The Book of Tobias and the Catholic ideal of Marriage

 

by Raymond Taouk

 

The Reason the book of Tobias is chosen to set forth the high ideal which the Church has set forth on marriage is not because the Old Testament perfectly presents to us the Christian notion of marriage but because in it we see a perfect blue print of the Christian ideal of Marriage according the mind of God. If we take the relevant principles that the book of Tobias exemplifies and incorporate it into the New Testament teaching of Marriage - we will have a firm theological basis for living the married life and attaining a high degree of sanctity by living according to the maxims of Sacred Scripture.

 

Canonicity and Historicity of the book

 

I would like to give you a brief overview of the book of Tobias itself so that you have some understand about it's historicity and canonicity, since this is one of those inspired books of the bible that the protestant regard as apocryphal.  They deny that it's inspired even though its authenticity is vouched for from the early ages of the Church. For example its clearly quoted in the didache which is one of the earliest Christian manuals. It is also quoted by St. Polycap, St.'s Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Cyprian, St. Athanasius and a number of other Church Fathers all defended it's canonically, not to mention the fact that it was also unequivocally affirmed to belong to the canon of scripture at the Council of Trent .

 

The interesting thing about the book of Tobias besides its profound insight to true notion of marriage which I shall look at shortly, is that neither its author nor the date of its authorship is not exactly known. Some ascribe its work to a joint authorship of Tobias and his Son, while the more common opinion today is that it was authored by someone else. It's said to have been written anywhere between 350 - 150 BC mainly because the greater majority of theologians don't hold that it was written by Tobias himself but by someone else many years later under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, who wrote down an account ot what had previously taken place much like what Moses did in when he wrote the Pentateuch under the inspiration of the holy Ghost even though we know that Moses was not around "in the beginning" (Genesis 1) and yet no one denies that the book of Genesis was written by Moses under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

 

In addition, we are not certain in which language it was originally written. Some Biblical scholars maintain that it was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic and then translated into Greek. The earliest Hebrew version of the book that we have available dates back to the 5th Century, while there is an Aramaic version available, which dates back to the 7th Century.

 

St. Jerome states that his Latin Vulgate translation was made from the Aramaic, which he had translated with help of person who knew both Hebrew and the Chaldean  (Praef. in librum Tobiae, PL 29, 25 f.).

 

As to the literary Character of the book their is a dispute as to whether the book is historical or merely a piously inspired inspired book intended to encourage the Jews in their captivity. Nevertheless, after reading the pros and cons on the issue it's true to say that regardless of whether or not it is relating to us a true historical even or not it still remains didactic and most important of all it still remains part of the inspired word of God. Just as we hold that the parable of Our Lord remain part of the inspired word of God even if the truths they relate are not necessarily historical facts.

 The book of Tobias - overview of content

 

To those of you who are not familiar with the book itself - I think it would be worth first giving you a brief outline:

 

The story opens with Tobias, the elder, who a Jew from the Tribe of Nephtali , who was taken into captivity by the Assyrians in the time of Shalmaneser and carried to Nineveh with a number of his countrymen. Tobias was upright from his youth and so he quickly won the honor and respect of the people and became wealthy, so that he was able to help his fellow countrymen and bury the dead even though this angered the King. Later on, however he lost his wealth and was blindedby some bird dropping which got into his eyes and so he could no longer see. Like Job, his own wife upbraided him for his firm confidence in God in his affliction (2:22) as he would not blame God for sufferings. In his distress he prayed to God to be allowed to die if God so willed. At the same time, a young and beautiful girl called Sara was also praying for the same thing, since she was unjustly accused of murdering the various men that had entered into marriage with her, who all died before the marriage could be consummated.

 

God however in his providence answers both their prayers in the form of Tobias the younger, who when his father asked him to make a trip to Rages in Media to collect some money that was owing to him, was willing to do so but somewhat hesitant because he was afraid to set out on so long a journey to Media without any real knowledge of the surrounding regions. However, Azarias offers to help him to get to his destination. And so both Tobias and his guide set out to together to Money to collect the Money that was owing to his Father.

