What does the Bible say about eloping? Here’s our take, which you may find counter-cultural to many Christian blogs today, but which we believe is genuinely grounded in scripture.
TL;DR – If you are a Christian couple, intent on seeking His presence together for your wedding day – apart from the expectations of society – maybe you SHOULD elope.
Just as Christ has freed us from religion into relationship with Him, we are free to worship Him in our wedding experience as the Spirit leads us.
What does the Bible say about Eloping?
First – How should we Define Eloping?
There is no shortage of Christian bloggers on the web giving their opinion on the above – and the majority that we found will point you to a traditional wedding instead of eloping.
It starts with a definition. When you look up “elope” in most dictionaries, you find words like “escape” and “secrecy.” There is an undertone of doing something wrong or against the wishes of family. Some would go so far as to say “you are too young to understand – eloping just isn’t right.”
This is where we believe those well-meaning Christian authors get it wrong. Where are they going to get their definition of elope? A dictionary.
Dictionaries are where we as a society gather our definitions, based on the evolving etymology of words over time. Some of these words – like elope, we would argue – are manmade and not found in the Bible at all.
Our position is that the word “elope” started as a label, to mark those who did not conform to what society dictated. The word “elope” in that way, was used – in a way – as a scarlet letter. While this may have had its place decades ago to describe irrational behavior – we think that label needs to go away.
With so much pressure on couples these days to plan and “provide” a big wedding, there is a growing sentiment to define “elope” not as a label – but as a celebration. In fact, couples are no longer “running away” when they elope, but instead running towards everything that is good about weddings. They are leaving behind all the baggage and stress that have become part of the wedding industry.
Our Definition of what it means to elope
We believe this is what eloping means today:
Eloping: A couple separating themselves from the expectations of the world and society, creating a special time dedicated to focusing on their relationship first. For Christian couples, it is a time to place their relationship with God and each other above everything else, and experience peace and tranquility together – alone in His presence.
What it is not: Running off in secret. Impulsive, unplanned. Without thought or consideration to family
We came to this conclusion not by starting with how society defines “elope” and then by going to the Bible, but by first recognizing that the word “elope” is nowhere in the Bible – and that we should be asking ourselves first – what does the Bible say about weddings?
What Does the Bible say about the first Wedding?
With that in mind, let’s see what scripture says about the first wedding ever – between Adam and Eve. This can help us see what the Bible says about eloping:
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man[b] to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs[c] and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.
23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.
“This one is bone from my bone,
and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
because she was taken from ‘man.’”
24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.
(text from NLT)
Do we see Adam and Eve stressing over a 250 person guest list? Worrying about spending thousands of dollars trying to feed everyone? Rushing around on their wedding day to fulfill a timeline that their planner decided on? Or worst of all – getting to the end of their day and realizing that they didn’t spend any time with each other?
Not at all. Eve is a glowing bride, Adam is completely taken in by her beauty – and they are joined together as husband and wife in the epic beauty of the Garden.
The first marriage ever was a couple alone with their God.
It’s this original model of marriage that has inspired us to serve couples who desire to elope. For Christians, we believe there is nothing better than to experience your wedding day in the epic beauty of nature & in the presence of our Creator – just like Adam and Eve.
It is with scriptures later in the Bible that many Christian authors use to point you to a traditional wedding. They say that the Bible models weddings as a public declaration of your marriage, as a big event with family and friends.
We don’t disagree that this is what the Bible shows us. We do disagree with how this observation is being applied, to claim “this is what the Bible says about eloping.”
Here’s what they are saying in their analysis – because the Bible shows us (mostly) an example of how weddings have been through history, that’s the only way weddings should be now and forever more.
We humbly submit that thinking is wrong.
Biblical history is not the same as a Biblical mandate to live our lives
Let’s use the early church in the book of Acts as an example. If we were to apply the same logic to how the early church was modeled – as a community of believers, only meeting in homes – then every church congregation over 50 or so people is in the wrong.
But we don’t say that at all. Why?
Because we (meaning the church as a whole) recognize the freedom we have in Christ to worship Him – in relationship, not religion. That freedom has created a beautiful mosaic of Christianity across the world, different cultures celebrating in their own way our One True God.
Just as we have freedom to worship Christ in relationship with Him, in the truth of His word and not bound by any liturgy, we have the freedom to worship Him in our marriage celebration as well.
After all – a marriage ceremony for Christians IS an act of worship.
We are free in Christ to worship Him in Spirit and Truth
What of our original question – what does the Bible say about eloping? From here we think the question should be – what does the Bible say about weddings?
It’s here that we should caution ourselves not to be dogmatic. As we pointed out above, there is a parallel between church services and Christian weddings. Just as we are free to worship Christ in freedom to have many different types and styles of church, we are free to worship Him in our marriage celebration as we are led by the Spirit.
We believe that in God’s eyes, what matters is that you are truly seeking His presence for your wedding day. It doesn’t matter if you have a big wedding or small, or just the two of you saying your vows. He desires our worship to be from the heart.
Is a Biblical Elopement on your mind?
With the above in mind, if you’re seeking a wedding day experience that is intentional about seeking His presence on your wedding day – maybe an elopement is right for you. We believe it’s the best way to set aside time and space for just the two of you, before our Creator.
Remember when Jesus walked the earth – He would intentionally seek time with His Father to pray. As a couple, separating yourselves from the noise of this world to seek his presence (and say your vows in His presence) is a beautiful experience.
You might have discovered us out of curiosity about elopements (and what the Bible says about them) and we are so happy that you’ve dropped by!
It’s our hearts’ desire to help couples like you plan an amazing wedding day – apart from all the expectations of this world – that celebrates your relationship to each other and before the Lord.
Are you feeling called to elope together?
Do you want to elope in a way that honors your faith? We would love to introduce you to beautiful locations in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where you can experience a God-centered celebration in the midst of His awesome creation.
You don’t have to go at this alone. We’re here to help you plan your day and be your biggest advocates to where your heart is leading you. We can’t wait to hear from you!
PS. You may be interested in one of our follow-up posts – How to Elope and still Honor your Family
For further reading, check out the references below. While we disagree with these authors’ sentiment, we also want you to be informed. Study on your own to see what the Bible says about eloping. Read commentary on both sides of the question. Place your wedding under prayer together, and we are confident you will be led in the right direction.