Marriage Question(s)


#1

I’m having trouble understanding the reason(s) the Church recognizes a marriage.

For example:
I do not understand whether or not an eunuch can marry? Why?
If not, what about couples who “can” procreate but choose not to? Is their marriage valid?

What about old couples who get married in their 60’s and 70’s; are those valid marriages in the Church? Since the couple cannot be “ordered to” procreation?

What is the difference when the Church approves an annullement after 10-25 years of marriage of a couple who procreated vs. a divorce? I understand what an annullement is and the complexity, but if a couple took vows & it was ordered towards procreation; then are some annullements an error in judgement by the Church?

Any assistance would be much appreciated!

Thank you,
James


#2

Well, “eunuch” is not a precise term, so we cannot give a precise answer.

What we can say is that a person with permanent antecedent impotence cannot marry because they have to be able to engage in the sex act. It is an essential property of marriage. One cannot exchange the right to something that one does not possess.

Maybe. Maybe not.

A permanent intention against children at the time of the vows is an impediment to valid marriage.

However those who are capable of intercourse but may have a serious reason to avoid a child for a time or indefinitely but who do not have a permanent intention against children can validly enter marriage. They can give valid consent.

Yes they are valid marriages. And you are mistaken, intercourse between them is certainly properly ordered to procreation.

No, I don’t think you do understand a decree of nullity. Whether or not they had children is not relevant to whether or not the marriage was valid.

There are several reasons a marriage might be invalid besides whether or not they had an intent against children.

I would recommend the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster to help you learn more about this topic.


#3

1ke. Thank you for your timely response. You are the professional here on this forum with marriage questions. The reason I’m asking these questions, is because I’m learning the apologetics of defending marriage. However, I need a better understanding of what marriage actually is. So these questions have been raised and I’m unable to answer them effectively.

I’m unsure why someone who has a permanent antecedent impotence cannnot marry if they make a committement to adoption upon marriage?

A permanent intention against children at the time of the vows is an impediment to valid marriage.

So if one spouse decides after marriage against children, with a permanent intention, the marriage is still valid because its based upon the intention at time of the vows?

Yes they are valid marriages. And you are mistaken, intercourse between them is certainly properly ordered to procreation.

This was your response to the question of an elderly couple marrying. How is an elderly couple “ordered to” procreation if the wife is beyond child-bearing age? Yet an impotent person could not marry? I don’t see the key difference here.

I would recommend the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster to help you learn more about this topic.

Thank you for the book recommendation. I’ve already put it on my Amazon Wish list. Thanks again.


#4

I’m not a professional, just someone trying to be helpful.

When they marry they are exchanging the right to sexual intercourse. A person who cannot have sexual intercourse cannot exchange that right. It is an impediment to valid marriage.

In general, yes.

A completed act of intercourse is ordered to procreation. If they can have intercourse, they can marry.

Perhaps it is a misunderstanding of what the term “impotent” means. Impotent means unable to engage in the sex act.

Infertile means sterile. Sterility is not an impediment to marrriage. The person can still complet the marital act.


#5

wow. that’s interesting.


#6

So how do you understand “ordered to” procreation? It sounds like it’s simply just the ability to have sex.

If an elderly couple’s marriage is considered “ordered to” procreation, but the ability to have children would require a miracle. This same scenario could be used for Christian couples who prefer to use contraception? Or a Polyamorous Marriage?

I may be going a little extreme here, but I’m trying to pen point the distinct differences in a way that others would grasp.

Thank you.


#7

Correct, ability to have sex, but also having properly ordered sexual relations.

Ordered to procreation is any completed act of vaginal intercourse.

Ordered to procreation does not equal ability to have children

No.

Contraception is disorders the sex act. Intercourse that is ordered to procreation is a completed act of intercourse. A contracepted sex act is not complete.

Polygamy is a violation of the sixth commandment. Marriage is also ordered to fidelity and indissolubility.


#8

Regarding polyamorous relationships: impotence does not apply there, but impotence isn’t the only reason a marriage may be invalid. In this case it would be invalid because there is no intention of forming an exclusive union.

Regarding contracepting couples, apart from the fact that contraception is immoral, the fact that contraception renders the marital act unordered to procreation seems to imply that if the couple intends to contracept, that means they are unwilling to engage in intercourse that is ordered to procreation at the time they marry, and it would follow that the marriage is not valid. At least, that’s how I see it.


#9

I do agree with what you are saying. I am Catholic myself. As you know, the attacks on marriage are technical and frustrating to defend. So I’m playing the devils advocate here.

If marriage is just these three characteristics: Indissoluble, Monogamous, and Man & Woman.

Then the Church/Gov’t should recognize: Incestuous heterosexual marriage AND/OR Pre-Pubescent Marriage.

