Marriage The origins of marriage are as obscure as the origins of the human race • In prehistoric and ancient cultures marriage was already established • It had a variety of forms as diverse as cultures themselves • Marriage has always been a socially institutionalized way • of defining relationships between sexes • of establishing rights and responsibilities of parents and offspring • of providing for cohesiveness and continuity in society
Marriage Marriage customs were usually revered and sacred which made them religious in the broad sense • Early Rome • The father of each family acted as priest and preserver of his families’ religion which included • reverence for the gods of the home • respect for the spirits of departed ancestors • leading his family in worship • providing children (primarily sons) to continue the family religion
Marriage • Early Rome • Girls were captured from neighboring clans to continue the family line • This practice gave way to a less violent one of arranged marriages • Fathers obtained brides for their sons in exchange for a “bride price” compensating the girls family for the loss of a skilled and fertile member • After the bride was escorted to her new home, the bride was ritually abducted by the husband • He carried her over the threshold of his home and fed her a piece of sacred cake • This inducted her into her new religion and established her communion with her husband’s family gods.
Marriage • The Roman family initially was patriarchal • The father was head of the household • He possessed all of his family’s legal rights • He could beat and punish as he saw fit • He could sell his children into slavery or even put them to death • His wife’s personal property became his • He could divorce her if she did not meet up to his expectations especially as regarded male children
Marriage • War and the Roman Empire • Women learned to manage their family’s affairs • Children began to make their own decisions • Family values were replaced with nationalistic values • Individual home religion gave way to state religion of glory and gods • Traditional wedding customs were kept but lost religious meaning • A betrothal ring took the place of the “bride price” • Marriage was based on the mutual consent of the partners not on parental consent • At the ceremony the bride was dressed in a white gown with a red veil and held a garland of flowers • When the couple exchanged their consent they usually joined right hands
Marriage There was no set formula and no religious significance attached to this action • If a Roman priest was invited it was only to offer a sacrifice for the gods or to divine their prospects for a happy future • If the got married without a family celebration Roman law presumed them married after one year Marriage by consent implied divorce by consent • By the 2nd century divorces were common among the upper class • Divorce was a private affair initiated by either party requiring no civil authority
Marriage Ancient Israel Marriages were private agreements Weddings were not public functions • Marriage was a family matter arranged by fathers for their children usually when they were adolescents • Jewish scriptures say little about marriage customs and nothing at all about wedding ceremonies • Most Israelite men had only one wife • But those who could afford the bride price and maintenance of more than one sometimes had more
Marriage Ancient Israel Women had few legal rights • When married off it was considered a transfer of property from father to husband • Adultery was forbidden by the Torah not because it was sexually immoral but because it violated the property rights of the woman’s father or husband • The “ten commandments” placed coveting a neighbor’s wife beneath coveting the goods of a man’s household (Exodus 20:17)
Marriage Ancient Israel Tenth Century BCE Hebrew writings collected into books • Genesis story is not initially taken as a divine endorsement of monogamy • Solomon and other kings had many wives and concubines • After the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles the prophets began to propose that Yahweh had punished his people for not living up to their calling • They were supposed to be a holy people • With high moral standards • Being just and merciful to all • The prophets began to propose that the moral
Marriage Ancient Israel Tenth Century BCE The prophets also began to propose that the moral ideal in marriage was faithful love between a husband and one wife • Ezekiel 16 Describes the relationship between Yahweh and Israel as the marriage of a man who had given his wife everything, only to be deserted by her later. • Hosea 1-3 Portrays Israel as a faithless prostitute married to Yahweh, who was still faithful to her and longed to take her back • The Song of Songs extols the ecstasy of love between a bride and her beloved • Tobit 6-8 presents the perfect marriage as one bound by the love of one man for one woman • Sirach 25-26 describes the dangers and rewards of domestic life • Proverbs 5-7, 31 praises the virtues of the perfect wife and advises husbands against adultery
