Friday, July 27, 2007!

I've recently learned that the Catholic church does not recognize two Catholics as married unless they were married in the church by a priest. They may have been married in a civil ceremony or even in another church by another minister, but they will not recognize Catholics married in this way at all. Their marriages simply don't exist.

So, as I've come to learn this, I began to wonder if Coptic churches shared the same rules. Realizing that they are two totally separate churches, I also realize that they do have a few things in common. So, I asked my cousin (a Coptic Christian married to Mr. Free's Pentecostal cousin) if this was the case and, sure nuff, it is.

She also told me that, since she was divorced from her first husband, she is no longer able to sit in the first several pews of church, nor is she able to partake in some of the activities that go on during the service (I think she said communion, but she told me this a long time ago and I'll have to double check the details) because she is now hellbound according to them.


I'm not sure about Coptics, but any Catholics married outside of church can have their marriages convalidated by having a second ceremony in church and officiated by a priest. Unless and until they do, their marriages are not valid and they are seen as living in sin. Now, I don't mean to pass judgment or anything, but I can't help but to think of how wild this is. To me, this is a classic example of a church adding to the word of Yahweh. For nowhere in scripture does it say that a ceremony is even required, much less does it say where one must take place and that any man (priest or otherwise) must preside over a ceremony in order for it to be valid.

To their credit, however, they don't seem to put all of the emphasis on the existence of marriage on a contract like other churches do (except the Quakers and Amish, who we'll get to later).

Until I was about 12 years old, I was raised in the Catholic church. Went to Catholic school, mass, took communion...the whole nine. However, as I was thinking about this last night...and I'll have to verify this with my mother...I began to think about my own parent's marriage. I don't think they were married in a church. If I'm recalling correctly, I was told they were married in a civil ceremony while my father was in the service. If this is the case, then I'm actually a bastard (according to the Catholic church of which I am no longer a member) since my civilly married parents were just living in sin according to the church. At 40 years old, I'm just now figuring this out, lol.

Seriously, I don't mean to make light of this, but I just cannot understand how mankind has taken something so basic and pure, and managed to turn it into something so complicated and tainted. Marriage has been totally taken out of its purest realm and man has placed so many stipulations and false conditions on it until it's no longer even recognizable in its original form.



NOTE: To any Catholics or Coptic Christians reading this: I don't mean to bash...I just don't understand, nor do I agree. If you can explain this to me, using scripture, please feel free to comment or email me at


Timothy said...

Greetings! Saw your post in Google Blogsearch.

First, whenever something occurs in both the Roman and Coptic churches, that's usually an indication that it is something from the very early Church and generally of Apostolic origin.

Second, much of Christian worship and liturgy came into the Church from our Jewish roots. Wedding ceremonies were already an established part of Jewish religious life. One of the earliest mentions in scripture occurs in Genesis 24:65 when Rebekkah covers herself. If you were Jewish you would immediately recognize the significance of this verse as it describes part of a Jewish wedding ceremony.

We later find Jesus present at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-12). Note that Jesus was silent and did not speak out against the ceremony of the time. Jesus normally pointed out errors and not correct practices.

Finally, in Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus re-establishes the Davidic office of Eliakim (Isaiah 22:22ff) and gives His authority to Peter and Peter's successors. Christ also gives the authority to bind and unbind. So, the Church has the authority given by Christ to bind (marry) and unbind (annul).

While I can't speak for others like the Coptics, I do know that Western Catholic doctrine is found 100% in scripture, either explicitly or implicitly. The Catholic Church is very grounded in scripture. Now some folk's personal interpretations of scripture may vary from the Church, but that's another matter entirely.

God bless...

FreeIndeed said...

Hi Timothy and thanks for stopping by.

Let me begin by saying that I'm not against wedding ceremonies. I think they're beautiful customs and a great public testimony of love and commitment for all to witness. I don't, however, believe that the ceremony is what makes two people married. I also don't think they're mandatory or even necessary in order for two people to be married. They are, however, a nice "option" that I don't begrudge anyone for exercising.

That said, on to your reply...

You stated that wedding ceremonies were part of Jewish religious life and to support this you used Genesis 24:65 which gives an account of Rebekah covering herself when she met Isaac. Yes, scripture does tell us that Rebekah covered herself with a vail (sic) and I don't doubt that this practice was later adopted as part of marriage ceremonies. However, scripture does not present Rebekah's action in any sort of ceremonial context. Rather, it appears to have been a gesture of modesty (as some bible commentators have stated). Reading a few verses later, scripture does go on to tell of how Rebekah actually became Isaac's wife though. Check this out:

(Gen. 24:67) And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

It clearly states that she became his wife in the privacy of his mother's tent. No priest, no vows, no church, no ceremony...just a man and a woman alone in a tent, "and she became his wife".

