The word is derived through the French mnari, from the Latin maritus, "a husband." Matrimonoy, a synonyme, comes from the Latin mater, " a mother," as testimoniumz from testis, " a witness." Wedlock, a beautiful word, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, from weddian, "to pledge," "to covenant;" or wedd, "a pledge," and lac, " a gift." The definition of marriage given by Modestinus, the Roman lawyer and scholar of Ulpian, is as follows: "Nuptiae sunt conjunctio maris et feminae et consortium omnis vitse, divini et humani juris communicatio" (Digest, 18:2, 1). In the Institutes of Justinian we have "nuptiae sive matrimonium est viri et mulieris conjunctio individuam vitse consuetudinemr continens," that is, a union of a man and a woman which contains in itself an inseparable life-intercourse. These definitions are not entirely definite, nor free from objection; nor is it easy for the law to give a definition of that which transcends the sphere of human rights, and has most important relations to morality and religion.
According to Paley, the public use of the marriage institution consists in its promoting the following beneficial effects:
1. The private comfort of individuals.
2. The production of the greatest number of healthy children, their better education, and the making of due provision for their settlement in life.
3. The peace of human society, in cutting off a principal source of contention, by assigning one or more women to one man, and protecting his exclusive right by sanctions of morality and law.
4. The better government of society, by. distributing the community into separate families, and appointing over each the authority of a master of a family, which has more actual influence than all civil authority put together.
5. The additional security which the state receives for the good behavior of its citizens, from the solicitude they feel for the welfare of their children, and from their being confined to permanent habitations.
6. The encouragement of industry. (See also Dwight's Theology on this topic, and Anderson, On the Domestic Constitution.)
I. The idea of marriage is beautifully expressed in those words of the earliest book of the Bible: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh." Here we have (1) marriage conceived of as a union so close that it separates a man from the union of the family-the closest but this one that can exist; (2) two persons cleave to one another, the word cleave in the original denoting to be glued to, to stick to; (3) the result is that they become one flesh, they unite their personalities together. A text like this points to monogamy as alone answering to the trite conception of marriage; for how can two be one flesh, and one of them be also united to a third person, so as to be one flesh with that one also. Accordingly the union of one man and one woman in the married state, as opposed to polygamy, must be regarded as the state pointed out by our nature for us. This alone preserves the unity, the undivided love and peace of the household. Polygamy is an institution growing out of the servile subjection of the woman to the man, and tout of the indulgence of lewd desire. It is also apparently contrary to the order of things in this. that the sexes, so obviously made for one another. divide between them about equally the numbers of those who are born into the world, there being a slight excess in the number of male children, which is counterbalanced before manhood is reached by the greater risks incurred by that sex. The conditions which secure the interests of morality are thus pointed out by the laws of our physical nature.
The conception of marriage which appears in the writings of Paul has sometimes been said to be a low one, as having respect to the gratification of bodily desires rather than to the true, spiritual, and heart communion of the wedded pair. This charge is founded on such passages as 1Co 7:9: "It is better to marry than to burn;" and on those verses in the same chapter where there appears to be a certain preference in the apostle's mind of the single to the married life (ver. 33, 38, etc.). It must be confessed that if such a passage as ver. 9 were the apostle's only expression of opinion, it would seem as if he saw nothing in marriage but the prevention of sexual excesses and the satisfaction of sexual longings. It ought, however, to be considered, first, that in such words he gives us but one side of a manifold subject. Christian, like all true moralists, must take into account the desires which are implanted in our nature for the purpose of securing certain great ends, among which the introduction of new beings into the world is most prominent. If, as men showed themselves to the apostle, the sexual desires needed a certain control, and a certain satisfaction also, it was good sense to say that a reason for marrying lay in the temperament of the particular person, and that he was bound to consider his power of continence when he inquired what his duty was in this respect. But, secondly, the apostle gives us another picture of marriage, from another point of view. The relation (Eph 5:22-33) is like that of Christ to his Church. The husband is to love the wife as if she actually formed one body with him, and with that pure, self-sacrificing affection which Christ had when he "loved his Church, and gave himself for it." Here marriage is ennobled and glorified by a comparison with the most spiritual of all relations. But, thirdly, neither in the writings of the apostle nor in any other part of the New Testament is there any peculiar sanctity attached to the married life placing it above the single, nor to the single life making it more excellent than the married. The apostle condemns the false teachings of those who forbid men to marry, and command to abstain from meats, "which God has created to be received with thanksgiving" (1Ti 4:3). His principle would include marriage — for which multitudes give thanks — under this last remark. At the same time the New Testament regards celibacy as equally honorable with marriage (Mt 14:13). Nay more, if a person, for the kingdom of heaven's sake, can lead a life of pure thoughts, undisturbed by any sensual longings, absorbed in spiritual employments and pursuits; he may be said to have a rare nature, or a rare gift to rise above nature; and so he will stand higher in the kingdom of heaven than another, in proportion to the greatness of his self-sacrifice and his consecration. All men are not bound to "forsake houses, or brethren, or sisters," etc., for Christ's name's sake, but those who have the call to do so and obey "shall receive a hundred-fold." So those who lead a single life under the same high motive shall have the greater praise from the Master: and, as they show by their self-denial the strength of Christian virtue, they stand higher in the Christian scale than others. But so do they also who show a readiness to undergo, or actually undergo, any great sacrifice with the same spirit. (Comp. Harless, Christl. Ethik, § 44, and especially § 52.)
