So just what is traditional marriage anyway? A short history…

Although the same-sex marriage vote just passed in the Assembly, it was vetoed by the DUP, as if same-sex marriage would seriously impinge on the sanctity of traditional marriage. Yet the concept of marriage—both the ceremony and the institution—has changed a lot throughout the millennia, and it continues to change. There’s a useful, broad summary here. Even within the Christian Church theological opinions have altered markedly over time, as have cultural beliefs. If being pregnant out of wedlock is unremarkable today, in the past she had to be pregnant for the marriage to be confirmed; and if she wasn’t pregnant after a year, the marriage could be void.

It’s commonly held that marriage began with settled agriculture, as a way of passing on property and wealth to legitimate heirs. No man wanted to work as a cuckold, so the fidelity of the woman was vital if his genes and property were to be inherited. He had to know, he had to be certain that the children were his. She had to be monogamous. Marriage of necessity had to be between a man and a woman, and to be recognised as such by the state.

The idea of property and inheritance was well established in Ancient Greece; men there had wives to provide heirs and to keep the household, concubines for the daily exercise of the body and hetaerae for pleasure. Women didn’t have much say then, nor in Rome, nor did they here until very recent times; they did as they were told by their husbands.

The Greeks had several words for ‘love’; they had Eros, what we might call lust, as well as Philia, a serene state, like friendship, reciprocal kindness, happy experiences, shared pleasures, and Agape, selfless love, wanting the best for the other person, the love of Christ. And the Greeks were well aware that Eros didn’t last beyond a couple of years, hopefully to be replaced gradually by the other forms.

Early Christianity didn’t concern itself with marriage; it was only in the 11th/12th centuries that the Church got really involved, when marriage began to be thought of as a sacrament; this had to be specifically recorded in the doings of the Council of Trent in the mid 16th century. Perhaps marriage was seen as a ‘nice little earner’ for the Church, more probably it was a method of control and to discourage fornication. Before then, if an ordinary couple wished to be married, it was enough for them to make a declaration, usually before witnesses. It’s disingenuous to say, as a Catholic Bishop recently did, that marriage had been a sacrament from ‘time immemorial’. The legalistic meaning of this is before the reign of the English king Richard I. The Christian church came to view purity as the easiest way to get to Heaven, and purity was synonymous with celibacy and virginity. However, recognising the weakness of the flesh, the Church permitted sex within a marriage—a ceremony of their own devising—and then only for procreation; fun wasn’t encouraged. Procreation was for the production of virgins, the better to populate Heaven. Thus came the syncretism of monogamy for legitimate inheritance with Christian purity and chastity. The Church at least permitted guilt-free sex, though it severely limited the days on which this was possible. (For changes in the Christian view of sex and marriage see here. For changes in the regulation of sex see here.)

For the elite, the 1%, marriage was a bit different. Marriage was about dynasties and political alliances—and dowries and property. Such marriages were arranged by advisers; the bride and groom didn’t have much say. As long as the couple performed their duty, producing a male heir, he could otherwise do as he liked. Henry VIII did have a ‘natural’ son, but no legitimate heir, hence his need for a divorce, the break with Rome, a new partner—who didn’t provide the wished for son and who paid for this dereliction of duty with her life. Until very recently, Royal Houses, such as that of Windsor, expected prospective brides to be of at least aristocratic birth.

In the later middle ages, marriage was seen by the commercial classes as a ‘business partnership’. Such merchants often had to travel far from home; and while he was away, she was fully able to run the business. Although this sounds like a rather sterile, functional arrangement, there’s no doubt that many such couples did feel great mutual affection; you get the distinct impression that it was a very successful arrangement, for the man and the woman knew exactly where they stood and what they could expect. It wasn’t based on what we know as ‘romantic love’, it was pragmatic, honest and robust, a true ‘joint enterprise’.

As marriage had been taken over by the Church, it came under canon law. Lord Hardwicke’s 1753 Act changed this. Marriage in England and Wales became a civil contract; and only marriages solemnised in an established church were legal. The Act introduced ‘banns’. This Act extended to Ireland after the Act of Union; at that time, even if both parties were Catholic, the only legally recognised form of marriage was in the Church of Ireland. (Quakers and Jews were exempted under this Act, Dissenters and Catholics weren’t.) Marriage in Scotland could still be by declaration. In England, if the woman was under 21, she required her father’s permission. Thus, in reality and in romance, English elopers headed to Scotland; the first hamlet there was, of course, Gretna Green. If her father hadn’t caught her before this, there was then nothing he could do; she was legally, traditionally, married.

