Public Worship and Aids to Devotion Committee Website

Marriage: Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles for the Presbyterian Church of Australia’s Rites of Marriage

1. Purpose of Marriage

Marriage is an institution ordained by God for his glory and the happiness of humanity, in which one man and one woman enter into a bodily and spiritual union, as long as they both shall live. The Presbyterian Church of Australia affirms that binary male-female gender can be observed in the world and in Scripture. Therefore, the Presbyterian Church of Australia asserts that marriage remains a life-long union between one man and one woman for the benefit of them, their children and society.

2. Marriage Partner

Ministers should counsel the couple prior to the marriage about the covenantal nature of this commitment, the responsibilities of family life and the importance of spiritual compatibility.

3. Legality

Ministers who are registered religious celebrants should take due care to fulfil the regulations of the Federal Marriage Act and any relevant civil laws. However, some ministers who are not celebrants under the Marriage Act, may perform a wedding service as a religious rite, and not as the Authorised Celebrant responsible for registering a marriage under the Marriage Act. All weddings or marriages must take place before two or three witnesses, and be carefully documented.

4. Definition of the Rites of the Presbyterian Church

The following three marriage orders, prepared according to Scriptural principles, are approved by the Presbyterian Church of Australia. Presbyterian ministers may vary the wording and sequence of the orders according to Scriptural principles. The Presbyterian Church of Australia considers these orders, original or varied, to constitute their ‘rites of marriage’.

5. Purpose of these Marriage Rites

The Federal Marriage Act (1961) permits ministers of participating denominations to formalise marriages "according to the rites" of their denomination. The following three marriage orders, original or varied, constitute the “Rites of the Presbyterian Church of Australia."