If the Christian Church had stopped at admiring the continence and rare self-restraint of men who for Christ's sake led unmarried lives, much evil would have been avoided. As it was, the Christian mind passed on from such admiration to an undervaluation of the married life; celibacy was a sign of greater virtue; second marriages were looked on with disfavor; and marriages of clergymen became unlawful. The heretics Marcion and Tatian went even so far as to rail against marriage; as Simon Magus is said, on the other hand, to have taught in his day a plurality of wives, and the Gnostics and Manichaeans rejected marriage altogether. But what was really the view of the early Church is best seen in the canons of the Gangran Synod, held about A.D. 370, where it is decreed: "1. If any one reproach marriage, or have in abomination the religious woman that is a communicant and sleeps with her husband, as one that cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, let him be anathema. 4. If any one condemn a married presbyter, as if he ought not to partake of the oblation when he performs the liturgy, let him be anathema. 9. If any one live a virgin, or in chastity, as abominating marriage (while he lives ill a retired state), and not for the beauty and sanctity of a virgin life, let him be anathema. 10. If one of those who live a virgin life for the Lord's sake insult those who are married, let him be anathema. 14. If any woman, abominating marriage, desert her husband, and will become a recluse, let her be anathema." (See also Isaac Taylor's Ancient Christianity.) At this very same time, however, marriage became a sacrament. One may ask how it came to pass that a kind of life which was looked on as being not the best one, and which had to be renounced in the Western Church if a married man would receive ordination, could come into the category of baptism, the eucharist, and the other acts which, in process of time, took the name of sacraments. Without going into an extended answer to this question, it may be said that the passage of Paul already cited (Eph 5:32) calls it a mystery, which Jerome's Vulgate renders by sacramentum. It was, in fact, peculiarly holy, as symbolizing Christ's union with the Church. But the word sacramnentum had for a long time no definite sense, and marriage was not so called until the time of Augustine. Nay, that great writer had so vague an idea of its religious meaning that he does not hesitate to call the polygamous marriage of the patriarchs in the Old Testament a "sacramentum pluralium nuptiarum" (De boano conjugii, cap. 18), which, he says, "signified a future multitude subject to God in all the nations of the earth, and so the sacrament of a single marriage [i.e. between one pair] in our time signifies the unity of all ours [our Christian Church], which is to be subject to God in the one celestial city." The passage itself, however, in the Ephesians, which we have referred to, does not, in a fair interpretation of it, call marriage a mystery, but gives that name only to Christ's leaving the Father and becoming one with his Church. As for the rest, the Catholic theologians have held widely diverse opinions about the matter and form of marriage. One opinion has been that the consent of the parties expressed in words constitute both the matter and the form; another that the bodies or persons of the contracting parties are the matter, and the words expressing consent the form. SEE MATRIMONY.
Marriage being a peculiarly sacred transaction, and having the religious impress put on it, questions relating to its celebration, the persons capable of contracting it, its dissolution, its renewal after the death of one of the parties, and the like, came under the control of the clergy. Accordingly we find in use in the early Church a special ecclesiastical form for the celebration of matrimony. The fathers, Tertullian, e.g., considered marriage contracted without the participation of the Church, as tolerated by the law of Rome, as almost a sin. Later it was sought to make marriage — an exclusively religious institution, and this it finally became, and so continued until the days of the Reformation. The civil law gradually restricted itself to the regulation of the material interests connected with marriage, leaving the Church to regulate the conditions under which it could be contracted. As gradually the religious impress put on it brought to the door of the clergy the settlement of questions relating not only to its celebration, but also to the propriety of its dissolution, its renewal after the death of one of the parties, and the like, the State was content to lend the Church the secular arm for the enforcement of the decisions of the ecclesiastical courts. 'The principles of the law concerning marriage thus became a part of canon law in the Romish Church, and received final settlement by the Council of Trent, which not only established marriage as a sacrament in the most solemn manner (Conc. Trid. sess. 24, Mat. can. 1 "Si quis dixerit, matrimonium non esse vere et proprie unum ex septem legis evangelicae sacramentis a Christo institutum, sed ab hominibus in ecclesia inventum neque gratiam conferre: anath. sit;" see also I, can. 7, Cat. Rom. 2, 8, 3, 23, 20 sq.; Conf. orthod. p. 183), but referred the question of its validity exclusively to the Church. The remains of these and similar laws have almost disappeared in Protestant England in our own times; the act of 1857 (cited as 20 and 21 Vict. cap. 85), with its amendments, destroys all jurisdiction of courts ecclesiastical in matters pertaining to marriage, except so far as marriage licenses are concerned, and constitutes a new court, which is called the court for divorce and matrimonial causes. See Woolsey, Divorce and Divorce Legislation (New York, 1869), p. 174-178.
The Continental Reformers from the first denied the sacramental character of marriage. They acknowledged. indeed, matrimony as holy and instituted of God, yet considered it as partaking more of a civil than of an ecclesiastical character — as an institution which received only a higher consecration by the blessing of the Church. They even required the Protestant civil authorities to legislate on the subject, and thus it passed entirely into the hands of the latter. The sew laws were promulgated in the 16th and 17th centuries, yet all still referred to Scripture, the symbolic books, and canon law as their basis; and, being generally drawn up with the assistance of the clergy, the Church still retained the higher authority over all questions pertaining to matrimony. In all Protestant countries at present, as far as we are informed, marriage is essentially controlled by the law of the state,. although the solemnization of it may be put into the hands of clerical persons. In Catholic countries there is a tendency to establish two kinds of marriage celebrations — one a civil, the other an ecclesiastical one; but all the civil consequences of marriage, in relation to property, legitimation of children, bigamy, etc., grow out of the civil marriage, and the, other (or ecclesiastical) is left to the option of the parties. The Catholic Church endures this with great unwillingness; and in this feeling the Concordat between Austria and the pope did away with the civil contract, which was restored to its former place in the laws in 1869 (comp. Richter, Kirchenr. § 263, 6th ed.). We thus are brought to the question of the relations of the state in right reason to the marriage-contracts of its citizens. Here, before touching the particulars that are within the province of state-law, we wish to make two points in regard to the office of the state:
1. Marriage is a contract, because it. is an agreement between two persons to live together in the condition of life called matrimony. But, while in most other cases the contract creates or specifies the transaction, in the contract of marriage the matter of the contract is presupposed, and the contract has nothing to do except to introduce two persons into a definite specific state. Out of this grows the peculiar state of parentage. This, it seems to us, is one of the greatest points in hand against the institution of "Freelove." The resultant of the marital relation is of a character that does not admit of the dissolution of the contract when once it has been entered into. The offspring requires the care of both the contractors, as is clearly seen in the case of second marriages with children from the first contract. Thus there can be no contract to enter into a marriage state which is terminable by the consent of the parties, or dependent on the pleasure of either. There may be partnerships of this kind, as contracts of service or of agency, for the performance of specific acts for a specific time, but there are no such contracts of marriage. This institution is unlike the passing business relations of life, and resembles the Church and State unions more closely, although not entirely. The reason for all this is the moral nature of the institution, and its immense importance as the foundation of the family as well as the origin of the state. In this sense the Roman law correctly proclaimed marriage a;'viri et mulieris conjunctio individuam vitae consuetudinem continens" (to which canon law adds," i.e. talem se in omnibus exhibere viro, qualis ipsa sibi est, et e converso"), or a "consortium omnis vite, divini et humani juris communicatio." Quite a different tendency, however, is found in the attempts of some modern philosophers to establish free-marriage, as e.g. the St. Simonites (q.v.), who would overthrow all these laws, and make marriage a mere human convention subject to all the whims of the contracting parties and who have failed hitherto from this very cause, as has also the pretended emancipation of woman which has gone hand in hand with it. The higher nature of marriage over any other human institution at once manifests itself not only in the fact that it has at all times been connected with religion, both as to its contracting and dissolving, but that this view has been in no wise confined to Christendom, but in a great degree has taken a like hold upon heathen communities also.
