UNDERSTANDING YOUR FAITH: MARRIAGE
By Vic Scaravilli
The two Christian vocations that are consecrated to God in a special way through sacraments of the Church are ordination to the ministerial priesthood and marriage. Both are ways in which Christ seals people in a sacrament to live out their lives in service to the Church or another person.
The Bible begins with the creation of man and woman and shows its special relationship with God. In Gen. 1:27-28; “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it….” God blessed the bond that united this first man and woman so that it would be a sacred union between two people. Throughout the second chapter of Genesis, God showed us the how important the union of a man and woman is in His creation.
The marriage bond is summed up in Gen. 2:24: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them shall become one body.” This bond matures in a person’s life when he leaves his own family and joins with another person to start a new family unit.
Marriage is God’s design for humanity mirroring Christ’s love for the Church. So intimate is the relationship between two people that Scriptures show us that it is the relationship that Jesus compared to his love of his Church. The Letter to the Ephesians recognizes marriage as a visible sign of this love. In Eph. 5:21-32, Paul writes that marriage is a divine institution where a Christian can live out the same intimate relationship of Christ’s love. The wife should serve her husband in the same spirit that as that of the Church’s service to Christ and the husband should care for his wife with the devotion of Christ to his Church.
The union of two people in marriage existed long before Christianity because of the natural laws of human attraction and the recognition of the importance of fidelity and stability within families. The Bible tells us of the marriage of many people back to the earliest of recorded time. Christ raised marriage to a new level when he taught its existence and conduct is clearly on the Law of God. He makes the marriage bond indissoluble “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Mat. 19:6; Mk. 10:9).
This sacrament is conferred on one another when both the baptized man and woman exchange their wedding vows. Marriage is based on the mutual consent of both people’s will to give themselves, each to the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love. The marriage covenant is a deeply serious commitment. To covenant is to commit oneself totally and openly to another person since a covenant is an exchange of oneself forever. Once this mutual consent is made, the marriage bond is established and sealed by God. An unbaptized person, in the exchange of the vows, confers a sacred covenant but the union is not a sacrament. All marriages, even though they may not be sacramental, are sacred and holy bonds in the eyes of God.
The priest of deacon who assists at the celebration of a marriage receives the consent of the spouses in the name of the Church and gives the blessings of the Church. The minister and the people attending the wedding are all witnesses to the bond that God made between the couple.
A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime.