I am in Montreal, Quebec (central Canada) and have been for several days. I grew up here but left in 1969 to go to seminary in Toronto and then have lived in western Canada since graduating with my first Master’s degree in 1972. I use to return regularly to visit my mother but since her death three years ago last month I have not been back. I’m here for a family wedding being held today. My sister’s son.
Headlines like “Love and marriage are fading like the horse and carriage” (Canada.com) and Statistics Canada reporting that the latest statistics show a continued and steady decline in married couples (traditional marriage) in Canada with a major increase in common-law and same-sex unions. Over half of all marriages (even long-term ones) end in divorce in Canada. Statistics for Christians living common-law before being married as well as the divorce rate for Christians are keeping pace and, in some locations, even outpacing those who do not claim to adhere to the Christian faith. It appears that society is changing rapidly in their views and practice of marriage. The horse and carriage are almost non-existant.
According to Wikipedia, the free on-line encyclopedia…
Christian views on marriage typically regard it as instituted and ordained by God for the lifelong relationship between one man as husband and one woman as wife, and is to be “held in honor among all….”[Hebrews 13:4]
Divorce or dissolution of marriage, is generally seen from a Christian perspective as less than the ideal, with specific opinions ranging from it being universally wrong to the notion that it sometimes is inevitable.
Traditionally, most have believed that the New Testament holds that sex is reserved for marriage. The New Testament is often thought to teach that sex outside of marriage is the sin of adultery (for the married person) if either sexual participant is married to another person. Voluntary sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other is traditionally-claimed to be the sin of fornication.
Now, in most cases, when a couple comes to a priest, minister or pastor today either one or both of them is divorced or one or both of them have been involved in a common law relationship (often even living together before their own marriage) or have had multiple sexual partners before hopefully settling down by choosing to be married. Most couples (in my experience 9 out of 10) do not attend a Church and are not part of the Christian community although they will state quite strongly that they are Christians. And, they are adament about wanting a Christian ceremony (whatever that may mean in their minds).
Of course we want to, like Christ, show them the love of God and yet uphold the Christian beliefs. We see this as an opportunity to declare the true Gospel and the need to respond and be born again. We hope that by accepting the people involved (yet not agreeing to the lifestyle) and being there for them that they will encounter and experience God’s love and acceptance. We see the actual ceremony as an opportunity to speak about marriage from God’s vantage point to many who never come to Church. And, for some of us who are soul winners, we see the reception, bar and dance afterwards as an opportunity to witness and evangelize one-on-one.
But, I am also realistic. After hundreds of wedding couples and ceremonies I am painfully aware that most couple are simply using the Church and the pastor and will not be seen or heard from again for many years, if ever. Doing weddings does not build the local church.
Today I am officiating at a wedding in the province of Quebec in the city of Joliette and my wife is officiating at a wedding in the province of Saskatchewan in the city of Regina. Both are couples we know, love, and have worked with. We are praying for them – and ask you to join us in doing the same.