Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Today's vocabulary lessons

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Here are the literal definitions of some commonly misunderstood words about marriage and sexual ethics that I come across.

adultery = corruption of the marriage bed or the matrimonial agreement, from the Latin for "corruption."

annulment = a declaration that no true marriage exists (usually because there was some fraud, coersion, or impediment that made it impossible to freely contract marriage in the first place).

bigamy = being married to two people at the same time. Technically, it would mean the crime of attempting to contract a second marriage, since only the first one would be legally valid.

bride = a woman who is married or is soon to be married.

bridegroom = the bride's man (i.e., that she just married or is about to marry).

celibacy = the unmarried state (or what we usually call "being single"). Morally, it implies virginity, but not linguistically.

chastity = purity, in reference to a correctly or morally ordered sexuality.

concubine = a woman with whom a man cohabits or has as a sexual partner without establishing a marital contract. Most often used when the man already has a wife, and in some polygamous cultures, it notes the legal status of a secondary or lesser wife.

continence = voluntary self restraint, applied to the moral restraint from sexual intercourse required by the celibate state.

divorce = to divert from a husband, generally meaning the legal dissolution of wedlock by either party.

groom = a man.

husband = a householder or "master of the house."

marriage = the union of a woman to a man, refering both to the contractual/covenantal union and the physical union.

matrimony = the institution to foster a family, from the words for "motherly condition."

monogamy = having "one marriage," or being married to one person (not "one at a time").

nuptial = to take as a husband.

polygamy = many (or "multiple") marriages. It is applied to marriages that overlap chronologically, not generally to widows and widowers who remarry.

polygyny = having multiple wives.

polyandry = having multiple husbands.

virginity = unimpacted purity, usually applied to young maidenhood or to voluntary sexual continence in general.

wedding = the bonding in a covenant of one woman to one man.

wedlock = the bond of marriage, usually applied to the legal obligations of the marriage contract.

wife = a woman, usually applied to a married woman.

Also, Don Jim has an excellent primer on the distinction of vows and promises made by Catholic priests. (i.e., "Canonically, the Religious priest takes a sacred vow to abstain from sexual activity; the secular priest makes a promise not to get married.").

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

polyandry . . . isn't that a light chicken gravy?