Marriage ring is popish

Discussion in 'Church History' started by nwink, Jan 12, 2011.

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  1. nwink

    nwink Puritan Board Sophomore

    The "Millenary Petition" was a list of requests that many (supposedly 1000) Puritans made to King James I (on his way to being crowned king) regarding what they wanted to see changed in the Church of England.

    One of the ceremonies they regarded as popish was...the use of the ring in marriage. I believe this was rejected because of popish superstitions during the ceremony...and because the ring was required for marriage in the prayer book, which was rejected by nonconformists because of the binding of the conscience to man-made commandments.

    I just found that interesting -- has anyone else heard this before? Please note this is in the "Church History" forum. I don't want this to be a debate but simply an interesting piece of historical trivia. But if anyone has any related historical insight/thoughts, please chime in.

    Millenary Petition - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Birth, marriage, and death: ritual ... - Google Books
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
  2. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

  3. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Another example of anachronism. It was probably a kind of anachronism in the Puritan's days, attributing a cultural-custom from the Roman-empire age to a Christian-superstition. But perhaps the criticism had a smidgen of merit, given the ecclesiastic situation.

    But now, who thinks of these rings as "RomanCatholic"? Nobody. Superstitious? Hardly. It is something that simply belongs to our culture.
  4. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    "You may now kiss the bride (or, as my pastor has said, your wife!) No, no, I didn't say kiss her ring!"
  5. MLCOPE2

    MLCOPE2 Puritan Board Junior

    Indeed. :think:
  6. reformedminister

    reformedminister Puritan Board Sophomore

    I used to be a part of a "holiness group" years ago. All jewelry, including wedding bands were forbidden. Wedding bands were taught to be a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.
  7. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    The one thing I have cautioned couples about, when they prepare to marry, is the RPW concerns of the use of rings in the wedding ceremony. That is (and I have seen this happen before), we have no warrant (as I see it) to say "this ring symbolizes thus and so," and therefore that will not be a part of the service. In other words, we still use rings in the service (though there is no requirement to do so), but we do not infuse them with extrabiblical symbolism. :2cents:
  8. EverReforming

    EverReforming Puritan Board Freshman

    My mother was raised in the "holiness group" as well and experienced some criticism from her friends and family back in the early days of my parent's marraige for choosing to wear a wedding band.

    On a side note, I've met some men within the holiness group who won't wear watches or ties either, but that was a bit less consistent than wedding bands and other types of jewelry.
  9. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Could you explain what you mean by extrabibilical symbolism? While I realize you mean symbolism that is not in the Bible, could you explain further your position from a Biblical perspsective? What do you mean when you say symbolism? Is that different from using something to trigger your memory? For example, when I think of my wedding ring, while I do not put any mysterious spiritual meaning to the ring, it does remind me that I have made a commitment to my husband.

    ---------- Post added at 11:33 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:32 AM ----------

    If this is taking this thread in the wrong direction. I'll be happy to move my question to another thread.
  10. TexanRose

    TexanRose Puritan Board Sophomore

    Many of the older men in our church, particularly the ministers and elders, do not wear wedding bands because they consider them to be a Roman Catholic tradition. However, I think most of the younger men wear wedding bands, including at least a few ministers and elders that I know of.

    ---------- Post added at 08:28 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:25 PM ----------

    At weddings in our church, the rings are exchanged in silence without commentary by the minister.
  11. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    My niece is getting married very soon, and I ran into her and her fiance at the mall a couple of weeks ago. They had just purchased his wedding band and picked up her engagement ring from being sized. His comment to me, "It's all I can do to keep from putting this ring on my finger now." Obviously, the idea of the wedding ring doesn't bother him one bit.
  12. Eohric

