When Are You Married?


#1

I have been involved in a discussion on another set of boards about this and I would like to get your opinion on it. Here is the OP in this other forum…

If a man and woman proclaim their love to one another with only God as their witness and they ask God to bless them as man and wife without a ceremony or legal papers, and the man and woman stay faithful to one another and uphold their vows, is this considered in Gods eyes valid? Or is it sinful?

I also want to take this one step further…

Ok, for argument’s sake, say that the couple has some close friends there but no preacher or priest… they make the vows with WITNESSES and they make these vows to God but still keep the government out of it. Is it still just ‘shacking up’ or are they married in God’s eyes?

What do you think?


#2

You hit upon the very reason the church requires a witness to be from the church. This was a pretty regular habit. They would marry in secret in the woods (think Braveheart), consummate the marriage, and then he would take off and leave her pregnant. She would swear they are married while he would swear they were not. He would usually go on to have a church wedding and proclaim the new bride his “true” wife.

The bride and groom are ministers of the sacrament. It all boils down to intent. If they were stranded on a desert island and truly entered into a marriage, it would be no less valid in God’s eyes that a priest wasn’t there. However, the church has no witness to this and cannot read a person’s heart. It is one of those things we just have to leave to God’s judgment.


#3

I guess no one wants to venture in this thread other than me and Forest-Pine… Hmmmm I was hoping to get some good responses to this… Ah well… :slight_smile:


#4

why would anyone choose to exclude the church from it?
for what reason?

:slight_smile:


#5

There are some that are just shy and don’t like attention. Some can’t find a church that they connect with in their area. Some just don’t like the thought of a ceremony of any kind and just want the union to be God and them. Not that they keep it a secret mind you but that is their preference…


#6

well, in your original post you mentioned for argument’s sake, say a few friends were invited to witness the event, but no paperwork, to keep the government out of it…

sometimes, things which aren’t wrong of themselves, can become wrong due to wrongful intent…

if in fact it is done to avoid some legal situation, then it’s wrong…

if it’s done because the church, for some reason, refuses to allow the marriage, then it’s wrong…

but, i have found in most cases, when someone asks a question such as this, it is because they feel… less than comfortable with a situation, hypothetical or real… and there is usually a reason anyone feels uncomfortable with situations… and that usually means, it’s not the right thing to do, and they really know that…

:slight_smile:


#7

Check out two wonderful websites offered by the Family Ministries office of the archdiocese of Chicago. They are: inthespiritofcana.org and chicagolandmarriage.org/engagedcouples.htm for more information about Marriage in the church. You will be very glad that you did.

Marriage is a sacrament and Catholics are expected as a precept of the church by canon to receive this sacrament because it was instituted by Christ to give grace. God is fully present at a wedding in the personna of the priest or deacon who witnesses the exchange of vows. Christ promises to be fully present in your marriage from that day forward. Who wouldn’t want that promise. A marriage is considered the beginning of the domestic church and it should be treated with the reverence it deserves.

Observe the Church’s laws on marriage.


#8

I do want to say that I am not Catholic but I am interested in knowing the Catholic response on this… thank you for your input so far. I also want to say that this is not for me. I plan to have the ceremony although not in a church but in a lighthouse here in Washington. All I need is the groom! LOL

This was just an interesting question and brought on a really heated debate.


#9

6. Observe the Church’s laws on marriage.


#10

Marriage is a sacrament and Catholics are expected as a precept of the church by canon to receive this sacrament because it was instituted by Christ to give grace. God is fully present at a wedding in the personna of the priest or deacon who witnesses the exchange of vows. Christ promises to be fully present in your marriage from that day forward. Who wouldn’t want that promise. A marriage is considered the beginning of the domestic church and it should be treated with the reverence it deserves.

But whether a priest is there God is ALWAYS present no matter where you are. So by keeping Him in the vows and commitment aren’t you still married in His eyes?


