Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562)
Part 2, ch. 10, § 17-26, pp. 431-437
Whether it be lawful for children to marry without the consent of their parents.
§17 Now shall it be very well to see whether it be lawful for children to contract matrimony without consent of their parents.
Certainly, Samson would not (Judges 14:5). And it is a matter of much honesty, and of thankfulness towards the parents, if matrimony be not contracted without their knowledge and consent. At the beginning, Adam did not choose himself a wife—God was his father, and brought Eve unto him (Gen. 2:22). Abraham, when Isaac was a man, sent his servants to his kindred, to seek out a wife there for his son (Gen. 24:3). Isaac also sent Jacob into Mesopotamia to his uncle, to the end he might get him a wife there (Gen. 28:1).
Afterward followed the law that was given of God by Moses, that children should honour their parents. But the honour, which must be given unto them is not only to uncover the head, to give the upper hand, and to rise up (yet these things must also be done, though they be not sufficient); but they must also sustain their progenitors, if need shall require, and shew themselves dutiful towards them. Wherefore, the power of a father is defined to be a bond of piety, whereby children are bound to their parents, to perform the duties of humanity and thankfulness.
If so be children in other things ought to obey their parents, doubtless they ought chiefly to do it in contracting of matrimony. Hereof there is a peculiar law in Exodus 22:16, “If a maiden, which is not betrothed, shall be deceived, he that hath seduced her, ought to give her a dowry, and to take her to wife,” but it is added: “If the father will.” Otherwise he shall only give a dowry; neither shall he have the maiden to wife against the father’s will. And in the book of Numbers (30:4), “If a maiden vow a vow, and the father hear it, and letteth it not, the vow shall be firm; but if he gainsay it, it shall be in vain.” And what is a vow? A promise made unto God. Howbeit, matrimony is a promise, which is made unto man. If God permit a vow made unto him, to the judgement of the father, much more will he permit matrimony unto him, seeing it is a promise made between men. In the second book of Samuel (13:13), Tamar answered unto her brother Amnon, “If thou desire me at my father’s hand, he will not deny me unto thee.” The custom was then, that the daughters were desired of the parents. Here I dispute not whether it were lawful for David to give to Amnon his sister to wife.
Further, Paul saith to the Ephesians (6:1), “Children obey your parents in all things.” He excepteth nothing, when he writeth so, but saith, “In all things”—namely, which they command not against the Word of God. And in his first epistle to the Corinthians (7:36) is most manifestly declared that it belongeth to the parents to give their daughters in marriage to husbands.
The Light of Nature.
And that was known, not only by the law of God, but also by the light of nature. Which, even the Comedies of Terence and Plautus manifestly declare. And in Euripides a maiden answereth; “Of my marriages my father will have care, seeing these things are not in me to determine.” Which verse certainly so liked Ambrose, as he placed it in his book of the patriarchs.
Further, it serveth very well for domestical peace: for the daughter in law ought to be to the father in law in stead of a daughter. Contrariwise, of rash marriages rise great discords at home. And for so much as the father ought to help his son with his goods, it is meet again that the son should obey his father in contracting of matrimony. In other civil contracts, the son can do nothing, without the consent of his father; as appeareth in the Digests, De mutuo, ad senatus consultum Macedonianum. Wherefore it is meet, that the judgement of the father should be tarried for in so weighty a matter.
The civil laws touching this point.
The self-same thing have the civil laws decreed. Justinian in his institutions, in the title De nuptiis, will not that marriages should be firm, without the consent of the parents. And in the Digests De statu hominum, in the law Paulus, “If a son marry a wife against the will of his parents, the child, which shall be borne of those parents, shall not be legitimate.” And in the Code De nuptiis, in the law Si proponis, the case is diligently to be marked. The daughter marrieth by consent of her father, she afterward being aggrieved at her husband, departeth from him: after that, he returneth into favour, and she marrieth him again against her father’s will. It is answered, that that matrimony is not lawful. Hereby it appeareth, how much those laws esteemed the authority of a father. Again, in the law Si furiosi, children (if perhaps their parents be mad, or bereft of their wits) seeing they cannot use the consent of them in contracting of matrimony, they shall use the consent of their tutors.
What the Canons determine hereof.
