Returning to the subject which constituted the impetus behind this entire blog, the following question is posed:
What is Marriage?
Here are the two fundamental elements of every marriage:
1. The Declaration - One having the authority to do so declares that the woman is given in marriage to the particular man.
2. The Taking - The man takes the woman to wife by consummating the marriage with her, becoming "one flesh" in a physical manner.
When these two events occur, in that order, a man and woman become husband and wife. Absolutely nothing else is needed. While a marriage may be surrounded with many other customs and rituals, none of those will make two people any MORE married, and the absence of superfluous customs or rituals does not make two people any less married.
These two essential elements apply to every earthly marriage as well as to the marriage of Christ to his bride, the Church.
Perhaps there can be endless debate over who qualifies as an "authority" for the first element, and whether a universal definition can be established for certain is a valid question. But it IS a certainty that without a declaration by an authority there is no marriage. Likewise, without the consummation, no marriage is established.
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