#11

No, you are not married in the eyes of the church. Catholics as a precept of the church are required to be m

. While the canons regulating marriage are many and complex (1983 CIC 1055-1165), the first thing to keep in mind about them is that Catholics are not free to pick and choose which aspects of Church discipline on marriage they will observe and which ones they won’t. Even if a Catholic is not married to another Catholic, canon law still regulates the marriage (1983 CIC 1059). Moreover, the laws on marriage are not limited to those rules leading up to the wedding, but they also impact on the conduct of the marriage and on such things as the care and raising of children (1983 CIC 226, 1134-1136). +++

For more information on canon law you can refer to canonlaw.info webpage


#12

No, you are not married in the eyes of the church. Catholics as a precept of the church are required to be.

To be fair though I didn’t ask about being married in the eyes of the CHURCH I asked about being married in the eyes of GOD.


#13

[quote=Singinbeauty]To be fair though I didn’t ask about being married in the eyes of the CHURCH I asked about being married in the eyes of GOD.
[/quote]

The Church is the body of Christ. To claim/assert/imply there’s a difference betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity. Protestants have it in their heads that it’s just “me and Jesus.” Uh uh. That’s an invention of men much, much later in the Christian timeline.

Since the Church is the body of Christ, (also, the “BRIDE” of Christ), to be married outside the Church is to be married outside of the eyes of God.


#14

From a bible-believing Christian perspective:

If the couple are citizens of a country/government that has established reasonable rules for civil marriage, then I believe that Romans 13 obligates the couple to follow those rules.


#15

One thing I did not delve into but JohnShelby did is the Catholic concept of anullment. We believe once a contract is entered into (a vow) then it is unbreakable. Even if you get a civil divorce (which is allowable), you are not free of your vow to God. You therefore are not free to remarry (except your original spouse or if your original spouse dies and you are then a widow/er). There are some very rare exceptions allowing a religious divorce (meaning it is found that the vow was valid and you are allowed to still divorce and remarry.)

However, there are certain conditions that could be present that would make the contract invalid from the beginning. It was never valid in the first place. All marriages are presumed to be valid unless a finding to the contrary is found by a church court (tribunal). This includes common law marriages in places that have them (meaning no cermony or one where just a couple friends witness or whatever other such circumstances that equal just two people saying they are married).

As JohnShelby pointed out, the intentions of one or both parties at the time of the vows and even what it is they vow to can mean a valid marriage did not occur in the first place. It is presumed it was valid. But a tribunal can say it was not. Fear, duress, an intention of excluding God from the marriage, immaturity to the point of being unable to comprehend what one was doing, etc. all can make a tribunal say no marriage existed.

Simply having it outside a church is not in and of itself cause. My bishop gave us permission to have our wedding in a secular location because of very high family tension. They would not approve of the wedding if it was in a Catholic Church, we refused to have it in theirs. They later decided they wouldn’t support the wedding wherever it was so we decided to have a full nuptial Mass at church anyway.

Also, it is allowable to have a non-Catholic clergy member officiate the wedding if there is sufficient reason (which is a pretty low threshold usually). Then the rules on what you can do must abide by the other clergy member’s. So if he lets you have it outdoors, it is still valid.

In northern Canada, a nun is allowed to officiate at weddings because there is no other representative of the church around to do so.

There are a lot of exceptions to the rules. The marriage would be presumed to be a valid one. However, if it was taken in front of a tribunal, the intent of the parties (since neither are Catholic and therefore are not expected to marry in the Catholic church) would be scrutinized the most. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was determined that a valid marriage did not occur. It would depend, as JohnShelby pointed out, on the intent of the bride and groom and their particular circumstances.


