David Blankenhorn, in a column in 1997 (and anthologized in a book my class is reading — Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying (The Ethics of Everyday Life) ), discusses the potential symbolic value of marriage vows. He speaks of two changes in marriage vows today:
1. Modern vows routinely omit or downplay a pledge of permanence in marriage.
2. Modern vows are composed by the couple.
What do you think of these two changes? Do you think either of them matters? Do you think they embody a theory or a theology or a view of marriage? How do they matter (if they do)? I’m wondering what pastors are seeing? Marriage planners? Pre-marriage counselors?
Here is what Blankenhorn thinks:
The traditional view handed on to a couple an existing vow and it implied a view of marriage. The more typical form today is to compose the vow, make it personal, and create their own view of marriage as a result.
“In one view, the vow is prior to the couple. … In the new view, the couple is prior to the promise.”
“A reality in which the marriage is larger than the couple is replaced by a reality in which the couple is larger than the marriage.”