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            We want to state before we go any further that while we believe that a sexual relationship between a man and a woman establishes a covenant relationship between them that binds upon them the scriptural obligation to live together before God as husband and wife, we do not believe that a marriage is nothing more than a sexual relationship. We will be accused by some of downgrading the Biblical institution of marriage. The problem is one of perception. Most people just do not see adultery and fornication as the vile and wicked acts that they are. Most people just do not understand the institution of marriage as it is presented in the Scriptures because they have not been taught properly. Another major part of the issue is that wicked men and women have made a mockery of fornication and adultery. Most men and women today cannot even blush because their conscience has been seared by the constant diet of sexual promiscuity and sexual perversion that they are fed through their televisions and movie theaters. The Devil has conned them into believing that fornication and adultery are casual sexual acts to be freely partook of. God does not view fornication and adultery as a mere sexual act. It is a very serious thing with God. God’s perspective on adultery and fornication is that it is an attack upon the institution of marriage. That is why God established the death penalty for fornication and adultery under the Old Testament law. Adultery and fornication are also a picture of Satan’s attack upon the Bride Of Christ. Fornication and adultery are Satan’s counterpart to God’s institution of marriage. The bride of Satan is a whore. The Bride Of Christ is a chaste virgin. If Christian men and women lived with the perception that sex is an equivalent act to marriage, we would have a whole lot less fornicating pastors and preachers in our pulpits.

            You will hear this stated many times throughout this book. Scriptural marriage is intended to be one man with one woman for a lifetime. God hates divorce. The Bible says that a man and a woman marry when they become one flesh. The concept of one flesh can be summarized as follows: “No man or woman ever becomes separated from their own flesh until they die”. That is why we can state that God intended that marriage be an “until death do is part” event. Put another way, when you become one flesh with the opposite sex God intends for that relationship to be permanent until it is put asunder by death. That is why fornication and adultery is so wicked in the eyes of God.

            Contrary to what many fundamentalist and Baptist preachers and pastors preach and teach, God does not put most marriages together. For anyone to teach such a doctrine is a wicked slap in the face of God the Holy Ghost Who authored the Scriptures. When God sets forth the standards for two people being allowed to become one flesh and those standards are violated, then it is obvious that God did not put those marriages together. While God in his permissive will allows unscriptural marriages, he does not put them together. God does not put a believer and an unbeliever together. The scriptures do not say: “what therefore God has allowed to be joined together, let not man put asunder. The scripture is emphatic that God joined it together. The only marriages that can possibly be described as having been put together by God are those involving either two Jews or two Bible believing Christians. We believe that God intends marriage to be a high and holy picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Bride, The Church of the redeemed. For that reason, we are totally opposed to any form of polygamy because the Bride of Christ is one body both spiritually and physically with the Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! The Lord Jesus Christ has but one Bride and Wife in Revelation 19 and that is the church of the living God. By stating we are opposed to any form of polygamy we mean that we are opposed to any form of polygyny that puts one man with multiple wives at the same time, or any form of polyandry that puts one woman with multiple husbands at one time. We are opposed to a man keeping concubines for the same reason. Most of you are in for a real shock as we go forward in our discussion just as we have been in preparing this book! We better read and study our Bibles very carefully because if we do not, we will end up ignorantly hurting some of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have seen many divorced people abused from our pulpits over the years. We have seen many once married peacocks kick a divorced man when he is down. Many of the once married peacocks carry a razor and a shaker of salt around to keep those wannabe “double married” preachers in their proper place of pain and eternal punishment.

Proverbs 30:12-14
12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness. 13 There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up. 14 There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.

            Just because we quote an individual here and then document why we disagree with them doctrinally does not mean that we do not think they are a brother in the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor does it mean that we think they are our enemies. Nor does it mean we would break fellowship with them because they disagree with us over the content of this book.

            From the Scriptures we can state that God had at least a five-fold purpose in ordaining a husband and wife relationship: (1) To populate the earth; (2) To subdue the earth; (3) To have dominion over every living thing; (4) To provide Adam with companionship; (5) To provide Adam with an help meet. We can find this five-fold purpose stated in Genesis 1:27-28 and 2:18 where we see:

Genesis 1:27-28
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 2:18
18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

The first three purposes are contained in Genesis 1:28 with Genesis 2:18 containing the last two purposes. God did not create woman that man might have an adversary or a robot (slave). That is the way the Devil would have it. Neither did God create a man that God might have an adversary or a robot. God intended that a man might be submitted to him in the same manner as a woman is to be submitted to her husband. It is a chain of command that was created in love. God created woman that the man might have companionship and a help meet for carrying out God’s purpose. It is in fulfillment of three of those purposes that God created the institution we call marriage. Marriage was the first institution that God ordained followed by the family. God’s first commandment to mankind was to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). That commandment was obeyed in the act of becoming one flesh and God producing the fruit thereof. The act of becoming one flesh established the husband and wife relationship according to Genesis 2:24:

Genesis 2:24
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Genesis 2:24 is at least partially quoted five more times in the Bible with the scriptural definition of marriage as being “one flesh” never being changed. Genesis 2:24 is also partially quoted in Malachi 2:15 with the use of the phrase “And did he not make one?”. Genesis 3:24 is quoted in the following passages:

Malachi 2:15
15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

Matthew 19:4-6

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Mark 10:6-8

6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

1 Corinthians 6:16-17

16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

Ephesians 5:31-32

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

This particular passage is quoted in 1 Corinthians 6:16 in the context of the longest passage on marriage in the New Testament with that being 1 Corinthians chapter 7. The law of first mention defines a wife as woman who has become one flesh with a man in Genesis 2:24. The word marry” sees its first mention in Genesis 38:8 where the word marryis defined as a man going in unto a woman for the purpose of producing seed. This verse states:

