Question:

OK. Well, let me provide some background information. I am a believer. I met a girl who is also a believer.  We became boyfriend and girlfriend. During the relationship we would talk about marriage and getting married and the intent of the relationship was to one day get married.  We would say things like "I can't wait to marry you" and "One day we'll be together forever." I would ask things like, "You really want to marry me?" or "You really want to be my wife?" She would likewise ask me, "You really want to be my husband?" We would both respond to all questions like that with "yes." We didn't think or act like we were engaging in an official act of marrying each other by saying those things, we would just say them occasionally as a way of being romantic or ways of expressing how we thought we felt. I never even proposed to her. 

We eventually ended up engaging in sexual intercourse a few times with each other. When we had sex I felt convicted and in no way did I feel it was okay in God's eyes. I also knew I was doing something reserved for marriage and at no time felt, knew or thought I was married to her. 

I later broke up with her because I was examining the relationship and just didn't see being able to sustain a lifelong relationship with her. We were only together for half a year, and I guess once all of the excitement of a new relationship wore off, I realized there was really nothing there sustaining the relationship.

So my question to you is: is that somehow a marriage in God's eyes by us saying those types of things to each other?  I don't ask looking for some loophole as a way to have sex without the responsibility of marriage. I ask out of fear that I might be married to her and will be committing adultery if I get married to someone else?


Answer:

It sounds to me that she was fortunate to lose you.

No, stated intentions do not make a person married, nor does intercourse with a person make you married. Marriage is formed by a covenant: "Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Malachi 2:14). A covenant is a special type of vow. See "What are covenants?" What you did was commit fornication.

It is hard to express how disappoint I am in your behavior. You claim to believe in Christ, but in your actions you went your own way. You said that you felt convicted that you were sinning as you had sex with this girl, but you continued to repeat the sin. "Convicted" means you were unshakably convinced that you were wrong. Again, your behavior says otherwise. "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them" (Matthew 7:16-20).

It only took you a few months to climb into bed with her -- you barely knew her! Then you called it off when you got bored with her. You described yourself as a someone who uses another for his own pleasure. That relationship was all about you and what you wanted. You were infatuated, but you weren't in love.

Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me" (John 14:23-24). It is past time for you to get serious about being a Christian. Right now all you are doing is dragging the Lord's name through the mud and the Lord won't appreciate it. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Fix up your life and then you will be ready for the responsibilities of a relationship and marriage.

Thank you for your response. You say that I wasn't in love and just infatuated, which is most likely the case. But doesn't God see all marriages as valid? Even the ones where people aren't in love but enter into foolishly? What if I had said things like "I promise to be with you forever." I don't remember exactly what I said but let's just say I used the words "promise" and "forever". I feel like God is holding me accountable for saying those words to her. Before I was with her I was in a relationship for almost five years with another girl and I know said the words "promise" and "forever" when talking to her about spending our lives together, but I don't feel like I'm being held accountable by God for saying those things in that relationship.

All marriages are valid whether parties are truly in love or not, but you did not enter into a marriage covenant. Intentions don't create a valid covenant. Promises are not a covenant. To have a marriage covenant:

  1. There must be witnesses to the covenant. That is why we hold weddings in front of a audience. They all are witnesses to the fact that vows are being exchanged to form the marriage. Marriage licenses have places where two people sign as witnesses to the vows being exchanged -- by tradition the best man and maid of honor are the witnesses.
  2. There must also be a physical witness of the covenant. In our culture, the exchanging of rings serves the function of the physical witness.
  3. The covenant contains the terms. It must note that the marriage is for the lifetime of both the man and the woman (Romans 7:2-3). It must mention that the marriage is exclusively for the man and woman alone. It must mention that the two people are becoming one in all aspects of their lives (Genesis 2:24). It must mention that the man and woman are there to provide mutual support in the marriage (Ecclesiastes 9:9-12). That is why we have someone like a minister or a judge officiate at a wedding. His job is to make sure the proper elements in the covenant are laid out.
  4. There has to be a record of the covenant. That is why we sign marriage licenses.
  5. The record of the covenant is to be kept in a depository. Because of the importance of a marriage covenant, the record is to be kept in a safe place and also be somewhere people can check to verify that the covenant truly was made. That is why the governments have recorders and in older days churches keep marriage records.
  6. Generally covenants are celebrated by a feast at the end to show the fellowship of the parties coming together. That is why we have receptions at weddings.

You made promises, which you broke. But those promises were not a marriage. What you did was dishonest because you did not keep your word. You commitment fornication with multiple girls. You manipulated them into allow you to have sex with them by giving them empty promises. I understand that at the time you may have even convinced yourself that you intended to keep those promises, but the fact remains that you took pleasure when it was wrong to do so and did so without keeping your word.

God does hold you accountable for what you did (Romans 2:6) and what you said (Matthew 12:36-37). It doesn't take a marriage covenant to explain the simple fact that you've sinned repeatedly. You did wrong in both relationships, regardless of how you feel about it. Instead of talking about whether you feel as if you are married, you need to face the reality that you are a sinner. It is long past time for you to change your life and become a Christian, not in just words but in actual deeds. "Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles -- when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries" (I Peter 4:1-3).

Sorry if I'm being annoying, I'm just looking for clarity so I don't have any lingering doubts.  I am trying to get right with God, but I am having doubts about this whole "am I married or not" dilemma.  

You say vows are necessary.  Is not promising to be with someone forever another way of saying until death do us part?  I am grateful for your response as to what a covenant is with your six point answer, but you only provided scriptural evidence in point 3.  I would just like some scriptural and biblical truth.  What about in regions and cultures around the world that don't perform things this way or are unable to meet all six requirements or do things really differently?  I'm sure God sees those as valid if they're promising themselves to each other and only each for life.  

Sorry if this is annoying. I just have extreme worry that I could be married and would just like some biblical evidence as to when God sees two people become husband and wife, becoming one flesh.  I have done some research about what the Bible says when marriage is talked about.  All I really see is the word covenant and where it's says that man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife and about how they become one flesh until death do them part.  Since there really isn't an example of when two become man and wife, outside of leaving your parents and then joining in sexual union with somebody, it would seem as though that once you somehow say you promise to be with a person and only that person forever(till death) and then having sex with said person, God will see them as man and wife?  Again I'm sorry if I'm being annoying I'm just looking for some biblical truth to stand on.

In the first letter I sent you to an article on what a covenant is ("What are covenants?"). Since it was clear that you did not read the article or did not understand how it applied to a marriage covenant, I sent the second note giving more specifics. No, I did not repeat all the passages from the article showing the parts of a covenant.

All promises, vows, or oaths are not covenants, but all covenants are a type of promise, vow, or oath. See also:

Sex is not what creates a marriage. See: Does a marriage begin when it is consummated?