The Enlightenment, from the later 18th century, was the start of the idea that ‘love’ should be the basis for marriage. We can see this in Jane Austen’s novels, where the girls are looking for a man of substance, but also a man they could love. In Pride and Prejudice, Lizzy rejects the odious toady, Mr Collins; but he rushes off to her friend Caroline Lucas, who afraid of being ‘left on the shelf’ accepts his suit, a traditional escape for spinsters. Lizzy marries FitzWilliam not just for love, but because he is a man of considerable means; two more traditional attitudes to marriage. At this time, a married woman was the property, the chattel of the man; she was a ‘thing’; she needed a proper protector, not a Wickham. At marriage all the woman’s possessions legally became her husband’s property; even if he gave her jewellery such presents remained his property.

As the property of the man, the woman had no legal existence; but as the law was now civil and not canonical, adultery as a means of divorce was much more difficult. So, the husband could sue the other man for damage to his property, his wife; such ‘criminal conversation’ trials were as notorious as they were salacious; the cuckold’s aim was often to reduce the ‘co-respondent’ to penury, as here.

The idea of a married woman as a chattel has only recently disappeared in the UK. I remember well at primary school hearing that ‘Miss so-and-so is leaving at the end of term to get married’. In those days, traditional marriage meant that the woman became a housewife; indeed, if she worked for the BBC, she found that when she married she became unemployed. And if her husband raped her, he could not be prosecuted for this; he was permitted to damage his property—though under the ‘rule of thumb’ with a stick no thicker than his thumb, or so it is commonly believed. Traditionally, a married woman needed her husband’s permission for the most trivial everyday activities, like having a bank account.

At a traditional church marriage today—and the Christian church is a parvenu in these matters—we would see the bride, in the virginal white of purity, of chastity (even if white was popularised by Queen Victoria), being led to the altar by her father, who then ‘gives’ her in marriage. We don’t see behind the scenes, where in the past, the father’s and the groom’s lawyers would have argued over the bride price, the dowry, the basis of the marriage contract. And by ‘giving’ her, the father recognises that his daughter’s safe keeping passes to another man, a man whom she might well promise to ‘obey’, for as the head of the house, he had absolute control over her. And does the traditional bride wear something old, such as the knickers of a fecund relative to ensure her fertility, a blue garter to guard against the evil eye, and has she a silver sixpence in her shoe in the hope of prosperity?

And after the celebrant has done his thing—women priests having been airbrushed out of the church by the 4th century—comes the signing of the register. This is the actual, legal bit of the ceremony; the celebrant acts as an agent of the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. As they leave the church, they might well be showered with confetti or rice, a symbol for ’seed’, to encourage fertility. And this ’seed’ was symbolic of semen, which having its origin in the testicles, was clearly ‘purified blood’, and thus through its action continued the ‘bloodline’.

Of course, same-sex marriage isn’t anyway traditional, is it? Well, actually it is, if not so obvious or well known; try this link for more details, though it’s a long read. Are humans distinguished from animals by being on an elevated moral plane? Many animals are gay, and monogamy is very much the exception; DNA testing has shown, horror of horrors, that those ultimate symbols of fidelity, the swans, are anything but. Necrophilia was first seen in penguins a century ago. Oh, and don’t lets think about brother-sister marriage amongst the pharaohs, arranged and forced marriages, polygamy, ‘temporary marriages’, or the ability to marry the dead in China; things are complicated enough here as it is.

What then is marriage today? Is it some concatenation of tradition involving dynasty, politics, business, love, a ceremony based for many on the Book of Common Prayer with the officiant wearing a Roman collar (a mid-Victorian Presbyterian invention), the production of offspring—or not, property and inheritance, the prevention of sin, tax-efficiency, furtive elopement, a shotgun, a big party, soulmates, trashing the dress, a statement of wealth and power, a ‘starter’, a simple declaration, permanent or serial monogamy, somehow Biblical (which Bible)? Is marriage now a traditional arrangement, where the tradition depends on your interpretation of the past and what you wish to believe and see as proper and appropriate? Is today’s paradigm of marriage something based on ‘tradition’, yet founded on the modern ideas of love or Eros; do Agape and Philia make an appearance? Or is marriage now something different, has it continued to evolve, becoming something fluid, a civil right, something to be entered into freely and without restriction by all those couples who so wish?

 

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  • Croiteir

    Even in The 11Century the Church didn’t get involved. Mmm. Not sure what is meant by that.

  • AndyB

    It’s worth noting that since 2004, the role of ministers of religion has changed in both NI and Ireland.

    I think churches still ensure that people are free to marry within the rules of the church, but since all other declarations are made to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, their role is now restricted to witnessing the vows, declaring the couple married, and confirming in writing (via the marriage schedule) that the ceremony was carried out in accordance with the schedule. They no longer register marriages, as this is now entirely a matter for the civil authorities (and it is £2 cheaper to give notice of intention to get married than it was to obtain a marriage licence!)

