There has been arguments concerning whether it is a religious ceremony or a civic ceremony that takes place. Naturally, there are those on both sides of the fence who choose to bemoan the others opinion, and I doubt that it will be satisfactory to either in any discussion.
Naturally, those of us on the religious side go back to God’s provision of a wife for Adam, and naturally see marriage as a “sacred” act that should be “till death do us part”. Those on the civic side will note that the “license” comes from the government in one form or another, and therefore, it is a “legal” contract. However, the majority of that group wants some type of “religious” attachment performed when the marriage takes place.
To keep everyone “happy”, there has been a compromise on both sides of the aisle. With that, we see how the legal aspect and the religious aspect find something of “mutuality”. In the counseling prior to the wedding, both aspects are covered. The legal aspect has to be met by defining who can or cannot perform a marriage in a state, and in many cases, the preacher has to register with the state. Personally, I have made it known what I would be saying in the ceremony, and they can agree with that concept being addressed during the ceremony, or they may choose to have another to conduct the service.
I might mention that in all the years I have been performing marriages, partners have always agreed to call me in the event there is the need of counsel. I have never had one couple call me, although I know that they have parted company. Another thing is that I have never had a judge call me and ask for input before he granted a divorce.
I have mentioned previously how the marriage relationship is addressed in Ephesians 5. It gives us the criteria of a relationship that will remain healthy if it is practiced throughout the marriage. I suggest that these qualities should begin even prior to the marriage, because they are the very qualities that Christ demonstrated in His relationship to the church. They are: Loved – He Gave Himself for – Sanctified – Cleansed – Washed – Presented Himself – Preserves Her. In every aspect there should be the demonstrating of these characteristics to each other. You have seen here previously: Reaction is basically negative. Response is basically positive. We give! We give! We give again!