When we hear or think about cohabitated families, we naturally assume that this refers to two people (or more) living together without the benefit of a marriage ceremony.  We read in Exodus 20:14, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”  To engage in sexual activity with someone you are married to is adultery and it dishonors and disappointments the Lord.  It is the Lord Himself who instituted the marriage relationship.  We read in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”  So, what exactly is marriage?  How does a man lawfully take a woman to be his wife?

Let’s consider Mark 10:9, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”  It is truly only the Lord that can really join two people together and make them as one.  We are strongly cautioned in 1 Corinthians 7:39 to be sure that our marriage is “in the Lord”, or approved of and led by the Lord.  So then, why does our union need to be ‘blessed by a pastor’ for the Lord to recognize it?

Let’s consider Romans 13:1-3, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.”  These words of the Apostle Paul were written to let us know that we should be obedient to our government and its laws.  As believers on the Lord Jesus, we are to ‘subject’ ourselves to all our ‘higher powers’ which would include local, state, and federal laws.

To have an official marriage, one must obey the laws of his/her country in order for the Lord to consider the union to be true.  In most countries and societies, there must be a marriage officiant.  The officiant’s responsibility is to receive and witness the consent of the intended spouses and to ensure the legal formalities are observed.  In the USA, it does not require a pastor to perform this service.  There are many that are duly recognized by our government as being able to perform legal marriage ceremonies.  People such as judges, ship captains, justices of the peace, and others can be authorized to perform marriage ceremonies.  When we are obedient to our government and become married lawfully, the Lord will acknowledge that as a proper marriage, unless it violates the Lord’s definition of marriage as one man and one woman.

When we marry ‘in the Lord’ in accordance with the laws of our countries, the Lord will bless our unions and our families as we continue to follow Him and raise our children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)  (214.4)