§18 So then it seemeth marvelous, that Christians at this day determine, that marriages are lawful, without consent of the parents. And to cover this, they allege the Canons: of the which I think it good briefly to declare some. And first I will make mention of the better Canons, which were the more ancient: for the later they were decreed, the more corrupt they were. In the Decrees, cause 30. question 5. chapter Aliter, “Matrimonies are then lawful, when the maidens are desired at the parents’ hands, and delivered openly: otherwise they are not matrimonies, but whoredoms, dishonest companyings, adulteries, and fornications.” Thus decreed Evaristus. Nicolaus also at the consultation of the Bulgars, cause 30. question 5. chapter Nostrates, “Those matrimonies are firm, which be knit by the consent of them which contract them, and of those in whose power they are.” Leo also the first, in the 30. cause, question 5. chapter Qualis, “Then it is to be counted matrimony, when the maiden is by her parents delivered unto her husband.” And in the 31. cause, question 2. chapter Non omnis, “A woman, which marrieth by the consent of her father, is without blame, if any man shall afterward find fault withal.” And thus, Gratianus concludeth that place, that he saith, “In contracting of matrimony, the consent of the parents is always to be required.”
Further, Ambrose intreating of the place in Genesis, where it is written that the servant of Abraham came into Mesopotamia and found a wife for his master’s son, the parents of the maid, when they endeavored to retain him longer, and he would not tarry, they called the maid, and asked her whether she would go with him (Gen. 24:57-8). After this manner he saith (as also it is declared in the 23. cause, question 2. chapter Honorandum), “They asked not her of the wedding, but only of the journeying with him. For it pertaineth not (saith he) to maidenly shamefastness, to choose unto herself a husband.” And the same he affirmed of widows, which be young. Although (to say the truth) I cannot herein agree unto Ambrose, that the maiden was not demanded the question, whether she would marry him. Neither do I doubt, but she was demanded as touching both matters. For in the 30 cause, question 2. chapter Ubi non est, we read that “There can be no matrimony, where is not the consent of those, which contract: yea even in the marriages of the children, which are but seven years of age.” And seeing at that age they are thought to understand somewhat of matrimony, necessary is the consent of them which contract. And because there is mention made of spousages, we think good to note this by the way, that children so contracting, ought to be seven years of age: for otherwise the parents can promise nothing for them. Those children, if they afterward, being of more years, shall contract another matrimony, the same is of effect, and not the [former] espousals—which yet must be understood, if the parents consent to the second matrimony. Moreover, in the 31. cause, question the second, chapter Tua, Hormisdas answereth, that children, when they contract after this manner, ought to stand to the will of their parents. And in the Extravagants De sponsatione impuberum, in the chapter Tua, it is ordained that children, when they come to ripe age, ought to obey their parents, forsomuch as they also gave their faith and consented.
The Councils concerning this thing.
§19 I thought it good also to bring forth somewhat of the Councils. The Council of Toledo, the fourth cause, question 21. chapter Hoc sanctum, decreeth, “If widows will not profess chastity, let them marry to whom they will.” And the same it decreeth of a maiden: but it addeth, “So that it be not against the will of the parents, or her own.” Such an addition we see that Nicolaus the second added, as we find in the 27. cause, question second, chapter Sufficiat, where he writeth after this manner, “To join matrimony, the consent of those which contract is sufficient,” and it followeth, “According to the laws.” Which is added, because the matrimonies of children be not acknowledged, if they be made without the consent of the parents. Yet the gloss referreth not those words unto the civil laws, but to the canons: because as the Canonists say, the civil laws are sometimes corrected by the canons. But oftentimes it happeneth, that those canons are in very deed άκάνονες, that is, “Rules without rule,” as in the Extravagants, De coniugiis servorum, chapter the first, “If bond-men contract, yea against the will of their lords, such matrimonies shall be ratified.”
A disagreement between the canons and civil laws touching the matrimony of servants.
Behold (saith the gloss) the canons amend the civil laws: for in them it is forbidden, that a bond-man should marry a wife against the will of his lord. Yea, if a free man have very often recourse unto another man’s bond-woman, he is made a bond-man. And a free woman, if she have much access unto another man’s bond-man, she also looseth her freedom. The gloss saith moreover, that more is attributed unto matrimony, than unto holy orders; because it is not lawful to bring a strange bond-man into orders, but it is lawful to contract matrimony with him. Wherefore, it manifestly appeareth, that the latter canons were corrupted and depraved, which took away from marriages the consent of parents, as a thing not necessary.
