Origin of Marriage

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Richard V. Soliman


Origin of Marriage

In the Old Testament, marriage is most frequently treated as a patriarchal institution for the perpetuation of the tribe. However, late in the history of Israel, we can see signs of a growing sacramental awareness in the creation stories of Genesis and in the prophetic literature, (understood of course, in the broader notion of sacramentality). Many biblical scholars see in Genesis (1:27):

God created man in the image of Himself, In the image of God He created him, Male and female He created them,

a perception of God's presence in the relationship between a man and woman. The prophetic literature beginning with Hosea, uses the marriage relationship as a symbol of God's covenantal love for Israel. Such a metaphor for God's love presupposes an appreciation for the covenental dimensions of the marriage relationship.

In the New Testament, all three Synoptic Gospels record Jesus affirming the permanence of marriage.

In both Mark and Matthew, Jesus makes reference to Gen. 2:24 which speaks of the union of man and woman as part of God's divine plan. Most scholars agree that this teaching of Jesus represents a significant change from the Jewish tradition of the time. Both of the leading rabbis during this period, Shammai and Hillel, disagreed on the appropriate grounds for divorce, but generally accepted that there were clear situations in which divorce was justifiable. Jesus appeared to reject this in favor of a radical affirmation of the sacredness of the marital bond--a sacredness which would be compromised by divorce. Much is often made of the famous exception clause in the Matthean text "but I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for reason of porneia . .". The word "Porneia" may translate as "immorality", "indecency" or "fornication".