Saturday, 03 September 2011
Annulments, as I have understood them (without much research at all) are an interesting thing. Correct me if I am wrong on what I say here about annulments please. Two people can make an oath, have their oath witnessed, and the local authorities sign off on the oath but it is not counted as truly full or legitimate until the two have sex. Annulments are considered different from divorces because they declare that a covenant is not full and thus can be voided without the need for the dirty term 'divorce' so long as the couple has not "done the deed." Divorce only applies to full covenants.
It is clear why Christians believe a marriage is not truly a marriage in full until intercourse has entered the relationship. For Christians, sex is not to be entered into until the man and woman have entered into a legal and verbal covenant which is witnessed by members of the Church and Authorities. The oath is the foundation for the marriage covenant. The opening narrative in scripture speaks to the union between man and woman and tells of the importance of sex and of a big part of the role of sex in a relationship. Later on in scripture Jesus is asked about divorce and he references this first mentioning of sex and marriage to speak of this important role sex plays. He states, "But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate" (Mark 10:6-9). Several times in scripture we read the phrase "no longer two, but one flesh." Sex unites people in a deep way (Christians and nonChristians alike attest to this pretty heavily). This is the reason Christians consider a marriage full once sex has entered the relationship after the covenant has been professed and why they consider it wrong for sex to become part of a relationship before such vital commitments are made. Deep union without deep commitment is foolish, selfish, and irresponsible but when that creating of union follows commitment it reinforces the commitment. These last few sentences could be an entirely other discussion at a different time.
While this is probably a fair understanding of most Christians, many would still look down on annulments because they would typically imply a lack of sober judgment, discernment, community witness, etc. An annulment proves that someone's "yes" was not truly a "yes." Is this an absolute? I'm not willing to say so. But it is easy to see why Christians may not be in favor of annulments and more importantly why Christians at the same time, in a sense, agree with the reason for annulments. Again, this could be a longer discussion if so desired at another time.
This bring me to my question. What is it that makes nonChristians believe that sex is the last nail in the coffin (not the best metaphor) when it comes to the marriage covenant? I can hear the arguments already that the state still practices this for various other reasons than the belief that sex finalizes a marriage or that the state is an abuser of Christianity and thus as a rogue offshoot of Christianity keeps to such practices/beliefs. Fair enough. But individuals who do not follow the teachings of scripture believe this idea. Why?
Do you believe sex is a solidifying practice for the covenant of marriage? Is a couple truly married if they do not have sex and are completely capable of sexual intercourse? What do we base that on if not the scriptures?