 

After an exciting journey, in which Tobias is attacked by a large fish that he kills at the instigation of his guide, they both loge at the house of Ragual a relative of Tobias, who is also the father of Sara, who I mentioned earlier. Azarias advises Tobias to take Sara’s hand in marriage. But Tobias was reluctant since he had already heard that she had taken several husbands all of which were killed by a devil. So he wasn’t willing to try his luck. However, Azarias reassures him that to have confidence in God and tells him who to overcome the devil.  When Tobias is finally convinced they go to as Sara’s parents to ask for her hand in marriage, but they are at first reluctant to accept since they think that Tobias will also be killed but eventually like Tobias they make an act of faith and consent. Now on their marriage night both Tobias and his new bride Sara follow the advice of Azarias and spend three nights in prayer together before coming together to consummate their marriage.

 

While Tobias remains at the house of Raguael, Azarias goes ahead of Tobias to collect the money from Gabelus that was owed to Tobias's father. while in the meantime Tobias’s Father and Mother begin to worry about his delay since he is their only son. Once again, Anna begins to upbraid Tobias (the elder) for sending out his son into a distant land. Eventually however Tobias takes leave of from Raguel and goes back home with his new bride and  all the money and abundance of gifts that he had received from Sara's parents.  When he gets home, he is greeted by his parents and at  instigation Azarias Tobias anoints the eyes of his father with the Gaul of the fish that he had obtained on his journey. His father's sight is restored.

 

Finally in thanksgiving for the help that he received from his companion Tobias goes about trying to repay this stranger with some money only to find out that this stranger reveals his identity as being St. Raphael "one of the seven angels who stand before the throne of God" (12:5). The angel tells them that their afflictions were permitted by God to try them; "Because you were acceptable to God it was necessary that Temptation should prove thee” (Tobias 12:13). At hearing this they were filled with fear and admiration and remained prostrate on their faces for three hours giving glory to God, while St. Raphael disappears from their presence.

 

 It is from this revelation that St. Raphael is given the title of "Patron of Travelers" and "help of the sick", but he could also be given the title "patron of those seeking matrimony".

 

To those who are married and who have not read the book of Tobias I recommend you do so. In order to get the context for what I am about to say it would be at least good for me to reiterate in more detail the more pertinent parts of the book, especially that which is found in the 6th and 8th chapters of the book. In these chapters we read that young Tobias asks his tour guide where they are headed next - the response to which scripture tells us that St. Raphael simply answers "Here is one whose name is Raguel, a near kinsman of your tribe, and he has a daughter named Sara, but he has no son nor any other daughter beside her. All his substance is due to you, and you must take her to wife.  Ask her therefore of her father, and he will give her you to wife.  Then Tobias answered, and said: I hear that she hath been given to seven husbands, and they all died: moreover I have heard, that a devil killed them.  Now I am afraid, lest the same thing should happen to me also: and whereas I am the only child of my parents, I should bring down their old age with sorrow to hell."  Then the angel Raphael said to him: "Hear me, and I will show you who they are, over whom the devil can prevail.  For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power.  But thou when thou shall take her, go into the chamber, and for three days keep thyself continent from her, and give thyself to nothing else but to prayers with her. "- (Tobias 6).

 

Now in taking the advice from his tour guide - Scripture further tells us "Tobias exhorted the virgin, and said to her: 'Sara, arise, and let us pray to God today, and tomorrow, and the next day: because for these three nights we are joined to God: and when the third night is over, we will be in our own wedlock. For we are the children of saints, and we must not be joined together like heathens that know not God.' So they both arose, and prayed earnestly both together that health might be given them, and Tobias said: 'Lord God of our fathers, may the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains, and the rivers, and all Thy creatures that are in them, bless Thee. You made Adam of the slime of the earth, and gave him Eve for a helper. And now, Lord, you know, that not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity, in which Thy name may be blessed for ever and ever.' Sara also said: ; 'Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, and let us grow old both together in health" (Tobias 8:4-10).

 

From these profound words I hope to draw out for you the Catholic ideal of Marriage . An Ideal which is latent throughout the New Testament and an exemplified in the lives of those canonized saints and Martyrs who truly understood the purpose of marriage.

 

1. Correct attitude/Outlook

 

The first principle that the angel Rachael sets down for his Tobias is to have a correct attitude, a correct look upon marriage.  Thousands of People enter into marriage daily with the wrong attitude/outlook towards marriage. While the thought that should be instilled in our minds with regards to marriage is the great holiness and responsibilities of that the married state requires, yet it is so sad to say that most people today take a purely materialistic view of marriage so that their only thoughts are of the natural benefits that come with marriage. While it’s true that their are natural benefits in the married state (the mutual help of the spouses, conjugal love etc.) but these are only secondary advantages of marriage even on the purely natural level, since the primary end of Marriage is the procreation and education of children to continue the human race. That is why the angels do not marry since they have no need of maintaining their own existence since they do not die. Man doesn’t have that advantage of the Angels and so in order to continue the human race God instituted the marriage (Gen 2).

 

Even from a purely natural level, marriage has had it’s place in society long before it was elevated the dignity of a sacrament (Eph 5:32). Marriage  on the purely natural level is a contract between a man and women to enter into a life long union (Gen 2:24) for the purpose of (primarily) raising children and (secondarily) providing one another with mutual support (Genesis 2:18)

 

This life long union has now been given an additional dignity by being elevated by Christ to the status of Sacrament, which is symbolic of union between Christ and His Church , which is why, St. Ambrose declared that marriage was "sanctified y Christ, His divine voice saying "they shall be two in one flesh" (Mark 7:12). Marriage is symbolic of Christ union with his Church because it is he who elevated it to a dignity of a sacrament, an gave it an ideal. For this reason does St. Paul affirm "Husbands love your wives as Christ also loved the Church and delivered himself up for it" (Eph 5:25).

 

Hence it is evident that from the earliest of times matrimony among Christians was always recognized as a sacrament and therefore something exalted and sacred capable of imparting grace to the couple. These graces however are only given to those who enter into marriage with high ideals of the state they are entering and with the purpose of living up to its obligations. Like the other sacraments, Matrimony confers on those who receive it worthily a twofold grace. Firstly, it imparts sanctifying grace, and secondly it imparts a special sacramental grace, which means the spouses now have special claim to the supernatural help that they will need in their married life.    

 

I say this since as you already know, if someone receives the sacrament of matrimony unworthily, that is in the state of mortal sin, even if the marriage be valid, he will not only incur God’s anger but will be deprived of the supernatural helps that are needed in the married life.

 

Even if it had not been elevated to the great dignity of a sacrament it would not change the fact that it could still not be rightly used as a mere means or occasion to fulfill the natural desires of the flesh since we are not as the horse and mule, we are not beasts but rational animals endowed with reason! 

 

Keep in mind that the words I just quoted from the book of Tobias were written in the Old Testament, a time in which, while marriage amongst the Jews was still considered to be something not just natural but also religious,  yet it had still not be elevated to the dignity of sacrament and so how much more should we now be moved to look upon marriage as a very holy union, made in Christ for the sanctification of the spouses and salvation of the spouses. That is why St. Paul in his exhortation to wives tells them that it is through child bearing that they shall be saved (1 Tim 2:15). This is because marriage is a state in which those who have received the sacrament of matrimony must work to sanctify themselves and those under them in preparation for eternal life. That is why something that all who want to get married should ask themselves before they choose their spouse is not "does she/he have blue eyes" but: is this person going to help me and my children to get to heaven! That is the real question. If the answer is no - then the option is clear - no marriage. That is why from the very beginning the Church has always done all that she could to prevent marriages between Catholics and Non-Catholics because not only is the eternal salvation of the spouses at stake but inevitably also that of the Children.

 

As a rule, no Catholic who lives the faith and see things according to the faith would find it difficult to understand why the Church is opposes to these sorts of unions, which are not suggested by God but by "the Devil, the Flesh and world" (1 John 2). And so as a rule , Anyone who marries a non -Catholic is certainly not judging from the motives or standards of the faith. In the Old Testament God explicitly condemned these marriages. In the New Testament our lord is no less explicit "he who loves Mother or Father more than me , is not worthy of me ". Don’t deceive yourself on this point, for as the marriage progress you will also begin to see this more and more.

