My grandma is shacking up with her boyfriend! She says marriage would revoke her inheritance from my grandfather.
How do I respond to this?
You wouldn’t believe how often this subject is coming up in conversations now. Through medical science and an easier life, generations are thankfully living longer and longer. “Sixty is the new forty,” I’ve heard more than once in the last couple weeks. New moral problems are arising out of this blessing of longevity, however. “I’m not done yet,” cries the widow or widower. “I’ve got another shot at love and I’m taking it.” But their financial picture is sometimes threatened if morality wins out: “If I marry again then the assets of my previous marriage will be revoked. What am I to do?”
As pastors, we see these moral scenarios play out through every generation. Rare are the instances when people fall in love, get engaged and get married while following biblical mandates throughout the whole process. Most pastors I know are marrying folks who’ve already had children together or who lived together for years. It is a sad sign of the times. Pastors withstand the siege of immorality like a sea wall in their assigned spot of ocean-front mission-field. We preach and teach the Bible’s view against these moral temptations and dilemmas, often to no avail. The world out there looks a whole lot like the world inside our church sanctuaries, and that is simply the way it is.
Thankfully, our justice system yet upholds the sacrament of marriage between a man and woman. I’m counting my blessings and leaving it at that. Yet this trend of putting sexual carts before marriage horses is indeed plaguing our society, even in the golden years. Instead of launching a religious tirade I’ll instead look to the Bible, which always has an answer for everything: “The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:22-24, NASB.)
In this account of the start of the human race, it’s crystal clear that God equates sex with marriage; the bonding is a binding in God’s eyes. It’s called, “covenant,” and that legal term is unbreakable in the Kingdom justice system. In fact, a close look at that scripture reveals that men and women were eternally connected to each other that day in the garden: one was literally manufactured from the other. Their sexual union is therefore celebrating the manufacturer’s original idea: they came from one flesh...they become one during sex. We may we conclude that when two people have sex, God’s view of that act is a wedding! It’s the only definition God has for flesh entwined.
The issue then becomes this: Are these “weddings” holy or unholy? Do we honor them as God does or use them as a form of recreation? According to the Bible, when we mate, we marry that person in the spiritual realm…whether we honor that fleshly covenant or not. You’d think mankind would be more selective about their partners.
Shacking up in any season of life bypasses a public profession of commitment and does not honor God’s sacrament of marriage. It’s lazy; it’s shady; immature; and a cheap counterfeit of God’s intent for two people in love. While some seniors may be prevented from marrying financially and therefore legally, they may be able to appeal to God by entering into a Christian-covenant-ceremony surrounded by friends and family. These “weddings” are not advertised, nor are they honored by the Church or the State, and most Clergy will have nothing to do with them. Yet they may be an option for our shacked-up grandparents.
However, and in my opinion, if two people truly love God and each other, no amount of assets, monies, legalities and financial obligations will prevent them from doing the right thing. Jesus eloquently defined what doing-the-right-thing looks like: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,’ ” (Matthew 22:37, NCB.) Do that and an honorable direction becomes clear.