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Terminology
July 20, 2013, 10:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Philosophers are sometimes accused of nit-picking when they ask for precise definitions of terms under discussion. However, without precision there is misunderstanding, when the same term is used by different people to refer to different things. One such term is, nowadays, “marriage”. For Catholic Christians, marriage already has two forms. There is the natural institution intended by God the Creator as the proper context for the procreation and up-bringing of children; and there is the Sacrament of Matrimony, which is the same institution raised to a higher level, symbolising the union of Christ with his Church, and imparting sanctifying grace to those who continue in this state. It is characterised by mutual fidelity, permanency, and exclusiveness (i.e. it is monogamous).

This is the Christian understanding, but it is not necessarily shared by others. For some, permanency is not essential: divorce is possible. For others, monogamy is not essential: a man my have several wives. Mr Cameron’s government has now introduced yet another sort of marriage, which is not necessarily heterosexual, or concerned with procreation, and does not require (it would seem) either consummation or exclusiveness as hitherto understood.

To avoid confusion, then, perhaps we should refine our terminology. Let us refer to Christian Marriage or Holy Matrimony, when that is what we are talking about; and let us refer to “civil marriage” or just “marriage” in inverted commas, when we are referring to Mr Cameron’s invention. Then we shall know where we are. From a Christian point of view, “marriage” is not Marriage.

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“For be ye well assured, that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God’s Word doth allow are not joined together by God; neither is their Matrimony lawful.”

In spiritual terms, this is given even greater force in the following prayer – note especially the use of the word ‘that’:

“GOD the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favour look upon you, and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace, that ye may so live together in this life, that in the world to come ye may have life everlasting. Amen.”

In other words, nsthing less than the salvation of souls hangs on what Marriage is. Is it an icon of the union betwixt Christ and His Church, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency (a phrase unjustly removed from the unsatisfactory 1928 supermarket wine liturgy), or is it just there to satisfy the unruly wills and affections of sinful men?

The 1662 Form of Solemnization is a true vintage, continuing to grow in meaning even in its old age.

Comment by Kyle




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