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Spiritual marriage comes from the original divine law that marriage should be the union between soul mates who are attracted to each other by divine magnetism and not by the animal magnetism of sex. Sometimes it is narrowed down to "love without sex" - a practice in which a man and a woman live intimately without engaging in any sexual activities. It has been known throughout many cultures as the bond of a man and a woman for reasons of spiritual and emotional intimacy and connection where partners help each other reach spiritual realization of God.
A feature of Catholic spiritual marriage, or Josephite marriage, is that the agreement to abstain from sex should be a free mutual decision, rather than resulting from impotence or the views of one party.
In senses beyond spiritual marriage, chastity is a key concept of Church doctrine that demands celibacy of priests, monks, nuns and certain other officials in the Church. The doctrine established a "spiritual marriage" of church officials to their church; in order to better serve God, one had to disavow the demands and temptations of traditional marriage. This rule was enforced by Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor, whose marriage to Cunigunde of Luxemburg was also a very famous spiritual marriage.
The Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin professed to enter a spiritual marriage, but consummated a year later when directed by their confessor to do so. Of their nine children the five who survived to adulthood all became nuns, including Saint Thérèse de Lisieux.
Occasionally, spiritual marriages may also be entered later in life, with the renunciation of sexual relations after raising a family to fully dedicate oneself to God. In October 2001 John Paul II beatified a married couple, Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi, who bore four children, but later in life lived separately and committed to a Josephite marriage.
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Until 2008 the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints practiced child marriage through the concept of "spiritual marriage" as soon as girls are ready to bear children, as part of its polygamy practice, and laws have raised the age of legal marriage in response to criticism of the practice. In 2008 the Church changed its policy in the United States to no longer marry individuals younger than the local legal age. In 2007 church leader Warren Jeffs was convicted of being an accomplice to statutory rape of a minor due to arranging a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man. In March 2008 officials of the state of Texas believed that children at the Yearning For Zion Ranch were being married to adults and were being abused. The state of Texas removed all 468 children from the ranch and placed them into temporary state custody. After the Austin's 3rd Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Texas ruled that Texas acted improperly in removing them from the YFZ Ranch, the children were returned to their parents or relatives.
- Discourse 62 from The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda
- Venerable Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin
- Models of holiness and married life: couple's beatification spotlights marital sanctity - Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi
- Blessed Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi & Blessed Maria Corsini
- D’Onofrio, Eve (2005), "Child Brides, Inegalitarianism, and the Fundamentalist Polygamous Family in the United States", International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 19 (3): 373–394, doi:10.1093/lawfam/ebi028.
- Anthony, Paul A. (2 June 2008). "Sect renounces underage marriage as children return". Standard Times - San Angelo (Scripps Newspaper Group). Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- Winslow, Ben; O'Donoghue, Amy Joi (June 2, 2008), "FLDS official: No more underage marriages, reunifications begin with the children", Deseret News, retrieved 2013-09-10
- Dobner, Jennifer. Polygamist Leader Convicted in Utah. Associated Press. ABC News. 2007-09-25.
- Blumenthal, Ralph. Court Says Texas Illegally Seized Sect's Children. The New York Times. 2008-05-23. Retrieved 2008-05-24.
- Winslow, Ben (June 5, 2008), All FLDS children returned to parents, SAN ANGELO, Texas: Deseret News
- Elliot, D. : Spiritual Marriage: Sexual Abstinence in Medieval Wedlock. Princeton University Press.