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Friday, September 21, 2012

Marriage License, Who Needs It?

The simple answer is anyone who wants to have their commitment to a mate recognized, whatever the culture, wherever in the world one lives… as well as whatever period of time it happens to be at the moment in question. The earliest of recorded history, be it etching on the wall of a cave or documents on the richest of parchment, indicate that a marriage was made with some formal, binding tradition to solidify a commitment. We, ladies, are not all that interested in the clubbed-over-the-head and slung-over-the-man’s-shoulder approach to a public marriage ceremony, so we’re relieved to not have been born during this time in civilization. Nevertheless, though the traditions vary throughout the world, even the Twenty-First Century people groups continue the practice of some kind of formal recognition of the legally-binding commitment of marriage. So binding, in fact, that one must acquire a legal document to be released from that marriage commitment.

If one desires the rights and privileges of marriage, one must submit to the laws of the land and go through the legal paperwork, even if choosing to forego the public ceremony. Each person needs a witness to sign the license, though, so you are back to the “Best Man” and “Maid/Matron of Honor” whether they wear jeans and a tee shirt or formal attire. Chapter thirteen in the Book of Romans deals with God’s admonition to obey the laws of the land; but, normally, this is not a matter of contention. The local legal authorities are diligent to see that the laws regulating the privileges of marriage are enforced.

Why is it that ethnic groups, who have lived centuries hidden away from the mainstream of the evolving First World societies, still have a formal, binding tradition for a man to publically declare his commitment to a woman? Those of us who believe in the Almighty Creator God have no trouble answering this question. Because, the Almighty God fashioned the man and woman to be a pair. From the very beginning of human existence, Father God put the desire for such commitment in the heart of every person, regardless of where in the world or in what century he and she are living.

Genesis 2:18-24:


“The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

Lest one wonder if Jesus agreed with this Old Testament writing, Check out the Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 19:4-6:


“Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." (The same is found in Mark 10:6-9)

Two of the Ten Commandments are written to protect the marriage covenant. Clearly, God never intended that men and women just switch partners around any time they had the idea to try someone new. All of the Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20, but we’ll just look at the verses which apply to marriage.

Verse 14 “You shall not commit adultery.”

Verse 17 “… You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife…”

There was a definite agreement that this one man had this one wife, period. You cannot, by definition, commit adultery, unless there first is a legally binding agreement of marriage between a man and a woman. The law doesn’t permit them to have sexual relations with anyone else, which is committing adultery. But, one must not even entertain such desires towards another man’s wife, regardless of whether or not he actually touches her, which is coveting her. The commandment in verse fourteen does not clarify husband or wife so it is easier to believe that it means the adultery should not be committed from either half of the couple. The same may be implied from verse seventeen, as well, of course. Again, with no legally binding agreement to join the couple, there is no need for such commandments.

And, the New Testament, you ask? Here is a key passage in the Book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 13:4:

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

Yes, there are a lot of laws written in the early books of the Bible but one, in particular, shows God recognized the importance of a newly-wed couple’s adjustment time. To ensure they got it, a law was declared. Read about it in the Book of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 24:5:


“If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married. “

Did you see that wording there? It doesn’t say that for one year, the husband can kick back, snap his fingers for another cold drink and flip the remote control from one football game to another. He cannot present his new wife with a five-week rotating menu of his food choices or bark at her to put down that mop and come give him a backrub before the halftime entertainment is over. Nope, God’s idea is that he be excused from other duties for one year to help his wife adjust to being married to him. How much more a new wife would want to please her new husband if his sole purpose that first year was “to bring happiness to the wife he has married!” I really like that law, don’t you, Ladies?

So, what’s happening to our society that unmarried Christian couples are not willing to make that commitment and get the marriage license? It appears that they have fallen into what Colossians Chapter Two has warned us against:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

It is the world’s view that you don’t need a marriage license to live with somebody for awhile. You can just try it out for as long as you wish. “That’s just the way it is now, Sojourner, get a life! No one really needs that piece of paper to be married any more.”

Okay, I hear you; however, even should a time come when our legal system tosses off the legally binding document that says one man belongs to one woman, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of marriage, the Lord God’s Word on the matter will never change. If you are a Christian, you will forever need that marriage license.

Matthew 5:19:

“Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom.” (The Message)

Don’t care all that much about finding “honor,” huh?

Romans 2:13:

“For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” (NIV)

Who cares if anyone declares you “righteous?” Hmmm? Well, anyone who cares where he or she will spend eternity. Maybe the old, English wording will put the point on the issue. Only those who obey God’s laws will find themselves in Heaven when they die!

Matthew 7:21:

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (KJV)

Clearly, the “will of the Father Who is in Heaven” is that one gets a marriage license. Marriage license, who needs it? Everyone who wants to be right with Almighty God and avoid those fires of Hell, and that’s the truth.

****Have a good weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Wow - Powerfully executed and so intrinsically profound! This is an amazing post - yet another one...from an amazing woman.

    Loved it! God Bless~