What Makes Marriage?

What Makes Marriage?
What makes a couple married in the eyes of God? The usual view held by Protestant Christianity today is that a couple becomes married when they covenant with each other (usually in front of witnesses in a ceremony). If we go back a few centuries to the foundation of this view, we find evidence of churches ruling that certain couples were husband and wife via covenant ceremony, but that they were not fully "married" because they had not had sex yet.

A second view that has gotten more billing in recent times is that sex itself is what makes a couple married and a separate covenant or ceremony is superfluous. Which of these views does the Bible support? Does sex seal a couple who is already husband and wife by covenant into marriage or does it alone make a couple married regardless of covenant or agreement?

Those who say that "sex equals marriage" will often point to passages like:

  • Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 where God brings Eve to Adam and there are no other witnesses.
  • Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 24:67 where it says, "And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife."
  • Jacob and Leah in Genesis 29 where Jacob has sex with Leah in the wedding chamber thinking it was Rachel, and it results in them being married.
  • The story of Tamar in Genesis 38 where verse 8 says, "And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother."
  • Deuteronomy 21:13 where a man wanting to marry a woman captured in battle is told, "after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife."
  • Deuteronomy 22:28-29 which says, "If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days."
  • The injunction not to frequent harlots in 1 Corinthians 6 which says in verse 16, "What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh."

Those who say that a covenant to be husband and wife must precede sex (or at least come afterwards) bring up passages like:

  • Genesis 34 where Shechem defiles Dinah and in verses 12 and 17 the parties involved talk like more needs to be done before she can be his wife.
  • Exodus 22:16-17 that allows a father to refuse to give his daughter in marriage even after sex.
  • Deuteronomy 22:13-21 that proscribes a woman be put to death for sex she had with someone while in her father's house *before* marrying the man the passage calls her husband.
  • Deuteronomy 22:23-24 that says a man who has sex with a virgin who was betrothed to another man has "humbled his neighbour's wife."
  • Joel 1:8 that speaks of a virgin mourning for the "husband of her youth."
  • Malachi 2:14 where it says that Yahweh is witness that the "wife of thy youth" is "the wife of thy covenant."
  • Matthew 1:18-25 that calls Joseph and Mary husband and wife, and says Joseph took his wife while specifying that they had not and did not have sex until after Christ was born.

Let's examine each of these passages in the depth necessary to understand what is being said and which view, if any, they provide support for. Since it is generally easier to start with general instructions and commands and then see how individual narratives fit into that, I'll start with Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29, one passage from each list addressing the same or similar situations.

Exodus 22:16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.
17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.

Deuteronomy 22:28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

There is some debate on whether "lay hold on her and lie with her" in Deuteronomy 22:28 means rape or consensual sex. The word in question, "taphas" when used of one human on another implies use of strength, but doesn't indicate the response of the person being acted on. The recipient might be willing, and not much strength is needed, or resistant and much strength is needed. Basically, the word seems to encompass both rape and consent scenarios.

Exodus 22 speaks of "enticing" so is evidently more of what we would think of as a consensual sex scenario. It doesn't make any sense to say that the man who rapes a woman will definitely get to marry her and that the one who gets her consent might get refused by her father. (For one thing, a rape victim could then just claim to have consented so her father could get her out of the marriage.) So, pretty much whichever approach we take, the passages both cover (at least) what happens in the consent scenario.

The sex-equals-marriage viewpoint on the Exodus passage generally seems to be that the man ends up marrying the maid regardless, it is simply a matter of whether or not he gets her for free or has to pay a bride price. A close examination of the Hebrew does not fit with that. The first issue is that the word "mahar" translated "endow" does not simply mean, "take her." The word is linguistically related to the word "mohar" or "bride price" in the next verse.

So, specifically it says, "He shall surely offer a bride price for her to be his wife." This is why KJV uses the word "endow" which comes from "dowry" which is a wedding payment. Every Hebrew to English translation I have seen concurs, translating it "endow," "pay the bride price" or something similar. The "give her for free" scenario that the sex-equals-marriage view needs, is simply not found in this passage.

This is also backed up when culture is considered. In scripture "giving" a wife does not mean "give for free." We can see this reflected when Shechem, after defiling Dinah, said to her family in Genesis 34:12, "Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife." Payment of a "dowry"/"mohar" here is "given" in exchange for the "giving" of a bride.

