A Fresh Start

Can divorced people remarry in a church?

The Church of England teaches that marriage is for life.  We also recognise that some marriages sadly do fail and if this should happen, we seek to be available for all involved.  The Church accepts that, in exceptional circumstances, a divorced person may marry again in church during the lifetime of a former spouse.

Can we discuss this with our parish priest?

If you are thinking of about asking to be married in a church, you and your intended spouse should discuss this with your parish priest.  This will need to be well before choosing a date for your wedding.  Your priest may also feel the need to consult with the bishop or his adviser, before making a decision, although the decision remains with the parish priest. This process could easily take some time, and you should discuss how long it might take with your parish priest at your initial meeting.

A frank, honest and truthful discussion

Your parish priest will want to talk to you frankly about the past, your hopes for the future and your understanding of marriage. You and your intended spouse should therefore be prepared to consider some questions. You are advised to reflect beforehand on the issues they raise – and should be prepared to answer them honestly.

  •  What does marriage mean to you?
  •  What have you learned from your previous marriage?
  •  Has there been healing of past hurts?
  •  If you have children, how are they being looked after?
  •  What does marriage mean to you?
  •  What have you learned from your previous marriage?
  •  Has there been healing of past hurts?
  •  If you have children, how are they being looked after?

Marriage is for life

Jesus clearly believes that marriage is for life.  However, he does note that in the Old Testament, there is an understanding that human nature is weak.  And that divorce was a provision for this weakness.

Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.

 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ ‘What did Moses command you?’ he replied.  They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.’  ‘It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,’ Jesus replied.  ‘But at the beginning of creation God “made them male and female”.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,  and the two will become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’

Mark 10:1-9

The Marriage bond can be broken

Although forgiveness and reconciliation are core values of the Christian faith, Jesus does believe there are exceptional circumstances when the marriage bond can be broken.  The very sad experience of martial unfaithfulness is one of these circumstances.

I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.’

Matthew 19: 9

Another circumstance

Another such circumstance is when a partner leaves.

And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.  For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.   But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.

1 Corinthians 7: 13-15

The God of second chances

Jesus clearly believes in second chances.

The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’

Mark 1:15

It will involve trusting God and one another for forgiveness and love.  It may involve a determination to live differently in the future and to learn new habits.

God’s resources

Marriage is wonderful but it is also challenging, especially if we have been hurt by the past experiences or we have walked down wrong pathways and developed inappropriate habits.  We need God’s resources for healing, wholeness and health.  Regular Church involvement can help us get in touch with these resources.

A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:39

A Final Word

If it is not possible for your proposed marriage to take place within a church, we can consider other alternatives together.  We are committed both to lifelong marriage, and to taking seriously your wish to marry in church. You may be certain that your application will be received and considered with dignity, care and loving concern. Whether or not you proceed to marriage in church, your priest and your local church are available to offer you guidance and support as you proceed on life’s journey.

Step One…

Come along a wedding drop-in, first Thursday of the month, 7:30 pm, St Peter’s Hall, Main, Heysham giving the following details: names, addresses, email, telephone, & mobile numbers, and written legal proof that any divorce decree is absolute.  A decree nisi will not be sufficient.

Irene Charlton heyhsampja@gmail.com

Step Two

Book an interview with your parish priest

The Rev’d Andrew Osborn

The Rectory, Main St, Heysham, Morecambe, LA3 2RN, 07933394839, 01524 851013