2. Our other point is that on account of the moral and religious bearings of marriage, State and Church have concurrent power over it; that is, they both may act and lay down principles in regard to matrimonial questions. How are their provinces to be distinguished? In this way, as it seems to us: The State can require nothing which the Word of God forbids in a Christian country, although it may forbid what the Word of God does not forbid. The Church can allow nothing, permitted by the law, which the Word of God forbids. For illustration, we may suppose the State to have very loose divorce laws, or to have no penalty for concubinage during regular marriage; it is evident that the Church must keep its members pure in such respects, until its protest, loud or silent, shall change the current of legislation.
II. These things being premised, we proceed to a brief discussion of some of those points relating to marriage which may be reasonably made the subjects of legislation without violating the feelings of Christians or opposing the authority of the Scriptures.
1. The State may decide who shall be capable of contracting marriage. Thus (a) the age at which, or the state of the will or reason with which a matrimonial engagement may be legally made, is as much within the control of the law as the similar conditions necessary for making business contracts or for exercising political rights. If minors are allowed to enter into this condition, the law ought to provide that their free consent is ascertained beforehand. Thus, too, incapacity to give consent, by reason of immaturity, force on the will, insanity, idiocy, and the like, may be obstacles. But (b) far more important is the control of state-law over the degrees of relationship and affinity which shall incapacitate parties from entering into this close connection. Here we find that, although the children of the first pair must have united in wedlock, it became the very decided feeling of a large part of the human race that such a union is unlawful for brothers with sisters, or for a parent with a child. H. W. J. Thiersch (Das Verbot der Ehe [Nordlingen, 1869], p. 4) remarks that wild heathen tribes in Asia and Africa consider incest a crime. Exceptions to this occurred in Persia and Egypt, where incest was practiced within the reigning families-in the latter country after the example of His and Osiris. At Athens a brother might marry a sister who had not the same mother. and adoption was no obstacle to the union of an adopted brother and sister. The Romans were more strict, but allowed this relation to commence between an adopted brother and his adopted sister, after the adoption was dissolved by emancipation. By Roman law a man could not marry his sister's daughter, but when the emperor Claudius took Agrippina, his brother's daughter, to wife, that relation became permissible (see Gail Instit. i, § 61, 62). By Levitical law the prohibited degrees embraced the direct relatives in the ascending and descending line, whether of full or of half blood, the children who had the same parents or parent, the brothers or sisters of fathers or mothers, brothers' wives, daughters-in-law, a woman and her daughter, or other descendant in the third generation, and the sister of a wife during her lifetime. It would seem that in Leviticus xviii, where these rules are given, the analogy derived from relations there mentioned may be applied to others equally close, of which nothing is said (comp. Saalschiitz, Mos. Recht, cap. 105, § 5). In the Christian Church a stricter system of prohibited degrees was a part of canonical law, and a sign of the new feeling was that the emperor Theodosius I forbade by law the marriage of first cousins, which was formerly by Roman law permitted. The Roman Catholic and the Greek churches went far beyond this. The Latin Church carried the prohibition of marriage to the seventh degree, that is, to the sixth cousins — counting brothers and sisters as of the first degree, and first cousins as of the second — until Innocent III, in 1216, gave a new rule, that the "prohibitio copulae conjugalis quartun consanguinitatis et affinitatis gradum non excedat" — that is, third cousins might marry; but a little while after Gregory IX so modified Innocent's rule that a marriage between a third and a fourth cousin was allowable. Where pressing reasons demanded, these rules might be suspended. More severe and worthless were the rules prohibiting marriage, on the ground of affinity, which reached to the same degrees with the rules affecting blood-relatives, and were altered together with them. Other restrictions touching spiritual affinities, betrothal, etc., were mitigated by the Council of Trent. According to the canons of the Greek Church, a man may not marry His second cousin's daughter. His deceased wife's first cousin. His deceased wife's first cousin's daughter. His deceased wife's second cousin. Two brothers may not marry Two sisters. An aunt and a niece. Two first cousins. A man may not marry His wife's brother's wife's sister, i.e. his brother-in law's sister-in-law. His brother-in-law's wife: nor can his own brother marry her.
