Marriage and Natural Rights

By Michael LeMieux

America is unique in its views on individual rights. First of all America is one of the only countries in the world to state that rights do not come from government but are inherent in the individual upon his creation. And we supposedly believe that rights are "inalienable," meaning they cannot be lawfully transferred away, taken, or otherwise depleted without our consent to do so.

As an example; Marriage (in the traditional sense) has been around throughout recorded history. Obviously the institution of marriage predates the organization of the federal or any state government within the united States. In fact even the courts have validated the right to marry as a fundamental right (see Zablocki -v- Redhail).

If marriage is deemed a "fundamental right," do we convert that right into a privilege when we apply for a marriage license? According to Black’s Law Dictionary the term license means: "A revocable permission to commit some act that would otherwise be unlawful".

Remember, lawfully, the government cannot bar you from exercising anything that is a right. Yet here we seem to be in conflict; the courts have deemed marriage to be a "fundamental right" and yet the government, both local and federal, state that you need a marriage license in order to get married. In fact many "marriage institutions" will not perform a marriage unless you have previously applied for (asked permission) and have received a marriage license.

In light of the above it would appear that the government is infringing upon our rights! But in fact they are not, in this case. Remember I mentioned at the end of the first paragraph above "without our consent to do so." What about common law marriages? Are they legal? Yes. Are they recognized by the government? Yes but they are not as readily accepted because you have not included the government in you marriage contract.

WHAT? Many are asking; I have not included the government in my marriage! We do so as soon as we apply for the license. After all a marriage is a contract between two individuals, is it not? Both agree (vow) certain things to the other and grounds for dissolution of the marriage is based upon those agreements. In this case because you received permission from the government you are bound and can only be released from the agreement by going to the government to dissolve the agreement because they are a party to the agreement; this is called divorce court. This is not required in a common law marriage.

I won't get into the details of what would best constitute the legal requirements for common law marriages and that integrates into society or the erroneous stigma portrayed to common law marriages as that would be an entire article in and of itself but only use this to show that although we have rights we also, quite often, voluntarily (if not ignorantly) relinquish them to the government. Primarily all that is required is to exchange vows (agreement) orally or in writing and preferably witnessed by three others to attest the event and then to consummate the marriage by living as a married couple.

This was an easy example of where Americans have rights and unwittingly or voluntarily relinquishing those rights to receive a perceived benefit. (I say perceived benefit because the same benefits are afforded them even without the marriage license). marry.htm

Comment: God is only as good as His Word, and He requires us to honour our Word. Our "Yea must mean Yes, and our nay No"! Our word (vow) is the tie that binds, so when a man asks a woman for her hand in marriage and she says yes, they are bound to one another. A betrothal is a marriage; should she change her mind and marry another, she shall be called an adulteress, for no woman can have more than one living husband (Romans 7:1-3).

Whether licensed by Caesar or otherwise, the Christian couple will ask the Lord's blessing on their union in the presence of family, friends and saints before they consummate their union.