CREATED FOR LOVE
God created men and women because he wanted someone to share his love with and who could love him back. We are created to love, not just God but each other, it is a fundamental need in the heart of every person. In Genesis it describes how God created Adam, the first man and then said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” The helper that God created was Eve, the first woman. It describes how there was something missing from Adam’s life before Eve was created. He needed a woman to be complete. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) Becoming “one flesh” refers not only to the joining of the two bodies but is also a visible sign of the very close union between the couple living together in love and this reflects God’s love that is at the heart of Christian marriage.
Marriage has been a feature of human culture from the beginning of time. In the Catholic Church, marriage means much more than two people agreeing to live together. The Sacrament of Marriage introduces a supernatural element to the union between two Christians as well as a natural one. When they are married in the Catholic Church a couple receive the grace of the Sacrament, which strengthens them to live together in love. The marriage vows that the couple make to one another are based on love. Each partner is asked, “Do you take ….. for your lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?” They each give an open-ended promise, not knowing where the promise will lead or what it will entail. This unconditional promise is the essence of Christian marriage.
When God created men and women he wanted them to be part of his loving act of creation by bearing children. He blessed Adam and Eve and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28) The Catholic Church teaches that married couples should be open to having children and does not sanction any artificial method of birth control. In the teaching of Pope John Paul II on the theology of the body he likened marriage to the complete self-giving of the spouses to each other and that should include their fertility. Also some artificial methods involve the destruction of embryos after conception to prevent the continuation of pregnancy which is destroying human life.
MARRIAGE IS FOR EVER
In his preaching Jesus taught that divorce was never part of God’s plan. He said, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:8). He then went on to say that the marriage bond could not be broken. God himself has determined it. “You have declared your consent before the Church. May the Lord in his goodness strengthen your consent and fill you both with his blessings. What God has joined, men must not divide.” (Extract from the wedding service)
CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH
The grace of Marriage helps the couple to grow in holiness, and it helps them to cooperate together in God’s plan by raising up children in the Faith. The Church sees a sacramental marriage as a symbol of the love between Christ and his Church. Christ (the bridegroom) gave up his life out of love for his Church (the bride) and the Church responds to this by returning that love. In the same way a husband and wife give up their lives for each other and for their children by always trying to put the other first.
MARRIAGE AND THE CHURCH
Jesus performed his first miracle at the Wedding Feast at Cana. “The Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1613) A married couple show to the world an image of Christian love.
LIVING OUT MARRIED LIFE
Marriage is a union of two different people. It involves a lifetime of learning about one another, enjoying the similarities and accepting and appreciating the differences. Spouses nurture each other in marriage by spending time together, being open and talking, sharing their thoughts, feelings and dreams and especially by listening to one another. Husbands and wives need to constantly show their spouse that they are appreciated and loved. The grace of the Sacrament of Marriage is strongest when they put God at the centre of their lives. Regularly praying together as a couple will strengthen and sustain the marriage relationship over a lifetime and helps to build intimacy and trust.
PROBLEMS IN MARRIAGES
Sometimes there may be problems in marriages and the Church recognises that reconciliation between spouses is not always possible so it may be better for a couple to live apart but the Church does not sanction divorce and remarriage in these circumstances. The promises that a couple make before God, if they are freely given and with the knowledge of what the Sacrament of Marriage really is, are lifelong and binding. The Church ensures that Marriage Preparation is given to couples planning to marry so that they fully understand what they are undertaking when they get married.
TEENAGERS AND MARRIAGE
For many readers the prospects of a happy lifelong marriage may be in the future but as they get older and start looking round for ‘the love of their life’ there are some issues that are worth thinking about and considering. The temptation in today’s culture is not to wait for marriage. We live in an instant culture that wants things now but preparing for a life together takes time and patience. Most people don’t marry the first boyfriend or girlfriend that they have and while at the time they may seem to be ‘the one’ it doesn’t usually work out this way. Many older people say that they wished that they had waited for their wedding day. Young Christians should be strong in keeping themselves pure so that they can give themselves totally and freely for the first time to their spouse on their wedding day, to the one who has promised to love, cherish and nurture them. This is the strongest foundation for a marriage.
Written By : June Palmer