Common law marriage and church membership

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Salty, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. Salty

    Salty
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    We have had some interesting discussions about common law marriage.

    On this thread lets come from a different direction.

    So this couple come to your church, attend for a while, and decide to join. Somehow it come out that Jack and Jill say they are in a common-law marriage.

    Do you permit them to join, without a legal marriage.
    Would it matter if there state or commonwealth recognizes it?
    Would it matter for how long they had been co-cohabiting?

    Do you ( will you in the future )ask about marital status?

    Should a church pulpit committe ask the same question of a candidate?

    Salty

    ps I know its a can of worms - thats what I do best
     
  2. tinytim

    tinytim
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    Common law is a legal marriage

    All states recognize it..
    That would be a question I would ask, to discern intent

    Usually upon the first time of talking to new visitors, I introduce myself and wife, and usually they do the same... or it comes out whether or not they are married, single, etc...
    Sure, they need to know the marital status of their pastor.

    YEp.. you do
     
  3. Trotter

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    No, I would not permit them to join in their present circumstance and would stand against it. It would not matter if the state/commonwealth/Disneyworld recognizes it, nor would it matter how long they had lived in their sinful state.
    That would be inquired about before they would be allowed into the church. Our pastor interviews all who wish to join the church to discover their spiritual condition. Living together outside of a real marriage would be something that would be inquired about.
    Yes. Any candidate who would be so foolish as to seek the position of pastor while living in this condition has no business leading any church. This would also be a great question for a search committee to ask a prospective pastor how he would handle this very situation.

    Sorry, but this is something that I just cannot see how a church could condone.
     
  4. Allan

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    No Tim, not all states recognize it



    I agree, if they 'are' married, in accordance with state laws then they are in fact married.
     
  5. tinytim

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    Yes, Allan all states do.

    I am talking about a couple moving from the state where their common law marriage was legal to another state..

    All states recognize this.

    For instance, a person with a common law marriage in CO, moves to WV.. although a couple cant get a common law marriage here, when they move to WV.. WV recognizes their marriage from CO.

    So in that case, WV acknowledges the marriage. Therefore, they are legally considered married here.
     
  6. Jerome

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    Given the apparent widespread ignorance about common law marriage, my first question to them would be "Are you sure?".
     
  7. Tom Bryant

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    While I have never asked to see anyone's marriage certificate, if I thought people were just living together without having been married by a justice of the peace or a pastor, I would not allow them to become members.

    Maybe common law marriages are every where else, but here in FL, even with senior adults, people are just living together without any kind of formal or informal ceremony. Your mileage probably varies.
     
  8. billreber

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    Just a note to remind my brothers and sisters on the Board -- ALL marriages up until the last couple hundred years were "common-law" marriages. Then somebody in government got the idea that they could make money by requiring a "marriage license". I do not see any such thing mentioned (nor required) in the Bible!

    To the OP -- if the couple meet the requirements of the Bible and of the state/commonwealth they live in and/or were "married" in, yes I would accept that marriage as legal and valid. If they do NOT meet those requirements, I would not. Of course, I am not a pastor!!:laugh:

    The requirements for a candidate for the pulpit are up to the local body. I would hope they would examine this area as well and seek God's guidance.

    Bill :godisgood:
     
  9. matt wade

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    I disagree. Are you telling me that before the last couple of hundred years there weren't marriage ceremonies and witnesses to marriages? Of course there were. Whether there was government involvement or not isn't the point. I believe the point is, are two people married simply because one day they say "We are married" and start living together? I don't think so, I believe there needs to be a formal exchange of vows with witnesses.
     
  10. annsni

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    I'm not sure that it would come up for a long time because a couple would just state that they were married if they WERE married under common law. If they file their taxes as married and live as they are married and the state recognized their marriage, I don't see how the issue would come up.

    But there is this couple in our church who we thought were married. My husband was driving to the men's retreat and they were all discussing marriage and DH asked this man, who was newer to the church how long he and his wife were married. He kind of hesitated then said "We're not." Hubby was quite wise in not going into a whole lot with that but just asked him "So what's stopping you from doing it?" (this man and the woman we thought was his wife were living together, had a child together and had 4 other children from previous marriages too.) He was surprised that he wasn't attacked about it but lovingly spoken to and as the discussion ensued, he said he WANTED to get married but was afraid to tell anyone. So hubby told him he'd be happy to get it all arranged - just pick a date. He was married 4 weeks later. :) It was such a great blessing and now this family is together as they should be.

    I guess the big issue is what is the couple's heart on the matter. Did they "live in sin" and become common law before they were saved or maybe in a time of rebellion that now they are "back in the fold" from or are they kind of thumbing their nose at the institution of marriage and feel that "we don't need a piece of paper to love each other". Both of those would have very different responses, I'd think.
     
  11. Salty

    Salty
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    Ann,
    I think Hubby handled it in a very mature, spiritual and non-threating way. :thumbsup::thumbsup: :thumbsup: (notice he gets 3 thumbs up)

    Maybe from the pulpit we can preach fire and brimstone, but when we deal with a person one-on-one, especially in todays "sensitive society" we do need to use caution while dealing with certain subjects.

    Salty
     
  12. donnA

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    do churches actually ask for your marriage license when you join, I've not heard of anyone being questionsed about their marriage when joining a church.
    Which makes me wonder, how do you prove your married when your married by common law and do not have a certificate?
     
  13. Salty

    Salty
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    Many Baptist churches do ask for a letter when transferring membership.
    Principal is the same.
     
  14. donnA

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    thats a letter of member in good standing, not a mariage license.
     
  15. Salty

    Salty
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    and a marriage license indicates two people are living together in good standing.
     
  16. dcorbett

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    If a new couple attends our church, sooner or later, the truth comes out if they are only living together and not married. Pastor counsels them and usually they get married. If they don't, they cannot serve in any of the ministries, and eventually they end up leaving quietly and going to one of those lukewarm churches that allow people to continue to sin AND work in the ministry.

    By the way, allowing people to continue to sin AND work in the ministry blocks the Holy Spirit from working.
     
  17. CF1

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    Here is a Wikipedia Definition of Common Law Marriage.

    The definition varies from state to state.

    The IRS recognizes a common law marriage if it is recognized by the state where the taxpayers now live or where the common law marriage began. (see link to IRS)

    As a Christian I don't see why it makes sense to be married only in common law when a solemnized marriage is available.

    A Christian goes above and beyond the legal requirement with a wedding under God as well as the state.

    When I was married it was in a foreign country and we had two weddings: first with a small group at the government building with the government official, then with a large group the next day at a church. We considered the church wedding to be the one recognized by God. The government wedding was just the legal wedding, but an important part of the process to be recognized by government to be married.
     
    #17 CF1, Mar 5, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2010
  18. pinoybaptist

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    Tim, I am curious.
    Is it a law that cohabiting with someone without the usual papers, licenses, or permits is deemed legal ?

    Or is it simply recognition instead of legalization.

    I can understand the "reciprocal" stuff.
     
  19. pinoybaptist

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    I wouldn't if I were the pastor.
    And I don't think they would want to join our church because they will know early on by sermon or by discussion we do not approve of divorce, and it follows we won't approve of common-law cohabitation.
     
  20. Salty

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    and I thought I opened a can of worms. (Pinoy - think we should start a thread on that - )
     

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