    In other words, we may, as I did, get married in the context of a religious service, but it is still nonetheless a civil marriage.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Basically for the first 1000 years of its history the church have nothing to do with marriage

    “Matrimony, for most of Church history had been celebrated (as in traditions such as the Roman and Judaic) without clergy and was done according to local customs. The first available written detailed account of a Christian wedding in the West dates only from the 9th century” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_(Catholic_Church)

  • Korhomme

    Perhaps you thought that marriage in a Christian community always was a religious and clerical ceremony, and this is perhaps what the Church would like people to understand. And yet for the first millennium, the Church really wasn’t involved—see Brian’s response. So many ‘traditions’ are modern, the designation of ‘traditional marriage/wedding’ is a misnomer.

  • Gingray

    Fantastic article korhomme, very interesting.

  • Korhomme

    The UK and Ireland are unusual in that a religious and a civil ceremony can be simultaneous. In most of Europe, the civil part must be separate from the religious ceremony—often a day apart. The French Revolution separated Church and State entirely; the Code Napoleon is the legal foundation of many Continental countries. There, often only the civil ceremony is recognised; rather oddly, to our eyes, Lutheran ministers may well say that marriage should only be civil and not in any way religious.

    Brigitte Bardot married Roger Vadim, in the typical French way; a civil ceremony and a religious ceremony the next day. It was only after the Church ceremony that Brigitte’s father allowed Roger to consummate the marriage. The Church’s view was that a marriage was only valid when it had been consummated, and there were still some who didn’t accept a civil marriage as the ‘real thing’.

    Henry VIII tried to get the Pope to annul his first marriage, to Catherine, on the basis that his brother, her first husband, hadn’t consummated the marriage. The Pope didn’t accept this, neither did Catherine.

  • Peter L

    What then is marriage today?Good question.

    It’s a piece of paper with “marriage” stamped on it and utterly meaningless because it can mean anything one wants it to mean.

    How progressive.

  • Croiteir

    I think if you actually read the article you would find that Tertullian refers to a marriage ceremony blessed by a priest. Sorts of holes both your statements below the water line.

  • Croiteir

    Women priest airbrushed out of history? Can’t airbrush out what didn’t happen or, if did, was not valid.

  • Croiteir

    Hardwickes act confirmed the role of the Church in marriage and was introduced not to diminish that, but to prevent what were called irregular marriage.

  • Croiteir

    I do not accept that the 18th century was the beginning of the idea of “love” as being the basis of marriage, just read Shakespeare. Much Ado About Nothing is a good analysis of love – should have been the title of this essay.

  • Croiteir

    Henry The Eighth did not seek an annulment on the grounds of non consummation, it was on the grounds that you cannot marry your brothers wife, the argument failed due to non consummation which rendered the marriage unfulfilled.

  • Croiteir

    Correct – Same Sex marriage is a very conservative piece of legislation.

  • Korhomme

    The point is this; that previously ‘love’ wasn’t a significant factor in a marriage. Love might well have been understood, but not as the basis of marriage. Today ‘romantic love’ is seen as the prerequisite for marriage, although romantic love today is a very different thing to what the troubadours referred to.

    I’m saying that marriage, and the reasons for marriage, have changed over time, and that it would be foolish to think that further change is impossible.

  • Korhomme

    Are you sure? There certainly is evidence of women as priests and bishops in the first three centuries CE. There are pictures, I think in the Roman catacombs, that show them in such roles. It may not be universally believed, though I’m in the camp that does think that the role of women in the early church has been removed from the standard narrative.

    And as well as noting how marriage has changed, I was also referring to the changing ‘role’ of women.

  • Korhomme

    From the article, emphasis added:

    “Matrimony, for most of Church history had been celebrated (as in
    traditions such as the Roman and Judaic) without clergy and was done
    according to local customs. The first available written detailed account
    of a Christian wedding in the West dates only from the 9th century and
    appears to be identical to the old nuptial service of Ancient Rome.[34]
    However, early witnesses to the practice of intervention by the clergy
    in the marriage of early Christians include Tertullian, who speaks of
    Christians “requesting marriage” from them,[43]
    and Ignatius of Antioch, who said Christians should form their union
    with the approval of the bishop – although the absence of clergy placed
    no bar, and there is no suggestion that the recommendation was widely
    adopted.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Croiteir, can you give me a reference for Tertullian? I’d be interested. I’d imagine that the real issue would be the date at which marriage became considered as a sacrament. While I think that St Augustine speaks of marriage as “a sacrament”, and very many of the Church Fathers speak of the blessing of unions, does the actual doctrine of the Church on this matter pre-date the statements of the Council of Trent?

  • Granni Trixie

    Fascinating post,thanks.
    Re “marriage only valid when it has been consummated” – it is worth considering also “divorce catholic style” (as some call it) whereby a marriage is deemed “null and void” . To me this means the Catholic church is accepting that the marriage has not been consummated – but defacto it does not mean that as some people I know who have obtained such a “divorce” have had children from the union! All sounds a bit sleight-of-hand to me.

  • Greenflag 2

    During the Black Death when a third to half the population of Britain and Ireland died – many people were buried without any religious rites. Simon Schama in his History of Britain makes reference to women in the absence of priests and /or men being allowed to administer last rites .

