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Summa Theologica by Aquinas

Whether one can be compelled by one's father's command to marry?

Objection 1: It would seem that one can be compelled by one's father's command to marry. For it is written (Col.3:20): |Children, obey your parents in all things.| Therefore they are bound to obey them in this also.

Objection 2: Further, Isaac charged Jacob (Gn.28:1) not to take a wife from the daughters of Chanaan. But he would not have charged him thus unless he had the right to command it. Therefore a son is bound to obey his father in this.

Objection 3: Further, no one should promise, especially with an oath, for one whom he cannot compel to keep the promise. Now parents promise future marriages for their children, and even confirm their promise by oath. Therefore they can compel their children to keep that promise.

Objection 4: Further, our spiritual father, the Pope to wit, can by his command compel a man to a spiritual marriage, namely to accept a bishopric. Therefore a carnal father can compel his son to marriage.

On the contrary, A son may lawfully enter religion though his father command him to marry. Therefore he is not bound to obey him in this.

Further, if he were bound to obey, a betrothal contracted by the parents would hold good without their children's consent. But this is against the law (cap. Ex litteris, De despon. impub.). Therefore, etc.

I answer that, Since in marriage there is a kind of perpetual service, as it were, a father cannot by his command compel his son to marry, since the latter is of free condition: but he may induce him for a reasonable cause; and thus the son will be affected by his father's command in the same way as he is affected by that cause, so that if the cause be compelling as indicating either obligation or fitness, his father's command will compel him in the same measure: otherwise he may not compel him.

Reply to Objection 1: The words of the Apostle do not refer to those matters in which a man is his own master as the father is. Such is marriage by which the son also becomes a father.

Reply to Objection 2: There were other motives why Jacob was bound to do what Isaac commanded him, both on account of the wickedness of those women, and because the seed of Chanaan was to be cast forth from the land which was promised to the seed of the patriarchs. Hence Isaac could command this.

Reply to Objection 3: They do not swear except with the implied condition |if it please them|; and they are bound to induce them in good faith.

Reply to Objection 4: Some say that the Pope cannot command a man to accept a bishopric, because consent should be free. But if this be granted there would be an end of ecclesiastical order, for unless a man can be compelled to accept the government of a church, the Church could not be preserved, since sometimes those who are qualified for the purpose are unwilling to accept unless they be compelled. Therefore we must reply that the two cases are not parallel; for there is no bodily service in a spiritual marriage as there is in the bodily marriage; because the spiritual marriage is a kind of office for dispensing the public weal: |Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God| (1 Cor.4:1).

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