You also mentioned a wedding in Cana and that Yahushua (I call Him by His Hebrew name) didn't speak out against the ceremony. Could it be because there wasn't one? The King James Version (from which many more modern versions are translated) doesn't refer to this as a "wedding" at all, but rather as a "marriage". Strong's concordance relays the usage of this word in John 2, to mean a wedding or marriage festival, a wedding banquet or a wedding feast. A feast or some sort of celebration sounds about right, since our Master did change water to wine during the festivities. Seeing, also, that there aren't any examples of actual wedding ceremonies in the bible, but there are examples of marriages (and how 2 become married as in Isaac and Rebekah's case), I'm not convinced that this was an actual wedding ceremony, but instead was the celebration of a marriage (similar to a wedding reception of today). I'm told that these wedding feasts were grand affairs that could sometimes go on for weeks, depending upon the wealth of the families involved. Again, not ceremonies, but big shin digs, lol.

As for Matthew 16:18-19, I'll look into this further, but the understanding that I have as of this moment is not that Yahushua is giving Peter authority over marriage, but is giving him authority to dictate what is lawful or unlawful for the future Church. We can't exactly apply this to marriage either, because the lawfulness and unlawfulness of this was already established way back at the beginning. Genesis 2:24 shows us that it was Yahweh who joined man and woman together in the first marriage. In Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9, Yahushua repeats that the Father is the One who does the joining and that man is not to ever separate the two afterwards. In fact, when asked, specifically, about divorce (which was allowed at that time), Yahushua specifically said that Moses (not Yahweh) allowed divorce because of their hardened hearts, but that from the beginning that was not the plan of Yahweh. In order for Yahushua to have given authority to Peter and his successors to join and unjoin men and women in marriage, He would have first had to take that authority away from Yahweh (which He did not) with whom the power and authority has always rested! Clearly, it's Yahweh who has authority over the joining in marriage, not man. So, this could not at all have been Yahushua's intention in the binding and loosening statement as, if you put all of His other statements about marriage together, it simply doesn't add up that he'd then change from what "Yahweh has joined together, let no man put asunder" to "what Peter joins together, let Peter then have the authority to put asunder". His word is always consistent with all of His teachings and never contradictory and marriage was already a clearly established institution of Yahweh.

I truly do appreciate your reply and, while I'm sure we share different viewpoints on the topic, I have checked your blog out and will again. I also hope that you'll visit here again, too.



Timothy said...

Greetings! Ran across your post again.

>"No priest, no vows, no church, no ceremony..."

Correct. God had not established the Jewish church, or first covenant, at this point in time. No Genesis, no Torah, no synagogues, no Aaronic priesthood, etc.

Also, I failed to mention one important aspect of the Catholic sacrament of marriage. The sacrament is administered by the husband to the wife and the wife to the husband. Priests don't marry anyone. The priest is an official witness to the sacrament.

We actually are in agreement on the nature of the sacrament in that it is a three way relationship between the man, the woman and God. Thus, as the NT and Catholic Church both teach, divorce is not possible.

Your original statement was: " For nowhere in scripture does it say that a ceremony is even required, much less does it say where one must take place and that any man (priest or otherwise) must preside over a ceremony in order for it to be valid." That is what I addressed.

You rightly noted Matthew 16:18-19 is about "giving him authority to dictate what is lawful or unlawful for the future Church." Thus, the Church has the authority to establish canon laws, including laws regarding marriage.

So, nothing is being added to the word of Yaweh, the Church is acting with the authority given to it and in accordance with scripture.

I find it a blessing that when watching a Jewish wedding and seeing the bride covered, we are able to recognize Genesis 24:65 and appreciate an ancient Biblical custom still being practiced. Likewise, when attending a Catholic wedding and watching as wine and water are transformed into the blood of Christ - the finest of wines, we are able to recognize John 2:1-12 and appreciate an ancient Biblical act still being practiced.

God bless...

FreeIndeed said...

Hi, again, Timothy and welcome back! :)

Ahhh, I see...the priest is a witness to the ceremony. I like that. It makes a slight difference in my viewpoint and is great to know!

Now, could you help me understand why convalidation is necessary? I mean, if a ceremony takes place elsewhere and before other witnesses (even one authorized by the State), why doesn't the Catholic church accept this?