 

The reason I say this is because in order to have a correct outlook on marriage we must first judge things from supernatural motives of faith and not from the standards that the world dictates to us. This is because marriage is not something purely personal, its something public. It's a public act that you now belong to someone. In fact, the reason that the previous husbands of young Sara had not been acceptable to God was that they entered into marriage for their own personal desire of lust and not from the motives of faith. They didn't enter into marriage with the motive of extending the linage of the Children of Abraham. Whereas Tobias who was rightly instructed in the things of the faith, had the right attitude towards marriage.  St. Raphael points out the public aspect of matrimony when he points out to Tobais saying "the second night you will be admitted into the society of the holy Patriarchs. And the third night you will obtain a blessing that sound children may be born of you" (Tobias 6:20).

 

It is the family which is basic building block/unit of society. For this reason marriage is a Public sacrament, which is not purely for ourselves. Just as a priest who is ordained is not ordained for his own sake but for the sake of bringing men to God, so to those who are married are united together in holy matrimony to beget saints to God.

 

Those who base their marriage on mere physical attraction or self gratification or whatever worldly motive deceive themselves. As Children of God we must judge by the standards of God, in other words we must judge by the standards of the faith.

 

That is something that the book of Tobias really drives home to us. Look at the verse I just quoted. Did young Tobias spend years in dating this girl before he got married to her? No! He had never met the girl and yet St. Raphael suggest to him to take in marriage a women he had never met. That sounds radical, but its not. St. Raphael who is an Angel has God’s perspective on Marriage. That perspective is that marriage is not about worldly pleasures and feeling good, but that it is a holy union between a man and women destined to raise saints to God. That is what matters, all else is vain. Those who base their marriage on mere physical attraction of the spouse deceive themselves since “Beauty is only skin deep”. As Catholics we have to judge from the standards of faith.  

 

2. Purpose

 

The second principle that comes through is the correct purpose of marriage. What is the ultimate purpose of marriage? Well Tobias makes it clear “Lord, thou know, that not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity, in which Thy name may be blessed for ever and ever." These same sentiments were also those of Sara who shortly before had prayed to God saying “ You know, O Lord, that I never coveted a husband, and have kept my soul clean from all lust. Never have I joined myself with them that play (fornicators): neither have I made myself partaker with them that walk in lightness. But a husband I consented to take, with thy fear, not with my lust” (Tobias 3:16).  In other words, the intention in getting married of these two saintly spouses was not so that they could gratify their natural desires but so they could united in their fear of God with the hope of raising children and educating them according to the will of God.

 

That is exactly what the priest affirms in the Nuptial Mass, “May the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob be with you, and may He fulfill His blessing in you: that you may see your children’s children even to the third and fourth generation, and everlasting”. 

 

In fact The word matrimony itself come from comes from two Latin words “Matris” (Mother) and “Munus” (office/gift), which means the gift or duty of mother hood. And so the very name indicates God’s purpose in instituting marriage, namely that the spouses by their union have now been established in the office of parenthood. Just as the priest is by his very his very ordination anointed for the office of the priesthood, so also every married Christian by his very marriage is anointed/established by the sacrament of matrimony into the office of motherhood or fatherhood.

 

From this we can also see why marriage is seen as something Holy and sacred because in the union between the spouses God allows mere insignificant creatures to become "Pro-creatures" with the Almighty! Our Catholic theology even asserts on this point that at the moment of conception God infallibly infuses the soul making what we have begotten to a living rational creature. What a profound mystery. God confirms every act of generation by positively giving each child a rational soul which will henceforth have an eternal destiny. We can now see why God takes great offense of those who make light of marriage or the marital act.

 

Those words of Tobias speak volumes to our Modern world In a day and age in which children are seen as burden or a curse, . We ought to look upon having children as one of the great blessings of marriage. In fact through Old Testament theology,  sterility or the inability to have children was always seen as curse from God. When the world regards what is a curse as being a blessing you truly know that there is something wrong!

