From the Wikipedia article on 'Wedding Vows', we find this;
'In the time of the Roman Empire (17 BC – 476 AD) the lower classes had "free" marriages. The bride's father would deliver her to the groom, and the two agreed that they were wed, and would keep the vow of marriage by mutual consent. Wealthy Romans, though, would sign documents listing property rights to publicly declare that their union was legalized and not a common law marriage. This was the beginning of the official recording of marriage.
The oldest traditional wedding vows can be traced back to the manuals of the medieval church. In England, there were manuals of the dioceses of Salisbury (Sarum) and York. The compilers of the first Book of Common Prayer, published in 1549, based its marriage service mainly on the Sarum manual. Upon agreement to marry, the Church of England usually offered couples a choice. The couple could promise each other to "love and cherish" or, alternatively, the groom promises to "love, cherish, and worship", and the bride to "love, cherish, and obey".'
Although the above-referenced article is not comprehensive, possibly not even totally reliable, it should give its readers a basic idea of where the ceremonial aspect of marriage comes from. Please do not mistake my intention here; I am by no means saying that we should not be 'marrying and giving in marriage', or even that we should not be following the pattern that modern Christianity has given us! This is simply to point out that even the examples we have in our English Bibles do not even indicate that these 'trappings' are necessary!
The phrase in question, 'till death do us part', is based on the assumption that 'we' are 'the Person', that this is what defines 'us'! But, though 'the Person' is most definitely a part of 'us'; we are so much More than that! Biological death will indeed separate two people, but death cannot touch the spirit. This is what Jesus referred to when He said, 'whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die'. The fact that we are primarily spirit beings having a physical experience is one that has been voiced in this blog over & over before, though maybe in other words. This biology will pass away, returning to the dust from which it was made, ( yes, biologically speaking, we're made of mud, though it's not quite that simple ) but our spirit will endure, eventually, sooner or later, returning to this biology, to continue Life's Journey.
Re-incarnation is a taboo subject in some circles, particularly most Christian ones! The traditional Christian dogma of Heaven & Hell includes the notion that human beings have but one life to live on this earth. This is based on the false assumption that humanity is in view when the writer to the Hebrews penned these words; 'And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation' ( Hebrews 9: 27 & 28 ) This is not a comprehensive study of the subject & really is not even a study at all, but it only makes sense that we, as spirit beings, would be given however many chances ( lives ) we needed to 'get it right', to rectify the mistakes we made in past lives.
One of the mistakes we might have made in a past life or in past lives is not realizing that we are More! By not realizing that we are More than 'the Person', we allow our Ego to reign over us & when the Ego rules, it's never a pretty sight! The biblical Story of Cain & Abel is a prime example of what happens when the Ego reigns supreme. Murder being the ultimate end; allowing one's Ego to rule their actions can lead to anything from a mild dislike or disdain to outright hatred. As I've said before; this is not at all to say that the Ego is thus necessarily a bad thing, or evil. The Ego is actually a necessary part of our human constitution. It is only when we allow it, along with our requisite emotions, to determine our actions that it can become a problem! Like in the biblical Story, if we allow our Ego to turn our disappointment into jealousy, our jealousy into hatred & our hatred into murder, then our Ego has become an evil that must be rectified!
As individual souls, we are all connected to the Source of All! Though not all bear witness to this connection, those who have been 'enlightened' know that while we manifest thusly, inhabiting individual, biological bodies, we are in Essence One Spirit! Some may scoff at this notion, in particular most Christians, because, 'Hitler was obviously controlled by a different Spirit than say, Mother Teresa'. Well, 'true enough', one might say, though such a statement might also stem from a false understanding of the biblical texts. The dogmatic notion of 'God vs. Satan' has its foundation in the biblical texts, true enough, but it is from a misreading, a misunderstanding that certain individuals came up with this notion.
Individually speaking, then, individuals who believe they are 'the Person', nothing more, nothing less, can indeed be said to be ruled ( controlled ) by 'a different Spirit'. This is not however, the 'Satan' of biblical infamy ( though related ); it is simply the individual soul, or spirit that does not recognize or acknowledge its connection with the Divine. When one recognizes their own connection to the Source, they tend to see the Divine in others as well & so their treatment of others tends to follow suit! The biblical injunction to 'love your neighbor as yourself' becomes second-nature. Treating others as you would like to be treated becomes a matter of fact. ( it just makes sense )
Getting back to the subject at hand now; death may indeed separate, or part us, but only if we do not realize, as individuals, that we are More. Upon the death, or expiration of the biological body to which it's been assigned, the individual soul experiences, to one extent or another ( depending on its level of 'enlightenment' ), a sort of realignment with the Source, at least until the time comes to animate a new body. However, when two souls/individual spirits become intertwined, not even death can separate them! For a time, maybe, even these souls, through the exercise of the individual Ego, or the Mind, may loose track of their soulmate, but when they remember their connection to the Source, they are re-awakened to the blessed fact that once joined, two individual souls can NEVER be separated!
Wrapping up this 'rant'; let me conclude by reiterating that by all these words; I am not trying to convince anyone that they should not follow the traditions of their fathers & observe a wedding ceremony of some sort or another. I'm not trying to deter anyone from saying vows in front of a pastor, priest or JoP ( Justice of the Peace ). If people want all those trappings, I say, 'go for it'! All I'm saying is that in order to be married, a couple does not have to recite vows in front of an officiant, there don't have to be witnesses & there most surely does not have to be a ceremony of any kind! All these are legal ( not 'wrong', in & of themselves ) trappings.
Rant over. 'An ye harm none, do what ye will'. Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank