Dear Friends in Christ,
We live in a time of moral confusion and chaos. This is especially so when marriage is the subject of the conversation. Traditional Christian standards are under attack. Even some Christians are trying to redefine the nature of marriage and are disregarding the clear teaching of the Holy Scriptures.
How refreshing it is to have this preface in the newly-adopted rite for Holy Matrimony, adopted by the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America. I commend it all the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Fort Worth.
Concerning Preparation for Holy Matrimony
Marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman, binding both to self-giving love and exclusive fidelity. The rite of Holy Matrimony is a worship service of the Church, in which the couple exchanges vows to uphold this covenant. They do this before God and in the presence of witnesses, who pray that God will bless their life together.
The covenantal union of man and woman in marriage signifies the communion between Christ, the heavenly bridegroom, and the Church, his holy bride (Ephesians 5:32). While all do not marry, Holy Matrimony symbolizes the union all Christians share with their Lord.
In Holy Matrimony, God establishes and blesses the covenant between husband and wife, and joins them to live together in a communion of love, faithfulness and peace within the fellowship of Christ and his Church. God enables all married people to grow in love, wisdom and godliness through a common life patterned on the sacrificial love of Christ.
Great care should be taken to prepare all candidates for Holy Matrimony.
In preparing couples for Holy Matrimony, the clergy should comply with their Provincial and Diocesan Canons, and any Diocesan Customaries. The canons expect that both candidates are baptized. It is also the responsibility of the clergy to understand local law and to consult with the Bishop should they believe themselves compelled by law to act in a manner contrary to the teaching or canons of this Church.
Banns of Marriage
The ancient custom of announcing the wedding publicly at least three times, also known as the “Banns of Marriage,” bids the prayers and support of the community. This speaks to the great necessity for the whole body of Christ to support those joined in Holy Matrimony and their witness in Church and in society.
If the Banns are published, it shall be in the following form: “I publish the Banns of Marriage between N.N., and N.N., and I bid your prayers on their behalf. If any of you know cause, or just impediment, why these two persons should not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are to declare it. This is the first [second or third] time of asking.”
Declaration of Intention
The text of the Declaration of Intention, to be signed and dated by both parties prior to the marriage, reads as follows:
“We, N.N. and N.N., desiring to receive the blessing of Holy Matrimony in the Church, do solemnly declare that we hold marriage to be a lifelong union of husband and wife as it is set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. We believe it is established by God for the procreation of children, and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord; for their mutual joy, and for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; to maintain purity, so that husbands and wives, with all the household of God, might serve as holy and undefiled members of the Body of Christ; and for the upbuilding of Christ’s kingdom in family, church, and society, to the praise of his holy Name. We do engage ourselves, so far as in us lies, to make our utmost effort to establish this relationship and to seek God’s help thereto.”
May God bless and strengthen you in your witness and defense of the Faith once delivered to the saints.
Faithfully in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Third Bishop of Fort Worth