Jacob and his son's also recognized that they could still refuse the marriage when they replied, "if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone." Ultimately Shechem submitted to the demanded bride price (circumcision) and was given Dinah, but only had her as a wife for a few days as Simeon and Levi came in, killed him and took Dinah out of his house. (Genesis 34:26)

So what all this means is that the seducer is required by Exodus 22 to offer a bride price in exchange for the woman becoming his wife, but the father can still refuse the transaction. If he does refuse it, the passage says, the seducer pays money "according to" the normal bride price. This preposition "according to" comes from a Hebrew prefix that clarifies it is NOT a bride price, it is simply LIKE a bride price. A good example of this prefix being used is when manna is said to be "like coriander seed" (Exodus 16:31). Manna is not coriander seed, it is like it in size. Same goes for the money the seducer pays, it is not a bride price, but it is like a bride price in size.

So, in essence, if the seducer's bride price (mahar/mohar) offer is refused by the woman's father, he pays the going amount as something that is NOT a bride price, but IS the same amount. (Essentially restitution.) Ultimately the result is that he does not pay a bride price, her father refused to give her in marriage and thus she is not the seducer's wife. This is simply what the passage says if we read it in Hebrew and in context of their culture.

So how does the Deuteronomy version fit into that? Well again looking at the Hebrew words, in this case the verb tenses, helps show what is being said. When those are considered, a good rendering of the passage would be: "WHEN a man finds a virgin girl who is not betrothed, AND catches her, AND lies with her, AND they are found, AND the man who laid with her gives to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, AND she becomes his wife; THEN BECAUSE he has humbled her, he cannot send her away all his days."

In other words, the passage is telling us only about the scenario in which the woman is given rather than refused. It doesn't say her father can't refuse the seducer, it just says that if she does become a wife the seducer can't divorce her. With that in view, both passages make sense. Exodus provides extra details on what happens if the father refuses and Deuteronomy provides extra details on what happens if she is given as a wife.

When it comes down to it though, a sex-equals-marriage view doesn't fit with the passages, particularly the Exodus one. Since a man can have sex with a maid and end up with her NOT being his wife, sex does not on its own equal marriage. Something more, a covenant (which takes the form of an accepted bride price in their culture) is needed or marriage does not occur.

Deuteronomy 22:13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,
14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:
15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:
16 And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;
17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;
19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.
20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

This passage deals with when there is an accusation of a woman not having being a virgin when she came to the wedding chamber. When the accusation is true, the outcome provides more evidence that sex alone does not make a marriage. Two things stand out. The first is that the passage calls this woman the wife of the man who accuses her. If sex alone makes a marriage, then she should be called the wife of the first man who had sex with her and the second man, who had sex with her and realized she was not a virgin, would actually have been committing adultery with her.

The second thing here that shows something beyond sex is required to make a marriage is the reason given for the woman being put to death. She lost her virginity by "playing the whore in her father's house" and that is why she is to be executed. Yet in the sex-equals-marriage view, that first sex she had, losing her virginity, should have been legitimate and made her married. Instead, she is to be put to death for it. Clearly having sex before marriage is painted as a serious sin by this.

Deuteronomy 22:23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

Another statute in Deuteronomy 22 also bears out the concept that something other than sex is needed to make a marriage. In this instance a man is put to death for having sex with "his neighbour's wife" - the same phrase used in the ten commandments as "thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife." The woman in the statute is a virgin though. She became another man's wife while still a virgin so it clearly wasn't sex that made her a wife.

Also relevant is that the man she had sex with is punished with death, so having sex did not change the fact that she was the other man's wife and cause her to be married to her sex partner. The opening of the passage shows that "betrothal" or the marital covenant, is what made her a wife, not sex, and that having sex did not erase or supersede that covenant.

Deuteronomy 21:10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and Yahweh thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,
11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.
14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.

Exodus 21:7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.
8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.
9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.
10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.

Ultimately, these slave marriages would not be practically applicable to us today in societies where legal slavery has been eradicated, but there are points we can glean. The passage in Deuteronomy 21 is often brought up by those who believe sex equals marriage. In it, a woman captured in battle is picked by her captor to become his wife. After a month, he is allowed to have sex with her. The phrasing of the passage, "thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife" is read as sex being the only action that makes them husband and wife. If that is the case, then at least for slave women being married by their master, sex does appear to equal marriage.

Yet if we compare with Exodus 21 where a slave woman is also being taken as a wife by the master (or given to his son) we see that it isn't simply "have sex with her and she is your wife" that is being practiced. Even for a slave woman there is a "betrothed her to himself" that occurs. A time period where the woman is designated as wife to a certain man, but sex has not occurred. In reality, the Deuteronomy passage, while not using the word "betrothed" has the same aspect in the passage in that the man is required to have her shaved a month in advance of having sex with her. In effect, she is designated to him as a wife well before they have sex in this passage also.

When it comes to slave women becoming wives (also called concubines, which is a type of wife) in narratives such as those involving Hagar, Bilhah and Zilpah, it may seem like it is done with sex alone, but even in these passages the woman is being given in marriage by a woman to her husband. This is also part of the equation of a man betrothing his slave woman "to himself."

In such a case, the man is both the woman's authority, the one who gives her in marriage, and the husband who receives her in marriage. She isn't a free woman, so there isn't anyone for the master to covenant with or pay a bride price to other than himself. So it may seem like sex is making such a marriage, but in reality there is still a covenant happening. Of course since the man essentially makes it with himself, it can be missed. Reading carefully about the month of preparation or the "betrothed" aspect in Exodus 21 helps clarify that even for slave women it still isn't sex alone that makes a marriage.

1 Corinthians 6:13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

The last commandment-style passage we have to examine is from Paul. In the second half of 1 Corinthians 6, Paul talks about honoring God with our bodies, which belong to God. One way we are called to that is to "flee fornication" (fornication being sex that is forbidden by God.) This point is found in verses 13-15 and is restated in verses 18-19. Between those, Paul says that being "joined" to a harlot makes you "one body" and partially quotes Genesis 2:24 "two shall be one flesh."

Even though there is no mention of marriage, nor are the words and phrases for "husband" or "wife" used, the sex-equals-marriage view holds that the quote connects this to Adam and Eve in Genesis and thus is stating that sex with a harlot forms a marriage. While the quote is from a passage we associate with marriage, it is notable that Paul leaves off the part of the quote that mentions husband and wife and only references the "one flesh" aspect. Overall, there is very little here to suggest that this act is creating a marriage and the context is blatantly about fornication, not marriage. Holding that Paul is saying sex with a harlot makes a marriage is a stretch of the text

Beyond the contextual objection, taking the passage this way creates an inconsistency within the sex-equals-marriage view itself. If sex alone makes a marriage, then the harlot was married the first time she "plied her wares." A believer who disregarded Paul's instruction would be committing adultery with the harlot, not marrying her! So even without the context being clearly about fornication, the sex-equals-marriage understanding of this passage collapses on itself.

The statutes are pretty clear that sex alone does not make a marriage, and that it is the covenant/bride price/betrothal that makes a couple husband and wife. Let's move on to the narratives and see whether they fit into this framework we have found so far.

Joel 1:8 Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.

Malachi 2:14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because Yahweh hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.
15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Yeshua Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Yeshua: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Yeshua.

These first passages, nicely fit into the idea that covenant makes the couple husband and wife and even provide more evidence. In Joel, a virgin mourning for her husband, shows that it wasn't sex that got her a husband. Yahweh says in Malachi that the "wife of thy youth" is both a wife by covenant and that He made them one sexually which fits our order of covenant making the couple and sex sealing the marriage. The story of Joseph and Mary concurs, repeatedly calling them husband and wife while they are espoused/betrothed and making it clear that Mary remains a virgin and that Joseph did not have sex with her until after Christ's birth.

Genesis 2:21 And Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which Yahweh God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

This passage, while sometimes claimed by the sex-equals-marriage view, actually never makes any direct statements that Adam and Eve had sex. In it we see God, acting as the one giving the bride, bring Adam his wife. This giving and receiving reflects the statements other places in scripture. Even in verse 24 it says the man will "cleave unto his wife" not "cleave unto a woman and she will become his wife."

The standard being set for marriage is that something makes the woman his wife and then the cleaving, one-flesh relationship involving sex ensues. Again, there is nothing there that supports the sex-equals-marriage view over the other and in fact the indications are that something besides sex precedes it to make the couple husband and wife.

Genesis 24:64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.
65 For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.
66 And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.
67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

There is a lot more that takes place before this part of the story, including Abraham's servant getting agreement from Rebekah's father that she should be Isaac's wife and giving gifts to the family as the cultural bride price. One already has to ignore all that to read verse 67 as a sex-equals-marriage passage. Clearly a lot of actions and agreements preceded the sex that Isaac and Rebekah eventually had. However, there is even more here that is often overlooked. Verse 67 still doesn't say that Isaac and Rebekah had sex! As such, this is an extremely poor verse to argue sex equals marriage from.

