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Congratulations!!! We consider it an honor and privilege to share in this significant chapter of your lives as you approach your wedding day and begin your marriage. We take seriously our commitment to you, before God, to provide strong support as you give yourselves to a lifetime together. Couples to be married by one of our Pastors are expected to:  Meet the Marital Guidelines (below)  Complete the Bride and Groom Questionnaires  Complete the PREPARE Relational Assessment  Complete the Premarital Course Administrated by a Marriage Mentor couple or Staff Member  Consult with Officiating Pastor and the Assigned Wedding Coordinator Prior to Ceremony  Commit to Meet with a Marriage Mentor Couple Monthly for Two Years Following the Ceremony

Marital Guidelines . . . Because we seek God’s glory and the welfare of His children, no pastor at MAC will participate in a couple’s wedding unless the following criteria are met. Because circumstances can vary, we reserve the right to amend these guidelines on a case-by-case basis.  Both partners must be either believers or non-believers. – We will not knowingly marry a couple that is “unequally yoked”. – 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

 The couple must commit to sexual purity and, if necessary, address issues concerning cohabitation. – We will not knowingly marry a couple that is engaged in deliberate sin. – 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

 If either partner has been previously divorced, the dissolution(s) must have been for Biblically acceptable reasons – read Remarriage Guidelines on pages 6-11. – We will not knowingly marry a couple that has chosen to break a marriage vow. – Matthew 5:21-31

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Key Scriptures Regarding Marriage . . . 18

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

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Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23

The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."

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For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. – Genesis 2:18-24

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Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. 16

"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith. – Malachi 2:15-16

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Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." – 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

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Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

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Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. – Ephesians 5:21-33

All Scripture quotes from The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

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Wedding and Marriage Preparation . . .  The officiating pastor must not be scheduled during their assigned preaching weekend.  Travel expenses must be provided for the officiating pastor and any support staff if the ceremony is outside a 30-mile radius of MAC. Expenses may include food, lodging and travel if an overnight stay is necessary.  Select a first and second choice for officiating ministers (Bride and Groom Questionnaires) as the MAC Board has limited the number of weddings each of our pastors may officiate each year. Considering the time it takes to prepare each couple the pastors are unable to do an unlimited number of weddings. If you request a pastor from another church and desire to use the MAC campus the pastor must be approved by the leadership of MAC.  Premarital coaching will require a minimum of 6 meetings with an appointed Marriage Mentor couple or Pastor of MAC. We also request that each couple commit to meeting at least monthly for two years following the wedding with a Marriage Mentor approved or assigned by MAC.  All wedding rehearsals and ceremonies conducted by a MAC pastor and/or at MAC must be supervised by a MAC appointed Wedding Coordinator.

Preparation Timeline . . . The following timeline will assist you in your marriage preparation and expectations of the pre-marital process. 4-6 months before wedding – 4 months before wedding –

Request Wedding Policy Packet; complete and return Bride and Groom Questionnaires. Meet with staff member to verify compliance with Marital Guidelines and review Bride and Groom Questionnaires.

4 months before wedding – Complete PREPARE Premarital Inventory Assessment. 1-4 months before wedding –

Commit to a minimum of 6 premarital meetings with Marriage Mentor Couple or Life Coach Staff Member.

1 month before wedding – Meet with Wedding Coordinator. 1 week before wedding – Meet with Wedding Coordinator and/or Pastor – 60 to 90 minutes 2 years after wedding – Meet periodically with an approved Marriage Mentor.

Financial Arrangements . . . Wedding Policy

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Special thank-you gifts for wedding attendants and other wedding participants should be given before the ceremony to ensure your wedding day will incur fewer, last minute details. Individuals with important skills and expertise that are likely to be involved in your wedding ceremony should also be taken into account when determining your wedding budget. Honorariums for each individual are appropriate and appreciated with generosity being the rule. Below is a list of individuals and their role in your wedding ceremony. • Audio Technician(s) – operate the audio equipment, CD or live music during the ceremony. • Video Technician – operate the lighting and visual equipment, such as PowerPoint or a video. • Musician’s Fees – discuss the musicians’ fees with them after the music has been chosen. • Janitorial – cleaning and readiness of facility for weekend services. • Wedding Coordinator • Minister A list of names can be provided to help you personalize your appreciation for their help in your ceremony. Please present the individualized gifts to your Wedding Coordinator during the rehearsal to minimize your duties on the day of your ceremony. Your Wedding Coordinator will be responsible for distributing the gifts to each member of the support staff.

