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The Historical Development of the Book of Church Order

Chapter 59 : The Solemnization of Marriage

Paragraph 1 :

59-1. Marriage is a divine institution though not a sacrament, nor peculiar to the Church of Christ. It is proper that every commonwealth, for the good of society, make laws to regulate marriage, which all citizens are bound to obey insofar as they do not transgress the laws of God (Acts 5:29).

[DIGEST: BCO 59-1 was last amended in 2009, with the addition of the final phrase "insofar as they do not transgress..." [M37GA, 37-48, p. 302-303]. From 1973 until 2009, the PCA text differed from the first approved PCUS edition (1894) only in capitalization and punctuation. This series of editions from 1894 to current is distinguished by the opening statement that "Marriage is a divine institution", where the earlier PCUSA 1789 text and the Westminster Directory for Publick Worship (1645) do not have this statement.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
1. PCA 1973, Adopted text, DfW, 13-1
[M1GA, Appendix, p. 160]
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, Proposed text, DfW, 13-1
[p. 74]
Marriage is a divine institution, though not a Sacrament, nor peculiar to the Church of Christ. It is proper that every commonwealth, for the good of society make laws to regulate marriage, which all citizens are bound to obey.

PCUS 1933, DfW, XIII-1
[§363]
Marriage is a divine institution, though not a Sacrament, nor peculiar to the Church of Christ. It is proper that every commonwealth, for the good of society, make laws to regulate marriage, which all citizens are bound to obey.

1. PCUS 1925, DfW, XII-1
[§355]
2. PCUS 1894, DfW, XII-1

Marriage is a divine institution, though not a sacrament, nor peculiar to the church of Christ. It is proper that every commonwealth, for the good of society, make laws to regulate marriage, which all citizens are bound to obey.

PCUS 1885, Third Revision, VIII-1
I. Marriage is of divine institution, yet it is not a sacrament, nor peculiar to the Church of Christ. And as it is of a public nature, and the welfare of society is involved therein, every commonwealth ought to regulate it by statutes not at variance with the laws of God, which enactments all citizens are bound to obey.
Marriage should always be solemnised before a competent number of witnesses, and, ordinarily, on some other day than one of public humiliation or the Sabbath ; and in performing it, the minister should be careful that he transgress neither the laws of the commonwealth nor the laws of God; of which last a brief summary is given in the Confession of Faith, Chapter XXIV.
[Note: the above second paragraph did survive into PCUS 1894, but was moved to a point later in the marriage chapter.]

PCUSA 1789, DfW, XI, Section I.
Marriage is not a sacrament; nor peculiar to the church of Christ. It is proper that every commonwealth,
for the good of society, make laws to regulate marriage; which all citizens are bound to obey.

The Directory for the Publick Worship of God; agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster,... [1645]
The Solemnization of Marriage, paragraph 1
Although marriage be no sacrament, nor peculiar to the church of God, but common to mankind, and of publick interest in every commonwealth; yet, because such as marry are to marry in the Lord, and have special need of instruction, direction, and exhortation, from the word of God, at their entering into such a new condition, and of the blessing of God upon them therein, we judge it expedient that marriage be solemnized by a lawful minister of the word, that he may accordingly counsel them, and pray for a blessing upon them.

OTHER COMPARISONS:
Alexander Henderson, The Government and Order of The Church of Scotland (1641)
Although marriage be no Sacrament, nor part of the Worship of God, yet they conceive that the Matrimonial conjunction of Christians and members of the Church is most conveniently solemnised in the face of the Congregation, with instruction out of God's Word, of the Institution, use, and ends of marriage, and of the duties of married persons, and with blessing by the Minister, and with the prayers of the Church.

UPCNA 1912, Book of Government and Worship, XX-§395
Marriage is a solemn contract between one man and one woman, instituted by God, and sanctioned and acknowledged by the civil law. Marriage is not peculiar to the Church of Christ; yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord, and it is becoming to have the marriage solemnized with a religious service and by an ordained Minister of the Gospel.

RPCES 1973, Directory for Worship, XIV-1
Although we hold that marriage is not a sacrament, and is not peculiar to the Church of Christ, but common to all mankind--yet, because the Scriptures declare that Christians ought to marry only in the Lord, and have special need of instruction, direction, and exhortation from the Word of God, in order that their entering into this new and solemn relationship may be blessed of Him, it is therefore proper that the marriage be solemnized by a duly ordained minister, who shall counsel beforehand with the parties to be married as to the nature of the union and the responsibilities involved.

Orthodox Presbyterian Church, The Book of Church Order, 2011 edition, p. 181.

Suggested Forms for Particular Services.
I. The Solemnization of Marriage.
A. Guiding Principles.
1. Marriage is an institution ordained by God for the honor and happiness of mankind, in which one man and one woman enter into a bodily and spiritual union, so long as both shall live. It is not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity prohibited by the Word of God.

Chapter Index [links are to Paragraph 1 in each chapter]:
FoG..
1
2
3.
4
5.
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
§4
§5
RoD
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
II. Preliminary Principles
§1
§2
§3
§4
§5
§6
§7
§8
DfW
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]

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