Genesis 38:8
8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

Unmarried people become guilty of fornication when they come together sexually and then do not live together as husband and wife as commanded in the Scriptures. God considered the sexual relationship to be of such importance that the law required death for those who violated Biblical commandments concerning it. Married people who come together sexually with someone they are not married to commit fornication and adultery. Adultery comes under the broad umbrella of fornication in the New Testament. See the definitions section at the rear of the book. (We understand that adultery and fornication come from two different Greek words, but don’t pull out your Greek sword yet. You may give yourself a deadly wound). Now, Genesis 2:24 and Genesis 38:8 would normally be enough to convince most Bible students that a husband and wife relationship, or marriage, is established by the act of becoming one flesh, but that is not the case in the subject before us. Tragically, many men in our pulpits and men and women in our pews have been blinded by teaching and preaching that is more holy than the Scriptures. In fact, it is a teaching that exceeds the righteousness of the Scriptures.

            The words marriage and wedding are used interchangeably in the New Testament. The word “marriage” is used 17 times in the New Testament while the word “wedding” is used 7 times. Most of the time the two terms are used to refer to the marriage supper and the wedding feasts that followed the man and woman becoming one flesh. That is true of the marriage (supper) in John 2:1-11 and of the marriage supper in Revelation 19:7-9.

            Many Baptist and fundamentalist preachers, teachers, and pastors hold to a very Roman Catholic doctrine of what constitutes a scriptural marriage. Here is why we say that. The Roman Catholic Church holds that a marriage is a ceremony to be presided over by the church which is the same view held by many Baptists including many Independent Baptists. That doctrine will not stand the test of the Scriptures. Marriage is one of the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. Because they unscripturally declare marriage to be a sacrament, they feel that they are the only earthly authority divinely authorized to dispense marriage. This makes the authority to contract a marriage to be vested in the Roman Catholic Church. The custom of having a ceremony with a priest, pastor, or preacher present came slithering up out of the crypts of Roman Catholic theology. Here is the proof:

Those who shall attempt to contract marriage otherwise than in the presence of the parish priest, or of some other priest by permission of the said parish priest, or of the Ordinary, and in the presence of two or three witnesses; the holy Synod renders such wholly incapable of thus contracting and declares such contracts invalid and null, as by the present decree It invalidates and annuls them. Moreover It enjoins, that the parish priest, or any other priest, who shall have been present at any such contract with a less number of witnesses (than as aforesaid); as also the witnesses who have been present thereat without the parish priest, or some other priest; and also the contracting parties themselves; shall be severely punished, at the discretion of the Ordinary. (Council Of Trent, Seventh Session, Decree On Reformation Chapter 1, July 15, 1563)

The authority to contract marriage is not Scripturally vested in any church including the Roman Catholic Church. Neither does the Roman Catholic Church have any scriptural authority to annul marriages. If you are a New Testament preacher or pastor, you do not have the scriptural power or authority to state: “By the power vested in me, I pronounce you husband and wife”. A church or state authority may have wrongfully granted you that authority, but it is not scriptural. The authority to contract marriage is scripturally vested in the family and its individuals. For those of you who will not marry divorced couples, you do not have the scriptural authority to “marry” anyone regardless of whether they have been divorced. Though civil authorities regulate marriage, they have no scriptural authority to contract marriages. In the Old Testament, it was generally the father of the Bridegroom that sought out a Bride for the Son. You never see an Old Testament priest in that role. Nor do you see an Old Testament priest officiating at any marriage ceremony, period. Nor is the king’s representative there officiating! The same pattern is repeated in the New Testament. We are not opposed to weddings and marriage ceremonies, but they are not required in the eyes of God for a marriage to be Scripturally valid and binding. It is the sexual act that makes a marriage scripturally binding. While we are not opposed to weddings, we have seen many so called Christian brides on their wedding days dressed in the most ungodly fashion that leaves little to the imagination. God’s standards for Christ honouring dress do not get thrown out of your bedroom into the publick arena on your wedding day.

            Throughout this book, we will continue to rebuke the idea that it is a ceremony that makes for a Biblical marriage. You will not find one commandment in the Old Testament to a priest or in the New Testament to a pastor or preacher that directs them to conduct marriage ceremonies. Neither will you find one example in either Testament of a religious or governmental official conducting a marriage ceremony or vows. What you will find in the Old Testament is that all instructions, commandments, and charges regarding marriage are given to the parents. There is no scriptural authority vested in the church or in the government to institute marriages. In Exodus 22:16, the father even had the right to refuse to allow a man to marry his daughter even when the man had taken her virginity away.           

            We will start the next phase of our study with the dictionary definitions of the words betroth, espouse, bride, bridegroom, marry, husband, wife, and concubine. For a more in depth definition and description of these terms refer to the “Glossary Of Terms”. The Webster’s 1812 definition of espouse is:

To betroth; to promise or engage in marriage, by contract in writing, or by some pledge; as, the king espoused his daughter to a foreign prince. Usually and properly followed by to, rather than with. To marry; to wed.

The Webster’s 1812 definition of betroth is:

1. To contract to any one, in order to a future marriage; to promise or pledge one to be the future spouse of another; to affiance; used of either sex. “The father betroths his daughter”.

2. To contract with one for a future spouse; to espouse; as, a man betroths a lady.

So, we see that the definitions of betroth and espouse are essentially the same. The 1812 Webster’s Dictionary definition of bride is:

1. A woman newly married. But the name is applied to a woman at the marriage festival, before she is married, as well as after the ceremony.

