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Switch to Forum Live View Wedding vows in the Christian church
6 years ago  ::  Feb 22, 2009 - 1:17AM #1
Katja144
Posts: 57
Are there certain wedding vows required in the Christian church (Presbyterian Church [USA] most specifically, hence why I'm asking here)?

I'm thinking specifically of the "til death do us part" thing.  Considering the state of marriage these days, I'd never be comfortable promising someone we'd be together forever.  I'd gladly promise to work as hard as possible toward that end, but not that it will definitely absolutely happen--after all, I'm not going to stay if a guy turns out to be abusive or some such, and not going to make a promise based on someone else's behavior (what if HE decided to leave?).  I'm not looking to debate that in this thread--it's how I feel, I'm not looking to have my mind changed or argue about it, now let's move on to my real question.

Would I be able to get married in a church if I wanted to leave that out?  It seems that whenever I see someone has written their own vows, they still have to say all the parts about "do you promise to love and cherish...forsaking all others...til death do you part..." etc. and the only part that is replaced by the couple's own vows is the "I, so-and-so, take you, such-and-such..." bit, so I wondered if maybe that was required within the church.

Does anyone know?  I don't want to ask my pastor as it's not nearly time to actually think about getting married, but it's something I need to know before I ever start to consider doing so.

Thanks!
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5 years ago  ::  Mar 12, 2009 - 4:24PM #2
CalKnox
Posts: 330

It is the nature of Christian marriage that it is intended for as long as they both shall live. Otherwise, it is something less than marriage.


However, the Bible permits divorce for reasons of divorce and desertion. Physical abuse, non-support, refusal to seek treatment for addiction, imprisonment for commission of a felony, might be considered forms of desertion. Under such conditions, remarriage is permitted.


The historical reformed view of marriage, divorce and remarriage may be found in the original Westminster Confession of Faith of 1647, chapter 24. The current PCUSA version alters that chapter.


The exact words to be used in a marriage ceremony are not prescribed. However, they can't include non-biblical promises or characterize marriage in a non-biblical manner.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 12, 2009 - 11:41PM #3
grampawombat
Posts: 269
Cal, you wrote: "The exact words to be used in a marriage ceremony are not prescribed. However, they can't include non-biblical promises or characterize marriage in a non-biblical manner."

What do you consider non-biblical promises or a non-biblical manner? I ask this because I have been to a number of weddings in various Protestant churches or performed by Protestant clergy that contained quite a wide variety of pledges made by those being married. Are you referring here to those weddings performed in all Protestant churches or only those within your denomination?
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5 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2009 - 12:31PM #4
CalKnox
Posts: 330

Marriage was instituted by God. He defines it. The civil magistrate has a God given obligation to protect it. The latter can never define it. If churches or civil magistrates call something else marriage, it is not biblical marriage. The parameters of biblical marriage are well defined in the original Westminster Confession, chapter 24:



1. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.


2. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with legitimate issue, and of the church with an holy seed; and for preventing of uncleanness.


3. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent. Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord. And therefore such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.


4. Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden by the Word. Nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.



I once had a couple wanting to pledge their exclusive love to one another "forever." I would not permit this, as marriage is only as long as they both are alive. In the death of a spouse, the other party has the freedom to remarry another, making the same biblical promises. Marriage is not forever. Neither is it biblical marriage if the promise is qualified by less than as long as both are alive. It might be some sort of limited contract, but not marriage. The Christian church has no business overseeing what God has not ordained.

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 11, 2009 - 2:51PM #5
Katja144
Posts: 57

Once again, this question is not to debate whether YOU feel it is "right" or not.  But in an age where at least 50% of marriages end in divorce, and in a reality where I cannot control what another person does and where a person can change from one year to the next let alone 30 years down the road, I do not want to promise to be with someone for the rest of my life when I do not know that I will be able to keep that promise.  It's that simple.  I take marriage vows very seriously and wouldn't wish to have to break a "til death do us part" promise even if it were the fault of the other person and not through any action of my own.

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2009 - 3:05PM #6
grampawombat
Posts: 269

When my wife and I promised all the things we promised, I think we said "as long as we both shall live." I should look it up. After all, that was 48 years ago last September. My mom and sister were both married twice, and my dad three times. So one could surmise that our odds were not all that great. But here we are, planning our golden anniversary celebration for sometime next year.


There are a lot of things in life that are not certain, but if we tried to hedge our bets on all of them, what a strange life that would be. What ever vows you decide on, find a person to officiate in the ceremony who agrees with them. That shouldn't be that difficult. It would be nice if that person was someone in the same religious or philosophical community that you wind up belonging to. It would help, too, if you can find someone who "does marriages" with whom you can share your concerns openly and candidly. That is one of the roles that clergy should be able and willing to fulfill.

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5 years ago  ::  Jul 01, 2009 - 8:59PM #7
Roodog
Posts: 10,168

I was married in the Presbyterian Church, by a Presbyterian pastor whose first wife deserted him because he went into the ministry. His second wife is my wife's cousin. There are higher standards for pastors,but I do not know to think of this. 

For those who have faith, no explanation is neccessary.
For those who have no faith, no explanation is possible.

St. Thomas Aquinas

If one turns his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9
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5 years ago  ::  Jul 21, 2009 - 3:36PM #8
CalKnox
Posts: 330

The original Westminster Confession, chapter XXIV, summarizes the Bible's teaching on marriage, divorce and remarriage.  There are biblical reasons for divorce after which remarriage is permissible.

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 31, 2009 - 3:33PM #9
spudette
Posts: 959

Katja, marriage, as instituted by God when He created our first parents, isto represent theclose relationship He, God, wants to have with every human being. The only reason that He eventually permitted divorce was that the human heart was, and still is, hardened by sin. My questions to you are, what is more important to you, your relationship with God, or what humans insist on doing? Would you want a relationship with God that is temporary? Is your life ruled by God or by fallen humanity?


Blessings

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 31, 2009 - 3:40PM #10
spudette
Posts: 959

Jul 1, 2009 -- 8:59PM, Roodog wrote:


I was married in the Presbyterian Church, by a Presbyterian pastor whose first wife deserted him because he went into the ministry. His second wife is my wife's cousin. There are higher standards for pastors,but I do not know to think of this. 





Roodog, it is one of the many sad facts in life that this sort of thing happens in pastoral families. Sometimes it is the pastor who does the deserting. I think that it is humans who try to hold pastors and their families to higher standards than the rest of the people. I agree that pastoral families are looked up to, that they should be the example to follow by everyone else, but I keep remembering that God called His whole people to be holy as He is holy. He called His whole people to be a nation of priests and kings, not just the pastors.

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