But now let us see what reasons they pretend. In the Extravagants De sponsalibus, in the chapter Cum locum, it is said, that in contracting of matrimony, there ought to be a full liberty. And in the same place, in the chapter Veniens, “If any fear happens therein, the matrimony should be void.” And there is given a reason: “because she cannot long please him, of whom she is hated; and because such contracts have oftentimes unhappy success; and that thing is easily contemned, which is not beloved.”
Marriages by the letter of a king not to be liked, and why.
Yea it seemeth, that the canons have so loved liberty in contracting of matrimony, that the Council of Paris (as we find in the 30. cause, question the second) decreed that it is not lawful to desire a wife, by the rescript of the king—although the same be also ordained in the Code De nuptiis, law the first, chapter Si nuptias ex rescripto. The reason is because the rescripts of princes are in a manner imperious commandments. Neither do I disallow that—although I do not a little marvel that the canons have proceeded so far that matrimony may be contracted between him that stealeth away a maid, and her that is stolen. In the Extravagants De raptoribus & incendiariis, in the chapter Cum causa, A maiden that was stolen away out of the house of her father, and contracted matrimony with him that did steal her, the father withstood the marriage.
Here the good Pope answereth, “Forsomuch as the maiden consenteth, she cannot seem to be stolen.” Wherefore, he decreed that matrimony to be good. And in the next chapter Accedens, “If any man had stolen away a maiden, not only against the will of her parents, but also against her own will” (which maiden nevertheless if she afterward agreed with him that stole her) he decreed that “firm matrimony might be contracted between them.” The same seemeth to be decreed in the 36 cause, question the second, chapter In summa, where is intreated of the stealer, and her that is stolen. And it is decreed, “If she that is stolen shall consent with him that stealeth, matrimony may be contracted between them—but yet in such sort, that first they do some penance.” But because some canons do make against this decree, therefore they moderate the matter thus: That wheresoever they read, that matrimony cannot be contracted between such persons, that they understand to be said for some one of these three causes: either 1. because she that is stolen did not consent; or else, 2. because she was betrothed before to another by words (as they use to speak it) of the present tense (for I say not of the future tense, because the husband was not bound to marry one defiled) either else 3. for that she was not marriageable.
§20 But in the Code it is far otherwise decreed, touching the stealing of virgins, namely, that matrimony between these persons may by no manner of means be contracted—no not although the father give his consent unto her that is stolen. And Justinian also in his Authentics, collation the ninth, in the title Quaraptoribus nubunt, decreeth the same to the detestation of so great a crime. But our Canonists (forsooth) think matrimonies to be lawful, even against the father’s will. Wherefore in the 32 cause, question 2, chapter Mulier, the gloss saith, that the authority of the father is undone as touching an oath and matrimony, when ripe age cometh—which saying the Schoolmen have also followed. Of this matter they dispute, in the fourth chapter of sentences, distinction 28, where they define that a man, even the son of the goodman of the house, hath a certain dominion over his own body: neither is so bound to his parents, but that he may, at his own liberty, dispose it as touching matrimony.
How the papists unto matrimony require a consent of parents.
And when they read in the Canons, that the consent of the parents is required for the contracting of matrimony, they, by their interpretation corrupt them, and say that Evaristus, Nicolaus, & Leo, when they so decreed, did judge that the consent of the parents is required touching the honesty of matrimony, but not in respect of the necessity. Which peradventure they drew out of the gloss in the Extravagants De sponsalibus impuberum, in the law Tua—which is after this sort, that “The good will of the parents must be required, yet rather for the honesty of marriage than for necessity sake. So that, if the parents will not assent; yet are the children free and may contract matrimony at their own liberty.” Yea and the Master of Sentences [i.e. Peter Lombard], in the 28th distinction, saith, that “The consent of parents serveth for the comeliness and honesty of marriages, and not for necessity.” And he bringeth the words of Evaristus. But he saith, “There is a difference between those things, which are required to the substance of marriages, and those things, which serve for honesty and comeliness. And the good will of the parents (as he saith) pertaineth not to the substance of marriages.” He thinketh that without it, children may lawfully contract. And for so much as he maketh matrimony a sacrament, he would have in such marriages the strength of matrimony, but not the honesty.
