Tradition / Church Fathers
"Flee wicked arts; but all the more discourse regarding them. Speak to my
sisters, that they love in our Lord, and that their husbands be sufficient for
them in the flesh and spirit. Then, again, charge my brethren in the name of
our Lord Jesus Christ, that they love their wives, as our Lord His Church. If
any man is able in power to continue in purity, to the honour of the flesh of
our Lord, let him continue so without boasting; if he boasts, he is undone; if
he become known apart from the bishop, he has destroyed himself. It is
becoming, therefore, to men and women who marry, that they marry with the
counsel of the bishop, that the marriage may be in our Lord, and not in lust.
Let everything, therefore, be done for the honour of God." Ignatius of Antioch,
To Polycarp, 5 (A.D. 110).
"Now that the Scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union,
is expressly contained in the law, 'Thou shalt not put away thy wife, except
for the cause of fornication;' and it regards as fornication, the marriage of
those separated while the other is alive. Not to deck and adorn herself beyond
what is becoming, renders a wife free of calumnious suspicion while she devotes
herself assiduously to prayers and supplications; avoiding frequent departures
from the house, and shutting herself up as far as possible from the view of all
not related to her, and deeming housekeeping of more consequence than
impertinent trifling. 'He that taketh a woman that has been put away,' it is
said, 'committeth adultery; and if one puts away his wife, he makes her an
adulteress,' that is, compels her to commit adultery. And not only is he who
puts her away guilty of this, but he who takes her, by giving to the woman the
opportunity of sinning; for did he not take her, she would return to her
husband." Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 2:24 (A.D. 202).
"Whence are we to find words enough fully to tell the happiness of that marriage
which the Church cements, and the oblation confirms, and the benediction signs
and seals; which angels carry back the news of to heaven, which the Father
holds for ratified? For even on earth children do not rightly and lawfully wed
without their fathers' consent. What kind of yoke is that of two believers,
partakers of one hope, one desire, one discipline, one and the same service?
Both are brethren, both fellow servants, no difference of spirit or of flesh;
nay, they are truly 'two in one flesh.' Where the flesh is one, one is the
spirit. Together they pray, together prostrate themselves, together perform
their fasts; mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, mutually sustaining.
Equally are they both found in the Church of God; equally at the banquet of
God; equally in straits, in persecutions, in refreshments. Neither hides ought
from the other; neither shuns the other; neither is troublesome to the other.
The sick is visited, the indigent relieved, with freedom. Alms are given
without danger of ensuing torment; sacrifices attended without scruple; daily
diligence discharged without impediment: there is no stealthy signing, no
trembling greeting, no mute benediction. Between the two echo psalms and hymns;
and they mutually challenge each other which shall better chant to their Lord.
Such things when Christ sees and hears, He joys. To these He sends His own I
peace. Where two are, there withal is He Himself. Where He is, there the Evil
One is not." Tertullian, To My Wife, 2,8:4 (A.D. 206).
"Then, describing what ought to be in the case of those who are joined together
by God, so that they may be joined together in a manner worthy of God, the
Saviour adds, 'So that they are no more twain;' and, wherever there is indeed
concord, and unison, and harmony, between husband and wife, when he is as ruler
and she is obedient to the word, 'He shall rule over thee,' then of such
persons we may truly say, 'They are no more twain.' Then since it was necessary
that for 'him who was joined to the Lord,' it should be reserved 'that he
should become one spirit with Him,' in the case of those who are joined
together by God, after the words, 'So that they are no more twain,' it is said,
'but one flesh.' And it is God who has joined together the two in one so that
they are no more twain, from the time that the woman is married to the man.
And, since God has joined them together, on this account in the case of those
who are joined together by God, there is a 'gift'; and Paul knowing this, that
marriage according to the Word of God was a 'gift,' like as holy celibacy was a
gift, says, 'But I would that all men were like myself; howbeit, each man hath
his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that.' And
those who are joined together by God both mind and keep the precept, 'Husbands
love your wives, as Christ also the church.' The Saviour then commanded, 'What
God hath joined together, let not man put asunder,' but man wishes to put
asunder what God hath joined together, when, "falling away from the sound
faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the
hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot
iron, forbidding," not only to commit fornication, but 'to marry,' he dissolves
even those who had been before joined together by the providence of God. Let
these things then be said, keeping in view what is expressly said concerning
the male and the female, and the man and the woman, as the Saviour taught in
the answer to the Pharisees." Origen, Commentary on Matthew, 14:16( post A.D.
