163. I read your response on divorce & remarrage and...
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Dear Dr. Smith

I read your response to another person's question "Can a Christian divorce and re-marry if the marriage is not consummated?" and you said yes. Can you share 'when' a couple is seen as 'married' in the eyes of the LORD? Is it when the vows are said?  When a couple states they want to be with each other exclusively? When the couple consummates the relationship after the vows? Or when they sign the marriage certificate? And what about sham marriages (marrying only for citizenship with no consummation) or the 'other' type of marriage (consummating the relationship/shacking-up, but there is no wedding)? I am asking these questions because I have a friend who believe as long as two people consummate the relationship before GOD, it is called marriage, but I do not see that in THE WORD, and I believe marriage is a lot deeper than just sex, so I want some help to understand exactly what is marriage and when does it officially begin.

Thank you
Call me "Curious About Marriage"

Dear “Curious About Marriage”

Thanks for your curious concerns and questions abut the response I gave to question #162.

If I understand you correctly you want to know when is a couple seen as married in the eyes of the Lord, is it,
a)    When the vows are taken
b)    When a couple states that they want to be with each other exclusively
c)    When the couple consummate the relationship after the vows
d)    When they sign the marriage certificate

How about all of the above when combined in a package called 'Marriage'?, would that be sufficient? I guess not because your concern is more about my “yes” to the question asked. Well, to begin with, you misquoted the question, here is what you wrote to me; "Can a Christian divorce and re-marry if the marriage is not consummated?" But here is the question that I answered, “Can a Christian divorce his wife and remarry if she fails to consummate the marriage?” The operative words here are, “if she fails”.  There is a vast difference between “refusing to consummate” and “cannot consummate”.

I will not go into the biological or psychological reasons why a marriage may not be consummated and would not be considered grounds for divorce (see my response to question 162 ). However, if an individual chooses not to consummate a marriage, then that is considered grounds for divorce. Also, left out in your query to my response, is the fact that the questioner, stated clearly why the marriage was not consummated, “because she is not in love with her husband”.

It cannot be justified to marry someone and then refuse to have sex, by claiming that you are not in love with the person. That would be brutal cruelty and a violation of the marriage contract which states; “I require and charge you both, as ye shall answer in the day of judgment, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you knows any cause or impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in matrimony, ye do now confess it. For be ye well assured, that any who are coupled together, other than as God's Word doth allow, are not considered joined by God, neither is their marriage lawful.”

According to Matt 5: 32 and 19:9 “porneia” (fornication) is the grounds for dissolving a marriage. Frequently “porneia” is translated as sex outside of the marriage (fornication). However, an exegetical look at the meaning of “porneia” will reveal that it has more than one meaning and one of them is, “refusal to grant conjugal rights”. A refusal to consummate the marriage is to commit “porneia”. I agree with you 100% that marriage is a lot deeper than sex, yet it has the awesome power of making or breaking a marriage.

The other issues you raised are beyond the scope of my response to the question asked, however, the examples of the different types of marriages you cited are not considered marriages in the eyes of God.

Thanks for your curious concern and I pray that my response helped.
God bless.

Dr. Smith
For more information about Dr. Smith's services go to www.familyfixers.org