Question on the Protestant View of Marriage as a Sacrament

I grew up a somewhat poorly taught Methodist. I now understand that the Methodist Church only believes in two sacraments, the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. What then does the Methodist Church (and other Protestant traditions) consider a marriage between two baptized individuals to be, if it is not a sacrament? I understand the Catholic Church would consider it a sacrament even if the Methodist do not, but I am curious about the Methodist (and other Protestants) view on marriage.

Does the denial of the sacramentality of marriage in Protestant faiths have implications on their acceptance of divorce?

All good questions!:clapping::yup::thumbsup:

It depends on the denomination.

The one and only time the word sacrament appears in the book of discipline for the yearly meeting (Quaker) my husband and I are still members of is in reference to marriage.

I was raised Presbyterian and those churches only recognize baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments. As far as I understand it Presbyterians consider marriage an ordinance and gift from God, but not a sacrament. What that means is that they believe that marriage is something good, but that it does not make a change in one’s soul.

I would certainly say it impacts their understanding of divorce. In theory I had been taught that Presbyterians only believed that divorce was allowable in cases of adultery or desertion. That being said since they do not see marriage as a sacramental bond the theory and practice often goes different routes. In general it seems that they see staying together as the ideal, but because of a broken world divorce is something that just has to be accepted.

Growing up I don’t remember hearing too much about sacraments at all. It just wasn’t a word we used a lot, and the concept wasn’t too clear either. Marriage was clearly something sacred that Christians should do in church (as in be married by a minister, not necessarily in a church building), but I don’t know that we identified certain things as being sacraments vs sacramentals vs anything else. We clearly identified baptism and communion as things instituted by the Lord, but the exact nature of these “things” was never well defined in my mind. Not to say others in my denomination might not have had a clearer understanding. One DoC minister I’ve had taught us that Jesus is really present in communion. This was helpful in my journey toward Catholicism (I make no claim that he had fully developed transubstantiation theology).

I was raised in the Methodist Church and the view was that marriage is just a marriage between two people, more like a legal contract. When marriage is viewed as more of a legal contract than a sacrament, then it can be broken in divorce. Now some more fundamentalist influenced churches do hold that marriage is a covenant relationship which should not be broken. The covenant relationship is closer to the sacramental view but that is not the norm in mainline denominational Churches.

The Episcopal Church considers marriage a sacrament-read the 39 articles-we feel that Christ established 2 sacraments-Baptism and the Eucharist-but believe the sacrament of Holy Orders-Reconciliation -Unction-Confirmation as well as Marriage are valid and worthwhile
:cool:

The Lutherans I belirve feel Christ founded 3 sacraments -they include Reconciliation

:o

A sacred covenant between two people with God presiding over it (though not a vehicle of grace AKA sacrament). The vows are said with the understanding that they are vowed before God. Many, as mentioned, simply call it an ordinance.

Does the denial of the sacramentality of marriage in Protestant faiths have implications on their acceptance of divorce?

Truly I feel that this is an issue where I would guess conservative RC’s and conservative Protestants would probably be more alike on and liberal RC’s and liberal protestants would see more eye-to-eye. (Obviously not referring to politics here). There are actual protestant faiths that teach that there is no such thing as divorce or annulment, period. That once vows are said, that’s all she wrote. :wink: Many more conservative protestants believe that there are certain conditions where divorce is allowed (in the case of adultery, for example).

I grew up Lutheran and marriage was viewed as a vow made before God, but one that could be broken although that is not the ideal. Certainly not a Sacrament at all. No mark on the soul. Divorce dissolves it. Remarriage entirely acceptable.

As has already been said in this thread, marriage is seen as a covenant relationship between two people made before God.

Breaking the marriage vows is a sin, but not an unforgivable sin. And most Protestant churches will allow re-marriage of divorced persons, but not because we don’t think marriage is sacred and inviolable. We do. We simply make allowances for human frailty. Lifelong marriage is the biblical ideal, but when that doesn’t happen, remarriage is permitted.

But don’t two become one?

We simply make allowances for human frailty.

Is this taught to children too?

MJ

Marriage is better defined in the Episcopal Church as a sacramental rite.

We have only two sacraments(Eucharist and Baptism) :thumbsup:

Are priest married? :smiley:
Caution loaded question :slapfight:

But Anglicans in general differ on this, it arising from the Articles, which are not in any sense normative for Anglicans, taken as a whole. And you will also find Episcopalians who affirm 7 Sacraments, of which 2 are accounted Dominical.

GKC, posterus traditus Anglicanus, 7.

From the LCMS
One can find a statement on marriage here:
lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=726&DocID=2384

As for divorce.

LCMS view of divorce
Q: How is divorce viewed in the LCMS?
A: The LCMS believes that divorce is contrary to God’s original design and intention for marriage. While divorce can be justified scripturally in certain situations (adultery or desertion), it is always preferable for couples to forgive and work toward healing and strengthening their marriage. Because no two situations are alike, LCMS pastors deal on a case-by-case basis with members (or potential members) who are wrestling with the issue of (past or present) divorce. The Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the LCMS has prepared a report called Divorce and Remarriage which discusses the Bible passages and theological principles underlying the Synod’s perspective on this issue.

I don’t believe that the synod thinks less of marriage, or is more open to divorce simply because it does not fit our definition of sacrament, a definition which is narrower than that of the CC.

Jon

I wasn’t raised to think two became one as literally as the Catholic Church takes it. I was raised more or less to think that the “two become one” thing was a lovely idea, but just that…an idea.

