4 Reasons Why Christians Should Not
Obtain a State Marriage License

Information by Rev. Matthew Trewhella,
edited by Pastor Jay Randolph

Every year thousands of Christians amble down to their local county courthouse and obtain a marriage license from the State in order to marry their future spouse. They do this unquestioningly. They do it because their pastor has told them to go get one, and besides, "everybody else gets one." This pamphlet attempts to answer the question - why should we not get one? 

1. The definition of a "license" demands that we not obtain one to marry.
Black's Law Dictionary defines "license" as, "The permission by competent authority to do an act which without such permission, would be illegal."We need to ask ourselves- why should it be illegal to marry without the State's permission? More importantly, why should we need the State's permission to participate in something which God instituted (Gen. 2:18-24)? We should not need the State's permission to marry nor should we grovel before state officials to seek it. What if you apply and the State says "no"? You must understand that the authority to license implies the power to prohibit. A license by definition "confers a right" to do something. The State cannot grant the right to marry.
It is a God-given right. 

2. When you marry with a marriage license, you grant the State jurisdiction over your marriage.
When you marry with a marriage license, your marriage is a creature of the State. It is a corporation of the State! Therefore, they have jurisdiction over your marriage including the fruit of your marriage. What is the fruit of your marriage? Your children and every piece of property you own. There is plenty of case law in American jurisprudence which declares this to be true. 

In 1993, parents were upset here in Wisconsin because a test was being administered to their children in the government schools which was very invasive of the family's privacy. When parents complained, they were shocked by the school bureaucrats who informed them that their children were required to take the test by law and that they would have to take the test because they (the government school) had jurisdiction over their children. When parents asked the bureaucrats what gave them jurisdiction, the bureaucrats answered, "your marriage license and their birth certificates." Judicially, and in increasing fashion, practically, your state marriage license has far-reaching implications. 

3. When you marry with a marriage license, you place yourself under a body of law which is immoral.
By obtaining a marriage license, you place yourself under the jurisdiction of Family Court which is governed by unbiblical and immoral laws. Under these laws, you can divorce for any reason. Often, the courts side with the spouse who is in rebellion to God, and castigates the spouse who remains faithful by ordering him or her not to speak about the Bible or other matters of faith when present with the children. 

As a minister, I cannot in good conscience perform a marriage which would place people under this immoral body of laws. I also cannot marry someone with a marriage license because to do so I have to act as an agent of the State! I would have to sign the marriage license, and I would have to mail it into the State. Given the State's demand to usurp the place of God and family regarding marriage, and given it's unbiblical, immoral laws to govern marriage, it would be an act of treason for me to do so. 

4. The marriage license invades and removes God-given parental authority.
When you read the Bible, you see that God intended for children to have their father's blessing regarding whom they married. Daughters were to be given in marriage by their fathers (Dt. 22:16; Ex. 22:17; I Cor. 7:38). We have a vestige of this in our culture today in that the father takes his daughter to the front of the altar and the minister asks, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" 

Historically, there was no requirement to obtain a marriage license in colonial America. When you read the laws of the colonies and then the states, you see only two requirements for marriage. First, you had to obtain your parents permission to marry, and second, you had to post public notice of the marriage 5-15 days before the ceremony. 

Notice you had to obtain your parents permission. Back then you saw godly government displayed in that the State recognized the parents authority by demanding that the parents permission be obtained. Today, the all-encompassing ungodly State demands that their permission be obtained to marry. 

By issuing marriage licenses, the State is saying, "You don't need your parents permission, you need our permission." If parents are opposed to their child's marrying a certain person and refuse to give their permission, the child can do an end run around the parents authority by obtaining the State's permission, and marry anyway. This is an invasion and removal of God-given parental authority by the State. 

When Does the State Have Jurisdiction Over a Marriage? 

God intended the State to have jurisdiction over a marriage for two reasons - 1). in the case of divorce, and 2). when crimes are committed i.e., adultery, bigamy. etc. Unfortunately, the State now allows divorce for any reason, and it does not prosecute for adultery. 

In either case, divorce or crime, a marriage license is not necessary for the courts to determine whether a marriage existed or not. What is needed are witnesses. This is why you have a best man and a maid of honor. They should sign the marriage certificate in your family Bible, and the wedding day guest book should be kept 

Marriage was instituted by God, therefore it is a God-given right. According to Scripture, it is to be governed by the family, and the State only has jurisdiction in the cases of divorce or crime. 

History of Marriage Licenses in America 

George Washington was married without a marriage license. So, how did we come to this place in America where marriage licenses are issued? 

Historically, all the states in America had laws outlawing the marriage of blacks and whites. In the mid-1800's, certain states began allowing interracial marriages or miscegenation as long as those marrying received a license from the state. In other words they had to receive permission to do an act which without such permission would have been illegal. 

Blacks Law Dictionary points to this historical fact when it defines "marriage license" as, "A license or permission granted by public authority to persons who intend to intermarry." "Intermarry" is defined in Black's Law Dictionary as, "Miscegenation; mixed or interracial marriages." 

