Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Getting Married in Church

For many years it has not been easy to get married in the Church of England. As the population has become more mobile, more and more children do not live where they were born and where there has been a family association with the local church.

This has caused a lot of frustration and tension within families. Now recently the law has been changed to make it easier for couples to get married in a particular church. So you can now get married in a church if one of you:

  • was baptised in the parish concerned or
  • was prepared for confirmation in the parish or
  • has at any time lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months or
  • has at any time regularly gone to normal church services in the parish church for a period of at least 6 months or

That one of your parents, at any time after you were born:

  • has lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months or
  • has regularly gone to normal church services in the parish church for a period of at least 6 months or

That one of your parents or grandparents:

  • was married in the parish

Phew that was a long list!

Now the other thorny issue around marriage is if you have been divorced. Will you be able to get re-married in Church. Well in this parish possibly. I have conducted marriage services when one or both couples have been divorced, even when they have been divorced on more than one occasion. I do not automatically say yes and will need to ask a series of questions to establish certain facts.

Some of the reasons I am open to remarriage of people who have been divorced is the following:

A husband kills his wife, confesses and spends 15 years in prison. When he is released he meets another woman and wants to get married. If either of them fits the criteria earlier in the article then I am duty bound to allow the couple to marry.

A couple wish to be married and neither have been married before, but have both been in previous significant long term relationships with other people during which children have been born. If they again fit the criteria mentioned earlier then I am duty bound to allow the couple to marry.

Yet, a man marries his childhood sweet heart and they are married for 20 years but both have strong careers and they grow apart and get divorced. I am NOT duty bound to remarry either of this couple.

Many whom come to be remarried were not married in church previously.

I believe in a God who forgives all our mistakes, all our sins.

I am glad I have remarried couples, the repentance I have seen, the relief I have seen, the happiness I have seen, has been remarkable. Seeing God’s love flowing in people’s lives makes me happy to be part of the couples road to happiness

I suppose a divorce is often a time of great sadness, pain mixed with relief that it is all over. But a divorce often leaves a person yearning for healing and to whole again. I believe that often remarriage in church is one step of many that helps people to find wholeness again.