there is no question in my mind that a couple can be fully married according to the laws of the state without having anything resembling the spiritual union and commitment to marriage pictured by jesus or described in the new testament letters. unfortunately, i’ve presided over a lot of those kinds of ceremonies in my 38 plus…
but is it possible for two people to have the fullness of god’s marriage design without going through the legal and cultural expectations of the state?
the “old school” way of stating the dilemma is whether it is truly necessary for a couple to be married in the eyes of the state, in order to be fully married in the eyes of god.
i have met more than a few couples in my time that eschewed the formality of a civil ceremony, in favor of a more intimate gathering of three: the two of the them…and god…in the privacy of a romantic dinner or a walk on the beach or a majestic mountaintop. (most, if not all of them, ultimately “signed the paper”, in order to get the financial and legal benefits of state, tho…)
i grew up in the tail end of an era in the united states where the “form” of a church wedding was still popular..and respected. as a young church-goer, things like getting married by a minister and waiting to have sex until your wedding night were held up as the ideal.
i never questioned the concept of “biblical marriage”. i sort of just assumed that adam and eve waited to have sex before they had some sort of ceremony out under that special tree that was officiated and blessed by god…and they were faithful to each other alone, until death did them in. and every other marriage in the bible was a carbon copy of that model.
but then i actually read the bible. yikes. and then i learned to be careful about saying, “the bible says…”
the bible paints all sorts of pictures of marriage. some are awesome. some, not so much. do i believe the bible gives compelling reasons to wait for sexual intimacy until after the promise of faithfulness is both public and legal? most certainly. do i think the bible gives compelling reasons for confining sexual intimacy to the marriage relationship? you bet. do i believe god recognizes the sacredness of the legality of a civil union? yes i do. but do i think those reasons are spelled out clearly as law…just like “do not lie” and “do not steal”? nope.
developing a theology of marriage you are convinced comes from the heart of the creator god…and is revealed in scripture and not just dreamed up in our romantic fantasies and subjective ideas…is something that requires our serious attention and study. at least it does, if we are truly honest about wanting to live lives that give honor to god above all else.
that’s why i love the opportunity to speak to people about the picture the whole bible paints of human relationships… especially the relationship of a husband and wife.
i’m sorry, but the most important day in your marriage was not the day you expressed your wedding promises or the day you signed your legal document. the most important day in your marriage is today.
what will you do today to bring your relationship into alignment with everything god designed it to be?
isn’t it high time to really make your marriage biblical?