In reference to marriage: the unsaved man and woman agree together to the terms of a civil contract which is to govern their future relationship; the saved man and woman become one completed person through the vows of a divinely sanctioned covenant which defines that oneness.
Might it be better for all if
in America, as it is in some other nations, we had no government institution of marriage? Christians would enter the covenant of marriage before God, before their minister, and before the community of faith. Non-Christians, without government or Christian involvement, would be free to come together and form a living home. Their common law family would be recognized and respected by the communities of unsaved and Christians alike. However, if couples of a living home became Christians, they could be counseled and united in the Christian covenant of marriage.
This would be so very different from our religiously confused mixture of belief and unbelief where non-Christians may be married in a Christian Church by a minister having them repeat vows sacred only to the believing heart, those vows being uttered before a God in which they express no faith, and such vows being of the kind that only a well instructed Christian can hope to understand, let alone even begin to honor. All of this is done before a spiritual community of which unbelief has no part. However, we, the Christian community, are taught that this is a valid part of our Christian ministry to the lost.
Christians hold dual citizenship; they are at once citizens of two very different nations: the natural nation of their temporal earthly residence and the Holy Nation of their eternal heavenly residence. In America this dual citizenship is no worse cloaked and confused than in the union of a man and a woman in marriage. In an American Church wedding the minister is at once an officer of the state for civil purposes and a Priest of the Kingdom for spiritual purposes. For this reason couples who are not Christian may be married in a Church by a minister of God and their union will be acknowledged valid by the state. However, it is great deception to believe that this same union is valid in the courts of the Lord. Sad to say, many are deceived, couples and ministers alike, into believing that it is. Remember, these are unbelievers! They can enter a civil contract before the courts and by the laws of the state, but they cannot, for all the promises they make to one another before the God in whom they express no faith, enter into a Christian covenant of marriage before the courts of heaven and by the laws of the Kingdom of God.
If this is true, you might ask, how dare the Priest of the Holy God lower himself to officiate in the profane courts of men while at once ministering the sacred vows of the Christian marriage covenant to citizens of the Kingdom?? I answer you, he does not!! If a minister knows the Word of God (and God help us, he should) he understands that the temporal civil authorities of this present time, although profane in every earthly sense, are set and ordained of God for good to His own believing people (Rom 13:1-7).
For the Christian there is no separation of Church and state (Perhaps this statement needs explanation. Try reading the Bible while putting aside preconceived religious notions). But for the unbelieving world there is a definite separation. And, there should be! Oh, that God would help us to distinguish ourselves as Christians through the clarifying of every point of religious confusion and deception generated by our mixture of the profane with the Holy; and, we really need to make marriage our beginning point, for a man and a woman joined by God in a biblical covenant of marriage form the most perfect earthly witness and prophetic expression of the mystical union of Jesus and His Church, and at once constitute before heaven and earth the very image and glory of the unseen God. Any perversion of that covenant relationship is the most extreme form of idolatry.
merican marriage for unbelievers, even when performed in a Church, is a contract made before the civil authorities and the community of their earthly residence and can be broken at the will of either partner. In any nation marriage for Christians is a covenant entered into before the civil and heavenly authorities and both the communities of their earthly and heavenly residence, and it should never be broken except in death (God forgive us, the covenant is sometimes broken aside from death). For the sake of believer and unbeliever alike, we really need to distinguish between these two unions.
Children of God, the Christian covenant of marriage is at once the most beautiful and the most sobering of our earthly experiences. In Christian marriage is the full self recognized, defined, and expressed: that is so very beautiful. Christian marriage is a holy covenant and union not to be entered into lightly or unadvisedly (without full counsel and understanding), which covenant can be compromised or dissolved without transgression only in death: that is so very sobering. Thank God for His precious love for us: for His Fatherly correction unto our success and for His Motherly forgiveness for our failure.