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Religious Concerns Regarding Marriage in the Church

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image of Journal of Empirical Theology

The purity of the motives of those who make a request to the rituals of the church in connection with birth, marriage, and death is frequently questioned in the pastoral-theological literature concerned with these 'hinge moments'. In a study done in The Netherlands among people who had their marriages solemnized in a church (697 were polled by means of a questionnaire and 16 were interviewed) we pursued the question as to whether this assumption of purity of motive could be empirically established. The results of this study were placed in the perspective of attribution theory. The most important conclusions are that the beginning of a marriage still has a common religious significance for many and that the content of this significance can be summarized as follows: God acts as the creator or protector of the marriage, God is present as a witness at the solemnization of the marriage, and that God and particularly Jesus are the source of the values and norms which shape the marriage. For the pastorate this signifies that people can indeed begin from common religious motives but that the specific Christian significance of the marriage still needs clarification.


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