Marriage is a spiritual union made before God, between a man and woman. This union is made to reflect Jesus’ love for His church and cannot be separated by man. A couple do this by living out their life-long love for each other. In the Roman Catholic Church marriage is seen to consist of four elements. It is permanent, life- giving, exclusive and is a sacrament. Marriage is one of the most important decisions in a person’s life as its consequences last forever. Marriage can be best described as a covenant as it asks for 100% effort by both partners.
A marriage should not be thought of as a contract because in a contract a person gives in order to receive. If one partner does not give the 50% for one reason or another, the relationship rests on a weak basis and is more likely to fail. The word covenant goes back to Old Testament times when God made promises to people like Abraham and Moses. “I will be your God and you will be my people. ” God was faithful to his promise of love even though the Jews often turned away from Him.
In the New Testament Jesus’ blood shed for us on the cross is described as, ‘the blood of the new covenant. So in marriage the husband and wife promise to be faithful to each other. It is an open-ended 100% commitment to love. In the Roman Catholic Church marriage is seen to be a sacrament. A sacrament is an outward sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Through the sacrament of marriage Jesus gives the couple support in their decision and His grace to “love one another” all the days of their lives. The sacrament of marriage is conferred on the couple by themselves. The couple act as priests to each other.
The couple’s love for one another is channelled through their vows and the priest acts as a witness to this. The Roman Catholic Church sees marriage to be permanent and inseparable by man. In the couple’s vows they declare, “Till death do us part. ” The church sees death as the only thing that ends a marriage. “Man must not separate what God has joined together” Mk10:6-10. Jesus underlines in these words the permanence of marriage. The rings exchanged during the nuptial ceremony are a sign of love and fidelity.
The couple have promised themselves to each other in love as a permanent and exclusive relationship. The Catholic Church does not recognise divorce and considers re-marriage to be adultery. The Church of England is against divorce but understands that sometimes the vows cannot be kept for life. Some Free Churches say that Jesus’ teaching of marriage is ideal. However, Christian marriages do fail, as some problems can be difficult to solve. Free Churches also usually accept a civil divorce and allow re-marriage. Marriage is good news because it is a sign of God’s incredible love for us.
Marriage is an ongoing sign of Jesus’ presence to the husband and wife. It really is fantastic news to know that day in and day out a couple have the love of the Lord to sustain them in sorrow and joy, in bad times as well as in good times. Because marriage is a sacrament of God’s grace, it really is great news that the husband and wife bring Christ and his good news of love, forgiveness and unity to each other. Catholics believe marriage to be exclusive therefore it must not involve adultery as committing adultery breaks the 6th commandment, “thou shall not commit adultery.
A married couple must be prepared to love each other exclusively and commit to unconditional love and fidelity for the rest of their lives. During the nuptial ceremony the couple is asked, “Will you love and honour each other for life? ” The couple must answer yes or the ceremony will not continue as this is a promise made by the couple to stay faithful to one another. Adultery is a betrayal of the permanent commitment of love that a person has made to his/her marriage partner. It weakens the stability of the marriage and the trust on which it is based.
Marriage is exclusive. The couples love is also exclusive; it cannot be shared with another person. Marriage demands faithfulness to one person. Marriage is a commitment to one person. The reading of St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:21-33 tells us of the exclusiveness of marriage. The Roman Catholic Church believes marriage is life giving and therefore couples must enter into it with a pro-life attitude. During the nuptial ceremony the couple is asked, “Are you willing to accept children lovingly from God? The couple must answer ‘yes’ to this or the marriage will not take place. The love in marriage is creative and willing to share. The willingness to have children is an essential part of the purpose of a Catholic marriage. “Every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life. ” (Humane Vitae). Having children is an expression of a couples love and shows that their love can give new life. “The love of husband and wife in God’s plan leads beyond itself and new life is generated, a family is born. ” (Pope John Paul II).
The questions asked by the Priest in the Marriage Ceremony and The Nuptial blessing which is a special blessing which is unique to the couple show us the exclusiveness of marriage. The words spoken during the exchanging of rings “Wear this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity in the name of the father and the son and the holy spirit” also show us the exclusiveness of marriage. Marriage is life giving. The love of a husband and wife is a life-giving love. Its first function is to help the couple to grow in love, but that love cannot be self-contained. Love always flows outward.
For most couples that out-going love is seen in parenthood. But the vocation of parents is not just to bring new life into the world; their vocation involves helping any children they have to grow as God wants. Love exchanged in sex is life giving because it has the potential to create new human life. Sex promoted growth of the human race. Families develop from the loving relationship of married couples. From my studies I can conclude that Roman Catholic Christians believe that marriage is a bond between two people which must not be broken, it is a sign of love and a sacrament and is intended to be life-giving.