Also, what about non-Catholics who have marriage ceremonies elsewhere? Or, who don't have a marriage ceremony, but have witnesses to the fact that they are husband and wife? Does the church not recognize any of these marriages either? If two convert to Catholicism, must they convalidate too? Or, what if one spouse converts and the other doesn't (and s/he refuses to partake of a second ceremony), is the one who converted not recognized by the church as married? Would they then be considered to be living in sin?

Finally, in a 3 way relationship (which we agree is btwn. Yahweh, man and woman), why is a ceremony and witness even a necessity? Again, I am not against ceremonies, I just don't believe they are what makes two people married. I also am not against witnesses and I do understand, scripturally, the need for witnesses (as in 2 Cor. 13:1 and Matt. 18:16), I just don't understand why the witnessing must take place at a ceremony, in a church and only certain people (i.e. a priest) are qualified as witnesses according to the Catholic Church. Scripture doesn't stipulates this, so I imagine your answer may refer back to the authority given of Peter in Matt. 16 again, but...and I don't mean to offend you, Timothy...but it sounds as though the church believes it can impose rules and regulations on its congregation despite whatever the bible states to the contrary. I don't believe that was Yahushua's intention when He gave Peter authority. At the risk of repeating myself, the bible gives no additional rules on 2 being married outside of them leaving father and mother and becoming one. Seems like the ceremony, witnesses, legalities and recognition are all "extras" that man has added on his own. Peter was led by the Holy Spirit, but did Peter make these rules or did his successors. And are we sure they were led by the Holy Spirit in doing so? I'm also curious to know when these additional rules regarding marriage ceremonies went into affect. Again, no disrespect, but corruption is nothing new to the church (incl. other denominations), which is why I'm leery of mankind imposing religious rules which aren't in the bible.

Interesting note that before the days of State licenses in the United States, witnessing a marriage was handled a little differently. A man and a woman both consented to live in a marital state (which didn't necessarily involve a ceremony) and then proceeded to either post a written notice of their union in a public place or they went about verbally identifying themselves as the other's husband or wife in their daily activities. This was completely acceptable, socially. Either of these options was also acceptable legal witness to the fact that they were, in fact, a married couple should they ever need to provide legal proof of their union.

Overall, I'm looking into the whole Peter/authority thing a little more closely now. In Pentecostal churches, I was taught that binding and loosening is of a Spiritual nature and not, at all, what you and I have discussed with regard to laws. Another friend, whose scriptural wisdom I trust (and is neither Pentecostal, nor Catholic), believes the same thing...that the scripture is speaking of demons, etc. I'm truly going to pray for wisdom and study that particular scripture in Matthew to make sure I clearly understand, though. I thank you very much for bringing it up, Timothy. I also know I've bombarded you with questions, but since you're the only Catholic who has attempted to explain this to me, I have no one else to question, lol. I truly appreciate you taking the time, though.

Shalom In Him,


Mary said...

Okay, I know this is an old post, but I thought that I'd throw my two cents in here since I am a returning Catholic and am getting my marriage convalidated on the 5th of January. My priest was very forthcoming with me on the subject, as I felt it was a little unfair myself.
But first let me address one issue that you brought up with Timothy. You asked if the church recognizes marriages between two non-catholics. The answer is YES! Convalidation comes into the mix when a CATHOLIC, who was baptized in the church and had already accepted the churches canon, deliberately does not include the Catholic church in the service. A catholic can be married outside the church, but they need dispensation, which is almost always granted. But when the church isn't even considered a part of the equation, a catholic should know better. This is where convalidation comes in.
The only part of the mass that a Catholic married outside of the church without dispensation cannot participate in is communion. The reason for this is that with Catholics, when you take communion, you commune with the Father, his son and the entire Catholic church. Communing with the church means that you are in agreement with your catholic brothers and sisters, that you obey the laws and canons of the church. Obviously this isn't so if you ignored one of the holy sacraments and didn't even bother to talk to a priest about it.
The other part is that you and I both had the misconception that the church considers you to be living in sin. This is false. The church recognizes the marriage, it is the catholic sacrament that they don't recognize. If you want to take communion in the Catholic Church, you have to be up on her rules. This doesn't mean that catholics think you are going to hell, or living in sin. This issue is really about your relationship with the church more than it is with God.
I hope this cleared some things up.

FreeIndeed said...

Mary, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and understanding.

You said, "If you want to take communion in the Catholic Church, you have to be up on her rules. This doesn't mean that catholics think you are going to hell, or living in sin. This issue is really about your relationship with the church more than it is with God.
I hope this cleared some things up."

