Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Hebrews 13 verse 4, NIV).
0. The Free Reformed mission team decided to write a Marriage Policy, to be used in the churches in the way our Funeral Policy has found its way.
1. We take our starting point in 1 Corinthians 7, where the apostle Paul states that Christians can marry only “in the Lord” (verse 39, RSV). Bride and bridegroom should in everything be obedient to God and honour him.
2. Once and again the Bible refers to Genesis 2 verse 24: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (NIV). This is God’s basic rule regarding marriage and sexuality.
- In accordance with the Bible, we stimulate our church youth to date only Christian partners. A boy or a girl who does not know Christ, is not a suitable partner. As the apostle Paul warns: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” (2 Corinthians 6 verses 14-18). Boys and girls should not play around but only date the person they want to marry.
- We also counsel our young people to abstain from sex before marriage. Sexual intercourse is given as enrichment for married couples, not as a toy to play with. “True love waits.”
- The Bible makes it clear that not every Christian is destined to get married. Some receive the same gift as the apostle Paul: to remain single, in order to be even more available for the service of the Lord (1 Corinthians 7 verses 7-8 and 32-35).
- Loneliness is a huge problem. “It is not good for a man / woman to be alone.” However, loose sexual contacts can never be a solution for loneliness.
- The church provides pre-marriage counselling, in order to help couples preparing for marriage “in the Lord”. This takes time. Couples should therefore contact their pastor at least six months before the wedding.
- Traditional marriage is when two families have agreed that two people should marry. Irrespective of lobola been paid or not paid or even in the case when it is not paid in full, we accept the traditional marriage to be legal. However, we stimulate couples to register their marriage with the government and to solemnize it in the church. It is important that the solemnization in the church should not be barred by money because of the fact that people want to make big celebrations. We therefore ask couples not to put all the steps for marriage (lobola, solemnisation in church) too far apart.
- Living together as husband and wife without being legally married is a sin.
- We therefore advise Christian parents not to ask a too high lobola. Families should not prohibit their children to get married but rather help them to live according to God’s commandments. There should be open communication between the couple and their families, especially the future bride with her family.
- Sometimes couples have been living together as husband and wife for many years without being married. We advise them to make their marriage formal, also for the sake of the children.
- We encourage couples to have their marriage blessed within the congregation. It is imperative to make vows before God with the congregation as witness.
- This can only be done, however, if both partners are committed Christians. If one of them is not, we will not solemnize the marriage. Couples should not pressurize the church into their timeframe. It takes time for the pastor to get to know both partners.
- We do not accept the tradition that couples should be married in the bride’s church and then join the church of the bridegroom. Couples should make their own choice and then ask the church of their choice to marry them.
- Marriage partners should both be members of the Free Reformed church. Unity within the family includes being within the same church. The church will solemnize the marriage and afterwards give pastoral care to the new founded family.
- We stimulate couples to lead a Christian life. As a church we counsel them regarding the baptism and education of their children.
- In the case that church members are married to a non-Christian partner, he or she will be included in the care and counselling of the church, since “the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.” (1 Corinthians 7 verse 14 NIV).
- Christians are not allowed to divorce: “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mark 10 verse 9 NIV). The only exception the Lord makes, is adultery (Matthew 5 verse 32 and 19 verse 9). Unfaithfulness breaks the mutual trust in marriage.
- Christians that have been unlawfully divorced, are not allowed to re-marry: “A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7 verses 10-11).
- This policy does not cover all situations. Sometimes we have to accept situations where things have gone wrong and cannot be restored. In every case the church will look for remorse, confession of sin and true repentance.
- “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28 verse 13 NIV).
Mission Team Tshwane