Marriage is a business now in days sometimes, don't you think? Weddings are events to make money on. Everything is so expensive and there are so many things that people say a bride and groom need. I think this is part of the reason why some people don't believe in marriage anymore. It's can be so materialistic. And then, with all the divorce, people get disillusioned regarding marriage and think it's not necessary. Why get married when you can live with the person you love and avoid the hassle? Well, I can tell you why. Where is the commitment with common law? Sure, after a certain number of years you have the same legal tax rights as a married person, but where's the promise, the blessing?
The Bible talks about husbands and wives, their roles and whatnot. It also talks about fathers' giving their daughters in marriage, bride prices and such things. Yet what is marriage from a Biblical standpoint? Here's my perspective. Matthew 19: 4-8 "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."
Ok, so God designed one man and one woman (1 Corinthians 7:2 "But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband."), who commit to each other and become 'one flesh'. Now that they are one, nothing should separate them because they are bound together for life. So, does the bride still have to walk down the aisle, buy an expensive dress, host a huge party? Does that make them married? I don't think so (but it's fun anyway). 1 Peter 2:17 and Romans 13:1-7 tell us that we must honour the government authorities in place because God has put them there so since our government has laid out what having a legal marriage entails (buying a license, having it witnessed, having it performed by a recognized individual) than we should be faithful to follow those rules. If you think of Adam and Eve, there was no government at that time and no whole 'marriage' culture but they were the first married couple. In Genesis 2:22 it says "Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man..." God oversaw the first marriage since after he brought her to Adam, the chapter goes on to tell how a man should leave his family and be united to his wife.
So moving in together does not mean marriage, just because you have sex with the person you love does not mean you're married to them, otherwise, why would there be so many verses like 1 Corinthians 7:2? Rather, commitment must come first. The promise under God to be united together and not to ever separate.
Ephesians 5: 22-33 is a great explanation on what it means to be a wife or to be a husband. Since it's a pretty long paragraph, I suggest that you look it up. In summary, it says that Christ is the head of the church, just like the husband is the head of the wife. So the wife must submit and respect her husband. And the husband must love and take care of his wife just like Christ loves the church (and Christ died for the church, completely sacrificing himself). Verse 28 says "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body." To act like this, to love like this, is to be faithful to each other. And so often I find that this verse is sometimes misused to subdue women and make them submit against their will- but that's so wrong. It's not what the verse is saying at all. Christ loved the church selflessly, so husbands have to love their wives selflessly. The verse is essentially providing the same advice to both the husband and wife just using different terms. Terms of love, caring are used to describe the husband's actions (and come on girls, you have to admit, being loved and cared for is amazing!). Terms of respect and submit are used to describe the wife's response (and think of guys you know, they like to be respected, it builds them up). I've heard it said that women love to be treated in ways that makes them feel loved inside while men love to be treated in ways that make them feel respected (it shows them their loved). So girls, submitting to the unselfish care and devotion of your husband is a wonderful thing! Let him take care of you but in tern, demonstrate that you value his opinion, care and leadership.
Getting married, being a husband or a wife, it's a huge deal. It's hard work. It's not perfect all the time. Sometimes you may not act respectively towards your husband and sometimes he may act very inconsiderate towards you but that's why there is forgiveness. God is waiting for the both of you to turn towards him, let Christ lead the two of you and help you along the way. He never meant for you to do it all on your own.
It's easy to get scared about marriage, knowing how important it is but God understands (but unless you truly want to be single, feel God is leading you to that, don't let fear stop you- fear is not from God). When he leads you to that point in your life, he will help you to be ready. And I can tell you from experience that marriage is a wonderful thing and there is so much to enjoy about being a wife or a husband when you follow God's lead. He will give you an amazingly fulfilling relationship as the two of you work together.