    Eohric Puritan Board Freshman

    I had read somewhere, likely on wikipedia or perhaps on something more reputable (I think it was an article I found on men wearing wedding rings), that the ring at first during the mediaeval period symbolised the bride-gift made to the bride from the groom, but that it came to stand for the "matter" of the marriage and the associated sacramental status of marriage under Romanism.
  13. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I think these days most people consider the wedding ring simply an indication that they have committed themselves to another person and that others should "keep their hands off". The idea of being anything else probably never crossed their minds.
  14. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Yes, I would say those are two different things, especially because the latter is not coming about in the context of a worship service. There is nothing wrong with having reminders in my estimation; my wife and I also have photos of our wedding on display in our dining room, but there is no extrabiblical religious symbolism being utilized in doing so. The sort of thing I'm talking about (and most of us have been in marriage ceremonies where this has happened) is when the minister says, "This ring is an unbroken circle and symbolizes the never-ending nature of love" or something like that. Since there is no biblical warrant for associating that kind of symbolism with the ring, it would be violation of the RPW, imo.
  15. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    Interesting. I didn't know a wedding ceremony was considered a worship service and hence was regulated by the RPW.
  16. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    My wife and I exchanged rings in our wedding ceremony (which was probably the least unbiblical thing that took place!), but I was an ordinanceman in the Navy and all rings were forbidden for safety reasons. So for four years I never wore a ring. After the Navy, I dug up my ring and found that it had SHRUNK! ;) Needless to say, we haven't really put forth any effort into getting a new one or resizing the old one. So I don't wear one.

    But I have found the sentiments surrounding this man-made tradition to be surprissing. I have had at least one local minister inform me that I was morally obligated to wear a wedding ring, and that the only reason one would't be wearing one was if they were engaged in some marital infidelity. Which made me think of my grandfather, who was of all men most faithful and loving to his wife though he never wore a wedding ring. Of course his reason was that he couldn't afford rings for either of them when they married and he (like me) couldn't wear one on duty in the Navy where he served 24 years.

    So, I'm not so much bothered by those who wear rings as I am by those who insist that there is some impropriety in not wearing one. That's where the rub is for me - binding the conscience of men where God's Word has left it free.
  17. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    It is (or can be) according to the Directory of Worship of the ARP (found here).

  18. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Amen to that. While I do wear a wedding band, in some ways I placed a much more sentimental value on a ring that my wife purchased for me at Christmas during our second year of marriage. There was nothing special about it, other than it had "I am my love's, and my beloved is mine" written in Hebrew on the ring. I enjoyed wearing it (on my ring hand) because she had given it me. But I lost it about a year ago while Grace was in the NICU. I had removed both my rings and placed them in my pocket while going in to hold her one evening. I did not discover I had lost it until the next day. We still never found it. :(

    And there are plenty of times when I do not wear a wedding band, and not because I am attempted to appear to be single. I don't wear one in the shower because I don't want to lose it down the drain. I don't wear it at the gym because it can be damaged by certain equipment. Apparently this ministerial friend of yours has received the unbiblical spiritual gift of being able to read men's hearts.
  19. CovenantalBaptist

    CovenantalBaptist Puritan Board Freshman

    Tim, you might be interested to know that at GPTS in the Reformed Worship course taught by Dr. Pipa, he argues that weddings are not proper worship services and so he believes that the RPW does not apply. He argues that it's more like a festival. If it was an RPW then much of the trappings of modern weddings would have to disappear.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2011
  20. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    That's very interesting, Chris. And the Westminster Directory of Publick Worship, (even though it is a directory for public worship ! -- it also includes things that are not worship, like visitation of the sick) is is referred to as the solemnization of marriage. Yet it still involves elements of worship (e.g, the word and prayer), so it appears (to me) to be a distinction w/o a difference. However, I am not under the WDoPW as a confessional document, but the ARP directory as cited above.

