an offset printablePDF master of this chapter, click here.
By Samuel M. Smith
© 1989 Up Way Publications
P. O. Box 1015
Kailua, HI 96734 U. S. A.
Copying, storage or
without the express permission of Samuel M. Smith or Up Way
is expressly forbidden, excepting for brief quotations in critical
This internet version is
as exact replication of the
is possible in internet format. Library of Congress
Card Number: 89-51186
WHEN IS A COUPLE MARRIED?
BY DEFINITION: Marriage is the legally sanctioned
of one man and one woman into one single homogenous identity for the
of establishing a family unit.
When does this status take place? When the Clerk
the license? As they repeat their vows before the authorized minister
public official? At the moment the minister, judge, justice of the
notary public or other authorized public official says the words, “I
pronounce you man and wife.”? Does it take place at the moment they
a commitment to each other to share the rest of their lives together?
when the couple have complied with the common law requirements of their
state and thus achieve the status of being legally married? Just what
true marriage? How important is the Marriage Certificate to the
of the marriage?
From the wedding day, are the parties whose names
appear on the
marriage license truly man and wife? In the eyes of the law and of
they are, but are the two yet one? When do they become one in their own
eyes and the eyes of Almighty God? Are they yet, in fact, meeting the
What is your definition of marriage? We’ve
the basics of marriage from the standpoint of idealism and romanticism,
but now let’s get down to the “nitty-gritty” of it by breaking down the
definition of what marriage is in the first paragraph of this chapter.
Marriage ? our subject; is ? verb of being; the legally ? it must be
recognized, whether by license and certificate or by common law: if,
some reason the law will not recognize it, it is no marriage;
? approved, consented to, given the blessing of; joining together ?
two objects, whether like or unlike are joined together, they lose
individual identities and become a part of the whole; of one man and
woman ? not children, not two males or two females, but one
male and one mature female regardless of age (Note that some teenagers
mature both mentally and physically quite young, while some people in
twenties and thirties are still quite immature); into one ? ceasing to
be two separate persons each going separate ways; single ? when viewed
from the outside, they are but one being (ie. the Smiths, the Joneses,
etc.); homogenous ? a smooth mixture blended together, as milk
cream will separate unless homogenized; identity ? sameness in
that constitutes the objective reality of a thing; for the purpose of
a family unit.
MARRIAGE: Delight or Disaster
| When does all this
joining take place? At what point
become one? Is it that pronouncement of the words, “man and wife” by
minister or other official performing the ceremony that makes the
transformation? Is it the first sexual relationship (whether before or
after the ceremony)? Is it the conception of their first child? Or is
the point when they reach a near total mutual agreement? It is
that the final question in this paragraph is the best answer. This is
to say that minor differences of opinion will never crop up, for no two
have ever been that completely one, but their goals in life are
same, their first concern is no longer each for his or her own
but for the happiness of the other. This point should by all
be reached before the marriage license is taken out, but should not
the sexual relationship before the marriage ceremony.
Joe and Sue were introduced by mutual friends,
attracted to each other. As they dated, they found out that they both
the same types of foods; preferred folk music over jazz, rock or
music; were of compatible faith in God; liked the outdoor sports rather
than dancing or the opera and both were faithful to attend church and
care much for movies or nightclubs. Further, Joe found the slightly
teeth and one-sided grin that made Sue less than beautiful to most of
friends, were actually quite attractive to him. The embarrassing
and lisp which had heretofore proven to be a real handicap to Joe’s
and ability to ask for dates, exactly touched Sue’s inner self ? she
it. An inner appeal gripped both of them, each for the other. They had
fallen in love! The better they came to know each other, the more
it became that they were meant for a life together, so when Joe asked
all-important question, Sue was just waiting for the chance to say,
and lost not a second in doing it.
Since both were in their final year at college,
to wait until after graduation to take the big leap, but when Sue began
wearing her engagement ring, some of her “less inhibited” companions in
the girls dorm, knowing her church background, began urging her that it
would now be “perfectly alright” for her to begin having sexual
with Joe. Joe had never asked nor tried to take liberties, but Sue knew
he had wanted her on several occasions. What should she do? On the one
side was the fact that they were “almost married” and loved each other.
Lots of others were doing it, so why not? On the other side
Is A Couple
|was the fact that they
yet legally married, not in
eyes, nor in God’s eyes.
About this time, two other cases helped to
Her friend Betty had begun relations with Bill shortly after their
and, despite protective measures, found herself pregnant and unable to
finish her last semester. The accompanying embarrassment and pressure
his parents caused Bill to declare he no longer loved Betty, and Betty,
sensibly, didn’t force him to become an unwilling husband. But both of
them had a price to pay, and not only that, but they were really a very
well suited couple who, if they had only waited, might well have spent
a lifetime of happiness together. Lost because of premarital sex. There
was also the innocent baby now faced with life without one parent.
The other case had not a problem of pregnancy,
Ellen found that Jim was a talker and that details of their most
moments were being talked about among the fellows. She called off the
After all, what right thinking girl wants every detail of her marriage
made public by her husband?
Sue heeded the warnings of these two classmates
never knew of the temptation Sue had faced, and his own respect and
for her kept him in line. For these two, the day of their wedding was
all important time when they did become one.
Many other scenarios of possible tragedy could
besides the two just mentioned, and yet, on the other hand, many
young couples have “played with fire” and not gotten noticeably burnt.
The point is that at best it is a risky gamble with only momentary
stacked on the one side and a lifetime of heartache stacked on the
For Sue and Joe, there was a very clear-cut, unforgettable moment when
they became one. For others, there may be several separate steps.