  • ruhah

    Similarly neither arguments from Brian or Korhomme refers the Judaic background that Christianity grew out off. The Ketubah is a well attested example of a ancient example of marriage by contract, with signatures and witnesses. While not needing cleric intervention, it was a rabbinic invention. It superseding of the mohar payment was probably some time after the 8th century BCE. The notice than religious understanding was absent from marriage is naive indeed.

  • Not Brazil

    For me, I am not particularly interested what the Catholic church has done or even what many Protestant churches have done in the past. Many things have been said and done in the name of religion which should rightly be challenged and condemned. I read my Bible for myself and listen to other people’s interpretation before coming to my own conclusion. I separate what is tradition from what the Bible actually teaches. In the case of same sex marriage, I believe that the bible is clear that marriage is between one man and one woman.

  • ruhah

    Ad fontes korhomme! In Eph 5:21-33, Paul gives a radical vision of marriage, where three times he mention love in connection with marriage. Perhaps, as you hint, the meaning of romantic love can vary but Paul is referencing here a giving up of oneself to the other. The Church culture that received his letter and spread throughout the empire would have be shocked by the teaching on marriage. It is inaccurate to assert that ‘love’ wasn’t a significant factor, given it’s significance and prominence in teaching around marriage.

  • Greenflag 2

    Excellent article Korhomme.-illuminating if not/and enlightening .

    For the first 300 years of that millenium the Church was in competition with the remaining multiple God pagans of the Roman Empire . It was only when Constantine became Emperor that Christianity became the official religion . For most Europeans living outside Roman rule nothing changed and for many living inside the Roman Empire the new religion was just becoming established when the Empire collapsed . Enter the dark ages etc .

    For those interested in how the Church emerged during the first 300 years and how it compromised with the Roman traditional deities I’d recommend ‘Pagans” – author James O”Donnell .

  • Korhomme

    I understand that the Church requires a marriage to be ‘valid’, and part of this validation is consummation.

    However, there’s much more than this needed to validate a marriage. The Wikipedia post that Brian shared, above, has a paragraph about annulment and how it can be possible—and how clever lawyers could exercise their ingenuity to achieve an annulment.

  • Korhomme

    I had enough trouble keeping my article to a reasonable length (ca. 1800 words); I quite deliberately excluded much of pre-Christian rituals etc. And I was very aware of presenting a ‘broad brush’ approach to marriage, emphasizing the main themes as I saw them. I’m sure anyone could pick holes in just about every statement—but I aimed at seeing the forest, not just the trees.

  • Richard

    Traditional means different things depending on the context. I get a chocolate orange every Christmas. It’s a Christmas tradition for me but it’s not a universal or societal Christmas tradition. Like you say, we can talk about a traditional wedding ceremony with the white dress and the vows and the reception and all. By traditional we mean the recent tradition in our culture. Nobody actually believes this is how it has been from time immemorial. Nor any of that other stuff.

    In context of recent debates, people mean traditional in the sense of how humanity has understood the make-up of marriage throughout history, which has been between a man and a woman.

  • Dominic Hendron

    Is there not also the issue of marriage being freely entered into with full knowledge and acceptance of what marriage is in the Christian tradition

  • Carlos Fleming
  • MalikHills

    “So just what is traditional marriage anyway?”

    And what clearly comes forth from the comprehensive analysis is that ultimately marriage is an institution in varying forms that unites men and women, for a variety of reasons, in a variety of guises and involving different factors ranging from number of partners, age, social status, religion, property and so on.

    But the one absolute rock solid factor that does not change and has never changed is that marriage has always been between men and women.

    No amount of analysis can change that. The one absolute feature that has always marked out marriage is that it is a partnership between men and women.

    No one in their right minds can object to consenting adults entering into legal and civil partnerships (although I see no reason why these should be limited to gender or sexuality), you can call these partnerships whatever you like but unless language has simply ceased to have any meaning you cannot call them marriages.

    Marriage either means marriage or it does not.

    The law can be amended to say that “wet” means “dry”, it can force us to use this terminology in our day to day life, but it cannot force us to believe in our hearts that something that is wet is in fact dry.

    Marriage is between men and women, it always has been, laws can be changed, facts cannot.

  • whatif1984true

    Marriage today is a legal contract which has attached various child/asset/financial regulations. It can be broken at anytime at either party’s behest. Society today no longer seems to have any moral strictures related to the arrangement. Can it be we are heading full circle to a point when marriage is no more than a temporary state.

  • Granni Trixie

    I think that you are right – this is why I said ‘sleight of hand’ in that who really knows what they are doing when they get married? That is also why I call it “Catholic style divorce” . Better to be honest and acknowledge that sometimes unfortunately marriages do not work out.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    In fact M Bardot was reputed to have sat in her bedroom all night after the civil ceremony with a shotgun to deter the husband in case he got irreligiously impatient.

