“Marriage: Patriarchal, Sacramental, or Covenantal?”

Bibliographic information:

Richie, Cristina. “Marriage: Patriarchal, Sacramental, or Covenantal?” Priscilla Papers 31.3 (2017): 16-22.


Modern western marriage rituals—from engagement, to the wedding ceremony and post-union practices like female surname change—are clearly patriarchal. Engagement rings that act as modern dowries, separate wedding vows where the woman “loves, honors and obeys” and the man “loves, honors, and cherishes,” and unequal childrearing create a system that oppresses women and subordinates them both within and outside of the home. However, the Christian ritual of marriage redeems patriarchal marriage through emphasis on sacrament in the Catholic Church and covenant in Protestant denominations.

This article will first overview six categories of marriages in America. I will then highlight aspects of patriarchal marriage present in most American unions, explain the Catholic view on the sacrament of matrimony, and then proceed to an egalitarian presentation of the covenant of marriage for Evangelicals. Based on covenantal theology and the scriptures, patriarchal forms of marriage are incompatible with biblical egalitarian theology.


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