Joseph Martos
Part Three of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 1
by Dr. Joe Martos - Friday, 17 February 2012, 1:58 AM
Reflect on the history of marriage, and explain why you believe that various developments in theology or practice were either positive or negative. If possible, select at least one development from each of the following periods: the apostolic and patristic periods (AD 30-500), the medieval period (AD 500-1500), and the modern period (AD 1500-1960).
Picture of Marvin Fitchett
Re: Part Three of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 1
by Marvin Fitchett - Monday, 6 August 2012, 6:33 PM

The Sacrament of Marriage was a late blooming sacrament in a sense, and it has been said, the sacrament of marriage’s history did not start until the Middle Ages. In spite of the previous statement, the framework for marriage occurred naturally with the beginning of time. There was innateness about marriage, and that quality manifested itself through their physical compatibility, which produced offspring. Marriages were either agreed upon by both the man and the woman or the parents arranged the marriage. Due to how marriage was agreed upon, they were considered a legal affair with civil ramification. The marriage framework was forming or formed prior to the any evidence of sacramentality.

The first historical records on the concept of marriage are seen in the Torah, as it records men knowing their woman and it makes mentions of betrothals. The second historical records which give guidance about marriage are the New Testaments, which references from Jesus Christ, and other authors. The topics of guidance were about marriage, divorce, remarriage, and the analogies drawn from the scriptures about marriage. The two historical records of marriage can be referred two as the foundation for Christian Marriage. They are worth their weight in gold, because they are timely reference which any believer can reference for individual guidance regarding marriage.

The Patristic era records regarding marriage are marked with little involvement. However, the involvement that occurred was significant because their exposure was fundamental to developing a theology. In this era marriage remained a private family affair, but it did not stop Clement of Alexandria from getting into the records when writing “marriage was to following the guidance of God’s word, because it was subject to God. Entered into with a sincere heart and fidelity, and the couple must devote themselves to prayer and reading the scripture” (358, 359). The next involvements were of the priest, when they invited to private weddings and asked to bless the union of the married couple. This led to Pope Siricius mandating that all marriage under his rule be formalized. Lastly, St. Augustine presented his thoughts on marriage as a sacred sign, therefore marriage was sacramental. The summarized records are not all encompassing of every event that occurred during the patristic period. They are sufficient to see that the Catholic Church is forming the theology around the concept of marriage. St. Augustine analogy is priceless and paints the real picture of sacrificial love and insolubility.

The Medieval era is marked by increasing activity of theologians, and church officials’ involvement in the marriage phenomenon. The event that open the gate for further involvement by the clergy was when the Roman Empire ask the church to judge civil matter in its absent. The reoccurring civil matter was the legality of marriage and divorce. The legality question stimulated numerous debates and written works on the subjects. There were regulations, privileges, legal reforms, marriage standards, and liturgies develop from the legality question of marriage and divorce. The most permanent decision to the legality question was that of Alexander III, he is credited for starting the legal practice of the Catholic Church, and its infamous concept refers to marriage being indissoluble. The medieval period, set the Catholic Church stamp on the marriage phenomenon thus turning marriage into an institution. This period caused dilemmas for the medieval believers and married couples, image what it will do for the future populace.

The Catholic institution of marriage was plague by annulments of marriages and rebuttals from the reformers. Namely, Martin Luther challenged the Catholic legislation of marriage and its pronouncements of annulments. He objected to their “hierarchy’s regulation of marriage…ecclesiastical law of marriage” (380). Martin Luther effort to shed light on the situation was favorable, because the Council of Trent addressed his views with reforms of their own.

This reflection revealed the plurality of views on the marriage phenomenon. It also established the inception of the Catholic presence in the episode, the start of sacramentality of marriage, its institutionalization of marriage, and its negative effects. With all that has ensued concerning marriage, there are Christian marriages that are sacraments of Jesus Christ union with his church.

Grade 3 (Thorough examination but little evaluation.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Monday, 30 July 2012, 09:37 PM)

Picture of arnetta sims
Re: Part Three of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 1
by arnetta sims - Monday, 6 August 2012, 6:36 PM

Reflecting on the history of marriage we see various developments in the practices. In the traditional practice , marriage took place without religious or civil authority. Ecclesial recognition of the validity of marriage took place after the Council of Trent. I would think that necessary provisions had to be made to regulated this rite.

Even though Jesus preached against divorce, Jews made provision making it easy for a male to get a divorce. During the patristic period Christian scholars condemned divorce as a grave violation of divine law. The Church sought to bring divorce pratices under conformity.

Augustine emphasized the goodness of marriage in fidelity, children and the sacrament. Romans in the West concepts were that marriage became valid after the end of the process. Their process was a man or his father petition a woman's father for her hand. A betrothal by public agreement of the parties , dowry to the woman's family, handling over the woman to the man, physical consummation of the union by sexual intercourse. Let us stop at this point to evaluate these practices. First there is a most definitely need for revision simply because the woman should be allowed to speak for herself. Secondly, the need for the community to ratify a bond that was between two parties was not necessary. Fourth, physical consummation prior marriage was later known to be sinful.

As the Church studied these practices they realized the legtimacy of children involvement and the inheritance hinged on whether the marriage was valid. The Church gained power over marriages and to adjudicate marriage disputes.Marriage was contracted by consent and had rights and obligations. Marriage then became looked upon as an agreement

In the Middle Ages biblical foundation and Augustine's theory of the goodnes of the sacrament led to the Church formulating marriage as a sacrament among the baptized. There might be a problem here for some, whether love and desire to marry should be limited to two baptized people. This theory may not be accepted from my personal point of view, but others might have reservations. The Church named marriage as a sacrament.

