(Edition 2.0 19951216-20090907)
Marriage is a holy institution ordained by God to represent the relationship of mankind to Jesus Christ and the unification of the nations under the Father. It is not a sacrament of the Church.
To All Assembled:
(his FIRST name)
and (her FIRST name),
together with their families and friends, appreciate your attendance to share their joy and to witness their covenant together.
Having grown to love one another,
(his FIRST name) and (her FIRST name) have chosen to commit their lives to each other in marriage, and so today they will be united as husband and wife.
To the Couple:
Marriage is a natural union of a man and a woman but it is a divine institution, ordained of God. Humans did not establish marriage. In the very beginning, God gave us the pattern for marriage by joining Adam and Eve. Marriage derives its authority from the divine will and law of God.
When God created life on the earth, He made human beings in His own image. He gave men and women creative minds with the ability to make choices, to develop plans and to build their lives on those plans.
Men and women are created with a need to relate to God, and with our Lord Jesus Christ. As a loving Father, God gave us the institution of marriage and the blessing of family that we might more fully comprehend the depth of His love for us.
To emphasise His purpose to Adam and Eve, the creator did not make the woman directly from the dust of the ground, but from the very flesh and bone of the man. When the woman was presented to him Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”
*New International Version unless otherwise stated.
The Creator then united this first man and woman as husband and wife, saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, New King James Version).
“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth”
(Genesis 1:28, NKJV).
Thus we understand that marriage is honourable, instituted by God at creation and hallowed by the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. Marriage is therefore not to be entered into lightly, but reverently, soberly and in the fear of God.
It is important that we consider that marriage should be honoured and respected. We should realise that civilisation may have its own customs and laws respecting marriage, but in the Church, marriage must be based on the foundation of revelation. Marriage is based on the authority and direction of God. Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others; voluntarily entered into for life.
Jesus said, “At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one”. (Mark 10:6-8).
Jesus directs us to understand the uniting together of husband and wife as one flesh. This union is not only physical, but it is an emotional and spiritual unity.
Let us now notice the apostle Paul’s instructions regarding marriage: “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, which is His body. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by the washing of the water by the word............. Husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:21-28).
Marriage illustrates the relationship between Christ and Christians. It is a holy union, a living symbol, and a precious relationship that needs constant, tender, self-sacrificing care. Marriage is for love and because of love. Love is the reason, the cause and the foundation of marriage.
Jesus Christ is the head of the Christian family, and the head of Christ is God. We should be careful to remember the importance of God’s love for both husband and wife, because human love is not the goal of a Christian marriage, rather, the goal is that God, through the Holy Spirit under Jesus Christ will live within this marriage. Through his indwelling, he will bring the ability for this marriage to be based in Godly love.
Paul reminds us of the Christlike attitudes that can live within us: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being likeminded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:1-5).
The sacred marriage covenant that you will both make here calls on you to yield yourselves to Jesus Christ and to each other, to hold each other in high esteem, giving honour and respect to one another. Always give preference to the welfare of the other. Love and unselfish devotion are the foundation of Christian marriage.
In one of the Bible’s most beautiful statements about love that is possible through Jesus Christ, Paul lifts and inspires us with these words: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres (1Corinthians 13:4-7).
A loving relationship within marriage is a type of the spiritual relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church. It is in your submission to God’s love that this marriage will be strengthened and protected.
As a loving Father, God wants to pour out upon us His richest blessings. He wants us to be supremely happy. To that end He has given you, (his FIRST name) _______________________
and (her FIRST name), this wonderful gift of marriage.
John tells all Christians, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). As you both come to know one another, let your relationship be built on the love of the One True God, and His son our Lord, Jesus Christ. `Keep this love ever before you, hold close to each other, fulfil the vows you make here, and Jesus Christ will enable and empower you to establish a home that will weather the changes and challenges of life.
Because marriage is a divine institution, and we are asking God to join you as husband and wife, it is fitting that each of you should faithfully promise to accept the marriage covenant. Do you then, (his FIRST name) faithfully promise and covenant with God, in the presence of these witnesses, to take
(her FULL name) to be your lawful, wedded wife for as long as you both shall live, to love her, cherish her, honour her, respect her and provide for her?
And do you, (her FIRST name) faithfully promise and covenant with God in the presence of these witnesses, to take
(his FULL name) to be your lawful, wedded husband for as long as you both shall live, to love him, cherish him, honour him, comfort him, respect him and to obey him according to God’s Law?
[Have the couple face each other and join their right hands]. Beginning with the bridegroom; would you please repeat after me:
I, (his FULL name),
take you (her FIRST name) to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part. Thereto I pledge you my faith.”
And now the bride:
I, (her FULL name),
take you _______________(his FIRST name) to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part. Thereto I pledge you my faith.”
Because you recognise the supreme God and his love for you, it is appropriate and fitting that we come before him - and before Jesus Christ to ask his blessing and to ask him to unite you as husband and wife.
Let us kneel.
(For all marriages: prayer of appropriate length, asking God to bless this marriage.)
Let us rise.
By the authority of Jesus Christ, I now pronounce you HUSBAND and WIFE!
You may now exchange rings. Wedding rings are an outward symbol of your love and devotion to each other. You may now kiss the bride.
Legal Notice: Marriage is not a sacrament of the church. To establish a legal (civil) marriage under the law of the land, it must be done under the legal authorization (licence) from the state or country. In the USA, such licence may be issued to a minister or any suitable person according to their legal limitations. In that case, the minister acts under the authority of the country and not of the church. In other countries, the laws may differ and the church will not perform such ceremony for a civil marriage without the appropriate civil licence (see papers The Sacraments of the Church (No. 150) and Marriage (No. 289)).