Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Must Marriage REALLY Be Legal To Be Blessed By God?

On another site, I stumbled upon a letter written by a woman whose son was in a relationship he called a marriage without having gone the legal route of a marriage license and certificate. Her letter, essentially, asks if his marriage is valid and, if not, how can she convince him otherwise. After reading the reply written to her, I decided to raise a few points with her respondent. He hasn't gotten back to me yet (it's been a couple of weeks), but I've gone ahead and posted his original reply along with my points (highlighted in blue) below. Hopefully, it will help someone else struggling with this issue. Enjoy:



I read the following reply to the question of "Must Marriage Be legal To Be Blessed By God" on your website (www.ComeReason.org). While I greatly appreciate the emphasis of marriage being a sacred covenant, I must admit that I have a few questions and criticisms of key points within your reply. I've copied your reply below and have highlighted in blue my own interjections within:


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. In recognizing such, it deserves a certain amount of respect and recognition beyond "we say we're married so we are". (I'm fine with that opinion, but doesn't Messiah, in Matthew 5:36,37, say not to swear to anything, but to give our word as in stating that "yes" we will or a "no" we won't do a thing? And that anything more than this comes from evil? Is it coincidence that He makes this statement immediately following statements about marriage and divorce?)

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." (I agree that true, biblical marriage is ONLY between a man and a woman. Regarding scripture, it appears that He has given His instruction on marriage and, seeing as there is no indication of anyone in the bible doing anything "extra" (i.e. no one presiding over marriages, no ceremonies, no vows, no government contracts, etc.) why do we now nullify what is put forth in the word by saying that what He defines in Genesis 2:24 is no longer enough because "man" now says otherwise? And, a study of the creation of legal marriage in the U.S. proves that "man" only began to require a certificate in approximately the last 100 years or so. From the beginning of time until then, marriage involved leaving and cleaving, nothing more or less.) 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. (Agree. But the State says otherwise, because in the State's marriage [at least in Massachusetts], not only is homosexual State marriage called legal marriage, but so are a lot of other things that our Father says is a no-no in marriage such as remarrying when an original spouse still lives, divorce, etc. All of this is to illustrate that State marriage and biblical marriage are not one in the same...at least that's not how the State views it, so why should a believer be told that they have to accept the State's, immoral copycat form of marriage in order for their biblical marriage to be honored by the Most High...our heavenly Father?).

3. Marriage is more than a commitment.

In your question, you state "He said they had made their vows to each other and consummated the relationship, ... 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." Your son said he felt making vows to each other was enough to constitute a marriage in the eyes of God. However, the Bible actually does take 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. (Yes, for us, but not a state requirement. In "their" marriage He does not have to be recognized as the state certainly doesn't. If they did, believers would be able to partake of their own marriages, even performed by or witnessed their own clergy if they like, and that would still be recognized as legal marriage. This isn't the case, however, as the State does not recognize Him in our marriages.). 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). (For more on divorce, please see "Is Matthew 19 a Contradiction?").

God says here that marriage is a covenant, one witnessed and sealed by Him. A commitment is a civil agreement. A covenant is religious by nature and should be presided over by a religious official (Is this your opinion or is this biblical? I have not found where such a requirement is stipulated in the bible, so if it is, could you please give me the book, chapter and verse where this appears?). 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 adultery.

4. Marriage is to be witnessed.

Because marriage is a covenant to be entered freely by two individuals, is must be witnessed by at least two or three people (Again, I'll have to ask for book, chapter and verse where this is clearly stated as there are several instances in the bible where covenants were formed between two individuals and no one was present to witness it. Specifically, at this moment, I'm recalling David and Jonathan's covenant in 1 Samuel 23:18. Who, besides our Father, witnessed it?). 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 (Yes, in correct context, this is to confirm that an attempt to resolve a conflict with a brother has taken place [if that brother will not hear you, alone, then taking him before witnesses is the next step], but I'm not convinced that this applies specifically to covenants as I don't see evidence for this requirement in scripture. Again, please cite book, chapter and verse so that I may study this if I'm mistaken)."
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 (While I am not opposed to witnesses and I do agree that Boaz had a witness, there doesn't seem to be a clearly established practice of using witnesses for ALL marriages or that it is mandatory for one to do so. After all, Isaac made Rebekah his wife by simply taking her into his mother's tent in Genesis 24:67...no witnesses are mentioned. If this were both necessary and mandatory, wouldn't it have been clearly stated?).

