This essay is a response to a question posed by someone about some friends that faced a dilemma about getting married. They felt that they should be married but could not feasibly do so due to a loss of benefits. They have a belief system that encourages them to try to honor God with their lives, hence the dilemma.
The question of authorization for marriage is an excellent one.
Where did government become the authorizing authority for marriage? It is most assuredly not in the scriptures at all.
The Mosaic Law was very specific in many issues in life. It is very specific about marriage.
Jesus said whoever teaches against the law is the least in the kingdom of heaven. This gives great standing to the commandments related to marriage in the law.
There is no ceremony defined for marriage, except sex.
There is no domain given the civil functions of the Levites over the inception of a marriage. Certainly the Levites were granted authority over the dissolution of a marriage: capitol punishment for those that violate the marriage relationship, fairly vauge control over the process of divorce.
But no control over the inception of marriage.
Marriage is one of the primary important things, which we can derive by its inclusion in the Early Genesis story. If we choose to decide that is institutionalizing marriage, the ceremony was to “cling to ” and become “one flesh”.
This is further strengthened by the Apostle Paul’s scolding of the Christians for visiting prostitutes. Here he confirms that the Genesis passage is indeed refering to sex: “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.””
(the fact that he is giving this message to the church right after telling them to throw out everyone with sex issues is an important topic for another day)
Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, provides extension to the marriage issue (best understood from the Hebrew version of Matthew). But no granting of authority to the Roman government or the Jewish puppet government. Understanding Jesus in the sermon on the mount is crucial to understanding the gospel, but again, that is a separate topic.
Paul gives counsel on marriage (some of which he says is his opinion and not God’s). But again, no assignment of authority over marriage to civil government.
Yet christians handed the administration of marriage over to the civil government and over the years came to regard the authorization of government as the act of marriage.
Let’s look at what marriage means to most western governments:
Most western governments have no remaining laws preventing people from having sex every night with a different person. What does God’s law say? Here is the main point:
– if a man and a woman have sex and neither is already in a marriage relationship with someone else or promised to enter that relationship, then they are married. The act of sexual intercourse (“the man in the woman, the woman around the man” as a great song says) is the act of marriage.
A simple yet extremely effective rule.
There are numerous other rules that expand it, but a reading with an understanding of the importance of the primary rule illuminates the reason for the other rules.
Most western governments allow men to obtain this official blessing of “marriage” to other men. This is directly against the other rules about sex in the Law of Moses. It says that men shall not engage in sexual intercourse with other men. Remember, in the Law of Moses the sex act is marriage. In this essay, we are dealing with governmental basis for authority from a theist, pentateuch view. Now, for any readers that feel anger at me for writing that, remember that I am discussing government involvement in marriage. Not government authority over your life. I am saying the government should not be involved in authorizing marriage for anyone.
Most western governments put people in prison, if they have 2 licenses to marry. Now this is an interesting paradox: these governments have no rules against having “no strings attached” sex with multiple partners, but theses governments punish anyone who wants to officially care for the intimate partner. Dichotomy at the extreme.
Are you now going to continue claiming that your government is the officiator of God’s Holy insitution of marriage?
So my take on the issue raised by the person at the top of this essay, based on the scriptures on not on human customs:
They can get married biblically and not in any way deceptive. The scriptures do not call for a civil authorization of their union. And these days, the civil authorities do not call for a civil authorization of their union.
The scripture calls for them to be faithful sexually to each other, both in the positive and negative sense. And to Love each other in a way that honors the relationship of Jesus to his bride, the true church. The true followers of Jesus are his bride. He loves us with a complete and beautiful love, redeeming our embarassing ugly blemishes, giving us stunning beautiful garments to wear so that our beauty stands out. We, his bride, adore him and will do anything to express our love. At least we want to be like that – he is patient when we don’t get it right yet. The analogy of marriage goes much deeper than this. Understanding that helps us understand why God wants the sex act to be beautiful and pure. He is trying to show us his passionate love for us. How beautiful!
God’s idea of marriage stands in stark contrast to the strange, ungainly invention that is the civil concept of marriage in this age. The civil institution of marriage looks like it came from a committee of lawyers. Because it did.
It is time for people of God to be a people separate.