Godparentage and Adoption constitute impediments to marriage up to the seventh degree. SEE AFFINITY. What was the feeling lying at the bottom of all these prohibitions? It must have been that which led the Roman lawyer Gaius (1. c. § 59) to say that if such persons as parents and children marry one another nefarias atque incestas nuptias contraxisse dicuntur. Incest is the greatest unchastity, from which its Latin name comes, and men early felt this. If the children of the first parent did not partake of this sentiment, there is a parallel in the feelings of little children, whose modesty is developed just at the time of life when it is needed for a moral protection. Besides this moral principle, it might be urged that to marry out of one's near relationship binds families together, and diffuses the feeling of brotherhood through neighborhoods and tribes. This is urged by Augustine (Civit. Dei, xv, cap. 16). Another consideration is, that the marriage of near relations promotes neither the health nor the multitude of offspring. In a letter imputed to Gregory the Great (A.D. 601), written to his missionary in England, Augustine, he is made to say, while speaking of the marriages of own cousins, "We have learned from experience that from such a marriage offspring cannot grow" (Gratian's Decr. caus. xxxv, quaest. 5, c. 2). This is in conformity with a physical law which governs the issue of animals. Nay, plants themselves, it is now known, are benefited by the pollen of one flower being conveyed to another, and it is the office of insects, such as bees and flies, to mediate in this keeping up the "breeds" of the vegetable kingdom. (c) Besides enacting laws against the marriage of blood-relations, states have sometimes prohibited men from connecting themselves with women who sustain towards them the closest degrees of affinity. Some Protestant countries make it unlawful to marry a wife's sister. There are no valid arguments against such unions from Scripture, but rather, when it is said (Le 18:18) that a man shall not have two sisters together as his wives, the fair inference is that Jewish law allowed marriage to one of them after the death of the other and preceding wife. Marriage to a brother's widow or deceased husband's brother is more doubtful. Yet in the canonical law, where such unions are forbidden, the pope can probably give a dispensation from the rule. Such was the case of Henry VIII of England, and a canon of the Council of Trent (sess. xxiv, De sacr. matrim. can. iii) ordains that if any one shall say that the Church cannot give a dispensation in the case of some of the prohibitions in Leviticus, ch. 18, "anathema sit" — evidently referring to that very case which blew up such a flame in England.
On the whole, there are no certifies within which the moral feeling and the law — which in this case is more or less controlled by such feeling — can be confined. We have a parallel to this in the definitions of certain rights, where the law has to make the positive and exact metes and bounds. Thus there is a time in the life of a child when he ought to acquire a jural capacity, and so become legally independent of his father; but whether this shall be reached at the age of eighteen or twenty-one, or shall be reached by degrees or all at once, the reason of a state must determine. So the moral feeling of a state must determine within what limits of consanguinity or of affinity parties may contract marriage; and if the Church has another prevailing sentiment, it must have its own rules prohibiting for its members what the state does not prohibit.
We will just mention, with little or no remark, several other hinderances which either State or Church law have put in the way of wedlock. Such are fraudulent representations of either party, which were leading causes of the contract of marriage; mistakes affecting the identity of the person; and previous crime of one party unknown to the other, especially previous adultery; to which is to be added difference of religious confessions, especially when so great as that between a Jew and a Christian, or a Protestant and a Roman Catholic. Indeed, in the case of mixed marriages (see below), there is still much conflict between the legislation of Church and State. Civil law in countries where slavery was allowed made all marriage unions between freemen and slaves unlawful. In some countries marriage between a noble and an ordinary citizen or peasant has been either forbidden or attended with civil disabilities, such as degradation of rank to the offspring. Here it may not be out of place to allude also to the regulations of the Romish Church in the case of persons who may have taken the vow of celibacy. If any such party have not yet entered the convent, pope Boniface VIII decided that marriage may be contracted; after having once entered the convent, the contract becomes illegal. Among Protestants, however, the taking of the vow of celibacy remains a question of conscience only. Another objection to marriage in the Roman Catholic Church is spiritual relationship, cognatio spiritualis, which prevents marriage between persons who have held one another at the baptismal font. In the 13th century this was made to include both the infant baptized and the children of the sponsors, as well as the sponsors themselves; but it has since been restricted. The Continental Reformers as early as the Smalcald articles declared against this impediment of the sponsors. In the Greek Church, as we have seen above, Godparentage and adoption constitute impediments up to the seventh degree.
2. In order to preserve the purity and peace of married life, the State has often passed rules making all sexual union of either the husband or the wife with a third party penal, and the Church will of course visit such offenses of its members with severe discipline. Some states in their laws have punished the concubinage or illicit intercourse of a husband with an unmarried woman less severely than similar offenses of a wife or, it may be, has let them go unpunished. According to Roman law, adultery was a crime committed only with a married woman; but a wife, displeased with her husband's morals, could without difficulty obtain a divorce. Under English law adultery has not been treated as a public crime, the dealing with it being left to the ecclesiastical law, and "the temporal courts take no cognizance of it otherwise than as a private injury" (Blackstone's Comment. bk. 4, chap. 4). In our country it is visited with punishment according to law in almost all the states — New York, which has followed English law, and one or two other states, being exceptions: but it is safe to say that prosecutions for the crime of adultery are very rare indeed. The protection afforded by such laws is very small, except so far as they testify that society regards crimes against marriage as deserving of civil penalties.
3. The State, as the guardian of the family, as the protector of the wife's and the children's rights even against the husband and father, is bound, and has in no civilized country refused, to make laws touching the patria postestas — the husband's rights over and obligations towards the wife; his obligations especially to support his wife and children, and the amount of freedom he ought to have in transmitting his property. We do not intend to enter into this large subject, except so far as to say that there lies a feeling of the unity of family life at the foundation of all righteous law on these subjects, whatever may be the specific rules of this or that code. The family being one, the wife ought to be deprived no more than the children of a portion of a deceased husband's effects; so that the right of testament in his case, even if he acquired all his property himself, ought not to be absolutely free.
4. The moral feeling of the importance and sanctity of marriage lies also, in a measure, at the foundation of laws and usages regulating its commencement. Such are betrothal, the formal declaration before a registrar or other officer of an intention of marriage, the publication of the banns, the celebration or solemnization before witnesses and with appropriate formalities. Marriage having a religious side, it has been natural that the ministers of religion should have a part in its initial solemnities. But it is a great grievance that they are obliged — as the law of Prussia, we believe, requires of them to unite in wedlock any persons who may by law be lawfully united, whether the minister's own views touching the lawfulness of marriage after divorce agree with those of the government or not; and it is another grievance when only the ministers of an establishment can solemnize nuptials. Civil marriage, on the other hand, as it exists in some Catholic countries, and marriage before a magistrate or justice of the peace, which is lawful to a great extent through the United States, have this great evil attending on them: that they look on the civil side of marriage exclusively. Surely that institution which is the foundation of the state, the guardian of children against evil influences until they can act their part in the state; in which, and in which alone love presides over the formation of character; from which, through the sympathies of kindred, chords run in all directions, binding and weaving society together, and where the seeds of religion are sown in the impressible heart — such an institution surely, which pagans feel to have a sacred quality, and place under the protection of their gods, ought to have a solemn beginning, so that the parties to be united in "holy matrimony," and the witnesses, may feel that it is a deeply serious transaction — a relation not to be lightly assumed without forethought and preparation, and solemn consecration to one another, and earnest prayer to that God — who has said that "they twain shall be one flesh."