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 (links to "legal custom"? I don't see it, but okay, lol). 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." (Okay, a few points here: Yes, Paul did tell us to obey governing authorities, but we're also taught to resist unGodly authority in Daniel 6 and Acts 5:27-29. How much more unGodly could an authority be that allows abortion, adultery, no-fault divorce and is, to a large degree, on the fence about same sex marriages [which is already legal in Massachusetts with more states to possibly follow]. Could the marriage offered by the State even compare to a biblical marriage in that it allows for divorce, allows for people of different faiths [and NO faith] to marry, allows for remarriage in ANY situation where it's proven one isn't already married and they are free to remarry as many times as they like as long as they can continue to prove that their last marriage was legally dissolved? That an atheist and a believer are given the same certificate, tells us that State's marriage, in and of itself, is not one of religious nature. Could it be that the State's marriage is an imitation of the real thing, but is not the marriage that Yahweh intended and instituted at the beginning?
Further, as for "law of the land", could you please tell me, specifically, what this law states? I know of 7 states who say that people must marry legally in order to live together as man and wife (although it's not common practice to enforce this law in any of the 7). If you will, please tell me where I can read up on this "law", because in my state (California), I don't know that one exists. Here, in order to be legally recognized as married and to enjoy the legal benefits extended to those who are legally married, one needs to partake of legal marriage, but it's purely optional and not anything that is forced upon anyone and not the least bit illegal to pass on.

Also, one scripture which tells us to obey the ordinance of man is 1 Peter 2:13. I find it interesting, however, that Strong's defines "ordinances" as:

1) the act of founding, establishing, building etc
a) the act of creating, creation
b) creation i.e. thing created
1) of individual things, beings, a creature, a creation
a) anything created
b) after a rabbinical usage (by which a man converted from idolatry to Judaism was called)
c) the sum or aggregate of things created
c) institution, ordinance

In context, this means that the ordinance of man is literally what man established, founded or created. Who created biblical marriage...Yahweh or man? Yes, man created a type of marriage, but it is not nearly as sacred or holy as the original creation by our Father. If they were the same thing, there wouldn't be no-fault divorces, same sex marriages, remarriages even among adulterers, etc. allowed in State marriages. In Mark 12:17, Matthew 22:21 and Luke 20:25 our Messiah tells us to give to Caesar what is his and to give to our Father what is His. Clearly, marriage...true biblical marriage, is our Father's. It was created and instituted by Him and is clearly His ordinance, NOT man's. At least that's how it appears. How is it then that to partake of His marriage ALONE is seen as wrong, but to partake of the State's marriage ALONE is not? If He is the Creator of marriage...it is His ordinance and His institution, why is any other validation necessary? Is such truly honoring Him? And, for those who choose to take a pass on the State's marriage, why are they wrong if they abide by biblical marriage ALONE? With the exception of a few denominations, most will accept a State marriage ALONE as valid (as in one solemnized at a courthouse), but will not accept one pronounced at a church without a State certificate as valid. Why is this?

Also, at no point in scripture, can I find where He gave man dominion over marriage. I also can't find where Messiah, any of His followers or where any high priest ever solemnized a marriage. To me, it appears it was understood that only Yahweh joins together (as scripture repeatedly states). If I am wrong, I humbly and sincerely look forward to your correction)

We know that marriage is honorable and the Bible commands us to render it honor properly (And I'm not sure that State marriage, with its unholy laws and approach to marriage, is the best way to do so, but I hear you and I do agree that marriage is honorable!). Further, it shows that we are to obey the governing laws and respect the customs associated with Biblical marriage (I've discussed my thoughts and questions on the governing laws issue, but you touch on "customs" which I think is an important distinction here. Clearly, the marriage ceremonies and contracts of today are just that, "customs", and while I don't begrudge anyone the right to partake in these "customs", should we force them upon people and then attempt to make them appear biblical? Are we in danger of adding to His word when we do so?).

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) (I do wonder why a separation of church and state argument is made on every other point where the two meet, but never on clergy solemnizing state marriages. Sorry, just thinking out loud here, lol), 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 (Again, by whom is it required??? Please cite book, chapter and verse if it is biblical or the exact number or letter of the law if it is a legal requirement. By requirement, I mean that it would be illegal to otherwise live together as husband and wife [outside of the 7 states I made reference to earlier where the law is there, but goes largely unenforced]. From what I can gather, legal marriage is an "option" if one wishes to receive the legal benefits package that goes with it.) 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 is entering into marriage appropriately (Please support this with book, chapter and verse). Jesus blessed official marriage by performing His first miracle at the marriage feast in Cana (John 2) (He did not bless the marriage. The bible says nothing of him blessing the marriage. He also was at a marriage "feast", not a wedding ceremony, so we still do not know that this marriage was "an official marriage ceremony governed by clergy" as you've stated. I respect your opinion on this, but this doesn't make it a biblical truth.). 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 and no-fault divorce, 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. (Amen!!! Marriage has been greatly reduced as we've allowed it to be by believing that what the State presents to us as marriage IS biblical marriage while the 2 are far from being the same.)

