Two Marriages: Spiritual and Civil

At the end of the wedding ceremony often the pastor will say something like, “By God’s authority and the authority invested in me by the State of            , I pronounce you man and wife.”

In my mind, if you are married in a religious ceremony there are really two marriages and two sets of rules to live by if you ever decide to get out of the marriage. One marriage is the spiritual marriage where God makes the two one flesh. It seems to me that you should think long and hard about what His word says about dissolving a marriage. I acknowledge that many trained Godly theologians will have different views on some situations, but it is certainly a decision that deserves much prayer, thought, and Biblical study. You will be living with the consequences of your choice for the rest of your life.

The second marriage is when it comes to the legalities if you want to get out of the relationship. That part falls under the rules of whatever state has jurisdiction. And those rules may or may not line up with God’s principles. This second marriage is a pretty unique kind of contract because in a no-fault divorce state the defendant always loses. If you have a contract with a builder to build a house, or with your employer to work, for examples, and something goes wrong, you can file a lawsuit to enforce the contract. You may win, you may lose, you may have a partial victory. You won’t know until the court rules.

If your spouse files for divorce and never retracts their divorce petition and continues to pursue it, sooner or later you will be divorced whether you want to be or not. Now the outcome of who gets what money and who has what rights and responsibilities for the children is unknown at the start but will  be decided by a judge at the end. The ultimate outcome is that you will still be divorced even if it was your spouse who broke the marriage contract by cheating with someone else.

Like Mike McManus from Marriage Savers often said, “It is easier for my wife of 40-some years to get out of our marriage than it is to get out of a car loan.”

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3 Responses to Two Marriages: Spiritual and Civil

  1. jamie says:

    I can honestly say I have never considered the fact that there are two marriages. What a great perspective!

  2. You’re right about it being so easy to file for divorce!

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