2. A woman espoused, or contracted to be married.

The custom of continuing to call a woman a bride even after the wedding ceremony is thought to have originated in Deuteronomy 24:5 which states:

Deuteronomy 24:5
5 When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.

The 1812 Webster’s Dictionary definition of bridegroom is:

A man newly married; or a man about to be married.

The 1812 Webster’s Dictionary definition of marry is:

To enter into the conjugal state; to unite as husband and wife; to take a husband or a wife. To take for husband or wife. We say, a man marries a woman; or a woman marries a man. The first was the original sense, but both are now well authorized.

Notice that the definition of marry is focused upon becoming one flesh in this Webster’s definition. The word conjugal means to come together physically.

The Webster’s 1812 definition of husband is:

A man contracted or joined to a woman by marriage. A man to whom a woman is betrothed, as well as one actually united by marriage, is called a husband. Lev 19. Deu 22.

The Webster’s 1812 definition of wife is:

The lawful consort of man; a woman who is united to man in the lawful bonds of wedlock; the correlative of husband.

The Webster’s 1812 definition of concubine is:

1. A woman who cohabits with a man, without the authority of a legal marriage; a woman kept for lewd purposes; a kept mistress.

2. A wife of inferior condition; a lawful wife, but not united to the man by the usual ceremonies, and of inferior condition. Such were Hagar and Keturah, the concubines of Abraham; and such concubines were allowed by the Roman laws.

What we see in all these definitions above is a combination of scriptural descriptions and legal descriptions. The scriptural definition of a term may not be the same as the legal definition, but many times the legal definition of a term is the same as the scriptural definition. If the legal definition of term contradicts the scriptural definition of a term , we are bound to obey the scriptures. Such is the case in same sex “marriages” which are strictly forbidden by the Scriptures as being an abomination. The Webster’s 1812 definition of unmarried is:

Not married; having no husband or no wife.

            This is the case for Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:8. He states that he is unmarried. He does not state that he has never been married or that he is not divorced. We will discuss the implications of that later on in the chapter on “Standards For Church Service/Qualifications For Church Offices”. The only place that the word “unmarried” is used in the Scriptures is in 1 Corinthians 7 where it is used four times. The word “unmarried” is used both of the divorced women in 1 Corinthians 7:11 and of a virgin in 1 Corinthians 7:34. What this means is that the scriptural definition of an unmarried person is both a virgin who has never been married and the individual who has been married, but is now divorced. We realize that by definition that a virgin is one who has never had sex (been married) to an individual of the opposite sex. 

            The first two questions we will ask is what is an espousal and what is an engagement? The third question we will ask is: “what constitutes a scriptural marriage?”. Here are some of the questions that follow from that first three questions. Does a scriptural marriage require a ceremony? Does a scriptural marriage require a marriage license or certificate? Does a scriptural marriage require the presence of a priest, pastor, preacher, or state official as an administrator?

            What is the difference between an espousal and an engagement? In Matthew 1:18-19, we read:

Matthew 1:18-19

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

It is most important to note here that Joseph was espoused to Mary but they had not yet become husband and wife by becoming one flesh. In other words, they were not married. If the case was otherwise, there could have been no virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Note the following description:

“Betrothal with the ancient Hebrews was of a more formal and far more binding nature than the “engagement” is with us. Indeed, it was esteemed a part of the transaction of marriage, and that the most binding part.... Among the Jews the betrothal was so far regarded as binding that, if marriage should not take place, owing to the absconding of the bridegroom or the breach of contract on his part, the young woman could not be married to another man until she was liberated by a due process and a paper of divorce” [The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Copyright 1929, General Editor James Orr, page 1,997]. [Note from the author of this book: betrothal is the same as espousal]

We would note that this process is not contained in the Scriptures and that it was Jewish custom. Concerning this custom of betrothal, in the article titled “Betrothal And Nuptial Rites, the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia had this to say:

“The first step toward marriage was betrothal, involving the consent of the parent or guardian of the girl and the payment of a price. The act of betrothal is expressed by the Hebrew word “aras”; the price paid, by “mohar” (see Gen. xxxiv. 12; Ex. xxii. 16-17; Deut. xx. 7, xxii. 29; Hos. ii. 19-20). The mohar may be in the form of service in the field or in war (Gen. xxix.; I Sam. xviii. 25). Probably it was customary, even in early times, to give the bride some portion of the mohar, or at least to give her presents (Gen. xxiv. 53, xxxi. 15, xxxiv. 12). After betrothal the bride might be taken to her husband’s house and the nuptials celebrated either immediately or later (Gen. xxiv. 49-67; Judges xiv. 5 et seq.). The initial steps, it appears, were customarily taken by the parents of the suitor, who formally made the proposal (Gen. xxiv., xxxiv. 4-6; Judges xiv. 2, 10). Not infrequently, however, in the comparatively free social intercourse of those days, the young man and woman had met and formed a mutual attachment resulting in a love-match (Gen. xxix. 9-12, 18; I Sam. xviii. 20, 28).

The bride did not always go to her husband empty-handed. Sometimes she received gifts from her father, and a king’s parting gift to his daughter was in one case a conquered city (Josh. xv. 16 et seq.; Judges I. 12 et seq.; I. Kings ix. 16). In post-exilic times mention is made of a wife’s dowry and of a woman being able, by her own wealth, to support her husband (Tobit viii. 21; Ecclus [Sirach] xxv. 22). Mention is made also of a written marriage-contract (Tobit vii. 14).

After betrothal the bride was subject to the same restrictions as a wife (Deut. xxii. 23-24). Of the marriage ceremonial little is known; it is not mentioned at all in the story of Isaac, while in that of Jacob (Gen. xxix.) a marriage-feast and a nuptial week are spoken of. The central features in later times were the wedding-procession and the wedding-feast. The bridegroom in festive attire and accompanied by his friends went to the home of the bride, whence she, likewise in bridal garments, veiled, and accompanied by her companions, was led to the house of his parents (Isa. lxi. 10; Judges xiv. 10-11; Jer. ii. 32; Isa. xlix. 18; Ps. xlv. 8-15). The procession was enlivened with songs by, or in praise of, the bride and bridegroom, and was lighted, if in the evening, by torches or lamps (Jer. vii. 34, xvi. 9, xxv. 10; I Macc. ix. 37-39; Matt. xxv. 1-12; comp. Ps. xlv. and the Canticles, possibly representing such wedding-songs). There followed the nuptial feast in the house of the bridegroom, and the subsequent festivities sometimes continued for several days (Matt. ix. 15, xxii. 1-14; John ii. 1).” (Cited from http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/5941-exogamy [The Internet Edition Of The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia])

            This Jewish custom of betrothal and/or espousal is much more binding than its Gentile counterpart of “engagement” which can be broken without a decree of any court system though it may sometimes have some civil consequences. An engagement is a commitment by two individuals of opposite sex to marry one another at some point in time. Typically, it is not a legally binding commitment and can be broken at will.

            Under Jewish law, a man and a woman can be considered to be husband and wife without having ever been married. It exists in a state of espousal or betrothal. That condition was legal under Jewish law and right and holy in God’s eyes. However, the opposite condition also exists because of man’s wickedness. What we mean is that a man and a woman could be married, but not be husband and wife in God’s eyes or legally under man’s laws. We will use a New Testament case of adultery and bigamy to prove this point. According to Mark 6:17-18 a man can be married to a woman and her not be his wife . These verses say:

Mark 6:17-18
17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.

What these verses indicate is that though Herod was married to Herodias through a sexual relationship, he could not scripturally be her husband because she was scripturally married to Herod’s brother Philip. What we have here is a case of adultery and bigamy on the part of Herod and Herodias. Adultery and fornication are a violation of God’s law and being married to another person while you are still legally married to yet another person is bigamy according to man’s law in some nations. We have a similar situation with the woman at the well who the Lord Jesus Christ was dealing with in John 4:16-18 which says:

John 4:16-18
16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

In commenting on these verses, Pastor Robert Sargent had this to say:

“A formal (legal) covenanted agreement by itself does not constitute a marriage. (This is the Roman Catholic [sacramental] position, that a man and a woman are joined together by God at the altar with the priest.) A physical relationship alone does not constitute a marriage. If this were the case there would be no such thing as adultery or fornication! Note what Jesus said to the woman in John 4:18 – the man she was ‘living with’ was not her husband. See also: I Corinthians 7:2.” (Page 49, The ABCs Of Christian Maturity, Volume 1, Divorce, by Pastor Robert Sargent)

We quoted Pastor Sargent here because his viewpoint agrees with that of many fundamentalists. We disagree with Pastor Sargent here when he states that “a physical relationship alone does not constitute a marriage”. While that may be legally and traditionally true, it is not scripturally true. A physical relationship places a scriptural obligation upon a male and female couple to live together as husband and wife regardless of whether any ceremony or legal documents are involved. While the legal authorities may bind upon a couple a legal marriage, that legal marriage is not a scriptural marriage until the two become one flesh. Furthermore, even under civil law, common law marriages become legally binding marriages after so many years even if no ceremony was performed and no marriage license was ever issued. We agree with Pastor Robert Sargent that a formal (legal) covenanted agreement does not constitute a scriptural marriage. That requirement is no where found in the Scriptures. The lack of physical consummation of marriage formed the basis for religious annulments in times past which were not generally honoured by civil authorities unless it was accompanied by a legal bill of divorce. This same annulment concept was recognized in the ancient pagan code of Hammurabi which stated that: “128. If a man take a woman to wife, but have no intercourse with her, this woman is no wife to him.” The same is true today also. If a “legal” husband and wife do not become married to one another an annulment can be sought in many states were the “legal” marriage is declared null and void. Many of those who state that a physical relationship alone does not constitute a marriage argue that there must be an intent to become husband and wife. That is not what the Bible says. The Biblical standard says that if you become one flesh with an individual, then your actions announce to God that it is your intent to be husband and wife. In the Scriptures, if you enter into a physical relationship, you have established a de facto covenant as husband and wife. Turn in your Bibles to Exodus 22:16 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29 where we read:

Exodus 22:16
16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29
28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

            There is no betrothal, no espousal, no altar, and no ceremony involved in Exodus 22:16 or Deuteronomy 22:28-29. According to Exodus 22:16, when a man lies carnally with a woman he must endow her to be his wife. Where no betrothal exists, Deuteronomy 22:29 says that if a man and a woman are found lying together, then the woman shall be the man’s wife and he can never divorce her. There is no intent to become husband and wife here because from the context it can be emphatically implied that they thought they were getting by with something. In other words, they were having “casual sex”. They may have thought it was “casual sex”, but God considers it to be a binding, lifetime marriage though there is no intent to become husband and wife. In western culture, our conscious has become so seared by a constant bombardment of in your face sex that we no longer look upon sexual intercourse as being the act of marriage that God says it is. Many so-called Christian leaders and pastors have become so spiritually blinded by a constant diet of sex from their televisions that they dismiss what God calls a marriage as being mere pre-marital sex. 

