Chapter 22 » 22.33
Marriage and steadfast commitment
See also chapter 16 Quaker marriage procedure
Marriage is a context for a relationship, not a guarantee of its quality. The choice of a partner and the decision to marry are crucial, and meetings may be able to help in the process of discernment and the counselling of couples.
In marriage a private relationship becomes public, and thereby receives legitimacy, practical support and blessing from social institutions and the worshipping group. Above all, marriage gives at present the most accepted framework for the raising of children in a secure environment.
The institution of marriage is sometimes questioned, but a life-long loving relationship, whether within that framework or not, is nonetheless a cherished ideal. We have to acknowledge that the social climate and our attitudes towards marriage have undergone profound changes in the course of the twentieth century. Close relationships other than marriage have become common and their value increasingly recognised. There is a greater openness about the strains of marriage, and the pain of separation and divorce is now common in our Society.
Whilst believing that marriage is different and special, we recognise the value of other relationships and the single state. Those who choose to marry make a conscious choice that this is the right framework for their commitment.
Much of what earlier generations of Friends have thought and written about ‘marriage and the Quaker home’ can be applied more widely. The wisdom and experience of earlier Friends are valued even when their language and concepts are perceived as exclusive by today’s standards.