Does Marriage Require a Wedding?

My wife and I have a great friend, Brittany, who is getting married this coming May. She and her fiance will also soon be finishing up school at my wife’s alma matter. Anyway, their soon-to-be legal union has had me thinking for the past month or so. The question at hand is, “At what point does marriage actually occur?”Traditionally, the institution of the church has forbidden sex before marriage. What has struck me as odd this last month is that it then goes on to define marriage with the intangible notion of the “two becoming one”. Such a notion is typically derived from portions of the Bible found in the book of Genesis and in the letter to the Ephesians, among other places.

That said, I do believe this notion is true and real. However, as I previously noted, such a definition is quite abstract. At what point do the two become one? Can you even select a definitive moment in time in which such an event occurs, or is it more of an ongoing process? [Let me take a minute to mention that if you define the two becoming one simply by the physical, meaning sex, then I believe you may have a grossly over-simplified perspective regarding the beauty of a marriage commitment.]

By now, you definitely see where I’m going. The institution of the church deems that “sex before marriage is a sin.” However, by its own romantic notion of marriage (and I would say this is the same notion shared by the general populous), wouldn’t it be impossible to say, as the result of an event (the wedding), that now you are married, ten seconds ago you were not? Does that really fit into the greater intimacy and truth of what a marriage is?

It seems to me, uncomfortable as it is to admit (because of my traditional upbringing), that the commitment of marriage and the wedding itself may actually have little to do with each other. Yeah, the “wedding” is the celebration of the commitment, but it’s truly more for legalities than it is reality.

Then again, I could be totally wrong, as I have been many times before. At any rate, what do you think?

[An Afterthought: I want to make sure that no one hears me saying that we should treat sex frivolously. I believe that sex is a great physical picture of the multi-faceted union occurring between two people who Love each other and have committed to that love for the rest of their lives...among other things ;-) . What I merely mean to ask in this post is how would a person/people/the church/etc determine when "marriage" has occurred, when the very notion by which we define it is, again, of an abstract understanding.]

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  • Shaunna Faye

    Hmmmmm…..that’s an interesting question. One that I don’t think has a definite answer. In my opinion, marriage happens when two people commit to each other and it is a long lasting relationship that is marriage bound. Then again, the flaw with my theory is what if you split up? Is that like getting divorced? I most certainly can attest to it feeling like you’re getting divorced.

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