Facility Usage . . . MAC Worship Center – Seating Capacity, 750 MAC Chapel – Seating Capacity, 100 Preference is given to MAC ministries previous scheduled. Sunday ceremonies may not be conducted in either the MAC Worship Center or the MAC Chapel. Decorating for a Friday ceremony may begin Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. Decorating for a Saturday ceremony may begin Friday evening or Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m.

Remarriage Guidelines . . . Wedding Policy

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Remarriage has proven to present significant challenges for couples experiencing death of a spouse or divorce in previous marriage relationships. We will examine a couple using the following guidelines before MAC seriously considers remarrying a Bride and/or Groom that has been previously married. •

Allow 2-3 years following death of a spouse or divorce before seriously dating or 1 year for every 5-7 years of marriage.

Allow 1-2 years of courtship before the date of the wedding.

Serious, intentional efforts of reconciliation must be attempted, including the involvement of the church, if necessary. One or both parties will be encouraged to be reconciled to God and previous spouses.

In the case of divorce, the Bride and/or Groom must complete a minimum of one DivorceCare course (13 weeks – class available several times during the year). Areas discussed during the course include:

Relationship readiness: living in the present than the past, fewer periods of depression, problem-solving attitude, identification of personal weaknesses.

Dating readiness: feelings toward previous spouse(s), honorable attempts at reconciliation, finalization of divorce, potential parenting issues.

Sexuality: code of ethics, attitude toward sex, addressing character issues of both individuals.

Most important relationship: build and strengthen relationship with Jesus Christ.

In the case of the death of a spouse, the widow must complete a minimum of one GriefShare course (13 weeks – class available several times during the year). Areas discussed during the course include: •

Dealing with the hurt: the death of hopes and dreams, loneliness is your only companion, friends who leave you behind, financial challenges.

Moving forward: taking risks, fear and faith, a new ‘normal’.

Adjusting to your new reality: you aren’t betraying your spouse, discover your new identity and responsibilities, accepting singleness.

Relationships: friendships will change, setting priorities and boundaries, making new friends, dating and remarriage, emotional vulnerability.

Other areas of consideration to be addressed prior to remarriage: •

Emotional issues of children, parenting plans and implementation of custodial care.

Meaningful, intentional involvement in a local Bible-believing church community.

Demonstrated understanding of challenges of stepfamily development and identity.

Completion and discussion of book, “Looking Before You Leap…Again”, by Jeff and Judi Parziale.

Remarriage Guidelines (continued) . . . Scripture is very clear about God’s plan for the permanence of marriage (Matthew 19; Mark 10). God’s heart breaks when divorce occurs. God hates divorce for what it does to people and for what it does to the glory of His own covenant with the church. Nevertheless, we are painfully aware that divorce can and does occur under various circumstances. Wedding Policy

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The topic of divorce and remarriage has been a personal, difficult, and much-debated issue throughout the history of the church, but we believe that we are all called to live according to our understanding of the will of God as expressed in Scripture. The church, as a spiritual family with commitment to honoring Christ and showing earnest love for each other, should be ready to minister forgiveness, healing, reproof, correction, and restoration whenever appropriate. Those commitments are the basis for the following guidelines given to reflect our understanding regarding questions of divorce and remarriage. 1) Divorce . . . should always be considered as the last option. Because God hates divorce and can do miracles when people persevere, our goal is to encourage believers to persevere in the resolution of marital difficulties and strife regardless of the cause or issues. No one should initiate a divorce unless their partner is guilty of repeatedly breaking the marriage covenant, is unrepentant, and/or unwilling to submit to local church authority. Nonetheless, there are certain circumstances under which Scripture outlines permissible grounds for divorce as noted below: •

When a spouse is involved in ongoing, unrepentant marital unfaithfulness (Matthew 19:9).

When a spouse deserts or divorces their partner thus evidencing a disregard for God’s desire for permanency in marriage and will not be reconciled (Genesis 2:23-24; 1 Corinthians 7:15).

When a spouse is unwilling to fulfill essential marriage covenant commitments such as food, clothing, and/or conjugal love, which we understand to include the endangerment of the spouse or children (Exodus 21:7-11). While not explicitly stated, we believe abusive situations are covered by the Scripture cited because physical and emotional abuses are extreme forms of neglecting material support and physical affection. Again, one time or even repeated offenses should not be considered grounds for divorce unless the offending party is unrepentant and unwilling to submit to church authority. If the offending party is repentant and willing to truly submit to the direction of his spiritual leaders, a course of reconciliation and restoration should be pursued. While divorce may be permitted in the circumstances above, Scripture does not command divorce for believers.

2) Reconciliation . . . The process of reconciliation includes genuine repentance and forgiveness. Reconciliation is the highest, practical witness of divine grace and forgiveness. No sin or offence should be considered unforgiveable and irreconcilable. Couples should be encouraged and in most cases required to seek reconciliation through repentance and forgiveness before entertaining the thoughts of divorce. Genuine repentance would be characterized by: •

A willingness to submit to authority outside of oneself to receive direction and necessary steps toward real change,

A true sorrow over sins committed and a desire to turn away from those sins,

A yielding to God and His Word regarding the recognition, assessment, and confession of any sins committed, and,

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A desire to be reconciled with the person against whom the sins were committed and those who may have been affected (children in most cases).

It is important to note that often the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Repentance is often the result of a process of moving toward God and His Word. Assessing whether a person is moving toward true Godly repentance or is simply dealing with worldly sorrow requires discernment and much prayer. A complete cessation of a particular sin or the lack thereof, while the goal, cannot be the benchmark of true repentance. As Jesus indicated, a brother may sin against a brother seven times in the same day and truly repent. The repeated repentance may be an indicator that no change has truly occurred but it can also mean that a true battle over the flesh is in place. While forgiveness may be granted once, the move toward reconciliation is a process that may take some time as healing takes place and trust rebuilt. A committee for reconciliation should follow-up in order to encourage and accompany the reconciled couple in this journey towards healing and reconciliation. 3) Remarriage . . . While remarriage should never be entered into lightly, we feel that Scripture outlines certain grounds for remarriage as set forth below: •

Death breaks the marriage bond so remarriage is permissible without question for a believing widow or widower (Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39).

If the previous marriage and divorce occurred prior to a saving belief in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

If the previous marriage ended in divorce due to the reasons noted above describing divorce.

The marriage of the spouse who initiated the divorce may be viewed as severing the former marriage so that the unmarried spouse whose behavior did not biblically justify being divorced, may be free to remarry a believer (Matthew 19:9).

Before a remarriage occurs, the following steps should be taken: •

Serious efforts should be made at reconciliation, including the involvement of the church, if necessary. Both parties must be encouraged to be reconciled to God and to their spouses (1 Corinthians 7:11).

An assessment should be made as to whether sufficient steps have been taken to ensure there has been healing from any destructive behaviors or attitudes and confession and repentance from any wrongs that may have contributed to the divorce.

4) General . . . The following guidelines should also be taken into consideration in matters involving divorce and remarriage: •

Couples who present themselves for remarriage by a MAC pastor or who wish to be married at MAC should meet the criteria set forth in these guidelines.

However, if a MAC pastor is asked to remarry a couple who do not meet these criteria, the

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following steps should be taken: 1.

The pastor and the couple should examine together all the relevant scriptures dealing with divorce and remarriage,

2.

If, after prayerful consideration of these things, both the couple and the pastor involved believe that they can go forward without violating their conscience before God, they should seek the counsel of designated MAC leadership. If after receiving such counsel there is still a feeling that an exception is warranted, the pastor involved should meet with designated MAC leadership for discussion of the specific basis for the exception.

3.

Every effort should be made to try to discern the probability of success in the new marriage.

4.

Careful consideration should be given to whether or not the couple are walking with Christ and seeking to serve Him.

5) Premarital Counseling . . . If a couple decides to proceed with their plans for marriage while not in compliance with the premarital guidelines of MAC, premarital counseling will continue to be offered to the couple with the objective to maintain a loving relationship with the couple to help lead them to a more committed life with Christ.

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10 Things to Know Before You Remarry . . . by Ron L. Deal, LMFT, LPC

