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Old 27th July 2011, 12:46 PM
Shane Shane is offline
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Default Contra Cohabitation and Fornication

Ron,

Recently I met with some opposition regarding the topic of cohabitation and fornication. For my part I explained the position of the Church regarding unnatural sexual acts, which in the case of fornication, were not truly marital, unitive and procreative. Regarding cohabitation, I was met with the retort that Mary and Joseph were not married when they lived together. Scripture describes them as being bethrothed to each other. Was bethrothal equivalent to natural marriage, under Jewish law? I replied with the assertion that it was, and that there was no comparison between Mary and Joseph and a modern cohabiting couple. Have I understood this point correctly, or was I missing something?

Thanks.
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Old 27th July 2011, 02:38 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Originally Posted by Shane View Post
Ron,

Recently I met with some opposition regarding the topic of cohabitation and fornication. For my part I explained the position of the Church regarding unnatural sexual acts, which in the case of fornication, were not truly marital, unitive and procreative. Regarding cohabitation, I was met with the retort that Mary and Joseph were not married when they lived together. Scripture describes them as being bethrothed to each other. Was bethrothal equivalent to natural marriage, under Jewish law? I replied with the assertion that it was, and that there was no comparison between Mary and Joseph and a modern cohabiting couple. Have I understood this point correctly, or was I missing something?

Thanks.
Your position is correct:

“According to Jewish custom, marriage took place in two stages: first, the legal, or true marriage was celebrated, and then, only after a certain period of time, the husband brought the wife into his own house. Thus, before he lived with Mary, Joseph was already her ‘husband.’ ” (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Custos)

So the betrothal was the beginning of the marriage, under Jewish religious law. This is also reflected in the OT. If an unmarried man sleeps with an unmarried woman, he receives a penalty. But if a man sleeps with a betrothed woman, he was put to death for adultery.

{22:28} If a man find a girl who is a virgin, who does not have a betrothal, and, taking her, he lies with her, and the matter is brought to judgment....
[but the man is not put to death].

But if she is betrothed, she is legally married, even though she is still a virgin:

{22:22} If a man sleeps with the wife of another, then they shall both die, that is, the adulterer and the adulteress. And so shall you take away the evil from Israel.
{22:23} If a man has betrothed a girl who is a virgin, and if someone finds her in the city and he lies with her,
{22:24} then you shall lead them both out to the gate of that city, and they shall be stoned to death: the girl, because she did not cry out though she was in the city; the man, because he has humiliated the wife of his neighbor. And so shall you take away the evil from your midst.
{22:25} But if a man discovers, in the countryside, a girl who has been betrothed, and, apprehending her, he lies with her, then he alone shall die.
{22:26} The girl shall suffer nothing, nor is she guilty unto death. For just as a robber rises up against his brother and slays his life, so also did the girl suffer greatly.
{22:27} She was alone in the field. She cried out, and there was no one nearby, who might deliver her.
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