  • Biftergreenthumb

    What actually happens at a wedding? Two people promise to stay with each other through good time and bad times til death do they part. Marriage changes a relationship from one based on desire (“I’m with you because I want to be with you”) to one based on commitment (“I promise to be with you forever“).There is no reason why two people of the same gender promising to be together forever undermines the concept of marriage. They to can elevate their relationship from one based on desire to one based on commitment.

    The introduction of divorce is a bigger redefinition of marriage than same sex marriage. The possibility of divorce changes commitment back into desire (“I promise to be with you until I don’t want to be with you any more”). The possibility of divorce destroyed the whole point of marriage.

    A gay couple who don’t believe in divorce have a more real marriage than a straight couple who believe in divorce.

  • The Night Rider

    Have any conservatives ever penned an article on this site?

  • Korhomme

    Ha! I didn’t know that.

    Gives a whole new meaning to a ‘shotgun wedding’!

  • Croiteir

    I cannot think of these proofs – can you share them?

  • Croiteir

    Anyone can administer viaticum to the dying – but the Sacrament of Extreme Unction is a reserved matter

  • Croiteir

    Tertullian wrote to his wife “Ad Uxorem”, although you always need to be on guard with Tertullian it is an authentic insight into early Christian thinking. Not the rants and raves of moderns who wish to twist it to suit their agenda’s.

    Here is how he finished the second book.

    THE BEAUTY OF CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

    How shall we ever be able adequately to describe the happiness of that marriage which the Church arranges, the Sacrifice strengthens, upon which the blessing sets a seal, at which angels are present as witnesses, and to which the Father gives His consent? For not even on earth do children marry properly and legally without their fathers’ permission.

    How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in hope, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice. They are as brother and sister, both servants of the same Master. Nothing divides them, either in flesh or in spirit. They are, in very truth, two in one flesh; and where there is but one flesh there is also but one spirit. They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another. Side by side they visit God’s church and partake of God’s Banquet; side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another; they never shun each other’s company; they never bring sorrow to each other’s hearts. Unembarrassed they visit the sick and assist the needy. They give alms without anxiety; they attend the Sacrifice without difficulty; they perform their daily exercises of piety without hindrance. They need not be furtive about making the Sign of the Cross, nor timorous in greeting the brethren, nor silent in asking a blessing of God. Psalms and hymns they sing to one another, striving to see which one of them will chant more beautifully the praises of their Lord. Hearing and seeing this, Christ rejoices. To such as these He gives His peace. Where there [p36] are two together, there also He is present; and where He is, there evil is not.

    These, then, are the thoughts which the Apostle in that brief expression of his has left for our consideration. Recall them to your mind, if ever there should be need to do so. Use them to strengthen yourself against the bad example which certain women give you. In no other way than this are Christians permitted to marry — and, even if they were, it would not be the prudent thing to do.

  • Peter L

    And now you can have Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck officiate at the “marriage.”

  • Carlos Fleming

    I like the way you think.

  • Croiteir

    That is why they have marriage courses Grannie. To ensure you do.

  • Croiteir

    See my response – it was. Or at least it was intended to be.

  • Croiteir

    The use of the word sacrament is also due to Tertullian who used it to describe the various rituals and practices. He got it from the Latin word sacramentum which was something or other to do with the military. The sacraments predate the word.

  • Croiteir

    It is just simply plain wrong. The Church always had a marriage ceremony.

  • Korhomme

    There was a BBC documentary a year or two about the place of women in the early of the Church. It discussed Thecla/Thekla amongst others. The presenter took us into the catacombs, and showed pictures of women in ‘priestly’ garb. I’m sorry, I don’t remember the name of the documentary, or the name of the (female) presenter. Subsequently, I’ve seen reference to this elsewhere; again I don’t quite remember where; at present, most of my reference books are in storage, as I’m between houses, so I can’t easily search.

  • Korhomme

    That may well be so; but we can think of the place of the Church in the first Millennium as being voluntary. Only later did it become compulsory, essential; and this is how so many think of it today. It’s clear that theological thinking has changed over the ages.

  • Croiteir

    Sorry cant help you there. perhaps they were making the common error of thinking that a deaconess was the same as a deacon?

  • Korhomme

    Divorce was easy in Greek and Roman times, though you would have to repay the dowry. We don’t usually have dowries today, but we do have ‘serial monogamy’.

    The moral strictures argument is dangerous; which is more important, the sanctity of marriage as an institution—and thereby the sanctity of the Church—or the well-being of those involved in the marriage? The well-being of the Church has been the reason behind the discovery of so many recent scandals; the Church is more important than it’s members.

  • Korhomme

    I doubt it; the presenter was an expert, a University academic as I recall.

  • Croiteir

    In that case I cannot be off assistance

  • Korhomme

    After a search, I think it was Bettany Hughes:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/clips/z4mr87h

    The full programme is not available on the iPlayer.

