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Marriage in St.

Paul’s
Teachings

Marriage in St. Paul’s
Teachings
• St. Paul left extensive writing on matters of
sex and marriage but to understand them is
not easy.
• His ideas contradictory and seems unable to
distinguish marriage from single life.
• He compared marriage to the relationship
between Christ and Church but he also
mentioned about chastity.
• In another writings he mentioned marriage as
a gift of vocation from God; and at the same
time recommended it as a lesser evil for
those who cannot be celibate in their life.
• The thing is they are all valid.

Marriage in St. Paul’s
Teachings
• About marriage and sexuality :
– It is good for man not to touch a woman
(celibacy)
– Since sex is always a danger, let each man
have his own wife and each woman her own
husband (marriage vs. pre-marital / adultery)
… do not refuse each other except by mutual
consent (agreement to procreate),
…then only for an agreed time (continence)
…leave yourselves free for prayer (chastity)
… then come together again in case Satan take
advantage of your weakness (extra-marital /
adultery / concubinage)

Marriage in St. Paul’s
Teachings
• About marriage and sexuality :
• Paul’s ambivalence was a reaction to
opposite extremes existing in Greek society
– Sexual promiscuity vs. Asceticism (reject sex:
marriage)
– He counteracted to promiscuity by praising
continence and the second by emphasizing the
value of sexual act in marriage and dignity in
marriage.

• Preference for single life is understood in the
perspective of the eschatological reality
– He expected the world to end soon
– Reason he did not mention the importance of
children

Marriage in St. Paul’s
Teachings
• Paul’s ideas remain even if the end of the world did not
happen.
– One of these is the pronouncement on:
• The value of sexual act in marriage – right of
husband and wife
• “the husband should give his wife her conjugal
rights and the wife gives her husband his’’ –
• as “marital debt”
• Stressing further the value of the act Paul
upholds that indulgence can be made if there
was common consent
• The value of sexual act is the unique moment
between husband and wife to belong to one
another in a mutual dependence (1Cor.7:4)

Marriage in St. Paul’s
Teachings
• Highly theological in the context of
marriage is found Ephesians 5:21-25, 2832.
• Why this ruling to submit? Paul explains
– as Christ is the head of the Church, and
since marriage symbolizes the ChristChurch relationship, it follows that the
husband is the head of the wife.

Marriage in St. Paul’s
Teachings
– The key points to understanding:
• “Submission”
• “Leadership”
– To submit to husband … + “as they regard
the Lord”
• The kind of submission expected of
them
• Not automatic, not thoughtless but
• Submission in love that reflects the
love He pours on us.

Marriage in St. Paul’s
Teachings
• Women/wives should not be bothered by this
order
– Christ’s headship, leadership is not
‘Authoritarian’
• He loved us and gave his life for us
• He came to serve not to be served
• His leadership of loving and in loving
service which is what expected husbands
to give their wives.
– In taking these injunctions:
• it can be concluded that the heavier
obligations go to the husband’s not the wife
to her husband.

Marriage in St. Paul’s
Teachings
• St. Paul’s ways of teaching have shown some
evidences that He still affirmed the hierarchical
man-woman relationship of his time.
• But he brought new perspective by giving it the
Christological explanation
– Which is to focus attention on the link between
Christ and the Church,
– How this kind of link be the model for the husband
and wife relationship
– Paul strengthens further, the unitive (love-element)
of marital relationship that was envisioned and
expressed by the authors of Genesis and
confirmed by Christ.

End of Lesson