Marriage Laws – Council of Trent on Matrimony

By Laurom – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8465486

When Martin Luther nailed his list of 95 theses to a church door in Germany in 1517, he ignited a debate that led to the Protestant Reformation. Reading over the list of 95 theses, nothing there was said about marriage.

Yet, the Protestant Reformation over the next 30 years generated enough theological pressure that the Roman Catholic prelates convened the Council of Trent to create the Catholic Counter-Reformation. This Council met from 1545 to 1563 over 25 sessions.

In the 24th session, in the year 1563, the prelates considered matrimony. The text is available at this location: Council of Trent, 1563, Session XXIV. I quote from the preamble and the first three canons issued by this session below.

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Martin Madan Explains Ruth 4:6

When the Reverend Martin Madan wrote the first volume of his seminal work, Thelypthora, he took the time to consider the case of Boaz and the kinsman who was nearer to Ruth than he was. This is recorded in Ruth chapter four. He offers a succinct and common-sense analysis of why the kinsman refused. Let’s read Ruth 4:1-12 (NASB).

Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, “Turn aside, friend, sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. He took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the closest relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the land of Moab, has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. So I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it before those who are sitting here, and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if not, tell me that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am after you.’” And he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.” The closest relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, because I would jeopardize my own inheritance. Redeem it for yourself; you may have my right of redemption, for I cannot redeem it.” Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange of land to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the manner of attestation in Israel. So the closest relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” And he removed his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. 10 Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.” 11 All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. 12 Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the Lord will give you by this young woman.”

Ruth 4:1-12 NASB
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The “Thlibo” Path of Polygyny Marriage as a Positive

A common objection thrown up by those who argue against Biblical polygyny is the fact that in Biblical polygynous families, we see a lot of family difficulties and sometimes, outright pain. Setting aside the equally common rebuttal that in monogamous families, we see the same kind of pain, there’s something about the difficulties that polygynous families experience that naysayers are not considering, and quite possibly that’s due to a monogamy-only translator bias, as well as the all-too-human reflexive avoidance of pain.

Before we go into the weeds with the Greek-to-English translations, I want to note that a recent story broke about when a Tanzanian miner became an overnight millionaire when he sold two of the largest chunks of Tanzanite ever found in that African country. The BBC article that reported the find also mentioned that the miner had 4 wives and 30 children. The Fox News article that reported the same story linked to the same BBC article mentioned the 30 children but was silent on the 4 wives. This is an excellent current example of how discomfort with polygyny will lead to suppression of relevant facts.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 KJV
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Marriage Laws – A Brief Survey of Changes in Modern America

From the colonial period to the second decade of the twenty-first century in the United States of America, marriage has been the subject of legislation and court decisions. Specifically, the question that I am exploring herein is how statutes and court decisions define or permit “who can marry whom?” The following is not intended to be a detailed overview of more than four centuries of history. Undoubtedly, there exist monographs and books written on this topic and the interested reader can search them out. I did a search through DuckDuckGo on “history American marriage laws”, which returned several hits. The first sites, including Wikipedia, contained some information about the changes in American law since the colonial period and several things jumped out at me and that’s what I want to discuss. The reader is warned that this might be “getting into the weeds” somewhat, but the overall trend addressing “who can marry whom?” is what I’m interested in sharing with you.

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Marriage Laws – What YHVH Has Said

In the opening article in my new “Marriage Laws” series, I made the proposition that Yeshua clearly said that some things belong to YHVH only, and that marriage is one of those things that YHVH has reserved to Himself, and not given to Caesar (the government) to legislate. In forthcoming articles, I will explore how “Caesar” in America and other societies in the past has arrogated to himself the power to regulate marriage. In this second article, I am going to answer the question of what YHVH has said about marriage. It turns out that He has said a great deal, and nowhere has He said that Israel’s rulers have any legal jurisdiction on this topic. If they don’t, how much less jurisdiction do the nations have?

We will begin at the beginning during Creation Week in which we are going to analyze what He said and did through the aftermath of the Fall. Later, we will discuss what He put into the Sinai Covenant and the related statutes and judgments in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

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Marriage and Sanctification

While I have long understood that one reason God created marriage was to image His relationship with His people (Eph. 5:22-33), to a much lesser degree, I understood that a purpose for marriage is sanctification. It was not, however, until the last couple years of understanding Biblical marriage, that I began to understand how very significant the aspect of sanctification is.

Sanctification, by definition, is the process of ‘making holy.’ Holy means ‘set apart’ or ‘consecrate,’ so ‘sanctification’ means ‘the process of setting apart, or making holy.’ See the following snip from an online dictionary:

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Marriage Laws – God or Caesar?

When people put forth arguments against the polygyny laws of the Old Testament, one of them is that if there are laws on the books that make polygyny illegal, then even if it’s legal in the Old Testament, it’s not legal in the present day, and the secular law is the controlling authority and should be obeyed.

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True confession of (fake) sin!

In fact, even as a married man, I couldn’t commit adultery with a single lady. It is physically and spiritually impossible!!

I’ve been happily married more than 28 years and wouldn’t trade any of it. It hasn’t always been easy, but life with Kelly has been good. I love her. Always have, but then I’m a sucker for ‘broken wings.’

Only in recent years have I realized or recognized that aspect of my personality,  but I can see the seeds of that character trait going way back. Kelly is the first person I really recall with whom I exercised this ministry. We began dating before the parachuting accident that took both of her hands, though we weren’t serious. Truth be told, at that point, she was seeing someone else and I was sort of playing the field… but, she sure could fill out a pair of Army fatigues.

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What constitutes a ‘marriage?’

We prayed for weeks that the weather would be kind to us as outdoor weddings in June are subject to thunderstorms in the South. The day dawned picture perfect and the ceremony went off without a hitch under the oaks on the lawn of Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Winnsboro, SC. Our family was happy. We were married.

Or, were we?

Five months earlier, I was to go to the US Army Ranger School, and had a beautiful girl living with me that I planned to keep. So days before my departure, on a Wednesday, I spoke to her over lunch and we planned to see the Justice of the Peace on Friday after work to ‘get married.’ Two days later we had a piece of paper that said we were ‘married.’

Or, were we?

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