I will preface all my thoughts by saying this. I am a sinful human being who has been forgiven, extended grace on many occasions but striving daily to be more like Jesus.
As a pastor, my ministry has been marked by expressing truth laced with grace. I am fully aware of the huge weight my words carry as I preach each Sunday. There have been Sundays where the weight of telling the truth has dropped me to my knees for days asking my God to help me deliver it with mercy, grace, and truth.
I have done my best to not run from truth so that my people can come to grips with the truths of the Bible. Plus I love my people too much to do otherwise. So as I lay out some thoughts I have regarding marriage, the intent is not to condemn nor judge, but to inform others about the seriousness of marriage.
Just yesterday, I posted a few wisdom thoughts on dating and living together before marriage and it quickly spread like wildfire through Facebook. Here is what I posted...
If you think living together first before marrying is a good option to see if it will work then there are 3 things you must know
#1 You are living in sin and the blessing of God will never be upon you while doing so
#2 Any man that wants to take advantage of a woman in this way is not worthy of giving yourself away to
#3 I don't care if you agree with me or not
Pause again... I have married couples who have lived together. My ministry is laced with grace. I have encouraged couples that are living together before marriage to remain pure until the marriage. I love these couples dearly and that has not changed my love for them. But, I want them to know that when I stand before them and officiate their marriage I want to know that I feel led by God to perform it. For you see, this decision is meant for life and it is the most important decision that one can make outside of salvation. I long for the blessing of God to be on their life prior and during the marriage.
Okay briefly here is why I believe these 3 things.
Marriage is ordained by God and when the man and woman come together in marriage they become one flesh and what God has joined together let no man separate. Matthew 19:4-6.
Living together in my understanding for a Christian does not constitute marriage legally no matter how you slice it.
#1 All civil governments have laws defining what constitutes marriage. God commands us to obey those laws. We have no right to consider ourselves married until we have obeyed civil laws that define us to be married. Romans 13
#2 Every ceremony I perform, I close it out by saying by the authority vested to me through the state of Indiana and as the couple has consented before God and these witnesses and declared the same by receiving these rings I pronounce them husband and wife...
Someone legally with authority given by God and government makes this pronouncement.
So in my mind unless you are recognized by government when you fill out your tax forms or any other legal form as married and had an approved officiate perform it then you are not legally married. Plus I take this seriously because for me to do something that the law prohibits is disobedience.
I realize Acts 5:29 is the grid that gives me exemption to not do something that God forbids or sees as sin.
#3 Men can be pretty selfish beings when it comes to sex and the need to satisfy himself. I have said it this way on many occasions "ask your man if he wants to marry you or just have sex with you." If he won't commit to legal marriage then all he wants is a sex partner. And by the way the Bible is loaded with passages expressing how sex before marriage is sin. Romans 13:4, 1Cor 6. 1Cor. 7
This was not meant to say that all men who have blown it are not worthy to marry, but it was given as a warning to women to consider whether or not he truly loves you or loves sex. Plus every woman should have the godly choice to say no because of conviction and if that man continues to push then she should run! We are to flee sexual immorality 1Cor. 6:18
#4 God will never bless anyone that willfully sins. Yes, we all sin daily. I sin daily but if I am sensitive to the Spirit I am convicted and then ask for forgiveness of that sin. Praise God for his grace to me and all of us.
In summary: The original post was given to warn us to choose carefully the decisions that we make concerning marriage, because every decision carries consequences that not only impact us, but the generations to come. So my hope is to help people see what I see as biblical truth laced with grace.
I love weddings and I love it when the couple makes decisions to put Jesus at the center and follow hard after him. Because that is when God blesses and the couple experiences intimacy like never before. Plus the wedding night should be one of the most amazing, intimate, beautiful moments that a couple experiences when the marriage is consummated the way God designed!