Marriage Ancient Israel Tenth Century BCE With Marriage as symbol of God’s relationship with his people, what was thought of Divorce? • Malachi 2:16 denounced the men who divorced their Jewish wives to marry daughter of the conquerors • Divorce was an accepted, even if regretted, way to end an unhappy marriage • If a wife had sexual relations with another man her husband could divorce her • If caught in the act of adultery he could have her and the male accomplice stoned to death (Dt. 20:22-24) • Only the husband had a legal right to demand divorce. The woman had to have the husbands permission even after he divorced her. • Remarriage was a possibility but a woman divorced a second time could not return to her first husband (Dt 24:1-4)
Marriage Israel Just Prior to Christian Era The Torah allowed a man to give his wife a writ of dismissal if she was guilty of “impropriety” Two schools of thought • Rabbi Shammai authorized divorce only for blatantly shameful behavior such as adultery • Rabbi Hillel permitted divorce for almost anything the wife did that displeased her husband
Marriage Early Christian Marriage Jesus was squarely in opposition to both rabbinical schools Jesus’ denunciation of divorce is absolutely certain “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery, and the man who marries a woman divorced by her husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18) Moses had allowed it only because the Israelites in his day were so hard-hearted. Then Jesus quotes Genesis. (Mark 10:1-12)
Marriage Early Christian Marriage Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-9 “except for immorality” Jesus’ words or a “hardening of heart?” • Some Jewish Christian communities still were following rabbinic law of Shammai • The Torah regarded marriages between certain close relatives as indecent (Lv. 18:6-18) • Some converts were married to close relatives perhaps Jesus was speaking of these occurrences
Marriage Early Christian Marriage Paul stressed the ideal of marital fidelity “A wife must not leave her husband--or if she does leave him she must remain unmarried or else make it up with her husband--nor must a husband send his wife away” (I Cor. 7:10-11; Rom. 7:2-3) He viewed marriages to non-Christians as spiritually dangerous and implied that if the unbeliever desired a divorce they could grant it and remarry (I Cor 7:12-16; II Cor. 6:14-18) Paul’s writing in Corinthians 7 must be taken in light of his early belief that: “the world as we know it is passing away” (7:31)
Marriage Early Christian Marriage Paul accepted the patriarchal marriage system of his own day Ephesians 5:21-33 • He accepted the notion that the relationship of wife to husband was not the same as relationship of husband to wife • Those relationships could be lived “in the Lord” the way Christ gave himself in love to the church and the way the church submitted in love to Christ • Paul saw an image of the spiritual relationship between Christ and the Church. • Echoed in I Peter 3:1-7
Marriage Post New Testament Ignatius of Antioch 110CE “Those who are married should be united with the consent of their bishop, to be sure that they are marrying according to the Lord and not to satisfy lust” (To Polycarp 5) There is no indication that this was a widespread practice • Most young people needed only the consent of their parents • Roman law allowed those old enough to give their own consent Jesus’ statement against divorce was taken as a moral norm Hermas of Rome 2nd Century “If a woman had extramarital affairs her husband could leave her, but he should live alone and not remarry”
Marriage Tertullian Early 3rd Century “How shall we be able to describe the happiness of a marriage which the church supports, which is confirmed in the Eucharistic offering, and which is sealed by the blessing? Such a marriage is proclaimed by the angels and ratified by the Fathers in heaven” (To his wife 2, 9) There is no indication that he is speaking of a marriage ceremony only the blessing that comes from Christian community • None of the liturgical books of the period mention a wedding ceremony of any sort • Christian marriage was still regarded as a personal and family affair Tertullian is the first non-Jewish Christian to suggest limits “A marriage is permanent unless it is justifiably dissolved, and so to marry again while a marriage is undissolved is to commit adultery” (Against Marcion IV,34)
Marriage Clement of Alexandria Early 3rd Century Defended Marriage against gnostic sects which taught sexual relations were evil and so to be avoided “Marriage in accordance with the word of God is holy because it is a union that is subject to God, contracted with a sincere heart and full fidelity by those who have been washed and purified by the water of baptism and who have the same hope (Stromata IV,20).” • He advised married people to spend their days in prayer and spiritual reading, and to lie with each other only after supper. • Their sexual relations would be without sin only if they were performed with control and restraint
Marriage Origen Early 3rd Century Extolled marriage as divine gift created by God through which people could achieve salvation, but he also believed that married people temporarily lost the Holy Spirit during intercourse “the matter does not require the presence of the Holy Spirit, nor would it be fitting” (Homily on the Book of Numbers 6).
Marriage Some early fathers despite their defense of marriage, had some difficulty in reconciling the social institution with the sexual behavior that it necessarily involved During the first three centuries of Christianity the fathers of the church did not say much about marriage, but when they did they talked about it as an important part of Christian life, not as a ecclesiastical institution.
Marriage Constantine 331CE • Passed a law that allowed a woman to be left only if she were • an adulteress, • a procuress, or • a dealer in medicines and poisons, and that allowed a man to be left only if he were a murderer, a dealer in medicines and poisons, or a violator of tombs. • Those who abandoned their spouses for other reasons could lose their property and their right to remarry • But the law said nothing and imposed no sanctions against the traditional practice of divorce by agreement
Divorce Double Standard 4th century • Council of Elvira, Spain 309 Prohibited a woman from remarrying if she left an unfaithful spouse but said nothing prohibiting a man from doing so • Council of Arles, France 314 declared that young men who caught their wife in adultery should be counseled not to remarry, though it was not forbidden. Basil of Caesaria 375 The wife of an unfaithful husband was obliged to remain with him even in cases of abuse, but the husband of an unfaithful wife could leave her. • “The Lord’s statement that married persons may not leave their spouses except on account of immorality should, according to logic, apply equally to both men and women. However, the custom is different, and women are treated with greater severity (Letters 188).” • Basil noted, “It is not easy to find a reason for this difference in treatment, but such is the prevailing custom.”
Divorce Double Standard 4th Century Divorce and remarriage in the case of adultery was not universally taught in the patristic era but many bishops accepted it particularly in the eastern empire. • Periods of penance were sometimes imposed • Those who took advantage of their civil right to divorce by consent and then remarry were often treated as adulterers in the penitential system, but their second marriage was recognized as legal and binding. Even after Christianity was made the official religion of the Roman empire in 380 there was no great change in the civil marriage laws. • Christian writers continued to denounce the ease with which people could obtain divorces even under a Christian emperor.
The Eastern Church 4th Century It became customary for a priest or bishop to give his blessing, still no official words and no ecclesiastical blessing to make the marriage legal and binding • The blessing was considered an honor and was not given if either bride or groom had been married before. Greece and Asia Minor Clergy began to take a more active role • Gradually the wedding ceremony developed into a liturgical action in which the priest joined the couple in marriage and blessed their union, this ceremony was not mandatory
The Eastern Church 5th Century Permanent marriage was still regarded as the ideal But the civil law provided practical norms for those who could not live up to it. Theodocius II 449 passed a law prohibiting consensual divorce, • But he expanded the list of legitimate grounds for leaving one’s spouse to include robbery, kidnapping, treason, and other serious crimes • For the first time it became legal for a woman to divorce her husband for adultery. • This change in the law reflected a growing tendency among bishops in the east to interpret the porneia of Matthew 19:9 as any kind of gross immorality, as well as, their concern that innocent wives should not suffer because of the sins of their husbands.
The Eastern Church 6th Century Code of Justinian Brought about sweeping reforms in the laws of the eastern empire, including the laws on marriage and divorce. • According to the code the basis of marriage was mutual affection between sexes, but like any other human contracts marriages should be able to be made and unmade according to law • The code provided for nearly equal grounds for divorce by either husbands or wives, for the first time children were provided for. Through the 7th century Christians could still marry in a purely secular ceremony
Eastern Church 8th Century Liturgical wedding had become quite common. • They were usually performed in a church rather than a home • New civil legislation declared this form of wedding legally valid In later centuries other laws required that a priest officiate at all weddings The Moslem conquest of the Eastern empire halted this trend • Marriage in the Greek church, the last remaining Christian stronghold in the east, became an ecclesiastical ceremony • The priests blessing was considered essential for the joining of the couple in a sacramental marriage This remains true in orthodox churches today Marriage is seen as a transition from one way of life into another. The sacrament both effects that transition and symbolizes its spiritual goal
Eastern Church Sometimes Christians do not live up to their spiritual calling, that which is symbolized and initiated in their baptism and marriage The eastern church links apostasy with divorce • The apostate was given a means of reconciliation with the church. In the same way for Divorced Christians the way was left open through reconciliation between the couple or remarriage. • Orthodox churches do not grant divorces. They do allow civil divorce and remarriage in the church • The second marriage cannot reflect the sacramental union between the one head and the one body of the church This approach concentrates on the liturgical aspects of the sacrament rather than on its juridical aspects
Western Church 4th Century Marriage involved no distinct ceremony Christian marriage was contracted between two individuals by their mutual consent Like the east Priests and bishops were invited to bestow a blessing. Sometimes this blessing was given during a eucharistic celebration a day or more after the wedding. In some places the priest participated by draping a veil over the newly united couple
Western Church 4th Century Bishop Ambrose of Milan • Insisted that “marriage should be sanctified by the priestly veil and blessing.” • He also wrote that no marriage should be dissolved for any reason. Commenting on Luke 8 “You dismiss your wife as though you had a right to do this because the human law does not forbid it. But the law of God does forbid it. You should be standing in fear of God, but instead you obey human rulers. Listen to the word of God, whom those who make the laws are supposed to obey: ‘What God has joined let no man put asunder’”
Western Church late 4th Century Pope Siricius Ordered that all clerics under his jurisdiction must henceforth have their marriages solemnized by a priest • So that around the year 400 only priests and deacons had to have ecclsiastical blessings Gregory of Nyssa and John Chrysostom Taught that intercourse and child bearing were the result of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, and that if they had not sinned God would have populated the earth in some other way.
Western Church 5th Century Augustine a convert of Ambrose took up his firm stand He affirmed that marriage was good even though sex was not. • This was the typical of the Manichean and gnostic puritanism of his day • The first legitimate reason for having sexual relations was to produce children, • This was the only good things that counterbalanced the use of sex • The second was the faithfulness fostered between a man and a woman so that they did not seek pleasure with other partners. • The third benefit “it was a sacred sign a sacramentum” mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 5:32.
Western Church 5th Century Augustine used the Latin rather than the Greek which translated mysterion into sacramentum • Augustine took this to mean that marriage was a visible sign of the invisible union between Christ and his spouse, the Church. • He felt that just as a soldier’s pledge of loyalty was called a sacramentum so marriage was a sacred pledge of fidelity “Just as baptism formed the souls in the image of Christ’s death and resurrection, so marriage formed the soul in the image of Christ’s fidelity to the Church.”
Western Church 5th Century Augustine’s Argument “The marriage bond is dissolved only by the death of one of the partners.” • The invisible sacramentum reminds Christians that they should be faithful even to a partner who was not. • Like the prophet Hosea, Christians should try to win back their erring spouses • Even if separated there could be no remarriage because the bond still remained Marriage was both a sacred sign of a divine reality and a sacred bond between husband and wife
Western Church The Council of Carthage 407 Reflected Augustine’s strong theological case and forbid divorced men or women to remarry Jerome a contemporary of Augustine Spoke out strongly against remarriage. He saw adultery as the only valid reason for separation Pope Innocent I, 415 “Those who divorced by mutual consent as the civil law allowed were both adulterers if they remarried” He wrote to a Roman magistrate about a woman who had been carried off by barbarian invaders sometime before and had returned later, only to find her husband remarried: “The arrangement with the second woman cannot be legitimate since the first wife is still alive and she was never dismissed by means of a divorce.”
Western Church Council of Vannes in France Decided that husbands who left their wives and remarried without providing proof of adultery should be barred from communion. Council of Adge 506 Imposed the same penalty on men who failed to justify their divorce before an ecclesiastical court before they remarried. Close of the Patristic period • Bishops were becoming legally involved with marriage • There was still no universally recognized prohibition against divorce and remarriage for both sexes • Apart from Augustine no one spoke of marriage as a sacrament
Western Church Fall of the Roman Empire • Churchmen became more involved in marriage cases as the civil leadership became involved in war • Church authority grew as the judicial system collapsed • Bishops began issuing canonical regulations concerning those who were too closely related. • Second cousins could not legally marry • With the fall Germanic marriage customs began to be accepted. • Marriage went back to being a family matter. Blessing of the marriage fell into disuse although Bishops often urged people to have their marriage blessed
Middle Ages, Penitential Books Just as the church became uninvolved in weddings it was not involved in divorce. • An Irish penitential book written in the 7th century instructed that if one spouse allowed the other to enter the service of God in a monastery or convent, he or she was free to remarry The penitential of Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury • a husband could divorce an adulterous wife and marry again • the wife in the case could remarry after doing penance five years • a man who was deserted by his wife could remarry after two years with his bishops consent • a woman whose husband was imprisoned fo a serious crime could remarry with the bishop’s consent • a man whose wife was abducted by an enemy could remarry and if she later returned she could also remarry • freed slaves who could not purchase their spouse’s freedom were allowed to marry free persons.
