The consistory announces that _____ and _____ have indicated their intention to enter into the married state, according to the ordinance of God. They desire to begin this holy state in the name of the Lord and to complete it to his glory. If no lawful objection is brought forward, the ceremony will take place, the Lord willing, on…
_____ and _____ , since the consistory has duly made known to the congregation your desire to enter into the married state, and no lawful objection has been presented, we may now proceed to the solemnization of your marriage in the name of the Lord.
Let us first listen to a summary of what the Word of God teaches us about marriage. We find there that marriage is an institution of God which pleases him, and must therefore be held in honour among all.1 After God our Father made heaven and earth, he created man in his own image.2 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen 2:18-24). We therefore believe that the LORD also today gives husband and wife to one another. Since they are united by his hand, nothing shall separate them in this life.
Also, our Lord Jesus Christ honoured marriage when he revealed his glory at the marriage feast at Cana.3 He teaches us that marriage is an institution of God and should not be broken, when he says, What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. (Mt 19:6).
Since God has made marriage such a strong bond, he hates divorce,4 as also our Lord Jesus Christ shows in these words: And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery (Mt 19:9).
As the Lord forbids immorality each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband (1 Cor 7:2), so that our bodies may be preserved as temples of the Holy Spirit and we may glorify God in our bodies.5
The apostle Paul teaches us that the unity of husband and wife in marriage is a profound mystery, reflecting the relationship between Christ and his church. As Christ is the Head of the church, so the husband is the head of his wife. Christ loved his church to the end, and gave himself up for her, that she might be holy and without blemish; likewise the husband shall love his wife as his own body, take care of her, and cherish her. As the church is subject to Christ, so the wife shall be subject in everything to her husband, respect him, and entrust herself to his loving care,6 following the example of godly women who trusted in God and were subject to their husbands.7
Husband and wife shall assist each other in all good things, heartily forgiving one another their sins and shortcomings. United in love, they will more and more reflect in their marriage the unity of Christ and his church.
Although it is true, as the apostle says, that those who marry will face trouble in this state8 and because of sin will experience many difficulties and afflictions, yet they may also believe the promise of God that they, as heirs of the grace of life, will always receive his aid and protection, even when they least expect it.
The Word of God also teaches us about the purpose of marriage.
First, husband and wife shall live together in sincere love and holiness, helping each other faithfully in all things that belong to this life and to the life to come.
Second, by marriage the human race is to be continued and increased,9 and, under the blessing of God, husband and wife will be fruitful and increase in number. If it pleases God to give them children, they shall nurture these children in the true knowledge and fear of the Lord.10
(The minister shall ask them to rise.)
Bridegroom and bride, hear from the Word of God what the Lord requires of you in marriage.
Bridegroom, know that God has set you to be the head of your wife. You shall love her as your own body, as Christ loved his church and gave himself up for her. Guide, protect, and comfort your wife. Live with her wisely and honour her, because she is an heir to eternal life together with you; then your prayers will not be hindered.11 Work faithfully in your daily calling, that you may support your family and also help those in need.12
Bride, you shall love your husband and be subject to him, as the church is subject to Christ. Accept his guidance and assist him in all good things. Take proper care of your family and household, and live modestly, in faith, love, and holiness.
Assist each other always and be faithful to each other. Diligently fulfil the calling which the Lord has given you in the church and in this world. Believe God's sure promise, Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labour of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you (Psalm 128:1, 2).
_____ and _____ , you have now heard what the Lord requires of you and what he has promised you. May our gracious God give you the strength and the faithfulness to live together as husband and wife in this manner and may your help be in the name of the LORD who made heaven and earth.13
(Minister: Will you now join right hands?)
(To the bridegroom:)
_____ , do you declare here before the Lord and these witnesses that you take as your lawful wife _____ , here present? Do you promise to love and guide her faithfully, to care for her, and to live with her in holiness, according to the holy gospel? Do you also promise never to forsake her, but to be true to her always, in good days and bad, in riches and poverty, in health and sickness, for as long as you both shall live?
What is your answer?
Answer: I do.
(To the bride:)
_____ , do you declare here before the Lord and these witnesses that you take as your lawful husband _____ , here present? Do you promise to love and obey him, to assist him, and to live with him in holiness, according to the holy gospel? Do you also promise never to forsake him, but to be true to him always, in good days and bad, in riches and poverty, in health and sickness, for as long as you both shall live?
What is your answer?
Answer: I do.
(Minister:) I now pronounce you husband and wife. The Father of all mercies, who by his grace called you to this holy state of marriage, bind you together in true love and faithfulness, and grant you his blessing. Amen.
Bridegroom and bride, since we cannot expect anything from ourselves, you shall kneel before the Lord and we shall pray with you and for you that he may enable you to fulfil your vows and grant you his blessing.
Almighty and heavenly Father, you have said from the beginning that man should not be alone. We thank and praise you that you have given this brother and sister to each other in marriage, that they may be one.
We pray that you will grant them your Holy Spirit that they may live together according to your will in true faith. Help them to resist the power of sin, and to live in holiness before you. Lift up your countenance upon them, and guide them in prosperity and adversity by your fatherly hand. Grant them your blessing according to the covenant promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If it should please you to give them children, confirm your covenant to them and to their seed; and grant that they may nurture these children in the fear of the Lord, to the glory of your name, and to the edification of the church.
Let them live in communion with your Son Jesus Christ, in the harmony of true love, and to the benefit of their neighbour. Cause them to look forward with all the church to the great day of the marriage feast of the Lamb.
Hear us, merciful Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, who with you and the Holy Spirit, the only true God, lives and reigns for ever, Amen.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Brother and sister _____ , our Lord God bless you richly and grant you a long and holy life together in all godliness, love, and unity. Amen.