Sin Named Among Us, or, Sin Without Borders

Lexet writes:

Good point on authority. I have not found an answer as to why Christians should, in this age, file civil marriage certificates

Christians should file civil marriage certificates for many reasons. For one thing it is the law and we are bound as Christians to be obedient to civil authorities unless it is against the commandments of God. There is nothing against marriage licenses in the Bible.

Romans 13

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Second, it is the God-appointed duty of the civil government to punish evil and approve good, and when done lawfully marriage is a good; about as good as anything on Earth gets. When a marriage is unlawful–such as in a case of bigamy or incest–then the practitioners are duly punished. The churches don’t do that. We may want churches to do that and we may even think they should, but they don’t. They cannot verify to us that Susan and Bob aren’t close relations. They don’t know whether Bob is already married. They cannot even verify that Susan is who she says she is. Nor do they want to.

Some will be tempted to bring up in the comments some failures of civil government such as so-called “homosexual marriage”, or the institution of no-fault divorce. Those are failures, to be sure. The trouble for would-be defenders of the churches is that these points of failure are not points of success for churches. They don’t claim authority over these abominations either. A pastor or priest might mouth something against these sins, but they let them in the doors all the same; even though we are instructed:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”


13 thoughts on “Sin Named Among Us, or, Sin Without Borders

  1. I think the counter argument is

    1-that it isn’t mandated or required at all at this point. There are some benefits one may receive from being married- IRS; ability to declare a legal homestead for estate purposes, etc.

    2- inviting the government into your marriage is actually harmful. Parental rights exist for married and non-married parties. However, alimony, etc. exists for the married (common law marriage is pretty much non existent in the US at this point).

    3- you can better protect yourself, and thus your family/offspring, by minimizing harm brought to you by a vindictive spouse/ex spouse

  2. @Lexet

    1. Christian honesty, charity and obedience demand that anyone who chooses to says they are married should get married according to the statutes of their authorities unless those authorities conflict with the commands of God.

    2. “Invite the government into your marriage” is a ridiculous phrase poached from old liberal arguments against Christian marriage. It’s purpose is to subvert the God-given responsibility of civil authorities to keep order.

    3. Protect yourself from who? Someone who can kill the body but not the soul, or He who can destroy both in Hell? Priorities, man.


    You can find sermons specifically on the topic of Romans 13 at

    Chuck Baldwin also won’t conduct a marriage if you get a civl license.

    Give up your guns (or just register them like your wife and kids)?

    Is Christian marriage a civil institution or a sacrament. Render unto God what is God’s.

    And the clerks don’t verify consanquity or anything else. “It’s just illegal” or whatever.

    You avoid asking the question “by what authority does the civil government have to ask for registration of marriage”. Just playing the Romans 13 card doesn’t work because it goes to “legitimate authority”. Just because we have been doing so since the anti-miscegany laws doesn’t make it legitimate (and there are still common law marriages recognized). Ask Kim Davis about legitimate authority.

    Back before we started totally ignoring or perverting the constitution and based civil government too on natural law and the rights of man, it was reasonable to give the civil authorities the benefit of the doubt and cooperate with fellow christians of good will.

    But today you are cooperating with cultural marxists seeking the destruction of you, your family, and your marriage. There is no “good will” to a priori assume the legitimacy. That does not mean you cannot make a case, only that the superficial analysis does not suffice. If getting the license means burning incense on Caesar’s altar? What does the fine print say including things buried and not on the document?

    I would say whether to get a marriage license or not is a prudential judgment each Christian couple should make (and perhaps get things like powers of attorney and maybe a contract that bans divorce or dissolution except in extremis – something you implicitly give up when you do things Caesar’s way).

  4. Apparently you aren’t familiar with divorce, or the court system. forced alimony payments, spousal support, etc.

    It doesn’t matter how righteous you are, your spouse is a different person, who may choose to do something incredibly stupid and hurtful.

    In the event you are divorced, and get financially wrecked, your church will never help you, the government would never help you.

    If you are married more than ten years, in most instances, and in most states, even your retirement accounts are subject to being divided.

  5. And on point 1, there is no law requiring married people to file a marriage certificate. The government doesn’t mandate that married people officially file certificates.

    You just wouldn’t be able to check off “married” on your taxes. (You could claim head of household).

  6. @Lexet

    I want to make sure I understand you: Your point is that the civil government should be ignored on the matter of marriage because it is often–perhaps even usually–unjust to men when it adjudicates marriage and divorce; especially from the perspective of the Christian worldview. To you, this is strong evidence that Christians should avoid the civil government in matters of marriage and divorce.

    Is that an agreeable restatement of your position?

  7. Lexet is right for another reason. What the Government calls “marriage” is a counterfeit fraud, it is not the thing that the Bible refers to as marriage. Why would you engage in an un-Biblical relationship that even the Government doesn’t require of you? Just because they CALL it marriage, don’t mistake it for that which our Father in Heaven created and endorsed.

  8. I believe the common argument within the Christian Manosphere against legal marriage, is that modern marriage has morphed into something that is not marriage anymore. At least, not what God had in mind when He created marriage. Specifically, today it is merely a tool to exploit men with the words “MARRIAGE” slapped on it.

    As for whether or not God considers those legally/civil married to be married, is another discussion altogether

  9. For awhile I have said that marriage licenses would serve more of a purpose if the government actually prosecuted adultery. The claimed purpose of real estate deeds and auto titles is so that you can prove your claim to property when someone else is using it. Trying to use your marriage license to prove your claim to your wife when someone else is banging her is… of questionable utility.

    Not that this changes your conclusion. Neither the state nor the church do much good prosecuting 6th commandment sins. The state does a decent job prosecuting 7th, 8th and 9th commandment sins. So the church doesn’t even bother with those. But that is not the vision that Paul set for the church. We should be practicing for the time when we will judge angels.

    1 Corinthian 6:1 “Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? 2Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? 4So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church?”

  10. Yes. Perhaps with some qualifications on minor technicalities, but in general, I can support that.

    Marriage was created by God, for his creation, not by the state.

  11. This is why I oppose the current system: a woman can cheat, and use divorce to ruin her spouse, who did nothing wrong. It happens every day.

    Other than the ability to check “married” on taxes, a marriage certificate offers nothing to a man: no protection whatsoever, no rights, etc.

    If your concern is paternity, you can always establish that separately.

    But until women become responsible, and don’t monkey branch and cheat, and until the courts punish that behavior, why subject yourself to a system that will only destroy you? It’s a lose lose situation.

  12. Pingback: Civil marriage and private marriage | Christianity and masculinity

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