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November 9, 2009 / brockbruce

Married in God’s Eyes

starBoundless Line
November 5, 2009 5:45 PM
by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin

Married in God’s Eyes

Not too long ago, I read on the front cover of a Christian college newspaper about a couple who had made their own marriage commitment, spur of the moment, by themselves, on a beach. They told friends and relatives about it later, after they’d secured a marriage license. The couple’s justification for their seeming indiscretion was that they were “married in the eyes of the Lord.”

Something about this article really troubled me. I suppose you could make a case that the couple had physically made a covenant before God by consummating their relationship. But, to me (and I’m guessing to their family and friends), it appeared to be a lack of self-control. In his article, “Is Living Together Really a Big Deal?” author Ed Gungor makes a similar observation:

Most of us know people who are in love, plan to marry and currently live together. It’s sort of the new premarital counseling program. I visited a church out West that had a “pre-marriage” ceremony for a couple living together. No license. No wedding dress. Just a prayer of blessing to hold them over until the couple walked down the aisle—a kind of marital “appetizer,” I guess. I asked the pastor why they did it. He said, “The couple believes they are married in the eyes of the Lord, and we just wanted them to feel affirmation in our community.”

What did I think about it? I was bummed about it. I actually believe that marriage needs to be public and people need to vow into it in front of those who matter to them—it’s not just a private matter in front of the Lord. Truth is, those who declare they are married “in God’s eyes” seem to reframe their claim when they break up with their live-in partner. Then they claim they were never “really married.” This makes me very dubious about the “married in the eyes of the Lord” doctrine.

Gungor gives one of the best explanations I’ve ever heard of the emotional and psychological reasons sex should be saved for marriage. Beyond that, he reaffirms the value of a public demonstration of marriage:

If a Christian couple loves each other enough to jump in the hay, I think they should get married in the eyes of God and the rest of us. Marriage is not a private sacrament; it impacts the whole community of faith. It’s the right thing to do, and disciples do the right thing. They don’t just live on love—emotions, feelings and hormones—they live on principles, beliefs and disciplines that develop character. Pagans (and children) only live for themselves—they live for the “now” and feelings alone.

There were moments during our engagement when my now-husband and I had to remind ourselves of the importance of self-control and living above reproach in the courtship process. And it came down to what Gungor expresses here: “Disciples do the right thing.” We may be tempted to find loopholes, but in the end it is gratifying and beneficial … and just plain right … to follow God’s plan. 

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