Reformers challenged the Church by rejecting the sacramentality of marriage, Church jurisdiction over marriage and prohibition to remarry after divorce involving adultery. The reformers questioned the church's failure to impose a mandatory public form for marriage. As I reflect on these issues, I wonder if the Church's power should governor the legal aspect of marriage? Since the civil authorities also play apart in the marriage process. Who should hold jursidicitions over marriage? The ceremony itself should be governored by the church where the rites are performed, but the civil issues of disputes should not rest on the church to render judgment . For we know that all marriages can not survive, therefore the Eucharist should not be withheld from anyone without just cause. The annulment process needs to be reformed . Does this not fall under abuse where if you pay you can be restored to canoncial form. This maybe not be the correct place to insert an opinion on annulments, but the convience of the topic leaves room.

The Council of Trent responded by defining martimony as one of the properly formed seven sacraments. It decreed the validity of marriage were couples were required to expresss consent before a pastor and two witnesses. This decree became practice in every parish throughout the world.

Vatican II took on a biblical root as God's plan to save with grace through the sacraments. It became a communal celebration. We see two major changes in Vatican II; marriage as a covenant and to produce children and to enable support for one another in mutal love. Married couples are looked upon as a sacrament, a sign to the world of God's love for His people. These two elements of development were very impressive, pastoral and positive.

GRADE 3 (Some shortcomings in accuracy and languge.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Monday, 30 July 2012, 09:59 PM)

Picture of Eileen Rettig
Re: Part Three of the Course, Fourth Assignment, Question 1
by Eileen Rettig - Monday, 6 August 2012, 6:29 PM

The evolution of the sacramental marriage within the Roman Church has been interesting both historically and theologically. While it was not clearly instituted by Jesus, scholars from the Apostolic age on have maintained that passages in two of the three synoptic gospels (Lk 16:18 and Mk 10:1-12) show he raised marriage to a higher standard than was usual for that society. No records exist of any particular religious ritual for marriage in Second Temple Judaism: therefore, the early Christians followed the civil practices of their regions. The patristic fathers had mixed sentiments about marriage, many believed that the Parousia was about to occur and marriage was preferable only to committing acts of fornication. Other early theologians used sections of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians to demonstrate that marriage was a symbol of Christ’s relationship to the Church and therefore sacred. But there is no record of a single ritual for solemnizing the union between two Christians.

Several of the gnostic heresies during the patristic age managed to demean the material world, particularly sexual relationships, even between couples married according to the civil laws of the Roman Empire. It was during this period that Augustine of Hippo wrote extensively on marriage. His interpretation leaned heavily on Ephesians 5. He came to the conclusion that since Christian marriage mirrors Christ’s relationship with the Church, marriage must be a sacramentum, a sacred thing. Augustine, himself, was probably ambivalent about human sexual relations. He was strongly influenced by Manichaeism, a form of Gnosticism that declared the material world evil, and yet before his conversion he had two concubines and at least one son. After his conversion he led a celibate life.

Augustine also made the connection between the permanence of the character of Baptism and the indissolubility of Christian marriage. He argued that even though people were dipped in water and baptized prior to Jesus’ great command to the disciples, it was that great command that gave Christian Baptism its unique character. Likewise, even though marriage existed for as long as humanity (in his mind), it was Jesus’ declarations found in Luke and Mark that gave Christian marriage its permanent character.

Divorce was a persistent problem within the Church. After the disintegration of the Western Roman Empire the bishops tended to be both the civil and ecclesial authorities in the provinces. This led to a legal interpretation of what conditions were necessary for a marriage which was considered both a legal matter and sacramental. Of necessity the ecclesial authorities combined the differing customs of the remnant of the Roman culture with the German tribes who invaded the western borders of the empire. Gradually marriage ceremonies moved from the town or village to the church. Members of the clergy moved from honored guests to presiders over the ceremony. Finally the Roman Church declared that for a marriage to be sacramental it had to be performed in a church and performed by a member of the clergy. The ancient Roman requirement of the mutual consent of the couple constituting a legal marriage was adopted as the sacramentum. The requirement of the ceremony being officiated by a member of the clergy in front of two witnesses met the Germanic customs of a public ceremony.

When the scholastics began to look at the sacraments they assumed that since the marriage ritual occurred in church and Augustine had used the term sacramentum to describe it, it was one of the Sacraments of the Church. The scholastics were then able to neatly fit the elements of the sacrament of Matrimony into the categories of sacramentum et res, res tantum. This never addressed the problem of divorce but since many marriages were arranged by parents or guardians and the woman had very few legal rights divorce was not a major issue.

The reformers, leaning heavily on the societal history of marriage and the lack of a clear scriptural scene in which Jesus instituted marriage declared that while it was a good thing for marriage to take place in a church, it was not a sacrament. The Council of Trent again reaffirmed the scholastic theological theories but also increased the ability of Catholics to seek annulments. An annulment being the declaration that a sacramental marriage between a specific couple

As the modern era continued many changes in society caused people to question the Church’s stand on marriage, its primary purpose (procreation) and its indissolubility. In the educated, industrial nations of the west the connections to extended families stretched. Couples married for love and not as arranged by family members. Divorce became more common place and the civil laws of many nations relaxed the long recognized grounds of adultery and desertion for civil divorce. The Church appeared to be unresponsive to the changing needs of society, until John XXIII called the first ecumenical council of the Catholic Church in one hundred years.

GRADE 3.5 (Thorough and accurate, but not evaluative.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Thursday, 2 August 2012, 12:17 AM)