The sacred action of Christian marriage is often likened to the relationship that Christ has with his church, for it is a covenant between a man and a woman that joins them as one. The following section explores the history and theology of Christian marriage and provides sample services for this joyful occasion.
Despite challenges from some quarters, Judaism and the early Christians considered marriage a good gift from God, part of God's good creation. Marriage is considered a sacrament by both Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians. The Orthodox permit divorce under certain conditions; most Protestant denominations, for whom marriage is a covenant rather than a sacrament, permit divorce under a broader range of circumstances.
Marriage in Western culture is viewed as a loving partnership for the whole of life, intended both for the welfare of the partners and the procreation and nurture of children. Christian marriage adds to this a perspective on marriage as an image of God's covenant relationship with the church.
The following marriage rite is brief and may be used in a variety of settings, although a Christian marriage service should be held in the place where the community of faith gathers for worship.
This section presents a very simple marriage service accompanied by a commentary to highlight its theological meanings.
The preceding discussion underscores the main elements to be symbolized and therefore included in a Christian wedding service. When woven together after careful planning, they create a service that follows the general outline described below.