Marriage at the Edges

: from the margins to the centre

  • Michael John Todd

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines the theological implications of marriages of people with a learning disability or post-menopausal (and childless) marriages. In addition, the implications of changes in the parenting role, especially where children exist before marriage are examined. The work is based on a new methodology which I have developed and named Evidential Theology, which is used to establish which prior theological assumptions about marriage are inconsistent with evidence from the world around. The methodology is founded on the principle that God's incarnation, acting in and through the whole of the created order, is an on-going process which means that our knowledge and perception of God's intentions for humanity is on-going, changing and unlimited. A new contribution to Disability Theology is made in order to address specific issues with learning disability which are distinct from physical disability. Detailed consideration is given to whether a contractual basis for Christian marriage is helpful and an extensive examination is made of both a possible right and a duty to have children and it is concluded that neither exists absolutely. Major changes in the role of parenting are documented, especially that more marriages take place now in which either or both partners already have children, together or separately.
In order to cope with a number of apparently irreconcilable tensions between different aspects of marriage theology, a theory of Uncertain Theology is proposed which asserts that the more certain we want to be about a particular ethic, the less we know about God, and vice versa.
The thesis proposes that the church, especially the Church of England, should abandon its legal registration role and adopt a more flexible covenant approach which focuses more on under-pinning marriage through its existence, rather than establishing exit conditions which only apply when it comes to an end. It is further advocated that the church should provide, within a marriage liturgy, the opportunity for sealing before God other covenants such as with pre-existing children and elderly dependants.
Date of Award10 Jun 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorLisa Isherwood (Supervisor) & Liz Stuart (Supervisor)

Cite this

Marriage at the Edges: from the margins to the centre
Todd, M. J. (Author). 10 Jun 2011

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis