No-one need tell us marriage is taking a significant hit, and that divorce rates continue to rise. And that what is true of the community is becoming all too familiar in God’s church. Divorce has become the preferred option to working through difficulty. It is simply easier. Or rather, it is sold to us that it is. The results militate against the advertising. Children suffer – no matter how much the parents insist they have an amicable relationship with their ‘former.’ Women are primarily the losers, poverty increases, crime rises and jail looms.
One-way through is to re-engineer marriage so that it becomes a smorgasbord rather than a set meal. Options are being added daily that are neither sustainable nor natural – in the sense that it takes a man and woman to initiate, birth and properly sustain a family. Anything else is literally unproductive, therefore unnatural, without any appeal to moral codes.
I suspect, or at least hope, this will go the same way as restaurants that have salad and food bars. They have been found to contain a lot of ‘less than desirable’ little extras.
A casual approach to Holy Matrimony, an increasingly popular trend, is part cause and part reflection of marriage breakdown.
Whilst we uphold marriage as honorable and holy – the Roman Catholic Church believes it to be a sacrament – we undo our intentions by agreeing with the world around us that is personalizing and making marriage ceremonies more and more blasé. We meet under trees, on the beach, in the clouds (Skydiving vows), in queues (see A Reflection), anywhere. We dress as though we were at a party. The minister wears casual clothes, the wedding guests even more so, the parents privately disappointed that the wedding day looks less sartorially attended to than a day at the races.
Wherever something becomes casual, outdoors-ee, it loses something, and it is this constant leeching of the holy, the serious, from the wedding ceremony that ultimately works towards undermining the institution of marriage. As it begins, so it goes.
This isn’t the rant of someone older, as though that in itself invalidates what is said. It is the rant of someone who sees the church treading the same cultural patterns of the world it is called to be light and salt to. (Worryingly we don’t recognize this – worldliness is thinking that what the world does is normal, therefore acceptable.)
Marriage is sacred and serious and requires an environment that fosters its sacredness, and not one that engenders a lessening of its sacred purpose. Solemn and joyful.
And this starts at the start – the wedding ceremony. When we dumb down this day we are dumbing down a future. We are falling into the trap of cheapening the act, therefore cheapening its purpose and what it speaks to and about.
The grand pronouncement of Moses, underpinning human history, upheld by Jesus, and believed by the church, is becoming a quaint little ceremony. We aren’t helping ourselves. We are secularizing the sacred by the art of being casual.
A couple waiting in line at the first US screening got hitched with a Star Wars (look alike) cast. The Celebrant was Obi-wan-Kenobi, and the Father Darth Vader. Not sure who Chewy was?
The crowd cheered and yelled, and my heart sank.
Marriage has been so trivialized that we think this constitutes a marriage celebration. What happens if the husband turns on the Franchise, or outs Darth Vader as a plastic version of himself.
And what tie binds, except the ever-fickle definition of love – something I am in until am not anymore.
Of course you could always look at this as, just fun – which I am sure it was to them. And life should have fun, for goodness sakes. Fun, however, does have context, and I’m not so sure a marriage ceremony should be merely fun, or hinged around fun, much less Star Wars – a fun movie itself.
Marriage is the springboard of social health and wellbeing. Linking it to Star Wars is like giving a light sabre to a child – damage is inevitable. I will go to see Star Wars. Can’t wait! But I’m unlikely to renew my vows before, during, or after the screening.
Written by Simon Mcintyre