views updated


Or remarriage, is the state of being married after the dissolution of a previous marriage by death. It thus differs from bigamy, the condition of a person who has contracted a second marriage while he still has an existing marriage. The acceptability of digamy depends on social, religious, and ethical considerations connected with attitudes toward the nature of marriage itself. In a society that looks upon marriage exclusively as the method for the propagation of mankind, digamy is permitted without disqualification, and can even be obligatory, e.g., the Levirate law (Dt 25.510; Mt 22.2527), observed not only by the Hebrews but also by the Arabs, Persians, Mongols, etc. In the early Christian dispensation digamy was excluded neither for the man (1 Cor 7.27) nor for the woman (Rom 7.2; 1 Cor 7.8, 39), but because marriage could be considered as a certain handicap to a total love of God (1 Cor 7.3234) digamy was not encouraged (1 Cor 7.8, 40) except as a remedy for incontinence (1 Cor7.9; 1 Tim 5.14). Bishops, deacons, and members of the official widowhood could not be digamists (Tit 1.6; 1 Tim 3.2, 12; 4.9) and this prescription has been inserted in the present Code of Canon Law (c.984.4). Many Fathers of the Church, basing their attitude on St. Paul's doctrine of marriage as a symbol of the union between Christ and the Church, discountenanced digamy, but the Church followed the Biblical moderation and resisted the errors of the Montanists, and particularly of tertullian, by legitimizing digamy.

Bibliography: l. godefroy, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant, 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 9.2:206364, 20772101. b. kÖtting, Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, ed. t. klauser [Stuttgart 1941 (1950)] 3:101624. a. oepke, ibid. 4:655661. e. g. parrinder, The Bible and Polygamy (London 1958). tertullian, Treatises on Marriage and Remarriage, tr. w. p. le saint (Ancient Christian Writers 13;1951).

[j. van paassen]

About this article


Updated About content Print Article Share Article