Here are excerpts from the meaningful marriage ceremony currently used by the United Church of God (NKJV used throughout):
Surely there can be no greater human joy than to have a happy marriage, filled with giving and sharing. There is no deeper relationship among human beings than that achieved by a husband and wife in marriage.
Marriage is a natural union but a divine institution, ordained of God. It was established by the Creator God at creation and derives its authority from the divine laws of God, immutable and unchangeable.
When God created life upon the earth, He made human beings the pinnacle of the physical creation, fashioning them in His own image. He gave men and women creative minds with the ability to make choices, to develop plans and to build their lives upon those plans.
Men and women were created with the marvelous potential of eternal life in the family of God. And as a loving Father, God gave us the institution of marriage and the blessing of a family, that we might learn to love one another as He loves us.
After He created the first man from the dust of the ground, “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’,” Genesis 2:18.
The woman was made equal to the man in spiritual potential, the perfect complement to her husband. To emphasize His purpose for Adam and Eve, the Creator God did not make the woman directly from the ground, but from the very flesh and bone of the man. When the woman was presented to him, Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” Genesis 2:23.
The Creator then united this first man and woman as husband and wife, saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh,” Genesis 2:24.
“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth’,” Genesis 1:28.
And so the institution of marriage and the cycle of human life began with God’s personal blessing.
Within the Church, it is God — not merely man or the laws of man — who joins together husband and wife as one flesh. Therefore, let us now consider the laws of God governing this union, and His instruction to husbands and wives as recorded in the Holy Scriptures.
In Ephesians 5:21, Paul talks about “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” The sacred marriage covenant calls upon you to yield yourselves to God and to each other — to hold each other in high esteem, giving honor and respect to one another with love and devotion. Always give preference to the welfare of the other. Outgoing concern is the foundation of the marriage relationship.
[Read Ephesians 5:22-25, 28, 33; I Peter 3:1, 5, 7.]
The essential qualities of a happy and successful marriage are those that express an ever-growing, Godly love as described by the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church. [Read I Corinthians 13:4-8.]
So we see that a loving relationship within marriage is a type of the spiritual relationship between God and the Church. And it is in your submission to God’s love that this marriage will be strengthened and protected.
As a loving Father, God wants to pour out upon us His richest blessings. He wants us all to be supremely happy. To that end He has given you, [his first name] and [her first name], this wonderful gift of marriage.
Because marriage is a divine institution, and we are asking God to join you as husband and wife, it is fitting and right that each of you should faithfully promise before God to accept the sacred marriage covenant according to the divinely ordained conditions established by Almighty God.
Do you then [his first name], faithfully promise and covenant with God, in the presence of these witnesses, to take [her full name] to be your lawful wedded wife — in sickness and in health, in good times and in difficult times, for as long as you both shall live — to love her, cherish her, honor her and provide for her? [Groom answers.]
And do you, [her first name], faithfully promise and covenant with God, in the presence of these witnesses, to take [his full name] to be your lawful wedded husband — in sickness and in health, in good times and in difficult times, for as long as you both shall live — to love him, cherish him, honor him and, as God has ordained, submit yourself to him? [Bride answers.]
Since all ordination or setting apart in the Scriptures is by the laying on of hands, would you please join your right hands and, with the laying on of my hands, I will ask the Eternal God to unite you as husband and wife. [Prayer.]
By the authority of Jesus Christ, I now pronounce you husband and wife!
— from the July, 2003, issue of United News, a publication of the United Church of God, an International Association, publisher of The Good News magazine. © 2003, United Church of God, used by permission. This article is not to be sold. It is a free educational service in the public interest. To order the magazine and other free literature, write: United Church of God, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1027. Visit the United Church of God on the Internet at www.ucg.org Ω