Bible Question:

Is it okay for a man/woman to be a pastor, deacon, or hold a position in church if he/she is not married by the church, and is only married under state law? Is it correct for a Christian to be only married by the state, and not by the church (God)? I would think not because 1 Timothy 3:1-2 says: “Then it behooves the overseer to be without reproach, husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, well- ordered, hospitable, apt at teaching. ” Correct me if I am wrong, but in the times Paul wrote this, Jewish couples were married by a priest, and there was a contract called the Ketubah. So a man/woman must be married by the church (God) in order to serve. I would greatly appreciate an answer and evidence in this matter.

Bible Answer:

The answers to your first two questions are “yes.” Yes, it is acceptable that a man or woman serve as a leader in the church and a man serve as pastor even though he/she was married outside of the church. While weddings have existed down through the ages of time, God never explicitly commands a particular type of wedding in scripture. The book called the Song of Solomon is about a romance, an engagement, a wedding, the honeymoon, and some time afterwards. It is a rather sensuous book, but it does not contain a command to have a wedding. God has assumed that weddings will occur. God has left that to us. Weddings occurred in the Old Testament but God never commands a religious wedding.

. . . His virgins had no wedding songs. (NASB) Ps. 78:63

Go forth, O daughters of Zion, And gaze on King Solomon with the crown With which his mother has crowned him On the day of his wedding, And on the day of his gladness of heart. (NASB) Song of Solomon 3:11

We cannot find any verse requiring a church wedding for a Christian couple in the scriptures. .

When Rebekah became Issac’s wife, scripture does not record a wedding ceremony. They apparently became man and wife without a wedding ceremony. There were no “I dos” and no “Do you take this women to be . . .” pledges. There was only a commitment to get married to Isaac – before she ever met him (Genesis 24:54-60). Adam and Even did not have a wedding ceremony with a crowd of people and presents.

God considers a marriage a covenant or a commitment between a couple. The following passage is a rebuke to those who divorce their spouses, but in the rebuke God makes a surprising statement about marriage. It is a covenant!

. . . the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. (NASB) Mal. 2:14

The Jewish wedding customs of Jesus’ day do not apply to us. They were only customs and not scripture. God did not give them any direction regarding their customs. A serious exchange of vows between a couple in a church and before a pastor can honor God, but a church wedding is not required by scripture. There is no efficacy to being married in a church.


The more important criteria for a church spiritual leader with regard to his/her spouse is that he/she is faithful in the marriage. Are they committed to their spouses in action, thought, and with their eyes? Are they respectful and do they give honor to each other? Encourage those who are in leadership. They need your love and support (Heb. 13:7, 17).

Suggested Links:

Is it truly a marriage in the eyes of God if you are married by a Justice of the Peace?
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