What constitutes marriage? Jesus taught, “from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no more two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:6-9).
Let us notice: (1) Marriage, in God’s plan, involves a man and a woman. Jesus said, “God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife…” (Mark 10:6-7). He was referencing Genesis 1:27 (Mark 10:6) and Genesis 2:24 (Mark 10:7). (2) Maturity seems to be implied, “God made them make and female” (Mark 10:6 cf. Genesis 1:27). Adam and Eve were not infants, or small children which depended on an earthly father and mother. Adam was to “tend and keep” the Garden (Genesis 2:15). Eve was “a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18). Furthermore, it says, “a man shall leave his father and mother” (Mark 10:7 cf. Genesis 2:24). This implies maturity. This does not necessarily refer to physically leaving [Noah and his wife, and their three sons and their wives lived together, temporarily, on the ark (Genesis 7-8). Jacob lived near and worked for his father–in-law for 20 years (Genesis 29-31, esp. 31:38, 41). Moses lived near and worked for his father-in-law for 40 years (Exodus 2:15; 3:1 cf. Acts 7:29-30)]. However, there is to be a leaving in the sense that a new family unit is to be formed, with all of the responsibilities which goes along with such. This implies maturity. Marriage does not consist of 3-year-old children. (3) Intent is implied. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Mark 10:7-8 cf. Genesis 2:24). He is to leave to be “joined to his wife” and “become one flesh.” William W. Grasham comments, “The idea of being ‘joined’ so as to ‘become one flesh’ indicates that a husband and his wife share in a covenant relationship that involves a pledge of fidelity and permanency that supersedes all other family commitment” (Truth for Today Commentary, Genesis 1-22, p. 198). The word “joined” (NKJV), “cleave” (KJV), or “hold fast” (ESV) means “‘to join fast together, to glue, cement’ is primarily said of metals and other materials” (Vine’s). This is speaking of forming more than a weak, temporary, for the moment union. God’s ideal for marriage is a life-time commitment (Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39). The intent of the man is implied (Mark 10:7-8). The woman should also have a say in forming this marriage (Genesis 24:57-58).
Let us further notice: (4) Marriage should be made known to others. God joined Adam and Eve in the very first marriage. There were no human witnesses. There were no other humans. However, since then, marriages, typically, have had some form of public announcement or ceremony before witnesses (Consider: Genesis 29:21-22; Ruth 4:9-11; John 2:1-2; Matthew 22:1-14; 25:1-13). William Grashem writes, “Marriage is not just one’s own private business. Rather, two individuals (a male and a female) declare to their families, their friends, and their society that they are uniting in this most intimate way to form a new family unit” (ibid). (5) There is the matter of eligibility. God’s word should be the standard in determining such. I believe that there are 3 classes of people, who may marry with God’s approval: (a) Those who have never married another (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:22-25); (b) Those whose mates have died (Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39; 1 Timothy 5:14); (c) Those who have put away their mates, because of their mate’s fornication (Matthew 19:9). (6) There should be compliance with civil law, if any exists (Romans 13:1-2; Titus 3:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-17). There are two exceptions: (a) When the government orders us to do what God does not want us to do; (b) When the government forbids us to do what God wants us to do (Acts 4:19; 5:29). A word of caution: Texas law makes it very easy to claim common law marriage. Familiarize yourself with the law.