This is not going to be a teachy kind of article. This is going to be a I'm-not-really-sure-of-the-answer-so-maybe-my-readers-can-help-me-out kind of article. So then, maybe that does make this a teachy kind of article where you teach me, rather than where I discuss the teaching topic.
And this article will also not discuss the controversial one-man-one-woman aspect of marriage, though I have no compunctions whatsoever over definitively stating that God's plan for marriage is most definitely, without a doubt, undeniably, one-man-one-woman. But recent events in my life, not specifically in my own, but in the lives of others that I know, have got me wondering about this topic and asking questions that I've not heard a lot of people ask, or answer, before. So let's dive in.
When it comes to marriage, we know that God expects a lifetime commitment from both parties. But the question that comes to mind is, when does that commitment begin? Does it begin when the marriage is consumated? Does it begin when the two decide upon marriage? Does it begin when the two sign a marriage license? What if the two have a ceremony, yet never sign a marriage certificate? Does God recognize that marriage?
And the next set of questions is directed at what happens if there is a dissolution of that marriage. What if the two, who have had a ceremony yet have not signed a marriage certificate, decide to dissolve the marriage; what are God's views on that marriage? Was it ever a marriage in His eyes to begin with and, if so, at what point does God decide the two are no longer married?
We know from scripture that God considers the first wife/husband of a person to always be that person's wife/husband, even if they divorce and remarry. And that anyone who later marries the divorced persons is an adulterer. (Matthew 19) (Which causes a bit of stress for me considering my husband was married to, and divorced, another woman before we were married.) But again, when does God recognize the coming together of two people as a marriage? We can get very theological and say God recognizes it as a marriage from the beginning of time, since God is eternal and is not a part of time, which I would not, could not, disagree with. But from a human timeline perspective, when does the commitment start? What if the couple disobeys the command to remain pure until (the secular version of) marriage begins? Does God consider them married prior to the signing of official documents and the ceremony?
I could, and will, enter into a lot of prayer and research in the scriptures and with more mature Christians, but I'd like to hear from you. Have you ever considered these points? And if so, have you found an answer to them? Please keep your responses scriptural rather than anecdotal.