Officiating Wedding - Previously Divorced Individuals

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Paul Kersey, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. Paul Kersey

    Paul Kersey
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    I was recently informed that a couple is interested in having me conduct their marriage ceremony. I was told this by a third party and do not know the couple, nor do I yet know the details of their past relationships.

    However, this third party did tell me that both were previously divorced and in their 50's. I informed her that I needed more information regarding these divorces before proceeding.

    My question to the other pastors here is this: How do you approach weddings for those who have been divorced? Do you typically agree to officiate them? If so, do you proceed only if it was for adultery or abandonment?
     
  2. annsni

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    You don't know this couple at all? Are they friends of friends? How do they know you?
     
  3. Paul Kersey

    Paul Kersey
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    They are relatives of a current older member. I am not aware that they have any affiliation with our church, and I have not met them. She knew that some pastors rigidly refuse to officiate the weddings of divorced individuals and was just asking if I was open, at all, to considering it. I did not commit to it, but I told her I was willing to at least discuss the particulars with the couple.
     
  4. annsni

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    I would find out a few things:

    * Are they Christians?
    * If they are Christians, when was their divorce?

    I would probably meet with them with a few ideas of what you would do in different scenarios in your head.

    We will marry two believers and we will marry two unbelievers. We will not marry unbelievers in our church building but will be happy to do it at an other location. We will not marry a believer and an unbeliever.

    In the added case of divorce, if they were divorced before becoming believers, that is in their past. It is especially in their past if it was a great number of years ago. If they are unbelievers, we would possibly marry them but it would be after premarital counseling.

    And that is the one more caveat we have. Every couple being married by my husband (and the rest of the pastors at our church do the same) must go through our premarital counseling program first. If they will not do this, we will not marry them and doing the premarital counseling does not guarantee that we will still do the wedding. If we feel that the marriage is in danger before it starts, we will request that we postpone or they have someone else do the wedding with strong recommendations that they wait and work on their relationship first.

    I hope that helps!
     
  5. go2church

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    I will do weddings that other pastors would not. Yes, I know you're divorced, I will marry you. Yes, I know you're living together, I will marry you.

    The couple is counseled about marriage being a life-long covenant, mistakes from the past are openly discussed with errors being pointed out when needed, expectations for marriage clarified, mutual submission explained and ultimately the wedding planned.

    I have come to see it as helping these couples make the next (often first) right step, not a time to judge the previous wrong steps.
     
  6. annsni

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    Would you marry a couple that were a train wreck?
     
  7. go2church

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    If there are red flags in the relationship, we address them. If they are not ready, further counseling. I have even done post marriage counseling. I can imagine a situation where I would say no, but it hasn't happened yet. I try to encourage couples trying to do the right thing.
     
  8. Paul Kersey

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    I certainly want to act in a kind and loving manner to those who have experienced divorce. If it were just up to my own judgment, I would likely be very lenient and understanding, praying that "this time" the person can pull things together.

    The problem for me comes when I read verses like Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, where Christ's teaching on the matter seems very clear. My hesitation in conducting a ceremony for such person, unless adultery or desertion were involved, is that the Bible seems to prohibit such a remarriage. I don't want to be a party to something that is unbiblical.

    I realize that remarriage is extremely common and will be even more common in the years to come. Yet, as the officiant, how do you avoid violating Christ's teaching in Matthew?
     
  9. go2church

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    Not a matter of ignoring anything. Look at it as sinful people trying to do the right thing. Have found it near impossible to minister to people in a "yes or no" only manner. Humans make mistakes, poor decisions and the like, I can't undo any of their past, but I can help them see a much better future. It takes work, it takes time. I consider it honorable to be about the work of helping to establish marriages that give testimony to heartbreak but rejoices in the healing only God's grace can bring.

    If your conscience causes you pause, than listen.
     
    #9 go2church, Mar 25, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2015
  10. sag38

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    I have performed marriage ceremonies of couples who were living together. If they come to me wanting to "do the right thing" and set a date months in advance and yet still plan to live together until the marriage day they are not wanting to do the right thing. I counsel them to do one of two things if they want me to perform the ceremony. Upon repenting of their sin they either move apart until the marriage or get married right now. Of many who were in this situation I have only had two couples who refused. There are plenty of marrying Sams out their who will marry anybody under any circumstances.
     
  11. annsni

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    I agree. I have told of the story of a couple in our church who we thought were married (lived together, had kids together) but when the men were driving to a retreat, he admitted they were not. Hubby just asked "So when are you going to fix that?" The man moved out that week and they were married a few weeks later in a God glorifying ceremony. It was an amazing testimony to the grade and mercy of our Father. :)
     
  12. go2church

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    I'll take steps, even baby steps, toward righteousness.
     

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