...That being said, because we are citizens of our respective nations, we should respect the laws and cultural expectations of our governing authorities and so afaik all bishops require that a legal marriage license issued by the state must be in place for the Orthodox marriage to take place...
Fr David Moser
Father, the Lord's blessing.
US law does not require that a civil marriage accompany a Church marriage as far as I am aware. There may be fewer tax benefits, but those are becoming irrelevant given civil unions and homosexual "marriage". One would think that if Bishops were to require a civil marriage, then they would also have to accept civil homosexual "marriages" as well. I am pretty sure they do not accept them regardless of the legality within the culture.
In the USA, a civil marriage is effectively forcing the husband to sign an "indentured servitude" agreement because he is under almost complete legal economic control of the bride for at least the next 1-2 decades, especially when children are involved. And if he has supported her as men traditionally have, in many places he is indentured for the majority of his life (through alimony). Unless the bride is trustworthy, it is a very unwise decision. Most brides are not, as evidenced by divorce rates and the fact that most divorces are initiated by women (a statistic that is not in question within the US, the UK, Australia, or Canada for certain).
If bishops indeed do require civil marriages in addition to a Church marriage, then has this been consistent in the past, i.e. have they forced the faithful to enter into feudal agreements, sell themselves into slavery, or submit to other forms of subjugation? I know that bishops have taken stands on slaveholding, but that was a precondition (in the case where a slave becomes a believer, not actually being forced by the Church to enslave himself).
I am very open to the fact that Orthodox bishops require self enslavement if that is the truth. I just think that should be made clear up front.