The following form of service is offered as a model to aid the person conducting a marriage of disciples, and to aid disciples who chose to write their own service.
Forms of Service:
Concerning the Service: Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God. The structure of The Philadelphia Church allows autonomous fellowships to establish criteria for premarital counseling, and for determining whether a couple should marry. The ceremony should be attested by at least two witnesses; and should conform to the laws of the State.
In the opening exhortation, the full names of the persons to be married are declared. Afterward, only their Christian names are used.
At the scheduled time, the persons to be married, with their witnesses, assemble where the wedding will occur. During their entrance, a hymn, psalm, or other song may be sung, or instrumental music may be played. The person presiding at the marriage shall stand facing the people, with the bride and her maids to the right, and the groom and his men to the left.
The person presiding at the marriage shall commence this service with the following sentence:
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Psalm 124, verse 8).
Then the person presiding shall say,
The Lord, having created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, made humankind in the image of God; male and female He created them. From the dust of the earth, the Lord created the man, then said, It is not good that the man should be alone, and from the man, the Lord made a helpmate for the man. And the man said, This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Hidden in these familiar lines is a mystery that has been poorly understood. It is of two functioning as one, becoming one flesh, that flesh becoming the Christ, who will, upon His return, be united in marriage with the saints so that they may be perfectly one with the Father and the Son.
Wherefore, our Lord Jesus the Christ, when Pharisees came to Him, tempting Him by asking, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause, answered and said, Have you not read that He who made them in the beginning, made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they two shall be one flesh? So then they are no more two, but one flesh. Whatever God has joined together, let no man put asunder.
And the Apostle Paul, who commended marriage as honorable in all, said, So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies; he that loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever yet hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it. Likewise, let the wife honor her husband, and submit herself to her husband, as is fit in the Lord, as Christ Jesus submitted Himself to the Father.
Seeing, then, that this holy covenant of matrimony, which God has ordained, is of such authority and obligation, it is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly, soberly, and in the fear of God, with the holy purpose to live therein in all purity, according to God's will.
For this reason, we have gathered together here today in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony, in the bond and covenant of marriage, established when the Lord created man and woman in the image of God.
Addressing the persons to be married (M & N -- full names), the person conducting the marriage shall say,
Are you willing to enter into the holy state of matrimony, which God has instituted, to live together therein, according to his commandments? And do you desire to make known here, before God and this assembly, that this is your purpose?
They shall answer,
Then the person conducting the service shall say,
God confirm and bless your purpose…let us pray.
Father in heaven, great and glorious God, the author of every good and perfect gift--we thank you that you have ordained the institution of marriage, and we beseech you to bless (M & N), your servants, who are now about to be joined together in this holy estate. Give them in their union a just sense of your presence and of the obligation of the covenant they are about to make, to the end that this solemn service will have a wholesome influence upon their affections and conduct throughout life, to the glory of your name, through Christ Jesus, our Lord; we ask in His name. Amen.
Then the person conducting the service shall say to the man,
M. Do you acknowledge here, before God and this assembly, that you have agreed to take, and that you now take, N., for your wife? Do you promise to love, honor and protect her; to maintain, comfort and cherish her, in health and in sickness, in joy and in sorrow, in prosperity and in adversity; to lead a holy life with her, being faithful to her in all things as is the duty of a good husband according to the word of God?
The person conducting the service shall then say to the woman,
N. Do you also acknowledge here, before God and this assembly, that you have agreed to take, and now take, M., for your husband? Do you promise to love, honor, and obey him; to comfort and cherish him, in health and in sickness, in joy and in sorrow, in prosperity and in adversity; to lead a holy life with him, being faithful to him in all things as is the duty of a good wife, according to the word of God?
[Used at the discretion of the M & N.
(single ring ceremony -- in heraldry, the king confirmed his authority over lords by being the ring-giver)
In testimony that you M. & N. do advisedly and solemnly ratify all that has been declared and promised by you, do you, M., acknowledge and endow this woman as they wife, by delivering unto her a ring, in token of your faith; and do you, N., in like manner receive the same as a pledge of his faith, and as a witness of your vows.
(in a double ring ceremony, a following sentence would be added that will have the man receiving a ring from the woman in a like manner -- double ring ceremonies are problematic because of the relationship of the Son to the Father, and of glorified saints to the Son, and of what receiving a ring historically signifies)
Now the man delivers to the woman a ring, placing it upon the fourth finger of her left hand. In a double-ring ceremony, the woman shall do likewise to the man.
Then shall the person conducting the service join their right hands together and say,
You are now man and wife.…Those whom God has joined together, let not man put asunder.
Then the person conducting the service shall say to the assembly,
Let us pray to God, our Father, for His blessing upon his servants.
The person conducting the service shall now offer a spontaneous prayer that includes the following points: (1) that the Holy Spirit will inspire the couple in spiritual growth, granting to them increased patience and faithfulness; (2) that God will prosper the household and bless the household; (3) that the couple advance in knowledge of God and of His Word that they might minister to others, thereby laying up treasure in heaven.
The person conducting the service shall now dismiss the assembly, and with the couple complete whatever appropriate paperwork as is necessary for the State.
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