In Christian marriage ceremonies the rituals and vows connected might influence the differing ways that couples approach to marriage and marital breakdown. I am not a Christian but I will try to refer to the thinking and writing of Christians and Roman Catholic tradition to illustrate and support of what I have to say. People decide to get married for many reasons. Some of those reasons might be love, affection towards your partner, fear of dying alone, spending their whole life with their partner, wanting a higher status and also to get noticed etc.
Some of these reasons are the most important to get married and some of them are not so important. You would want good qualities in your partner like love, trust, and respect and your partner would want these same qualities in you. All of this is the ideal of marriage. What the ideal of marriage is that it includes three sections, those three sections are permanence, exclusivity and life giving. Permanence is when both partners have to get on with each other to make the marriage work. You need to know everything about your partners because if you don’t they will go behind your back and betray you.
You will also need to know how a marriage works and how it breaks down. Exclusivity is a point in the marriage where you have to find out if the person that you are with is right for you otherwise the marriage isn’t going to work and it will break down. Some reasons for marriages breaking down are rows, betrayal, affairs etc. Life-giving is when you get married you need to know that you love this person more than you will love anyone else ever. You need to know that this person is the right person for you.
You will give a promise that your relationship will be permanent and exclusive therefore there will never be anyone involved. This then, is the greatest symbol of love. Two people show this love by creating life. They do this by becoming one biological body, a new life, blessed by God. A married couple must be aware of all this before committing to marriage. If you can say yes to all this and only if you can should a couple decide on getting married. What couples do when they approach their marriage is that they start their preparations both public and private.
In the public preparations you have things like the announcements of when they are getting married, the reception and ceremony, invitations, catering, parties, clothes etc. In the private preparations the couple go to a marriage preparation course, which takes the form of weekly sessions, which occur to about 4 to 6 weeks. They both go and talk to a priest and they discuss key areas of the marriage that are commitment, communication and compromise and children and the obligations of the Faith. When talking about commitment the couple are made aware of how permanent and exclusive this commitment is.
Issues are discussed that question the suitability of the couple one another to ensure hat they will be able to make this commitment. The couple will know from this that they will be expected to resolve any problems no matter what they are. They cannot leave this union. When they discuss about communication and compromise they examine case studies to look at how difficult scenarios would be resolved by the couple. This shows the couple how well suited they are for each other. This also shows them how they would think and reason when problems arise to enable them to understand each other as better people.
The couple will know that they are expect to resolve any problems together when they are made aware of the importance of respect within the relationship. However they will also be advised about agencies, which will provide them with counselling as a last resort if the marriage runs into any difficulties. When they talk about the final point, which is children and the obligations of the faith, the couple are made aware of how the union can be made complete by accepting the gift of life from God. This is a unifying bond of love and the couple will be told that the sacrament expects this new life to be created.
The love the couple have for each other should be transferred to the child, which will strengthen the marriage. There will be some teaching on the acceptable forms of birth control and the couple will be educated as to the non-acceptance of artificial forms of birth control. These are the main point of the preparation but at later stages they will plan the readings, hymns etc for the wedding ceremony. So now the couple are prepared to marry and the wedding day comes and what happens? I will now tell you what happens on the day. Before the wedding mass starts the couple getting married are welcomed by the priest.
The whole congregation and parish want them to know that they share in the joy of this happy occasion. The mass begins with the priest welcoming the congregation to join in the celebration of the marriage. Then there is the Homily where the priest will talk about the meaning of Catholic marriage. He will mention how they can grow closer to God through each other and also the responsibilities of the marriage. The sermon finishes and the marriage takes place with the priest questioning the couple individually to make sure that they understand what the responsibilities are of marriage and what it involves.
These questions mean that the couple publicly declare they understand what the marriage involves and they are free to undertake these responsibilities. The couple now take the marriage vows. This is the actual moment of the Sacrament. The couple each say in turn ” I (name) do take thee, (name) to be my lawful wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us apart”. What this vow means is that whatever happens to the couple in life they will stay together until one of them dies.
In a catholic marriage it is essential that a priest is present. The priest represents the people of God, the Church and accepts a mutual concept of the bride and groom. The bride and groom now exchange rings. The rings are blessed and the bridegroom places the ring on his partner’s finger. These rings represent a sign of everlasting love. After the Our Father the Nuptial Blessing is given. The priest approaches the bride and blesses her. Soon after the bride is blessed the couple sign the marriage register. A register must be signed because a marriage certificate is given.
The priest may be an authorised registrar, if not, then the registrar must be present. The importance of a catholic marriage is that God has joined the couple together and they have become one with God. This ritual can be compared with the Religious Society of Friends ceremony (Quakers). There are some similarities and there are some differences. The similarities of each rituals of the marriage are they both taken place in the presence of God. The vows that are taken are similar but there are some variations in the wordings.
The couple signing the marriage certificate which records their promises, which is the legal aspect of the ceremony. The differences in the rituals are the wedding is informal while the Catholic wedding is formal. The bride and groom will be already at the meetinghouse to greet the guests while in a Catholic wedding the bride and groom are the last people to come in. Traditionally, in the Quakers wedding the couple did not wear rings when in a Catholic marriage you do. When signing the Certificate not only does the couple married have to sign but also everyone else that attended the marriage.
