Q. Your site means so much to us! Thank you for all that you do. I’ve got a question that relates to the one about marriage licenses. My father-in-law has been living with a woman for nine years now (since about 6 months after his wife’s death). They have never gotten married because they are afraid of losing Social Security benefits, etc. Edith is also on disability and fears losing that as well. They both attend church and profess to be Christians. My husband is having a hard time with this. He feels that they are “living in sin” and should get married and trust God to take care of them. I agree with him.
However, my question is, would they be considered married in the eyes of the Lord even though they have not been legally married? They have been encountering a lot of health and financial problems, so we’re wondering if this is the Lord trying to convict them of their sin so that they will repent and get legally married?
A. God does not require a license to be married. He requires a dedicated heart. Licenses were developed by human governments to establish the legality of the relationship for tax, inheritance, and custody purposes. Some people who don’t have licenses are married in the eyes of the Lord and others who do are not. The 9 years your father in law has spent with his significant other would seem to indicate a dedicated heart. In places where they’re allowed, your in-laws would meet the common law marriage requirements.
The bigger issue is that if they think of themselves as being married in God’s sight, then they’re receiving money from the government under fraudulent circumstances. That’s something that violates both the government’s laws and God’s laws, and may be one of the reasons God is not blessing them financially.