They certainly did not get married in anything like the way that Tim and Anne Evans got married. Or in anything like the way the Slacktivixen and I got married. They had no clergy around to conduct such a ceremony (unless we want to have Melchizedek do the honors), and no one to serve as witnesses. They never seem to have exchanged vows. The strongest claim we can make for their marriage, based on the story itself, is that it was a kind of common-law arrangement.Christians say Adam and Eve are "the first married couple," which I would agree with (okay except that I don't think they were actual real people, but the point here is about what marriage is, not whether the biblical stories really happened). Genesis doesn't explicitly say they got married (it's almost like God created Eve already married to Adam?) but in my interpretation, "married" is the best way to describe their relationship. It seems to have been an exclusive commitment with an understanding that they would be together for their entire lives.
In the story itself, Adam and Eve simply shacked up together. Although, of course, shacks — like clothing — had not yet been invented. Neither had marriage, for that matter. All of these things — shacks, clothing, clergy, marriage, common law — are anachronisms we reflexively project back into the story. But none of them can be found there, and the story itself works hard to prevent us from expecting to find them in it.
That's what marriage is, yes? [Mostly- I'm sure there could be exceptions.]
So, under that definition, Adam and Eve were married. Great.
But in purity culture, they're not.
This is interesting because purity-culture advocates love to use Adam and Eve as examples of how every man and every woman and every marriage supposedly are. All right, so tell me, purity culture, if I have an exclusive commitment to a member of the opposite sex, and we intend to be together for our entire lives, then are we allowed to have sex?
Ha. Haha. Of course not.
According to purity culture, God says you can only have sex when you are married- which means before the wedding you do not have sex, and then the wedding night is the first time you do.
Suppose you have sex while you're engaged. Oh what a horrible sin, you've made yourself impure before your wedding.
(When I was in purity culture, this rule fell squarely into the category of "I can think of no reason that this could possibly make sense, but God said it so we have to obey." I mean, you're already engaged. You already know you're going to marry this person. Why would it matter if you end up having sex before the wedding rather than after?)
Now you may be saying, well of course we can't judge Adam and Eve by that standard- there was literally no way to perform a wedding if they were the only 2 people in the world. Which is, of course, true and reasonable.
In other words, you'd need to have a different rule for when Adam and Eve were allowed to have sex, since their situation is so different. Which is, of course, true and reasonable.
But it's so NOT OKAY in purity culture.
The ENTIRE POINT of purity culture is that there can NEVER be a different standard about when it's okay to have sex. (That would be "moral relativism.") You want to live as if you're married without ever having a wedding? Haha, you're not fooling God. You're not married and it's not okay to have sex.
Yeah, except that's what Adam and Eve did.
(Also, notice how I've been equating "married" with "you are allowed to have sex." For unmarried people in purity culture, that's mostly what marriage means.)
So, which is it? Adam and Eve were impure and having sex outside of marriage? Or "marriage" (and non-immoral sex) can, depending on one's situation, be defined in a different way than "you had a wedding"?
Purity culture teaches that sex before marriage is pretty much the worst thing ever, ruining one's life and any hope of having a good marriage in the future. Then, when you are married, sex suddenly becomes the most wonderful gift God has given. Because there's such a huge difference, it's super-important to have a perfectly clear point at which it switches from one to the other. It has to be at the wedding.
For Adam and Eve, there was no such point. And if Adam and Eve are our model of the ideal marriage relationship, maybe romantic relationships now don't need to have that point either.