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Origin Of Marriage Essay

1410 words - 6 pages

Richard V. SolimanBSIMOrigin of MarriageIn the Old Testament, marriage is most frequently treated as a patriarchal institution for the perpetuation of the tribe. However, late in the history of Israel, we can see signs of a growing sacramental awareness in the creation stories of Genesis and in the prophetic literature, (understood of course, in the broader notion of sacramentality). Many biblical scholars see in Genesis (1:27):God created man in the image of Himself, In the image of God He created him, Male and female He created them,a perception of God's presence in the relationship between a man and woman. The prophetic literature beginning with Hosea, uses the marriage relationship as a ...view middle of the document...

Whatever the case, it is clear that Christ saw marriage as not only a social institution, but a permanent covenantal bond.At first glance the Pauline tradition presents an ambivalent attitude toward marriage. I Corinthians, for example, seems to discourage Christians from marrying. This however must be read in light of Paul's expectation of an imminent Second Coming, an event which must relativize all other life commitments. Ephesians, on the other hand, compares the union of man and woman in marriage to that of Christ's relationship to the Church. Here we see the theological flowering of the Old Testament use of the marriage bond as an image of Yahweh's fidelity to Israel. Here also is an indication of growing appreciation in the Christian tradition for the sacramentality of marriage based on a covenant relationship between two individuals.The Patristic period reveals remarkable diversity in Catholic understandings of marriage. One thing is clear--during this era there was no mandated religious ceremony required for valid marriages. Juridical concerns with regard to marriage were handled exclusively by the state. While consent and blessing of the bishop or presbyter was encouraged (e.g. Ignatius, Letter to Polycarp) there is no evidence that this was a common practice.Attention was being paid to the theological aspect of the marriage relationship. Many of the Fathers defended marriage against the attacks of the Gnostics and later the Manichaeans. The apologetics, however, focused on procreation as the essential function of sexual relations and marriage. Augustine's justification of marriage in terms of procreation is well-known. Although this was his main emphasis, he also recognized that marriage expressed the social nature of humans. As such, marriage could be seen as a type of spiritual communion. Unfortunately, neither Augustine nor any of the other Fathers saw the connection between these two understandings.One significant development which occurred in the Middle Ages, was the rise of ecclesiastical marriage ceremonies and legislation. Prior to this period, it was left to civil authorities to legislate marriages. The Church concerned itself with only the moral dimension of the marriage relationship. This changed, in part, because of a clash in traditions regarding matrimony. In the Roman culture, a marriage was legal and binding on the basis of consent between the spouses and their guardians. In the Frankish and Germanic traditions, a marriage was not considered binding until consummated by sexual intercourse. As these traditions blended, the problem of secret marriages arose. An individual who did not wish to enter into an arranged marriage would claim that consent had secretly been given to another. In the Roman tradition, this prior consent was considered binding. The Church therefore slowly began to recommend public consent given in the presence of a priest and witnesses. By the twelfth century, ecclesiastical wedding ceremonies...

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