 

While I don't want to get into the question of how many children and the issue of NFP  but what I will say is that as Catholic, as adopted son's of God we should be ready to accept all the children that God wants to send us. God is not out to deceive us,  if by his help we have 10 children or 10,000 children, He will give us the necessary means and graces that we need to raise those children. In fact if the non-believers have a great number of children (i.e. Muslims) and naturally speaking God helps them to raise those children (Matt 5:45), is he not going to help  you who have a special right to his help. If he helps strangers how much more does he help his sons?  (Matt 7:11).

 

On this I will nevertheless add that as a qualification, that we note well that in the book of Tobias, that Tobias himself doesn't merely come home to his parent with some beautiful looking young bride, with a smiling face and empty hands. He comes home with all the money that he was sent out to collect and whatever else he was able to obtain from Raguel in order to provide for his young bride. In other words as children of God we have to actually think before we get married not only about who we marry,  and why, but also about when. Since if a person is not able to provide for his spouse and have himself somewhat (reasonably) established, he shouldn't get married in the first place. This is something which is often overlooked in our self centered society, where marriage is often looked at as a means of instant self gratification. 

 

I know that in our days one of the customs that is often overlook or entirely ignored in modern times is the that custom of seeking the blessing of our parents and that the parents of the future spouse to enter into matrimony. It has true that parents might often reject our choice of person on some personal grounds yet realistically most parents only want the best for their Children. So like Tobias we ought to seek also to obtain the  parental blessing for our marriages. I think most bad marriages would have been avoided if the kids to the time to listen to the advice of their parents. But the problem is that, like I am sure any priest could tell you, when people want to get married the only thing they know is “we are in love”. So it’s hard to reason with someone who has his head in the stars. The problem is though, that we have to learn to think with our heads and not your hearts. That’s why God gave us a brains!

 

3. God's assistance for Godly Marriages

 

In the spiritual life there is no such thing as a spiritual vacuum, in other words you are either filled with the sentiments of the world or the sentiments of the faith. Now the same is true of the Christian life as whole. Where ever God's rights are trampled upon you can be sure that the devil is around to claim his victory, that’s why St. Raphael explicates those who the devil has power over are " they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power."

 

In other words, if Jesus and Mary do not preside at your marriage, the devil will surely usurp their place. The more victories gained in this regard the greater is his power and dominion over society.  That is why today most, marriages today end in divorce. In fact, Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical on Christian marriage states that many of the terrible problems afflicting modern society can be traced back to the breakdown of the family. 

 

Nevertheless over the those marriages which Christ and His Church presides, Tertullian asks “Where shall we find power to declare the happiness of that marriage which the Church arranges, the offering confirms, the blessing seals, the angels proclaim and the Father ratifies?”

 

Yes, who can comprehend the joy of those who are united in matrimony with the true blessing of God and His Church. They have a peace and blessing that the world cannot give.

 

The very reason that the devil had power over the men who previously married Sara, was because they were only to marry her out of lust, since she was as scripture relates "a beautiful young women". It is by this lust that the devil was given so much power over them. Today the devil is given the same power over those who have already given themselves over to the temptation of lust, and it is for that reason that there are a great number of people who are already spiritually dead.

 

In fact in order to understand why so many marriages end in divorce all we need to do is look at why the  couples got married in the first place. Was it to raise saints to God? I doubt that in most cases God ever really crossed their minds.  If such is the case how can such a marriage last in our self centered modern world? These people who marry for selfish reasons (money, pleasure, beauty, etc) never find happiness there is always something lacking, it is because true happiness is attained only by those who are completely generous and ready to sacrifice themselves in all things.

