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Sacraments 7    Marraige1

A sacrament for those for whom it is appropriate. Like ordination, you opt for this if life leads you in this direction.

If you read carefully the prefaces to the marriage services in our service books, you will find the church’s view on marriage: a lifelong commitment of a woman and a man to each other, for three purposes:

The outward and visible sign of this sacrament is in the giving consent, the making of promises and the giving and receiving of a ring[s]. Inwardly and spiritually the couple have created a new situation in which they are invisibly bonded together for life.

Wedding services are conducted by the clergy – but the couple themselves make the marriage. The occasion has two chief elements:

This sacrament is under fire in the modern world. Driven down by the sexual revolution, it is surprising that marriage persists so strongly. Clergy find they are doing many fewer weddings these days, not only because people live together without marriage, but because people can now get married legally in many photogenic places – and significant hotels would lose a lot of business if they were not in this market.

The church itself has had to grapple strongly with fresh questions about marriage – chiefly about the questions of the second marriages of those who have had divorces in the past4.