III. When the Church takes a view of divorce different from that taken by the State. it cannot sanction the remarriage of a person whom it regards as bound by Christ's law to a former wife or husband. SEE DIVORCE.
1. Some of these obstacles to marriage are of such a nature that a marriage actually commenced in disregard of or in ignorance of the law ruling in such cases is a nullity. There is, however, a need of some formal proceeding by which the nullity is made manifest. There are others in which the innocent party may continue the marriage, and condone or consent to live with the offender; nor can such consent be afterwards withdrawn in order to make good a claim which has been once waived. Near relationship or affinity, the existence of a previous wife or husband, are instances of the first kind; impotence, mistake, previous misconduct, even fraudulent statements procuring marriage, are instances of the second. In the first case the marriage is void, in the second it is voidable. We are apt to call separations for either reason divorces, and our statutes in many state-codes group them with divorces properly so called; but there is a wide difference between separations on the ground that there had been no lawful marriage, and divorce proper on the ground of some event occurring after actual marriage. In the first case there was a form without the reality of marriage, and the court civil or ecclesiastical — pronounced a decree of nullity, which did not affect the children nor the parties up to the time of the sentence. Being decided to have never been united in wedlock, they were free to enter into this union with third parties. See Woolsey, On Divorce,
etc., p. 123,124, and especially Richter's Kirchenr. § 266-284, 6th ed.; Goschen, in Herzog's Real-Encyklopädie, vol. iii, s.v. Ehe.
2. In regard to the lawfulness of remarriage in general, we must refer to the article on DIVORCE SEE DIVORCE (Christian Law of) in this Cyclopaedia. On the particular point of marrying again after a first wife's or husband's decease, we have room for a few remarks. That this is lawful in itself, and must be left to the conscience and the circumstances of individuals, there can be no question, after what the apostle Paul has said in Ro 7:1-3, and in 1Ti 5:14, in which latter passage "the younger women" evidently refers to the young widows just before spoken of. The apologist Athenagoras (§ 33, p. 172, edit. Otto) is both unscriptural and weak where he says that a second marriage is "decorous adultery," and applies the words of Christ (Mt 19:9) to such remarriages, adding that he who deprives himself of [or separates himself from] a former wife, even if she be dead, is a covert adulterer who transgresses the direction of God, since in the beginning God made one man and one woman. Similar views are entertained by Tertullian in his treatise De monogamia, which was written after he became a Montanist (comp. esp. cap. 10); while in the treatise Ad uxorem, written before he left the Catholic Church, he does not condemn remarriage, although he praises widowhood. Most of the fathers, while, from the times of Hermas and of Clement of Alexandria, they regard remarriage as no sin, look on widowhood and the state of a widower as capable of higher virtue. Augustine thus expresses both opinions in his little work De bono viduitatis, written at the request of a widow named Juliana, whose daughter had chosen a virgin's life. "As the good thing of virginity which your daughter has chosen does not condemn your one marriage, so your widowhood does not condemn the second marriage of some one else.... Do not so extol your good thing as to accuse that which is not evil belonging to another, as if it were evil, but so much the more rejoice in your good, the more you perceive that not only evils are prevented by it, but that it surpasses some good things in excellence. The evil things are adultery and fornication. Now from these illicit things she is far removed who by a free vow has bound herself, and thus has brought to pass not by the power of law, but by the purpose of love, that for her not even lawful things should be lawful." SEE DIGAMISTS; SEE CELIBACY.
3. But if the apostle Paul could even advise young widows to marry again, must not this be understood as if he thought this the less of two evils, and only necessary to save the persons in question from crime? How otherwise can we explain his directions that a bishop, and so also a deacon, must be the husband of one wife? (1Ti 3:2,12; Tit 1:6). Some have explained these directions as forbidding polygamy — that is, simultaneous polygamy, to speak technically — which would seem to imply that among the private members of the Church at Ephesus and in Crete such plurality of wives was allowed. But the words in 1Ti 5:9, where the qualification occurs that the aged widow in question must have been the wife of one man, forbid such an interpretation, for 'otherwise we should have to suppose that polyandry was practiced. The phrases are exactly of the same form in all the four cases, since in the last-mentioned verse the participle Eyovvia is to be joined to "sixty years" (comp. Lu 2:42). The sense, then, must be that the bishop, or deacon, or widow had not been married but once. Now this was a special precept suited to the state of life of the times, for in marrying more than once they might have obtained divorce — in their heathenish condition — or have married divorced persons contrary to the law of Christ. Of these irregularities, if they had married but once, there would be less probability.
IV. Many one-sided and erroneous opinions must arise when marriage is looked at only in one of its aspects or relations. Thus it may be said to exist liberorum quaerendorun causa; but if that is the only side on which we view it, we shall have to say that no marriages ought to be contracted when the woman is past the age of child-bearing. It may be put on the foundation of restraining and moderating those sexual desires which might otherwise irmbrute men. But if this were the only reason for marriage, it would be at the best but a necessary evil. It may be said to be instituted for the happiness of the partners in the union; but if this were all, every disappointed man or woman ought to have an opportunity to place his or her affections on a new object. It may be said to be in idea the highest religious union, but a Christian wife has never felt it to be right for this reason to leave a husband merely because he is unconverted. We must, then, look at marriage on every side; on its jural, moral, and religious aspects; on its relations to sexual differences; to the birth and education of children; to its use in cementing the State together through the ties of kindred; to the love that will almost of course subsist between the married couple; to the field which it affords for the highest social and spiritual well- being of husband, wife, and family. It ought to be added also, as a point of no small importance, that the jural relations of marriage are determined by the moral convictions of men, and that thus Christianity, by purifying the moral sense, and by giving forth a nobler idea of marriage, has ennobled and strengthened civil law. Those nations have had the best moral habits where the sentiments regarding matrimony and the family were the most pure. Witness the Romans of the earlier ages, to whom divorce was unknown, and among whom the matron was chaste and frugal. The corruption of Roman morals first appeared, according to Horace, in the defilement of married life and the family:
"Fecunda culpae saecula nuptias Primum inquinavere et genus et domos."
