MOSAIC Fall 2015 - Page 5

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE ©iStock Valentina Gabusi “hardness of the heart” (Mt 19:8), Moses allowed men to divorce their wives (cf. Deut 24:1). God also tolerated polygamy during the time of the patriarchs and the kings, but Christ explicitly ruled out this practice (Mt 19:3-9; Mk 10:1-12; Lk 16:18). Commenting on Matthew 9:5, Pope Innocent III in 1201 writes that Scripture “does not say ‘three or more,’ but ‘two’; nor did it say: ‘he will cling to wives,’ but to [his] ‘wife.’” (Denz.-H, 778). In the New Testament, “Jesus unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning. . . . The matrimonial union is indissoluble: God himself has determined it: ‘what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (CCC, 1614, Mt 19:6). St. Paul gives vivid testimony to the dignity of marriage by seeing it as a reflection of the mystery of Christ’s union with the Church (Eph 5:31–32). Marriage in Earlier Ages The New Testament’s affirmation of the holiness and indissolubility of marriage was continued in the early Church. Patristic writers such as St. Irenaeus (c. 130-200) and Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215) were forced to defend the sanctity of marriage against certain Gnostic and dualist groups that considered sex, marriage, and procreation as evil. In this regard, the Magisterium needed to intervene. The Synod of Toledo of 400 AD anathematized those who found marriage to be “blameworthy” (Denz.-H, 206). The First Synod of Braga (Portugal), begun in 561, likewise anathematized anyone who “condemns human marriage and despises the procreation of children” (Denz.-H, 461). The early Church also upheld marriage as a sacrament. St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. ca. 107) and Tertullian (ca. 160–220) taught that Christians must enter into marriage with the approval of the Church. St. Augustine (354-430) pointed to the three goods (bona) of marriage: offspring (proles), fidelity (fides), and sacrament (sacramentum). Some argue that sacramentum in St. Augustine did not mean sacrament—as in one of the seven Sacraments—but the permanency or indissolubility of the bond. This meaning, though, harmonizes with the view of marriage as a sacrament. Moreover, St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan who instructed and baptized St. Augustine, referred to Matrimony as a “heavenly sacrament” (De Abraham, I, vii). In the Middle Ages, the sacramentality of marriage or matrimony was explicitly defended by the Magisterium. At the Synod of Verona of 1184, those who taught otherwise than “the holy Roman Church” regarding “baptism, confession, shms.edu 3