I have a non-Catholic friend that posed the question of where is it in the bible that it say’s that you have to be married by an ordained priest or minister. I could not answer her question. She stated that marriage is only a commitment between two people, and that there is no place in the bible that says you have to be married by a priest or ordained minister. She stated that you do not need legal papers to get married, it is only a commitment between two people. Could you tell me what exactly the bible says regarding her statements. I have no proof that she is not correct. How should I answer her question. What does the scripture say about marriage or was she correct? I must say she posed an honest question. Thank you. Brenda
If I asked you what makes for the perfect pie crust, and you answered me, would it be reasonable for me to respond, “OK, but the Bible doesn’t say that you’re right, so clearly you’re wrong”…?
Of course not. That’d be silly!
Your response to your friend is simple: where in the Bible does it say that the Bible will tell you all things about all situations in life?
The answer is it doesn’t.
Rather, the Bible does say that the Church – and in particular Peter, who ordained that his authority be passed down – has the authority to make rules for the faithful. So, if the Church says “be married in a church by a priest or deacon”, then “what is bound on earth shall be bound in heaven.”
In a way, that means that the principle is in the Bible… even though the particular requirements that proceed from that principle are not enshrined in the Bible (and neither would they be expected to be).
Christian Marriage does not involve just two people. It also involves Christ and society.
The Catechism on Marriage:
Several things come to mind.
Re: getting married by an ordained minister, the Bible mentions that St. Paul had the authority to marry people: “Don’t you know that your bodies are part of the body of Christ? Is it right for me to join part of the body of Christ to a prostitute? No, it isn’t! Don’t you know that a man who does that becomes part of her body? The Scriptures say, The two of them will be like one person.” 1 Cor. 6:15-16
To me, that suggests that the ordinary way of doing things in the early Church was for couples to get married by the priests.
This seems confirmed by the testimony of the early Church Fathers. St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was trained in the faith by the Apostle John, said that the Church must be involved in marrying people: “But it becomes both men and women who marry, to form their union with the approval of the bishop, that their marriage may be according to God, and not after their own lust. Let all things be done to the honour of God.” Letter to Polycarp Chapter 5. 107 A.D.
Because St. Ignatius taught this, that is a good indicator that the Apostles taught it too, not only because he was trained by an Apostle, but also because his writings were revered everywhere in the Church. If he was wrong about this, the people of the Church would have known it, and would have objected to it, since they were trained by the Apostles. I always wonder how people deal with evidence from the early Church Fathers: where do people think the Church came from that the early Church knew about and wrote about? If the early Church did not come from the Apostles, who created the early Church, the one talked about by the early Church Fathers? They said things like the Eucharist is the true body and blood of Jesus, and Mary is to be revered, and marriages need to be approved by the bishop. The only possible source of these teachings is the Apostles because the early Church did not have any other teachers.
Re: this sentence: “She stated that you do not need legal papers to get married…” That’s not what the Bible says. The Bible says marriage is a legal matter: “[A] married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.” Romans 7:2-3
Since the Bible teaches that marriage is a legal matter, it follows that some kind of contract has to be made between the spouses. A contract needs the approval of some authority. Then these Bible verses apply: “do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church?” (1 Cor. 6:4) “do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints?” (1 Cor. 6:1) “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 18:18)
Therefore, the Bible and the early Church both give very good evidence that the earliest Christians were supposed to get married only with the involvement of the Church and its leaders.
I hope that helps.