Think about that recent wedding you attended.
Sure, the bride looked happy. The groom seemed ecstatic. The bride’s maid and best man were dressed to impress.
And you sat in your chair and witnessed what exactly? Was it truly a marriage beginning right before your very eyes? Are you so sure?
In light of the pope’s recent changing of canon law to streamline the annulment process, I thought this would be a good topic to bring up.
What constitutes a valid marriage? Is every wedding invitation worthy of your RSVP saying you plan to attend?
IS THAT RECENT WEDDING ABLE TO BE ANNULLED LATER?
Often when converts enter the Catholic Church, they have any of their prior marriages evaluated. The Church wants to be sure that the person entering the Church has a valid marriage.
The questions the Church focuses on center on the wedding day. What exactly was the mentality of each the bride and the groom at that time?
The Church affirms that for a man and a woman to be validly married, they need to vow to three commitments:
1. Did Both the Bride and the Groom Commit to a Lifelong Union?
2. Did Both Parties Vow to an Exclusive Relationship?
3. Did the Bride and the Groom Each Vow to be Open to Life?
As well, neither the bride nor the groom can be forced against their will to be married. Shotgun weddings are not permitted, morally speaking.
If it is learned years later that either the bride or the groom did not meet one or more of these conditions, then the marriage is annulled. This means that the Church declares that no marriage actually took place.
Oh, I realize the state recognized them as married, issuing them a marriage license. I imagine the cake cutting was a funny moment. Their first dance and their honeymoon in Cancun were romantic.
But that doesn’t mean God blessed their union.
WHAT EXACTLY DID THE WEDDED COUPLE VOW TO DO?
What did the bride and the groom vow to do at the recent wedding you attended?
To love each other till the day they die, you say?
Okay, great. But what is love?
It is not merely a feeling.
Love is willing the good of the other person.
Is it willing the best for your spouse to “try out” the marriage for a couple years to see how it goes?
What if either party has no intention to give up porn use, lust, or entry into an adulterous affair? Can they really claim to will the best for their spouse?
Are they planning to contracept? How is that an affirmation of love? Loving everything about one’s spouse, except their fertility?
SO, WHAT DID YOU WITNESS TO AT THE RECENT WEDDING YOU ATTENDED?
Were you a college friend of the groom at the recent wedding you went to? Did he tell you a month before his big wedding day he was just going to divorce her, if it didn’t work out?
Did the groom struggle with lust before the wedding or sleep around? Did he do anything to change those behaviors before tying the knot?
Did you stand up in the wedding party on the bride’s behalf? Did she let it be known to you in the weeks leading up to the wedding she will be on the Birth Control Pill when her marriage begins?
So, let me ask you again. What exactly did you witness to at that recent wedding?
Was it merely to the feelings of love that the bride and the groom had to each other?
You do realize feelings are fickle, right? They flame up and they fade away.
What happens if the bride and the groom no longer feel in love with each other?
When that time comes—and it likely will—is that grounds for ending the marriage?
If you say yes, then what exactly did the bride and the groom vow to? Did they not mean what they said?
ONE NOTE FOR CATHOLICS DISCERNING WHETHER TO ATTEND A WEDDING
I would be remiss if I did not also mention that any Catholic getting married must do so inside the walls of a Catholic Church. This is because of the recognition that this sacrament is an earthly echo of the heavenly covenant between God and His people. The vows are so serious they must be made in front of the altar at the Catholic Church.
A Catholic wanting to get married at a country club, at a Protestant church or elsewhere would need to receive a dispensation from their bishop.
Thus, if you know either the bride or the groom is Catholic, or both, realize they too face this requirement. They may want to have their wedding on a pier on the ocean. But without that dispensation, God will not grant them the sacramental grace. If you show up to that wedding, spiritually they will not be getting married.
Again, what did you witness to at the recent wedding you attended? Did any marriage actually take place?
Or, did they enter as boyfriend and girlfriend and leave as boyfriend and girlfriend?
I think we, as Catholics and as Christians especially, need to be more discerning about what weddings we attend.
What are your thoughts?
Does this give you something to think about in deciding whether to attend any future weddings?
Please share a comment below.