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Marriage & the Post-Parousia Church
Stop & think a moment, name one instance of a marriage ceremony in the Bible or more specifically the New Testament. No doubt you may have first thought of the “Wedding at Cana” (John 2:1-2) then perhaps a passing reference to Solomon’s wedding in the Song of Solomon (Song of Sol 3:11). But no where do we see an official officiating at a marriage. Why is this important? We shall discuss it.As I have been advocating that the post-parousia Church is one that no longer has Apostles, no longer has prophets, no longer has elders/pastors (except that perhaps we all have become such as priests & kings) I was asked a very curious question, by my mother-in-law nonetheless. The question was:
“Well, then who would marry people?”
I paused. What an interesting question. It reminded me of the posed futurists’ question: “If Jesus is here then why can’t I see Him?” How would I respond?
So, I went back to the Bible, and you know I was hard pressed to find an official ever officiating a wedding. Further, I looked at Martin Luther, one of the “founders” of the Protestants and he went so far as to say:
"Marriage is a civic matter. It is really not, together with all its circumstances, the business of the church." It is so only when a matter of conscience is involved. ("What Luther Says" CPH 1959, Vol. II, page 885)
You see, marriage was considered one of the seven “sacraments” under the Roman Catholic system. Luther recognized only two sacraments (or ordinances) – Communion & Baptism. (Sacraments are supposed to be means of grace according to the Roman Catholics, Luthers, & Presbyterians)
Suddenly my mother-in-law’s question wasn’t so difficult. I had to praise God! There is nothing worse than being stumped by your mother-in-law.
Now, take note that the issue isn’t about whether there is such a thing as “marriage” but whether it is a matter that must be entered via the direction of a “pastor/priest”.
There should be no reason to make a case of this but it should be obvious to even the casual Bible student that marriage in the Bible was a pre-arranged matter or better a “contractual” matter as we see with Jacob & his uncle Laban for Laban’s daughters (Gen 29:25-27). It was almost always a matter where the Father “gave” his daughters in marriage. (Ex 2:21, De 22:16, 1 Sam 18:17-19, 1 Cor 7;38) It may be worthy to consider where the practice of a “dowry” came from and the concept of a “bride price”. (Gen 34:12, Ex 22:16-17, 1 Sam 18:25)
An official is nowhere seen in the matter. So, from where did the idea come that it required an official to “authenticate” a marriage?
First, we go back as far as we can to a typical Jewish wedding wherein we find the ketubah or marriage contract. The ketubah was originally simply a contract that the groom had written up outlining his obligations to the bride (the bride did not take a vow because her duties to her Groom were understood by all). Many modern Jewish weddings still have ketubah’s which are either signed in a private ceremony with the groom & bride or read aloud by the rabbi at a public ceremony.
Indeed, I could not find an instance of the very first “minister” led wedding but only this quote:
“Although the Church realized from the first the complete sacramentality of Christian marriage, yet for a time there was some uncertainty as to what in the marriage contract is the real essence of the sacrament; as to its matter and form, and its minister. From the earliest times this fundamental proposition has been upheld: Matrimonium facit consensus, i.e. Marriage is contracted through the mutual, expressed consent. Therein is contained implicitly the doctrine that the persons contracting marriage are themselves the agents or ministers of the sacrament. However, it has been likewise emphasized that marriage must be contracted with the blessing of the priest and the approbation of the Church, for otherwise it would be a source not of Divine grace, but of malediction. Hence it might easily be inferred that the sacerdotal blessing is the grace-giving element, or form of the sacrament, and that the priest is the minister. But this is a false conclusion. The first theologian to designate clearly and distinctly the priest as the minister of the Sacrament and his blessing as the sacramental form was apparently Melchior Canus (d. 1560). In his well-known work, "De locis theologicis", VIII, v, he sets forth the following propositions:
• It is, indeed, a common opinion of the schools, but not their certain and settled doctrine, that a marriage contracted without a priest is a true and real sacrament;
• the controversies on this point do not affect matters of faith and religion;
• it would be erroneous to state that all theologians of the Catholic school defended that opinion.
In the course of the same chapter Canus defends, as a vital matter, the opinion that without the priest and his blessing a valid marriage may take place, but a sacramental form and valid sacrament are lacking. For this opinion he appeals to Petrus de Palude (In IV Sent., dist. V, ii) and also to St. Thomas ("In IV Sent.", dist. I, i, 3: "Summa contra gentiles", IV, Ixxviii), as well as to a number of Fathers and popes of the earliest centuries, who compared a marriage contracted without sacerdotal blessing to an adulterous marriage, and therefore could not have recognized a sacrament therein.” (New Advent – Catholic Encyclopedia)
The Roman Catholics, as I said earlier had declared “marriage” a sacrament so much so boldly that in the Council of Trent said:
"If any one shall say that matrimony is not truly and properly one of the Seven Sacraments of the Evangelical Law, instituted by Christ our Lord, but was invented in the Church by men, and does not confer grace, let him be anathema." (canon i, Sess. XXIV)
Luther was not the only Reformer guilty of this "anathema" but also Calvin who said:
"Lastly, there is matrimony, which all admit was instituted by God, though no one before the time of Gregory regarded it as a sacrament. What man in his sober senses could so regard it? God's ordinance is good and holy; so also are agriculture, architecture, shoemaking, hair-cutting legitimate ordinances of God, but they are not sacraments". (Institutes, IV, xix, 34)
Ultimately, we are saying (apparently along with Luther & other Reformers) that marriage, although given from God is not administered by the Church. There is no precedent (or to use a phrase many like to use regulative principle) that governs marriage except that it is a contract between a man and woman before God and does not require the blessing of a pastor or priest.
But we do stand firm that a “marriage” is only between one man and one woman as Jesus so clarified – (Mt 19:4-5)
We give this article as more proof that the concept of Protestant “pastors” are merely a Reformation stop-gap to the critical problem of doing away with Apostolic & elder succession and replacing them with an even more unbiblical concept of “called pastor”.
We strongly affirm once again that Christ is the cornerstone, the Apostles are the foundation, the elders (as were always appointed by Apostles and never elected) were the “shepherds” watching over the infant Church until She came into Unity by way of the ultimate destruction of the divisive concept of the exclusive Jewish polity and all that went with that system, and with the unifying and consummating effect of the accepted canon; especially the New Testament as the revelation of all the shadows and types of the Old for which the infant Church relied upon Apostles and shepherds until the completion of that canon. But just as we are now completely (especially as preterists understand) in the presence of Christ, we no longer require an elder/shepherd to point us to Christ saying “Look! There is the Lord!” for as Christians with regenerated hearts and receivers of the complete revelation we no longer need our neighbor to teach us to “Know the Lord” (Heb 8:11)
We now declare that we indeed are all kings and priests and are no longer bound by popes or invented “called pastors” but have each become ministers of the Light.