Is the Devil Destroying Marriages?
In a conversation, I had one day in a restaurant, with a lovely elderly, Adventist lady she stated: “My main concern is the fact that the devil is attacking marriages.” To which I responded. “I beg to differ.” She, in shock, said: “You do?” I replied: “Yes!” Continuing I asked: “Tell me, from the bible, what is a marriage. Give me an example of a marriage in the bible.” It was quite obvious she not prepared for such a question. She was obviously taken aback. She then proceeded to make several unsuccessful attempts to answer the question, each response as far from the truth as the other.
To help her I said: “Let’s look at the bible and see an example of marriage. Before we do however, are there any examples of a priest, rabbi, apostle, elder, pastor, standing before any couple and confirming them as husband and wife?” She thought long and hard, finally admitting that there were none as far as she could recall. I then brought to her memory the story of Jacob and his marriage to Rachel and Leah.
The Bible’s Concept of Marriage
In each case the bible simply tells us that ‘he went in unto her.’
Genesis 29: 21 – 30
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her…So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast…in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her…Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. ….So Jacob went in to Rachel also…’
In other words, it was at the point of having sex with either of them that they became his wife. This is what we find through out the bible. Not just the bible, but throughout the major part of the history of mankind. Marriage was always a private affair between a couple (many times organized by the family) initiated through the sex act.
The Church’s intervention
It was only in 1215 at the Fourth Council of the Lateran, that the church got involved in marriage. It was at this council that it was decreed that there was to be no more ‘clandestine marriages’ and a public announcement (what we know as postings banns) had to be made prior to the marriage. The priests were not permitted to accept any such arrangements.
In the 14th century marriage licenses were introduced in the U.K.. In the U.S. the state got involved in the 1700’s by requiring marriage licenses. So really, marriage as we know it today, only began in the last several hundred years. The intervention of the church and state in what constitutes a ‘valid marriage’ and the differentiation of what is ‘common law’ and valid marriage is of recent vintage and not something ‘ordained by God‘.