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Xtian Ethics

Xtian Ethics

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Published by: Karen Cate Ilagan Pinto on Nov 15, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Marriage is a socially recognized and approved union between individuals, whocommit to one another with the expectation of a stable and lasting intimate relationshipcommonly. Normally, it is defined as a partnership between two members of opposite sexknown as husband and wife wherein their usual roles and responsibilities include livingtogether, having sexual relations only with one another, sharing economic resources, and being recognized as the parents of their children.Marriage begins with a ceremony known as a wedding, which formally unites themarriage partners. A marital relationship usually involves some kind of contract, either written or specified by tradition, which defines the partners’ rights and obligations to eachother, to any children they may have, and to their relatives. In most contemporaryindustrialized societies, just like the Philippines, the government certifies marriage.Basically, the very purpose of marriage is to provide spiritual and legal foundation of the family. In our country, marriage and family has always been highly recognized andvalued – it being one of the society’s most important and basic institutions. The importanceof family is fundamental as it is also entrenched in our 1987 Constitution that “
the Staterecognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basicautonomous social institution”
(Art II, Sec.12, Ibid.). More so, “
the State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarityand actively promote its total development”
(Art. XV, Sec. 1, Ibid.).However, due to the changing perspectives of many people about the sanctity of marriage, marriages today are doomed before they even start. Marriage is no longer seen as anecessary step in a relationship; as such, many couples are quick to separate, and at worst,divorce without making an honest effort to resolve their problems. Communication breakdown, financial difficulties as well as circumstances of the marriage are all problemsthat can cause many marriages to fail. What is more, according to the World Congress of Families, “slogans such as modernity, globalization, progress, and the concept of civil
society, are the forces that have weakened the bonds between husbands and wives, parent andchild, and the generation”. Today it is common for couples to live together and have childrenwithout being married. This degeneration of society devalues marriage and results in a higher  percentage of failed marriages. With so little value placed on marriage in today’s society,couples are not committed to making their marriage work and are often quick to give up onthe marriage and each other. In addition, the tension that financial concerns create is oftenone of the culprits in a failed marriage. Financial concerns can be a heavy burden to bear andwhen a couple is struggling to meet their financial obligations, there can be a tremendousamount of pressure in the relationship, which is enough to destroy an otherwise healthymarriage.Hence, certain social, political, and economic forces, both local and global, arethreatening the venerable institution of the “domestic church” – the father, the mother andtheir children.
Divorce existed inantiquity, dating at least back to ancientMesopotamia. Theancient  Atheniansliberally allowed divorce, but the person requesting divorce had to submit therequest to amagistrate,and the magistrate could determine whether the reasons given weresufficient. Although liberally granted in ancientAthens, divorce was rare in early Romanculture. As theRoman Empiregrew in power and authority, however,Roman civil law  embraced the maxim, “matrimonia debent esse libera” ("marriages ought to be free"), andeither husband or wife could renounce the marriage at will. Though civil authority rarelyintervened in divorces, social and familial taboos guaranteed that divorce occurred only after serious circumspection.The Christian emperorsConstantineand Theodosius restricted the grounds for divorce to grave cause, but this was relaxed by Justinian in the sixth century. After the fall of the empire, familial life was regulated more by ecclesiastical authority than civil authority.By the ninth or tenth century, the divorce rate had been greatly reduced under the influence
of theChristian Church, which considered marriage asacramentinstituted byGodandChrist  indissoluble by mere human action.Although divorce, as known today, was generally prohibited after the tenth century,separation of husband and wife and theannulmentof marriage were well-known. What istoday referred to as “separate maintenance” (or "legal separation") was termed “divorce a mensa et thoro” (“divorce from bed-and-board”). The husband and wife physically separatedand were forbidden to live or cohabittogether; but their marital relationship did not fullyterminate.Civil courtshad no power over marriage or divorce. The grounds for annulmentwere determined by Church authority and applied inecclesiastical courts. “For in cases of total divorce, the marriage is declared null, as having been absolutely unlawful ab initio.”The Church held that the sacrament of marriage produced one person from two, inseparablefrom each other: “By marriage the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being of legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage or at leastincorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection andcover, she performs everything.” Since husband and wife became one person upon marriage,that oneness could only be annulled if the parties improperly entered into the marriageinitially.Marriage later came to be considered acivil contract, and on that basiscivil  authoritiesgradually asserted their power to decree divorce. Since no precedentsexisted defining the circumstances under which marriage could be dissolved, civil courts heavilyrelied on the previous determinations of theecclesiasticcourts and freely adopted therequirements set down by those courts. As the civil courts assumed the power to dissolvemarriages, courts still strictly construed the circumstances under which they would grant adivorce, and now considered divorce to be contrary to public policy. Because divorce wasconsidered to be against the public interest, civil courts refused to grant a divorce if evidencerevealed any hint of complicity between the husband and wife to divorce, or if they attemptedto manufacture grounds for a divorce. Divorce was granted only because one party to themarriage had violated a sacredvowto the "innocent spouse." If both husband and wife wereguilty, "neither would be allowed to escape the bonds of marriage." Eventually, the idea thata marriage could be dissolved in cases in which one of the parties violated the sacred vow

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