Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

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Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby Bare_Truth » Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:31 am

When one dies and leaves behind an estate, something must be done with it. The law of various societies provides for the dissolution and distribution of that estate. The rules and methods of what becomes varies by custom culture and jurisdiction but there is a universal (or near universal?) acceptance that, within limits, that the deceased may have created an enforcible set of rules for how the estate may be dissolved and distributed.

With the legal system changes to what is a "marriage", and given society's insistence on its authority to define and regulate marriage, I offer for your consideration the assertion that marriage now needs to be treated in a similar manner. This is not a new idea but rather I assert that it is an idea that needs to be reasserted and needs to be sanctioned by society and it needs to be sanctioned by religious bodies, which means the "church" to most of us who post here.

In order that people can have a Christian marriage and keep the secular (may I say debauched) power at bay, that enforceable marriage contracts need to be re-established as an option. Just as with death where one can choose to die "intestate" or have a "last will and testament" one should be able to have a marriage contract.

Now to head off a criticism once thrown at me when I posted this concept elsewhere, I am not talking about a "contract of divorce" or pre-nuptial contracts designed simply to protect the interests of one party or the other. Such a document might address such issues or it might on the other hand simply by neglecting it defer to the rules of the political subdivision having jurisdiction at the time such might occur.

With the change in the legal definition of what is a marriage, it would perhaps be wise to define explicitly what is a "Christian Marriage", and what the obligations of the parties entail. You might ask, "Why would this be necessary or desirable?". Given that the courts now appear to be hell bent on allowing marriage on hetero- or homo- bases, can poly or species based marriages be ruled out with any certainty? And if that is a risk, should a Christian spouse not have certain rights protected in case their mate decides to change religion and perhaps become muslim and add an extra wife or two, or maybe one of those wives is not female, (definitely not muslim in that case)?

But let us not dwell solely on preparing for disaster within the marriage. Instead, let us look to the advantages of such a marriage contract. Such a contract would by definition virtually always be pre-nuptial, and in the working out of such a contract the couple would be fully and explicitly apprised of what the church expects of them, and what the couple can expect of each other (yes I do understand that with the variety of religious practice that "couple" may require a different term if either poliginy or polyandry is the accepted practice of their religion). We cannot of course rule out the possibility of post-nuptial modification of the contract when, for instance, there is a change in circumstances when a couple chooses to change religious affiliation. Such a contract could/should also extend to protection of the offspring of such a union in ways beyond mere physical sustenance, such as assuring religious instruction to be provided in the event of dissolution or other disruption of the marriage, e.g. one spouse turns to atheism but wishes to continue the marriage or one spouse decides that they have gender disphoria and wishes to change genders.

I do not propose here to say what the terms of such a contract should look like, although I would encourage vigorous discussion of practical and reasonable terms, (e.g. a clause favoring marital counseling be based on biblical principles as preached by a particular approach to the Bible).

Would a church's insistence on inclusion or exclusion of certain terms in the contract be daunting toward marriage in some cases? Well, perhaps it should be so? Some churches currently refuse to perform marriages without certain mandated counseling.

The floor is now open: What say you?
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby bn2bnude » Wed Dec 25, 2013 11:31 am

Bare_Truth wrote:When one dies and leaves behind an estate, something must be done with it. The law of various societies provides for the dissolution and distribution of that estate. The rules and methods of what becomes varies by custom culture and jurisdiction but there is a universal (or near universal?) acceptance that, within limits, that the deceased may have created an enforcible set of rules for how the estate may be dissolved and distributed.

With the legal system changes to what is a "marriage", and given society's insistence on its authority to define and regulate marriage, I offer for your consideration the assertion that marriage now needs to be treated in a similar manner. This is not a new idea but rather I assert that it is an idea that needs to be reasserted and needs to be sanctioned by society and it needs to be sanctioned by religious bodies, which means the "church" to most of us who post here.

