, I asked for your ideas. How would you define Marriage? The point is not to re-define Marriage, but to try to figure out what Marriage really is and why the Church teaches what she teaches about the true nature and design of Marriage.
The first comment I received was from Rosemarie via Facebook:
“Marriage is a union between one man and one woman.”
My response: Yes it is. But why? Are those the only ingredients necessary for Marriage? What if the one man and one woman are siblings? What is a union? I think we need to go deeper.
I also received the following comment from Monica B:
Many thanks to do this reflection on marriage. I am myself exploring the subject on many aspects as I am separated after 14 years of marriage. To forgive myself for this marriage I had to come to an understanding that this failure took root way before the marriage, in a lack of understanding of an universal law that we sometimes put aside to favor some exterior aspect of our lives: economic, social, political, etc.. In my case, I don't make decisions based on the heart, mostly the mind.
If we fail to understand the sacrament of marriage is that we are blinded by the illusions of the material aspect of life on earth. We are first a light being in a physical body and there is no effort put in to understand how this 'soul' is constructed, how it works within the body. Should be taught at school.
Monica – this is exactly why I am trying to do this exercise. Wouldn’t it be great if in school, students were asked to logically figure out what Marriage is? I would like us to figure this out with the mind – so often do we make decisions based on the heart alone and when it comes to Marriage, since we are not really taught the Truth about love, Marriage, sexuality and relationships, we go into Marriage with the wrong ideas and expectations. I truly believe that if we spent the amount of dollars we spend on Church Marriage Tribunals, instead on Marriage preparation, we would have a lot less failed marriages.
But you also bring up a good point, since we’re trying to define Marriage and that is the spiritual aspect. We can’t say that Marriage (as nothing in life, especially Sacraments) is purely a temporal, physical, material thing. Marriage is also a spiritual reality and must reflect that. This is in part why Marriage in the Catholic Church is a Sacrament. Earthly Marriage points to the one Marriage which we all will be part of in Heaven; the Marriage of the Lamb – that’s the relationship that God wants to have with us: a Marriage relationship (or at least that’s the closest we can come to describe it with our limited human language). That’s big stuff – and good news!
Monica also mentions in passing something I hope you didn’t miss: Universal law. There is a universal law regarding Marriage. I would like to call it Natural Law. I also refer to this as “God’s design.”
I wrote earlier
that “a marriage is a relationship within which sex is guaranteed not to cause any problems, heartaches, disease, issues or any pain.” That is a very rough definition I played around with after researching and meditating at length on this idea that there is natural (or universal) law regarding Marriage. Let me add to it then: We have three ingredients for Marriage so far: (1) one man and one woman in a (2) sexual union that is (3) not just physical but also spiritual.
I’d like to try to bring these three together. But before I begin to untangle myself out of this noodle soup I’ve cooked, can I draw your attention to a comment that came from Jason Gennaro when I first asked the question in June 2009 — Jason makes an excellent comment that every definition about Marriage has to include God in it.
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: