On August 16, 2009, I was married to Sara Elizabeth Parkes. We had a covenant wedding and did not get a state-issued marriage license. God instituted the plan of marriage, so through study and prayer, we made the determination long before we were married that we did not need the government’s permission to be married.
Since this time, the questions have poured in… How did you do it? How did you change your names? How do you file taxes? How does it work? I received another question just today. So in an effort to address these questions and others like them, I am creating this blog post.
I’ll also post several resources at the bottom so that you can do your own research. I’m going to try and cover a lot here, but I’m sure I will miss some things! So please, if you have additional questions, post them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.
Now, if you’re just stumbling upon this information for the first time, and are thinking, “why would you want to get married without a license?”, I would highly recommend first reading our Wedding Ceremony Booklet so that you understand exactly WHY we did this.
That being said, let’s see what this whole no-license-marriage is all about, and how it works!
It Won’t Be Easy.
First off, let me just say that even though what we’re doing is rooted in very old concepts, in today’s environment, we are breaking new ground here. The system currently in place is not made, nor does it appreciate people bucking it in the least. And so, this is most definitely a fight. One that may involve a bit of self sacrifice in order to gain ground. I think it is important to recognize what you are getting into beforehand. I challenge everyone not to take my word for it, but to study this for themselves.
That being said, I obviously believe that this is a fight worth pursuing. I also believe that among the many fights that you can take on, the marriage license issue is one of the easiest! We know other people who have fought driver’s licenses, taxes, permits, and many other issues; but the marriage license issue requires very little in comparison. At least that has proven true for us. Some of these other issues require many hours spent in court, writing correspondence to government offices and/or court officers, and of course lots of money. However, not obtaining a marriage license essentially just requires your non-participation in various aspects of the current system.
Be On the Same Page.
I have heard of couples divorcing over disagreements concerning the fight for freedom and liberty. Nine times out of ten, the husband is wanting to be a patriot and his wife thinks he is crazy for trying. Before Sara and I were even married, we were involved in study groups where we both became dedicated to the defense of liberty and the Constitution. We talked with each other, at length, concerning what was important and what our Christian responsibilities were going to be as a couple. We knew going into this that there would be a lot of self sacrifice involved in some of these decisions we were making. In our case, our agreement on this subject proved to strengthen our relationship even more. And so, I cannot stress enough the importance of being on the same page. Maintaining a marriage is often challenging enough without disagreeing on such a fundamental principle as liberty. Standing up for your rights can affect so many aspects of your lives as a couple. You MUST be in agreement on this.
This is where the “fight” comes in. As I write this, the de facto government (the widely recognized government of North Carolina, and the U.S. federal government) still recognizes my wife as Sara Parkes, and not her married name, Sara Muncy. As far as we are concerned, to us, our friends, our family, everyone that is important to us, and in natural law — Sara’s name is now Sara Muncy. But because the marriage license helps to initiate the name change, the de facto government does not recognize the change. Now, if it is important to you to be recognized by this government, there are other ways to change your name. For us, this was not important. But this decision is up to you, depending on how far you want to take your battle. To change your name without a marriage license, simply go to the courthouse after you are married, and petition the court to change your name. The courthouse will post notice of the petition, and if nobody objects within a given time, the change will become “official” (at least in that government body).
There are many things which are affected by your decision (or not) to obtain a wedding license. Among these are…
- Driver’s License
- Social Security Number (we refer to this as the ‘slave number’)
- Bank Accounts
- IRS Forms (W2, W9, 1099, etc.)
- Filing Status
- Bills / Mail
- Employer / Associates
Every couple’s decisions about the above items are going to be different. Are you self-employed, or working for a corporation? Is your employer willing to change your name on your cubicle without something “official?” (That’s a fun one. When Sara was still “working for the man” her employer changed the nameplate on her cubicle with no questions asked!) Are your feelings going to be hurt that the IRS doesn’t give you that deduction for filing jointly? (remember that whole self sacrifice thing?) Will you even be filing taxes? Does it matter to you what name your bill collector puts on the envelope? Will your bank require you to have the same last name to open a joint checking account? Does that matter to you? Will you have children? Will THEY have slave numbers? These are all important questions to ask yourselves.
When the government doesn’t recognize you as being married, and doesn’t even recognize that your name has changed, this affects a lot of things. We’ve discovered that for most of these things, there is a workaround. For example, we don’t have a joint bank account. So we operate largely in cash, and we just share the bank accounts we had before we were married. We both have access to the same information and we manage it just the same. Each of these issues has a different approach which we have had to discover for ourselves along the way.
When we were first married, admittedly we were a little scared about how all of this would go. Okay, we were VERY scared about how it was going to go. But we prayed about it, talked about it, and had a lot of encouragement from our friends. And most importantly, we took it ONE STEP AT A TIME. Today, we are a living example that you DO NOT have to have a marriage license to be married. Rather than begging for our rights, we have chosen to ASSERT them.
Finding a Pastor
Once you’ve done your research and you and your future spouse have BOTH decided that this is the right step, you need to find a pastor who understands what a covenant marriage is all about. Again, the system doesn’t like this. North Carolina (de facto) state law requires that a marriage license be completed and returned to the register of deeds who issued it. Unless they understand and are willing to join the fight, most ministers or pastors will adhere to this law. However, there are a few good patriot pastors out there who will perform a marriage without a license. You just have to look in the right places. Chuck Baldwin’s Black Regiment listing is a great place to start. If you need help finding a pastor, let me know* and I’ll be glad to help you with your search.
*Update: Email link removed. I am no longer able to respond to inquiries concerning pastor / officiant searches. Please see 11/20 update at the end of this blog post.
Prepare the Covenant.
