I would like to share to all of you a bird’s eye view of the history of marriage that we don’t know about.
IN ANCIENT GREECE
In Ancient Greece, no specific civil ceremony was required for the creation of a marriage – only mutual agreement and the fact that the couple must regard each other as husband and wife accordingly.
“There was no marriage ceremony as we know it today. Your parents arranged it, and then there was a party, and the girl’s parents paid a dowry to the man, and then the girl moved into the man’s house. If they were both citizens, and she lived in his house, then they were legally married. If she moved out of his house, then they were divorced.”
IN ANCIENT ROME
Like with the Greeks, Roman marriage and divorce required no specific government or religious approval. Both marriage and divorce could happen by simple mutual agreement.
“There were several forms of marriage, the first of which (by usus) involved no ceremony at all. It was established simply by the couple’s living together for one year. Divorce was just as informal.”
IN ANCIENT ISRAEL
As we can learn from the Bible, the ancient Israelites had a patriarchal family structure. The status of women was low—they were regarded as the property of their fathers or husbands and could do nothing without their consent. The main purpose of marriage was procreation and the perpetuation of a man’s name. Every healthy person was expected to marry. Single men and women were despised. A man could have several wives and concubines. (Jacob married two sisters, Leah and Rachel, and Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.) Divorce was not encouraged, but permitted if a man found some “uncleanness” in his wife. In such a case, he simply wrote her a bill of divorce and sent her out of his house (Deuteronomy 24:1). However, it was virtually impossible for a wife to divorce her husband. The Bible indicates that the marriage laws and customs of Israel changed somewhat in the course of time. Thus, divorces were increasingly frowned upon, and there was a general trend toward monogamy. Another change concerned the so-called levirate (i.e., the man’s obligatory marriage to his brother’s widow). This kind of marriage was at times required (Deuteronomy 25:5) and at other times prohibited (Leviticus 20:21). This change was probably related to changing economic conditions. It was usually the patriarch who selected a bride for his son and who paid a “bride price” to her father. The acceptance of this bride price constituted a legally binding betrothal, which was followed by some wedding celebration when the bride took up residence with her new family. Both males and females married in their early teens, shortly after puberty. Theoretically, therefore, neither sex was subjected to any lengthy period of sexual frustration. Still, because of an unquestioned sexual double standard, men had a far greater opportunity for sexual fulfillment than women.
MARRIAGE DURING THE TIME OF JESUS CHRIST
Jewish Marriage Customs
Those who live in the modern western world do not catch the full significance of Jesus’ promise. This is due to the fact that in His promise Jesus was drawing an analogy from Jewish marriage customs in biblical times. Since this is so, those marriage customs must be examined if one is to grasp the significance of the promise.
The first major step in a Jewish marriage was betrothal.1 Betrothal involved the establishment of a marriage covenant. By Jesus’ time it was usual for such a covenant to be established as the result of the prospective bridegroom taking the initiative.2 The prospective bridegroom would travel from his father’s house to the home of the prospective bride. There he would negotiate with the father of the young woman to determine the price (mohar) that he must pay to purchase his bride.3 Once the bridegroom paid the purchase price, the marriage covenant was thereby established, and the young man and woman were regarded to be husband and wife.4 From that moment on the bride was declared to be consecrated or sanctified, set apart exclusively for her bridegroom.5 As a symbol of the covenant relationship that had been established, the groom and bride would drink from a cup of wine over which a betrothal benediction had been pronounced.6
After the marriage covenant had been established, the groom would leave the home of the bride and return to his father’s house. There he would remain separate from his bride for a period of twelve months.7 This period of separation afforded the bride time to gather her trousseau and to prepare for married life.8 The groom occupied himself with the preparation of living accommodations in his father’s house to which he could bring his bride.
At the end of the period of separation the groom would come to take his bride to live with him. The taking of the bride usually took place at night. The groom, best man and other male escorts would leave the groom’s father’s house and conduct a torch light procession to the home of the bride.9 Although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the exact time of his coming.10 As a result the groom’s arrival would be preceded by a shout.11 This shout would forewarn the bride to be prepared for the coming of the groom.
After the groom received his bride together with her female attendants, the enlarged wedding party would return from the bride’s home to the groom’s father’s house.12 Upon arrival there the wedding party would find that the wedding guests had assembled already.
Shortly after arrival the bride and groom would be escorted by the other members of the wedding party to the bridal chamber (huppah). Prior to entering the chamber the bride remained veiled so that no one could see her face.13 While the groomsmen and bridesmaids would wait outside, the bride and groom would enter the bridal chamber alone. There in the privacy of that place they would enter into physical union for the first time, thereby consummating the marriage that had been covenanted earlier.14
After the marriage was consummated, the groom would announce the consummation to the other members of the wedding party waiting outside the chamber (John 3:29). These people would pass on the news of the marital union to the wedding guests.15 Upon receiving this good news the wedding guests would feast and make merry for the next seven days.16
During the seven days of the wedding festivities, which were sometimes called “the seven days of the huppah,” the bride remained hidden in the bridal chamber.17 At the conclusion of these seven days the groom would bring his bride out of the bridal chamber, now with her veil removed, so that all could see who his bride was.
IN ANCIENT EUROPE
For most of European history, marriage was more or less a business agreement between two families who arranged the marriages of their children. Romantic love, and even simple affection, were not considered essential.
IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY
From the early Christian era (30 to 325 CE), marriage was thought of as primarily a private matter, with no religious or other ceremony being required.
With few local exceptions, until 1545, Christian marriages in Europe were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the parties. The couple would promise verbally to each other that they would be married to each other; the presence of a priest or witnesses was not required. This promise was known as the “verbum.” If freely given and made in the present tense (e.g., “I marry you”), it was unquestionably binding; if made in the future tense (“I will marry you”), it would constitute a betrothal. One of the functions of churches from the Middle Ages was to register marriages, which was not obligatory. There was no state involvement in marriage and personal status, with these issues being adjudicated in ecclesiastical courts.
28 upenn.edu Excerpt from Marriage, Sex, and Civic Culture in Late Medieval London “the sacramental bond of marriage could be made only through the freely given consent of both parties”
KAILAN NAGKAROON NG OFFICIAL NA KATURUAN ANG SIMBAHAN PATUNGKOL SA DEFINITION NG KASAL?
As part of the Counter-Reformation, in 1563 the Council of Trent decreed that a Roman Catholic marriage would be recognized only if the marriage ceremony was officiated by a priest with two witnesses. The Council also authorized a Catechism, issued in 1566, which defined marriage as, “The conjugal union of man and woman, contracted between two qualified persons, which obliges them to live together throughout life.”
Witte Jr., John (1997). From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition. Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 39–40. ISBN 0664255434.