The reception would be held at the meeting house so there would be no alcohol at all when at a Catholic marriage you can drink anything you want. So these are the similarities between the both rituals. The main difference is that a Catholic marriage is sacramental. God and the couple both become one and form a partnership. But the Quakers marriage God is a witness to the couples union only. After the actual day the couple start their new lives. They have to now think about family planning, interdependence and their rights and responsibilities.
Couples would now think about having a family. When thinking about having a family the couple need to think about if they want a fulfilling sexual relationship in which they can’t use contraception, as the relationship won’t balance out. They also need to think about how they will cope financially. The church teaching is also that the purpose of marriage is that you have children, which is the gift from God. The prospect of new life should not be denied. Procreation should not be hindered or prevented. So therefore contraception is not allowed as it prevents possible pregnancy.
Some people have sex for enjoyment and they do use contraception. The church disapproves of artificial contraception like condoms, which prevent pregnancy, and it is for safety. They also disapprove of casual contraception like the pill, the combined and the morning after pill. But the church allows natural contraception like the rhythm method. This is what a couple would do normally after the marriage. The Quakers point of view of contraception is that they don’t have a corporate stance on this issue. Many of their couples use contraception, preferring to plan the size of their family.
Male Quakers opt for vasectomy than leaving everything to the women. The Quakers have thought to install condom vending machines in Meeting Houses since the spread of AIDS has become a big issue so that they can promote the idea of safer sex. As the couple get settled in to the marriage things go wrong for them. For example the husband gets drunk and does something really nasty to his wife. Alcohol abuse will cause problems in the marriage because it is not the drink that causes it but it is the factors that cause the person to be irresponsible about its use.
These factors reveal people who are so self-centred and immature that they are unable to handle the responsibility of something as serious as marriage. Not only does alcohol abuse cause problems in marriages but also affairs because the person that has been betrayed would think to himself or herself saying why did their partner marry them in the first place and why did they take the vows. The marriage is not exclusive any more as another person has entered into it. The ideal of marriage would be completely damaged because of these problems.
When a couple do fall into situation like this then either the couple should sit down and talk it through with each other or they should consider counselling where they go and talk to a marriage adviser about their problems and they will get advice from the person as what to do to save the marriage. The Church is against divorce because they think that if two people marry then that marriage should be a life long marriage. The churches say that we do not live in a perfect world and that marital breakdown is a tragedy. The church has ways of trying to help people who are faced with the tragedy of a broken marriage.
Couples can separate themselves using an agency either of the church or another, to try to bring reconciliation. The Catholic Marriage Advisory Council (CMAC) and RELATE are two such organisations that allow people of all or no religious persuasion. The church also provides annulment. The couple have a legal divorce and then they are free to marry as they wish in the same way as unmarried persons. The Quakers however say that they recognise that tension leading to divorce can arise and that divorces do happen.
If the Quakers were experiencing difficulties in a relationship they might turn to the following advice A long term relationship brings both fulfilment and tension. If your relationship with a partner is under strain, seek help in exploring your own feelings, which may be powerful and destructive, and in discerning God’s guidance for you. If you undergo the distress of separation or divorce try to maintain some compassionate communication so that arrangements can be made with the minimum of bitterness. In arrangements made for children, seek to hear and consider their wishes and remember their enduring need for love and security. ” So this is basically what happens in a Catholic marriage and what happens after the marriage.
The importance of a marriage is that it is a challenge and it needs to be worked at. What this means is that to stay with your partner your whole life is the challenge and to try and keep your marriage together without any problems has to be worked at. This is what Christians need to know when they get married. They should know what they would get themselves into. “For Roman Catholics sex is only right within marriage”. I agree with this statement because sex inside the marriage would be an expression of love with the vows taken. It doesn’t violate the promise of faithfulness.
It is a sign of the sacrament and you are mirroring Gods love through sex within a marriage. You are preserving purity and innocence. It is the church’s teaching that you were brought up in it so you should believe in it. It is special as you have true commitment towards that one person. It creates stability, which is part of exclusivity. I would also have to disagree with this statement because you can have sex outside marriage only if you intend to marry the person later on. You have to be faithful to each other on a loving non-exploitative relationship outside the marriage.
It is possible to have an intimate relationship outside the marriage with one person as you are mirroring God’s love, which is the church’s teaching. You would gain experience by doing that you would find out about sexual needs. Sex is human nature and we humans are biologically programmed for it. Why are we not allowed sex for pleasure without any ties? In Quakers sex outside marriage takes place, as they are not isolated from changes in social liabilities. It is widely considered that a couple can have a loving relationship outside of the marriage.
The Quakers have not decided to change the marriage regulations, which still see marriage as something different- as Gods work. To evaluate this topic on sex is right only with the marriage I would say at the end of the day it is up to the couple for what they want to do. They can have sex within the marriage as to not go against the church or they can have sex outside the marriage just for pleasure and enjoyment, as that’s what we humans are here for. So the decision is up to the couple and that’s what my opinion is because it is their life and they can do anything they want with it.