"Two reasons can be advanced to explain why the marriage was celebrated with
external festivities in Cana of Galilee, and why the water was truly changed
into wine: so that the tide of Bacchanalian frenetics in the world might be
turned to chastity and dignity in marriage, and so that the rest might be
directed aright to the enjoyment both of wine free of toil and of the favor
that presented it; so that in every way it might stop the mouths of those
aroused against the Lord, and so that it might show that He is God with the
Father and His Holy Spirit." Epiphanius, Panarion (Against All Heresies),5 1:30
"'What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.' See a
teacher's wisdom. I mean, that being asked, Is it lawful? He did not at once
say, It is not lawful, lest they should be disturbed and put in disorder, but
before the decision by His argument He rendered this manifest, showing that it
is itself too the commandment of His Father, and that not in opposition to
Moses did He enjoin these things, but in full agreement with him. But mark Him
arguing strongly not from the creation only, but also from His command. For He
said not, that He made one man and one woman only, but that He also gave this
command that the one man should be joined to the one woman. But if it had been
His will that he should put this one away, and bring in another, when He had
made one man, He would have formed many Women. But now both by the manner of
the creation, and by the manner of lawgiving, He showed that one man must dwell
with one woman continually, and never break off from her." John Chrysostom, On
Matthew 62:1 (A.D. 370).
"'For this reason shall a man leave father and mother and cleave to his wife and
they shall be two in one flesh.' To commend this unity he supplies an example
of unity. Just as a man and a woman are one in nature so Christ and the Church
are recognized as one through faith. 'This is a great mystery--I mean in
reference to Christ and the Church.' He means that the great sign of this
mystery is in the unity of man and woman....Just as a man forsakes his parents
and cleaves to his wife, so too he forsakes every error and cleaves to the
Church and subjects himself to her Head, which is Christ." Ambrosiaster, In
Ephesians 5:31 (ante A.D. 384).
"There is hardly anything more deadly than being married to one who is a
stranger to the faith,where the passions of lust and dissension and the evils
of sacrilege are inflamed. Since the marriage ceremony ought to be sanctified
by the priestly veiling and blessing, how can that be called a marriage
ceremony where there is no agreement in faith?" Ambrose, To Vigilius, Letter
19:7 (A.D. 385).
"We do not say that marriage was not sanctified by Christ, since the Word of God
says: 'The two shall become one flesh' and one spirit. But we are born before
we are brought to our final goal, and the mystery of God's operation is more
excellent than the remedy for human weakness. Quite rightly is a good wife
praised, but a pious virgin is more rightly preferred." Ambrose, To Sircius,
Letter 42:3 (A.D. 389).
"And these are the nuptials of the Lord, so that like that great Sacrament they
might become two in one flesh, Christ and the Church. From these nuptials a
Christian people is born, when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon that people." Pacian,
Sermon on Baptism, 6 (ante A.D. 392).
"Therefore the good of marriage throughout all nations and all men stands in the
occasion of begetting, and faith of chastity: but, so far as pertains unto the
People of God, also in the sanctity of the Sacrament, by reason of which it is
unlawful for one who leaves her husband, even when she has been put away, to be
married to another, so long as her husband lives, no not even for the sake of
bearing children: and, whereas this is the alone cause, wherefore marriage
takes place, not even where that very thing, wherefore it takes place, follows
not, is the marriage bond loosed, save by the death of the husband or wife.” Augustine,
On the Good of Marriage, 24:32 (A.D. 401).
"It is certainly not fecundity only, the fruit of which consists of offspring,
nor chastity only, whose bond is fidelity, but also a certain sacramental bond
in marriage which is recommended to believers in wedlock. Accordingly it is
en-joined by the apostle: 'Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved
the Church.' Of this bond the substance undoubtedly is this, that the man and
the woman who are joined together in matrimony should remain inseparable as
long as they live..." Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, 1,10 (A.D.
"When the wedding was celebrated [at Cana] it is clear that it was entirely
decorous: for indeed, the Mother of the Savior was there; and, invited along
with His disciples, the Savior too was there, working miracles more than being
entertained in feasting, and especially that He might sanctify the very
beginning of human generation, which certainly is a matter concerning the
flesh." Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, 2:1 (A.D. 429).
"And so a wife is different from a concubine, even as a bondwoman from a
freewoman. For which reason also the Apostle in order to show the difference of
these persons quotes from Genesis, where it is said to Abraham, 'Cast out the
bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with my
son Isaac.' And hence, since the marriage tie was from the beginning so
constituted as apart from the joining of the sexes to symbolize the mystic
union of Christ and His Church, it is undoubted that that woman has no part in
matrimony, in whose case it is shown that the mystery of marriage has not taken
place." Pope Leo the Great, To Rusticus, Epistle 167:4 (A.D. 459).