MARRIAGE WITH A DECEASED WIFE'S SISTER.
Clutha Leader, Volume VIII, Issue 437, 24 February 1882, Page 6
MARRIAGE WITH A DECEASED WIFE'S SISTER.
In our last article we summarised the law <m marriage contained in Lev. xviii., and from the regulations embodied in that law and the principle they involve, the principle— 'Viz., of ** nearness of kin," that being the same as ariaing from c-nisauguhiity and as arising from nHhiity, we showed on two grounds that the above marriage is necessarily included among those prohibited. There is a third argument in support of this conclusion fr.r-niahed in the 17th vei-se, where it is expressly forbidden to a man to marry his step-daughter and his step-grand-daughter. These are relations that spring from afSnity, and the latter of them is a more distant relation than that of a sister-inlaw. Now, if the more distant rotation by marriage be expressly made a bin- to marriage, much more must it follow that the nearer relation by marriage presents a Hinular bar. That is to say, if nearness of kin applies between so distant a connection as a man and his step-grand-daughter, much more must t)ie greater nearness of hhi existing between a brother-in-law and a. sistcr-iniiaw present a bar to marriage between them. It is deserving of special notice (because of the significance of the circumstance) that a term is applied to marriage between a man and his stopgrand-daughter of very marked and striking import, and evidently intended to show how such a marriage is regarded by the divine Author of marriage and its Lawgiver, That term is rendered in our version as wickedness. It corresponds to the Latin word nefcus, which the Latin dictionary explains as signifying a crime the most impious, wickedness the grossest. Sow, if in the eyes of God a marriage between such distant marriage connexions bear such a character, what must be the wickedness of a marriage between such nearer connexions as a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law 1
Perhaps nothing could show more fully the saoredness in the sight of Heaven of the relations formed by affinity, and how God has placed them on the same footing with corresponding blood relationships, than the singling out of this very distant connection of a man and his step-granddaughter, and applying to a marriage between them so terribly descriptive a terra as the Latin iiefas. Clearly then, if anything can be said to be clear, affinity is an equal bar to marriage with consanguinity, Bo that a man cannot marry any of his wife's relations nearer in blood to her than those of his own blood whom he cannot marry ; and the same holds true of the woman. On no other principle than this can it be that a man is forbidden to marry his step-grand-daughter, a distant affinity relation through the woman he has married, and a relation placed on the same footing as his own grand-danghter, the daughter of his own son, or of his own daughter (v. 10). The principle thus manifestly implied in all the prescribed prohibitions of marriage has been well set forth by Principal Rainy, of the Free Church College, Edinburgh, one of the ablest thinkers and greatest theologians of the day, and as such a most determined opponent to the legalising of marriage with a deceased wife's sister. Speaking in the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, as reported in the Assembly's Blue Book for 1871, on the Bill introduced > into the British Parliament for the purpose of legalising this marriage, he sajs — "The fundamental principle is clearly this — that a man and his wife are * one flesh ' — that by God's Appointment they are ' one flesh '; — therefore a man who marries a woman is introduced into the circle of her relations by his own act and consent, and so likewise with the woman. That circle of relations is described in the Hebrew and in those passages bearing on the subject as a circle of that person's flesh. And the application therefore is — marriage with any of that circle by either husband or wife is debarred. The only question is whether in the case of affinity you are entitled to narrow the circle of relations to whom the principle should apply, or whether you must not take the same circle as in the case of consanguinity Now one great leading consideration which reasonably ought to operate against our being disposed to expect to find the circle narrowed or altered, is that the circle is so email and so disposed around the person concerned, that if you break it at any point it is impossible after that to establish a principle which will maintain the line that you draw. The principle of consanguinity is simply this — the circle of those who are ( of your flesh ' is found in this way, that no marriage is lawful in which the man or the woman is marrying a descendant of nis or her own parents. This is the whole case — this ia the circle indicated. Now on these grounds, suppose we had no other, we should have quite sufficient to take onr stand ; and it is taking more precise ground when it is pointed out that on a general construction of the passages contained in the Levitical law you find the marriage with a deceased ■wife's sister within the circle. If you take cases as they are specified in that law and run parallels from them you will always find that this case falls within the principle of the law. " What Principal Rainy thus gives as the principle of the divine law on marriage as deduced from Scripture is simply this : That a man and woman marryiug become, in accordance with divine appointment, as " one flesh " ; that the blood relations of both stand to them severally as they stood to them separately before marriage, making it impossible, or rather unlawful, for the man to marry a blood relation of liis wife, or for the woman to marry a blood relation of her husband, as it is unlawful for either to marry a blood relation of their own, i.e., a descendant of their own parents. No other principle than this is doduciblc from the parallelism between consanguinity and affinity that presents itself in the several prohibitions of marriage laid down in the law of Leviticus, the affinity relations corresponding to the consanguinity relations. By that correspondence God has declared that He has made the like relation arising fjom affinity to be an equal bar to m:u" riage that constitutes such a bar ».s sprint. ing from consanguinity. From which It ' follows that as a man cannot marry his own mother he cannot marry his wife's ! mother, as he cannot marry his own I daughter he cannot marry his life's daughter, i.e., his step-djiul'httr, as he !
ctnnot marry his own sister he cannot marry his wife's sister, and so on in parallel blood and affinity relations. In this wo have a clear and well defined rule
-a rule that Ims its basis in the unity that marriage constitutes between a man and a woman, and which our ' Lord describes aa tliHir becoming " one flesh," and which the law of Leviticus so interprets as to signify that they cease to have now separatu blood relations, that the blood relations of each now ai'e to both as being now one, what they would have beon to each had no marriage taken place— relations, i.e. , within which neither can marry,