Q&A: Does a Christian have to get a marriage license?

Q: I heard someone talk recently about how they believe there should be 2 different types of marriage. One governed by the state, and a different one that is governed by the church for Christians. In your opinion, why do Christians have to get a license from the State to enter into a holy union? Why can’t believers just have a Christian ceremony and leave the state out of it?

A: That is a great question.  I believe that God created marriage and that marriage is best experienced in its fullness between two believers who are completely devoted to God and each other.  Nowhere in scripture does it specifically spell out what constitutes a marriage ceremony/process. It was just understood in the culture of the day what was needed for a husband and wife to be officially married. It is clear that they had a formal ceremony and recognition from their family and community that they had entered into the covenant of marriage.

In Romans 13:1 it says “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

This is why we get a license from the state to enter a holy union.    I believe that a couple should submit to the government as long as in doing so they do not force them to go against God’s word. I think in the case of getting a marriage license, there is nothing in this that violates scripture and therefore we should get a marriage license if that is what the governing authorities ask of us. I also feel that along with a Christian ceremony, getting a public marriage license is a great way to announce to your community that you are making a covenant before God that you intend to honor.

I hope I answered your question.  If I can answer any more questions or help you in any way, please let me know.

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