Directory For The Publick Worship Of God
The Solemnization of Marriage.
Question 1.—Is marriage a sacrament or peculiar to the church of God?
Answer.—No. Mark 10:6-8. Marriage is a creation ordinance, not a sacrament. It is common to mankind and of public interest in every commonwealth. The essence of marriage lies in a mutual compact between a man and a woman, whereby they bind themselves to an indissoluble society, as long as they both live, Rom. 7:2, 3.
Question 2.—Do Christians, who are to marry only in the Lord, have special need of instruction, direction and exhortation, from the word of God upon entering the estate of marriage?
Answer.—Yes. 1 Cor. 7:39. Though marriage be honorable in all (believers and unbelievers), yet believers bear a special responsibility in this estate, Eph. 5:22-33.
Question 3.—Is it, therefore, expedient that the marriage be solemnized by a lawful minister of the word, that he may accordingly counsel them, and pray for a blessing upon them?
Answer.—Yes. Tit. 2:4-6. Counsel is important in any undertaking, Prov. 12:15; 20:18; how much more godly counsel between those professing the Christian faith in the matter of marriage? The blessing of God belongs to those that swear not deceitfully, Ps. 24:4, 5.
Question 4.—Is marriage between one man and one woman only?
Answer.—Yes. Gen. 2:24. God has so ordained for its proper ends and uses, Mal. 2:15.
Question 5.—Should they be such as are not within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity prohibited in the word of God?
Answer.—Yes. Lev. 18:6-18. Scripture lays down a number of forbidden degrees based upon both blood relation and marriage relation, Deut. 22:30; 1 Cor. 5:1; Mark 6:18.
Question 6.—Should the parties be of such years of discretion that they are fit to make their own choice, or, upon good grounds, to give their mutual consent?
Answer.—Yes. 1 Cor. 7:36-38. The estate of marriage is not forbidden to them that can give their consent and know the truth, 1 Tim. 4:3.
Question 7.—Is it proper, before solemnizing the marriage, that the purpose of such be published by the minister three several sabbath-days, in those places wherein the parties are in most usual or constant abode; and should the minister solemnizing have sufficient testimony of this?
Answer.—Yes. Ruth 4:9, 10. The proclamation of the contract—called proclamation of marriage banns, is to prevent clandestine marriages and to insure that those who know the parties to be married best have sufficient opportunity to present reasons why they should not be wed.
Question 8.—Before the publication of their purpose, should the consent of the parents or guardians be made known unto the congregation, to be recorded, both in the case the parties be under age or, though of age, for their first marriage?
Answer.—Yes. Deut. 7:3. God himself has given the pattern in bringing the first woman to the first man, Gen. 2:22. The practice of God’s saints, in this matter of consent, shows that they were wont to have it, Gen. 24:67; 28:2; 29:18; Judg. 14:2; 21:1.
Question 9.—Should they, in after marriages, be exhorted not to contract marriage without first acquainting their parents with it, endeavouring to obtain their consent?
Answer.—Yes. Deut. 5:16. Though by marriage children are put from their parents, Gen. 2:24; yet, it is still part of the honoring of the parents to obtain their consent, in case of subsequent marriages, if convenient.
Question 10.—Ought parents to force their children to marry without their free consent, or deny their own consent without just cause?
Answer.—No. Gen. 24:56, 57. Parents ought to be careful to see that their children freely consent to marry. Additionally, they should take care not to abuse their parental power by denying consent without just cause; God gives authority for edification not destruction, 2 Cor. 10:8.
Question 11.—After the purpose or contract of marriage has been thus published, should the marriage be long deferred?
Answer.—No. Prov. 13:12. The purpose to marry being settled, there should be no long delay lest the parties be tempted to sin, 1 Cor. 7:9.
Question 12.—Should the minister publicly solemnize it, before a competent number of credible witnesses, at some convenient hour of the day, at any time of year, except on a day of public humiliation or Lord’s day?
Answer.—Yes. Matt. 22:9; John 2:2. Marriages are to be conducted publicly, and conveniently. Days of public humiliation are not fit for such joyous occasions. Nor is it proper to the work of the Lord’s day.
Question 13.—Should the minister pray for a blessing upon them?
Answer.—Yes. 1 Tim. 4:5. Like all that believers do, the estate of marriage is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
Question 14.—The prayer being ended, should the minister declare, out of the Scriptures, the institution, use and ends of marriage?
Answer.—Yes. Matt. 19:5, 6. The minister is to declare the true intent of marriage and confute erroneous notions of it while avoiding the sacramental superstitions of Romanism.
Question 15.—Should the minister next charge the parties before God, to discover any cause which might hinder them from lawfully proceeding to marriage?
Answer.—Yes. Prov. 28:13. Those unions which are inherently sinful will never be made lawful by any law of man or the consent of the parties, Matt. 14:3, 4; therefore any cause which might hinder them should be declared beforehand.
Question 16.—Ought the parties to be married exchange vows?
Answer.—Yes. Prov. 31:2. There is in the establishing of marriage an act of covenanting, Mal. 2:14. It behooves the parties themselves to exchange vows.
Question 17.—Should the matter be concluded with the minister pronouncing them husband and wife, and praying for them in this estate of marriage?
Answer.—Yes. Gen. 2:25. So was the conclusion of the marriage of the first man.
Question 18.—Should a register be kept, wherein the names of the parties so married, with the time of their marriage, for the perusal of all whom it may concern?
Answer.—Yes. Lev. 18:6. Such is the interest of the church to see that future marriages contracted are kept blameless that it ought to keep a public recording of all marriages for the inspection of those whom it may concern.