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     I ask this because of the condemnations of adultry and fornication in the bible. The bible gives no actual ceremony that I am aware off and so I find it a little up in the air ( for lack of a better term). 

Are we married when a preacher proclaims it or JPor judge proclaims it?


What about what used to be called 'common law' marriage where you simply lived with someone in the manner of husband and wife for a certain amount of time and the state considers you married? I'm not sure if such laws are still on the books or not.


I am asking specifically at what point God recognizes people as being married. There must be a definite poiint or how could someone be judged guilty of adultry?

Please remember I am not asking when the state or government recognizes marriage, I am asking when God recognizes 2 as being married. The only thing I have found is where Jesus says a man shall leave his father and mother and join a woman and become 'one' with her ( that is not a quote but a summation from memory).


I asked my pastor and he couldn't give me a reallly good answer. I know that there must be one though.  Any ideas?

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As far as I know, the bible just says that people got married. It doesn't say how. It doesn't give instructions for any services that must be held. Sex always seems to follow immediately after and may have been the final act to seal the marriage.

It's a great question and something my fiance and I have been looking at

Yess,  mm well, we got married in 1975, September it was, and I had tried to get away from this man but gave in, and we got married in a church of England, cause Baptist and apenticostal would not consider our marriage of any good standing.    now I care for my mum I see how precious he is and also how he lets me do things for God and well is supportive to me in a lot of stuff.  so yes I thonk God made a good choice.

but in relation to planting seeds well, that's another story, I did think that a person who fornicates becomes one with all the folks they go with, and in that case in being one what is the outcome of that and well it don't look good, maybe that's why one man had a lot of wives, so he did not fornicate.

Hi Charles,


I've had this same question.  I don't know how to answer it, but this article may help.


Biblically, what constitutes a marriage?

A woman got a call  from her new accountant. "I don't know how to file your taxes because you aren't  married."
"What? We are married. We got married twenty-two years ago in  California."
"Apparently the officiant never filed the proper paperwork.  You were never legally married."
She'd been with him for over twenty  years and had three sons. Were they married?
Slaves in the American  south were often married in a short ceremony officiated by the owner and  culminating in jumping over a broom. If the master(s) didn't approve of the  marriage, some slaves would meet secretly at night and promise to be faithful to  each other while standing under the stars. Were such couples biblically  joined?
Groin injuries are common during war. If a soldier comes home  impotent and marries his sweetheart, is he really married?
In Colorado,  a couple can fill out a marriage license, turn it in, and be legally married.  The state does not require a marriage to be solemnized by a third party. But can  you be married with no ceremony or witnesses?
What constitutes marriage?  Government validation? A ceremony? Sex?
We know that the simple act of  having sex does not constitute a marriage. Jesus was very specific when speaking  to the Samaritan woman in John 4: "…For you have had five husbands, and the one  whom you now have is not your husband" (verse 18). In addition, Exodus 22:16-17 clearly  distinguishes between sex and marriage. If sex was equal to marriage, there  would be no fornication to speak of in the New Testament. The first time someone  had sex, it would be marriage; sex with every subsequent partner would  constitute adultery or polygamy.
Government validation is usually  necessary for certain benefits, but the Bible does not say official recognition  constitutes marriage. In much of the early history of mankind, there was  no centralized government to oversee marriages. Even today, some governments  have no authority over marriages, and others add requirements which are contrary  to the Bible.
Although Jesus attended the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11) and Jacob had a ceremony when he married  Leah (Genesis  29:21-25), the Bible does not say that a social function constitutes  marriage. In some cases, as with slaves and during times of war, it may not even  be possible. Although weddings should be times of joy and celebration, God does  not require that joy to be public.
There are many things that the Bible  does not specifically, precisely describe, but can be determined by considering  the intent and spirit of God's commands, as well as His character. This means  that the Christian should take culture into consideration. For instance, we are  not to dress as the opposite sex (Deuteronomy  22:5), but cultures have different clothing norms—dresses are universal for  women in some ages, while jeans are appropriate in others; men may wear kilts,  but it is inappropriate for them to wear a woman's skirt. The point is that no  one in a particular place and time should be confused about a believer's  gender.
Similarly, there should be little ambiguity as to whether a  couple is married. The initiation of marriage should follow societal norms as  much as possible. If government validation is required, it should be sought. If  a ceremony and witnesses of some sort are expected, they should be provided.  Then again, if the situation is such that a ceremony is forbidden or sex  impossible, they are not scripturally required as long as it is clear that the  couple is married. The only strict biblical requirement for marriage is that the  couple should leave their parents and cleave to each other. Other cultural norms  that do not go against any specific biblical instructions should be followed as  closely as possible.
Read more:

I've always felt that marriage is ultimately the commitment between two people, promising to be faithful and loyal.  It is good to have a public ceremony for a few reasons... Community support, public declaration, celebration. 


...sort of like baptism.  We are baptised in community for support, declaration of faith and to celebrate our new life in Christ..  Marriage could be discussed and considered along these same lines.


Blessings, Carla

I say we have to take scripture as a whole.  For one, Jesus attended a wedding "ceremony", so there was an actual official wedding.  The other issue is that scripture admonishes us to obey the laws of the land.  And so far in the US, the law is marriage must be done by a pastor or justice of the peace, etc.  Common law marriage is acceptable in some states but ONLY if the two remain in that state and after having actually lived together unmarried for a time.  So if we're to follow the laws of the land as we're told to do, we have to take that into consideration.  That would tell me that we need to have a legal marriage.  We are married in the eyes of God, but since God wants us to obey the laws, to be married in His eyes, we would need to be married legally.

ah yes the laws within marriage, whats yours is mine and mine is me own methinks

Chrissy, I'm talking about the laws of the land, not within marriage.  The US laws in most states is that a couple is not legally married until married by a pastor or justice of the peace, otherwise, it is not legally recognized in any state.  Some states go further with a common law marriage that once a couple lives together for a certain number of years, they are considered, in that state, to be legally married.  That one does not carry over to other states however.  And we are told to obey the laws of the land.  Those are the laws of this land I live in.


 In the Bible when two people wanted to become one, they didn't live together or become intimate until after there was a feast in their honor, and then they signed a contract with each other, detailing what they had already stated in their covenant.  That is where our modern day traditions come from. The first marriage in the bible was directed by God, when He brought Eve to Adam and told them they will become one. He also told them to leave their parents. That statement can be taken and it should be taken literally, but also to leave the ways of your parents, not the good ones, but whatever baggage they have given us, and to make a new life, a new beginning with God's guidance with our wife or husband.


God recognizes a marriage as a marriage when two people make a public declaration and covenant with each other, a commitment before God and man. The institution of marriage is God’s idea of showing the world a heavenly truth. 3 are one person; in marriage three are one as well. God, husband and wife are all one in Christ. It is a different bond, much different than the bond of brotherhood, which is a very strong bond.

I thank you all for your input. 


I believe ,as several of you have stated, that it involves a vow to God and each other. I like how Rachel stressed the faith invoved in taking the vows and the idea that a vow to God is a very serious thing. This helps clear up my thoughts on this topic.


There is however one other question I'd like to ask concerning this (and I have actually been asked this).

What about marriage vows before becoming a Christian? Does a vow to someone you do not even believe in count? Sometimes vows are just something a preachers asks us to say back to him. This I know too well.


I would appreciate a little ( or a lot) of clarification here also.


Thanks again and God bless



Vows are vows and God hates divorce.  Even if they chose to marry prior, once saved, they need to do their part in the marriage.  If they said a vow, who is the someone they didn't believe in?  God or the person they said the vow to, their spouse?  They loved them for some reason (typically) or would not have married.  God has provided some reasons for divorce, yet if they're wanting a fresh start upon salvation by dumping the current spouse and trying again, that won't work. 

The only correlation I can come up with is a neighbor you perhaps have never gotten along with and can't stand.  Once saved, it is up to you to try and keep the peace as best you can.  It is up to you to forgive that neighbor, even if that neighbor is downright nasty, and it is up to you to be neighborly to them as that is what God's Word commands.  You getting saved did not change that they were your neighbor (spouse).

Good word Char.


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