THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE
[continued from yesterday]
...Among the Jews the penalty of adultery was death by stoning. In the most savage races of the earth its punishment is immediate death. The law of Christ makes the law of nature and the law of Moses more perfect. This it does by all the conditions and rules which it lays down for the prevention of polygamy and divorce.
By polygamy we usually understand the possession of two wives at the same time. The possession of two husbands at the same time is known as polyandry. Both are equally condemned by the Christian law.
The cases of polygamy among the Jews are frequently quoted by those who want an excuse for disregarding the laws of Christian marriage. Attention must be paid to the circumstances of time and race. If polygamy was permitted then it was for a special reason. And the permission was mere toleration. The circumstances of the times required that it should be permitted in order to avoid greater evils.
Nevertheless, God did not cease to give signs to His people as to what was the great ideal. The most wondrous love song ever sung by man was that inspired by the Holy Spirit, the song of songs, which tells of the love between one bridegroom and one bride, the love which lasts till death.
"One is my dove, my perfect one is but one.... I to my beloved and my beloved to me, who feedest among the anemones....Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy as hard as hell, the lamps thereof are fire and flames....My beloved to me and I to him who feedeth among the lilies, till the day break and the shadows flee away."So the young Tobias could say to his wife Sara: "For we are the children of saints, and we must not be joined together like heathens that know not God."
In praying to God for a blessing on his marriage he referred back to its original conditions: "Thou madest Adam of the slime of the earth, and gavest him Eve for a helper. And now, Lord, thou knowest that not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity, in which Thy name may be blessed forever and ever." And Sara prayed with him: "Have mercy on us, and let us grow old both together in health."....
From Marriage and Parenthood, The Catholic Ideal
By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
Author of "Cords of Adam," "The Wayfarer's Vision," ETC.
Copyright, 1911, by Joseph F. Wagner, New York.