Why renew your marriage vows if you weren’t separated or divorced?

28 Apr

Here‘s a ‘feel-good’ story about an Edmonton, Alberta couple married 70 years.

That’s wonderful! Good news, indeed. (Or maybe not really ‘news’, but good ‘olds’, I suppose.)

But I don’t get why the desire to renew your vows; seems to me like the original ones were kept very well!

You don’t renew your baptism; you don’t renew your profession of faith / confirmation / whatever it’s called…

Why should a marriage covenant that hasn’t been broken be renewed?


Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Canada, good news, religion


17 responses to “Why renew your marriage vows if you weren’t separated or divorced?

  1. ballista74

    April 28, 2014 at 12:54 am

    I guess what happens is people want to recapture the moments in their lives…it’s like a rededication in religious circles.

  2. Will S.

    April 28, 2014 at 12:58 am

    Yeah but the rededication thing, rightly or wrongly, tends to be done in response to a sense that there was a need for it based on a falling away / going astray for a time, which seems a lot more legit to me than any sort of sentimentality-based thing like this, if I may be cruelly blunt.

    I’m not surprised that a liberal mainline Prot church like the United Church of Canada does this, but I do know it also happens in some evangelical churches as well; they oughta know better.

  3. ballista74

    April 28, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Well, it’s hard telling what people think. I always saw rededications as a sentimentality thing too. My thought is if you repent you repent and you don’t need to blow the trumpets as it were. There’s a purpose of declaring your intent towards Christ in the community, and I can see someone wanting to do that, but I never much understood the idea of rededications or even worse rebaptisms.

  4. Will S.

    April 28, 2014 at 1:21 am

    I agree completely. And I think that renewing unbroken marriage vows makes even less sense…

  5. superslaviswife

    April 28, 2014 at 4:27 am

    Jesus got baptized to clean himself of sins he didn’t have. Why not renew your vows to celebrate how well you lived by the previous ones? Or renew them in case you ever hurt your partner? Or renew them to better match your wiser, older self?

  6. Will S.

    April 28, 2014 at 6:20 am

    That’s true that Christ did so, but surely He did so to show us what we are to do, primarily.

    Renewing in case you’d severely hurt your partner – say, cheated upon them – is one thing; but if you’ve not had any rocky relations in your marriage of that kind, I see no reason for it.

  7. superslaviswife

    April 28, 2014 at 6:51 am

    It used to be that baptism was only to cleanse sins, though. Now Christians are baptized at birth, although many believe they’re automatically saved. It’s symbolic.
    I like to think a ‘clean’ renewal is also symbolic. You accept your imperfections and reiterate what you said years ago. You stand by your marriage. In a world where so many let marriages fall apart over pettiness, stay together through tribulations and resent each other for it, believe love is the foundation for marriage or don’t understand the value of renewal in a rockier relationship, to be together and still be able to say you stand by your marriage is a rare thing and should be used to set an example.

    It’s hard to explain, as evidenced by the long response. The short form is, they’re actively showing the world what marriage should be.

  8. Will S.

    April 28, 2014 at 6:57 am

    Well, baptism of children in Reformed churches – my kind – is because of covenantal theology; derived from the understanding of this verse: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.” (Acts 2:39) It isn’t taken as regenerative in its effects.

    I see what you’re saying, and such are noble sentiments, for sure. I’m just uncomfortable with the idea of a re-do; my concern is it cheapens the original, lowers its value, outside of cases where the marriage covenant was broken by infidelity.

  9. Anonymous age 72

    April 28, 2014 at 10:33 am

    What can I say? …wife has said it all and very well. And, you still didn’t get it. Part of the problem is you are probably relatively young and simply can’t look back over 70 years of anything. People do get more emotional as they age, and things have different meanings to them.

    Being both married for nearly 38 years, and part of the Don’t Get Married Crew on the Web for quite a few years, I probably woudn’t do it. But, it is a nice thing for those who want to do it.

    I was baptized as a Cathoiic many years ago. I have since changed to Protestant. Some people have told me I MUST be baptized again, because the Catholic one wasn’t good. Bovine fecal material. If a church tells me I can’t go if I am not re-baptized by their preference of mumbo-jumbo, fine with me. I hit the bricks. They want money from me; I am not asking them for money.

    But for a happily married couple to have a ceremonial re-enatctment of their wedding vows, sure if it makes them happy. That is all it is. A ceremonial re-enactment with no functional value. We humans at times like a certain amount of ceremony. Some humans don’t get it. All is well.

  10. Will S.

    April 28, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Maybe that’s it, but actually, I think I’m becoming more curmudgeonly as I get older myself. 🙂

    I understand about people getting more sentimental with age, but that doesn’t validate re-performing a church ceremony that is only meant to be done once. Marriage is a covenant, or a sacrament, depending on which Christian tradition one is from, and the ceremony is meant to be done once only. It’s not merely a ceremony; it’s a holy union. And it’s not like the Lord’s Supper; it’s like baptism.

    No, you don’t need to be re-baptized; Catholic baptisms, like Protestant ones, are Trinitarian, and thus generally recognized – except of course by those who believe only in believers’ baptism, and not in infant baptism.

  11. Escalona

    April 29, 2014 at 5:17 am

    You may be interested to know – for at least 60 years (perhaps much longer) Catholics in at least some regions have practiced the renewal of marriage vows at the 25th and 50th anniversaries, in masses that are similar to the wedding masses. For at least a few hundred years, Catholics have also practiced the renewal of the baptismal promises, at certain solemn moments. One form of those very ancient promises: “Dost thou renounce Satan? and all his works? and all his pomps?” There is also the old practice of the general confession, which differs from the ordinary sacrament of confession only in that the penitent confesses all the sins of his life, including those previously confessed and absolved.

    In all these cases, we understand the renewal to be quite different from the original action, which can’t be repeated, but still a confirmation of it, a declaration of fidelity to the original action which should strengthen our resolve.

  12. Escalona

    April 29, 2014 at 5:41 am

    It seems to me that a renewal of marriage vows is not much different from saying another time “I love you.” Perhaps what has been professed once and kept intact does not need to be professed again, but it is still quite human to do so, and it seems to only strengthen the first profession. And hasn’t God many times renewed His promises to us, even though it is we who have broken our promises and not He?

  13. Will S.

    April 29, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Hi Escalona, welcome to Patriactionary.

    Indeed, I didn’t know that; thanks for sharing that information! I’m Protestant, from Canada; I grew up in the denomination that this couple are from, have since left it for evangelicalism first, and later, still now, the Reformed faith.

    Good point about God renewing His promises to us, certainly.

  14. Escalona

    April 29, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Thank you for your welcome. I’ve been reading for some months now. I enjoy your linkfests as well as your own commentary. I saw the Archdiocese of Washington on the blogroll – that’s the place I grew up myself. Msgr. Pope does a good job on that blog. Do you live in the States now then?

  15. Will S.

    April 29, 2014 at 8:36 am

    No, though I did live in the U.S. a decade and a half ago.

    I’m Canadian, but the other three bloggers here are American. 🙂

  16. Will S.

    April 29, 2014 at 8:38 am

    I often like Msgr. Pope’s commentaries, too; I’ve highlighted several of them in linkfests, here, though I admit it’s been a while since I’ve visited the site.


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