While the percentage of people who choose to cohabit continues to increase, there is a corresponding decline in morality and an increase in unwed mothers and children being raised in single parent homes.
The situation has become so common that many young people do not know that it is wrong to live together conjugally without being married. Those who do have some form of moral upbringing throw out the argument that there is no where in the Bible where marriage is constituted by a “piece of paper.”
Piece of Paper
The argument is extremely hollow and selfish; intended to excuse bad behavior. The Bible actually does talk about a “piece of paper.” Jesus indicated that from the beginning it was to be one woman with one man in a bond or covenant of life long, committed, relationship. “What God has joined let no man put asunder,” speaks loudly to the level of commitment intended. Also, it was “till death parts,” covenant. While there were no court houses at the time or justice of the peace or marriage licenses, there was a society that recognized marriage as sacred. Parents made contracts and arrangements with each other for their children that were legally binding. Although arranged marriages are passé, the purpose of my point is that there were legal implications and binding relationships that were sealed in many different ways. The ceremony was a community recognition that this couple was now a unit. The Biblical laws were such that the contract of marriage was sealed by the blood stain of the virgin wife. This was binding and final. The recognition of marriage was so final that adultery was punishable by death. This speaks strongly to the value of marriage in God’s eyes and the eyes of the society.
Now the “piece of paper” that I am talking about is the writ of divorce. Jesus said that because of the hardness of people’s hearts, a writ or certificate of divorce was granted. If a certificate of divorce was given, it is explicitly implied that the marriage had a bond and contract that had been broken. Marriage protects all. It protects the society in that there is no wholesale sexual abuse of male and female. It protects a society from rampant diseases of the body and of the soul. Marriage provides and protects children from great harm and abuse such as child trafficking, slavery, and physical abuse. It protects the woman giving her a place of importance and a place to bear children that are cared for and loved.
Without marriage, partners have no legal responsibility to each other. The relationship is a casual sexual relationship used by both parties, but withholding the totality of self to the other. When the relationship fails through frailties, emotional failure, financial circumstances, or just boredom, the parties are left destitute of recourse. There is no protection. So the 60 year old woman is replaced by a younger one and she is left in the cold with no protection from the law. A man is left by his partner and incurs huge credit card bills and she finds another sugar daddy. He has no legal recourse. They have children and she leaves with the children; he has little to stand on.
The Bible does not teach, nor support casual relationships without any commitment. The issue of marriage is an important one with deep, legal ramifications. It has to do with heritage, inheritances, blessings, birthrights, and long term health. Living together outside the bond of marriage offers none of the above. By law, the children are illegitimate, the woman, a paramour at best, and the man, an irresponsible lout.
Yes, there is a piece of paper in the Bible. It is a writ of divorce.