In order that people can have a Christian marriage and keep the secular (may I say debauched) power at bay, that enforceable marriage contracts need to be re-established as an option. Just as with death where one can choose to die "intestate" or have a "last will and testament" one should be able to have a marriage contract.

I know you are trying to make a point but maybe it's the time of day or maybe that I've been on vacation for a week... I can't make sense of it (yet).

Bare_Truth wrote:Now to head off a criticism once thrown at me when I posted this concept elsewhere, I am not talking about a "contract of divorce" or pre-nuptial contracts designed simply to protect the interests of one party or the other. Such a document might address such issues or it might on the other hand simply by neglecting it defer to the rules of the political subdivision having jurisdiction at the time such might occur.

With the change in the legal definition of what is a marriage, it would perhaps be wise to define explicitly what is a "Christian Marriage", and what the obligations of the parties entail. You might ask, "Why would this be necessary or desirable?". Given that the courts now appear to be hell bent on allowing marriage on hetero- or homo- bases, can poly or species based marriages be ruled out with any certainty? And if that is a risk, should a Christian spouse not have certain rights protected in case their mate decides to change religion and perhaps become muslim and add an extra wife or two, or maybe one of those wives is not female, (definitely not muslim in that case)?

But let us not dwell solely on preparing for disaster within the marriage. Instead, let us look to the advantages of such a marriage contract. Such a contract would by definition virtually always be pre-nuptial, and in the working out of such a contract the couple would be fully and explicitly apprised of what the church expects of them, and what the couple can expect of each other (yes I do understand that with the variety of religious practice that "couple" may require a different term if either poliginy or polyandry is the accepted practice of their religion). We cannot of course rule out the possibility of post-nuptial modification of the contract when, for instance, there is a change in circumstances when a couple chooses to change religious affiliation. Such a contract could/should also extend to protection of the offspring of such a union in ways beyond mere physical sustenance, such as assuring religious instruction to be provided in the event of dissolution or other disruption of the marriage, e.g. one spouse turns to atheism but wishes to continue the marriage or one spouse decides that they have gender disphoria and wishes to change genders.

I do not propose here to say what the terms of such a contract should look like, although I would encourage vigorous discussion of practical and reasonable terms, (e.g. a clause favoring marital counseling be based on biblical principles as preached by a particular approach to the Bible).

Would a church's insistence on inclusion or exclusion of certain terms in the contract be daunting toward marriage in some cases? Well, perhaps it should be so? Some churches currently refuse to perform marriages without certain mandated counseling.

The floor is now open: What say you?

Maybe I'm trying to over think this but I am still not sure what you are trying to get at.

That said, let me voice my opinion again that we've taken the religious/spiritual significance of "mating for life" and integrated it into a government system that for many reasons really has no business being there -- in my opinion, the biggest offender of separation of church and state to me.

Let's zip back 2-3 millennia (and I do mean a literal 1000 -- sorry, that was from another strip). In this day, marriage or "taking a wife" was recognized by religion, society and family but not necessarily the government -- Rome may have been the exception.

Why do I say that... From a family point of view, it was a way to represent "ownership" of the wife. If you look at the relationship of the patriarchs, some of the most detailed look at early "marriage" we have, it was quite messy. Abraham married to his half sister, handed off to dignitaries twice because of fear. Given her servant to procreate with. Isaac followed suit except it was his cousin not sister. Jacob/Israel had a duel going on between his wives. Judah's daughter-in-law had to play a prostitute in order to be given what was rightfully hers.

What we think of as "marriage" in the Mosaic law was put there not because of love but for protection of the woman in a society where women had little or no choice but to move from that relationship to prostitution. It was, if you will, a way to protect the family.
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby Ramblinman » Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:26 pm

I agree that forum discussions do not lend themselves to preambles with long complex talking points.
I realize that we need to set context, but let's try to hit one point at a time.

I agree that the secular state has no business regulating weddings, but it can play a role when it comes to child welfare and inheritance issues.

