While many may choose to renew their wedding vows, it begs the question of whether this ceremony is any more binding than the first one. This week's clergy shed spiritual light on a practice that is becoming more common.
Rabbi Yitzchak Goldshmid, Chabad Outreach Center/Congregation Beth Sholom, Valley Stream:
The vow we take when we get married, according to Jewish law, does not involve just two people. If it just involved the two personalities, maybe you could say you would renew it, but this vow is between the two people and God, who is endless. The vow is as strong on the last day as it is on the first day you took it.
In your heart, you should be recommitting to that vow every day. Think of it as investing in your marriage every day. You should remember that you are committed and every day do things that enhance the marriage. Ask yourself, "What did I do to make that person happy today?" "Did I think about not just what I like, but what the other person likes?"
There are two sides to the marriage commitment: the beginning and the foundation. You must remember what that commitment comes with and that this is my wife, my one and only wife. Once you have God with you, there is no need to renew your vows. The bond that God creates is strong. It is up to each of us to make that vow, that bond, applicable to our everyday lives.
When I officiate at a Jewish wedding, it starts with a blessing to bring God in as a partner. The commitment is not just to each other. They are committed to God, and God is committed to help this marriage. God is an active partner in the marriage.
Pastor Jason Jasper, Discover Church, Kings Park:
I don't know that there is a biblical mandate about the practice of renewing vows. Once the marriage covenant is made, it is meant for life. When I marry couples, I always tell them there is nothing easier than saying the words. Living out those words day to day is what is important.
You really have to personally renew your vows day to day. At the same time, it is potentially a great practice for people who have slipped away from those initial vows to renew them, or even if you just want to continue to strengthen your vows, it is good to renew them.
One of the things Satan attacks on a daily basis is marriage, so renewing one's vows can be a great thing. I would advise someone who is planning to do so to be sure to make it first and foremost about you and your spouse and your commitment to each other. As it is with weddings, it is too easy to let other things get blown out of proportion and take away from the true purpose of the ceremony.
Father Roy Tvrdik, SMM, director, Shrine of Our Lady of the Island, Manorville:
We do vow renewals all the time as part of our marriage encounter retreat weekends. Although there are no particular scriptures that say you should or shouldn't renew your vows, it is a tradition in the church to do so. We actually have a separate marriage renewal/anniversary Mass. Every year, the bishop has a big celebration in the cathedral. It is for those married 25, 50, 60 years. The priest takes them through their vows and offers a special blessing.
I will be doing a pilgrimage to the Holy Land starting Dec. 7. One of the places we visit is Cana of Galilee, where Jesus attended the wedding and turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). When we go there, we invite the married couples to renew their vows. It is a very moving experience. Although not a requirement, it is an emotional and spiritual renewal.
We also have a marriage encounter enrichment day at the shrine Aug. 23. We have them about three times a year. We encourage people to move away from taking the other person for granted.