Sacrament vs Civil

There are two ways to get married: traditionally, through the Church, or civilly, through the courts, a ceremony legally performed by a judge or Justice of the Peace. Both ceremonies hold much in common:

  1. Both require valid legal documents, a marriage license (required prior to the ceremony; conferred by the state in which the couple will marry) and a marriage certificate (proof of marriage filed by the officiant, a copy of which is sent to the couple after the ceremony).
  2. Both require that the couple be of an appropriate age (usually 18).
  3. Both require that neither person is currently married to someone else (what I affectionately call the “DUH” clause).
  4. Both require that each have the mental capacity to enter a contract.
  5. The parties cannot be blood relatives (though interestingly some states do allow first cousins to marry when they are past the age when children can be conceived….

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About the Author

Beth Davis

Beth has ministered to teens and those who love them for many years. After earning both her BS and MS degrees from Indiana University, she worked as a high school English teacher and later as the first youth minister in her home parish, St. Mary in Hudson, Ohio. There, she helped launch Life Teen, now in its 23rd year at St. Mary. Eventually, she traveled all over the country training youth ministers in the Life Teen model for youth ministry and still serves on their national Board of Directors. She is currently the Director of Campus Ministry at Notre Dame – Cathedral Latin School in Chardon, Ohio. She and her husband Deacon Kent have four grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and, as of April, one grandchild.