Cohabitation

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by North Carolina Tentmaker, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. North Carolina Tentmaker

    North Carolina Tentmaker
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    In the thread on divorce and remarry I mentioned that I did once deny a couple that asked me to perform a marriage ceremony for them. I did this not because they were divorced, I have no problem with that, but we can beat that to death on the other thread, but I refused because they were living together.

    This was not a decision I took lightly, I cared deeply for the both members of the couple in question. It was a matter of much prayer and I sought the council of other men who had helped me in the past. It was also not a decision I made when they asked. It was a decision I had made years before when I set guidelines for myself and who I would or would not marry. I will marry divorced people, depending on the circumstances. I will not marry a couple that is living together.

    So what do you do with a couple that is living together and wants to get married? Obviously we would rather they get married then continue living together right? But can we gloss over that sin with no repentance or acknowledgement? I can not.

    I gave this couple 3 options:

    Option 1: Get married right now. I mean at that moment right there in my office or wherever you are when they ask. Forget about the license and the ring and the piano music. Just exchange vows before God almighty and let me pronounce you man and wife. You’re living in sin. Let’s turn from that sin and fix it right now. Then, later we can have the big ceremony. We can get the license and you can renew your vows in front of your family and friends.

    Option 2: (my preference) Separate. Move out, separate, end the sinful condition you’re living in, and then get married. Financially this can be tough but most people have friends who can put them up for a while. I asked the couple to consider it a fast of abstinence like Paul mentions in I Cor 7:5
    Give yourselves a season of fasting and prayer for your marriage. Acknowledge your sin before God and show him how serious you are by abstaining for a season. Ask for his blessings on your family and offer this as a sacrifice. You know there will be times in your marriage when you are apart for one reason or another. Show your spouse that you are dedicated to them by resisting this temptation for a season. Then when one is deployed or working in anther town or you are separated for any reason you will have that faith and confidence in each other that you will be faithful. If you can’t do without “it” for a couple months before the wedding why would I believe you will be faithful after?

    I have used this option before with couples that were not cohabitating but that I suspected had a biblical knowledge of one another before the wedding. I never asked and told them specifically I did not want to know, that was between them and God. But I recommended that if they were involved in a sinful physical relationship they end it immediately.

    Option 3: Get someone else to marry you.

    The couple in question went with option 3.

    So enough of my thoughts, what do you think. Preachers, if a couple living together wants you to marry them what is your answer. Are there other options I have not considered?
     
  2. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    This doesn't solve the problem though. Without the license, they are still not married. Vows are not some kind of hocus pocus you say to legitimize living together.

    Typically, I say to separate. In some cases, I say I will marry you as soon as you want (given other factors like spiritual state), but the sex has to stop immediately.
     
  3. matt wade

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    So the government now has control over when a couple is married in God's eyes? Sure, they can control the "legal in the governments eyes" portion, but certainly not the spiritual side. Marriage licenses haven't existed for all that long...
     
  4. sag38

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    I agree with Matt. But, in my experience no one has takem me up on the offer. Some have repented, moved a part, and waited until the marriage date. Most have gotten angry and found some marryinig sam to perform the ceremony.
     
  5. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    The Bible doesn't know anything about being "married in God's eyes" as opposed to being married in someone else's eyes. That is simply an unbiblical distinction. Marriage is an institution by God, but it is administrated by the state, and as such, marriage in God's eyes is marriage that is entered into under the state's or society's guidelines, whatever that may be. We are to submit to every government authority. Marriage is no exception.

    But where they do exist, we are bound to follow them.

    Here's an interesting thought for you: Where does the Bible give pastors the responsibility or authority to marry?

    When you look at the Bible teaching on marriage, it is clear about what marriage is and what it entails. It doesn't give us any indication as to who governs it. The church is never given the authority or responsibility to govern marriage. It is a societal institution.
     
  6. Aaron

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    Sure it does. To what did Christ appeal to correct the Pharisees' errors concerning marriage?

    Neither is the state. Marriage is not an ordinance of man.
     
  7. steveo

    steveo
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    I was also asked recently to perform a marriage ceremony for my little sister. Her and her fiancee have been going to church and say they are christians even though I'm not sure they are living it. I haven't got to meet with them yet as she was in a bad car accident the day after he gave her a ring and she just got home this past wed from the hospital. She had some serious injuries and it is a God thing she is alive. She has some brain injury but they believe she will recover from it. Our family was in shock and worried to death about her and as we were talking her fiancee told me she was about to call me to ask me to perform the wedding. Talk about being put on the spot. Of course I would want to perform it but I will want to ask some tough questions and if they are having sex they would have to abstain from that even though I don't believe it will be an issue as she is having some issues right now walking etc..
    I just didn't think it was the right time to get into all that at the time, and as she gets better we are going to meet.
    Pray for her and me!
     
  8. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    I think you missed the point. Marriage is certainly an institution of God. It is not an institution of the church. That's the point. Jesus appealed to Scripture, as do I.

    As a pastor, I have no biblical mandate to marry people. I don't have to. I can carry out my duties as pastor without every performing a marriage. Under the laws of this state (and most other states), I am permitted to.

    But marriage is not an institution of the church (Catholic dogma not withstanding).

    There are some countries where a civil wedding must also take place, or rather where the religious wedding is irrelevant for terms of marriage. As a citizen of the state, we are bound to abide under the stipulations the state makes, provided they do not contradict the Bible.

    Since the Bible gives no teaching on "marriage in God's eyes" as being different from any other kind of marriage, we should not make such a distinction either.

    You would have a hard time explaining the historical practice of marriage however. Ever pagan nations practiced marriage, as unbelievers do, and those marriages are recognized by God as valid marriages.