Yes, your post did clear much up. I don't mean any disrespect, but I am truly saddened that the issue is "really about your relationship with the church more than it is with God". Mary, (for Christians) marriage and, especially, communion are all about our relationship with Him. That the church, any church, has come to position themselves as authority over either, is a true shame.

Concerning communion, Messiah (in Luke 22:19) told us to do this in remembrance of Him. What would He say if He were to show up in the flesh one Sunday and find people were being refused the opportunity of doing this in remembrance of Him because they didn't obey the extra, man-made, unscriptural rules of the organized church concerning all the "extra", man-made, unscriptural stuff they teach about marriage? I seriously doubt, He'd be too pleased with this.

Even though we obviously disagree, I am pleased to meet you and thankful that you've taken the time to offer a thoughtful reply. I hope you'll come back again soon, Mary! :)

In Him,


Mary said...

Hello again,

I agree that Catholics and other Christians disagree on certain issues, and I in no way consider myself an expert on the Catholic church or even the Bible, though I've read it. I'm continually learning as I go here. People interpret things differently.

From my understanding the Catholics believe that the Church itself is part of God's works. Dating all the way back to the first Pope, John, the Church is a branch of the holy teachings. Popes become popes and priests become priests through divine providence. Though I cannot myself point to the specific parts of the bible this very minute, catholics point at many different passages that connect Christ to the church. Specifically the church being part of Christ, and another that refers to the church being the bride of Christ. The church, to Catholics, is specifically the Catholic church. Thus the rules and canons that come from the church must be strictly adhered to.

I think it is important to keep in mind that though you may disagree with Catholic interpretation, they generally have a long standing reason behind all of their canons and sacraments. Remember, they've been interpreting the bible a lot longer than anyone else.

I'm not saying they are right or wrong, but I don't think that you can simply open up the bible and say that they are wrong out of hand. To be fair, you should be having this discussion with a Priest. Someone who has full knowledge of the why and wherefore of the church.

There is one thing, that I have noted in my search for spiritual enlightenment. I've been to Baptist churches, Episcopal churches, Christian Community and Seventh Day Adventist Churches. I have never heard Catholics challenge the Christianity of other Christians.

"Mary, (for Christians) marriage and, especially, communion are all about our relationship with Him. "

These kinds of comments always seem to be hovering on the lips of so called "true Christians." That takes some amount of hutzpah. I have news for you, a Christian is someone who accepts Christ as their personal savior. To have my classification as a Christian challenged is extremely insulting.

That being said, I'm glad that you have a strong relationship with him. Everyone should. To know and love Christ is simply an amazing feeling and it lets you truly appreciate the gift he gave us all. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I'm sorry for coming down so hard but my feelings got hurt a little.

Have a safe and blessed New Year.

FreeIndeed said...

Mary, my statement:

"Mary, (for Christians) marriage and, especially, communion are all about our relationship with Him."

was in no way a question of your Christianity. I have never done that and would never do that to another believer. My statement was to clarify what marriage is to Christians in contrast to what it may be to atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. I'd originally written it without the Christian distinction, but when I read it I didn't agree that marriage was going to necessarily mean the same thing to people who weren't Christians. For some, Elohim has nothing to do with marriage and my statement was being careful in clarifying that I was speaking specifically to our perspective.

If you spend any amount of time with my other entries and comments, I think you'll find that I don't make personal attacks against anyone. Not my style and never will be.

I hope this explanation makes you feel better.



Mary said...


I was hoping you would say something like that. Fellow Christians fighting is definitely not the way God wants things. The subject is a sore one with me because some of my Baptist friends don't consider Catholics Christians. We'll be in the middle of a conversation with someone and they'll ask what church I go to, and I'll say, "I go to St. Mary's, I'm Catholic." Then there is some silence before someone says something along the lines of "well, I'm a Christian."

After that I get a little heated and then they back down but still don't look at me as a fellow believer. Now they just try to avoid the subject when I'm in the room. Other Catholics have related tales of similar treatment. When I saw the "for Christians" addendum, I was instantly feeling another slight. I'm sorry I rushed to conclusions about your intent. I wasn't thinking about your audience as a whole.

Is it obvious I don't write in blogs much?


FreeIndeed said...

I'm sorry I rushed to conclusions about your intent.


Not a problem. I was born and raised a Catholic for most of my childhood, so I understand.

I appreciate your comments and they're always welcome here. I hope that you'll visit again and often.

Take Very Good Care,