Marriage has gone through many changes throughout its history. It’s earliest forms date back to the story of creation. It has developed a great deal since then. It is a simple fact that men and women can not survive without each other. Marriage is part of the created natural order, we were meant to be together. God intended for us to be united with the opposite sex since the beginning of time. The book of Genesis tells us: “God created man in his image, He created him in the image of God, man and woman, He created them.
God saw what he had done and said, “This is good, it is not good that man should be alone. ”(McLachlan 5). Marriage is inherently good and pleasing to God. It was part of God’s original plan for mankind. It is also shown that Jesus held marriage in great esteem, for it was at a wedding where he performed his first public miracle. Furthermore, it is Jesus who raises Marriage to a Sacrament of the New Law. Our Lord is also the one who told us that divorce was wrong.
He says, “What God has joined together, no human being must separate. (Matrimony 1). Although what we were told by God, in many primitive civilizations marriage was primarily industrial. During early times husband and wife were not much together; they did not even eat together very often. (The Marriage Institution 1). Their marriages were always planned by their parents and in some cases brides were bought. Polygamy was also frequent in the early history of marriage. Although, as civilization progressed monogamy became the idealistic goal of human sex evolution. (The Marriage Institution 6).
In addition, as civilization advanced, marriage became more seriously regarded and the wedding ceremony became recurrent. The marriage ceremony grew out of the fact that marriage was originally a community affair and also primitive man had no records, so the marriage had to be witnessed by many people. The Catholic marriage is set apart from all other relationships because Catholic marriages are a sacramental path to sanctity. Paul wrote that marriage is a true sacrament and the sign of the conjugal union of Christ and his Bride, the Church. Matrimony 2).
At Lateran Council II in 1139, it was first defined as infallibly true that matrimony is as true a sacrament as Eucharist and baptism and at The Council of Lyons II in 1274, it was included among the list of seven sacraments. The Sacrament of Matrimony is the holy service through which a man and a woman are united and given the divine grace which sanctifies their union, makes it perfect and spiritual like the unity of Christ and Church, and gives them strength to abide by the contract which mutually binds. (The Seven Sacraments).
One of the other things that makes Catholic marriage different is that it is a true vocation. (McLachlan 4). The Catholic Church also has taken on herself to decide if and when a marriage occurs. This process is called annulment. The Church in her wisdom, her history and the presence of the Holy Spirit takes it upon herself to judge the validity of marriages presented to her for judgement. If the presence of some obstacle, called an inpediment, is judged to have been there at the time of a wedding ceremony, the Church issues an annulment.
She judges that while there may have been a wedding ceremony there was no marriage in the eyes of God. (Matrimony 3). Marriage has changed greatly throughout its long existence. Statistics tell us that a sizeable proportion of them are doomed to end in divorce, the majority of couples live together before they marry and about 10% of couples with children decide never to marry at all. And, we are told, Catholics are living together, divorcing and remarrying at about the same rates as the rest of the community.
If you were to judge what marriage is and should be by reading the magazines or watching television or by talking to people on the street, you’d be led to believe that it’s a relationship founded on sexual compatibility and romance. If the sex goes bad or the romance dies, then the couple can walk away from the marriage. How do you work out whether you are sexually compatible.
Well, of course, you try before you buy! You make sure you have a sufficient number of sexual partners to work out what you like and what you don’t like so that when Mr. r Ms. Right comes along, you’ll know he or she is the one for you as soon as you sleep with him or her. You live together before you’re married, often before marriage is ever mentioned or contemplated, and often for several years before deciding to marry. You judge the strength of a marriage by how romantic it is: how often does he bring home flowers unexpectedly, how often do you go away for romantic weekends at luxury hotels, how often do you get breakfast in bed, how often does he tell you he loves you?
These days, we define ourselves by our “sexuality” and our view of sex is warped by the omnipresent, omnipotent eroticism of the media. (McLachlan 2). The Catholic marriage is supposed to be hallowed, yet in today’s world Catholics often abuse marriage. We have made a mockery of a sacred gift from God. Our minds are polluted with lustful thinking and we often allow ourselves to mistake lust for love. We must work hard at finding the right spouse and be sure that is the person we want to spend our life with. Every man needs a woman and every woman needs a man.