I am not defending homosexual acts.
However, if two men or two women whether living in one household or not, have a deep abiding friendship and no heirs, I could not possibly object to one bequeathing his/her estate to the other upon death.

I believe that practicing homosexuals, whether single or as a couple, are not appropriate parents for children.
There are other reasons for placing children in other hands, but this is the issue I am focused here and now.

The common wisdom seems to be that this is exclusively a religious issue. Psychology is a science, but the practice of it does not seem to be free from political pressure to endorse things that are bad for children.
But if we could divorce psychology from political pressure, we might have a way for a secular state to ban practicing homosexuals from raising kids other than "because I believe it is a sin".
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby Bare_Truth » Wed Dec 25, 2013 6:02 pm

There are many things that a marriage contract could provide as terms. For example a marriage contract could provide that in the event of a divorce, that children from the marriage
a. would not be in the custody of the parent who committed adultery.
b. would not be in the custody of a parent who entered into a living arrangement with a homosexual.
c. would not be in the custody of a parent who abandoned the Christian faith.

Not being a lawyer, I have not written these terms in an iron clad way or dealt with possible conflicts between a, b, and c. You can see the potential problems if a contract is not done correctly and you can see the potential problems if in some state homosexuality became such a protected status that it could not be the grounds for exclusion, and the state declared that clause or the whole contract null and void.

A discussion such as this would benefit if one of the posters here happened to be a lawyer and had prepared pre-nuptial agreements. It might be interesting to see what might be accomplished if for instance one of the clauses was that in the event of adultery, the non adulterous takes all or the lion's share of the community property. Or if a clause mandated both parties to participate in marriage counseling for certain infractions of the contract with a penalty of forfeiture of community property rights for failure to do so.

The Contract might also block out the possibility of no fault divorce. or oppositely mandate no fault divorce for certain infractions.

My whole point is that as government sticks it big nose in to marriage ever farther, we can have no expectation that the government will not define and enforce terms of marriage in a very unchristian manner. At the moment we have the issue of homosexuality in the forefront of things. Should a spouse who by all indications married a Christian be put to disadvantage if the other spouse turns homosexual and the Christian finds a need to separate but in the process is disadvantaged by the default rules of the state? I for one do not think that with the intrusion of ungodly homosexuality into the realm of marriage that Christians may be put to disadvantage. Should a Christian have to enter into a marriage as defined by the state because there is no way to legally define a Christian Marriage? If Zoophilia is decriminalized (as has already happened in several states[1]), must a Christian spouse have no special preference in withdrawing from that marriage?



[1]
Mt, Wy, Nev, N.Mex, Tx, Al, Ky, Va, W.Va, Oh, Nj, Vm, NH, Ha, D.C. according to:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoophilia_and_the_law_in_the_United_States
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby Petros » Thu Dec 26, 2013 2:51 am

I believe I get where you are coming from, but I am thrown onto two principles you may be less accutely aware of here:

1. words [including "rights" and "obligations"] mean what Big Brother says they mean

2. unless the Lord build the house...

One can, of course try, but the State has never prevented the outcomes of marriages gone bad and can hardly be counted on to fix what gets broken. That applies to drunken wife beaters, why would we expect it to better in the case of spouses who choose to copulate with multiple same sex goats?

I am not saying that contracts might not be helpful, if the state permitted them and chose to enforce them. But in th\e final analysis, there is no substitute for following divine leading in spouse choice and trusting him to maintain and [as needed] repair.
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby Bare_Truth » Thu Dec 26, 2013 8:09 am

I do remember from back in the late 50's -Early 60's having read an article in one of the Sunday supplements that came with the Sunday paper, an article which shocked me. Written by a woman who was dissatisfied with the institution of marriage and the way in which the state managed divorce. She was probably an early feminist.

