What is This Thing Called Marriage?

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This Is Marriage

Kristina and Jordan have been married almost 22 years.  Daja and Gana have been married 15 years.  And we still think marriage is a good idea. #imaginethat #notdoneyet

Our parents and grandparents have all had long, successful marriages and left us great examples of people who stick with it, who talk up marriage and believe in the covenant.  That’s not to say that marriage has come easy.  Marriage, no matter whether it was a match made in heaven, has to be lived out on earth.  In the day-in-day-out.  Marriage is in the nitty-gritty.  Some people say marriage is crazy hard.  We prefer to say it is sanctifying.

We have written a good deal about parenting on this blog, but not as much about marriage.  So, we are starting a new series, celebrating this breathtakingly beautiful and sanctifying sacrament called marriage.

Marriage is God’s idea.  Have you been led to believe that marriage is just a modern social construct?  No way. Marriage, from the very beginning was God’s idea.  “The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes.”  (CCC 1603)  “God who created man out of love also calls him to love the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love.  Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator’s eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: “And God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'” (CCC 1604)

Marriage is to be in the Lord.  Pondering the wedding at Cana, we see Jesus on the threshold of his public ministry and offering us his first miraculous sign.  Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose (or did Mary choose?) this context for His first miracle and the launching of His public ministry?  The very fact that Jesus and Mary are at this wedding shows the significance and importance of marriage.  By Jesus’ presence at this wedding, we can see Christ’s goodness and His presence in all Christ-centered marriages.

Daja & Gana

Marriage is for the good of the spouses.  Someone recently sought our counsel about a relationship she was having with someone who didn’t share her same faith or values.  I reminded her that one of the purposes of marriage was to help your spouse make it to heaven.  She said, “What? I have never heard that! I think his faith is his business and my faith is mine. I won’t take responsibility for that!”  And it made us sad.  For them marriage was solely for personal satisfaction and not for the good of the other.  But that is not marriage’s highest ideal! True love is to live for another and to help that person present their best self to Jesus on the final day.

Marriage was not instituted for wantonness or fornication, but for chastity. Listen to what Paul says: “Because of the temptation of immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her husband.” There are two purposes for which marriage was instituted: to make us chaster, and to make us parents. Of these two, the reason of chastity takes precedence. (St. John Chrysostom’s Sermon on Marriage)

Kristy & Jordan wine tasting

Marriage is understood through fidelity.  This is commitment between a man and a wife.  We are called to “drink water from our own cistern, running water from our own well.”  Stay in one place.  Stay faithful being contented with what you already have been given and do not go out to find satisfaction elsewhere.  (It is clear that infidelity is celebrated in our culture.  There is an entire industry dedicated to helping spouses cheat on one another.  The enemy entices through words, images, and sounds meant to cause separation and hunger for things not our own.)  In this constant bombardment how do we stay faithful?  Jesus came “to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing [ourselves], and taking up [our] crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ.  This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.” (CCC 1615)

Marriage is essential for the good of society. In St. John Chrysostom’s Sermon on Marriage we read, “The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together. Men will take up arms and even sacrifice their lives for the sake of this love. St. Paul would not speak so earnestly about this subject without serious reason; why else would he say, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord?” Because when harmony prevails, the children are raised well, the household is kept in order, and neighbors, friends, and relatives praise the result. Great benefits, both of families and states, are thus produced. When it is otherwise, however, everything is thrown into confusion and turned upside-down.”

Marriage is good for society

Marriage is be marked by passion.  Sexual fulfillment IS possible within the bounds of marriage.  (And dare we say it is impossible outside the bounds of marriage?) This is what God built.  Sexual intimacy is indeed for procreation, however, enjoying the body of your spouse is for pleasure and passion.  Remember when you first got married and you gave yourself to each other those feelings of love and passion?  That is a gift of Biblical marriage.  It’s not just a contract.  It is a covenant and we have a mandate on us to be the kind of people who are passionate to our spouse.  “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.  A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.”  (Prov 5 18:19)  We must remember the early days and allow them to define every day.  This is not the world’s narrative for marriage; this is our narrative! (Can we get an Amen?!)  Truly the message in the world is that pleasure only happens outside of Jesus’ family.  As follower’s of Jesus, included in the very way God designed marriage, we have a command to be intoxicated with our spouse!  We have a command to be desperately in love with our spouse!

Marriage is to be at the service of life.  We think the catechism just sums this up perfectly!  “Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: “It is not good that man should be alone,” and “from the beginning [he] made them male and female”; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: “Be fruitful and multiply.” Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day.”  (CCC 1652)

Daja7-2

Perhaps, reading this, your heart says “Yes!” but your circumstances say, “This isn’t my reality.”  We pray for the healing of your marriage and God’s beautiful sanctifying grace in the center of it.

I AM STANDING FOR THE HEALING OF MY MARRIAGE!…

I will not give up, give in, give out or give over ’til that healing takes place. I made a vow, I said the words, I gave the pledge, I gave a ring, I took a ring, I gave myself, I trusted GOD, and said the words, and meant the words… in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in good times and in bad…so I am standing NOW, and will not sit down, let down, slow down, calm down, fall down, look down or be down ’til the breakdown is torn down!

I refuse to put my eyes on outward circumstances, or listen to prophets of doom, or buy into what is trendy, worldly, popular, convenient, easy, quick, thrifty, or advantageous… nor will I settle for a cheap imitation of God’s real thing, nor will I seek to lower God’s standard, twist God’s will, rewrite God’s word, violate God’s covenant, or accept what God hates, namely divorce!

In a world of filth, I will stay pure; surrounded by lies I will speak the truth; where hopelessness abounds, I will hope in God: where revenge is easier, I will bless instead of curse; and where the odds are stacked against me, I will trust in God’s faithfulness.

I am a STANDER, and I will not acquiesce, compromise, quarrel or quit. I have made the choice, set my face, entered the race, believed the Word, and trusted God for all the outcome.

I will allow neither the reaction of my spouse, nor the urging of my friends, nor the advice of my loved ones, nor economic hardship, nor the prompting of the devil to make me let up, slow up, blow up, or give up ’til my marriage is healed.

– Author Unknown

 


  1. What a well done, thorough post!! Gladly sharing!! I love that you say marriage is to be at the service of life. So good!!

  2. Great reminder, thanks!

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