            Now, let’s go back to the woman at the well. The reason the man living with the women at the well was not called her husband is because he was married to another woman. This was the same type of situation that John the Baptist rebuked Herod for! The Lord Jesus Christ did not say that the woman at the well had not married the man she was with at this time. He said that the man she was with at this time was not her husband. It is obvious that she was having a sexual relationship with a man that was not her husband, but was instead the husband of another woman. The woman at the well was married to him, but she was not his wife. The woman at the well was guilty of fornication and adultery because she was having sex with another woman’s husband. She had married him in the same sense as Herod had married Philip’s wife Herodias, but she could not scripturally have him as her husband just as Herod could not scripturally have Herodias as his wife though they were married. Many preachers and teachers teach that a husband or wife cannot be guilty of fornication which is a contradiction of Matthew 19:8 where the Lord Jesus Christ said a wife can be guilty of fornication. Many Independent Baptist preachers, pastors, and teachers teach that fornication only applies to premarital sex. Again, that teaching contradicts Matthew 19:8 and for that reason we reject that teaching. The idea that a married person cannot be guilty of fornication also contradicts Ezekiel 16 were a case of adultery is referred to as fornication in three different verses. We believe one of the reasons the penalty for adultery and fornication in the Old Testament was death is because God did consider the consummation of a sexual relationship as establishing a marriage covenant. One of the scriptural proofs of that statement is located in Deuteronomy 22:28-29. We would also note that the Lord Jesus Christ said to the woman at the well: “thou hast had five husbands”. What we can gather from that is that she had five men who were no longer her husbands. Note that “HAST HAD” is in the past tense. Also note that she had remarried which means that all of the divorces she had were legal under the law – Deuteronomy 24:1-2 – else she would have been stoned to death under the Mosaic Law – Deuteronomy 22:22. ). What that means is that she had a legal bill of divorce. When the Lord Jesus Christ stated “thou hast had five husbands”, it put to bed the doctrine that states that once you are married to someone that you can never divorce them. What that also means is that when someone divorces someone then that person is no longer considered to be their spouse (thou hast had). That means that they have zero husbands and zero wives until such time as they remarry. According to Matthew 19:9, if a person is scripturally divorced, then they are not guilty of adultery and therefore cannot be guilty of perpetual adultery.

            We are not trying to degrade the scriptural husband and wife relationship to a mere act of sexual intercourse, but we are trying to impress upon our readers how seriously God views acts of sexual intercourse that have not the intent to become husband and wife. If you have an act of sexual intercourse with someone then you impose upon yourself the scriptural obligation to make them your spouse.

            Again, in its first use in our Bibles the word marry occurs in Genesis 38:8 where its obvious definition is to go in unto for the purpose of producing seed. It is also clear from the context of Matthew 19:3-9 that the definition of marry is to become one flesh with someone of the opposite sex. Furthermore, it is clear from the context of 1 Corinthians 7:9 that a person was to marry rather than to continue to burn in lust for another person. It is obvious from the context of 1 Corinthians 7:9 that a ceremony is not being referred to, but the act of becoming one flesh. First Timothy 5:14 instructs the younger women to marry for the purpose of bearing and raising children.

            Though the first marriage is unique in nature, it does provide us with some instruction as to what constitutes a scriptural marriage. Turn in your Bibles to Genesis chapter 2 where we see:

Genesis 2:20-25
20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. 21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

            You never see anyone at a marriage altar in the Scriptures. Marriage is much more than a ceremony. A ceremony is nothing more than words. Marriage is a lifetime of walking what you talked at a ceremony. We do not see a formal wedding ceremony anywhere in the Scriptures. In fact, you can lie down without a ceremony and become one flesh and live happily ever after as husband and wife and it be perfectly pleasing unto God. You must be warned that if you lie down with a woman and become one flesh with her you are under an obligation to God to take her in as your wife. God does not take sexual relationships as lightly as men do and as lightly as many fundamentalist preachers do. The proof of that is that many fundamentalists will get livid when we say that having a sexual relationship is marriage in the eyes of God. Many see it as nothing more than an illicit sexual affair that is nothing more than a one-night stand. It is much more serious than a one-night stand. It is a marriage in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the Scriptures. What many compromised and fornicating “fundamentalist” preachers of today call pre-marital sex, would have resulted in a public outcry over a hundred years ago and would have led to what we called a “shotgun wedding”. Our “fundamentalist” preachers, teachers, and pastors need to get their heads out of the sewer of television, the cesspool of the internet, and the outhouses and toilets of their cell phones and start studying and boldly preaching the Word Of God. Many of our “fundamentalists” of today have become as the prophets of Judah in Jeremiah 8:10-12 which declares:

Jeremiah 8:10-12
10 Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them: for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. 11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. 12 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

The reason our “fundamentalist” preachers and pastors can no longer blush is because the light of the Holy Ghost has become so darkened by the Satanic sewage that they feed themselves from their televisions, radios, computers, and cell phones. They can no longer preach the word of God with any conviction because the blackness of their hearts has grieved the Holy Ghost. Neither do they view the sin of fornication as seriously as God does. Would to God that our so-called fundamentalist preachers and pastors had the attitude of Ezra the priest when he said in Ezra 9:6-7: 

Ezra 9:6-7
6 And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.

            Fornication and adultery make a fundamentalist no less disqualified to be in the pulpit than a man who has had a divorce that he has caused. However, we do believe that the Devil has taken many innocent men from our pulpits whose divorces were no fault of their own. We also believe that the Devil has used many fundamentalist, self-righteous hypocrites to accomplish that which rightly dividing the Scriptures could not have done. Now, let’s get back to the study at hand.