And so, if our Christianity is destined to decay, the loss will be soon shown in the family relations. Even now a race of women is springing up who seem to have caught their inspiration from some of the high dames —the Fulvias and Julias — of the expiring Roman republic, The neglect to look at the religious and moral side of marriage is also doing great evil in this country. In fact, a state of things now exists which our fathers hardly dreamed of, and which makes reflecting men tremble for the future. Rash and ill-sorted marriages have always existed; but where divorce laws, so loose as to be opposed to the very idea of marriage, open an easy door to get out of an uncomfortable relation, the tendency is that parties will marry with divorce before their eyes, and that, instead of forbearance and patience, they will magnify their present evils, and give to one another only half a heart. In the old times there were few who did not look upon large families as a blessing; at present it is established beyond doubt that a multitude of women, in one part of the country, regard children as an evil to be prevented or avoided, and do actually use the means for such flagitious ends. SEE INFANTICIDE. Some of these women are communicants in Christian churches, as physicians assert who profess to know. This shows that the very notion of marriage in many minds is a degraded and a corrupting one — that this union is entered into as an honest way of gratifying the lowest desires of human beings, and for no higher purpose. Nor are there wanting representatives of these base views, who practice upon them in their communities and defend them before the world. Who will question that the extreme of ancient asceticism, which gave to the word chastity the sense of rigid abstinence, as we give to the word temperance the same perverted meaning, was infinitely nearer to the Christian standard, in fact to any respectable pagan standard of morals, than feelings which can toleratosuch practices? That they can exist and even be common is an alarming sign for the future of our country. The conscience of men and women needs to be enlightened on a point of morals which can hardly be referred to from the pulpit. We ought not to hear Catholics twit the Protestantism of the country with winking at methods of preventing the increase of families. We ought to strike at that extravagance of living and showiness of dress which tempt the less wealthy to such things. We ought to hear from every quarter where the subject can be mentioned that "they who do such things cannot inherit the kingdom of God." (T. D. W.)
See Grove, Mor. Philippians 2:470; Paley, Mor. Phil. vol. i, chap. viii, p. 339; Leslie, Sermons on Marriage (1702, 8vo); Fordyce, Moral Philos. (1769, 8vo); Delany, Relative Duties (1750, 8vo); Beattie, Elem. Moral Science, vol. ii; Bean, Christian Minister's Advice to a Newmarried Couple (Lond. 1793); Guide to Domestic Happiness; Advantages and Disadvantages of the Married State; Stennett, On Domestic Duties; Jay, Essay on Marriage; Doddridge, Lect. (8vo edit.) 1:225, 234, 265; Ryan, Philosophy of Marriage, in its Social, Moral, and Physical Relations (Lond. 1839, 12mo); Evans, Christian Doctrine of Marriage (Balt., Md., 1860, 8vo); Klee, Die Ehe: eine dogmat. — archceol. Abhandl.; Tradition, ou histoire de l'eglise sur le sacrement de mariage; tiree des monumens les plus authentiques de chaque siecle tant l'orient que de l'occident (Paris, 1725, 3 vols. 4to); Schaff, Ch. Hist. 1:325 sq.; 2:111 sq., 242 sq.; Lea, Sacerdotal Celibacy (see Index); Fry (John), Marriage between Kindred (1773, 8vo); Marriage Rites, Customs, and Ceremonies of the Nations of the Universe (Lond. 1824, 8vo); Wuttke, Ethics (transl. by Prof. Lacroix, N. Y. 1873, 2 vols. 12mo), 2:310 sq.; Brit. and For. Rev. 1844, p. 95 sq.; Engl. Rev. 3:129; Biblical Repository, 2:70 sq.; Biblioth. Sacra, 1:283 sq.; Fraser's Magazine, 41:112 sq.; (Lond.) Quart. Rev. lxxxv. 84 sq.; Lond. Qu. Rev. 10:545; Princet. Rev. 15:182, 420; Meth. Qu. Rev. 1866, p. 137; Christian Remembr. 1, 130; Evangel. Qu. Rev. 1870, p. 482 sq.; North Brit. Review, 12:286, 532; 1870, p. 267 sq.; New Enlgl. 1870 (July), p. 540; Am. Qu. Congreg. Rev. 1871, p. 627; South. Rev. 1871 (Jan.), art. v. See also Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 19:458; 3:666, art. Ehe; and for early literature, Walch, Bibl.; and for English writers, especially sermons on this subject, Malcolm, Theol. Index, s.v. For modern half or left-hand matrimony in Christendom, SEE MORGANATIC MARRIAGE. For marriage as a sacrament, SEE MATRIMONY.
V. Marriage with Believers. — The importance of regulating the conjugal alliance on religious principles was, according to the record of the Old Testament, practically recognized at a very early period. Indeed, the corruption of manners which rendered the Flood necessary is directly traced to such mixed marriages (Ge 6:1-4). The intermixture, by marriage, of the professed servants and worshippers of God, with those by whom his authority was disowned, was first branded. and afterwards positively forbidden by divine authority; being denounced as an evil, the results of which were most injurious to the interests of religion, and which exposed those who fell into it to the condign and awful displeasure of the Most High (Ex 34:16). Now, although there were some circumstances attending the marriages in this manner denounced which do not directly apply to the state of society in our own country (especially the circumstance that the people with whom such intercourse was forbidden were idolaters), yet there is much, as must be evident to every pious observer, that illustrates the sin and danger of forming so intimate and permanent a union in life with the ungodly. The general fact is hence clearly deducible that there is an influence in marriage strongly affecting the character, which demands from those who are anxious for moral rectitude and improvement much of caution as to the manner in which their affections are fixed; and that unequal alliances — alliances where the parties are actuated by different spiritual habits and desires, and where good is made to meet and combine with bad, encountering most imminently the danger of seduction and pollution — are guilty, unnatural, and monstrous. The expression of the divine authority, in application to the Jews, is to be regarded as comprehending the principle of his people in all ages, that here they ought not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor to stand in the way of sinners.