Everybody in Western society agrees incestuous relationships are not “Marriages” but what is a good reason for them not to be? Because if we base marriage on equality alone, then that would fit the bill.

What do you think?


#10

Good defense. I agree. Well put.

Regarding contracepting couples, apart from the fact that contraception is immoral, the fact that contraception renders the marital act unordered to procreation seems to imply that if the couple intends to contracept, that means they are unwilling to engage in intercourse that is ordered to procreation at the time they marry, and it would follow that the marriage is not valid. At least, that’s how I see it.

So if I understand you correctly, Protestant Christian marriages who practice contraception and believe it to be morally licit still have valid marriages because at the time of their vows, they intend to put aside contraception at some point in order to procreate?

Thank you,


#11

I think the confusion lies because you are applying “ordered toward procreation” to the wrong thing. The marriage isn’t ordered toward procreation. The* marital act* is. Any completed act of sexual intercourse is ordered toward procreation. The fertility or fecundity of the parties is irrelevant. To be ordered toward procreation just means that the act is performed in such a way that, all other factors aside (including fertility), procreation *could *occur.

A couple using contraception is still performing the marital act in a manner ordered toward procreation. They are, however, acting to sabotage the act itself and it’s normal consequence. A polyamourous marriage does not have any impediment to sex ordered toward procreation but it fails as a true marriage since it does not have as it’s center one man and one woman.

Marital intercourse ordered toward procreation is not the** only **requirement for a valid marriage. Nor are all acts ordered toward procreation sinless.


#12

I never said that there wer “just” three characteristics.

I’m sorry, I really don’t have time for this. I’ve answered your questions, but just continuing to make up scenarios and say “what about this” isn’t the best way to get a holistic understanding of the Church’s teaching on marriage. The Church has numerous documents on marriage, I suggest you do some reading in that regard.

Consanguinity in various degrees is an impediment to valid marriage. In the direct line, it is a divine law impediment. In the collateral line, it is an ecclesial impediment, and in some degrees it can be dispensed.


#13

If “eunuch” is defined to be a man without testicles, then eunuchs cannot validly marry, whether or not they can engage in sexual intercourse and achieve climax.


#14

My :twocents:
It seems that the key to a properly ordered sexual act in marriage would be that which is “open” to procreation.
While full knowledge of impotence, and contraception, alter the intent, an elderly couple who can complete the act would still be “open” to, as the OP says, a miracle, which is not out of the realm of possibility. Case in point: Abraham and Sarah.


#15

What about Josephite marriages? If the parties mutually agree to remain celibate, I don’t think the Church invalidates the marriage. The key is mutual agreement.

Thomas Aquinas calls it a sin of fraud for one party to withhold or abstain from marital relations without mutual consent. By rights, spouses bodies belong to each other.

As for the difference between contraception and infertility, it is a bit like the difference between active and passive euthanasia. Moral acts have 3 major components, intentions, circumstances, and objects. Contraception intends to disrupt the normal perfection and functionality of sex, infertility does not. Thus the object of the act changes from total self gift to selfish gratification. Do infertile couples intend to avoid procreation? I would say most long for it.

Think of the eye, for instance. Normal perfection and functionality say it should see, that is its purpose. To be blind is to experience evil as it disrupts the purpose of the eye. For a stone to not see is not evil as it doesn’t have sight as a telos. Infertility is similar to blindness in that the organs simply aren’t functioning properly. Contraception is to actively instantiate that evil.


#16

Thank you for the discussion.


#17

Eunuchs are unable to validly enter into a Josephite marriage, just as is the case with all (other) impotent individuals.

The difference between sterility and impotence is important in understanding the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage. So too is the difference between medical impotence and canonical impotence. Eunuchs may or may not be medically impotent, depending on whether they were castrated pre- or post- puberty. However, all eunuchs are considered impotent under canon law, based on a decision by Pope Sixtus V in his 1587 motu proprio Cum Frequenter.


#18

Since the current canon law voided all previous codes of canon law this will only still be true today if the current code of canon law reaffirms this to be true. Do you know whether or not it does? It is an interesting question.


#19

1983 CIC Can. 1084
§1 Antecedent and perpetual impotence to have sexual intercourse, whether on the part of the man or on that of the woman, whether absolute or relative, by its very nature invalidates marriage.
§2 If the impediment of impotence is doubtful, whether the doubt be one of law or one of fact, the marriage is not to be prevented nor, while the doubt persists, is it to be declared null.
§3 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 1098, sterility neither forbids nor invalidates a marriage.

CIC Can. 1098
A person contracts invalidly who enters marriage inveigled by deceit, perpetrated in order to secure consent, concerning some quality of the other party, which of its very nature can seriously disrupt the partnership of conjugal life.


#20

Thanks. :slight_smile: I did actually already know about this, it was more the question of Eunuch’s that I was asking about, but its always good to get accurate information out there. :thumbsup:


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