            Adam is the only man to ever live that can literally say that his wife is literally bone of his bones and literally flesh of his flesh. Again applying the law of first mention, Genesis 2:20-25 gives God’s definition of what constitutes a scriptural marriage, a husband, and a wife and in keeping with the law of first mention that definition remains the same throughout the Bible. God says that a man and a woman become husband and wife when they become one flesh. I know that does not sit very well with many Baptists and fundamentalists, but that is what the Bible teaches. Many will argue that that is not the whole counsel of God, but they will be pressed beyond measure if they try to prove that the Author of the Scriptures considered marriage to be anything but becoming one flesh. We understand that becoming husband and wife, or becoming one flesh, binds certain spiritual responsibilities upon both the husband and wife so that the marriage is not just a physical relationship. We will prove scripturally that when a man consummates a sexual relationship with a woman that he is scripturally bound to make that woman his wife! It is that sexual relationship that makes them one flesh. It is the sexual act that creates the obligation for the couple to become husband and wife. What you do not see in Genesis chapter 2 is a ceremony, an altar, a marriage license, a priest, a justice of the peace, or any formal covenant. Yet, God said that they were husband and wife. That pattern is repeated throughout the book of Genesis (and the Old Testament) and includes the marriages of Lamech, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and even Absalom when he went in unto his father David’s ten concubines (!). Lamech was of the seed of Cain and was the first polygynist (polygamist) recorded in the Bible. That is instructive in itself. The only place where a covenant is mentioned in the context of marriage is in Malachi 2:11-16 where there is a reference to Genesis 2:24 in verse 15. These verses read:

Malachi 2:11-16
11 Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god. 12 The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts. 13 And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand. 14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. 15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

While many believe that Proverbs 2:17 refers to a covenant of marriage for the woman also, we do not. We believe it refers to female prostitutes that hung out around the pagan temples just as the daughters of a strange god here in Malachi refer to the same type of female temple prostitutes. We believe that context in Proverbs 2:17 dictates a foreign woman who has broken her covenant of allegiance to God. Here in Malachi 2:11, the men of Judah were a whoring around on their wives with temple prostitutes and marrying them. Let us continue with the covenant described in Malachi 2.

            We would even go so far as to state that we believe that the Scriptures teach that it is the sexual act that establishes the covenant relationship between a man and a woman making them husband and wife. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF CALLED MARRIAGE THE PHYSICAL ACT IN MATTHEW 19:4-6. From the context it is clear from the statements of the Lord Jesus Christ that no ceremony was in view, but rather the act of fornication by the wife. That sexual act is quite different from a ceremony. It is not the performance of another ceremony that constitutes the act of adultery, but rather the sexual act. The word “covenant” occurs in the immediate context of becoming one flesh in Malachi 2:14-15. The only other place that a covenant is mentioned in the context of marriage and divorce is in Ezra 10:2-3 which states:

            Ezra 10:2-3

2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. 3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

            Note that the covenant was a covenant of divorce between the priests and God to put away (divorce) the strange wives they had taken from outside the God ordained confines of the people of Israel.

            Several passages of Scripture supporting the conclusion that it is the sexual act that establishes a covenant relationship are Genesis 38:8-9, Deuteronomy 21:13, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Deuteronomy 25:5, Exodus 22:16, and 1 Chronicles 2:21. Genesis 38:8-9 says:

Genesis 38:8-9
8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. 9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

Note that Onan was instructed to marry his brother’s wife for the purpose of producing seed. Note also that the sexual act was referred to as a marriage. There is no ceremony and no marriage license here. Deuteronomy 21:13 says:

13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.

The act of “going in unto her” is a sexual act that establishes the husband and wife relationship. There was no ceremony, priest, or marriage altar involved here. Deuteronomy 22:28-29 reads:

Deuteronomy 22:28-29

28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

In verses 28 and 29, it is the act of “lying with her” that creates the scriptural requirement that they become husband and wife. This particular passage shows how serious God takes what man might call a casual sexual relationship. It is clear from the context that neither individual involved in this sexual act intended on becoming husband and wife. They just got caught and God commanded the man to take the woman for his wife with the additional condition that he could never divorce her (put her away).While many say that the sexual act is but a consummation of the marriage, this passage and many more before and after it see the sexual act as establishing the husband and wife relationship and not merely as the consummation of it. Deuteronomy 25:5 states:

Deuteronomy 25:5
5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.

This is the law of the kinsman redeemer that is sometimes referred to as the levirate marriage. Note that the living brother was to marry the dead brother’s wife, and take her to him to wife for the purpose of producing children. It was the sexual relationship that established her as the living brother’s wife. Deuteronomy 25:5 is quoted in Matthew 22:24 (also in Mark 12:19 and Luke 20:28) when the Lord Jesus Christ is dealing with the Sadducees about the resurrection. We would note that this commandment had to be obeyed regardless of whether the brother in the role of kinsman redeemer was already married. Note again that the purpose of the marriage was to produce seed. This same idea that is conveyed in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 is established in Exodus 22:16 where we see:

Exodus 22:16

16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.

The phrase “lie with her” means that he has had a sexual relationship with her. Clearly Exodus 22:16 states that because the man has had a sexual relationship with the maid he must take care of her as his wife [Implying that since he had already married her in the sexual relationship, he must take care of her as his wife]. Yet again we see this same principle illustrated in 1 Chronicles 2:21 which tells us:

1 Chronicles 2:21
21 And afterward Hezron went in to the daughter of Machir the father of Gilead, whom he married when he was threescore years old; and she bare him Segub.