    Another issue would seem to arise from this. If it is not Christian worship, then why have the ceremony in a Christian church? What is Dr. Pipa's view on that, if I may ask w/o getting us too :offtopic:?
  21. CovenantalBaptist

    CovenantalBaptist Puritan Board Freshman

    I can't (nor would I presume) to speak for Dr. Pipa and please confirm with him before quoting me, but, I think if I recall the very interesting class discussion (which admittedly, I don't have a perfect memory of) that he indicated that a worship service would be uniquely tied to the call of ordained elders for Worship on the Lord's Day (the votum). He would never, I think, for example, advocate a wedding service to take place on the Lord's Day. Again, if memory serves there is division on this question in Reformed circles (some Puritans agree with Dr. Pipa but I think, if memory serves, Terry Johnson disagrees vis a vis the original question of does the RPW apply to weddings).

    I may have misunderstood you, but, my own view, biblically, as I think you'd agree, is that the church building is just a building (Acts 19:9) and so the fact that anything takes place on another day does not mean anything per se. As we would also agree, marriage is not a sacrament and so it does not need to take place in a worship service. We accept weddings conducted in civil courts before a Justice of the Peace as valid as I think you would too. So the only reason I could see, confessionally, for making a wedding a worship service is that vows would be exchanged. However, I see no reason for vows before God to be required to take place in a worship service. The terminology in the WCF 21.5 is "religious oaths, and vows" (interestingly not in the LBCF) which would obviously include ordination but no direct mention of wedding vows are made. The difficulty is the comma but the context seems to be entirely focused on religious vows for service in the Church (cf. prohibition on monastic vows which follows).

    One might also argue that many would see wedding vows as being made "in the presence of God" but "to each other" and the WCF/LBCF specifically forbids this (WCF 22.5/LBCF 21.5) reserving vows for God alone (WCF 22.6 "It [a vow] is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone.") Ergo, it may mean that wedding vows are not in view confessionally when it speaks about vows/oaths.

    To me none of this reduces the solemnity nor importance of the wedding ceremony. If anything this view that the RPW doesn't apply to weddings elevates the place and importance of corporate worship on the Lord's Day. Nevertheless, I don't think this changes anything too much as there is no sacred/secular division. All of life is to be done to the Lord (1 Cor. 10:31) ergo a wedding's location does not matter unless there is a sacrament being performed. I would agree that it is more meaningful to take oaths before the presence of God's congregation especially if you expect them to be witness to your life and growth in the body of Christ. I also would say that because a meeting takes place under the authority of God's appointed servant that a certain amount of respect and decorum ought to be shown, but, I don't think this precludes the use of wedding rings or other tasteful decorations in the church but that there is some liberty in this. The challenging thing in all of this is that as far as I can tell Scripture is silent on weddings and their relation to worship. I don't think there's any instruction in the NT on it except as regarding who may be "yoked" and there is very little prescription on it anywhere in Scripture. :2cents:

    OK, so that was a bit off topic. We can discuss this further in PM's if you like.
  22. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Chris, with regard to the use of church buildings, I would agree with what you wrote (in paragraph 2). I simply meant that if it were the case that the marriage is not considered an act of worship, then why the impetus to have it in the church building anyway? It would seem that those who hold to the "non-worship" position would want to discourage the practice from even taking place there because it could be misunderstood, either by the couples or by others (incidentally, the WCoPW does discourage wedding events from taking place on the Lord's Day). In some ways, the location in a church is "better" in the sense that if it is a Christian wedding, taking place in a church setting is a reminder to all that it is God who is joining this couple together. It is similar to the argument that while a funeral service does not have to take place in a church, that is perhaps a better setting than, say, a funeral home chapel, since funeral homes are always/only associated with death, whereas a church is at least associated with the promises of the gospel and eternal life. Along these same lines, I would not want to marry two non-believers (or non-committed Christians even) in a church building because there is a certain association that takes place in the eyes of those attending the service.

    You are correct, though; this is a rabbit trail that has deviated from the OP and probably needs to end here. If someone is interested in discussing this further, perhaps a new thread could be started.
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