What about living together before marriage?
do get along for a long time, and even raise families without being
married. This situation has now become fairly accepted in nearly all
of the population except strict Bible churches. Many states have made
easy to become married by “common law” by saying that if you live
and refer to each other as husband and wife for a certain specified
you are then legally married and must divorce if you separate even
you never went through the formality of
MARRIAGE: Delight or Disaster
|getting married. (This
supposedly was done to assure the
financial and inheritance status of any children born to such a couple,
and afford some protection to the dependant spouse.)
Many times I have heard of couples that lived
or even years before deciding to “make it legal” and had a beautiful
that seemed like a truly good marriage ? until they made it legal and
they began to have trouble. Why? Was their decision to get married
Not at all! Often the problem is that as long as they were not legally
married, they realized that the other was free to leave at any time. In
order to prevent that, each tried to please the other and keep him or
happy so that he or she would not want to leave. Once the marriage vows
have been made and the certificate hung on the wall, the attitude often
changes to one of, “Now you belong to me and I don’t have to make you
any more. I can ‘do my own thing’ and you will still be there for me.”
Or an even more blunt, “Now I own you, and I can control you.” Still
just feel the need to “be free to walk out whenever I want to,” and the
lack of that freedom makes them feel under bondage.
Each of these is a form of selfishness on the
both members of the couple. The answer is for each to continue to try
please the other. Don’t forget that “no-fault” divorces are relatively
easy to get and fairly inexpensive in most states, so if the feeling of
being “locked in now,” bothers you emotionally, just think of how easy
it would be for your spouse to get a no-fault divorce and end it, and
try to keep that from happening.
Art and Mary were attracted to each other for
Mary was a lively beauty and all the fellows were after her. Nor was
oblivious to the following she had, and she had been playing one boy
another since childhood. By a petulant pout, she could get her own way
with any of them. Virtue was only something to gain her own ends with ,
and the lucky fellow who was successful in gaining her favor kept his
shut in the hope of further opportunity which was often promised but
dispensed. She lived strictly for her own pleasure.
Art’s popularity came a little later in life,
the ace quarterback of the local high school team and all the girls
flocking to him. Mary was only one of the many vying for his favors. As
a result, when Mary decided she really wanted him during their senior
she felt she had to prove herself more desirable to him than all
the other girls. Afraid she was failing to achieve her objective, she
her ace and her father saw to it that Art married her.
Is A Couple
both were selfish, childish
immature, they continued to play politics with each other. Blackmail
counter blackmail with never a dull moment. They had tired of the
before their daughter was born, and Mary had gone home to mother.
Were these two ever married? “Yes, of course,” some will quickly reply.
Well, then, did they ever become one? “Of course,” these will snap back
in huffy tones. “After all, they had a child.” But let me ask you, was
there ever really any more one-ness or unity between Art and Mary than
between either of them and the others either of them had had relations
with? The answer is obvious.
The important thing to note here is that while both Art and
Mary were hurt and bitter, the worst damage was done to their innocent
daughter. And for all the “legality” of their marriage, the real fact
that it never really existed.
If a “husband” and “wife” begin tearing each other down from
the very first, are they “one flesh”? If their purpose in getting
was merely to “get out on our own,” to get away from Mom and Dad’s
have they become one by the vows they have taken? Legally and
are vows spoken with reservations really vows? If the lad have dealt
with his lassie and his lassie’s Daddy enter the picture with shotgun
hand and fire in eye, are they twain one flesh either by virtue of
first relationship or by the superficial repeating of vows? Where and
what point does God enter the picture to join them together? Can we
say that God joins every couple that repeat wedding vows? Is God a
to mis-matches ? would you say that he would yoke a donkey with a
Marriage is not to be entered into lightly. If you are just
now contemplating marriage, move with extreme care, for that step can
be the best or the worst moment of your life. Bear in mind that there
a vast difference between seeing a person a few hours a day in
and living with that person. Remember. For nearly everyone, there is a
perfect match, but you’ll never make that match if you’re already
and out of circulation when that perfect match meets you! Be patient
the reward of the perfect match will pay off many times over.
Is “love” the only real reason for marriage? Do you think
marriages” arranged between families of “class” are wise? All these
are asked to make you THINK. It is not my intention to preach my
theories, but to encourage you to make a reasonable study of marriage.
MARRIAGE: Delight or Disaster
| Bob and Ann got
over the protest of his
family that Ann was not of the “proper” background. Bob felt that Ann
not be judged by her family background, and that she would adjust under
his “tender loving care.” Ann, keeping her own counsel, married
to get out of an unpleasant home situation.
Bob soon learned that Ann was clever in certain
really intelligent, and further, was such a poor cook that she almost
difficulty with boiling water! She was sloppy and slovenly in her
habits, throwing her clothes about everywhere and not bothering to
up. Bob, tending toward carelessness, but accustomed to living in a
tidy home, suddenly found a necessity to become the housekeeper if he
to have things like he was used to. Resentment and argument began
the end of their first week of marriage, and soon became outright
They never could reach a point of agreement and gradually drifted apart
to the point of unfaithfulness.
Did God join these two? Are they married in
their vows in church in front of fifty friends; does this make the
more sure of God’s blessing than if it had been solemnized only before
a Justice of the Peace?
A couple is married when they have become one in
vowed their legal vows, and have joined themselves in loving sexual
All three steps are necessary in the order given. These steps can best
be taken if both husband and wife love Jesus Christ most of all.
© 1989 Up Way Publications
P. O. Box 1015
Kailua, HI 96734 U. S. A.
Copying, storage or retrieval by any means without the
of Samuel M. Smith or Up Way Publications is expressly forbidden,
for brief quotations in critical reviews.