A covenant is between you, your spouse and God. Sara and I had a lot of help from friends and some pastor friends of ours to develop and customize our own covenant. Because we are in graphic design and both appreciate the Constitution, we not only tailored the wording of our covenant, but its appearance as well, to make it look like the U.S. Constitution. We had a lot of fun with it. But the wording and appearance of your covenant is up to you and your spouse. Feel free to use ours as a guide if you like, and customize it to your liking. You both must read your covenant thoroughly, and agree on every point. You will be living under this covenant for the rest of your lives!
In addition to our covenant, we also created these Marriage Ceremony Booklets. Sara and I had a very small wedding. In fact, we only invited our immediate families and our grandparents. We did this because we wanted to focus on the covenant that we were making, rather than focusing on all the “fluff and pizazz” that normally goes along with weddings. Because our wedding was small, we were able to very inexpensively have these booklets printed and ready to hand out to our guests so that they would better understand why were getting married in this fashion. It really made an impact, and as usual, we got lots of questions. There was even a lady at the local Kinko’s asking us questions when we picked up the booklets!
Continue Talking About It.
Things don’t suddenly become easier after you are married. Should I even have to say this? But things are especially harder if you have made the decision to buck the system such as we did. Keep talking about it after you’re married! Get together with your spouse and discuss your plan of action as it unfolds. Talk about it every day if you have to. Seek comfort in one another when you’re worried about how hard things are going to be. Pray about it together. As a result, your marriage will grow stronger, and your relationship will grow deeper. Discuss what you’ve done with other couples! Sara and I have had great fun telling people about what we did — encouraging others to break free from the molds that society, and the government, places upon us.
“Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” -Matthew 19:6
Cliff & Sara’s Covenant Wedding Marriage Ceremony Booklet – Print Ready
Cliff & Sara’s Constitutional Covenant
Cliff & Sara’s Wedding Video – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
5 Reasons Why Christians Should Not Obtain a State Marriage License – Pastor Matt Trewhella
Sovereign Christian Marriage
Chuck Baldwin Black Regiment – A state-by-state listing of black regiment preachers.
CarolinaLiberty.com – The study group we attended before we got married.
AmericasRemedy.com – Educational presentations about state citizenship and the unconstitutionality of Reconstruction
NCRepublic.org – the de jure (lawful) state of North Carolina.
About Cliff and Sara Muncy
We are Believers. We are strong advocates and defenders of the Constitution and of lawful government. As opposed to U.S. citizenship, we believe in state sovereignty and state citizenship as put into place by the founders. As such, we support the de jure (lawful) state of North Carolina (the North-Carolina American Republic) and the fight against the nationalization of citizenship and the unconstitutionality of Reconstruction. Our rights are inherent, God given, and cannot be legislated away. We understand and accept the responsibility that we must assert these rights in order to restore this country and to ensure life and liberty for us and future generations.
Update 11/20/13: First off, Sara and I are still happily married and remain active and dedicated to the liberty movement. Since the time this article was published in 2011, the response has been phenomenal. We have received many emails from across the country. We have found that the biggest roadblock for most couples is in finding a pastor who is willing to perform a marriage ceremony without a license. This has been both disheartening and eye-opening.
We must apologize to many of you, as due to time limitations, we have been unable to respond to each inquiry. Sara and I have future plans to write a detailed addendum or update to our article concerning the covenant wedding. We also have plans to develop a small book and get even further involved to help others learn about the covenant marriage; and to begin talking with pastors across the country. However, for now, our time is currently occupied with other pursuits. So these endeavors must be put on hold.
On the topic of searching for pastors, we only have a small network of pastors here in North Carolina who are willing to perform ceremonies for couples who made the choice to forgo the license, but we are not currently set up with the proper infrastructure to network with pastors across the country. Even so, we would like to express another thought on the topic.
Many of the emails we’ve received from readers seem to indicate that our usage of the word “pastor” has been taken quite literally. When Sara and I were married, we were fortunate to find an actual pastor of a church who would marry without license. However, as we’ve discovered from the myriad of correspondence, locating a pastor who is supportive of a purely covenant wedding is not that easy. In most de facto states, it is illegal for an actual pastor or ordained minister to officiate over a marriage ceremony without a license. That being said, we would like to encourage readers to think outside the box here. We truly believe that it is not specifically required that the officiant of your wedding be ordained or be a pastor. It is important to understand that being married through the vehicle of a covenant does not indicate some recognition or need for approval by a state or government body. Therefore, by performing a covenant wedding ceremony, we are reverting solely back to God’s requirements. The state’s “appropriate methodologies”, “requirements” or “recognitions” are irrelevant. As stated in the post, you simply have to decide which “benefits” you are willing to forgo.
Ultimately, this decision is up to you, your comfort level, and resources. If you can find a willing pastor, great. However, we believe that it would be much more important to find someone who has similar beliefs and would be willing to perform a ceremony the proper way, rather than to require that person be a pastor, and/or to be ordained at the risk of having to ask the state for permission. In today’s modern society, where licenses are accepted as the norm, there’s honestly not much information out there on the topic. At least that’s what we’ve found. But if we look at it simply — which I believe God does as well — we see that the marriage covenant is a simple 3-part relationship: you, your spouse, and God. These are the three most important parts. Outside of this, adding the accountability of several witnesses, and someone to officiate the wedding if you like — this is all you really need. Remember that in a covenant, you are looking for God’s approval, and His alone. I would encourage you to research for yourself HIS requirements.
Sara and I are hopeful to continue our writing in the future on this topic, as we realize there is a lack of information available. And again, we would also encourage you to do your own research and to become a help to those around you along the way. Talk to your neighbor, your pastor, your families. Feel free to print out this blog and the resources linked here and share them with others. Together, we can spread truth and knowledge.