I'm curious about the status of marriages performed outside the auspices of the church. For example, if a non Catholic converts to the Roman church, but was married beforehand, does it "count". Based on an earlier question, I understand now that the church annuls marriages - but, if these two went on to divorce, wouldn't the church be in the position of denying a marriage they never blessed?
Along these lines, what happens if two people get married by a justice of the peace, or If ignoring the advice of a priest, they choose to find some other minister to perform the ceremony.
I realize that the church's recognition of a marriage is completely different from the state's recognition (and truthfully the practical effect of a non recognition by the church is slim), but it still makes me wonder if, say, two baptists who marry and then convert are "living in sin" until the priest recognizes the marriage.
At the extreme side of things, Im assuming that the church would never recognize a "gay marriage," considering it annulled from the beginning- but would that extend to legitimate unions simply conducted outside the aegis of the church as well?