The Churchs doctrine for marriage
Author: Ricardo Paulo Javier Arieu
Because of the decline in the average western religiosity, modern society is in crisis. Although was God who instituted marriage (Genesis chapter 2:23-35), many young couples know this truth but they are ignoring it. Many obviate marriage, staying single. Others suffer the crisis in marriage and divorce other. So, marriage is in crisis too. But despite this social crisis, the Church continues to advise a couple wishing to organize a family that to be married is the best option to manage a healthy family. Thus the occidental civilization is in crisis and marriage is in crisis too (scandal, divorce, homosexual marriage, death, family violence, etc.).
Society in the first church days
Atkinson, Field, Holmes & O’Donovan mention that in the first church days, marriage was considered of importance to the community, rather as something personal and familiar (2013, p.567). Atkinson et al. say that in marriage “a man and a woman step out of their separateness into community; they turn towards each other” (2013, p.77). In the Spanish Catholic web PrimerosCristianos (2015) said that regarding the marriage rite in the early church, though not originally Jewish, had no Christian originality. The fathers of the Church respected local customs to dictate the marriage rite. In Christian marriage, equality between men and women was social news of the day. In marriage between Christians, the position of women is to partner rights in parity with the other spouse. The Christianism gave the woman a higher consideration compared with the pagan religions of those times. The Letter to Diognetus, a mid-second century brief non canonical epistle, explains the social habits of Christians Church’s doctrine for marriage: “They marry like everybody and beget children, but do not abandon those born” (Diognetus, III). So, based on the letter to Diognetus the web PrimerosCristianos (2015) makes a brief analytical commentary as was the marriage in the first centuries:
Christians marry like everyone (V, 6), so Jewish, so Greek, so Roman. Accept the imperial laws, while they do not go against the Gospel. The marriage is celebrated in the Lord (1 Corinthians chapter 7:39), within the community, without a special ceremony… Christians marry like everyone else, but show signs of a tenor of peculiar behavior, admirable, and admittedly all surprising.
American society in the last days
American society is less religious than some years ago behind. At 1992, Psychiatrist and philosopher Enrique Rojas said about occidental civilization: “this partnership is sick” (Rojas, 1992, p.11). More than two decades have passed and the West marriage has not improved.A Pew Research Center study finds a great deal of stability in the U.S. religious landscape. But that study said that
“an extensive new survey of more than 35,000 U.S. adults finds that the percentages, who say they believe in God, pray daily and regularly go to church or other religious services all have declined modestly in recent years” (Pewforum, 2015).
Thus the occidental civilization is in crisis and marriage is in crisis too (scandal, divorce, homosexual marriage, death, family violence, etc.).
During these times of social crisis, some young couples find that marriage is an outdated institution. Belinda Luscombe an Australian-born journalist and editor at large at TIME Magazine said that “in 1978, when the divorce rate was much higher than it is today, a TIME poll asked Americans if they thought marriage was becoming obsolete. Twenty-eight percent did“(Luscombe, 2010).
But others unaware of the risks of cohabitation decide to give it a try. Also many others after being married for some time decide to divorce. Isaza (w.d) said that in USA “one hundred and three thousand new unions each day are presented”.
The same doctrine
The current conservative Christian churches in the doctrine of the apostles and Fathers of the Church now continue teaching that marriage is the best recommendation for those couples who are dating and wish to formalize their relationship choice. Mahaney wrote that “Marriage between a man and a woman was created with the intention to reflect the relationship of Christ and his Church.” It also explains that the biblical purpose of marriage “does not focus on the man or the needs. It focuses on God. It is mysterious and significant from the bottom. His marriage was to point to the truth of the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord, who returned for his bride”(Mahaney, 2006, p.25, 27).
These convictions were not original Christianity but are rooted in the Old Testament Israel. The Judeo-Christian marriage worldview and family, with its roots in the sacred Hebrew-Christian scriptures (Based on Genesis chapter 2 vs. 15-25, Mathew chapter 19 vs. 2-11 and Ephesians chapter 5 vs. 21-33) do not recommend for couples to cohabit, since there are no sufficient guarantees that they will stay together or after a period of cohabitation actually achieve getting married. Laura Mitchell, a student of economics at George Mason University, says most of the estimates in respect of cohabitation before the wedding, predict an increased risk of divorce by 33 percent. Regardless of the magnitude of this figure, all studies conclude the same thing: that premarital cohabitation is highly correlated with the number of failed marriages (Mitchel, 2013). Those young people who do not feel matrimonial vocation could use the time to study, work or devote their spare time to serve God with greater freedom than being responsible for managing a family. But those individuals who are still in time to raise a family and are afraid to remain single could pray to God waiting for their help; and they should also be alert to those opportunities through the circumstances of life they may encounter. But they should make good use of time to be better prepared in the social, spiritual and mature as people, in order to, in some time, meet other special being they ever dreamed possible and to form a strong, healthy and well-knit family to resist the cultural onslaught of time.
Finally, everyone should be aware that it’s true that marriage is an institution within crisis today. Despite the passage of centuries, two thousand years since the Church teaches that heterosexual marriage as God instituted is between a man and a woman is the best valid option for men and women who have vocation to manage a family wisely and biblical. From the beginning of the Church theologians and ministers are teaching that heterosexual marriage is the best valid option for men and women who should organize a family vocation. The Epistle to Diognetus helps both historians and other intellectuals to understand what Christian did about marriage. This letter is an important historical argument about marriage. Marriage was instituted for the glory of God and not just for the satisfaction of the couple. People should organize a family according to Christian values and the marriage must not be broken as easily. In this manner the name of the Lord Jesus should be glorified by the married people.
Atkinson, D.J., Field, D. F., Holmes, A. F., O’ Donovan, O. “Marriage” in New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology. (1998). Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press.
Isaza, G. M. Las alarmantes estadísticas del divorcio. (w.d.). Retrieved of
Luscombes, B. Who Needs Marriage? A Changing Institution. (2010). Retrieved from http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2032116,00.html
Mahaney, C.J. Sexo, Romance y la Gloria de Dios. 1st. edition in Spanish. (2006). Publishing House Unilit. Miami. USA.
Diogneto. Letter to Diognetus. Retrived from http://www.mercaba.org/TESORO/427-10.htm
Mitchel, L. Cohabitation’s Transaction Costs. (2013). Retrived from
Pew forum. U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious. Modest Drop in Overall Rates of Belief and Practice, but Religiously Affiliated Americans Are as Observant as Before. (2015).
PrimerosCristianos. Los primeros cristianos y el matrimonio. (2015).
Retrieved from http://www.primeroscristianos.com/index.php/temas/item/1966-el-matrimonio-en-el-cristianismo- primitivo/
Rojas, E. El Hombre Light. Colection Fin de Siglo. Ed. Temas de Hoy. Spain.