Letters: The Essence of Marriage; Funeral Customs

Consenting Adults

Thanks for your editorial “The Truth About Marriage” and the three views on “The Court and Marriage” in the August 16 issue. For most of us—Jews and Christians alike—marriage has been shaped by our ancient religious culture, a culture largely founded on the biblical mandate to “increase and multiply,” and has developed over centuries of tradition. Yet marriage has also been shaped by a Roman culture and domestic world where true marriage—matrimonium—was a partnership in which a couple consented to live together as equals with mutual affection and respect: affectio maritalis. To raise a family, so central to thinking about marriage, was one of the benefits (bona) of marriage, but not its essence. Whether for Jew, Christian, or Pagan, the heart of the matter was consent to live together with marital affection. As that world became increasingly Christian, marriage remained a domestic partnership based on consent; indeed, Christian leaders like Augustine (the only church father to write extensively about sex and marriage) were faced with childless marriages and infidelities that severed the sacred bond...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.