Marriage - a statement from the ACC
Marriage - A Statement from the Assembly of Confessing Congregations (within the Uniting Church in Australia)
Marriage is not an exclusively Christian concept. As a human experience between a man and a woman it is witnessed in all countries, and in all faiths. Nevertheless, there are many features that are common throughout time and culture. Here we speak of Christian marriage which is understood as "a gift of God and a means of grace. In the life-long union of marriage we can know the joy of God, in whose image we are made, male and female. ... Husband and wife, in giving themselves to each other in love, reflect the love of Christ for his Church." ... (‘Declaration of Purpose', Marriage Order of Service, The Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia, Sydney, 2005)
This Christian understanding of marriage has several features. These are:
1. Marriage is a central part of God's wonderful creation
Jesus pointed to the foundation of marriage as being in God's creation of humankind: male and female in his own image (Genesis 1:27, Matthew 19:3-5). As part of God's creation, marriage was provided then and now for mutual comfort, love and support. It also provides the fundamental basis for society and good order.
2. Marriage is between a man and a woman
In the most basic sense of our being (ontology) a man and a woman provide the only complementary basis for a marriage. Simply put, a woman and a man are made to fit together, and by their union are bonded together and can receive the blessing of children born from their mutual sexual love.
3. Marriage is a public acknowledgement of the love and commitment of a woman and a man to each other
Marriage involves a public ceremony. The couple's mutual decision to marry each other leads to the two being joined together with and before God and witnessed by family and friends. There is a public acknowledgement of the relationship.
4. Marriage is meant to be life-long
This life-long covenant is a gift from God, whose love is unending. God has eternally covenanted himself to the people called into a relationship with him, and married couples are called to model that love and life-giving forgiveness (Hosea, Ephesians 5).
5. Marriage is monogamous
Sexual love in marriage is a glorious and holy gift. It is not meant to be devalued by casualness before a marriage, or adultery after the bonds are created. Sexual love strengthens and unites the covenant union of the couple as they express the full complementarity of their man-woman relationship (Genesis 2:23-25, 1 Corinthians 7:3-5).
6. Marriage involves an openness to children
Children are a blessing from God, and families provide the basis of our society. As God provides for his children, parents provide for their children and should model the strength, love, generosity and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:9-12). Marriage enables children to live and grow up together with their mother and father in a secure covenant family.
In all, the marriage of a man and a woman, together with the family it enables, is a holy expression of the image and glory of God. In the marriage of a man and a woman the Old Testament sees a reflection of the covenant relationship between God and his people, and the New Testament sees the splendour of the union of Christ and his Church.
Approved at the ACC National Council meeting 16 May 2011