The Beatles are one of the most famous rock bands and back in 1967 they released “All you need is love”. There aren’t many lyrics but the phrase “All you need is love, love is all you need” is repeated over and over. Since that song was released the idea that all that matters is love has become increasingly accepted. The number of people getting married in the U.K. has significantly fallen and same-sex couples can legally get married. So it might seem that marriage has become irrelevant and yet Instagram is full of dreamy pictures of the latest elaborate weddings. We love to hear stories of romantic engagements and beautiful weddings and perhaps to imagine what our own wedding might be like in the future.
This confusion over whether marriage is important and/or beneficial is sadly also occurring in the church.
A report produced earlier this year by the Church of England explored what families and households of all shapes and sizes need to flourish. The conclusion was that the most important thing is love. Of course love is vital for families to flourish but are all kinds of families and household really the same? Is love the only thing that matters?
The report also states that “marriage is still viewed by many as a positive option, especially if there are children, and the symbolic importance has remained high. Marriage remains the partnership of choice for the majority of couples in the UK at some stage in their lives.”
Most young people (not just Christians) still say they would like to get married one day (although for many this is seen as something in the relatively distant future). Louise Perry, a feminist who writes from a secular perspective, says that the best advice she has for young women is that they should “get married and do their best to stay married”. In the summer at a meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod (the Church’s governing body) there was a debate on removing the fees for holding a wedding service in a CofE Church. It was agreed to start a trial of this. The Rev Tom Woolford who proposed this change said ‘The Church of England really believes in marriage as a good gift of God for our flourishing – let’s get on with giving it!’.
…at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
From these verses we see that marriage is given great importance in the Bible. Because marriage is designed by God for all mankind it continues to be significant not only in the Church but also in society as a whole.
Over the next few weeks there will be a series of articles looking at some statistics which demonstrate the goodness of marriage and how it can help individuals and societies to flourish as well as a personal story of one couple’s experiences of marriage.