Ethos Education

William and Kate’s Wedding: How does a wedding service reflect Christian values and beliefs about marriage?

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Learning Objectives:

  • Understand Christian beliefs about the roles, commitments and responsibilities of husbands and wives.
  • Awareness of how Christian marriage ceremonies reflect Christian belief and teaching about marriage.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will reflect on their recollections of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.
  • Analyse the text of the wedding service for the Royal Wedding to determine what values and beliefs about marriage are reflected in it.
  • Analyse Bible passages to determine a Christian understanding of the relationship between a married couple.
  • Compare the values revealed in the Bible passage with those suggested by the wedding ceremony.
  • Analyse the Bishop of London’s sermon and reflect upon the idea that marriage might help to reveal spiritual mysteries.
  • Synthesise learning by writing a summary of Christian perspectives on love and marriage, in the style of either Romans 12:1-2 and 9-18, or 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.
  • Synthesise learning by writing alternative wedding vows and summarizing the values that inspired them.

STARTER:

Ask the students to brainstorm the most memorable or striking things about the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Write suggestions on the board as they are made.

Once your groups have produced a reasonable set of observations (or they seem to have run out of steam), ask them to help you categorise their suggestions. Which ones took place outside of the Westminster Abbey, and which occurred inside? Of those that happened in Westminster Abbey, which were part of the wedding ceremony itself, and which were more informal?

Explain that in today’s lesson you are going to be using the Royal Wedding to help you find out more about the Christian concept of marriage, and thinking about how Christian wedding ceremonies (such as William and Kate’s) reflect Christian beliefs.

MAIN ACTIVITIES:

Give out photocopies of the Order of Service for the Royal Wedding. You might prefer just to copy some pages, omitting irrelevant material). You can view and print the Order of Service at:

https://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/RWOP_V2.pdf

A DVD of the wedding is available, if you prefer to actually show the relevant parts of the service. Click here to buy the DVD online.

Draw the students’ attention to pages 9-11 of the Order of Service. Working in small groups, ask the students to make a list of the principles of Christian marriage that are stated or implied in the rubric of the wedding service on these pages. Give them time to work through the service, then ask the groups to feed their answers back to the whole class.

Ask the students to read Genesis 2:19-25. Working in pairs or small groups, ask them to make a list of Christian principles about marriage that are underpinned by these verses.

Some possible answers:

  • Marriage provides a depth of companionship that is hard to find elsewhere (verse 20).
  • The marriage bond is a deeply intimate one (verses 23, 24, 25).
  • Marriage is an exclusive bond that surpasses other existing family relationships (verse 24).

Take feedback from the students and allow some time for discussion. How do their findings from the Bible passage compare with the ones from the wedding service? Which principles did they find in both exercises? Of those principles which were only apparent from one of the sources, do they seem to contradict or to fit well with the principles from the other source. Do the students think that these two sources provide a good broad summary of the values that underpin Christian marriage.

You could ask the students whether they like the picture of marriage that these sources suggest.

Students may also be interested in the text of the Bishop of London’s sermon at William and Kate’s wedding. You can find the sermon text at:

http://royalweddings.hellomagazine.com/prince-william-and-kate-middleton/20110429662/royal-wedding-sermon-bishop-of-london-richard-john-carew-chartres/

Give copies to the students and ask them to read through it. Is there anything in the sermon that surprised them, or which they found thought-provoking? Give them time to comment and think about any parts of the sermon that particularly struck them, then draw out the idea that one of the purposes of marriage is to ‘offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life’. To what extent have the students ever considered marriage in those terms? How do they think that marriage can help people to understand more of God? You may like to refer the students to Ephesians 5:21-33, with particular reference to verse 32 as they think about that question.

SUMMARY AND ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING:

On page 12 of the Order of Service, you can find the Bible reading from Romans 12:1-2 and 9-18, which was read by Kate Middleton’s brother, James. Give out photocopies of that passage and ask the students to write notes on it, summarising what it teaches about Christian love and how this particularly applies in the Christian understanding of the responsibilities of people who are married. Alternatively, you could ask the students to do a similar exercise using 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – a passage that is often chosen as a reading at weddings (although, like the Romans passage here, it is not primarily about romantic love).

Another option for an assessment activity would be to ask the students to write some new wedding vows, adding a short explanatory paragraph for each to unpack the values which underpin those vows.

YOU WILL NEED:

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