Middle Ages, Conciliar Documents The penitential books only contained unofficial guidelines to be followed in the administration of private penance Conciliar and church documents contained more official regulations but they were still not uniform Ecclesiastical practices ranged from extreme strictness to extreme laxness Spain 3rd and 4th Councils of Toledo 589, 633 Invoked the Pauline Privilege in allowing Christian converts from Judaism to remarry The Council of Hereford in England Advised against remarriage it did not forbid it. 8th Century France the Council of Compiegne • Allowed men whose wives committed adultery to remarry • It also allowed women whose husbands contracted leprosy to remarry
Middle Ages, Papal Statements • Pope Gregory II in 726 advised Boniface that if a woman could no longer work her husband could marry again but had to take care of his first wife • Other popes of the period protested against unlawful divorces • The Italian Council of Friuli, 791 strictly forbade divorced men to remarry even if their wives had been unfaithful
Post-Germanic Invasion The Church gradually began to get more involved due to differences in Roman and Germanic Marriage Customs Roman Tradition • Held that marriage by consent of either the spouses or their guardians made marriage legal and binding Frankish and German Tradition • Held marriage to be valid at betrothal and not complete until consummation • Parents consented to the marriage of their children years before the children would live together • Marriages were used to bind noble family lines to gain allies and end boundary disputes • Sometimes children would marry secretly to undermine the system
Post-Germanic Invasion Bishops were asked to settle the cases. • They could use either tradition in coming to a decision • Under Roman law the arranged marriage was the binding one and subsequent marriage was adultery • In Germanic custom the arrangement between parents was only a non-binding betrothal and the second marriage was the real one. • Before the marriage young people could claim prior consent to another • In other cases people sought to rid themselves of an unwanted spouse by claiming they had secretly contracted a previous marriage • Bishops had to decide which marriage was the real marriage This gave rise to the theoretical question: Are marriages ratified by consent or by intercourse?
Charlemagne Initiates Legal Reforms Church and Civil governments Impose stricter standards for marriage Council of Verneuil 8th Century - Both nobles and commoners should have public weddings Council of Bavaria - Instructed priests to make sure that people who wanted to marry were legally free to do so Charlemagne 802 - Passed a law requiring all proposed marriages to be examined for legal restrictions before the marriage took place. The False Decretals of Isadore - contained documents aimed against the practice of secret marriage • Pope Evaristus - A legitimate marriage cannot take place unless the woman’s legal guardians are asked for their consent • Pope Calixtus - A marriage was legal only if it was blessed by a priest and the bride price was paid
Rome Goes Its Own Way Both valid and spurious documents were used to outlaw secret marriages Laws were passed making marriages legal only if guardians gave there consent and were present at the wedding Rome Followed Its Own Tradition Pope Nicholas I 866 wrote to missionaries in the Balkans • The wedding ceremony takes place in the absence of any church authority • It consisted primarily in the exchange of consent between partners • Afterward there was a special mass at which the bride and groom were covered by a veil and given a nuptial blessing • He held the marriage to be legal and binding even without any public or liturgical ceremony • All that matters is consent if that is lacking nothing else matters
Centuries of Indecision Charlemagne wanted Roman practices to become normative • A Roman-style nuptial liturgy began to be included in the festivities that followed a wedding, but it was never widespread • The Pope’s insistence that only consent mattered was either unknown or largely ignored • Hincmar, Bishop of Rheims decided Frankish nobility cases based the Germanic tradition of sexual intercourse rather than on consent of guardian • Council of Paris 829 Decreed that divorced persons of both sexes could not remarry even if the divorce had been granted by adultery. • France and Germany soon followed, Penitential books were revised. • In Italy popes and local councils continued to allow divorce and remarriage for adultery and entering the religious life. The trend completely reversed itself at councils of Bourges, Worms and Tours
The Church Takes Control During the entire period ecclesiastical courts slowly gained exclusive jurisdiction over marriage and divorce cases • By the year 1000 secular courts were bypassed all together There was not as yet an obligatory church ceremony connected with marriage • In order to make sure marriages took place legally and in front of witnesses, bishops invoked the false decretals to demand that that all weddings be solemnly blessed by a priest.
Wedding Ceremony Weddings were held near a church so the couple could immediately go inside for their nuptial blessing • This developed into a ceremony that occurred at the church door followed by a nuptial mass • Initially clergy were present at the ceremony only as official witnesses and to give the required blessing • Gradually priests began to assume some of the functions once relegated to the guardians and the spouses themselves • Many of the once secular customs in the wedding ceremony became part of an ecclesiastical wedding ritual By the 12th century in various parts of Europe there was an established church wedding ceremony that was conducted entirely by the clergy
The Wedding Ceremony • At the entrance to the church the priest asked the bride and groom if they consented to marriage • The father of the bride then handed his daughter to the groom and gave him her dowry • The priest blessed the ring which was given to the bride, after which he gave his blessing to the marriage • During the nuptial mass the bride was veiled nad blessed, after which the priest gave the husband the ritual kiss of peace, who passed it on to his wife • In some places the priest pronounced and additional blessing over the wedding chamber after the day’s festivities.
Growth of Ecclesiastical Law The church’s involvement in legal matters gave growth to a new set of laws concerning • Premarriage kinship • The wedding ceremony itself • Social consequences of marriage and divorce The medieval system of government and inheritance emphasized property rights and blood relationships arising from marriage