  • Croiteir

    Not changed but developed – unless you want to refer to the deformation. That was a change.

  • And interesting essay on the nature of marriage and religion is to be found at
    https://onthenatureofmarriage.wordpress.com/

  • Korhomme

    Rather a curious essay; it’s takes its starting point as Biblical Christianity. The author seems to think that the Fall from Grace causes all sorts of ‘social and medical evils’. This is certainly a view that many hold, yet overall the concepts are predicated on a very narrow base, one for which ‘evidence’ in the scientific sense is missing. It approaches the ‘Crime of Procrustes’, cherry picking evidence to suit a very particular world view. I tried to present a much wider, more general viewpoint about the concept of ‘marriage’, how this began and how it evolved.

  • Greenflag 2

    The French Bardot was obviously not as pragmatic as the Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor who was not abashed at describing herself as a marvellous housekeeper .

    I ‘m such a marvellous housekeeper she said that every time I leave a man I keep his house .

  • Greenflag 2

    Nothing was reserved during the period of the Black Death not even Extreme Unction . Millions died and were buried without any extreme unction or religious rites whatsoever .Priests and people were terrified of going anywhere close to the infected for fear of certain contagion . Obviously in less chaotic times the Church could insist on its protocol and did .

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘Not changed but developed ‘

    Nonsense – it changed . Just like with Galileo . The Church maintained that the Sun rotated around the Earth despite Galileos proof that it was the other way around . Galileo denied his own truth for fear of being burnt alive as a heretic .

    I don’t know when the RC Church finally accepted that Galileo was right and that they were wrong – but I can assure you that during this period as before and afterwards -the Earth continued rotating around the Sun .

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you, Croiteir, I will return to him and refresh memory on all of this. With quite a number of Anglican clergy (including several bishops) in my background I’ve inherited a small library of Church Fathers works, in latin and translation. What I do not have on my shelves I have noted on they shelves of the McClay.

    As I remember the etymology of the word, it came from the nature of that oath taken by a soldier to the divine Emperor, although there appears to have been an earlier republican oath, which I think is mentioned in one of Cicero’s letters.

  • William Carr

    Oh dear, i think you have destroyed a lot of arguments on this subject.
    you would have thought that all those “Christians” who have been claiming that marriage was always between one man and women, might have read the bible before they went off on one.

  • William Carr

    Not working very well those courses are they! Just look at the divorce rate.

  • Croiteir

    Working very well – what are the annulment rates?

  • Croiteir

    Many people wrongly believe Galileo proved heliocentricity. He could not answer the strongest argument against it, which had been made nearly two thousand years earlier by Aristotle: If heliocentrism were true, then there would be observable parallax shifts in the stars’ positions as the earth moved in its orbit around the sun. However, given the technology of Galileo’s time, no such shifts in their positions could be observed. It would require more sensitive measuring equipment than was available in Galileo’s day to document the existence of these shifts, given the stars’ great distance. Until then, the available evidence suggested that the stars were fixed in their positions relative to the earth, and, thus, that the earth and the stars were not moving in space—only the sun, moon, and planets were. In fact the parallax problem was mot solved until 1838.
    What the Church believed was the scientific establishments view – the Aristotelian one. Just as the Pope now foolishly accepts that global warming is affected by humans. The Church is going to get egg on its face with that one.
    There was absolutely no chance of Galileo being burned alive. That is just pure sensationalism. The rules of the inquisition forbade it.
    However as an interesting aside Galileo was also wrong,

  • Greenflag 2

    Thanks I was aware . They did burn Bruno though and others . Einstein also got it wrong as regards the Earths tectonic plates moving around the planet over billions of years . Up to 1955 approx most geologists believed that the reason marsupials were found in South America as well as Australia was because of now submerged land bridges .A t one point it seemed entire oceans were covered with land bridges to explain why fauna – could be found . It was not reasonable to believe that a marsupial could swim across the Southern ocean

  • Richard

    This graphic makes a lot of misunderstandings:

    1. A basic understanding of reading the Bible is that not everything in the bible that is DEscribed is PREscribed. Just because some people acted a certain sinful way doesn’t mean those behvious are commanded.

    2. The New Testament done away with much of the Old. Christians understand we don’t live under the Mosaic Law.

    3. It actually proves exactly the point traditionalists are making – every example in the graphic marriage is defined as male and female.

    4. Every example except 1 (polygamy) aren’t a variation on marriage at all. Just simply 1 man and 1 woman.

    1) Simple nuclear family. 1 man/1 woman marriage
    2) Concubines weren’t wives. Still 1 man/1 woman marriage
    3) Wives proprety. Still 1 man/1 woman marriage
    4) Widows. Still 1 man/1 woman marriage
    5) Victims of rape. Still 1 man/1 woman marriage
    6) Soldier and POW. Still 1 man/1 woman marriage
    7) Male and female slaves. Still 1 man/1 woman marriage

    So, all examples of 1 man/1 woman marriage. Just different ways of getting together.

