Thursday, 5 June 2008

New Marriage Regulations

Press release: Wider wedding welcome for couples as the Church of England names the day

The day is 1 October 2008.

Marriage Law Review & the Marriage Measure

Guidance from the House of Bishops (PDF - 37 pages)

Copy of the legislation via here (available as html or PDF).

Specimen “welcome form” (.doc - 5 pages) available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 12:41pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Its all a bit desperate - the stately homes, country houses and so on appear to be winning the day.

Sensible vicars marry other couples without the requisite connections in any case, but generally, the only ones asked to do so are the incumbents of pretty churches which will look good on the photo!

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 5:05pm BST

Let me guess: a "wider welcome" to opposite-sex couples only?

Lord, bring an end to all hypocrisy and double-standards in your Church!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 7:18pm BST

I welcome this widening which will help us, busy as we are, to welcome more couples here.

But I do have some questions in relation to the Ecumenical aspects of this which cause me concern. We are an LEP, and until now it has not made a significant difference to people's legal rights or standing whether I have conducted a wedding or baptism, or whether the service has been conducted by a Methodist colleague.

Now it does.

Of course people married or baptised will normally also qualify by residence or regular worship criteria, but with the wider setting, and people here sometimes being in transition in their lives and moving on quite quickly, there may be people who could establish a connection through the LEP except for the fact that the wrong minister took the service.

This ecumenical unclarity worries me, particularly as the Church of England recognises (in the case relevant to me here) Methodist weddings and baptisms as being valid weddings and baptisms.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Friday, 6 June 2008 at 11:12am BST

"But new laws, initiated by the Church of England and now approved by Parliament, will add to this right of residency, making it just as easy for couples to marry in a church where they have a family or other special connection, even if they don’t live there."

I await the conservative outcry that this demeans the sacrament of matrimony since what is required is not any degree of Christian faith or commitment, merely the desire to have the white wedding society says you should have in the prettiest church around. But these are heterosexuals, so why they want to get marreid is not the issue. We don't care if they don't believe, as long as they're striaght!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 6 June 2008 at 1:27pm BST


When I say, as I do when I conduct a marriage service, that 'marriage is a gift of God in creation' I declare that marriage is not special before God because it is between christians, but because it is marriage, and marriage is a gift of God - that is part of my christian understanding of what marriage is.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Friday, 6 June 2008 at 4:24pm BST

I am actually more conservative about marriage in some ways. I hold no opinion on SSBs, but Paul clearly thinks marriage is a poor second, to be entered into only when one does not have the charism of celebacy. Thus, the Church's reversal of this understanding in Issues was odd to me. Celebacy is the charism, not marriage. I would limit marriage solely to believers, first of all. Why have people make vows they at best consider non-binding before a God they don't believe in in front of a congregation whose faith they have little regard for? I honestly think that clergy should be saying that there is no requirement for a Christian marriage, that, not being Muslims they wouldn't expect a Muslim wedding, why do they feel the need for a Christian one? I wonder how many of these so-called "orthodox" would be willing to refuse marriage to the daughter of some rich parishioner, not out of spite, but merely because, said daughter only ever attends Mass when Mom makes her go at Christmas, she isn't a practicing Christian, so the performance of a Christian liturgy would be a sham. They could at least ask if the couple consider themselves Christians. Not many, I'd wager, would be willing to risk the loss of income that would incur. I also think, if we are going to be Pauline about it, we should require a trial opf celebacy before caving in. It is, after all, the preferred Pauline option.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 6 June 2008 at 7:50pm BST


I'd say that you are mixing up and distorting Paul somewhat (he says much more about marriage than you suggest, and the Bible says much more than Paul), and also confusing an eschatalogical understanding of relationships (Jesus says that in the resurrection there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage, and I'd put singleness/celibacy as a vocation with an eschatalogical signification) with a Biblical understanding of this-worldly relationships. But there we are, we disagree.

But I disagree for a different reason with your suggestion that there is something sham or dishonest about non-christians getting married in Church. Because I would say that the Church in conducting a marriage is acknowledging and taking part in the action of God which is inherent in the understanding that marriage is a gift of God in creation, and celebrating that with the couple. For that you go back to Genesis.

Bear in mind also, that as a purely practical matter, many of the marriages Paul would have been talking/writing about would have been contracted between couples who were not Christians when they were married.

But we will obviously differ on this.

My main concern was to raise the point about ecumenical issues in establishing a qualfying connection.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Friday, 6 June 2008 at 9:44pm BST

The LEP bit, Mark Bennet, had slipped completely down the leg side. I should have seen it when I read the bishops' guidelines, shouldn't I?

Posted by: RP Newark on Friday, 6 June 2008 at 9:48pm BST

Genesis 2:18 "The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

God is a relational being, and God knows that it is not good to be alone.

However, for many Christians (and some other faiths), God is only masculine.

So God must be alone.

Hmm. I wonder if God "who made us in his image" has a wife? Does he have sex with her?

Probably not at the moment, after all Jesus is the complete and perfect fulfillment of God, and Jesus has no mate, and God is not feminine (not even in Spirit).

So God tries to have sex with his wife?

His wife's response? "Well, since I don't exist and am a figment of my own imagination, maybe you could try having sex with yourself. After all, you wouldn't want to have an intimate relationship with a non-existent woman who is probably nothing better than a whore. Anyway, it is all irrelevant since Jesus' intention is to wipe away all life on this planet and only save the consciousnesses of those who flatter him."

Like to personally witness Jesus gain trust from John the Baptist or the Daughter of Zion. He who does not acknowledge or apologize to the feminine. He who thinks he has the right to exterminate Creation if it does not flatter him. So much for being the Prince of Peace, the promised messiah, the one who heals the sick and binds up the broken hearted.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Saturday, 7 June 2008 at 1:15pm BST

Couples are required to declare previous marriages, and discuss the "special issues" arising if the former spouse is still alive. A note to this declaration states:

"The law also forbids a person who has entered into a civil partnership to enter into a marriage while the civil partnership is still subsisting."

Couples are not required to declare any previous civil partnerships on the form, but what would happen if the minister was aware of one? Would the circumstances of the dissolution, unreasonable behaviour, say, be discussed with the minister? Or would a blind eye be turned? As civil partnerships are not marriage, dissolutions of CPs are not divorce.


Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Saturday, 7 June 2008 at 7:13pm BST

"for many Christians (and some other faiths), God is only masculine."

"I wonder if God "who made us in his image" has a wife?"

This is anthropomorphic: God is either male or female, or requires a "female compliment" in some sense. No. God made US in His own image, "male and female created He them". It is us as humans, not as men or women, that God made, and it is that humanity that is in His image. Does this idea of the female AND male within the godhead in Whose image we are made have something to say about the nature of marriage? The Orthodox would say God is beyond gender. Thus, the feminine is not some compliment to the Divine, it is part of the Divine. Where you are tripping up, in so far as I am able to say you ARE tripping up, is the anthropomorphism. Ancient Hebrew antipathy to things female, manifested especially in the hatred of Ashera worship, might well have contained a great deal of sexism and mysogeny, but it still contained a basic fact: to separate the female from the male in the Divine is to misunderstand the Divine, so far forth as we are capable of such understanding. I think your idea about female/male and how that relates to God are productive, Cheryl, but I am very leary of too much separation that appears to destroy the principle of the One God. Either you have a God and a Goddess, or you have a God Who is somehow incomplete and requires something less than the Divine to complete Himself (since if you only have one God, whatever else He might need to complete Himself is NOT Himself, thus not Divine). Either interpretation has huge issues.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 9 June 2008 at 1:11pm BST
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