IDoThe church and marriage. Every March and September our local newspaper, the Press, publishes a lift-out Wedding Directory/Advertising Feature (called “I do“) along with the daily newspaper. Twenty A3 pages very attractively present hints, lists, articles, venues, jewellery, dresses, cakes, flowers, etc…. I wrote about the last one, in March. That was the first one in which there had been no church presence…

This one, the September one,… is now the second. OK – I can find one occurrence of the word “religious”, it’s in an advertisement for renting a particular church building “for your wedding or other special religious occasion”. The particular building is not used by a parish or particular Christian community.

Despite hundreds reading my last post, not one said that they had tried to send “I do” an article and it was refused. I wonder if, with those hundreds who read the last one, anyone attempted to put in an article this time?

Some challenged me last time that I should put in an article. Fair point. But should I really be Fr Fixit for every issue that I highlight here? OK – since no one appears to have picked up the challenge from last time, maybe I do need to put energy into sending them a short article for next time! (I have sent the editor of “I Do” an email to discuss my point, and offering to contribute next time).

But is there seriously not a single denomination, not a single individual Christian community, not even a single Christian individual (ordained or lay) in the Press readership area (or beyond) who has the energy to submit an attractive article about Christian Marriage or having a wedding in church?! Or an advertisement?

What is the understanding of people about getting married in church? How well-informed are regular church-goers? When you walk into your church is there a leaflet explaining this – for regulars and visitors? Is it on your church’s website?

Is the main image of the church’s attitude to marriage seen to be anti-gay, anti-divorce, anti-contraception, anti-pre-marital-sex, anti… anti… anti… with possible apologies to Maggie Gallagher, is this YouTube video not too far from the way most people understand the church’s attitude?

There is a cartoon, I cannot now locate, of a large office building with everyone within it extremely busy… but everyone is busy with internal communication – there is no connection going either in or out from the outside world. Is that what the church is like? Is that how people perceive the church? In the earthquake here – how do people perceive the church? Yes, there is regular mention of the Salvation Army out there working… there is mention of the Anglican “iconic buildings”, and of the Catholic cathedral… and…? (One of our churches simply had the sign up, “closed”. Good to see the bishop’s reflection in the Press this morning. Good to hear that more positive signs are being distributed).

I think offering weddings an essential part of the church’s mission. Preparing a couple for marriage is a privilege. It can be done by the priest in partnership with others. The whole Christian community can be an environment that supports this couple – including into the years ahead. The primary Christian message and life is about love – embodied so richly in marriage. And by “em-bodied” isn’t it time for Christians to be enthusiastic about sex?! Read the Song of Songs! Children are baptised and welcomed into the community. The Christian community could be, should be, perceived as being, and actually be, a great place to start and maintain marriage and family life. As well as the many other ways that people live.

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