My coursework is about marriage and divorce and about love and the legal and spiritual bond that marriage is. Marriage is a spiritual bond between a man and a woman and a legal contract. It is a sign of love where a contract of life long commitment to each other is signed. On their wedding day the couple stand before God, in the presence of their family and friends and make life long vows to each other.
They are that marriage:
Celebrates – That all love comes from God and marriage is a celebration of the couples love for each other and for God.
Promises – That the loving power of God will strengthen and support the couple in their life together.
Calls – The couple to grow as people of love and to show the world the meaning of love. This is the calling or vocation of married people.
According to the teachings of the Holy Bible love is fundamental to married life. In the English language love is a lot of the time misused and understood.
E.g. Teenagers in meaningless relationships say they love each other when all they have is a good friendship.
Unlike the Greek language, which has four words to describe different types of love. With Philos, Storge, Eros and Agape they could be specific about which type of love they meant.
Storge = A love of lesser (material) things. E.g. “I love chocolate.”
Philos = Love of family and friends. E.g. “I love my best friend.”
Eros = Love for a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Agape = is unconditional love. The love a person has for a spouse or
Marriage is the only relationship where the four types of love spoken of by the Greeks can be present without damaging the relationship.
Love is central to marriage and our greatest needs are to love and to be loved. To love means: to care for the other person whether they are sick or healthy, to make them feel wanted by you, to have similar interests to the person you love, to appreciate the other person no-matter what happens, to want the other person in the relationship to be just as happy as you and to commit yourself and your life to the other person.
To be loved means: to be cared for by your partner, to feel wanted by them, to be accepted by them whether you are rich or poor and to be appreciated by them for what you give them or do for them.
St Paul in the New Testament says that: (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.
Marriage is about life
God’s greatest gift to us is life, and his life is love through creation, we are able to share in God’s life. The way we respond to this gift is to live as fully and richly as possible. The more we love, the more we live and accept God’s gift of life. In the love they share in a marriage, a man and woman are called to help each other to live and love. In sharing the good times and the bad times they help each other to come to know, understand and live the real meaning of love. Their love helps them to become truly and fully alive.
Marriage is about vocation
Being a Christian means being a person with a vocation:
The church was founded to spread Christ’s kingdom through the world. Some Christians are called to the vocation of the ordained priesthood or religious life. Others are called to live their lives as single people but most are called to the vocation of marriage. This last calling is as important and Holy as any other.
Marriage is about creation
God gave life, but throughout our lives, his creative love is still at work and it is through families and friends that God brings us to fullness and completion. Their creative love which married couples are called to share is not only for each other. It is designed so that their love can give new life.
Marriage is about mission
The love of husband and wife is a life-giving love. Love always flows outwards. For most couples out-going love is seen in parenthood. But the vocation of parents is not just to bring new life into the world; their vocation involves helping any children they have to grow, as God wants.
Marriage is about community
It is by living in a loving community that everyone finds happiness and fulfilment. Today we understand that women are not made for man’s sake, but that man and women were made for each other-relationship is equal. In committing themselves to each other, a married couple from a new community in society. Then, through bringing new life into the world, the couple extend this community.
Marriage is about priesthood
To help another person to grow in holiness is the work of a priest. Usually, when we speak of a priest, we mean an ordained man, but that is not the only kind of priesthood there is. Through Baptism, every Christian shares in Christ’s priestly work, the work of helping people to love, to become Holy. Through marriage:
* The couple are to be priest’s to each other
* And to all those whose lives they touch.
Marriage is about holiness
By growing in love and helping each other to become more and more loving, a married couple help each other and to their family to become Holy. Holiness is about loving. The love of a married couple and of the family is a reflection of God’s love and God had promised that in love those involved will find him. This is what is celebrated in the Sacrament of marriage.
The bible contains many teachings on marriage and divorce. The church teaches that marriage is holy; this teaching is based on the creation story in genesis where it says ‘the lord god says, “it is not good for the man to be alone, I will give him a helpmate.”‘
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and goes off to find a wife and the man and wife together become one body.
In Jesus’ teaching on marriage he insists on the unity that exists between the man and the woman. He is against divorce and says that a man who marries a divorced woman is committing adultery.
