In this writing, let us consider a couple of things which do not, in and of themselves, constitute a God-approved marriage. Let us notice…
(1) Sexual union does not constitute marriage. (a) The sexual union of Dinah and Shechem did not make them married (Genesis 34:1-12). This was pre-marital sex. This appears to have been rape. It did not constitute marriage. (b) The sexual union of David and Bathsheba did not make them married (2 Samuel 11:1-27). This was extra-marital sex, adultery. It did not constitute marriage. (c) The sexual union of Tamar and Amnon did not make them married (2 Samuel 13:1-22). This was rape. There was no marriage formed from this. (d) Mary was considered Joseph’s wife, long before there was sexual union (Matthew 1:24-25). Sexual union did not make them married.
Some have thought that sexual union constitutes marriage, due to two passages. Genesis 2:24 reads, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” 1 Corinthians 6:16 reads, “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He says, ‘Shall become one flesh.'” Some infer that what is being said is that one becomes married to a harlot, when he has sexual union with her.
I believe that this is a wrong conclusion. First, the passages mentioned earlier indicate that sexual union does not constitute marriage. Second, I do not believe “one flesh” is the equivalent of marriage, remember the previous point. It refers to a closeness which should exist in marriage. While sexual union may not be the only thing included in the wording, certainly, it is a big part of this closeness, for: (a) this “added language” is only to be expressed in marriage (cf. Hebrews 13:4); (b) it is connected here by implication with sexual union. When one is sexual joined with a harlot, he is behaving as if he has this special closeness with her. He is speaking the “added language” which should only be spoken in marriage. This is contrary to the teachings of Scripture. In context, Christians are to be one with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:15-17 cf. Ephesians 5:22-33; 2 Corinthians 11:2). When we join ourselves to harlots, we are being spiritually unfaithful to Him. It is an illustration from marriage. Matthew Henry comments, “Now shall one in so close a union with Christ as to be one spirit with him yet be so united to a harlot as to become one flesh with her? … Can any thing be more inconsistent with our profession or relationship?” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary On the Whole Bible vol. 6, p. 431) (2) Civil law and/or a marriage ceremony does not, in and of itself, constitute a God-approved marriage. (a) Herod Antipas married Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife (Mark 6:17). However, John the Baptist spoke against such, saying, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” (Mark 6:18). God must do the joining for it to be a God-approved marriage (cf. Matthew 19:6b). (b) Jesus taught, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9). If God approves of every marriage, then this passage makes no sense. Remember that one must be eligible to marry, to marry with God’s approval. Moreover, one must also marry one who is also eligible to marry, to marry with God’s approval. (c) Paul taught, “For the wife who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives… So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress” (Romans 7:2-3). Again, “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to who she wishes, only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). Not everyone is eligible to marry. (d) A woman married a snake in 2006, in Orissa, India. The Hindu wedding was witnessed by over 2,000 who attended (timesofindia.indiantimes.com). Surely, a ceremony alone does not make a God-approved marriage.