What Does the Bible Say About..Marriage Age?
My friend has gotten into a relationship. He is 23 and she is 16. Since the mother was unsupportive he and this girl made their own vows before God and marrying each other together by themselves. I was wondering if they are married or not. In Gods eyes are they married? Legally they are not, but in Gods eyes are they? I've said that to my friend and a few things come up. First off he is involved with the courts right now for this ordeal. Second they have not had sex. So its not a matter of saying their married so they can have sex. He just believes they are married because of their oath they took before God. In the Bible it states to follow the laws of the lands. Two things he brings up about it are: The marriage law collides with Gods law. It is an unjust law. Another thing about Romans 13 is he says it doesn't always apply because in verse 3 it states do good and thou shall have praise of the same. He says that he has to do good and that the law of marriage is an unjust law. This person goes into the depths of all theology he can with Greek and concordances and everything he can find. So I need some in-depth stuff with references to help me out with this one. HELP!
From what I can determine, as stated in my previous answer, a marriage in God's eyes requires vows by both parties (one male and one female), witnesses, and that it be in accordance with the laws of the land in which the couple lives. It is, apparently, this last with which your friend takes issue.
Try as he might, he will find nothing in the Greek of Romans 13 that allows for an exception for "unjust" laws. By definition, an unjust law is one which is applied one way for one group and another way for a different group. If he can show that the law which forbids marriage under age 18 (or whatever age the law states) applies only to some 16-year-olds, but others are allowed to marry under the same circumstances, then he can call it an unjust law. Even so, Romans 13 applies even if the law is unjust. The only possible exception would be if the law required him to oppose God. (The Jews argue that one can violate any of the Law of Moses to save a life, except one may not worship idols or blaspheme God.)
Let's look at Romans 13:1-7. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour."
There is nothing in verse 3 that would invalidate his need to obey the laws. Paul makes the observation that the government will not be a terror to those who do good. He doesn't say that if a government does not praise one who does good that this invalidates the command given earlier. In fact, even the most oppressive governments rarely make laws against doing good. They may make unjust laws or oppressive laws that allow evil, but rarely oppose good. This says nothing about "unjust" laws, but merely that governments generally don't bother people who aren't violating the law. He goes on to say that we should obey not just out of fear of punishment by the government but "for conscience sake." In other words, we should obey because we know God has told us to.
Whether the laws of marriage are just or unjust has nothing with doing good. One can do good to others whether he is married or not. One can do good to others whether the law is just or not. Marriage laws don't effect one's ability to do good.
His other argument is that the marriage law collides with God's law. In what way? Where does God say that a person must marry at age 16, or even at all? It is probable that Jesus never married, and possible that the apostle Paul never did so. Were they sinning by not marrying? This is what he implies when he says that limiting the age for marriage goes against God's law. At what age does God's law, according to him, say that one must get married? Where does he find that in scripture? Are most people sinning because they wait until they are in their twenties or later? If not marrying at age 16 is in opposition to a law of God, why did he wait until he was 23? If the law he opposes collides with God's law, then he has been in violation for at least seven years. Why does he choose now to say it collides with God's law? (We are not talking about whether a law is unjust, but about whether it is in opposition to God's law.)
For him to maintain his position he needs to show scripture for either or both of two positions. He must show that God allows one to violate a law of the land because it is unjust (and define who determines whether a law is just or not). Then he must also show that the laws about marriage, whether just or not, collide with God's law. To do this he must show where God makes a law about when a person must (not may) marry. Otherwise, all he is doing is justifying his own actions and trying to blame God and others for his own selfishness.