Question:

Hello,

I am a newborn Christian, baptized into Christ two years ago. I would like to ask: because fornication is a big deal for God, at what point is it considered marriage in the Bible? Forgive me please if I'm wrong, but it seems the Bible does not talk about standing before the preacher or state official to make vows. I know the verse about following national laws, but for example, in Europe, there are many countries with common laws that if you live so long together, you are counted as married. I would like a pure unbiased biblical answer. Is it enough if both partners take a vow to each other in front of God? Or where does the Bible speak of being wed in front of an altar?

Answer:

Think about it for a moment. Let's say a country considers two people married for legal purposes if they live seven years together. Then what is this couple after living together for the first month? They aren't married; yet, they are having sex. Is that not fornication? Thus, the only way to achieve a common-law marriage is to continuously commit fornication for a period of time. The end does not justify sin. "And why not say, "Let us do evil that good may come"? --as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just" (Romans 3:8).

Marriage in the Bible is based on the covenant made between a man and a woman. "Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Malachi 2:14). A covenant involves vows, but it is not the same as a vow. There are several requirements for a covenant to exist. See: What are covenants? and Marriage Covenants. Where the covenant is made is not important. What important is that formal vows are exchanged in front of witnesses and before God with a record kept showing the existence of the covenant. Thus, private promises are insufficient for the purpose of a marriage covenant.

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