What she advocated, and claimed knowing some who had done it, was that couples should not get married. From a very secular point of view she saw the "marriage license" as being as a key element in the problem, The solution she cited was to have a lawyer draw up a "Contract of Cohabitation" with such elements as; specifying the rights and duties of each, the terms of dissolution of the contract, expiration and/ or renewal terms of the contract, matters relating to children born of the arrangement, etc.. She contended that this was the only way to keep the government out of the matter.

She asserted that it was necessary to bypass the marriage license because the government would then impose its rules as having primacy over the contract, but if there was only a contract it would become the only enforcible rules. It would also solve the problem associated with moving from one state to another and finding out that acceptable terms to the parties in the state where the union was made no longer applied in other states. She was willing to trade any tax advantages for freeing the partners from the intrusion of the government.

As the institution of marriage changes because of political pressures, It has occurred to me from time to time that at some point Christians might have to follow her advice in order to have a Christian marriage, according to Biblical rules. So I have raised this matter now that the government has undermined the concept of marriage by saying it includes two men, or two women, and may in the future encompass one man and multiple women, or one woman and multiple men, or multiple men and multiple women, or multiple species, or whatever other innovations that government may come up with.

As to Petros' comment that "words [including "rights" and "obligations"] mean what Big Brother says they mean" This is also at the core of the matter seeing as how the government is in the process of morphing the words marriage and family and almost anything else foundational (i.e. the constitution). What we are seeing is the Satanic version of the tower of Babel.
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby bn2bnude » Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:34 am

An observation here and a question...

We went to same-sex marriages rather quickly here -- 3 posts in... There are enough problems with marriage both inside and outside the church that in some cases, this becomes a minor issue.

Was anyone aware that a Utah judge just struck down one of the laws making bigamy (and affecting polygamy) as unconstitutional? I remember seeing a program 20 years ago on polygamy that stated that 30% of polygamist marriages were in Christian rather than Mormon families.

So here is my question.

How much of our views on marriage is based upon our culture over the last 500 years rather than the Bible? I know there are the passages in the pastoral epistles that talk about marriage in relationship to church leadership but what about things like...
  1. In many cases, what we see as "marriage" in the Bible may have been more like: Slavery or, at best, common law marriages here.
  2. With the 1 Tim 3:2 passage on Bishops, do those in church leadership have to be married? Doesn't that contradict Paul's urging people to remain unmarried? I know of some churches who will not hire or are at least suspicious of any pastor who is not married.
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby Petros » Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:09 am

Bare_Truth - I have myself often thought we will get to the point where Christians opt out of State-defined marriage.

Marriage in essence and origin is a partnership negotiated and ratified by the partners and their families / communities, and Chrisdtian marriage as I understand it remains essentially that.

The State gets invited in to certify property transfers, and takes the opportunity to tax and regulate marriage.

Many of us will have known couples who have not leapt through the hoops of either State nor institutional Church whose marriages [I use the word in defiance] are at least as Christian and solid as many with both certificates in hand.

We may yet, of course, reach the point where noone will be allowed to cohabit, copulate, or procreate without filling out the application and paying the fees. Not quiite yet, though.
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby Petros » Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:24 am

bn2bnude:

A. I should say current definitions of marriage [passsing lightly over my VIEWS or ours] owe more to 14th century Western Europe property law [modified by 20th Century executive recruitment or legal firm partnership] than to slavery.

B. Passing lightly over my views on priesthood and pastorate as privilegedf empowerment [expressed elsewhere nor relevant here], I should say that both celibacy and marriage are - as for all of us - options to be discussed with God.

Given the tendency of especially the institutional human to spew forth random rules, one understands why celibacy for priests of the Roman rite and bishops of the Eastern rites, and one can dream up reasons why a Norteamericano congregation should prefer or insist on a married ritual expert.

But a pastor's wife does not guarantee a two for the price of one leadership team, nor a pastor who does not fool around [see my grandmother's complaints about her father]. Nor does celibacy ensure either chastity or abstinence from nepotism.