What it says is that Isaac "took" Rebekah, not that he "knew" her, "lay with" her or "went into her" which are the specific ways the Torah indicates sex. That word for "took" is actually contrasted with sex in the steps towards full marriage. A couple chapters earlier Abimelech had "taken" Sarah, but not even touched her. (Genesis 20:3-6) In the passage we already saw in Deuteronomy 22 it phrases the process as separate steps, in "If any man take a wife, and go in unto her..." So the passage is actually directly stating that Isaac did something besides sex, "the taking" and Rebekah "became his wife." This verse, even taken out of the context of the chapter, seems to be better proof that it is not sex alone that makes marriage.

Genesis 29:18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.
20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.
21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.
22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.
24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.
25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?
26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.
27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.
29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.
30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.

The marriage here between Rachel and Jacob was formed on the basis of covenant agreement and bride price. Jacob even calls Rachel "my wife" once his obligation is fulfilled. This fits the mold we have seen elsewhere, but what about Jacob and Leah? In their case, Jacob did not pre-covenant for Leah, he was decieved into having sex with her without one. According to the statute in Exodus 22, he is now required to "endow" her to be his wife, or covenant for her as long as her father does not refuse to give her. Since it was Laban's purpose to force Jacob into marrying Leah, he did not object and they agreed to a bride price. So again, the Jacob and Leah relationship fits the picture we see in the statutes.

Genesis 38:6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.
7 And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of Yahweh; and Yahweh slew him.
8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.
9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.
10 And the thing which he did displeased Yahweh: wherefore he slew him also.

Deuteronomy 25:5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.
6 And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.
7 And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.
8 Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;
9 Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.
10 And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.

Genesis 38 is the last narrative we had on the original lists and Deuteronomy 25 contains the relevant statute for "levirate" marriage. In Genesis, Judah tells Onan to have sex with Tamar and "yabam" her. The word "yabam" is translated to the entire phrase "duty of a husband's brother" in the Deuteronomy passage. There is no bride price to be paid to the woman's father, since that was already done.

It is not just allowed for the husband's brother and the wife to have sex, it is a duty. Just like sex within marriage is a duty, (1 Corinthians 7:2-5) the brother and the widow have a duty to have sex. Since this marriage is essentially an extension of the previous one, we can see this duty to sex as already under a marriage covenant in a way. In fact, it takes public action by the man in order to get out of the duty to have sex with his brother's widow.

When it comes down to it, in this one edge case, going straight to sex may indeed be acceptable. Yet this type of marriage is under direct commandment from God in a special case. A covenant with the first husband was needed in order to get to the situation in the first place, so while this may be the closest thing to "sex equals marriage" that we find in the Bible, it still isn't sex alone making a marriage here. A bunch of things (a marriage, a death, no children) must lead up to it. In a way one could say that dying without children immediately betroths your widow to your brother.

The sex-equals-marriage view fails to line up with many passages in scripture. It is clear that sex alone does not a marriage make. If two people have sex, they are not automatically married. If they are otherwise eligible and there is no objection from the woman's father, then they should seek to make covenant, but that requires further action than the sex alone.

This, of course, does not mean that those who believe sex equals marriage are not married when they have sex. There is no exact formula of marriage covenant spelled out in the Bible. Gathering from Adam's statement and other scriptures, simply calling each other "my wife" and "my husband" is a declaration of marriage covenant. If a couple said, "as soon as we bump fists, we are husband and wife," it would be a covenant conditional upon that fist bump.

Marriages between sex-equals-marriage proponents more or less meet that mold. They say, "having sex together will make us husband and wife" and then proceed to walk out that conditional covenant. Since that first act of sex is momentarily prior to the covenant becoming active, I believe it is a sin to do it that way, but it does ultimately result in a marriage and should not be used as an excuse to break off the covenant later.

Overall, Yahweh says, "thy wife by covenant" and we see scripture align with that beautifully. It is covenant that makes a couple husband and wife and sex comes after to seal that covenant into a one-flesh marriage that man should never, in Yeshua's words, "put asunder." (Matthew 19:6)


That should convince anyone that is intellectually honest. :)

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