    5. Polygamy here is really not a form of group marriage where a man marries multiple women at once. Rather, there’s one man marrying one woman, and then he marries another woman, and then maybe another woman. Even polygamy at its core is one man, one woman marriage that occurs in multiple instances. And again, it’s just described, not prescribed. Monogamy is the Biblical standard.

  • Croiteir

    I see – she has found a few paintings on the walls of a catacomb and went from there. Hardly proof.

  • Croiteir

    You were aware but you said the opposite anyway?.. Brunoburned not because of his scientific views. In fact he has the dubious distinction of being the last person burned I believe.

  • Croiteir

    By the way – the Church did not get it wrong vis-a-vis Galileo and heliocentrism – it had no official view on the subject in order o be wrong.

  • Korhomme

    If not proof, what would be? Just suppose that the contention is correct, that there were female priests and bishops; what would you need or accept to change what’s the common understanding that there weren’t?

  • Croiteir

    I am not contending whether there were people claiming to be priests. The contention is their validity. Even today there are women who claim to be women priests, but they are not.

  • Greenflag 2

    I disremembered -I had been aware but when you mentioned it I became aware of my disrememberment. But heres what happened to Bruno

    The Roman Inquisition extradited him from Venice. For six years it kept him in prison without a trial. Then it ordered him to recant his false beliefs. Although he knew what fate awaited him, Bruno refused.

    Giordano Bruno took his last walk early on this day, February 17, 1600. A stake awaited him in the Campo di Fiora. Dressed as a heretic, his tongue clamped so that he could say nothing against the church or in defense of his unacceptable views, authorities burned him to death.

    His case was significant for several reasons. For one, he was the last victim burned by the Roman Inquisition. For another, fear of a similar fate caused Galileo to recant his belief in the heliocentric theory a few years later. And lastly, Bruno’s ideas influenced the pantheism of the Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza and the monadism of German thinker Gottfried von Leibniz.

    Gotta hand it to those Roman Inquisitors – tongue clamping eh . I guess it prevented free speech .

    Aren’t we lucky to have our brief period of non mortality in the early 21st century . Mind you there are some organisations in Northern Ireland and elsewhere who miss the old tongue clamping and that would’nt include just the religious . Some of them even profess to speak in tongues , handle snakes and preach that blood transfusions are against the will of their God . Wackos plain and simple .

  • Greenflag 2

    So its official view on burning heretics like Bruno Giordano and thousands before him was not wrong but right ? Since Giordano’s time the RC Church has covered up so many sexual , financial , political and other scandals that if Michelangelo had to paint them on the Sistine Chapel he’d have to ask the City of Roman to build a couple of hundred Sistine chapels if not more .

    They do some good of course as do the Orange Order . Its just that the bad gets the publicity eh ?

  • Croiteir

    For 6 years held without trial – not true. he was held for from 1592 to1600 the initial trial took 2 years, they then decided to adjourn to gather more information, and inspect his writings, Bruno himself took the next 2 years to write his defence , so half the time was spent on the gathering of evidence and the preparation of the defence. The trial then went forward and back as Bruno continuously indicated he was going to recant then failed to do so, dragging the case out.
    The next florid paragraph is good writing, it failed to mention the leaves wafting around his sore fettered feet. And you same to think the data is 17 February?
    We have already established he was the last heretic burned as the Catholic states were turning against the practice, so why repeat it? And again you repeat the falsehood that Galileo was afraid of being burned, he wasn’t as he could not have been burned for a belief the Church had no position on. You really need to get that crucial fact established in your mind. Are you blindly cutting and pasting this?
    What relevance has his influence on the philosopher have to his execution? You are cutting and pasting this without thought or review – aren’t you?
    Free speech – They did – as they understood it. Hence Galileo allowed to continue talking about heliocentrism after his trial. But just as today there were issues that free speech did not extend to.
    Indeed there are wackos about iot there, some are in Stormont pretending that Green policies aren’t destroying jobs and undermining the economy, for example. But sure thank God for dappled things.

  • David Elliott

    Not really . . .

    Gay ‘marriage’ in medieval Europe. Same-sex unions aren’t a recent invention. Until the 13th century, male-bonding ceremonies were common in churches across the Mediterranean. Apart from the couples’ gender, these events were almost indistinguishable from other marriages of the era. Twelfth-century liturgies for same-sex unions — also known as “spiritual brotherhoods” — included the recital of marriage prayers, the joining of hands at the altar, and a ceremonial kiss. Some historians believe these unions were merely a way to seal alliances and business deals. But Eric Berkowitz, author of Sex and Punishment, says it is “difficult to believe that these rituals did not contemplate erotic contact. In fact, it was the sex between the men involved that later caused same-sex unions to be banned.” That happened in 1306, when the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus II declared such ceremonies, along with sorcery and incest, to be unchristian.

