|Us, a looong time ago.|
If marriage is only a piece of paper, then why not sign it?
Marriage is a covenant. A marriage welds a man and a woman together for as long as they both shall live.
The marriage covenant is sealed before God, family, and friends. When you say to your significant other "I will be loyal to you for better for worse, in sickness and in health, whether rich or poor, until death separates us," we all hear you. You promise this, before us. This is the power of community. Marriage covenant making is tribal. "We" are to hold one another accountable. We ask you - "Is your word any good?" "Can we hold you to your promise?"
This is not for everybody. It's only for those who desire life-long unions and who keep their promises to stay in marital union, regardless of the circumstances. God welds (yes, that is precisely the biblical word Jesus uses - see link below) two people together, which is why anyone or anything that tries to tear asunder the covenant-made marriage will do great destruction. (Yes, Jesus gives an exception - which is adultery, the weld-breaker.)
When Linda and I signed that piece of paper forty three years ago we meant it.