, is that God has reminded me that …
1 Peter 2:13-17 (NIV)
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will [a]bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Thus, we are always subject to following the laws and rules of the land, as long as they don’t go against God’s principles (you can read two concrete examples in Acts 4:19-20 and in Acts 5:27-29, where the laws of the land go directly against God).
As far as “marriage”, the “law of the land” says that you are only legally marriage (and therefore in a valid married relationship) after taking vows in front of proper authority with a legally binding signature. Does this go against the Bible…? No, because we can actually read a single example in the Bible where Boaz marries Ruth in “city hall” – or by “the ten elders at the gate” (read Ruth 4:9-12) or that in Malachi 2:14, a “marriage covenant” was entered into. We don’t see a whole lot of other examples of it, but we certainly can conclude easily that the law of the land about a legally binding agreement is NOT in conflict with the Bible – on the contrary.
If you are upcoming husband and wife and you come from two different countries, you have to apply to BOTH countries. If you legally have your common addresses in same country, you have to follow the specific law for that country – and NO…. you cannot bend the legal law to fit into your own wishes, if you by heart want to follow God and His word.
Then the next question is if you can live in marriage with approval from the state but WITHOUT God’s blessing… No – you can’t if you want to live under the direction of God. Reading the Old Testament, there wasn’t really a “God’s blessing” when people entered into marriage, but we read over and over about wedding celebrations. The Bible doesn’t tell us concretely how people were married, but since marriage was instituted by God, and if you truly want to live with the blessing of Jesus, then it is a very good idea to let God bless the marriage, and that you go before God (not just before people at city hall) and take the same vows “before witnesses”. This is because a covenant – which is what marriage is – according to the Bible needs at least 2-3 witnesses to be valid. In Acts we read…:
As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
So, people put into service are publicly blessed after prayer and fasting and then sent out… It is a pretty good image of marriage, where you are sent out TOGETHER into service for God – to serve God, to serve each other as a couple, but also to generally serve God in your life.
The Bible says about marriage “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (first mentioned in Genesis 2:24 – and later the verse is quoted several times – even by Jesus)… but at the same time, Jesus says to the ones who truly believe AND follow Him:
At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
So, when we who follow Jesus are in Him and at the same time one with our spouse through entering into the covenant, it also means that a marriage consists of 3 persons : Jesus, the husband and the wife.
Can you just agree between you that you are married?
NO! Because marriage is a covenant – and a covenant is only valid and binding with at least 2-3 witnesses, so you can’t just do it by “horse-trading” between you and your partner… and you are still subject to the law of the land. That’s really all there is to say about that.
Marriage is holy – even the sexual part that belongs in marriage. God has created it as a blessing – so don’t indulge prematurely … because then it’s a sin that separates you from God.
Further, Paul writes:
1 Corinthians 7:4
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.
1 Corinthians 7:9
…but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
1 Corinthians 11:3
But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.