A New Start before God; the Rt Rev Mark Santer, Bishop of Birmingham, Looks at the Church's Latest Discussions on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage

By Santer, Rt Rev Mark | The Birmingham Post (England), January 26, 2000 | Go to article overview

A New Start before God; the Rt Rev Mark Santer, Bishop of Birmingham, Looks at the Church's Latest Discussions on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage


Santer, Rt Rev Mark, The Birmingham Post (England)


"Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder." Those familiar words were first spoken by Jesus himself. For hundreds of years they have been spoken and heard in every marriage in the Church of England. Marriage for life "till death us do part": this is and remains the Church's teaching an expectation for every couple who come and ask for God's blessing on their future life together.

Marriage is indeed for life. It involves unreserved promises between a man and a woman who are free to make them. It involves openness to the gift of children. It involves the solemn promise to be faithful to each other.

Those who marry in church take one another "for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part." This is the Church's teaching, enshrined in the marriage service. None of this has changed or will change.

Every marriage, every relationship, goes through hard times as well as good times. We are all put to the test, however deep our love and our commitment. At such times we can gain immense strength from the promises we have made to each other.

That is why their betrayal, when they are betrayed by infidelity, violence or emotional neglect, is such a terrible thing. Nevertheless, there are countless couples who, because of their commitment to their promises, have found themselves able to renew and deepen their love for each other.

But humans beings are not perfect. Marriages do sometimes break down irretrievably, sometimes between people who have worked hard to sustain them. Society recognises this by providing for legal divorce.

What is the Church to say to such people, if they want to enter into a new marriage? Is the Church simply to wash its hands and say: "Go away?" If we insist that no marriage can ever come to an end except by physical death, then we are in danger of turning God's gift of marriage into a terrible burden.

We have to remember those other words of Jesus: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." the same goes for marriage.

Every Church has its own way of dealing with the breakdown of marriages. Historically the Church of England has been very reluctant to solemnise "second marriages", though it has been ready to offer prayers to those who want to make a new start after a civil marriage.

This is because it recognises that every wedding in church is a public statement about the nature of marriage, and it has wanted to uphold the principle of "till death us do part."

Nevertheless the clergy have always had the discretion to solemnise "second marriages" in cases where they have believed to be pastorally right. It is in fact nearly twenty years since the General Synod stated that it (a) believes that marriage should always be undertaken as a lifelong commitment, (b) considers that there are circumstances in which a divorced person may be married in church during the lifetime of a former partner.

That resolution was passed in 1981. Nobody can accuse the Church of undue haste in putting it into practice. The difficulty has been finding agreement on how to do it in a way which is pastorally realistic without weakening principle. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A New Start before God; the Rt Rev Mark Santer, Bishop of Birmingham, Looks at the Church's Latest Discussions on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.