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Matthew 17:27 (NASB)

So that we may not offend them.

Christianity is a religion that straddles both heaven and earth. A saint is obligated to please God and not offend the local law. As much as a saint is grounded in heaven, he still lives on this planet. As much as the heavenly principles in our hearts guide us, we are still subject to human laws. Often, Christians are confused about satisfying both requirements. For example, the law of the land requires a couple to obtain a marriage license or register their marriage to qualify for joint federal tax returns and a lower tax rate. Couples without such paperwork are barred from federal benefits for married couples. Consequently, the tradition of performing weddings in a church and registering it officially has been practiced since 700 AD when the Catholic Church first initiated it. The first registered wedding in America was in 1886. In some countries like India, the first registered wedding was much later in 1954. That begs the question, were all the marriages performed before these official licenses were issued unholy, null, and void? Better yet, if an official church wedding followed by an official registration is required, then was the first marriage of Adam and Eve in God's holy Presence, where they made a covenant with God and each other null and void?

One could also extend this argument to baptism and salvation. Is a man saved when his priest or pastor baptizes him or when he confesses with his mouth and believes in his heart that Jesus is Lord? In the New Testament church, the Roman Empire or the Jewish authorities never performed Christian weddings or baptisms. Although the Apostles occasionally baptized new converts, neither they nor the Lord Jesus ever performed any weddings, funerals, or baptisms. Obviously, such customs and traditions in the Church have pagan origins and are not grounded in the Bible.

As we are commanded not to offend the law of the land, Christians must also make every effort to satisfy the local laws. However, if the corruption and bureaucracy in a fallen world and its governments delay or deny the paperwork, know that as long as we confess with our mouths, believe in our hearts, and walk in a covenant relationship with God and each other, we are holy in his sight.

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