IS CHURCH WEDDING BIBLICAL? CATHOLIC RESPONSE

QUESTION:
“Good day bro….a friend of mine asked if church wedding is biblical can u help out?”
REPONSE:
Hi dear, I’m so sorry I was
not able to reply you in a timely manner. I’ve been very busy recently with
studies.
As to your question, it
baffles me a lot when we tend to search the “Holy Scripture” for everything as
if we are made for the Scripture; on the contrary, the Scripture is made for
us. It is quite pertinent to note that the Scripture developed within the
context of the human society, and not everything were included in it, only the
basic aspect that helps in strengthening our belief and hope. I pray we do not
get to the point where we begin to search the Scripture for the origin of our
names, street addresses, authenticity of foods, why we must be educated, etc. However,
I would help you with some references which I believe would address the
question at hand.
It is true that the Bible
does not state explicitly that marriage should be carried out in the Church;
for this reason, some “cultural extremists” or persons who have not yet done
their Christian marriage often use this as an excuse, and even go to the length
of jettisoning Christian marriage and rendering it “the white man’s marriage”.
This is entirely a wrong idea; besides, the white man’s marriage is done in the
court. Let’s consider what the Holy Book says about “Marriage”.
According to Sacred
Scripture, God instituted marriage as the pinnacle of creation. On the sixth
day, in the first creation story, the Book of Genesis tells us: “God created
man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he
created them. God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply, fill the
earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1: 27-28). In the second creation story, God
says that “it is not good for man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner
for him.” (Genesis 2:18). This suitable helpmate was formed from the very rib
of man and thus woman was “flesh of his flesh” (Genesis 2:22-23). Consequently,
we can say that marriage is a “one-flesh”, “whole-life” union between one man
and one woman. This union covers every aspect of human existence: the physical,
the sexual, the mental, the emotional, the moral, the economic and the
SPIRITUAL. This definition is summed up in the words of Genesis 2:24:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his
wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
In relation to Christian
marriage, since Christianity was born out of the Jewish religion and culture,
it would not be out of place at this point to consider the meaning of marriage
vis-à-vis the Jewish culture. In
traditional Jewish literature marriage is actually called kiddushin,
which translates as “sanctification” or “dedication.”
“Sanctification,” indicates that what is happening is not just a
social arrangement or contractual agreement, but a spiritual bonding and the
fulfillment of a mitzvah, a Divine precept.
“Dedication,” indicates that the couples now have an exclusive
relationship, that involves total dedication of the bride and groom to each
other, to the extent of them becoming, as the Kabbalists state, “one soul
in two bodies.” Thus, “the sacred”
belongs to God, and it is the only social arrangement of human life that our
tradition describes in this way.
Dear
sister, from the foregoing, we can see that marriage is not just something
physical, it is essentially spiritual. Hence, if we consider marriage as “something”
instituted by God, then we can begin to see reasons why it must be associated
with religion and consequently be done in the Church.
Most Christian authorities and bodies view marriage (also called Holy Matrimony) as a state instituted and
ordained by God for the lifelong relationship between one man as husband and
one woman as wife. They
consider it the most intimate of human relationships, a gift from God, and a
sacred institution. Hence, it is sacred, holy, and even central to the
community of faith, little wonder we Catholics consider it a Sacrament.
Biblically, it is to be “held in honour among all….”(cf. Hebrew 13:4)
Jesus Christ maintained the importance and sacredness of lifelong marriage in
his own teachings. He quoted from both Genesis 1 and 2, stating in Matthew 19:3-6 that God had created humanity as male and female, and that in
marriage ‘the two will become one flesh’. So they are no longer two, but
one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined
together, let no one separate”. (Mk. 10:9; Mtt 19:6)
Going by
the statement of Christ, would it not be appropriate that this “spiritual act
of joining together” by God be carried out in the “worshipping community” (the
Church), and most preferably guided by a religious leader? Besides, we Catholics
believe that the priest does not wed the couples; instead, he stands as
witness. The couples wed themselves by the power of God through the words “I do” to the wedding vows.
 The
fact that the Church recommends Christian marriage does not negate that
traditional marriage or court marriage be jettisoned. Ipso facto, the Church
encourages traditional marriage; thus, before a Catholic wedding would take
place, an evidence to show that the Traditional Marriage has been carried out
must be presented. Also, the Catholic priest who celebrates a church wedding
signs a civil marriage certificate that constitutes a legal state marriage at
the same time.
It is pertinent at
this point to explain how the Church regards the sacrament of marriage. The key
element to remember about the Catholic understanding of marriage is that it is
a public act of the Church which recognizes the lifelong and exclusive
commitment of the bride and groom to each other. The bride and groom may say “I do”
to the wedding vows, but the presence of the church community is meant to
support the couple throughout their married life together. All those present
are presumed to be saying to the couple “We do.”We do witness,
confirm, and support your marriage.
The Church, and all
the people of God who witness the marriage, have a stake in the sacrament of
marriage. It makes a difference to the community of believers and to society
that marriages are freely entered and strong. As Pope John Paul II said, “The
future of humanity passes by way of the family.” (Familiaris Consortio,
#86)
  
The Church can help engaged
couples’ love grow and mature through the example and advice of missionary
families and the couples’ own families; other pastoral resources. This is
usually done before the wedding, and also extends after the wedding “if need be”.
Before the wedding, the couples are encouraged to attend a program (Marriage
course) for a period of time in which the Church teachings and other access to
resources, practical advice, programs, and guidance, etc are offered to them “In
this regard, they can come to realize the wisdom of breaking off a relationship
whose failure and painful aftermath can be foreseen. In their initial
enchantment with one another, couples can attempt to conceal or “relativize”
certain things and to avoid disagreements; only later do problems surface.”
Finally, I leave you with the
reflection of Pope Francis, explaining how the Church helps in issues regarding
marriage. He says:
“Sadly, many couples marry
without really knowing one another,” the pope lamented, saying that couples
should be strongly encouraged to discuss their expectations in marriage, their
understanding of love and commitment, what they want from each other, and what
kind of life they want to build together. These “discussions” can help them
discover if they have little in common and realize that mutual attraction alone
is not sufficient for an enduring marriage. (His reflections on the October
2015 Synod on the Family were released on 8 April in the lengthy post-synodal
exhortation Amoris Laetitia {The
Joy of Love}
. He referred to many statements of the synod and added his own
commentary). For the Pope, the Church sets out to strengthen weakened
marriages, and helps anticipating marriages to avert the problems and withstand
the challenges of marriage in our world today.
My dear, there are many
issues to discuss here with respect to the Church in seeing to the joy and happiness
of marital life. I recommend this little piece to you in order to help
understand the indispensability of the Church in issues regarding marriage.

Shalom!

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