I attended a special non-church wedding recently. There was much that the church can learn from such occasions. One moment was particularly moving, important and significant. One of the spouses made a promise to the other spouse’s young child, and this child made a promise back. I have looked in vain to find such a feature in any official Christian marriage rite (even the most recent revisions)! There will be a number of situations where such promises would be appropriate and could be very significant: when a spouse has died, after a divorce, or in a marriage where one or both have been sole parents. It is astonishing that I cannot find such promises in any rite, and highlights again why many will look at the church as an out-of-touch institution.
Update: in checking the promises parents can make to the couple in response to a comment below, I noticed I am wrong. There is actually a promise in the Second Form of the NZ Anglican Marriage Rites. It is by far the least used rite. I have, in fact, never used it and although I always go through all the options – I have never been requested its use. I think there is legislation that allows us to use this promise within the other rites:
The priest may say to any children of the bride or groom
N, will you help N and N in their marriage?
Children: Yes, I will.
I note that there is no suggestion, as above, for a promise to be made from bride or groom to the child(ren).
Update 2: I have been asked to provide the actual text and have now received permission to place that here. Because this, you will understand, is special to this family, this was added to the wedding at their request and hence we will obviously treat these promises here with respect. I note that particular emphases, particular to their context are present, and other contexts and situations will not work with a simple replication of this. But it does give one suggestion. If you know of other vows with similar intent you are, of course, invited to add them in a comment below:
N and N you have come together…
That is not the only relationship which will be established by this ceremony. Today N will formally acknowledge some responsibility in the future care and concern for N (the child).
N I ask you if you will do your best to maintain the wonderful relationship you have already established with N (the child)? Will you stay aware of the important role you have to play and treat him/her with love, care, interest, and respect.
To the child:
Will you help dad/mum/N and dad/mum/N in their married life together?