The Consent and Consummation of a Christian Marriage

Consent, is a word commonly talked about today, but in the Middle Ages your life was laid out for you and planned by your family. You had to do what you were told to do, for the most part that is. When it comes to marriage you had the right to choose and even say no. Marriages in the middle ages were arranged by parents or family for a variety of reasons such as monetary or political gain or even a step up in status.

But where marriage is involved both parties marrying have to accept and consent to marrying the other, and consummate the marriage to make it official. No one can force anyone into a marriage, and to marry no permission is required but that of the individuals making the promises, Consent is Vital in making the spiritual promises of marriage, but a marriage is not fully valid until it is consummated. Consummation marks the time the marriage it wholly valid and the couple is truly united under the eye of God, because the marriage can therefore no longer be annulled.

If a marriage is entered into without the proper consent it invalidates the marriage and can even therefore annual it. Any marriage therefore entered into my force of another is invalid, because a man must join with his wife as one.

If one chooses not to marry the other then they cannot myjoined under the eye of God. “We know that the sacrament of marriage, which has been sanctioned by divine law, cannot be dissolved, because what God has joined together, no man should put asunder.

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” (17) God is a witness to marriage and anyone forced to comply is therefore not to be joined. As it would be against their will to be wed to that person, it is also against God, However much others might want a man or woman to marry one person or another it was overall their choice, and they could always say no even after the courtship. In order for to people to be joined they must be joined by God. Christina’s marriage is annulled because she only gave her consent to it under the duress of her parents, her intended betrothed, and the bishop, But because she doesn’t give her willing consent a bishop declares “I bear witness before you and swear before God and his blessed mother that there is no bishop under heaven who could force her into marriage…“(20)

No one can extort consent from someone who does not willingly give it, as consent is the foundation of a Christian marriage according to ecclesiastical custom. In this way verbal consent must be given at the time of marriage for it to be both legal and spiritually binding in the Christian faith. However a marriage is not officially binding until the time of physical consummation. Many bishops and priest of the church did not accept that this must be part of the marriage to bind it, but none the less it is an important part of the validity of the marriage, as an additional requirement to the wedding and marriage promises that were made Consummation was part of the process of marriage because of the need to have descendants to pass on the title of their house and the property it contains Women once married were to submit themselves fully in this way to their husbands Consummation was the act that then completed the marriage ceremony.

By giving themselves over not only spiritually in the marriage but physically in the act, the marriage then could not be annulled as it was bound by God But a marriage unbound by consummation can in fact be annulled by the pope. Christina’s marriage was in fact dissolved and she was released by her husband only in the end because the marriage was not consummated. ”mnothing remains except that you should accept our advice and reasoned doctrine and submit yourself to the lawful embraces of the man to whom you have been legally betrothed” (17) Once the ceremony is performed the consummation of the marriage is the only thing keep the marriage from being entirely valid in the eyes of the Church, A woman once married must submit to her husband and vice versa. “The woman has not power over her own body, but the husband: and likewise the husband has not power of his own body, but the wife” (17) So in a marriage a woman must submit to her husband as he has control over her, as she does for him According to this same idea a wife cannot leave her husband, and a husband cannot set aside his wife.

When the vows of marriage are taken they must show each other the respect of their position, as they are now spiritually one, from their marriage vows of husband and wife with due kindness, goodwill, and charity. The consent of both parties to the union of their spirits is vital to the legitimacy of the marriage vows, as well as the physical consummation of the marriage thus completed the official ceremonyi Marriage was not like it is today, marriage was a political, social, or economic agreement between families. If someone would marry well then it would elevate the status of the entire family, and notjust the individual However both parties of the said marriage must then consent to the marriage, even if the agreement was originally made by the parents or family of the individual betrothed No one person can force any other into the vows of marriage against their wilL Consent is vital in making the spiritual promises of marriage, but a marriage is not fully valid until it is consummated. The consummation of a marriage is the less step to making the marriage completely legally binding Once the vows of marriage are completed a women must completely submit to her husband, by giving herself to him notjust physically but also in spirit, respecting the other with due goodwill, kindness, and humility.

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The Consent and Consummation of a Christian Marriage. (2022, Oct 23). Retrieved from

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