St. Paul is the main writer about marriage in the New Testament and he has the following points to make about marriage and divorce points which effect the way in which Christians approach marriage today:
* Love is the most important of all virtues
* Husbands and wives must love each other
* In sexual matters couples should put their partners first
* Partners should respect each other
* The husband is head of his wife
* A man should only have one wife and a woman only one husband
Else where in the New Testament we find Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce, he has the following to say:
* When men and women and are married it is permanent
* It is god who unites the couple
* Divorce and re-marriage is adultery
St. Paul said “wives and husbands should love each other like god loves his church a man must respect his wife as he treats his own body.”
In Matthews gospel concerning divorce Jesus said: “anyone who divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce. But now I tell you: if a man divorces his wife, for any cause other than her unfaithfulness, then he is guilty of making her commit adultery. If she marries again, the man who marries her committed adultery also.
A Christian marriage is one that involves god and therefore should be different. The ceremony of marriage usually takes place within the mass and has a number of parts.
St. Paul sees marriage as a symbol of Christ’s love for the church (Ephesians 5:21-23) when husbands love their wives they are doing what Christ does for his church. Basing its teaching on the Bible the second Vatican council speaks of marriage as a covenant and as a community of life and love. According to the teaching of the church there are four main elements in a catholic marriage:
* To be a mirror image of the union of Christ with his church.
* The marriage band is a special commitment.
* Mutual affections in body and mind are essential.
* Procreation and education of children is important.
During the marriage ceremony there are several different parts. These are:
The priest greets the bride and groom before the mass begins. This is a sign that the congregation and parish want them to know that they share in the joy of the happy occasion.
The priest talks about the meaning of Christian marriage. He mentions the dignity of married love and he also talks about the responsibility of marriage.
The Marriage Celebration
The priest questions the couple individually. These questions are to make sure that they understand the responsibility they are about to accept. These questions are:
1) ‘Have you come to give yourself to each other, freely and without reservation?’
2) ‘Will you love and honour each other for life?’
3) ‘Will you accept children lovingly from God?’
The marriage vows
The actual moment of the sacrament is when the couple make vows to each other. I (name) do take thee (name) to be my lawful wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.
Acceptance of consent and blessing
It is essential in the Catholic marriage ceremony that a priest is present. He represents the people of God, the church, and accepts a mutual consent of the couple with these words:
You have declared your consent before the church. May the lord in his goodness strengthen your consent and fill you both with his blessings. What God has joined together let no man put asunder.
Exchange of rings
The rings are blessed and are a sign of love and fidelity. The rings are a token of their promises of a permanent and exclusive relationship.
The marriage (Nuptial) blessing
The priest approaches the bride and says:
‘Let us pray that God will bless this women, give her love and peace, may her husband recognize that she is his equal and the heir with him to the life of grace. May he always honour her and love her as Christ loves his bride the church. Keep them faithful to you and to each other and let them be living examples of Christian life.’
Singing of marriage register
There are civil requirements for a marriage. A register must be signed and a marriage certificate given.
The signs of a marriage ceremony underlie the meaning of a Catholic marriage
1. Marriage vows
2. An exchange of rings
3. The blessing – nuptial
These signs show marriage to be
1. A sacrament
2. Permanent (indissoluble)
3. Exclusive (faithful)
4. Life giving (fruitful)
A marriage is a public affair, because marriage is lived out in the local community. Gods love is reflected in the love which husband and wife have for each other. According to Christian tradition marriage is a life long commitment of one partner to another. In the Catholic church only an annulment or death of one partner frees a person to marry again. A Catholic church believes the covenant of marriage is indissoluble and irrevocable but if a marriage breaks down the church allows separation and divorce as the last resort. If divorced the person must remain single they cannot re-marry and remain within the church.
An annulment can be obtained if enquiries show that one partner prevented the sacrament of marriage from taking place, before the wedding and on that day of the wedding one of the partners did not agree wholeheartedly with the conditions of marriage as outlined in the ceremony.
Once a marriage has been annulled a person is free to marry again and remain in the church.
The Catholic church believes that when a couple get married it is for life, and the vows they make before God and the people of the church can never broken. It is for these reasons that the Catholic church does not allow divorce. However, if a marriage does completely break down the church realises that the couple should not have to live together. Divorce is therefore seen as being necessary for the happiness or protection of the people involved BUT it must always be a last resort. Once a person is divorced they cannot remarry and remain a member of the church.