I would question your son's sincerity in his intent for marriage. If he truly is serious in vowing "until death do us part", then why would he be resistant to making that vow legal? (I just want to interject here that some don't believe that State marriage is honest, true and biblical marriage. Therefore, they choose not to condone its falsehood by partaking of it and pretending that it is the same thing. There are several scriptural reasons which many will offer to accompany this, but I do believe that most true believers of the bible have the sincerest intention for marriage even without going the legal route. A man-made, legal contract can not measure the faith of a believer. Such is measured by a couple's honoring their covenant as is evidenced within their actions. If State marriage were any guarantee of sincerity, there would be no State divorce...which, btw, is rampant even within the Church.) Many times people are betrayed by their concern for the consequences of their actions. The consequences of dissolving a legal marriage are much less than they were, but are still significant. It could be those consequences are what bothers him, which means he isn't entering a covenant relationship, but merely a temporary agreement -and that isn't marriage. (For some this may be true, but can we really apply this to all? Especially to people who we don't know? As you and I both know, legal marriage is also a temporary agreement in the minds of many who take the attitude of, "if it doesn't work out, I can always divorce"!)
I hope this has helped you understand what Biblical marriage is and why it is important. Please let me know how things go. I will be praying for you and your family. May God bless you


One argument that you didn't present and that I can respect you not doing so is that a legal marriage is helpful should a couple split up. Many who argue in favor of legal marriage being the ONLY true form of marriage will often make this argument. Funny thing is that they will also vehemently argue against divorce and against prenuptial agreements. However, when a marriage certificate is seen as a tool which may be used to aid in a future divorce and in the division of property, it then enters the realm of a prenuptial agreement and of a truly unGodly intention (when sought for legal support in case of divorce or separation). Again, I respect that you don't seem to view it that way, but I just wanted to put that out there since I've seen it argued so many times before. In parting, a few links I'd like to share with you are: The Lawful Path which will shed some light on how at least one state views legal marriage and a great essay I recently discovered on the covenant of marriage, which I know you'll enjoy (I certainly did!). The latter doesn't debate the issue of legal vs. biblical marriage, but does an excellent, in-depth job of exploring the actual covenant aspect. (If any of these links do not work, please let me know) I realize that we'll likely disagree on many of the points highlighted here and that's okay. I trust that both of us seek to honor marriage and our Father even if we disagree on how this should be done. I do sincerely welcome any correction in any areas where you believe me to be in error, all I ask is that you do so with pure, very clear scripture (as opposed to opinion added to scripture). I'm willing, however, to even take your opinions into consideration too, as I already have, so feel free to share them as well. Blessings to you and to the wonderful work you do in helping to guide others along the correct path. He truly is the Way, the Truth and the Life, so may we all hold fast to Him as the only route to the Father.

Thank you for your time in reading this and thanks, in advance, for your time should you choose to reply.


So, folks, I hope it's clear here that, first, it's important to know for yourself what the bible states. If you don't read and study, the wool is easily pulled over your eyes. I don't believe the respondent here had any ill-intent (quite the opposite), but the twisting of scripture cannot be tolerated, especially regarding such an important topic. Secondly, as you will hopefully begin to see, marriage IS clearly defined by the Most High. Man cannot define it for you, nor can man govern over it, nor has man ever been given authority over marriage and its ordinances. And, finally, if you're planning on marrying soon or if you're already married, please take the time to carefully learn what, exactly, marriage is and do not be fooled by the man-made legalities and customs of traditional marriage. Legal, biblical or both is your personal choice and, YES, you do have a choice! Legal marriage is NOT your only option and, in fact, it is NOT the same as what Our Father gave us and is NOT the one that is blessed by Him.

In closing, since my letter has yet to be responded to, if any of you wish to clarify or rebut my points above, please feel free to email me at LaLaLives@yahoo.com. It's my pleasure to consider all sides in this debate and I do reserve the right to post any emails delivered to me on this or any other topic related to this blog.

Have a superb day in Him!