Somebody on the Washington Post thought it would be a brilliant idea to act like some theologian or bishop of the Church to claim legitimacy in regards to their claim: that Matrimony was not called a Sacrament until the 13th century.
The only element of truth was that “the early Catholic Church elevated unwed celibacy above marriage.”
It’s a very sloppy article. The author doesn’t prove that Matrimony wasn’t a Sacrament until the Middle Ages, as if saying the Church claims to create Sacraments. Instead, they jump from one topic to another: from celibacy, to the sex act as proof of a valid marriage, to dowries. The Church Fathers of the first centuries called Matrimony a Sacrament. The author needs to learn the definition of Sacrament before claiming to know about a given topic.
The irony of it was, they never proved the Church once allowed unlawfully remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion. She never even tried to because she was busy bringing up things other than Matrimony being a Sacrament. Her original intent was to somehow give legitimacy for Catholics in illicit “remarriages” to receive Holy Communion with or without the pope’s approval but also in the hopes they can push the pope into somehow changing Church doctrine because of some technicalities in a marriage which can render one valid or invalid. So, I’ll take apart the author’s article by its main points.
“Until the 12th century the church held that a marriage was valid if entered into by mutual consent, with or without a witness or the blessing of a priest, and was then sealed by sexual intercourse.”
What?! See what I mean. This isn’t even relevant to the bottom line if whether Matrimony is a Sacrament. Second, I am curious as to where she got the idea that it was “[u]ntil the 12th century” that the Church defined a marriage valid “if entered into by mutual consent”, “with or without a witness or the blessing of a priest” and “sealed by sexual intercourse”, as if the Church all of a sudden changed her teaching on the subject in some unknown, unmentioned, unheard of and anonymous document. Apparently she is not familiar with canon law: the current edition includes canons 1083-1094 mentioning impediments to a valid marriage, to name a few mutual consent and the sex act.
“When Jesus forbade divorce or the taking of a second wife, this constituted an explicit rejection of the idea that procreation was the criterion for a valid marriage.”
This seems to be a pathetic attempt to promote same-sex “marriage”. That’s honestly what I got out of it. First, the author makes it seem like the validity of a marriage in the eyes of the Church relies solely on sex. No, it does not. It is only one of many criteria necessary for a valid marriage in the Church: e.g. a male cannot be less than 16 nor a female less than 14; they must both consent; they cannot be too closely related; they must have the intent to have children. These for example are criteria which constitute for an valid marriage and if the couple lacks any one of them (just one), then that is grounds for being able to get an annulment. The Church is not the state; the state might consider the marriage consummated solely by the sex act, but the Church does not.
“But as someone who has studied the physical and social sciences, as well as the Bible, he seems to be keenly aware that the biggest threat to family and community solidarity today lies not in our personal but our societal departures from the moral imperatives that Christ championed – feeding the poor, healing the sick and demonstrating mercy in our dealings with others.”
This is typical social justice warrior rhetoric: downplay Catholic doctrine on issues of sexuality and life by talking about almsgiving. That’s called cherry-picking. Funny how Jesus didn’t mention not giving to the poor (and certainly nothing about government handouts) when He mentioned things that do defile such as “unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly” (cf. Mark 7:21-22).
“The Catholic Church did not make marriage a sacrament until the 13th century, and only began to enforce strict religious conformity in marriage in the 16th century — in part as a reaction to criticism from Protestants that Catholics were insufficiently enthusiastic about the institution.”
Bogus. That’s not true at all. The author apparently is making up sociologist mumbo jumbo to undermine the theology of marriage.
“If, however, you are unequal (to that perfection), He stands before you a monogamist in spirit, having one Church as His spouse, according to the figure of Adam and of Eve, which (figure) the apostle interprets of that great sacrament of Christ and the Church, (teaching that), through the spiritual, it was analogous to the carnal monogamy.” ~ Tertullian (On Monogamy 5 [2nd century])
“Undoubtedly the substance of the sacrament is of this bond, so that when man and woman have been joined in marriage they must continue inseparably as long as they live, … In marriage, however, let the blessings of marriage be loved: offspring, fidelity, and the sacramental bond… The sacramental bond, which they lose neither through separation nor through adultery, this the spouses should guard chastely and harmoniously.” ~ Saint Augustine of Hippo (Marriage and Concupiscence 1:10:11, 1:17:19 [419 A.D.])
The definition of a Sacrament is a visible sign of God’s invisible grace. Matrimony contains God’s grace because His grace is necessary for a man and woman to remain bound to each other for life, hence why Christ mentioned “what God has brought together let no man separate” (cf. Mark 10:9), and furthermore His grace is needed for the spouses to make it through their marriage. Even the Bible calls it a Sacrament, or as in Eastern Christendom known as a Mystery.
“This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32)