 

4.                                                                    The Importance of Prayer

 

As Catholics no matter what vocation or state in life we consider we must first pray to God for counsel and guidance. In seeking for a wife this even more important, since if you make the wrong decision you are stuck with it for life - "for better or for worse."  There is no divorce in the Catholic Church. We don't have such a word. It's not part of our Catholic dictionary! "What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." (Mark 10:9).   No state law can change this, since no human law is above the natural law or Divine Law of God

 

Unlike a vocation you can try out marriage for a few years and then decide you want to leave. So you have to pray, pray and pray, that God grants you the graces you need to chose the right spouse and to avoid like a plague a spouse that would not be beneficial to you. The book of Proverbs tells us that : "House and riches are given by parents: but a prudent wife is properly from the Lord." (Proverbs 19:14)

 

Again we read in Ecclesiasticus that:  "A good wife is a good portion; she shall be given in the portion of them that fear God, to a man for his good deeds. Rich or poor, if his heart is good, his countenance shall be cheerful at all times." (Ecclesiasticus 26:1-4)

 

In other words a good wife is a blessing from God. like all blessing from God that we obtain we have to first ask for them and then merit to obtain them both by our prayers and a godly life. That is why St. Raphael tells young Tobias to pray together with his spouse before their marriage is consummated.

 

I will say on this point that you should pray together not only as a family once you married but even before that since it is only by doing this that you will avoid being like the horse and mule, which have not understanding," for its over them the devil has  power."

 

You see the sacramental grace that you receive at matrimony is meant to help you to fulfill your duty of state but in order to be in tune with that grace you have to pray. It's only in prayer that we obtain the graces we need and merit God's blessing.

 

A good priest I know told me that he often recommends to those who he is giving marriage instructions to imitate Tobias and Sara literally, so that they should spend 3 days in prayer after the marriage ceremony before the marriage is consummated. In this way, they will gain many graces for the future difficulties that they will inevitably encounter in marriage.

 

If you want to be led by the hand of Gods providence like Tobias, then you have to pray. The venerable Louis de Ponte on this point gives us some encouraging words:

 

"God is not only the author of matrimony, but He brings to that state, by a special providence, those who He wishes to be in it. He acts thus both of the good of society and for the happiness of individuals; and, although according to the teaching of the Church, it is better and more perfect to observe virginity than to engage in matrimony,' yet Divine Providence is not less admirable in the matter of vocations to the marriage state than in vocations to perpetual continence."

 

Undeniably the book of Tobias clearly is encouraging in this regard. It shows us that God truly does desire we make the right decision and that he does care about with who and how we spend our earthly life. That is exactly what we see in the book of Tobias, especially when in her distress Sara prayed to God after the death of all her previous husbands saying “either I was unworthy of them, or they perhaps were not worthy of me: because perhaps you have kept me for another man” (Tobias 316). And that is exactly what God did, he had something else in mind for her. But she would not have received God’s help if she had not first been a devote servant. So we must also seek to put God first in all that we do so that in return he will neither allow us to be deceived or to deceive ourselves which is what happens in most cases today.
 

In other words even  with regards to your marriage God doesn't work by mere chance but he will guide you by his providence to the marriage state on he condition that you ask for his help in not allowing yourself to be deceived with regards to the  person you marry.

 

So its by prayer that we will be lead to make the right decision and by its by prayer that you will get the graces you need to raise a family and to keep and sanctify that family. As the saying goes, "A family that prays together stays together,"! That is why the priests will often stress the importance of the Family Rosary. Only in eternity will you realize the great amount of graces that you have won for your family by the praying together the rosary.

 

5.                                                                        Raising  Saints

 

 

How many families today have apostate children? Or Parents?

 

Catholics often forget that the salvation of their Children is something that they will be held accountable for.

 

The Reason we have the 4th Commandment "Honor thy Father and Mother" is because the Parents take the place of God. They are like "gods" to the children they are entrusted with.  However implicit in this commandment is the law that parents must rightly fulfill their obligations towards their children. To fulfill these obligations, you must first know them and work to put them into effect.

 

Any Children that God sends us are only given to us on trust, we are their custodians but they ultimately belong to God and so if by your negligence they become reprobates you will have to pay account for it.

 

The gospel tells us, that a good plant cannot produce bad fruit, and that a bad one cannot produce good fruit. We learn from this, that a good father brings up good children. But, if the parents are wicked, how can the children be virtuous? Have you ever, says Our Lord, in the same gospel, seen grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? (Matt. 5:16) So, it is impossible, or rather very difficult, to find children virtuous, who are brought up by immoral parents! There is a lot resting up the shoulders of parents.