I cannot but feel that to reject an otherwise perfect candidate or accept an otherwise defective because he [or she] never married or was divorced or is married is to be bound - as many are of their own free will - by the inanity of arbitrary rules.
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby bn2bnude » Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:15 am

Petros wrote:bn2bnude:

A. I should say current definitions of marriage [passsing lightly over my VIEWS or ours] owe more to 14th century Western Europe property law [modified by 20th Century executive recruitment or legal firm partnership] than to slavery.


Much more appropriate
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby jjsledge » Fri Dec 27, 2013 7:57 am

In the book "Exposing Myths About Christianity" pg 84 the author states " Marriage was not considered a sacrament of the Church until the ninth century and was formalized as such only from the twelfth century onward".
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby Bare_Truth » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:14 am

bn2bnude wrote:An observation here and a question...

We went to same-sex marriages rather quickly here -- 3 posts in... There are enough problems with marriage both inside and outside the church that in some cases, this becomes a minor issue.
It is not unreasonable to get into the matter of same sex marriage if the focus is on the "institution" of marriage as the initiation of the institution of the family, and the process of fulfilling to "be fruitful and replenish the earth"

bn2bnude wrote: Was anyone aware that a Utah judge just struck down one of the laws making bigamy (and affecting polygamy) as unconstitutional?
While I had not heard of this, I can see that it might be regarded as a freedom of religion issue. However I think it wrong headed as our physical nature provides males and females in equal numbers and polygyny produece an excess of unattached males which without warfare to kill off the excess, results in criminal behavior. On the other hand, Polyandry proves to limit population growth, but I have never heard of wide spread polygyny and polyandry existing side by side in the same culture.

bn2bnude wrote: I remember seeing a program 20 years ago on polygamy that stated that 30% of polygamist marriages were in Christian rather than Mormon families.
I was unaware of such a statistic, however I have reviewed the arguments of the plural marriage advocates and their arguments that the Bible allows it are not utterly unreasonable interpretation of the text as we have it available today. I do however regard it as impractical in most situations, and their arguments may fall to careful linguistic/cultural examination. In a society in which males and females survive in roughly equal numbers to reproductive age and through the child rearing years, (which is the way God made things), general practice of polygamy seems obviously contrary to God's plan.

bn2bnude wrote: So here is my question.

How much of our views on marriage is based upon our culture over the last 500 years rather than the Bible?..... passages in the pastoral epistles that talk about marriage in relationship to church leadership ......
Marriage changes a man (and a woman) and adds a facet to maturity that would not otherwise be there. Leaders of society (and the church is a society) need to be as mature as possible. It may be in some cases that that facet may be sacrificed when an exceptional individual has other facets that are more needed, but as a general rule, a church leader being married is probably preferable.

bn2bnude wrote: "marriage" in the Bible may have been more like: Slavery
The odiousness of slavery is highly dependent upon the nature of the master and the practices of the institution. When the new testament refers to Christians as the servants of God, the Greek word is dulous, which means slave. Being a slave of God is not a bad deal, considering that in the end of our physical existence there is a promotion to real life, as a spiritual being. This is not unlike the slavery of one Hebrew to another for 7 years as presented in the scripture in which at the end of the period of servitude, the Hebrew slave was not just turned out but was given certain assets with which to rebuild his independent life.
In Deuteronomy 15: Moses wrote:13 And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty:
14 Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.
Our status towards God and the Hebrew slave of the old Testament are very much different from the evils of slavery usually practiced among human cultures. Old testament slavery among the Hebrews required a degree of caring for the slave that we rarely see in history. Although it was surely abused the status of women under the law in the old testament it looks a bit different, there were duties for both partners in a marriage. And as we move into the Christian new testament era it is very different.

