What is marriage?

On Saturday I declared to a young couple as part of the Anglican Christian ceremony that “marriage is a gift of God in creation, and a means of God’s grace, a holy mystery in which man and woman become one flesh in Christ…”

After commenting on how beautiful the ceremony was, a young lady told me she did not believe marriage was for everyone and confessed that she was beginning to feel more and more that it was not for her.

I smiled because, honestly, I usually get that response from young men who are interested only in sex with not commitment.

However, she added that she viewed marriage as a very serious act which our society has watered down.

Her statement left me thinking about some stuff and when we really consider holy matrimony, is it a sacrament of the church or a privilege of the state?

Marriage falls out of the realm of the church when a magistrate, a justice of the peace or anyone the Ministry of Home Affairs sees fit to label “marriage officer”. Any authorised person can perform a legal marriage ceremony.

The other point was, when does the marriage take place? At the exchange of vows or rings? It may be at the pronouncement that “you are now husband and wife”.

The marriage may very well take place when Deon and Kelly decide they want to spend the rest of their live together and pledge their love and commitment.

This could also mean that Ricardo and Paul who are living together and a gay monogamous relationship are also married, and we need not worry about any strange Parliamentarian tabling a bill to legalise gay marriage because it already happens.

I have a friend who holds firm that the sexual act is what validated a marriage. His words were: “Dave, no man and woman ain’t going live in no house and not have sex, something would have to be wrong. And after they have sex and committed to one another there is nothing different between them and you that married.

“If on the wedding night there is no sex, things does turn sour real quick for some people. Sex is the key to this thing. From the time you have sex with a person I believe that on some spiritual level you and that person are one, no disrespect to you, but ya don’t need a priest or anybody else for that.”

If that is the case, then we have lots of polygamists walking around.

All of that is fine, but as Christians there are certain precepts we hold to and need to live out and not just talk about.

As Christians we preach marriage as an ideal, that does not meant that others who do not conform to these ideals should be scoffed at or looked down on — indeed they should be encouraged.

Marriage, like the young lady said, is nothing that should be taken lightly or reduced simply to a sexual act. A marriage is more than just getting the paper work to justify sex.

Marriage is a life-long commitment that between two individuals and God, which like my young female friend said, is not for everyone.

While it is the ideal, it is not the prescription for everyone.

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