Marriage

I’ve been following the conversation on marriage and divorce on Empathological, and it has migrated over to More on marriage at moosenorseman’s (thanks to Elspeth for cuing me into it).

The constituents of marriage

The root of the issue isn’t the law itself but the Spirit of the law which Jesus makes abundantly clear in Matthew 5:

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye makes you [w]stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you [x]to lose one of the parts of your body, [y]than for your whole body to be thrown into [z]hell. 30 If your right hand makes you [aa]stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you [ab]to lose one of the parts of your body, [ac]than for your whole body to go into [ad]hell.

However, let’s take a step back and examine what marriage is so we have a better understanding of what it means to “cohabitate” or “fornicate”:

In Genesis 2, we can see that God acts as the first Father to give Adam his wife Eve:

21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God [t]fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.

23 “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; [u]She shall be called [v]Woman, Because [w]she was taken out of [x]Man.”

Likewise, there is the aspect of separation and joining, and sex:

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Thus, marriage is generally consistuted of:

  1. Father giving the daughter to the man — God giving Eve to Adam
  2. Separating from family(s) — leaving father and mother
  3. Coming together [to be with and live with] — joined to his wife
  4. Having sex — becoming one flesh
  5. In the presence of witnesses [traditionally with a wedding celebration] — in this case, Father/Jesus/Spirit and potentially angels.

Not necessarily all in that order.

A wedding celebration tends to have all of these pieces together — the father gives the daughter to the man. The man and woman are separating from their families and coming together. They are doing it in the presence of witnesses [in a celebration]. And they will consummate — COMPLETE — the marriage with sexual intercourse. This is why the bloodstained sheets were held onto after the consummation as proof in many cultures.

Consummation is a completion of all of the acts that make up a marriage. Thus, sex in itself does not consistute what is marriage.

All are integral parts of a marriage including the permanence of it. Any of the piece of what consistutes a marriage or the dissolution of the marrige is to make a mockery of marriage and the design of what God intended.

When you mock marriage you mock God.

Cohabitation, thus, is a mockery of the institution of marriage and creates dischord when they separate and even when they stay together. Fornication, thus, is a mockery of the institution of marriage and ultimately creates dischord when you separate and even when they stay together. Disobeying the father of the daughter and running off is a mockery of the institution of marriage and creates strife and dischord within families. Disunity within the marriage where husbands and wives live apart is a mockery of the institution of marriage. There are consequences for sin both in this life and the next.

Note: it is impossible to get away from witnesses since God is everywhere, the state is a witness, church is a witness, or in tribes other people are witnesses.

It is the unity of concepts that make up the institution of marriage which are critical to its function just as the unity of the body is the bride of Christ.

It is important to understand that it is unity of the husband and wife as well as the rest of the immediate family that is important. Why else does Paul, inspired by God, make the analogy that the great mystery of marriage is synonymous with Christ and the Church?

God, through Paul, is telling us that all relationships, not just between the husband and wife, but between the family and the witnesses are important. The fullness of unity. This is the reason for the celebration, just as there will be a celebration in heaven when Christ is united with His bride, the Church. Just as there is a celebration when one lost sheep is saved.

Therefore, what is divorce?

You cannot have divorce when there is “just sex” just as you cannot have divorce when there is “just cohabitation.” The mockery of the institution of marriage is already there. There is already sin before God.

Would it be best for them to separate or to marry?

To be honest, I don’t know. This is what repentance and prayer to God are for. Become right before God and cry out to Him for help to show you the path of righteousness.

But what I can tell you is that there is sin there, and there will be consequences of that sin whether they decide to marry or not. I can tell you that there is sin there, and they will need to repent of it before God and to each other. I can tell you that there is sin there, and destruction of any part(s) of that union will have consequences. I can tell you that there will be less happiness and marital satisfaction because of fornication and cohabitation whether they decide to marry or not, and even the worldly studies have born this out.

When you mess with parts of marriage without marriage there are consequences. When you decide to step out of the Truth you will live in a lie. And there are dire consequences for living a lie and stepping outside the bounds of the Truth.

Cane Caldo’s post on the Scripture as a handrail is particularly apt.

What, therefore, is good?

The question, however, remains is what is good?

