Home » Blog

(Photo Credit: Flickr, mulan)

What Makes Children Illegitimate Bastards?

An unbalanced belief in civil marriage causes some children to be horribly branded as illegitimate bastards through no fault of their own. In Marriage Without a License, it is explained how civil marriage was created for a number of reasons largely beneficial to men. At one point in Roman history (which had great influence on the development of future societies), a woman who conceived a child without being legally married had no legal right to request support from the child’s father. Mothers in this position bore the stigmas of being nothing more than whores and their children nothing more than bastards. A man had no legal obligation to children born out out wedlock and these children were not entitled to receive an inheritance of real estate or anything else owned by a biological father.

Baby Mamas and Bastards

Since that time until now, many women still bear the branding of being “baby mamas”…a pejorative term often meant to deride or degrade a woman’s reputation. This branding also spills over onto children who are often labeled as illegitimate or bastards. While today’s children born to parents who are not legally wed do have the legal right to financial support and inheritance, the social stigma still prevails.

I know grown people who were born to parents who weren’t legally wed and who still recall the hurt of being scorned and referred to as bastards. Some of these people vividly recall not being able to play with other children, being turned away by babysitters or being shunned by members of their own families because of their parents’ lack of a civil marriage. And this is not just with generations past, either. Not long ago, I was speaking with a friend about a young woman who had a child before she legally wed the child’s father. This friend was telling me how her own teenager wanted to visit the young woman and her newborn, but was not being allowed to because the infant was “born out of wedlock”.

An Unbalanced Belief In Civil Marriage

This is what an unbalanced belief in civil marriage does to our society and, more importantly, to innocent children. It teaches them that their value does not come from God, but is determined by society and, specifically, by a government’s validation. Prior to the creation of civil marriage, all children bore equal standing in society’s eyes and were not segregated according to what types of relationships their parents had.

God Created Children, Man Created Bastards

Do you think that God intended for children to be branded this way? Do you think that He intended for women to be shunned for having children outside of society’s legal concepts? Before you answer this question, ponder for a moment the Bible’s teaching that God’s only begotten Son was born to a woman who wasn’t yet married to her husband.

I don’t believe that any woman or child should be assigned such negative labels or lower status in society simply due to the absence of a civil marriage license or contract at the time of a child’s birth. I believe that birth is a miraculous blessing; that mothers are to be celebrated as chosen vessels through which life is created and nurtured. I believe that men should place the women who birth their children on pedestals never to be disrespected and that fathers owe their children support and inheritance no matter the circumstances surrounding how these children came to be. I believe that all families should be proud of the children entrusted to them and should never feel ashamed about that child’s conception. I believe the negative labeling of innocent children (and their mothers) to be very UN-Christlike.

Keeping Things Civil

When I speak about an unbalanced belief in civil marriage, understand that I am not opposed to the existence of legal matrimony at all. Only that I am opposed to it being held up as the end-all-be-all of determining what makes a marriage or determining the value of a relationship or children born of a relationship. Civil marriage has its place in terms of taxation, the division of marital assets, a spouse’s legal right to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated partner and so forth. In short, its place is entirely related to the governing of legal matters and I believe that partaking of it should be optional (so does our government, which is why couples are not required by law to marry). When we exceed legal matters and allow civil marriage to be the measurement by which we determine social and moral values, however, at what point will we wake up and say that we may have allowed an unbalanced understanding of civil marriage to go a little too far?

Which Children Are Illegitimate Bastards?

What’s your take on the whole issue of children who are born out of civil wedlock? Are they illegitimate in your eyes? How about mothers who have children without partaking in civil marriage? Do they have lower status in comparison to mothers who are legally wed? Have you ever questioned the labels assigned to women and children in these situations? What’s the label for a man who has a child with a woman he’s not legally married to? Beyond being called a “baby’s daddy”, is the social stigma just as bad for him as it is for a woman? Your thoughtful comments to all of these questions are welcome in the space below.

Disclaimer: I do not know the children in the photo accompanying this post, nor do I know the status of their parents’ relationship at the time of their birth. The use of their picture is not, in any way, meant to disparage these children or their families. ALL CHILDREN, including the ones in this photo, are equally precious in my sight and, I believe, in the sight of God.

Who Was Marriage Without a License Written For?

Who Was ‘Marriage Without a License’ Written For?

‘Marriage Without a License’ was written for anyone who is truly interested in understanding what civil marriage is and what it is not. This book is for those who think that marriage is, “just a piece of paper” as much as it is for those who believe that it is an institution ordained by God. ‘Marriage Without a License’ is for anyone curious about the origins of civil marriage in the United States and why some people want no parts of it.

My Story

Really, though, ‘Marriage Without a License’ was written for yours truly. Before we were married, my husband and I lived together for many years and marriage had never been a priority of mine before I started regularly attending a Christian church. Creating and maintaining a healthy relationship was my only focus as far as spending my life with someone was concerned. I seldom thought about marriage and, when I did, it was one of those things I’d cross off eventually once I’d built the right relationship with the right person. In those days, marriage really was just a piece of paper to me.

This attitude toward marriage doesn’t bode well with church folk, however. After joining a Christian denomination, I began to feel the constant pressure of needing to get married. There were questions, stern talks, whispers and insults all swirling around the the fact that we were living in so-called sin. By this time, we knew that we wanted to spend our lives together and we knew that we wanted to get married, but we each had a lot of questions. With both of us being the children of divorce, we needed to get a clear understanding of what marriage is and what it isn’t before we took the leap. It wasn’t something we were interested in doing just to please people and we definitely didn’t want to make a commitment like that only to end up like so many other divorced people…many of whom were the same ones pressuring us to tie the knot.

We began studying the Bible about marriage, reading books on the subject and asking lots of questions about it on a regular basis. We really wanted to know what constitutes marriage and why some feel so strongly against two people living together in a committed, monogamous, but ‘non-legal’ relationship. Some answers made sense, but many were tied to God honoring marriage– as in civil marriage, which didn’t make sense to either of us. God and marriage existed before government contracts did, so at what point did God make it a rule that we had to have a contract in order to actually be married? And at what point did He say that we were living in sin if we didn’t partake of government marriage?

Finally, one night, I came across an interesting read about the legal origins of the marriage license and civil marriage, in general. I was surprised at what I discovered and even more surprised that so few people even know what a marriage license is, why it’s required for a civil marriage or even what civil marriage is (and what it is not). As I began to uncover more and more in my research, I met a clergyman who’d been arrested for performing a marriage ceremony for a couple who did not have a license; I met others with a strong faith in God, but who avoid civil marriage like the plague; I even discovered that some denominations and key leaders in at least one country completely spurn civil marriage for what they believe to be sound religious reasons. Last, but not least, I began to uncover real contradictions between what the Bible says about marriage and what the American government says about marriage.

Written For Truth-Seekers Everywhere

Realizing all of this and more, I knew that I was onto something and that I had to share this information with other people curious about the institution. Initially, the book started as an article, but quickly grew into more information than could be contained in just a few pages. Taking my time to check and double-check my findings, ‘Marriage Without a License’ was written for people who are not satisfied with signing on the dotted line just because society says that this is what marriage is. It is for people who want to understand the reasons behind the legal institution and how it came to merge itself with certain religious ideals.

Download your copy of Marriage Without a License now.