By Wahome Thuku via FB
OFFICIATING a Christian Marriage in Kenya is a matter of Law and Faith. The law in this case is the Marriages Act of 2014 and Faith is the belief and doctrines of the particular Christian denomination.
Under the Law a church minister is just one of the many Marriage Officers appointed by the Registrar of Marriages to officiate Marriages.
You must differentiate between a Christian Marriage and a Christian Wedding. A marriage is what the law regulates while a wedding is the show-biz that accompanies a marriage. You can actually go through Christian Marriage fully complying with the law, without having a wedding (cakes, cards, suits..gowns, flower girls and stuff).
For a Christian Marriage to be lawful, it must comply with all procedures set out in the Act and they are quite a number. For example, only two witnesses are required, who must not be under 18 and must have the mental capacity to comprehend what is happening. So the crowd of 1000 that you always invite to your wedding is just for the show.
You can actually conduct your Christian Marriage on a Sunday morning – only 5 people (the couple, the witnesses and the pastor) so long as it’s held at the gazetted place of celebrating the marriage – which is the pastor’s church or the proclaimed venue. The marriage must therefore be proclaimed at the registered place of worship to enable any member of public to raise an objection if any.
Under Section 52 of the Marriages Act, a church minister (or rather a minister of faith) is required to apply to the Registrar of Marriages for License to become an appointed Marriage Officer.
According to Section 52(4) a person appointed as a marriage officer can only officiate at marriages celebrated according to the traditions of the faith in which the minister of faith serves.
In other words a Christian Pastor cannot officiate an Islamic Marriage
The Registrar can cancel the license issued to your pastor but he must give reasons for doing so.
AFTER a Church Minister has been licensed as Marriage Officer the question of his/her religious beliefs and doctrines kick in.
You can’t compel him/ her to officiate a marriage which in his own belief conflicts his faith even if it complies with the law.
The same way you can’t compel him to baptize you even if you have repented. Same way you can’t force an MPesa Agent to serve you just because he has been authorized by Safaricom your mobile subscriber. And neither can you claim that the Pastor is obstructing your love or your marriage. Officiating your marriage is a matter of cultivated relationship between you and your pastor. It’s his discretion. Actually you should pay him. You are free to look for any other Christian Marriage Officer to officiate your marriage. In fact you can pay one as long as he is licensed.
In my PCEA church, the Pastor (Marriage Officer) can’t officiate your marriage if you are not a full member of the church even if you have complied with all the provisions of the Marriage Act. When being commissioned to become a full member, you are always asked question by the Minister, which reads like this, “do you accept and will you respect all the doctrines of this church (denomination)?” No one forces you to say yes. If at any point you feel you can’t cope, you are free to go elsewhere any many have actually left.
SO to sum up, a Christian Marriage is very simple. It can cost you less than 5k and comply fully with the law. It’s the Christian Weddings that breaks the camel’s back. If you can go through the Christian Marriage and avoid the “Christian Weddings” you will be good to go.