The following list represents key challenges every single-parent (or those dating a single-parent) should know before deciding to remarry. Open wide both your eyes now and you—and your children—will be grateful later. 1) Wait 2-3 years following divorce or the death of your spouse before seriously dating. No, I’m not kidding. Most people need a few years to fully heal from a ending of a previous relationship. Moving into new relationships short-circuits the healing process, so do yourself a favor and grieve the pain, don’t run from it. In addition, your children will need at least this much time to heal and find stability in their visitation schedule. Slow down. 2) Date two years before deciding to marry; then date their children before the wedding. Dating two years gives you time to really get to know one another. Too many relationships are formed on the rebound when both persons lack godly discernment about their fit with a new person. Give yourself plenty of time to get to know them thoroughly. Keep in mind—and this is very important—that dating is inconsistent with remarried life. Even if everything feels right, dramatic psychological and emotional shifts often take place for children, parents, and stepparents right after the wedding. What seems like smooth sailing can become a rocky storm in a hurry. Don’t be fooled into thinking you won’t experience difficulties. As one parent said, "Falling in love is not enough when it comes to remarriage; there’s just more required than that."When you do become serious about marriage, date with the intention of deepening the stepparent-stepchild relationships. Young children can attach themselves to a future stepparent rather quickly so make sure you’re serious before spending lots of time together. Older children will need more time (research suggests that the best time to remarry is before a child’s 10 th birthday or after his/her 16th; couples who marry between those years collide with the teens developmental needs). 3) Know how to cook a stepfamily. Most people think the way to cook a stepfamily is with a blender ("blended family"), microwave, pressure cooker, or food processor. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of these "cooking styles" attempt to combine the family ingredients in a rapid fashion. Unfortunately, resentment and frustration are the only results. The way to cook a stepfamily is with a crock-pot. Once thrown into the pot, it will take time and low-heat to bring ingredients together, requiring that adults step into a new marriage with determination and patience. The average stepfamily takes 5-7 years to combine; some take longer. There are no quick recipes, only dedicated journeyman. (Read more about how to cook a stepfamily here.) 4) Realize that the "honeymoon" comes at the end of the journey for remarried couples, not the beginning. Ingredients thrown into a crock-pot that have not had sufficient time to cook don’t taste good—and might make you sick. Couples need to understand that the rewards of stepfamily life (e.g., security, family identity, and gratitude for one another) come at the end of the journey. Just as the Israelites traveled a long time before entering the Promise Land, so will it be for your stepfamily. 5) Think about the kids: "Yours and Mine" Children experience numerous losses before entering a stepfamily. In fact, your remarriage is another. It sabotages their fantasy that mom and dad can reconcile, or that a deceased parent will always hold their place in the home. Seriously consider your children’s losses before deciding to remarry. If waiting till your children leave home before you remarry is not an option, work to be sensitive to your child’s loss issues. Don’t rush them and don’t take their grief away. 6) Manage and be sensitive to loyalties. Even in the best of circumstances children feel torn between their biological parents and likely feel that enjoying your dating partner will please you but betray their other parent. Don’t force children to make choices (an "emotional tug-of-war") and examine the binds they feel. Give them your permission to love and respect new people in the other home and let them warm up to your new spouse in their own time. Wedding Policy

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7) Don’t expect your partner (new spouse) to feel the same about your children as you do. It’s a good fantasy, but stepparents won’t experience or care for your children to the same degree as you do. This is not to say that stepparents and stepchildren can’t have close bonds, they can. But it won’t be the same. When looking at your daughter, you will see a sixteen-year-old who brought you mud pies when they were four and showered you with hugs each night after work. Your spouse will see a self-centered brat who won’t abide by the house rules. Expect to have different opinions and to disagree on parenting decisions. 8) Realize that remarriage has unique barriers. Are you more committed to your children or your marriage? If you aren’t willing to risk losing your child to the other home, for example, don’t make the commitment of marriage. Making a covenant does not mean neglecting your kids, but it does mean that they are taught which relationship is your ultimate priority. A marriage that is not the priority will be mediocre at best.Another unique barrier involves the ghost of marriage past. Individuals can be haunted by the negative experiences of previous relationships and not even recognize how it is impacting the new marriage. Work to not interpret the present in light of the past, or you might be destined to repeat it. 9) Parent as a team; get your plan ready. No single challenge is more predictive of stepfamily success than the ability of the couple to parent as a team. Stepparents must find their role, know their limits in authority, and borrow power from the biological parent in order to contribute to parental leadership. Biological parents must keep alive their role as primary disciplinarian and nurturer while supporting the stepparent’s developing role (read this series of articles for more on step-parenting). Managing these roles will not be easy; get a plan and stick together. 10) Know what to tell the kids. Tell them: •

It’s okay to be confused about the new people in your life.

It’s okay to be sad about our divorce (or parent’s death).

You need to find someone safe to talk to about all this.

You don’t have to love my new spouse, but you do need to treat them with the same respect you would give a coach or teacher at school.

You don’t have to take sides. When you feel caught in the middle between our home and your other home, please tell me and we’ll stop.

You belong to two homes with different rules, routines, and relationships. Find your place and contribute good things in each.

The stress of our new home will reduce—eventually.

I love you and will always have enough room in my heart for you. I know it’s hard sharing me with someone else. I love you.

Work Smarter, Not Harder For stepfamilies, accidentally finding their way through the wilderness to the Promised Land is a rarity. Successful navigation requires a map. You’ve got to work smarter, not harder. Don’t begin a new family until you educate yourself on the options and challenges that lie ahead.

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