By Fr. Roy Cimagala
AGAIN, some wily Pharisees tried to test Christ by asking him whether it was lawful for a husband to divorce his wife. (cfr. Mk 10,1-12) This was when Christ clarified the true nature and purpose of marriage. At that time, divorce was allowed because of the hardness of heart of the people, but at the beginning, Christ said, it was not like that.
“From the beginning of creation,” Christ said, “God 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. So, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”
There are many things that are implied in these words of Christ. First is that marriage is never just a human institution. It is a creation of God, with its objective nature and purpose that should always be respected and followed. No human authority can contravene that objective nature and purpose of marriage.
Second is that marriage is between one man and one woman. It cannot be between a man and another man, or a woman with another woman. And that’s simply because marriage is supposed to be a fruit of a love that is exclusive between the two, since it’s a love that involves the direct use of the body.
Such love that involves the body cannot be shared with another partner. If there is true love, the body that is involved is given whole and entire. If the love is simply spiritual, then it can be shared with as many persons as possible, because in spiritual love, we can give that love whole and entire to everyone without dividing it. Of course, that spiritual love has its affective and emotional aspects that may be given in different ways or amounts.
And since marriage is supposed to be a commitment of love, where each partner is supposed to give his or her all, then it is a commitment that would last till death. Also, the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation of children, that is, the human cooperation in the continuing work of human creation by God. Man is not simply a creation of man. He is first of all a creation of God because the spiritual soul that is distinctive of our humanity is not a product of human reproduction. It comes directly from God.
The good of spouses comes only as a secondary, but also very important purpose of marriage. Everything has to be done such that those who enter into marriage can commit themselves to love each other, to stay faithful to each other, regardless of the ups and downs of the circumstances in life.
Lastly, it has to be said that marriage is a concrete path of sanctification for those in it. If entered into and lived according to God’s law about it, there is no way other than for it to be way for the spouses and the family they produce to achieve sanctity. Those involved in it should sanctify it by living it according to God’s laws. And once sanctified, it also sanctifies the parties involved.
With all the forces and elements now undermining the true nature and purpose of marriage, there is an urgent need to clarify and show the real face and beauty of this human, natural as well as supernatural institution.