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The biblical purpose of marriage was for a man and woman to join together for populating the earth. Gen 2:24 and Gen 9:1 A civil ceremony was never required until long after the compilation of the books of the Bible. The present day purpose of marriage is make legal a relationship under the eyes of the law; to give legitimacy to a relationship. The word "marriage" did not come into the English language until the 12th or 13th century and the concept has come to mean something completely different than in biblical times. Today, marriage is an institution created by man for legal purposes. Marriage is a legal term, not a religious one. A marriage cannot be legal in the United States unless one has a license to marry and legalized by a representative of the local, state or federal government, which include preachers, Justices of the Peace, judges, ship captains, etc. There are some instances where one can be considered "married" legally due to a time requirement of cohabitation; such as common law statute in some states. Under the guidelines of the Bible, once a woman (or women in the case of multiple wives and, normally, well-off men) commits to a man, which usually includes a dowry from her or her family, their union is recognized. There was no civil requirement in the Bible, just a covenant between the participants and/or their respective families. There are many different purposes for marriage today and those reasons are only known by the participants; they could include love, children, tax breaks, legal status, companionship, convenience, familial responsibilities, etc. The ideal biblical "marriage" is a union of a man and a woman, both believers, who commit to each other until death. The union of the two creates one in the eyes of God.
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