Marrying a Common Law Wife
NCW 20, June 1995
Q. I am intending to marry in the near future. Trouble is, my fiancée used to live with a boyfriend and is regarded by the state as a "common law wife" with all the rights of a married woman. Does this mean that as far as the Gospel is concerned she was "married"? And does that mean that I would be committing adultery by marrying her? (Matt.5:32)
If your fiancée's relationship to her previous boyfriend was casual without any sense of mutual responsibility or covenant, and was engaged in for purely sexual reasons, then it was fornication. If there was commitment that transcended a physical relationship then in the eyes of God it is a marriage. If, in this instance, your fiancée broke off the relationship because her common law husband committed adultery with another woman, then she would be justified in leaving him. If he remained true then she would not.
This is not a simple matter even though, alas, it is an all too common situation these days. If there are children from a common law marriage then their needs must be taken into consideration. Each case must be examined on its own merits. I recommend that you have an exhaustive interview with your Pastor to discover what the motives and circumstances behind the present situation are. Exercise the greatest of care. Above all, be absolutely sure that you are doing the Lord's will.
Remember, that God's law states that if a couple has a sexual relationship then they are technically married in His eyes, because the act of intercourse belongs solely to the marriage estate.
This page was created on 2 May 1998
Last updated on 2 May 1998
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