Marriage as Religious but also Civil ordinance?

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Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Marriage is common to all and so a civil ordinance. The Directory for Public Worship recommends it not be done on the Lord's day. But is the act of getting married (usually done during a wedding ceremony) also essentially religious ordinance and therefore may be done as part of a public worship service, even on the Lord's day? Further, if the act of getting married is essentially a religious ordinance, does the act then also have religious and spiritual significance? If so, does marriage avoid becoming a sacrament solely by it being a civil ordinance?

Here is the line of thought for the first question, since the second and third seem to follow naturally from the first. If marriage requires a vow and covenant to constitute it, does that mean the act of marrying is essentially religious in nature? If so, unlike the use of religious worship in other civil contexts (e.g., prayer before a meeting), which are usually brought up as analogies to argue against this OP's conclusion, could marriage be done in a public worship context? Lawful oaths and vows are an element of public worship, and the act of marrying essentially being a lawful oath and vow, it would seem marriage might be done as an act of public worship during a public worship service, even on the Lord's day.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
First, marriage is governed by natural, moral, law. As such, it cannot be divorced (no pun intended) from religion altogether (since Biblical religion results, in part, in law-keeping). But it is not in any sense a religious ordinance. It is a natural, human ordinance.

Second, wedding ceremonies, as such, have no warrant in Scripture. But that does not make them unlawful, because they are human ceremonies distinct from religious ordinances (if wedding ceremonies were religious ordinances, they would be subject to the kind of strict prescription that the Scripture holds forth for public worship). As such, they do not belong in public worship in any way.

Marriage is not a sacrament because it is does not match the definition of a sacrament:
Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and His benefits; and to confirm our interest in Him: as also, to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to His Word.

--WCF XXVII:I
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Marriage is common to all and so a civil ordinance. The Directory for Public Worship recommends it not be done on the Lord's day. But is the act of getting married (usually done during a wedding ceremony) also essentially religious ordinance and therefore may be done as part of a public worship service, even on the Lord's day? Further, if the act of getting married is essentially a religious ordinance, does the act then also have religious and spiritual significance? If so, does marriage avoid becoming a sacrament solely by it being a civil ordinance?

Here is the line of thought for the first question, since the second and third seem to follow naturally from the first. If marriage requires a vow and covenant to constitute it, does that mean the act of marrying is essentially religious in nature? If so, unlike the use of religious worship in other civil contexts (e.g., prayer before a meeting), which are usually brought up as analogies to argue against this OP's conclusion, could marriage be done in a public worship context? Lawful oaths and vows are an element of public worship, and the act of marrying essentially being a lawful oath and vow, it would seem marriage might be done as an act of public worship during a public worship service, even on the Lord's day.

Marriages should not be done on the Lord's Day because we have six days in which to get married, and because they might be mistaken for something sacramental by some ignorant people.

The business of getting married would distract from the worship of God's Day. If a wedding breakfast and all the other celebrations were added, the whole day would be overthrown.

Marriage although a natural ordinance involves solemn vows which God holds the parties to, whether genuine Christians, nominal Christians, atheists, Buddhists, etc.

Sent from my HTC Wildfire using Tapatalk 2
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Good points, but...

TylerRay said:
First, marriage is governed by natural, moral, law. As such, it cannot be divorced (no pun intended) from religion altogether (since Biblical religion results, in part, in law-keeping). But it is not in any sense a religious ordinance. It is a natural, human ordinance.
Peairtach said:
Marriage although a natural ordinance involves solemn vows which God holds the parties to, whether genuine Christians, nominal Christians, atheists, Buddhists, etc.
...is the act of becoming married essentially covenantal in nature? If it is, then stripped to its barest bones, it is a solemn vow. A solemn vow is a religious act of worship, and so doesn't the act of marrying then become a religious ordinance? The vow would be regulated by Scripture in the manner that all vows are.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If it is, then stripped to its barest bones, it is a solemn vow.

Stripped to its barest bones, it is a man "leaving" one social unit and "cleaving" to another. But marriage is not bare-boned. The social unit to which man "cleaves" is his complement, woman, with whom he can fulfil his creation mandate to be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over that which God has given him. Here he unites with flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.

This "cleaving" implies a world of obligations. In a religious ceremony man recognises these obligations to God, and therefore vows to Him. But the vows themselves are not the essence of marriage. The social "cleaving" is the essence of marriage. Where there is social recognition of one man cleaving to one woman for life, there we have the essence of marriage and must recognise its validity.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Thank you, that clarifies a lot! To clarify further,

MW said:
In a religious ceremony man recognises these obligations to God, and therefore vows to Him.
Does this mean for a Christian, the marriage can take place as a religious ceremony, even though it is a social/civil institution? And thus can be recognized as a legitimate act of public worship? Or do you simply mean that some Christians do take marriage as a religious ceremony, but these marriages are valid since the social recognition is still there? Or do you mean something else?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Thank you, that clarifies a lot! To clarify further,

MW said:
In a religious ceremony man recognises these obligations to God, and therefore vows to Him.
Does this mean for a Christian, the marriage can take place as a religious ceremony, even though it is a social/civil institution? And thus can be recognized as a legitimate act of public worship? Or do you simply mean that some Christians do take marriage as a religious ceremony, but these marriages are valid since the social recognition is still there? Or do you mean something else?

Three things. (1) The vows are voluntary for the sake of a civil institution; therefore it has no tie to public worship by divine institution. (2) The social circle involved in the ceremony is not of the same kind and extent as the congregation called to worship; therefore there is no mandate for a call to "public" worship. (3) A Christian office-bearer is not essential to the ceremony in the eyes of the civil authority licensing the marriage; therefore there might not be one who could even call an act of public worship.
 
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