We prayed for weeks that the weather would be kind to us as outdoor weddings in June are subject to thunderstorms in the South. The day dawned picture perfect and the ceremony went off without a hitch under the oaks on the lawn of Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Winnsboro, SC. Our family was happy. We were married.
Or, were we?
Five months earlier, I was to go to the US Army Ranger School, and had a beautiful girl living with me that I planned to keep. So days before my departure, on a Wednesday, I spoke to her over lunch and we planned to see the Justice of the Peace on Friday after work to ‘get married.’ Two days later we had a piece of paper that said we were ‘married.’
Or, were we?
Generally, westerners have a religious and cultural tradition that refers to a wedding ceremony as ‘getting married.’ More religious Christian or Catholic families will claim no marriage occurs until a pastor or priest is involved, while governmental authorities say it didn’t happen until a legal fiction, called a Certificate of Marriage, is created. But, are either of these true?
So what really constitutes a marriage? Standing before a priest, rabbi, or pastor at a ceremony? Or, seeing the Magistrate or Justice of the Peace and signing a piece of paper that says magically you are married?
Or, is there something else and none of those things create a marriage union?
Maybe a better question is, when did God see us as ‘married?’
Hint: She’d been living with me for a few weeks before I left for Ranger School…
22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.Genesis 2:22-25
No pastor or priest. No Justice of the Peace. Not even any witnesses besides God.
Maybe, just maybe, we need to go back to Scripture and study out what ‘marriage’ actually is and what Scripture actually teaches. I covered significant pieces and discovered some interesting things recorded in part in an article I wrote a couple years ago titled, Marriage, Adultery, and Christian Error.