Ask any group of pastors about weddings and you will hear groans, stories, and assertions that one would rather preside at ten funerals than at one wedding. Ministers complain that they feel like functionaries and question whether they ought to serve as agents of the state. Furthermore, issues surrounding the rights and privileges of marriage and the longevity of these unions are constantly in the news. Where is the church in the midst of the clamor?
I will seek to construct a practical theology of Christian marriage for the church in North America. I plan to visit twelve sites around the United States to talk with pastors and other officiants in rural, urban, and suburban areas about the challenges they face, the trends they notice, and the questions with which they wrestle. Informed by current sociological analyses of marriage and civil unions, the history of Christian marriage rites, and important Protestant and Roman Catholic theologies of marriage, I will suggest that the church re-think its involvement in weddings and offer a distinctively Christian understanding of marriage that is rooted in baptismal vocation and is eschatological in nature.