Sharing Quakers' view on marriage

An imam, a bishop and a Quaker had plenty to say on the hot topic of marriage, on a BBC Radio 4 programme broadcast this week.

pink roses for wedding bouquet

The three were panellists on Beyond Belief, a series which explores the place and nature of faith in today's world.

The programme, first aired on Monday, was chaired by Dr Katie Edwards. She discussed marriage with Ajmal Masroor, imam, broadcaster and marriage counsellor; Hannah Brock Womack, a Quaker and social justice campaigner; and the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth.


For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord only…we are but witnesses.

- George Fox 1669


Amid the global lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, couples are facing extraordinarily long periods of time alone together. In that context, the panellists were asked, how is marriage fairing? Is it time to accept that marriage has had its day? Or has marriage simply acquired a different meaning in the 21st century?

While the three spoke profoundly about faith being at the centre of their lives, they differed over same-sex marriage. Some churches are developing their understanding of marriage.

Hannah Brock Womack said, “Quakers have always found marriage to be a spiritual union, as well as a practical and legal one." And, “Quakers seek to read scripture in the spirit that inspired it… God is still speaking to us now and we were being collectively led by God in 2009 when we affirmed same-sex marriage."

Hannah Brock Womack quoted George Fox who said in 1669, “For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord only…we are but witnesses."

Listen to the programme on BBC iPlayer

What to expect from a Quaker wedding

We are but witnesses: the theological underpinnings of Quakers' understanding of marriage

Image: M&W - wedding bouquet by petrOlly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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