Does the Bible talk about common law marriage?
Does the Bible talk about common law marriage?
In Genesis 24:67, Isaac married Rebecca by bringing her to his mother’s tent and taking her as his wife. There was no public ceremony.
Was it a common law marriage? And is that a bad thing?
In New Testament times, a public ceremony, an exchange of vows, and a declaration of covenant are clearly expected.
Jesus began his ministry at a wedding ceremony, turning water into wine, and often makes descriptive references to weddings in his parables.
“Jesus had a high opinion of marriages and marriages that were sanctioned by the religious community,” said Reverend Lyle Dorsett, Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. “His first miracle was at a wedding feast.”
Hebrews 13:4 says that marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge adultery and immorality.
In John 4, Jesus speaks to the woman at the well and asks her to come back with her husband. She says she has no husband. Jesus replies that she had five husbands and that the man she lives with now is not her husband. It is a condemnation of his behavior, but with an offer of grace and forgiveness.
“Jesus frowns on the mere fact of living together, fornication and adultery,” Dorsett said. “The Bible makes it clear that any sexual behavior outside of monogamous marriage is sinful. We have a society that doesn’t want to believe that.”
Alabama law currently allows a couple to claim common law marriage. They are only required to have an agreement to enter into a marriage relationship and then present themselves as married to the public.
But with state legislation passed this year that will abolish common-law marriage starting next year, it has sparked discussion about couples living together without the benefit of a civil marriage ceremony or certificate. or religious.
Birmingham lawyer Eric Johnston, founder of the Southeast Law Institute, said common law marriage applications are rarely made in Alabama. He handled a few estate claims in which common law marriage was invoked.
“I have very rarely seen people who are married common-law,” Johnston said. “One will die and the other will pretend he was married or apply for social security saying he was married. I think there’s a fair amount of fraud involved.”
Changing the law will not be noticed by most people, he said. “I don’t think it will have a big impact. A key part of the common law marriage tradition is the intention to marry,” he said.
“They lived together and over time considered themselves married,” Johnston said. “They must be planning to get married.”
At a time when civil authorities and clergy were not easily accessible, common-law marriage was a more accepted idea, he said.
“I think at this point people will have gotten married if they intended to,” Johnston said. “It’s an easy thing to do. It’s a cultural thing that has changed over time.”
With a common law marriage claim, “You always question their intent,” Johnston said.
“If you have a ceremony, it’s an admission that you’re married and everyone knows it,” he said. “It all comes down to intention. If you’re going to get married, you have to tell people.”
The Christian church throughout its history has encouraged couples to take a vow that they will remain faithful until death.
“Christians recognize state or county recognized marriages,” Dorsett said. “For Christians, depending on their sacramental character, whether they marry in a church or through a minister, it is a dimension beyond what the state does. A de facto marriage, if it is recognized by state, then it is recognized by the Church.
A couple who are unmarried, but living together as if they were married, would be considered living in sin by the church.
“The church might say, if you’re a Christian, you have a responsibility to get married,” Dorsett said.
“We urge people to go ahead and get married,” he said. “If a couple lived in an environment where they couldn’t formally marry, that’s where grace would come in. I would bless those people and recognize that because God would.”
Dorsett worries that couples who would normally marry sometimes don’t because the US government pays a woman with children better welfare benefits than if she were married. But if she lives out of wedlock with a man and he dies, she may not be entitled to the estate benefits she would otherwise receive if they were married.
“We pay women who are unmarried and have babies,” he said. “Our government’s laws encourage poor women never to marry in order to access welfare. This is a very unfortunate thing.”