What we thus are enabled to conclude from the Old Testament, will be still more distinctly exemplified from the New. The evangelical writings do not, indeed, frequently offer directions expressly on the subject of marriage, the point appearing rather to be assumed than argued, that in Christian marriage the husband and wife ought both, in the emphatic terms of the apostle Peter, to be and walk as being "heirs together of the grace of life." In the first Epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul applies himself to a question which seems at that time to have been agitated — whether Christians who, previous to their conversion, had contracted marriages with unbelievers, ought not to be actually divorced from the wives or husbands remaining in unbelief, because of the evil and peril attending the continuance of the alliance. Such an extreme, advocated by some, he considers as uncalled for (1Co 7:10-17). But, respecting the formation of a new matrimonial connection by a believer (the case taken being that of a believing widow, though the rule, of course, extends to all), this is the direction: "She is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord" (1Co 7:39). Here is a simple proclamation, the force of which is permanent, and in submission to which Christians in every period should act. They are to marry "only in the Lord." They, being themselves "in the Lord" — united to the Lord Jesus by the divine Spirit, and possessing an interest in the redeeming blessings he has purchased are to marry only on Christian principles, and, of course, only such as are thus also "in the Lord" — believer with believer, and with none else. This is the obvious meaning of the passage, which no sophism can evade or fritter away.
It would be easy to employ the attention further, on the general statements contained in the Word of God, respecting the character of separation from the world which ought to be sustained by his Church, the ends for which it is called, and the objects it is bound to perform; statements which all bear on the principle as to marriage, operating to enforce and to confirm it (see especially 2Co 6:14-18; 2Co 7:1). But, without amplifying here, and satisfied that this principle receives, from the testimony already quoted, a convincing and solemn establishment, the reader is requested to ponder a truth, which is as indubitable as it ought to be impressive, namely, that marriages formed by Christians in violation of the religious design of the institute, and of the express principles of their religion, are connected with evils many and calamitous, most earnestly to be deprecated, and most cautiously to be avoided. Is it, indeed, to be expected, on the ground of religion, that an act can be committed against the expressed will of the Most High God without exposing the transgressor to the scourge of his chastisement? Is it to be expected, on the ground of reason, that an alliance can be formed between individuals whose moral attributes and desires are essentially incompatible without creating the elements of uneasiness, discord, and disappointment? Excited imagination and passion may delude with the belief of innocence and hope of escape, but religion and reason speak the language of unchangeable veracity, and are ever justified in the fulfillments of experience and of fact.
The operation of the evil results whose origin is thus deduced, is of course susceptible of modifications from several circumstances in domestic and social life; and, for many reasons, the degrees of public exhibition and of personal pressure may vary.
1. Yet it may be remarked uniformly, respecting these results-they are such as deeply affect the character. A reference has already been made to the moral influence of marriage, and as the marriages stigmatized under the patriarchal, and forbidden and punished under the Jewish dispensation, were obnoxious on account of the contamination into which they led the professed people of God, so are the marriages of Christians with worldlings in this age, a worldly spirit being still the essence of idolatry (Jas 4:4; Col 3:5; 1Jo 2:15-17; Mt 6:24), the objects of censure and deprecation, because of the baneful effect they exert on those who are numbered among the redeemed of the Lord. Such marriages as these present constant and insinuating temptations to seduce Christians to worldly dispositions and pursuits; they enfeeble their spiritual energies; interfere with their communion with God; hinder their growth in the attainments of divine life; check and oppose their performance of duty and their pursuit of usefulness, in the family, the Church, and the world. There has probably never been known a forbidden marriage which, if its original character were continued, did not pollute and injure. Some instances have been most palpable and painful; nor can it be considered other than a truth, unquestionable and notorious, that whoever will so transgress invokes a very blighting of the soul.
2. It may be remarked respecting these results, again, they are such as deeply effect happiness. Christian character and Christian happiness are closely connected if the one be hurt the other will not remain untouched. And who sees not in the unhallowed alliance a gathering of the elements of sorrow? Are there not ample materials for secret and pungent accusations of conscience, that agitate the heart with the untold pangs of self- condemnation and remorse? Is there not reason for the bitterness of disappointment, and the sadness of foreboding fear, because the best intercourse is unknown — the purest affection is impossible — the noblest union is wanting — and the being on whom the spirit would repose is, to all that is the sweetest and most sublime in human sympathies, human joys, and human prospects, an alien and a stranger? And what must be the horror of that anticipation which sets forth the event of a final separation at the bar of God, when, while the hope of personal salvation may be preserved, the partner of the bosom is seen as one to be condemned by the Judge, and banished with everlasting destruction from his presence and the glory of his power! Oh the infatuation of the folly which leads to unite, where evils like these are created, rather than where God will sanction, and where time and eternity will both combine to bless!
3. Its effects upon what may be regarded as the supreme end of the marriage relation, the religious education of children, is another most distressing consideration. What must it be! What has it ever been! That much injury, therefore, has arisen to the public interests of the Church of Christ from this transgression cannot be doubted. Injury done to individual character is injury done to the community to which the individual is attached. It has always been a fact, that whoever sins in the household of faith, sills not only against himself, but against others; and that this transgression is one peculiarly extended in its influence, operating more than, perhaps, any one else which can be named to bring religion from its vantage ground, to clog its progress, and to retard its triumph. See Cong. Mag. May, 1831; Malcolm on the Christian Rule of Marriage; H. More's Caeleb's in Search of a Wife.