bn2bnude wrote: ...I know of some churches who will not hire or are at least suspicious of any pastor who is not married.
Not an unwise general precaution in an age that abounds with wolves in sheep's clothing. However speaking in a more positive sense. Women have a penchant for insights that are different from a man's viewpoint. A properly skilled wife, is for a pastor, indeed "an help meet" (appropriate) for him. And for churches that allow women pastors, the requirement of marriage is not out of line on a parallel basis.

bn2bnude wrote:So here is my question.With the 1 Tim 3:2 passage on Bishops, do those in church leadership have to be married? Doesn't that contradict Paul's urging people to remain unmarried?
I believe that Paul was addressing two different situations. The ordaining of biships requires someone with skills at managing diverse individuals, and Paul's reasoning was along that line.
In giving his reasoning, Paul wrote: 1Tim 3:5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby bn2bnude » Fri Dec 27, 2013 11:42 am

jjsledge wrote:In the book "Exposing Myths About Christianity" pg 84 the author states " Marriage was not considered a sacrament of the Church until the ninth century and was formalized as such only from the twelfth century onward".



Watching an interview with the author on Youtube now. Another resource that is pretty impressive is Frank Viola's "Pagan Christianity".
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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby pipermac » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:10 pm

I believe the root-cause of our quandary about marriage is in how we define a "marriage". We have been brain-wahed into believing that unless a "marriage" has been sanctioned (read TAXED) by the state, it really isn't "marriage". Some states have gone so far as to disallow "common-law marriage". That kind of thinking has also permeated the church, to the point that the church has become one of the principal enforcers for the state.

A few years ago, a young couple in a church I was in had "marital intimacy" (premarital sex) and she got pregnant. In order for them to not be looked down on in the church, they had a quickly-arranged private wedding. While they perhaps weren't really ready to get married, they were forced to do so to keep the peace. Had they simply moved in together, the church would have declared that they were "living in sin".

What really defines a "marriage"? I believe it is the commitment of two people to live together as husband and wife...to be a couple. Society has said that they have to get "married" (pay the marriage tax). Paying the tax is necessary for them to enjoy all the rights and benefits of being "married". What does paying a tax and getting registered have to do with a commitment to live together as husband and wife? A piece of paper does not a "marriage" make. Without that commitment, all there is is a "paper-marriage". Unfortunately it takes paying another tax (divorce) to legally dissolve that "paper-marriage".

I am in one such "paper-marriage". My "wife" and I got "married" (paid the tax) just over a year ago. That "marriage" lasted less than six weeks, before she moved out of our home into the home of another man. Now it will take paying another tax (getting a divorce) for me to be a free man again. The paper is there, but not the commitment. I am a "married" man without a wife, being legally bound to a woman who has absolutely no intention of ever living with me again as my wife. As a result, I can't even entertain the thought of another marriage, until one of us is able and willing to pay that divorce tax.

I have come to understand that it is the commitment that counts, not the piece of paper. Unfortunately I had to come to the point where I have a worthless piece of paper to get my eyes opened.

Am I still morally, ethically and Scripturally bound to my "wife" in this "paper-marriage"? Or, am I free to pursue another relationship, and if necessary, wait some extended period of time before we could make that relationship "official"? Would I be living in adultery if that relationship culminated in "co-habitation" for however long it took until a divorce could be obtained from my current "wife"? She is certainly living as the wife of another man, whom she claims she "is in love with". Am I free to fall in love again...absent a divorce?

What say ye my dear brothers?

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Re: Death and Marriage in Christianity and Society at Large

Postby jochanaan » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:18 pm

Perhaps, pipermac, the marriage ceremonies (both "secular" and church-sanctioned) are in a spiritual sense merely recognition of a union that already exists, just as baptism is, in oft-quoted words, "an outward sign of an inward faith." I too have begun to think so.

In my experience, life-mates come when you are truly ready for them--even if at that time you don't expect them. :shock: Perhaps we should be less concerned with seeking "fulfillment" and more focused on simply walking with God...
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