Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

“Before God AND Man”

Categories: GOVERNMENT, MARRIAGE, RELATIONSHIPS
     If a couple gets married by a christian pastor but does not record it with the local government, how does God view it?  I would assume He deems it legal and binding.  But, of course, the government does not view it as legal and binding.  Thank you for answering my question!

Sincerely,
Veiled Vows

Dear Veiled Vows,

Whether or not the marriage is legitimate could very much be debated, but there is really no Biblical precedent for being “married before God” and not married before the law.  Christians are supposed to obey the laws of the land (Rom 13:1-3).  In fact, you can't even find a verse that says marriages need to be performed by religious figures.  If a religious figure could perform a marriage ceremony without legal documentation... why couldn't a Justice of the Peace perform the same ceremony without legal documentation?  The religious leader doesn’t have any more biblical authority to skip the paperwork than the civil leader would.

The Scriptures say that people should get married rather than live together in a sinful relationship (1 Cor 6:18), AND they say that we should obey the laws of the land (1 Pet 2:13-15).  In your scenario, the couple would be obeying one command… but not the other (if they are “not legally married”, that – by definition – means they would be doing something they believe/know is illegal).  We can’t simply obey some of God’s laws and forsake the others.  The sum of God’s Word is truth (Ps 119:160).