§21 But because they very much urge the words of Evaristus, when he writeth that marriages contracted without the good will of the parents are whoredoms, fornications, and adulteries. The Master of the Sentences answereth, that that is true, not because such marriages be so indeed, but for that they coming secretly together among themselves, and privily without the parents’ knowledge, are wont to be counted whoremongers and adulterers—but yet that the matrimony abideth ratified, and is firm, by reason of the words of the present tense which were used therein. Also, Thomas Aquinas, in the same place is of the same mind. And unto that which is alleged out of Paul to the Ephesians—where he saith, “Children obey your parents in all things” (6:1)—he answereth that it must be understood of those things wherein the children have not any liberty, namely, as touching familiar and domestical things. And this reason he addeth: “Because matrimony is a certain kind of servitude, which the child is not compelled to take upon him against his will.” And in that it is written of Abraham (Gen. 24:3), that he sought his son a wife out of his own kindred; he answereth, that the same happened, because he knew that land to be promised unto his posterity: and that God had decreed to take it away from the Canaanites: so as he would not have his son to contract matrimony with them. These fellows indeed speak much, but they bring not so much as one word out of the holy scriptures. They still affirm, that children ought to have most full liberty left them as touching marriages: but that is a mere invention of their own, which by no means hath his foundation upon the word of God.
The elder fathers’ opinion hereof.
§22 The ancient fathers were of our mind. But it happened of them, as of the Canons: for the more ancient they were, the better they were and the more new, the more corrupt. Tertullian in his second book to his wife, as touching the marriages of Christians with Ethnics, writeth very well—neither alloweth he of marriages between persons of a contrary religion. “God (saith he) giveth thee to a husband.” And he addeth, “Doubtless upon the earth daughters cannot rightly and justly marry, without the consent of the parents. How therefore wilt thou marry, without the consent of thy heavenly father?” Chrysostom upon Genesis, and upon Matthew, when he entreateth of marriages, remitteth the matter unto the examples of the fathers in the Old Testament. Neither is it of great necessity to recite his words, when as the same father upon the first epistle to Timothy, in his 9th homily, treateth manifestly of that matter. There he exhorteth parents, because of the slippery age of their children, to give them in marriage: but he exhorteth not the children, that they should choose unto themselves husbands or wives. Yet he converteth his speech unto the parents, that they should provide marriages for them. And he addeth a very notable sentence; “If (saith he) they begin to play the harlots before they be married, they will never regard their faith in matrimony.”
Wedding crowns used in marriages.
I will note also by the way, what he writeth in that place of wedding crowns. For even at that time, they used crowns or garlands in weddings. What (saith he) signifieth the crown or garland? Forsooth, that the husband and the wife should declare, that even unto that time, they had conquered their lusts. If thou hast been an adulterer or whoremonger, how bearest thou a crown or garland? Augustine in his 133rd epistle being desired to make a marriage between a young man and a maid; “I would do it (saith he) but that the mother of the child is not present; and thou knowest, that in making of marriages, the mothers good will is necessary.” In this place Augustine writeth more severely than the civil laws: for they will not have the child to be in the power of his mother. Of Ambrose I will speak nothing at this time, I spake enough of him before. Seeing then the law of God, and the law of nature, the laws of cities, and the laws of families, the fathers, and sincere canons affirm that the consent of the parents is necessary, and the examples of the godly declare the same; what should let us to be of that mind?
The consent of parents is profitable for the children.
Neither ought this to seem grievous unto children—sith it was by the laws of God so appointed for their commodity. For young persons, in such things, and specially women, ofttimes provide very ill for themselves. Wherefore, it is written in the Code De sponsalibus; in the law Si pater: “When the father hath betrothed his daughter, if he afterward die, the governor or tutor cannot undo the covenant of the father.” And a reason is added, “Because tutors sometimes are won with money, & women are carried to their own discommodities.” Also, the example of Christ ought to move us, which was given of his father, to be the husband of the church: and he always said, that He did not his own will, but the will of his father, by whom he was sent (John 6:38). Further, how great a disorder ariseth in the Common-weal, through this corruption? How great a window is opened to filthy lusts? In some places, he that can first lie with a maiden, hopeth to obtain her to wife, even against her parents’ good will.
An answer unto reasons on the contrary part.
