The Rite of Holy Matrimony is the union of a man and a woman in a life-long faithful relationship. Christianity as a community believes that marriage is a vocation from God to be united where the two become ‘one flesh’ and experience God’s unconditional love. Parallels can be drawn between the union of a man and a woman to that of the love between Jesus and his church. Ephesians 5:25. This highlights the significance of the marriage ceremony for both the individual and the community of believers.Marriage is a channel in which two people are challenged to live out the expression of the church by the two baptized coming together to create a family unit through procreation. ‘Be fruitful and multiply, fill the Earth and master it’. Genesis 1:28.
From this, the continuation of Christianity by their offspring for the good of society at large and the two are able to experience the joys of parenthood.’From the beginning of Creation, God made male and female. For this reason, man shall leave his mother and his father and be joined with his wife and become on flesh and therefore for what God has joined, let no man separate.
‘ Mark 10:6-9. This highlights the significance of Marriage in Christianity and therefore this conjugal covenant is regarded as a sacrament in Catholicism, Orthodoxy and for some high Anglicans. This is regarded as a holy state for Protestants.
This is demonstrated through the joining of hands in Catholicism and the placing of Crowns in Orthodoxy. ‘Marriage is a sacrament between a man and woman created themselves, a relationship for their whole life.’ Catechism of the Catholic Church. This illustrates that it is everlasting for the individuals as they created it themselves. Ideologies from Vatican II said ‘it is not only for the good of the couple but for the good of the church and for the good of society at large’, and hence important for the community.’A man and women pledge themselves in an unbreakable alliance in which they show their total mutual love for one another. A total union of their love’.
Pope John Paul II (1982). This demonstrates that the two have come together at their own free will to be united in the House Of God and in his presence and experience his unconditional love for them. The vows are an expression of their free-will to come together by ‘I do’ and that they will continue ‘through sickness and through health, till death do us part’, which shows that they must endure any hardships faced in their lives. The exchange of rings is a universal symbol of all Christian marriages, filled with symbolism.The simplicity of the ring in colour shows that the marriage is pure in the sense of no sexual relations before marriage and the new life the two will live out as ‘one body’. The circular shape is reminiscent of the everlasting nature of the marriage ’till death do us part’ and it acts as a permanent visible reminder of their love and affection for each other as it reinforces the loving bonds of attraction. Other symbols present are the veiling for the purity traditionally, a white colour, the candles for ‘gladness, honour, and light’ and in Orthodoxy, the crowns for them being treated as royalty for the day. The Wedding At Cana is a very important symbol of the marriage as depicted through the CCC saying ‘this is reminiscent of Jesus’ first miracle and therefore at any marriage, there is the presence of Jesus.
‘ The congregation too acts as a symbol as they are the ones who give the sacrament to the couple; hence the necessity for them because the priest just solemnizes the wedding.The Eucharist is highly significant to the ceremony on so many levels. In Catholicism and Orthodoxy, they participate in a Nuptial Mass and believe in transubstantiation and High Anglicans hold a Divine Liturgy where they believe in consubstantiation. This becomes the central aspect of the ceremony as it is within the context of the Eucharist and therefore presence of God and him expressing his live. This, for the individuals is particularly important as they, for the first time they are able to share the Body and Blood of Christ together as a family unit. The community also receives reemergence into the Christian faith. This acts as a reminder for their faith and enables them to grow stronger with the couple within the Church when they receive Jesus together.
The Rite Of Holy Matrimony is a vocation from God to be ‘fruitful and multiply’ and therefore, marriage is essential as sexual relations are only permissible within the context of marriage. ‘No descendent of impure sexual relations may not be admitted into the House of the Lord’ Deutronomy 23:2. The two will become parents and this will be within the best interests of the Church because of the continuation of the faith, therefore affecting both individuals and community. ‘Parents by word and example are the first heralds of faith for their children’ Vatican II.The Word of the Lord through the scripture of the Bible acts as a very significant role as this is the word of God reflective of the whole ceremony and ultimately, God’s love for humanity. ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever’ Psalms. Catholicism and Orthodoxy follow sacramentary action where Anglicans however utilize the Book of Common Prayer.
Within the Marriage Ceremony, the Bible makes use of the Bible with readings from Song of Songs, Psalms, the Old Testament and the Gospel for the expression of God’s love. This is significant for the individual as their marriage is able to be in the presence of God with the Word of God while the community is able to benefit from being able to reemerge into Christian faith through the Word of God, bringing relevance to their life and strengthening their faith in the marriage or general life. ‘Love is patient and kind, not jealous and conceited’ Corinthians.In conclusion, Christian Marriage is of paramount significance for both the individual and community depicted through reasons for marriage, covenant, symbols, procreation, presence of the Eucharist and the Word of God, hence parallels can be drawn between the union of a man and a woman and that of Jesus and his church.
‘Cloth yourself in love.’ Letters of St Paul. This spiritually underpins the significance the marriage ceremony has for the individual and adherent.