I would assert that this is also found in the Scriptures:

  • It is not a question of whether it is lawful.
  • Nor is it a question of what is good [for you only].
  • It is a question of what is good for your neighbor.

1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his [i]neighbor.

And who is our neighbor?

Luke 10:25 And a [l]lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? [m]How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Your neighbor is everyone, even your enemy. It is no coincidence that the parable of the good Samaritan is told after this.

Therefore, how much more is it important for the father to give away the daughter and there be witnesses to join in the celebration of marriage? How much more important is it not to fornicate before marriage? How much more important is it not to cohabitate before marriage? The nature of the unity of marriage is not only symbolic.

It is the community-wide witness and celebration of the unity of marriage and not only of the husband and the wife. This is the all encompassing unity of what is marriage on this earth. And this is the all encompassing unity of what is the marriage of Christ and the Church.

It should come as no surprise or coincidence that it was marriage that was often used by rulers to unite kingdoms that had enmity between each other. Such is the strong pull of the community created by marriage.

The hand of marriage

Think of the grip of a hand. If you use one finger and tighten it then the bond is not strong. But it still hurts if you rip it apart. If you use two fingers and tighten the bond it is stronger. But it still hurts if you rip it apart. This is what happens when you fornicate, when you cohabitate, when you sow dischord between the father and daughter, etc.

You want to clasp the bond altogether with 5 fingers at once to get the strong hold, and you never want to rip it apart. This is the essence of the (1) father giving the daughter to the man, (2) the two separating from their families, (3) them joining/living together, (4) in the presence of witnesses, and (5) it is consummated with sex.

There is unity within a grip that requires all 5 digits of the hand to be working as one. This is synonymous with marriage on this earth and the eventual marriage of Christ and the Church.

Sex is the lynchpin of marriage just as the thumb is the lynchpin of the hand, but it doesn’t make up the whole marriage. It is, however, one of the unifying aspects that brings forth the important characteristics of hand function just as sex brings forth the important characteristics of family function through one flesh, pleasure, children, etc.

Sex provides the locking grip to the hand that allows the strength of the hand to be multiplied many times over, and provides unique functions such as grip for fine motor tasks which enable writing and crafting. The same thing occurs with the formation and independence of a new family unit.

This is why the lack of sex destroys marriages because it severely weakens the cohesion of the family unit. This is why fornication before marriage has far reaching negative consequences to the married. When you rip your thumb off you severely weaken the whole hand and its entire function.

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16 Responses to Marriage

  1. Jenny says:

    I’ve often thought about why adultery is an allowed reason for divorce and not abuse and I keep coming back to the covenant contract. A covenant is a contract that if broken, the offender has promised to die. The signs of a promise becoming a covenant is a promise, sharing blood (to become one) and a shared meal. This is why we say vows, have sex, and feed each other wedding cake to consumate marriage.

    I’m glad you emphasized the weakening of the bond through premarital sex. I wish that were emphasized more among men.

  2. @ Jenny

    Yep, correct it’s a covenant contract. It’s interesting that I didn’t even have to bring up the covenantal contract nature of marriage in a post like this. I think it was unneeded because that’s the bare minimum of what a marriage is, but the fullness, freedom, and unity of Christ is so much more than just a contract.

    I’m not a huge fan of the vows said during weddings. I’d rather just say what the Scriptures state to the husband and wives. That’ll come off well, but it will be true, haha.

  3. Jenny says:

    Yes, I keep seeing how much my marriage resembles the gospel in so many ways. Eventually, the law stops mattering so much and you only want to try to imitate Christ. But I think the law is helpful for the times when we lose our way.

  4. donalgraeme says:

    Great post and great comments.

  5. aquinasdad says:

    If I may, I will post some excerpts from a lecture I give on courtship and engagement that focuses on the nature of marriage;

    “…the theologian Suarez also called a specific vocation ‘a fixed manner of living established to preserve grace in the world and to obtain glory in the world to come’. General vocations include such things as to love God, to be charitable, to pray. Specific vocation means either the religious life of a priest, monk, deacon, or nun OR Holy Matrimony. Note that both Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders are marked with a Sacrament – while they are different in effects and different in authority both Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony a ‘special state’ of living.”

    “As the Church and the Saints tell us [The spiritual effects of marriage include] supernatural graces. Bl. John Paul tells us marriage continually glorifies God, sanctifying not just the couple but all people, and that marriage builds up the body of Christ.”

    “The mutual love and emotional support of marriage are images of and participation in God’s absolute and eternal love for Man and Christ’s perpetual love for the Church.
    This love and support is unique to marriage because unlike friendship it includes Christ directly. Christ is just as much a member of each marriage as the husband or wife. By His participation in marriage Christ gives us the strength to be married, if we will accept it.The mutual love and emotional support of marriage are images of and participation in God’s absolute and eternal love for Man and Christ’s perpetual love for the Church.”

    “Just as God’s love created man and Christ created the Church so the sacrament of marriage is meant to be creative; marriage is to be fruitful and this fruitfulness is a unique source of grace and peace for the family, for the Church, and for the world. So marriage must be open to children! ”

    “Now we know – mutual love, emotional support, physical unity, children, and supernatural grace are the effects of marriage.”

    “Bl. John Paul, again, tells us that marriage is an ongoing liturgical act, a continual sacramental action that lasts throughout the life of husband and wife, transforming the couple with the power of Christ throughout their lives. These are all reasons why marriage is indissoluble.”

    Again, these are excerpts from a larger work focused on the ‘run up’ to marriage, so forgive me if the statements are rough.

  6. @ Aquinasdad

    Thanks for sharing that. It really brings out the unitive aspects.

    I edited your post to remove one of the repeat copy and pastes.

  7. aquinasdad says:

    Thanks a lot for the edit! I think I need more sleep.

  8. >Thus, marriage is generally consistuted of:

    >Father giving the daughter to the man — God giving Eve to Adam
    >Separating from family(s) — leaving father and mother
    >Coming together [to be with and live with] — joined to his wife
    >Having sex — becoming one flesh
    >In the presence of witnesses [traditionally with a wedding celebration] — in this case, Father/Jesus/Spirit and potentially angels.

    >Not necessarily all in that order.

    This is excellent. But the only one that may not apply in cohabitation (and also does not apply in some legal marriages), is the father giving the daughter to the man.

    When a couple cohabitates:
    -They have left their father and mother
    -They have come together to be with and live with each other
    -They are having sex
    -The community at large and God Himself are witnesses to these things

    So clearly we need to focus on that first thing you listed, therein lies any difference. Yet we can note that many women legally marry over the strenuous objection of their fathers. Therefore, those marriages also do not meet this first requirement.

    What has happened is that fathers have abdicated this responsibility. Instead of giving their daughters to a man, they have given their daughters to the daughters themselves. Now that the daughter has been given ownership of herself, she can give herself away to a man of her choosing. This is not how it should be, but how it is. It is a problem that is present in a legal marriages as well as cohabitation.

    Thus, I’m not sure how you arrive at the conclusion that “Cohabitation, thus, is a mockery of the institution of marriage.” In many cases, it meets your five-point definition of marriage. In all cases, it meets four of your five points–and the point it sometime misses is likewise sometime missed by legal marriage. On the basis of your five points, I am unable to draw a distinction between them.

  9. @ Moosenorseman

    Fixed your quote. On reddit you use the > but on wordpress you want to use the blockquote with html tags.

    Now onto the post. This is obviously a general overview of what a marriage.

    You are correct in that a couple can “cohabitate” with the father giving the daughter away, are joined, have sex, and the community can witness it.

    However, here is the problem: Then why not call it a marriage?

    If the couples themselves don’t believe in the permanence of this “cohabitation” and neither do the parents or the rest of the community this is a problem.

    Their belief that this “cohabitation” if only for a time is a mockery of marriage.

    Cohabitation, by nature of the word, is a mockery of marriage because it imputes non-permanence. If it was permanent and constituted all of the parts of marriage then it would be called marriage and not cohabitation.

    Does that make sense?

    God made marriage to be a contract for life — what God has joined together let man not separate. When people cheapen it with other words that signify a lack of permanence it is a mockery of marriage.

  10. Yes! This is what I’ve been saying all along!

    (I don’t know how to do the blockquote thing, so bear with me)

    “However, here is the problem: Then why not call it a marriage?”

    Exactly. Which is why I make a point of calling it a marriage. Here, I used the word cohabitate, in order to engage in the conversation, but my whole argument is that there is no such thing.

    “If the couples themselves don’t believe in the permanence of this “cohabitation” and neither do the parents or the rest of the community this is a problem.

    Their belief that this “cohabitation” if only for a time is a mockery of marriage.

    Cohabitation, by nature of the word, is a mockery of marriage because it imputes non-permanence. If it was permanent and constituted all of the parts of marriage then it would be called marriage and not cohabitation.”

    When a co-worker tells me he has moved in with his girlfriend, I make a point of asking him about his “wife” from that point on. So far, I have a 100% success rate of getting them to use the word wife rather than girlfriend within two weeks. And not just with me, I hear them using it with others. Words matter, and they shape our thoughts. Thus, I have changed the way they think about their situation and its permanence. Telling people that “cohabitation” is marriage changes the way they think about its permanence. If you don’t want the mockery of a belief that the arrangement is temporary, use words that convey permanence.

  11. Elspeth says:

    This is my first and only comment planned for this exchange, but I have a question for Moosenorseman before I take my leave for a while

    The vast majority of couples who cohabit are not cohabiting with the first person they’ve ever been in “relationship” with. It’s just the next step in the evolution of how they do relationships, signifying that this one is “serious enough” to merit living together. They don’t call it marriage because in their view it isn’t marriage, and it isn’t even something they consider permanent.

    Marriage is as much about intent and understanding as state of being. If the parties don’t recognize the marriage, including the intent of permanence, are they still married in your view? And is your assertion that every (legal or church recognized) marriage where the couple (the bride at least) were not each others firsts are not married in God’s economy?

  12. @ Elspeth

    Excellent questions.

    “The vast majority of couples who cohabit are not cohabiting with the first person they’ve ever been in “relationship” with. It’s just the next step in the evolution of how they do relationships, signifying that this one is “serious enough” to merit living together. They don’t call it marriage because in their view it isn’t marriage, and it isn’t even something they consider permanent.”

    That vast majority of couples that legally marry are not legally marrying the first person they’ve ever been in “relationship” with either. It’s just the next step in the evolution of how they do relationships, signifying that this one is “serious enough” to merit government documentation or an expensive ceremony. The mindset you described is a problem, but it is a problem in not only the scenario you mentioned, but also the one I mentioned.

    “Marriage is as much about intent and understanding as state of being. If the parties don’t recognize the marriage, including the intent of permanence, are they still married in your view?”

    Yes.

    “And is your assertion that every (legal or church recognized) marriage where the couple (the bride at least) were not each others firsts are not married in God’s economy?”

    No. Not every. Is the first sexual partner alive? If so, have they terminated the marriage through adultery?

    I would say that many marriage ceremonies that take place in a church with a government licence do not constitute a marriage in God’s eyes, but rather adultery. This is based on Matt 5:32, 19:9, Mark 10:11-12, and Luke 16:18 (among other verses), and would be true even if God only recognized marriages performed in a church with a government licence. No divorcee is free to remarry while the spouse is living and non-adulterous. Thus, many second (and third, and fourth…) marriages are illegitimate and adultery.

    Cane held on my blog that such marriages are adultery, but are also legitimate (in the sense that they are true marriages and not purely adultery). I had never heard that view before, but I feel it is contradictory–if adultery is sex outside of the marriage, than a true marriage cannot be adultery, and an adultery cannot be a true marriage.

  13. James and the Giant Peach says:

    All this talk about wives reminds me of the woman Jesus gave water to drink. He tells the woman she had 5 previous husbands. I always took it in the sense of “idols” as in she had husbands other than God. Perhaps it has a more literal view too.

  14. @ James

    Well, the Pharisees were handing out divorces all over the place at that time, so it wouldn’t be surprising that the Samaritans would be doing it as well. Lots of marriages and remarriage.

    To be honest, I think that what was happening during the Roman times was very much like what is happening in today’s world.

  15. Pingback: Identity Part 3 — internal and external | Reflections on Christianity and the manosphere

  16. Pingback: Christian marriage components | Christianity and masculinity

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