26 July 2022

Where to be married?

There are proposals to make it licit in these kingdoms to be married ... almost anywhere ...

The old restrictions, concerning the place and the time of weddings, were based on sound instinctive principles. There was a perceived need to prevent the deception and sexual abuse of girls and women by libertines who might persuade them by the simulation of the Sacrament to submit to pretended marriages. And the confining of the Sacrament to specific public buildings ... churches or registrars' offices ... afforded married people the protecion of formal recognition in community contexts. Secured also by the reading of Banns, the publicity of the event guaranteed it against jiggery pokery. This was as true for a couple of peasants as it was in gentle or noble contexts.

Now, of course, such considerations scarcely matter. The need to protect the chastity of women against those who would debauch them is not recognised in a society where consensual sexual promiscuity is perceived as normal and, probably, almost universal.

And the old securities have lost their necessity when divorce on demand is almost universally ... and rapidly ... avalable.

I don't quite know where we go from here. I do wonder how many modern marriages are valid.

And I do think that the Church should preserve the old restrictions, because they are pretty well the only safeguards against the disappearance of legitimate, life-long marriage.


6 comments:

Dr Frederick Jones said...

How many marriages are invalid because of defective intention? When the state seems ot regard marriage as a civil contract terminable at will are any state marriages valid?

E sapelion said...

England had tight regulation, but Scotland never did, hence marriage by cohabitation and repute. And Gretna Green.

Bill Murphy said...

This is a very good article, Father. Decades ago Faith Magazine published a superb and totally depressing article on the disintegration of marriage. The author noted the cluelessness and worldliness of so many young people even in "Catholic" weddings in a church. Obviously any marriage tribunal could later judge these marriages to be null because of "lack of due discretion", or whatever. The author insisted that the Church had to give the people a hard line in future or a abandon marriage completely.

vetusta ecclesia said...



There is total confusion widespread about the distinction between the state of marriage and the ceremony of wedding. Hence the undue attention given to the wedding, its venue and trappings, which are largely trivial, to the detriment of understanding and working at the long term commitment of marriage.

Dr Jones: I am of course subject to correction but I think that though the state has mechanisms for divorce the words of the Registrar imply permanence

Banshee said...

Why don't people have weddings in church, and picnic receptions at parks and beaches? I do not understand how people think.

Similarly, if you want elaborate secular decorations - reception.

Long crazy speeches - reception, when people have food or are waiting to be served.

Really, this is not difficult. Formality and occasion can be conjured up out of nothing but attitude, and wedding receptions do not need to cost the earth. But the intent has to point beyond the occasion, toward either a Sacrament or a natural covenant that lasts a lifetime.

The good news is that a lot of young people are "based," as they say, and I see a lot of young Catholic families that are built around the Faith. I happen to attend a college chapel, and a lot of solid marriages come out of it. Marriage prep was not even vaguely a thing at my own college's Newman Club/chapel.

But this chapel has a four year old who is practically his sacristan dad's assistant, and nobody of any age feels out of place. So couples look at married couples and think seriously before getting engaged and married, and in a few years they are getting a second or third kid baptized.

So I feel depressed if I read wedding stories in the Internet, but I see much better stories at Mass.

Andrew T said...

There is another aspect of these proposals which should cause concern. It is the requirement that "officiants" interview the parties separately.

I see why, but where the officiant has known the parties since they were knee-high to a grasshopper it is insulting.

Indeed: in the case of a cousin marriage they might be the officiant's niece and nephew and outside the Catholic Church one of the could be the officiants son or daughter - and even in the Catholic Church if the officiant was ordained as a widower!