#16

Forest-Pine is right… and very eloquent… :slight_smile:

as for my personal beliefs…

standing in a forest, whispering vows to someone you love…
the birds singing the wedding march…
the only other voice, the breeze murmuring in the leaves…

sounds romantic…

and romance is a good thing… to a point… if marriage were
simply romance, then it’d be fine… but marriage is more, has
to be more…

God knows if your ‘romantic’ marriage is a real marriage or
not, since He knows your heart, your mind, your past, and
your future… He also knows if it is simply romance, fired by
passion… (( and i don’t mean sexual passion, i mean
your passion for romance and love )) or if it is a true lasting
commitment made with all your heart…

but, marriage is more than romance… infinitely more… in a
way, it deserves more than simply stating your feelings for
each other… people do that every day…

marriage ‘deserves’ something more…

:slight_smile: kinda… lol


#17

God knows if your ‘romantic’ marriage is a real marriage or
not, since He knows your heart, your mind, your past, and
your future… He also knows if it is simply romance, fired by
passion… (( and i don’t mean sexual passion, i mean
your passion for romance and love )) or if it is a true lasting
commitment made with all your heart…

This was the point of the thread. Since God knows the heart of the couple does it matter whether a priest or a pastor presides over it? If God knows that your entire desire is to include ONLY Him into your union, would He view it as wrong if you didn’t include the Church for whatever reason. And I mean that you don’t include it for the ceremony. It doesn’t mean that you keep it a secret and never tell anyone that you are married. You still wear rings. You still have the accountablity and responsibility that a marriage holds because this is a vow to God and shouldn’t be taken lightly. :slight_smile:


#18

as Forest-Pine said, the church recognizes some civil marriages and non-traditional unions, such as common law… the one deciding issue is why that choice was made…

and i know you said that you weren’t interested in what the church
considers a valid marriage… but, if the church didn’t think God
considered a marriage like common law to be a true marriage, recognized by God, then they wouldn’t recognize it either…

and what you are describing is a common law marriage…

public proclamation… rings… cohabitating… name amalgamation…
and basically, both parties agreeing they are married…
(( common law is legal in Alabama, however, i don’t think it is
in Washington state… lol )) common law is much more common
in europe than here… and it’s appearently very common in
Canada…

but, in my opinion again, your reasons for deciding to marry
in that way is what will determine God’s blessing…

:slight_smile:


#19

Peace be with you

What is a marrage for if it does not include God?
Why include God at all?
Who’s idea was it for people to get married?
Hallmark’s or God’s? Is it for social or religous reasons we decide to marry? When Jesus performed healings or instituded a sacrament He always included the Body as a wittness to it.
He told those He healed to show themselves to the Jewish Priest.
This was done for a few reasons. One was to give wittness of those who knew the persons before they were healed. Another was because of the Authory of the Church in matters of faith.

The Jews did reject the truth by rationalizing it away not much differantly than people do when His church speaks today in matters of faith. We want to do as we please and not the will of God. So we rationalize the truth to fit what we want to do.
Did God realy mean that you would die if you ate of the tree?
Wow my eyes are open, I not dead , I am right, is how we respond afterwards.
Do we include God’s reasons as truth or do we do as we please because think our way is correct or is rational?
Ron


#20

[quote=Singinbeauty]This was the point of the thread. Since God knows the heart of the couple does it matter whether a priest or a pastor presides over it? If God knows that your entire desire is to include ONLY Him into your union, would He view it as wrong if you didn’t include the Church for whatever reason. And I mean that you don’t include it for the ceremony. It doesn’t mean that you keep it a secret and never tell anyone that you are married. You still wear rings. You still have the accountablity and responsibility that a marriage holds because this is a vow to God and shouldn’t be taken lightly. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Since a priest is the representation of Christ in the Church, to not marry in front of a priest is kind of like hiding your union from Jesus. Church marriage helps make people accountable for their vows. There’s something about standing in front of a priest that makes it concrete and sacred. Marriage is a sacrament, and sacraments cannot be conferred without a priest presiding. Same thing goes for forgiveness of sins…you can’t get it w/o a priest. I can’t help but think that God would not be pleased if the Church was excluded…after all, the Church is the Bride of Christ.


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