December 21, 2008 Q & A

OPC and Renewing Marriage Vows


What is the OPC position on renewing your marriage vows?


The OPC, in so far as I know, does not take a position on renewing one's marriage vows. Here are some thoughts to help you in your thinking:

1. My wife and I renewed our marriage vows on our 25th anniversary a few years ago. We did it to declare to our children, the church, and especially to the Lord that we had not changed from the commitments we had made in 1971. In fact, we meant them more than ever! After 25 years we realized that the Lord had so worked in our lives that we, though knowing much more about each other than when we got married including one another's failures, weaknesses, and faults, remained and had even grown, in our desire to love each other and share our lives as we got older.

2. Think through the reason you want to renew your vows. Is it simply sentiment or emotion, or is there something deeper? Would you be doing it primarily to draw attention to yourselves, or as a testimony of your commitment to Christ and to one another as a means for glorifying God who brought you together in marriage?

If it were to be an excuse to get the family together, to just enjoy some good things, that would be, to me, a questionable reason for having a ceremony of renewing your vows. If, however, you see a true spiritual purpose in it, and you aim to honor a faithful God, then it could be appropriate. Remember that God warns us about taking vows that we do not mean (Ecclesiastes 5:2, Matthew 12:34-37)

3. It can be an occasion to examine one's marriage, to see ways in which things have gone well, and ways in which it hasn't been so good. If people just do renewal ceremonies which do not actually strengthen their marriages, then the point has been missed.

If you originally used the traditional wedding vows, have you kept them? Have you in fact cherished one another, for example? If you wrote your own vows, as some people have done, what was good and what was bad about them then? Would you do the same thing today?

How does being older now change your commitment to one another? Could you reflect on the teaching of Ephesians 5:25ff. about marriage and ask God for grace to make your marriage like that pictured by Paul as reflecting the love of Jesus Christ for the church?

4. Finally, I would talk to your pastor about your desire to renew your vows. If it would be a "redo" of your original wedding, then you would want to discuss these things with him and seek to make it more than just a sentimental time, but a time and act which honors God (1 Corinthians 10:31).



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