VI. Marriage Ceremonies. — In the early Christian Church marriages were to be notified to the bishop or society, and in the first centuries were solemnized by the clergy, but with very many exceptions. Much was borrowed from the customs of the Roman law. Banns were required about the 12th century. SEE BANNS. No prescribed form for the solemnization of marriage seems to have existed in early times. Witnesses were required, and the dowry was settled in writing. The sponsalia or betrothal preceded, and tokens or pledges were given or exchanged. The ceremonies were to all appearances not regarded as essential by the early Christians, but were merely considered appropriate and becoming, and when celebrated were observed as follows: "The use of the ring, in the rites both of espousal and of marriage, is very ancient. It is mentioned both by Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria, the latter of whom says, 'It was given her, not as an ornament; but as a seal, to signify the woman's duty in preserving the goods of her husband, because the care of the house belongs to her.'" The crowning of the married pair with garlands was a marriage-rite peculiar to many nations professing different forms of religion. Tertullian inveighs against it with all the zeal of a Montanist, but it is spoken of with approbation by the fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries, from whom it appears that the friends and attendants of the bridal pair were adorned in the same manner. These chaplets were usually made of myrtle, olive, amaranth, rosemary, and evergreens, intermingled with cypress and vervain. The crown, appropriately so called, was made of olive, myrtle, and rosemary, variegated with flowers, and sometimes with gold and silver, pearls, precious stones, etc. These crowns were constructed in the form of a pyramid or tower. Both the bride and the bridegroom were crowned in this manner, together with the groomsman and the bridesmaid. The bride frequently appeared in church thus attired on the day when proclamation of the banns was made. Chaplets were not worn by the parties in case of second marriage, nor by those who had been guilty of impropriety before marriage. In the Greek Church the chaplets were imposed by the officiating minister at the altar. In the Western Church it was customary for the parties to present themselves thus attired. The wearing of a veil by the bride was borrowed from the Romans. It was also conformable to the example of Rebecca (Genesis 24). From this marriage-rite arose the custom of taking the veil in the Church of Rome. By this act the nun devotes herself to perpetual virginity as the spouse of Christ, the bridegroom of the Church. It appears to have been customary also to spread a robe over the bridegroom and bride, called vitta nuptialis, pallium jugale, etc., and made of a mixture of white and red colors. Torches and lamps were in use on such occasions, as among the Jews and pagan nations. The festivities were celebrated by nuptial processions going out to meet the bridegroom and conducting him home, by nuptial songs and music, and marriage feasts. These festivals were frequently the subject of bitter animadversion by the fathers, especially by Chrysostom, and often called for the interposition of the authority of the Church. At marriage festivals it was customary to distribute alms to the poor. The groomsman had various duties to perform — to accompany the parties to the church at their marriage; to act as sponsor for them in their vows; to assist in the marriage ceremonies; to accompany them to the house of the bridegroom; to preside over and direct the festivities of the occasion.
For a considerable time the observance of a marriage ceremony fell into desuetude among the Christians, to remedy which certain laws enforcing it were enacted in the 8th century. The ceremony now differs in different places. In Scotland, like all other religious services of that country, it is extremely simple, and is performed in the session-house, the residence of the minister, or the private house of some friend of one of the parties. In Lutheran countries it is generally celebrated in private houses. In England, by the ancient common law, a like custom prevailed as in Scotland until 1757, when, by lord Hardwicke's Act, a ceremony in a church of the state establishment was made necessary, and this continued till 1836, when the Dissenters succeeded in removing this exclusiveness. Persons have now the option of two forms of contracting marriage: it may be with or without a religious ceremony; and, if with a religious ceremony, it may be either in the established church or in a dissenting chapel. If the marriage is to take place in an established church, then there must be either publication of banns of marriage for three preceding successive Sundays, or a license or certificate obtained, which dispenses with such publication; and, in either case, seven or fifteen days' previous residence in the parish by one of the parties is necessary, according as it is a certificate or license respectively which is applied for. The marriage must take place in the church, the marriage-service of the Church of England being read over, and this must be done in canonical hours, i.e. between 8 and 12 A.M., in presence of two witnesses at the altar, before which, in the body of the church, the parties are placed, after having mutually joined hands, and pledged their mutual troth, according to a set form of words, which they say after the minister; the mall gives a ring to the woman, then lays it on the book, with the accustomed duty to the priest and clerk. The priest then takes the ring and delivers it to the man, whom he instructs to put it on the fourth finger of the woman's left hand, and, holding it there, to repeat the words, "With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." The minister next joins their right hands together, and, after prayers and blessings, during certain parts of which the man and woman kneel before the altar, they are dismissed with the reading of a part of the Prayer-book, which points out the duties of the marriage state. If the marriage is celebrated in a dissenting chapel (and for that purpose such chapel must be duly licensed and registered), there must be present the superintendent-registrar of the district as one of the witnesses, but the dissenting clergyman may use his own or any kind of form of service. If the marriage is not to be with any religious ceremony, then it must take place in the office of the superintendent-registrar, and in presence of witnesses, the essential thing being that both parties should in the presence of witnesses there exchange a declaration that they take each other for man and wife. The canonical hours must be attended to in all cases, and the condition of previous residence by one of the parties in the district; but the condition of residence is often evaded. In all cases the fact of the marriage must be entered in a register, which register is kept by a public officer, and ultimately filed and kept in Somerset House, London, where a copy of the certificate of registration of every marriage in England can at all times be had for a small sum.
In the United States of America the customs of the Church of Scotland are followed by the Presbyterian and Congregational churches, and measurably also by the Baptists. The Protestant Episcopal Church adheres closely to the practices of the Church of England, and from the latter the Methodists also, in a somewhat modified form, have copied in this particular. Minor ecclesiastical bodies of the Christian Church follow the practices of one or the other of the churches mentioned. The laws of the several states differ somewhat as to the matter of marriage ceremonies, but they are adapted to the usages of all acknowledged Christian denominations, and recognize the validity of the act whether performed by a clergyman or magistrate, or by a simple contract before witnesses.
Peculiar usages are found in some of the Eastern churches of to-day. In Russia the bride and bridegroom hold a lighted taper in their hands in front of a small altar placed in the center of the church. Rings are placed on their fingers, and, their hands being joined, they are led by the priest three times round the altar. Two highly-ornamented gilt crowns are placed on their heads, and held over them by the groomsman during a part of the service. They drink wine out of a cup three times, and, kissing one another, the ceremony is finished. The married couple then make the tour of the church, crossing themselves at and saluting each saintly image on their way. Weddings generally take place towards evening, so that immediately after the ceremony dinner commences at the house of the bride's father. At a marriage-feast lighted candles are placed in every position and corner possible. No other wine but champagne is drunk, and the quantity of this beverage consumed is remarkable. The dinner is followed by a ball, and the feasting is usually kept up for twenty-four hours. The custom of honeymoon does not exist in Russia. The married couple spend the first few days of their wedded life with the bride's father. Shortly after the marriage the bride and bridegroom must call upon every one of their relations, friends, and acquaintances, and after this ceremony is finished they sink back into their ordinary life (Ivan at Home). For the Roman Catholic view of marriage, SEE MATRIMONY.