And yes, I was taught that divorce was entirely acceptable for a variety of reasons including 'falling out of love". The basic idea was that marriage was a vow before God and should be taken seriously, but if circumstances changed and you wanted a divorce…well, God would understand.

Yes. Which is why divorce is so problematic and should be avoided. Nevertheless, there are Scriptural allowances for divorce in cases of adultery and desertion (i.e. Pauline privilege).

The problem today is that most divorcees are not divorced because of adultery or desertion by a non-believing spouse. What churches face is many people who were married without truly understanding or intending it to be a lifelong union and who eventually get divorced.

In many cases, returning to a prior spouse is not an option. In other cases, people have children with their new partners and to deny them marriage would be to deny them a normative family life.

In short, people get divorced for a variety of reasons, some good and most bad. They move on, meet other people, and maybe even have children with other people. When they do want to come to the church and make their current relationship right and make a real commitment, many Protestant churches respond by affirming their desire to make their relationship a godly one, despite any past mistakes and sins. I suppose we could just turn them away and condemn them to shacking up for the rest of their lives. :shrug:

Well, children rarely live up to parental expectations. We should discipline our children when they do wrong, but we also forgive them, knowing that they are human and will make mistakes. We don’t write them off because they mess up once in their lives.

Can you refer to me this Pauline privilege? I don’t think it is about divorce, from a Christian marriage.

The problem today is that most divorcees are not divorced because of adultery or desertion by a non-believing spouse. What churches face is many people who were married without truly understanding or intending it to be a lifelong union and who eventually get divorced.

Are you saying Christian churches are not teaching that marriage is a lifelong union? :confused:

In many cases, returning to a prior spouse is not an option. In other cases, people have children with their new partners and to deny them marriage would be to deny them a normative family life.

Are you talking in general or Christian families?

In short, people get divorced for a variety of reasons, some good and most bad. They move on, meet other people, and maybe even have children with other people. When they do want to come to the church and make their current relationship right and make a real commitment, many Protestant churches respond by affirming their desire to make their relationship a godly one, despite any past mistakes and sins. I suppose we could just turn them away and condemn them to shacking up for the rest of their lives. :shrug:

I don’t get what you are saying here. I’m not talking about condemnation at all.:hmmm:

Well, children rarely live up to parental expectations. We should discipline our children when they do wrong, but we also forgive them, knowing that they are human and will make mistakes. We don’t write them off because they mess up once in their lives.

I think you misunderstood what I meant. We as Christian parents should be teaching our children from the beginning how important marriage is by our example. It is only after we’ve tried our level best to show the way, guiding them that forgiveness is paramount too.Otherwise it’s better not to marry at all.

Start correctly as a Christian family with understanding first that it is a lifelong relationship to bring out Holiness from each other so that we give ourselves the best chance to attain Heaven.

MJ

1 Cor. 7:15, “But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved.”

This is talking about being abandoned by an unbelieving spouse. It’s not a command to divorce, but it is an allowance to remarry.

No. I don’t think there is any church teaching that divorce is OK. If they believe the Bible, then they must preach that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and that no human should separate two people joined in marriage (Matthew 19:6).

But the reality of divorce in our society makes it necessary for the church to respond in a spirit of grace to people who find themselves in situations where they are divorced from a previous spouse. Each specific situation is different, and the church shouldn’t adopt a one size fits all approach. Rather, they should approach each situation on a case by case basis.

I don’t support the habit of many pastors to simply marry whoever comes to them, no questions asked. I think all pastors should take responsibility to ascertain the marriage history of anyone they marry and find out the exact circumstances of the dissolution of any prior marriage. And it must be stressed to the couple prior to the wedding that this is a lifelong union and to break it is a sin.

Define what you mean by a Christian family?

In America, we live in an interesting time for religion. While essentially a post-Christian society, many people are nominally Christian. Most weddings are church weddings. Does that make most marriages “Christian marriages”?

Many people only use the church for weddings and funerals. People who marry in churches aren’t always committed Christians, and this can cause problems later on if they do become born again later on after being divorced and remarried. Speaking of just my church, many of our new converts come to Christ already divorced and remarried. In that situation, we recognize the marriage they are currently in as valid, whether or not the first marriage was done in church.

No, but you aren’t offering any suggestions as to how to handle these types of cases either. What does the church do when a couple, in which one or both parties have been previously married, who have possibly been living together for several years and might even have children together comes to the church and wants to be married or wants to have their marriage recognized by the church?

Should we simply tell them, “Well, you are living in adultery and always will live in adultery and marriage cannot change that and there is simply nothing we can do for you. Separate now and dissolve your normative family life. Have a nice day.”

That seems like the worse thing the church can do. For one, yes, Jesus is clear that those who remarry commit an act of adultery. But this does not mean that the remarried live in a perpetual state of adultery. Those who have divorced and remarried should be led to repentance and a right understanding of what God requires in marriage.

Remarriage is a new contract or covenant. While the first marriage did not last because of sin, the new marriage should be treated with all the commitment, love, and devotion that the first marriage should have received.

I don’t see anything helpful, constructive, or Christ-like in pressuring remarried persons to divorce their current spouse and return to a former marriage (or to live as if single). What possible good can come from trying to fix a divorce by ending a current marriage?

I agree that we should teach our children that marriage is for life. However, I also believe that the church should be ready to meet people where they are, and often that means extending grace to those who have divorced and remarried.

Yet, I believe that for Christians, divorce and remarriage should be the exception rather than the rule, and I am troubled that, among evangelical Christians especially, that this does not seem always seem the case.

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