Question #248

What constitutes a marriage?

Hi, I found your website today when researching another subject, and then began reading what you teach about divorce and remarriage at this link.

Most of the way down the page, on the last part of number 6, is the following: "Moreover, does it not follow that if an illicit relation involving a married person ends a marriage that illicit relations between single persons constitutes marriage? If not, why not?"

Are you saying that Scripture teaches if two single people (man and woman), who have never been married to anyone, have sexual relations, that they are then married as far as Scripture is concerned?

Example: A single man and single woman, both virgins, neither of whom have ever had sexual relations with anyone before (to remove adultery/remarriage from the equation), have sexual relations. They don't get married, nor did they ever intend to. Each goes on to date other people, and eventually (years later) each gets married to someone.

Are you teaching that the initial union between virgins was a de facto Scriptural marriage, and that any subsequent sexual unions with anyone else was adultery, and that any subsequent (intentional) marriage is an adulterous marriage?

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond.

The Answer:

The language to which you refer was intended to reach the exact opposite conclusion to the question that you raise. The question that was asked was asked to demonstrate the absurdity of the position that some hold that sexual relations between two people actually terminates a marriage, i.e., that it constitutes a divorce. In logic this type of agrument is called reductio ad absurdum, or reduce to the absurd. If a conclusion from an argument can be made absurd by that which must be true if the conclusion is true, that conclusion is thereby falsified. The absurdity of the proposition that illicit sexual relations constitutes a marriage demonstrates the falsity of the position that illicit sexual relations constitute marriage. It is certainly not true that illicit sexual relations constitute a marriage in God’s eyes.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)