    If a state says that a pastor can marry a couple without a marriage license, then fine. But if the state says that a couple must have a marriage license, then they must have one or they are not married and are still living in sin.
     
  9. Aaron

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    I agree.

    The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth. It should guide the state in it's proper relationship to marriage, which is merely to protect it. Marriage is also a matter of conscience. If a man and woman cannot in good conscience bring the state into their union, they are married with or without that license.
     
  10. North Carolina Tentmaker

    North Carolina Tentmaker
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    steveo, praying for you and your family brother.

    Just my opinion, but this is a delicate position you are in. You need to be able to draw a line between minister and big brother. As a minister there may be things you can't do. I don't know if you are inclined to do the wedding or not. But you need to make sure as her big brother you support her no matter what.

    Often when dealing with family those lines get fuzzy. Not that we are compromising our beliefs, but simply that we are fulfilling different roles.
     
  11. mparkerfd20

    mparkerfd20
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    That's a delicate situation and you could potentially be put in a bad spot. I will definitely be praying for you AND your little sister's speedy recovery.
     
  12. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    No, for a number of reasons. First, the Bible doesn't give this responsibility to the church to guide the state in anything. Second, marriage existed and was governed long before the church.

    In a word, No. Marriage is no more a matter of conscience than fornication, adultery, stealing, paying taxes, etc. It is a matter of law. If a man and woman cannot in good conscience bring the state into their union (which doens't even make any sense ... how the state in a marriage??), then they should not get married.

    But you don't get to disregard Scripture and the state simply because your conscience is badly trained.
     
  13. matt wade

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    Yeah...I seem to remember some people in the book of Genesis that were married. No licenses, no government, no problem. God instituted marriage. He governs it. Sorry, no government can supercede the authority of God.
     
  14. Thinkingstuff

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    A church I once attended had this issue. A person was living with his girlfriend. He attended the church regularily. It was a small church. He taught sunday school to adults, and he also was selected to be a deacon. Though it was common knowledge of his relationship with his livein girl friend. after about a year he married his girl friend and retain his position throughout. I had serious problems with this. No at the same time this female who sang in the choir got pregnant by her boyfriend whom she didn't live with. She confessed her sin before the entire church and stopped her relationship with her non christian boyfriend. She made a contract with the church to go to counciling and stay out of the choir ministry for a year. After the Year was up she was not allowed to return even though she repented and turned her life around. She was also blackballed from certain events. When I confronted the pastor about the issues here he laid it at the feet of the entire congregation and said it was their decision. The only difference that I can see betweent the woman and the man was that she couldn't hide being pregnant. Unjust? I think so. Lack of pastoral leadership? I also think so. I left the church shortly thereafter. However, the church I'm at now allows a couple of women who are divorsed and having sexual relationships (by their own admition) with boyfriends to teach the children and participate with Awana I think because there are so few children volunteers. What do you think about these situations? (BTW SBC)
     
  15. matt wade

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    I think that anyone living in open sin should not be allowed any position of leadership within the church, including children's ministries. Furthermore the Biblical process of discipline should be followed. BTW, my statements are about any sin, not just the ones you mentioned.
     
  16. annsni

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    Well, we had a bit of a to-do with a woman who was in the church play who it was found had a man living in her home. From what we understand, he just needed a place to stay and so she opened her home to him. The problem is that she is divorced and has no man in her home - but has a teen daughter and a young daughter there. She was told she had a choice - he leaves or she's out of the play. She chose to leave. Every member of our church who volunteers or is paid staff signs a ministry contract which includes the idea of living a life that is above reproach. I think I've posted it here on BB before - I'm at church or else I'd post it again. But any of the situations above would fall under the items in the ministry covenant and they would be pulled from ministry - even if it means shutting down the ministry. That's their problem - not ours, honestly. They put themselves in the position of having us shut down the ministry by their disobedience to the Lord.

    As for the young woman who was pregnant and did what she should have done, we had a similar situation. The young woman also got up and repented before the church and did what was right. It was awesome to see her humbleness and brokenness and to see the church pull alongside her and help her through her pregnancy and early parenthood. That woman now has a 4 year old little boy and found a wonderful Godly man and is getting married in a couple of months. She certainly was not shunned but she certainly didn't get away with her sin because of the things that she did afterwards (similar to your situation with counseling and such). It's sad that when a person wants to repent,they're not allowed by those who have quite the plank in their own eyes. :( If they only realized what God did for them, I think there would be very different responses.
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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    How do you know that there was no societal guidelines about marriage? The fact is that there was legal recognition of marriage in the ANE.

    But the issue is not licenses per se. It is obedience to God. If the place where you live requires a marriage license, then you are bound by Scripture to get one.

    No dispute about that. God has commanded that we submit to human government. When the human government says you need a license to get married, God has authoritatively said what you must do, and that is get a license. This is not biblically debatable.

    What would you recommend to a couple living in a country that doesn't recognize the legal status of a church marriage?
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    IF someone is not legally married, and yet living together, they are living in open sin. You were condoning that previously.
     
  19. canadyjd

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    Exactly where in scripture to you find Almighty God giving pastors the authority to pronounce a couple "man and wife"?

    peace to you:praying:
     
  20. canadyjd

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    Matt. 19:6 "....what therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

    That is a clear distinction between what is a marriage in "God's eyes" and what is a marriage in the eyes of men.
    So, if the government OK's multiple wives, it's ok in the eyes of God. And if the government OK's same s*x marriages (as some governments already have) we are bound to accept it?
    Hey! No fair! I already asked that question in the other thread.
    Is it societal? Or is it religious?

    Or is it a private matter between a man and a woman and Almighty God?

    peace to you:praying:
     
    #20 canadyjd, Feb 6, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2009

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