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Christian marriage is different. It has a perspective of its own, which we need to get to know - if we want to get the full picture, and see it in all its purity. For Christian marriage is a sacrament: it is the Holy Spirit Who makes it work. So we need to approach it in a different way, with real spiritual depth. Then we will see it work out in practice, in authentic Christian behavior.The Apostle Paul gives us two significant insights into the sanctity of marriage: "This is a great mystery" (Eph 5:32); "Marriage is honorable among all" (Heb 13:4).Christian marriage goes beyond the coupling of bodies: it aspires to the coupling of souls. In the same way that the Holy Spirit is active in baptismal water to create a new person, so He is present in marriage. Just as He is at work in Meeron oil (Holy Chrism) to consecrate a human body to make it a temple of the Holy Spirit; just as He takes the bread and wine and transubstantiate them into the Lord's Holy body and blood; So he unites the bride and groom to each other and to the Lord, through sincere prayers and faith.Yet, this unity is not accomplished in a magical way. The bride and groom are aware of and participate in it by their heartfelt prayers and positive response to the working of grace. This means that the sacraments do not work in a merely mechanical way: rather, they demand a spiritual response from the person who is receiving the sacrament. This is just as necessary as the involvement of an ordained priest; the holding of formal prayers - and the presence of the Spirit of God.This divine work is the new thing in Christianity. For since the beginning of the creation there have been marriage rituals, agreement by both sides, and social aspects that differ from one community to another. But the new thing in Christianity is the work of the Holy Spirit that makes two individuals into a couple and the couple into one entity.The Christian understanding of marriage is seen through specific characteristics some of which are:1. One PartnerChristianity does not permit polygamy, i.e. getting married to more than one partner. Monogamy, or the law of one wife, is definite in Christianity and established in the Bible. In this context St. Paul's words are enough:+ "Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband" (1 Cor 7:2).+ "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does" (1 Cor 7:4).+ "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband" (1 Cor 7:10).+ "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Eph 5:31).+ "He who loves his wife loves himself" (Eph 5:28).This in fact is:a. A restoration to the original state of affairs: "He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female.'" (Mt. 19:4).b. Keeping Christ's command: "So then they are no longer tow but one flesh. Therefore what God had joined together, let not man separate" (Mt 19:6).There is no doubt that the law of one wife has many important implications. It raises the status of the woman from just a mere tool to a life-partner; changes the significance of the children from sheer quantity to their quality, and refines the instinct from sensuality to spirituality. These three points we should consider deeply.God has created only one Eve for Adam to make him realize that she is a help-mate for him, i.e. a life-partner on an equal footing. It is often said that God took Eve not from Adam's head, so as to be superior to him, nor from his feet, so as to be inferior. He took her from Adam's side to be an equal counterpart to him.Moreover, the law of one wife changes the significance of children from their quantity to their quality. They are limited in number and raised on the basis of a sound Christian upbringing to become good citizens and faithful witnesses to the Lord. This is much better than having a big number of children who are badly brought up and have no share either in church membership or in eternal life hereafter.The law of one wife also sublimates the instincts. Spiritual love is the secret of satisfaction, contentment and happiness, whereas uncontrolled, sensual love is a regression from the human to the animal level.2. OnenessChristian marriage is not just a contract between two parties whereby each person continues to follow his or her own ego. Instead, Christianity unifies the two parties or rather the two partners in "one entity" for "the two shall become one flesh" (Mt 19:5). The expression "one" here is very precise, for the one flesh has many members but all are linked and unified in love, sacrifice, self-giving, and harmony. The one flesh is controlled by one network of thoughts and feelings and one will.Therefore, the true Christian marriage turns the home into a new heaven and the family into a sacred church. There is no more duality but one entity integrated on the levels of:Spirit: the two are united in God.Mind: The two now have the mind of Christ.Emotions: Since the spiritual self-sacrificing love is their motto. "It is more blessed to give than to receive."Will: The Holy Spirit is the leader of each of their wills and unifies the two into one.Therefore we call the individual a couple and the couple one. This is true as they are united in God. Each partner bears the other in the depths of his or her being. He or she is no longer one individual but a couple. Each thinks, moves or acts with the other partner hidden deep in the heart. At the same time, the couple becomes one, i.e., their behavior flows from a spring of profound unity created by the Holy Spirit.That is why it is very important for the bride and groom to pay attention to the prayers and commandments recited in the celebration of the sacrament of matrimony. They need to rise to that Christian level where their marriage goes beyond social and physical coupling to a sacred spiritual unity.3. ContinuityThis is a third important characteristic of the Christian marriage. In fact, it is - as the Lord Jesus said - the principle on which Adam and Eve originally lived. Therefore, when the Jews tested the Lord on divorce saying: "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" He replied: "Have you not read that He Who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female' ... For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.' When they asked Him: 'Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?' He answered: "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so" (Mt 19:3-8).From this text we can clearly see two facts:a. Marriage was originally based on continuity, i.e. the idea of divorce is completely rejected.b. Moses allowed the Jews to trespass over this boundary - with God's permission - because of the hardness of their hearts.But Christ Who marked a new covenant of salvation and restored us to our original image and first nature, also restored marriage to its original state, i.e. continuity and prohibition of divorce. God has not allowed divorce except for adultery because the guilty partner - by the nature of his or her sin - breaks the original marriage bond by uniting himself or herself by a new partner. However, if the innocent partner is willing to go on with the marriage and accepts the other partner's return, marriage can continue on the basis of the sinful partner's sincere repentance and rededication to the first marriage covenant.The second reason for divorce is spiritual adultery, that is to say denial of faith and giving up Christianity. In this case, the Christian partner is no longer bound by the marriage covenant and has the right to divorce the other partner.As for the kind of reasons Christians are now putting forward to divorce, such as ill-treatment, separation, frequent absence and chronic diseases, they cannot set one's conscience at peace. For they are a mere veneer, to cover up for a basic selfishness and lack of love.On the other side, the nullity of marriage is allowed in cases of cheating, impotence, and some other cases specified by the church. The nullity of marriage is a sound principle as there has to be basic elements to guarantee a sound marriage, such as full physical and mental maturity... etc.An overall view of the reasons for divorce today shows us how shallow the spiritual life is and how rare genuine love has become. It shows us the extent of selfishness and self-centeredness, and disobedience to Christ's commandments. May the Lord restore to the Christian family its ideal cohesion and unity; the cohesion and unity with which the Christian family has so long testified to Christ, its Savior.4. Bearing FruitsThe Christian family - by the work of the Holy Spirit - bears the following fruits:a. Christian Virtue: reflected in the life of its members.b. Children: When God grants - they are blessed and raised in the fear of God and firmly at one with the church.c. Services: The family offers to everyone it deals with, in a true Christian love which knows neither discrimination, hatred, nor fanaticism.The family is a small, lively, active church that testifies to its Lord Jesus Christ. Children are not an end but just fruits. How wonderful it is when the parents' hearts are enlarged to include a wider circle of love instead of confining their emotions to their children. How wonderful it is when the couple, whom God has not granted children by the flesh, enlarge their hearts to adopt by the spirit a bigger number of children. At the same time, within God's church, they look after thousands of children in true parental love.These are some characteristics of the Christian marriage. May God give us the joy of seeing more marriages that witness to Christ.