A Brief History of Marriage
In the Bible, The Law and The Church
For the first time in the history of the Church of England has the law of the State been brought on one specific point into direct, open, overt contrast with and contradiction of the specific and defined law laid down in the authoritative regulations of the National Church' (Hansard)
The above words were spoken in the House of Lords by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Not Justin Welby, as these words were spoken 107 years ago by his predecessor Most Reverend Randall Davidson, 1st Baron Davidson of Lambeth. What calamity caused the Archbishop to declare the end of history? Well it was the passing of the Deceased Wife's Sisters Marriage Act (1907). This Act of Parliament was one of literally hundreds of redefinitions of marriage that have passed, and have mostly been forgotten.
In this week's CHOW we take a brisk canter through the centuries and see how marriage has kept changing. We'll look at the marriage customs of the ancient Jewish law, some of the marriages in the pages of the Bible and the radical changes which took place in the medieval and modern periods. Please note, we are not going to discuss any future proposed changes to the law or practice of marriage – this session is just about the history!"