§23 But now we must answer the reasons, which the contrary part allege for themselves. First, as we before said, they cry, that in contracting of matrimony, there ought to be a full liberty. But (I pray you) what liberty? Of the flesh, or of the spirit? Undoubtedly that liberty of the spirit is the greatest, when we obey the commandments of God: who, if he would have us obedient unto our parents in other things, why not in contracting of matrimony also? So then they break the law of God, which even in this thing obey not the parents. Further, if they will have the liberty of contracting of matrimony; why do they themselves forbid so many degrees of kindred? Once the Popes would not suffer matrimony to be contracted, even unto the seventh degree: but now they contain themselves within the fourth. Moreover, why do they forbid marriages unto the ministers of the church? Again, why did God himself forbid matrimonies between persons of contrary religion, if there ought to be so great a liberty in marriage as they feign to be? But they add; Children, for fear of their parents, will say, that that matrimony pleaseth them, which pleaseth them not. Nevertheless, the son is not compelled so to say: nothing letteth but that he may answer, that the same wife pleaseth him not; and that such a matrimony will not be agreeable to his mind. And indeed, unless his consent be had, matrimony may in no wise be contracted.
In the Digest’s De ritu nuptiarum, in the law Non cogitur, we read that the son cannot be compelled to marry a wife. And De sponsalibus, in the law Sedea: “If a daughter hold her peace, she seemeth to consent unto the father.” And there are two causes alleged, wherefore the daughter may gainsay her father; if either the father offer her a husband that is wicked, or that is deformed. Otherwise, if none of these causes be, it is required of her, that she love him, whom the father hath chosen. But if she will not assent, when the husband is neither deformed nor evil mannered, she incurreth the crime of ingratitude, which is so great as the father may disherit her for it. And in the title De ritu nuptiarum, in the law Si cogente patre: “Although the son have assented for fear of the father, yet because he had rather assent than offend the father, such a matrimony ought to be firm and ratified.” Unto the former causes I would add a third: If the father offer a husband, which is of a contrary religion.
A remedy against the harder sort of parents.
And I would ever counsel the parents to do that, which should be agreeable to their children, unless they should perceive them to be very obstinate & unjust. But when the parents behave themselves tyrannously towards their children, and force them to marry wives, which they cannot abide, the matter must be brought before the magistrate. It is his part to hear the cause, and to deliver the son from injury, if he be over sharply oppressed. Then, if the son marry a wife by the authority of the magistrate, although it be against the will of the father, it cannot seem, that he hath married utterly without the parents’ consent. For the magistrate is the father of the country.
The same seemeth to be decreed De ritu nuptiarum, in the law Qui liberos. And me thinketh, the Schoolmen have not well said that the children of the household have power over their own body; forsomuch as they owe unto their parents, even for the very being, which they have. They ought not to be compelled unto marriages against their will, but that they should marry without the consent of the parents, it cannot be allowed them. And whereas liberty is so many times obtruded unto us, and the power of the body vaunted of, let us again reply upon them with the answer of God as touching the daughters of Zelophehad, who saith of them: “Let them have heritage among their brethren, but let them marry in their own tribe” (Num. 36:6). These women are compelled to marry the nighest of their kin, neither hated they that liberty which these men imagine. And the brother sometimes was compelled to marry the wife of his brother being dead: neither could she marry otherwise (Deut. 25:5). Therefore, so great liberty is not necessary in marriages, as these men pretend. And by the civil law, so great is the authority of the father over his son, that he may sell him, if he fall into grievous necessity. And lest it seem to any man to be a barbarous point, it is permitted by the law of God in Exodus the 21st chapter (v. 7): but yet adding certain cautions, which I think are not good here to repeat. Wherefore, they did not rightly argue; when they said, that matrimony is a kind of servitude: which the son ought not to take upon him at the appointment of his father.
§24 And whereas they say that the consent of parents is required for the honesty of matrimony, and not upon necessity, it is vain and frivolous. For what greater necessity can there be than that which the law and commandment of God doth import? Children are commanded to honor father and mother (Ex. 20:12). Also, Paul the apostle prescribeth them to obey their parents in all things (Eph. 6:1). And the same thing writeth he unto the Philippians 4:8, “That which remaineth brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever are honest, whatsoever just, whatsoever pure, whatsoever profitable, whatsoever things are of good report, do ye.” By these words appeareth, that the things which be honest, must not be separated from the commandments of God. So then, look how necessary it is to obey God’s commandments, so necessary it is not to marry without the consent of the parents.
