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What defines dating

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The Church had to wrest control marriage away from the clan—indeed, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Church had to rebuild civilization itself from the crude materials at hand, the blood-bound tribes that had overtaken the law-bound empire.Interfaith marriages, therefore, were strongly discouraged. Clans might find political utility in forging alliances across theological divides, but for spiritual authorities this could only wreak havoc.How was a child to be brought up if his parents were of different faiths?Politics rather than sex was Rome’s concern: priests should be loyal to the Church and not enmeshed in clan intrigue.Children again were important for the continuation of an institution beyond the immediate family: they held the future of the faith.Just as some of the tribal imperatives of marriage survived in aristocratic circles into the 20th century—that’s what “Downton Abbey” is all about—the Christian ideal of marriage survives even in a land like our own, without an established church, and in lands where established churches now play little role in shaping society.

The Church couldn’t get royal families to stop marrying their cousins in the span of a thousand years.

The Church was often more sensible about these things than the clan had been; consider the case of “Romeo and Juliet.” (Even today in societies with strong kinship ties, youths may face death for making the wrong love match.) If you were a member of a tribal society—or of the aristocratic remnant of a tribal society—one set of rules determined whom you could marry.

If you lived subject above all to the governance of the Church, a different set of rules applied.

Defining marriage as a union of two people of the same sex is an absolute novelty.

But equally serious battles over the definition of marriage have been fought before.

This rebuilding required, at times, weakening the tribal loyalties of the aristocracy, and this, more than fear of inbreeding, is the reason the medieval Church began to prohibit marriage within certain degrees of consanguinity.