    From here http://theweek.com/articles/475141/how-marriage-changed-over-centuries. Ooops

  • Richard

    I assume you meant to respond to another comment on here as this reply is irrelevant to my comment above.

    But anyway…these same-sex unions you mention weren’t marriages or even usually sexual (I take it he is referring to Adelphopoiesis). Some people have tried to make it sound like that but would seem most historians disagree.

    See here http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9411/articles/darling.html
    Or here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelphopoiesis

    Ooops!

  • whatif1984true

    Ask a priest, the GAA is The new Roman Catholic Church. One male dominated structure versus another, match vs mass. The sanctity of the GAA is now paramount.

  • David Elliott

    Hi Richard. I was replying to your comment that was always historically 1 man / 1 woman.

    If you read the article you referenced, in the notes it states, “He (Prof Boswell) claims that the “brother/sister-making” rituals found in manuscripts and certain published works are ancient ceremonies whose cryptic (or, in current argot, “encoded”) purpose has been to give ecclesiastical blessing to homosexual or lesbian relationships, thus making them actual nuptial ceremonies. This startling claim is certainly far from the reality of the ceremony in which we participated nine years ago.”

    Which again bears with Boswells view, in that “brother/sister-making” ceased in the 13th Century, although clearly an historical derivative remains, which the person commenting participated in.

    My point however, is that it is not as cut & dried as you make out.

    Marriage has changed, and continues to change, both inside & outside the church.

  • Richard

    That quote (actually from the 6th paragraph down, not the notes) just summarises Boswell’s argument which the article then goes on to refute. The very next paragraph says “I will say flatly that neither Boswell’s reconstruction of them nor his method of argumentation can possibly support the interpretation he proposes”.

    You say it “bears with Boswells view”. I assume you mean Berkowitz. But from what I understand, Berkowitz is borrowing from Boswell’s research.

    So I still think “traditionally marriage has been between a man and a woman” is a fair statement.

  • Great comment that cuts through it all & hits the gender mark spot-on. Marriage is about our natural sustainability—children!—and, in Western/European culture since the establishment of the original Rule of Law over 2500 years ago, marriage is founded on four pillars: quantity (1 & 1), sex (man & woman), blood (no familial relation), and age (of consent/Citizen/reproductive).

    Equality of the sexes (1-man-1-woman) has been part of marriage in our culture far long before the twisted irrational egalitarian version of equality that is permeating marriage culture in the early days of the 21st century; don’t confuse men’s historically abysmal treatment (generally!) of women in marriage as inequality.

    If all four pillars are not defended and do not logically stand together in our law anymore, then our law should have nothing to do with “marriage” nor with the the personal relationships in our bedroom. Contract Law and various other legal structures exist, collectively as substitute.

  • No, marriage is a formal, selfless, & SUSTAINABLE relationship that is supposed to be “one based on commitment” TO CREATE & RAISE CHILDREN TOGETHER. Full-stop.

  • Biftergreenthumb

    At any wedding i have ever been to the couple’s vows have never included anything about promising to have and raise kids. The vows usually only include loving and protecting each other “in sickness and in health, till death do us part” etc. Nothing about kids at all. full stop,

  • The most obvious implications must be typically beyond you.

    Therefore, based on your argument, marriage is redefined under Law for all?! Wow, how incredibly compelling…! We’re all headed for a 2nd Dark Age if our legal system is to be based on unique personal emotions, different for each individual! Wow.

  • Biftergreenthumb

    You can talk about implications all you want but the fact of the matter is that a wedding is when two people promise to spend there lives together. Wedding vows do not include a promise to have children.
    Do you think couples that don’t want or aren’t able to have kids should not be allowed to get married?
    Marriage is a promise two people make to be together for the rest of their lives. When two people do this, even if they are the same gender, it has no impact on other people. What makes you think you have the right to stop people making this promise when it makes no difference to your life at all? It doesn’t effect you so its none of your business.

  • If you think it is the State’s business to regulate (or even simply observe) your interpersonal emotions and not promote naturally-sustainable relationships—above all else—for a sustainable birthrate/population, then that’s your opinion and not something that should be a foundation in our legal system.

    Theocracies, Dictatorships, & Kingdoms regulate your personal life; in a liberal-democracy, we are supposed to be free from irrational beliefs and our existentialism should be priority number one.

  • Biftergreenthumb

    “Theocracies, Dictatorships, & Kingdoms regulate your personal life;
    in a liberal-democracy, we are supposed to be free from irrational
    beliefs and our existentialism should be priority number one”

    I completely agree. it is not the state’s business to interfere in people’s privte business nor to impose its moral views on its citizens. It is not the state’s business to decide who can and cant get married. It is up to the individual. If two people of the same gender want to get married that is up to them.

  • Your statement is either inherently contradictive or you do not think marriage should have anything to do with government.