Because it has been redefined to now include same sex unions, and expanded to involve “throuples” (three people), I thought it might be interesting to look at exactly what constitutes a marriage and when and where God acknowledges it, according to the Bible.
While scripture doesn’t explicitly state at what exact point God considers a couple to be married there are three common viewpoints:
1) God only considers a couple married when they are legally married.
· ROM 13:1 submit to governing authorities
2) A couple is married after completing a formal wedding ceremony.
· GEN 2:22 God oversees the first “ceremony”
3) God considers a couple to be married the moment they engage in sexual intercourse.
· MTT 19:5 fulfillment of the one flesh principle
So, based on these scriptures, it would seem that the following principles could be observed.
· As long as the requirements are reasonable and not against the Bible, a couple should seek whatever formal governmental recognition is available.
· A couple should follow whatever cultural and familial practices/ceremonies are typically employed to recognize a couple as “officially married.”
· A couple must consummate the marriage sexually, fulfilling the physical aspect of the “one flesh” principle.
What if one or more of these principles are not fulfilled, is a couple still considered married in God’s eyes? Ultimately, that’s between the couple and God and He knows our hearts. (1JHN 3:20) God knows the difference between a true marriage covenant and an attempt to justify sexual immorality.
So then, what is God's definition of the marriage covenant? According to Scripture, it's a one-flesh, whole-life union between one man and one woman. This union covers every aspect of human existence: the physical, the sexual, the mental, the emotional, the moral, the spiritual, and the economic.
The marriage covenant definition was summed up by Moses in the Old Testament:
“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” (GEN 2:24) The path is clear, there are two people… and only two. We can see the genders involved… one of each.
Those same words are then plainly repeated verbatim by Jesus in the New Testament while adding, “Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” (MTT 19:6)
Obviously God has a plan for marriage, which comes with a definition; let’s not tear it apart.