Christian Marriage Rituals
Christian marriage originated from the Greco-Roman world. This marriage was based on heterosexuality and monogamy although divorce was allowed. Marriage is a religious rite of passage through which people within a religious community celebrate the significance of life. It acts as a medium of bringing individuals and groups together based on beliefs. Marriage usually involves different symbols and values such as bridal procession, giving away of the bride, exchanging rings, and making vows among other aspects. Most Christian denominations considered marriage as a sacrament. In this case, marriage is a special way through which God intervenes in the lives of people (Bingham, 2010).
First and foremost, marriage is a transformative and transition ritual. It transforms an individual(s) from one status to the other. Marriage influences status change and proclaim it to the society. Therefore, marriage is a key societal component in the rites of passage. The beliefs of the society/group are affirmed, and unity is encouraged. In addition, there is teaching of good morals. In addition, marriage acts as identification means for believers in the society or group. For instance, married couples from a Catholic Church have a high likelihood of their children being baptized in the same church. This strengthens the beliefs and core values of that religious society (Bingham, 2010).
Marriage ritual has changed rapidly over the centuries. From the ancient times, parents of both the bride and groom were the primary parties to the marriage covenant. According to the biblical times including the era of the New Testament gospel, marriage was a legal covenant between the parents of the bride and groom. Likewise, early Christian traditions held a similar notion. On the contrary, today, marriage is an independent legal agreement made between the couples themselves (Thomas, 2007). Furthermore, early marriage rituals embraced certain practices such as rice throwing, cake eating, wearing of white bridal dress amongst many others. However, some of the practices still persist to date, but in a different dimension. Traditionally, the white color symbolized innocence and youthfulness. Today, most of the marriage rituals embrace dressing of white gowns for brides. The traditional cakes were mainly made from wheat and grain alone, which symbolized fertility. On the other hand, present wedding cakes are comprised of many ingredients and supplements. The most significant aspect of modern marriage rituals is the engagement rings. Engagement rings evolved from the traditional custom of ring exchange, which was meant to seal a crucial, legal agreement. Engagement rings are usually circular with no end symbolizing eternal love.
The sudden and rapid change in marriage rituals has been attributed to different factors. One of the most significant factors include the influence of the western culture. Currently, the western style of marriage has become very popular and dominant. Before the marriage ritual is carried out, rehearsals are carried out to ensure different people master their respective roles in the ritual. As earlier mentioned, the western style of marriage embraces legal agreement of marriage among the couples involved rather than their parents/guardians. This has triggered major changes in the identity of the couples marrying, parents, family relatives and the larger community. This is influenced by the partial separation triggered by marriage ritual. The couples gain freedom directed towards their life obligations and future status coupled with new patterns in behavior, duties, and responsibilities (Thomas, 2007).
From the above observations regarding the evolution of Christian marriage rituals, I have learnt a lot about the customs and values of our culture. Before, I did not understand most of the practices undertaken during marriage rituals. In addition, contradictions arose when I tried to compare modernized Christian marriage with the traditional one.
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