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Archive for May, 2019

Wedding-vows1

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For quite some time, I knew that my friend was happily married after her glamorous church wedding in 2008. We have known each other since High School and are still good friends. One day as we were chatting, I asked her about the children and their dad. Her reply was “the children are fine but maybe you should know that I and my husband are no longer together. We separated a few years ago and I am on the road to take care of my children,”.  I must say that her response shocked me for a moment. Her revelation added to the long list of the couples  know that are battling with divorce cases barely a few years after taking the ‘till death do us apart’ marriage oath including the latest divorce case of a prominent  Pastor in Uganda

Ideally, one would imagine that these marriages are built on strong Christian values as reflected in oath. To love and to care irrespective of the conditions; for better and worse, rich and poor, in sickness and health. Consequently, such marriages are supposed to be the holy union of two people where oneness, companionship and mutual respect are stressed. It is also assumed that the interests of the husband and wife are one and whatever is for the benefit of the one is for the benefit of the other.

On the contrary, this is not the case and for long, feminists have always argued that  marriage is a social contract that privileges men’s interests over women. Meanwhile, other related discussion on social media on why most marriages are not working now reveal different views by both men and women.

But What is the Origin of  Marriage vows?  

Although the bible upholds marriage, for example in Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh”; Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favour from the Lord” ;  it does not  mention that vows are a requirement or expected in marriage.

The most commonly used marriage vows in the Christian marriages today can be traced in the Book of Common Prayer  that was laid down by Thomas Cranmer, the  first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury  in 1549. It is also reported that part of the vows were taken from the Catholic medieval rites  such as the Sarum Rite, a set of procedures followed for celebrating any kind of Christian public worship, including masses, liturgies and special occasions such as weddings.

 Along with the vows, couples also make ‘Declarations’ which confirm that they will always love and care for each other in a way that will please God for the rest of their lives thus ‘till death do us apart’. This gives  an indication of the permanence and strength of the marriage covenant.

Beyond the vows, marriage is a also social and legal contract between two individuals. The contractual marriage agreement usually implies that the couple has legal obligations to each other throughout their lives or until they decide to divorce. In some countries especially in Europe, legal marriage and marriage before God are separate events overseen by two separate authorities. This means that the state has a stake in the union of two individuals since the laws that govern marriage are drafted by the state rather than the church. Infarct, when the marriage fails, what follows are the long court battles to secure a legal divorce.

Although I believe in marriage, I still have several unanswered questions. Are Christian marriages more of a legal union than a lifelong holy companionship? And are marriage vows unrealistic and wishful thinking?

 

 

 

 

 

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