Once again it was the sexual relationship that established the condition of the woman becoming a wife. We should not neglect to deal with the abomination wrought by Absalom before all of Israel when he went in unto David’s concubines. According to Leviticus 20:11, Absalom had to be put to death for this vile act. Absalom’s vile act is recorded in 2 Samuel 16:21-22 which reads:

2 Samuel 16:21-22
21 And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father’s concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong. 22 So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

We know from the events in 2 Samuel Chapters 17 through 19 that Absalom was eventually slain with the destiny of the concubines being recorded in 2 Samuel 20:3 where it is stated:

2 Samuel 20:3
3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.

            David’s concubines became Absalom’s wives when Absalom went in unto them in the sight of Israel. There was no ceremony performed. Neither was there any intent to conduct a ceremony. It was strictly multiple sexual acts. The proof that they became Absalom’s wives is contained in 2 Samuel 20:3 where the Bible says the concubines remained in widowhood until their deaths. Go read it yourself in context! There is but one reason that they lived in widowhood until their deaths and that is because they had become Absalom’s wives. Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 6:16-17, the Holy Ghost considers the sexual act of such critical importance that He warns that if you sexually join yourself with a harlot, that you become one flesh with her. In other words, you become married to an harlot. What these passages prove is that it is the sexual union that creates the marriage! In 1 Corinthians 6, the Holy Ghost considered the sexual relationship with an harlot to be a whole lot more serious than just the one night stand (fornication) that most once married fundamentalist preachers hold to. It was not just fornication. It was a marriage. Why do most fundamentalist preachers go up in arms when we declare a one night stand or a premarital or post marital affair to be a marriage?? We can tell you why. Many, if not most, of these “fundamentalist” preachers have been guilty of the very acts that the Holy Ghost describes here. Many “once married” preachers are counting on a piece of paper from man to clear themselves to be able to pastor and preach. That piece of paper is worthless before God because many “once married” preachers and pastors have had sex with women before they had a wedding ceremony, some even being guilty of fornication and adultery after their wedding ceremony, and they wickedly consider themselves to have had but one wife in a lifetime because they have only had one wedding ceremony. God does not see it that way. You are just as guilty as any divorced man ever was. If you have sex with any woman, you are under the scriptural obligation to take care of her as your wife. Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap were guilty of the very acts described here, but at least they were not divorced! I believe the Bible term for them is whoremongers, but at least they were not “double married”. Many godly divorced men are much more qualified to be in pulpits than those two whore hopping preachers were. Need we mention the abominable conduct of Bob Grey at Trinity Baptist of Jacksonville, Florida. Yet, he remained in the ministry with the leadership in his church being aware of his conduct, but at least he was not divorced or double married! We can even prove that it is not a sin to have, or to have had, more than one wife if the man was divorced according to the Scriptures. We are not talking about living with multiple wives at the same time.

            If you have had multiple sexual relationships with different women and if you preach that a man who has multiple wives at the same time and a divorced man that has had more than one wife in a lifetime are disqualified, then you need to sit down because your sexual conduct has disqualified you permanently since you believe that there is no forgiveness for a man who has had multiple wives in his lifetime. Do you think for a minute that if David and Solomon had sex with a woman that they did not make them their wife?? Why do you think Solomon and so many of the other kings of Judah and Israel had so many wives? It is because they had sex with those women and according to Exodus 22:16 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29 any man that had sex with an unmarried woman was required to make them their wife! If you are an adulterous and fornicating preacher, pastor, evangelist, or deacon, do not think that the same standards do not apply to you. Contrary to what most fundamentalists, including this author, have been taught, there was no specific commandment that said a man could not have more than one wife. In fact, the Bible says in 2 Samuel 12:8 that God gave Saul’s wives into David’s bosom. Saul’s wives would have included Ahinoam and his concubine Rizpah which probably created some confusion in David’s household because he already had a wife named Ahinoam. We now turn to the marriages of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

            We are first introduced to Abram (Abraham) in Genesis 11:27. Then we are introduced to Abraham’s wife Sarai (Sarah) in Genesis 11:29. The first mention of Abraham was in his begetting. The first mention of Sarah was in her marriage to Abraham. It says in Genesis 11:29 that Abraham took his wife Sarah. We learn in verse 30 that she was barren. We see very few details in the marriage of Abraham and Sarah. Genesis 11:27-30 tells us:

Genesis 11:27-30
27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. 28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. 29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. 30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.

The only details that we are offered of Abraham’s and Sarah’s marriage is that Abraham took her. There is no mention of any ceremony or any wedding. There was no priest there and no civil authority. It is obvious that they had become one flesh because verse 30 says that Sarah was barren. then again in Genesis 16:1-4 which states:

Genesis 16:1-4
1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. 4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

            Lamech, of the seed of Cain, was the first polygamist recorded in the Bible in Genesis. Abraham was the first polygamist recorded in the Bible following the flood and it lead to immediate problems because it was contrary to the will of God. We will deal with polygamy later in this chapter. Note that Sarah gave her Egyptian maid unto Abraham to be his wife. The law of the land, the Code of Hammurabi Number 146: states:

If a man take a wife and she give this man a maid-servant as wife and she bear him children, and then this maid assume equality with the wife: because she has borne him children her master shall not sell her for money, but he may keep her as a slave, reckoning her among the maid-servants.

While what Sarah and Abraham done here was strictly in accordance with the law of the land, it was a violation of the express will of God from Genesis 2:24 and it showed a lapse of faith in the promise of God given to Abraham in Genesis 15:4. Again and again, we come back to one of the themes of this chapter and that is that there was no ceremony involved in the marriage of Abraham and Hagar. Hagar became Abraham’s wife when he “went in unto” her. The act of going “in unto” her was the marriage. We see this pattern repeated in the case of Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 24:61-67:

Genesis 24:61-67
61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way. 62 And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country. 63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. 64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. 65 For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. 67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

We are provided with many more details of the events leading up to the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah than we are with any other marriage recorded in the Scriptures. The case of Isaac and Rebekah provided the seed bed for many of the Jewish customs surrounding marriages even unto this day. We do not see similar details leading up to a marriage recorded for any other marriage in the Scriptures. Furthermore, in the case of Isaac and Rebekah, we do not see a betrothal or espousal recorded. In fact, Isaac had no clue who was going to be his wife! Neither was a ceremony performed. Rebekah became Isaac’s wife when he “took” her. As far as we can tell, Abraham was not even around. The events surrounding the four marriages of Jacob are quite a bit different than those for his father Isaac. These events are recorded in Genesis chapters 29 and 30 where we read:

Genesis 29:20-30

20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. 21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her. 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. 23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. 24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid. 25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? 26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. 28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also. 29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid. 30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.

Genesis 30:1-10
1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. 2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? 3 And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. 4 And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. 5 And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. 6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan. 7 And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. 8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali. 9 When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. 10 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son.

            It is interesting to note here that a feast was made to celebrate the event that was about to take place. It is quite possible that this event is the root source of the lavish marriage suppers and wedding feasts that have characterize all Jewish weddings down through the ages. If you argue for a covenant here, and there was not, it is obvious that Jacob expected that he would be going in unto Rachel and she would become his wife. The act of “going in unto” was the act of becoming one flesh. It is clear that there was no espousal, covenant, or ceremony here that involved Leah. If you argue for a covenant here, then you have to believe that the covenant was created and made binding by Leah and Jacob becoming one flesh. There was obviously no verbal agreement between the two of them. Neither was there any intent here on Jacob’s part to marry Leah. Yet, it is undeniable here that when Jacob went in unto Leah and they became one flesh that Leah was Jacob’s wife regardless of his understanding that his marriage was to be to Rachel. There may have been an agreement here between Jacob and Laban concerning Rachel, but it was not a covenant between Rachel and Jacob and neither did it involve Leah. It is clear from verse 28 that Leah and Rachel became Jacob’s wives. Though Jacob took Rachel to wife, later on this practice was outlawed in Leviticus 18:18 which says:

Leviticus 18:18
18 Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.

            We also see in the cases of Leah’s handmaid Zilpah and Rachel’s handmaid Bilhah that they became Jacob’s wives when he “went in unto” them. To be sure, there was no ceremony and no fanfare that involved these two handmaids that Jacob married. Given the circumstances, can you imagine the ruckus that would have ensued had a ceremony or wedding feast taken place? There was already much tension and contention in Jacob’s home because of his multiple wives. Now, let’s look at Ruth and Boaz in Ruth 4:13

Ruth 4:13

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.

            Ruth became Boaz’s wife when he took her meaning that she became his wife when they became one flesh. That is the meaning of “he went in unto her”. Boaz became the kinsman redeemer of a Gentile Bride. Hallelujah! In the eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ that is me! The Lord Jesus Christ is the kinsman Redeemer for all those who receive him as Saviour.

            We do not see a ceremony in any of the Biblical marriages that we have looked at thus far. You do not see an Old Testament or New Testament example where any man made requirement such as a ceremony, an altar, a marriage license, or a formal covenant constituted a scriptural marriage. Neither do you see the presence of any religious or government official. As detailed as the instructions were for the duties of the priest in the Old Testament none of them included any requirement to officiate at a marriage ceremony. There were detailed requirements in the New Testament for pastors and none of them required that pastors officiate at marriages. Marriages officiated by priests is a very Roman Catholic idea and did not come forth until the Council of Trent in 1563. To the Roman Catholic Church, marriage was a sacrament that only a Roman Catholic priest could administer. However, marriage in the Bible has never been a function of the state, or, a function of a priest, pastor, or preacher. It has always been a family affair that required the permission of the bride’s father unless the woman getting married had already been married before. We have for many years extended that Old Testament custom into American culture where in years gone by the man had to go to the father and request the hand of his daughter in marriage. What we call a marriage today is not the scriptural presentation of what marriage is. In today’s world, we interpret marriage to be a ceremony because all western societies are in open fornication. In most Biblical marriages, there is a marked absence of a ceremony. What we see in the Old Testament and the New Testament are celebrations of the accomplished fact of the marriage. The wedding celebrations and marriage feasts in the Bible do not inaugurate the marriage. They celebrate it. Even in the marriage at Cana of Galilee where the water was turned into wine, it is obvious that what was taking place was the celebration of the marriage that had already taken place because they were already out of wine. In other words, what we have in John 2 is the marriage feast. The marriage feast and the marriage supper always followed the husband and wife becoming one flesh just as it does with the Marriage Supper Of The Lamb in Revelation chapter 19. In Jewish custom, it was the displaying of the tokens of virginity that set in motion the lavish celebration and marriage suppers which followed.

            The whole point of the previous discussion has been to prove that scripturally a marriage takes place without a ceremony and without a celebration having taken place. That is the whole point of legally recognizing what is called Common Law marriages. Common Law marriages are as legally and scripturally binding as any marriage though no ceremony was ever performed that had the sanction of the state or the church. In early American history, Common Law marriages were quite common. Furthermore, we have documented case after case where no ceremony or celebration is recorded in the Scriptures and yet the women involved are said to be wives.

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