Give the State an inch and they will take a 100 miles (or as one elderly woman once said to me "10,000 miles.") Not long after these licenses were issued, some states began requiring all people who marry to obtain a marriage license. In 1923, the Federal Government established the Uniform Marriage and Marriage License Act (they later established the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act). By 1929, every state in the Union had adopted marriage license laws. 

What Should We Do? 

Christian couples should not be marrying with State marriage licenses, nor should ministers be marrying people with State marriage licenses. Some have said to me, "If someone is married without a marriage license, then they aren't really married." Given the fact that states may soon legalize same-sex marriages, we need to ask ourselves, "If a man and a man marry with a State marriage license, and a man and woman marry without a State marriage license - who's really married? Is it the two men with a marriage license, or the man and woman without a marriage license? In reality, this contention that people are not really married unless they obtain a marriage license simply reveals how Statist we are in our thinking. We need to think biblically. (As for homosexuals marrying, outlaw sodomy as God's law demands, and there will be no threat of sodomites marrying.) 

You should not have to obtain a license from the State to marry someone anymore than you should have to obtain a license from the State to be a parent, which some in academic and legislative circles are currently pushing to be made law. 

When a couple is married, provide them a Family Bible which contains birth and death records, and a marriage certificate. Record the marriage in the Family Bible. What's recorded in a Family Bible will stand up as legal evidence in any court of law in America. Early Americans were married without a marriage license. They simply recorded their marriages in their Family Bibles. So should we. 


To Get A Marriage License

Residents and non-residents requirements:

A South Carolina Marriage License is required for legal recognition of a marriage performed in the state of South Carolina. It must be signed by the Minister/Officiate and filed with the County Clerks office.

Issuing a marriage license is the duty of the County Clerk and can be obtained in any county in South Carolina. You must obtain the license at least 24 hours prior to ceremony.
There is no expiration date for a South Carolina marriage license.

Both the prospective bride and groom must apply at the same time at a South Carolina County Courthouse Marriage License Bureau. Courthouses are usually open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm weekdays only. 

There is a 24-hour waiting period before the license can be picked up (by either the bride or the groom). When applying for the license, a fee, which may vary according to location, is collected. The Courthouse will accept CASH only; not a check or credit card. The fee is $70 in Charleston County.

Finding the Charleston County Courthouse

The Marriage License Bureau is located at 100 Broad Street, Suite 469, in the Judicial Center. The phone number is 843-958-5183. For visitors to Charleston, this is near the intersection of Meeting and Broad streets, often called “The Four Corners of Law.” Take East Bay, Meeting Street or King Street south; this will intersect Broad Street.

There is a waiting period after the application is filed before the license can be picked up and the marriage can take place.

If you are 18 years old or older, you must provide proof of your age by presenting one of the following:

Valid driver’s license
Original birth certificate or a certified copy of your birth certificate
Current military identification card
Current passport
No blood test or physical exam is required.

South Carolina residency is not required.

No proof of divorce is required.

The fee for a marriage license varies from county to county.

A South Carolina marriage license is valid only for marriages performed in South Carolina.

There is no expiration date for a South Carolina marriage license.

(South Carolina Clerk of Court may help you further)

Abbeville County

Abbeville, SC


Aiken County

Aiken, SC


Allendale County

Allendale, SC


Anderson County

Anderson, SC


Bamberg County

Bamberg, SC


Barnwell County

Barnwell, SC


Beaufort County

Beaufort, SC


Berkeley County

Moncks Corner, SC


Calhoun County

St. Matthews, SC


Charleston County

Charleston, SC


Cherokee County

Gaffney, SC


Chester County

Chester, SC


Chesterfield County

Chesterfield, SC


Clarendon County

Manning, SC


Colleton County

Walterboro, SC


Darlington County

Darlington, SC


Dillon County

Dillon, SC


Dorchester County

St. George, SC


Edgefield County

Edgefield, SC


Fairfield County

Winnsboro, SC


Florence County

Florence, SC


Georgetown County

Georgetown, SC


Greenville County

Greenville, SC


Greenwood County

Greenwood, SC


Hampton County

Hampton, SC


Horry County

Conway, SC


Jasper County

Ridgeland, SC


Kershaw County

Camden, SC


Lancaster County

Lancaster, SC


Laurens County

Laurens, SC


Lee County

Bishopville, SC


Lexington County

Lexington, SC


Marlboro County

Bennettsville, SC


Marion County

Marion, SC


McCormick County

McCormick, SC


Newberry County

Newberry, SC


Oconee County

Walhalla, SC


Orangeburg County

Orangeburg, SC


Pickens County

Pickens, SC


Richland County

Columbia, SC


Saluda County

Saluda, SC


Spartanburg County

Spartanburg, SC


Sumter County

Sumter, SC


Union County

Union, SC


Williamsburg County

Kingstree, SC


York County

York, SC