Chapter 19 -- Marriage
The Catholic Church preaches that God instituted marriage, that Jesus confirmed the indissolubility of marriage, and that Paul confirmed marriage was a sacrament.
God Instituted Marriage
At the beginning of time, within both creation stories, God established man and woman as partners. They were to become one body, be fertile and multiply so as to fill the Earth. This is the essence of the marriage union.
God authored marriage, and endowed it with its own natural laws. Man and woman are attracted together, to the vocation of marriage, by their natures. This is not an occasion for domination and lust, although in some cases it became that due to sin; it is an occasion for mutual aid and self-giving.
The two are to become one body. This speaks to the indissolubility of the union. The intention was for the two to become one, not one becoming two (again).
Note also that God considers woman to be a suitable partner for man, and visa versa. In this authorship of marriage, God commands man and woman to be fruitful and multiply, something same-sex unions can not accomplish. God stated He would make a suitable partner for man, and He made woman. God did not make another man as a suitable partner.
The Bible begins and ends with a wedding. In Genesis we have the marriage of Adam and Eve, and in Revelation we have the marriage supper of the Lamb. It is all part of God's plan for us. Throughout the Bible, there is marriage imagery in God's covenants with Israel. See Hos 1-3; Isa 54; 62; Jer 2-3; 31; Ezek 16; 23; Mal 2:13-17. Marriage plays a visible and pertinent role in God's plan for us.
Jesus performed the first of His many signs at the wedding feast at Cana. Jn 2:1-11 Jesus honored the feast by changing the water into wine. If Jesus was indifferent about the marriage union, He would likely not go to such a feast, and certainly would not help it along by providing more (and better) wine. Presumably, He approved.
The Indissolubility of Marriage
It cannot be much more clear. Jesus discredits Moses' law in favor of God's original intent, such that what God has joined into one flesh must not be separated. We find no exceptions to this rule elsewhere in Scripture. The Church provides for a separation of the parties, but they are not free to contract with others in marriage.
Marriage as a Sacrament
A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife. Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control. This I say by way of concession, however, not as a command. Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
Now to the unmarried and to widows, I say: it is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do, but if they cannot exercise self-control they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be on fire. To the married, however, I give this instruction (not I, but the Lord): a wife should not separate from her husband, and if she does separate she must either remain single or become reconciled to her husband, and a husband should not divorce his wife.
To the rest I say (not the Lord): if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she is willing to go on living with him, he should not divorce her; and if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to go on living with her, she should not divorce her husband. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the brother. Otherwise your children would be unclean, whereas in fact they are holy. If the unbeliever separates, however, let him separate. The brother or sister is not bound in such cases; God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband; or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
Paul goes to great lengths in several places to expound on marriage. He takes it very seriously and expresses how the union is an integral part of God's plan.
Here, Paul emphasizes the sacramental nature of marriage. He speaks of the Church in nuptial language and compares the marital relationship to that of Christ and His Church.
Paul says marriage is to be honored as a sacrament.
The Church considers the man and woman to confer the sacrament on themselves. The presidor is there as a witness, and receives the consent of the couple on behalf of the Church. It is usually done during a mass since the marriage is a liturgical act and the Eucharist is the heart and soul of the union. The conferring of the sacrament must be of free and mutual consent, otherwise the marriage is invalid. The two may be of different faiths, but there are natural consequences in failing to share a common belief. If the Church finds the union is invalid, the Church may issue an annulment, which puts the parties into the position they were before the attempted marriage.
Back to the Home Page