Can divorcees remarry in church? The answer is, yes and no. I am starting a series of blog posts today in which I’ll explain how and why I will “marry” some divorcees at Holy Trinity.
Attitudes to Christian marriage have ebbed and flowed as times changed over the last two thousand years. We are living in a time of change and, as with all change, it is a cause of pain for some people, because we don’t like change.
For 250 years, England had a set pattern for weddings where most people got married in their parish church, in white, according to Banns. But this age has passed and a new approach to marriage is emerging. Today, couples co-habit, marry in various locations, including overseas (and sometimes underwater). There are Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Humanist, Jewish, civil and Christian marriages. Added to this, almost half of marriages end in divorce and most divorcees seek to remarry.
As a minister in the Church of England I wear two hats at weddings. I am both a civil registrar (legalising marriage in the eyes of the government) and a Christian minister (helping couples to make promises to each other according to the teaching of the bible).
At this present time, I believe that offering a Christian service of commitment (“marriage”) without me acting as civil registrar provides the best practice for the remarriage of divorcees. I take off my civil registrar’s hat and wear only my Christian minister’s hat. This means a couple where one or both partners is divorced needs to go to the civil registrar to ask to be “married” according to the law. And, if you are truly seeking to follow Christ in your relationship, I will enable you to make vows of Christian commitment, exchange rings and so on, according to the teaching of the bible on marriage.
In the case of first marriages, every couple in my parish has a legal right to ask me to marry them. They do not have to be baptised, they do not have to be professing Christians. I’ll outline the history of this fusion, and confusion, of church and state in a later post.
When it comes to divorcees, there is no legal right to marry in the Church of England. Until 2002, no divorcees were officially allowed to marry in the church and since then the decision to marry any divorcee has fallen to the local vicar.
If you live in the parish of Holy Trinity, are divorced, want to remarry and are open to exploring what is different about Christian marriage, please contact me.