A Brief Introduction to Marriage (Ord 27b)

bride-690292_640What does God say about marriage?  We can say: well how do we know what he says?  Actually we do know.  This is the whole point of Christianity.  Unlike other religions, God himself became a man just like us in all things except sin.  His name was Jesus of Nazareth.  Whenever Jesus teaches, God himself teaches us.  This is one of the advantages of the Holy Mass: there God himself teaches us.  He has authority because he authors truth; because he is the only one to lay down his life perfectly for us in the Eucharist; and because if we are loving well we are only doing so in imitation of him.  So it makes sense to open our heart to hear what he has to say.

Who invented marriage?  God says he did.  The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’  The possibility of marriage is etched into the very fabric of our humanity.  That I exist at all already tells me I do not exist of myself: because I did not invent myself!  Each of us is the fruit of someone else’s work – someone else’s ‘help’: in fact, their love!  In other words: I exist – therefore I am a relational being.  I need the help of others, I need the love of others – and I only realise myself in the gift of myself to others (Vatican II, GS 22).  That I exist, as Jesus says, as male and female underlines this.

What is marriage?  As Jesus points out today, marriage is the indivisible unity of a man and woman for life open to the gift of children.  It’s maybe a little controversial to say that today: but as we see in today’s Gospel, it was controversial in Jesus’ day too!  The question for us is: am I willing to give God room to speak?

What is marriage for?  The point of marriage is to give life.  That’s it. Doesn’t sound like much? I’m not sure what could be greater: for we aren’t even capable of it by ourselves.  There are two ways we give life in marriage:- first, in the giving of myself totally and without reserve to my spouse – I am, in a real way, giving my spouse my life, and sacrificing myself to make sure they live and live well; and secondly, in the openness of the couple to give life through children.(CCCC#338)

From when are a couple married?  From the moment they have said their vows!  So while the consummation on the wedding night is important, they are only able to consummate what they have already become in their vows: married.

When is the marriage over?  When my spouse dies.  That’s the very words the spouses use to make them married: Until death do us part.  This is what Jesus says today: what God has united, man must not divide.’ And again: ‘The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.’  

What if our love is over?  More than a mere feeling, love is a choice.  We know this is true: if love was just a feeling, we would not waste time saying marriage vows.  And it’s the condition of valid marriage vows – that it is something I have freely chosen. If I chose marriage once, then I chose love – in good times and in bad.  

What is special about Christian marriage?  God himself takes our natural love for each other and transforms it into his own supernatural love: so even when my own love ‘runs out’, I begin instead loving my spouse with God’s love.

So: marriage is beautiful. Get married.  And let God help you love your spouse.