 

On this I would like to quote to you the great words of Dom Prosper Gueranger, from his Book the Liturgical year (Vol.V, pg. 411-2) :

 

"What greatness there is in a little child? But what a responsibility for the world! If God does not wait for the age of reason before bestowing His gifts, His sublime haste is due to the impatience of His love, but at the same time their duty to these children of heaven, to form them and educate them in a way befitting of their divine lineage is incumbent on them. The education of a Kings son corresponds to the dignity of his birth, and those who have the honor of being his tutors never forget that he is a prince. Instructions, common to all, are presented to him in a way, which harmonizes with his exalted destiny, and everything is directed to rendering him capable of wearing his crown with glory. Does the education of a child of God need less care? Is it right that his teachers should forget his birth and his destine?"

 

In other words it's not merely enough to beget children, we also have to instruct them. That is why God warns us in the book of  ecclesiasticus that "It is better to die without children, than to leave ungodly Children" (Eccles 16:4). Since "to be fruitful and multiply" regards primarily the instruction and education of children and not merely the begetting of children which any idiot can do.

 

It is no coincidence that saints come from saintly families. No one knew better than St. Paul, the saying that "saints are not born they are made" and that is why he explicitly states in what the proper education of children consists. He says that it consists in discipline and correction: "And you, fathers, provoke not your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord (Ephes. 5:4). Discipline here, implies an obligation of educating them in habits of virtue by word and example. This is what the Holy Ghost tell us to practice: Do you have children? Instruct them and bow down their neck from their childhood. (Eccl. 7:25)

 

According to Saint Thomas, scandalous parents compel, in a certain manner, their children to lead a bad life. This statement should in a sense be obvious since the children look can often but follow the example of their parents since it's all that they know.

 

To add to this scripture tells us that those who fail to instruct their children in the ways of God will not only be punished in the next life but also in this life. While those who fulfill their duty will like wise not only be rewarded in the next life but also in this life "Instruct your son, and he will refresh you, and will give delight to your soul. (Prov. 29:17). If this is true so also is the contrary, namely an ignorant child is a source of sorrow to his father since the ignorance of his obligations as a Christian is always accompanied with a bad life. That is why scripture tells us that a Father who loves his children will correct them and put them on the right path: "He that spares the rod hates his son" (Prov. 13:24) . In fact Saint Bernard, goes as far saying that those who fail to correct and educate their Children in the faith "are not fathers, but murderers, they kill, not the bodies, but the souls of their children".

 

I can assure you God's scrutiny will be far more rigorous than that of all men put together. Just listen to the hard hitting words of St. Paul : " if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Timothy 5:8).

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

It seem undeniably clear that the Holiness and Sanctity of Marriage is explicitly stressed in the book of Tobias : "We are Children of Saints, and we must not be joined together like heathens that know not God" (Tobias 8:5). Those who know not God can also come together and bring forth children and in this sense, they become an extension of Satin and His Kingdom, since in general reprobate parents bring forth children who will become reprobate unless by a miracle of grace they are converted to the faith. While on the other hand as children of the saints we must be an extension of the Kingdom of God on earth and work to extend that kingdom. Every family must be a reflection of hte Holy Family of Nazareth, that is why in order to redeem us Our Lord chose to come to us in and through the family, in order to exemplify for us the reality of what the family should be.

 

If what we see presented to us in the book of Tobias took place under the old law, which did not have any of the abundance of Holiness or grace which is seen in the New Testament times, how much more holiness is demanded of us now that we have received that grace?  If anything comes through in the book of Tobias it's the notion that most men fall short of the true ideal of Marriage. In which case they will have to pay a strict account for their failings. If for example God did not spear the men who entered into marriage with Sara with a false outlook on marriage, how much more shall we be guilty before God, since we claim to be "children of the saints".

 

The principle is simple. We belong to God and so as true sons of God we have a high standard to live up to and this is only accomplished by entering into holy matrimony with a profoundly supernatural and realistic outlook based ultimately on the firm principles of the Catholic faith.

 

 

 

 


- CATHOLIC APOLOGETICS -