The Christian Marriage
A Christian who is entering into marriage recognizes the belief that the union shall first be sanctified by the church. Proper rites shall include – a public declaration in front of the public and God; and a marriage vow to help sanctify that union. It is the belief of all Christians, that God is the central unifying factor between couples entering into holy matrimony – hence, the need to have the union blessed through ceremonies held in a church, in front of God.
Evolution of the Christian Marriage
Christians believe in Jesus Christ as God and Savior. The central factor in their lives, revolve around the presence of a living stream of water that flows within them, which signifies the presence of God in their persons. This belief in Jesus Christ propels every Christian to tap this wellspring of God in all his actions and deed – which includes, among others, that of holy matrimony.
Being in the flow of God’s love would mean that a Christian walks along His path, and not by the flesh alone(Galatians 5:16). Matrimony is considered as a gift of God, which therefore should commence, as a new life with Jesus Christ through the holy sanctity of marriage.
The model for Christian marriages was advocated by a Catholic saint, Saint Augustine (354-439 AD), with his published letter, The Good Marriage. In that letter, he advocated monogamous marriages. The letter was so influential that it brought about the fruition of the Justinian Code, by Roman Emperor Justinian in 534 AD. This code served as a basis for the adoption of the European Law for 1,000 years.
Christian marriage, prior to more recent times, had been quite informal. Ages ago, couples could just promise to love and behold each other; a verbal promise, that was considered as good and binding as any other written contract. The recent evolution in marriage rituals brought about the declaration of the marriage vows, that was incorporated into the Book of Common Prayers. These developments made present marriages, more formal in tone and demeanour.
Christian Marriage Rituals
Couples can marry in their local chapels or churches. Most churches have requirements before anyone can get married in their parish. Among these requirements may include: length of time that any of the couples had attended church service, whether one of the couples had been baptized in that parish, and if any of the parents or grandparents were married there, among other requirements.
Before the marriage can take place, the couples should arrange to have their banns read out on three Sundays, during the three months before their marriage. Other arrangements like – wedding seminars, hymns, prayers, music, and wedding motif shall be discussed with the church chaplain or minister. This attention to minute detail would make for a better flow of ceremonies and avoid confusion that may arise, as a result of inadequate preparation.
The Christian marriage ceremonies usually follow a prescribed standard ritual:
* Beginning the service where the priest welcomes the congregation.
* The couples’ declaration to God and the public of their promise to love and protect each other until death.
* The couples’ declaration to God and the public of their marriage vows to one another
* The exchange of rings between the couples to signify the binding of two persons into one and as a sign of their mutual fidelity, by joining their hands on a pledge.
* Proclamation by the priest that the couples are now husband and wife.
* Prayers for the couple.
* Readings and sermon are taken from the Bible
* Signing of the registers where the couple and two witnesses, sign the wedding register to legally bind the marriage.
Marriage, as seen by Christians, is an act of affirmation of God’s love, that the faithful should take seriously. It is the solemnity of a union through marriage that should precede all acts which include – engaging in sexual relationships and the building a family life together. The life of Christians centre on its adherence to its faith, and of its very essence – Jesus Christ, who is God Almighty!
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