And whereas they add that the consent of the parents is indeed required, but yet if they will not consent, the matrimony may be firm: that is nothing else but to deride the parents. For what reproach is it for the son, so to desire the consent of his father, as though he be against it, and gainsay it; yet nevertheless he will abide in his purpose, and go through with the same? It were much better not to desire it, than to desire it with that mind. This also seemeth a wonder to me, that the Master [Lombard] so perverteth the words of Evaristus, that when he saith, that matrimonies contracted without the consent of the parents are whoredoms and fornications and not matrimony; he dare expound, that the matter is not so indeed: but because they so come together, as whoremongers and adulterers use to do. But the saying of Evaristus is manifest; “They are not (saith he) matrimonies.” And indeed, he addeth what they are; namely, “fornications, adulteries, and whoredoms.” And he saith not that they seem to be these things, but that they are so.
§25 There be others, which object the book of Genesis (28:8-9), where it is written, that Esau married the wives of the Canaanites, which his parents took in very ill part: for he had married them contrary to their commandment; and yet the scripture calleth them wives. Wherefore it seemeth that matrimony may be contracted even against the parents will.
I grant indeed that in the holy scriptures they be called wives; but yet therefore, because he so counted them, and because the nations among whom they dwelt, so reputed them. Notwithstanding, it is not gathered hereby, that the scriptures do confirm such a matrimony. The same form of speaking used Paul in the first to the Corinthians, the eight chapter; ”Even as there be many gods, and many lords” (1 Cor. 8:5). He saith that there be many gods: not that there are so indeed (for there is but one God) but because the most part so believed, and common persuasion conceived that there was an infinite number of gods. Therefore he saith, “Many gods.” But to us, which judge aright, there is but one God, and one Lord Jesus Christ. It is no unaccustomed or strange thing in the scriptures so to call things as men use commonly to speak—yet elsewhere, when they speak properly, they call everything by his own name.
Howbeit thou wilt say, “We never read that the children of Esau were not legitimate.” I answer, that Esau had indeed a great posterity, but whether it were lawful or no, the scripture sheweth not. Whereunto add, that by those nations, among whom he lived, they were counted legitimate; for those had not the Word of God, wherein it is commanded, that this should not be done: and they had wonderfully corrupted the law of nature.
What we are to account of marriages made without the consent of parents.
§26 Others cry; “What shall we think of our forefathers? What also of many, which live at this day, & have contracted matrimonies without the consent of their parents? Shall we call them matrimonies, or else adulteries? And shall we count their children so borne, for legitimate, or for bastards?”
I answer: that when as such marriages were had in that time of darkness, before the new light of the Gospel; those men in very deed were not excused from sin (for it was not lawful for them to be ignorant of the law of God), but yet, because they were done publicly, and by the permission of the magistrate; I am persuaded that such matrimonies are firm and ratified. If they object, that in such marriages the consent of the parents wanted: I answer, that it was therein, and it was not therein. For the magistrates had made the civil laws subject to the canons: which undoubtedly they ought not to have done. Now in this, all men agree. And forsomuch as the magistrate hath the authority of the people, if he consent unto anything, there, after a sort, is the public consent of the people. As at this day in Parliaments, when they assemble for the payment of some sum of money: although some private men of the people be not contented with it; yet, because it is agreed upon by the magistrate, they also should seem to have given their consent.
So indeed, the father would not that the matrimony of his son should be firm without his consent. Howbeit, seeing he submitted his will to the judgement of the magistrate, he should seem after a sort to have given his consent. But now the truth of the thing being known, the magistrate ought to revoke the error. So as the matrimonies, which hitherto (that is, in darkness) have been contracted against the will of the parents, ought to be firm, and the children borne of them ought to be legitimate. Nevertheless, if the law should afterward be repealed, then should they be no matrimonies, but only presupposed; and in very deed whoredoms, fornications, and adulteries: even as Evaristus rightly judgeth. Howbeit, while the laws, which are now in force, are not abrogated, I dissolve not the matrimonies which in the meantime are so contracted. Neither do I say, that the children borne of these marriages are bastards; but I declare what doth seem most agreeable to the word of God, and to honesty. But Evaristus might justly write so; because in his time the Roman laws were of force, which accounted not such conjunctions to be matrimonies. Further, I add, that fathers are not to be obeyed, when they let the marriages of their children only for religion sake; because in that cause, God must be obeyed in all things, who is the head father of all things. Look the first to the Corinthians, the seventh chapter, verse 37.
For more excerpts on this topic cf. The Importance of Parental Consent in Marriage.