Thursday, 25 October 2012

Husband and wife

Man and woman have a complimentary nature and the marriage union brings an enrichment of the human personality, both psychologically and emotionally, to both husband and wife. As well as helping them to a more perfect love of each other, it is ordained to satisfy their natural impulses and inclinations. Christ Himself spoke plainly about the powerful bond between husband and wife. In the Gospel we read how He reminded the disciples that God, Who made man, made them from the beginning male and female and that God said, “this is why a man must leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two become one body” (Mt. 19: 4-6). The moral and physical relationship of man and wife therefore creates a bond stronger even than the tie of blood-relationship.

            St. Paul gives us a more perfect picture of the relationship of husband and wife. Women, in pre-Christain society, were held in little honour, but Paul’s understanding of Christain marriage changed this completely. He wrote: “husbands should love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy... In the same way, husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies; for a man to love his wife is for him to love himself” (Eph. 5:25, 28).

            Thus, the love of husband and wife is supernaturalised; for it is seen as a sharing in Christ’s love for His Church. St. Paul, with his enlightened understanding, called this a mystery which “has many implications” (Eph.5:32).

            It happens that the purposes of marriage are stated by God Himself. In the book of Genesis, the passage relating the creation of man and woman states one purpose, namely, procreation: “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth and conquer it” (Gen.1:28). Immediately after this, another purpose is stated, namely, mutual love and companionship: “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate” (Gen.2:18). Then comes the passage: “this is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body” (Gen.2:24). This means they become a new community, which, By God’s blessing, will grow into a complete new family. And in the New Testament Our Lord clinched the matter for all time by stating definitely: “So then, what God has united, man must not divide” (Mt.19:6).

            “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth.” The act of marital intercourse is itself holy, because it is an act of nature willed by God. And so, as St. Pius XI expressed it: “Among the blessings of marriage, the child holds first place”. But it is not enough to bring children into the world; they must be cared for and educated. This is why the marriage bond must be stable and permanent.

            Marriage should help husband and wife to become holier; and while many purposes or reason for marriage exist-love, companionship, security, and even inferior ones like passion, pleasure, money- all are permissible, provided they are good, and do not oppose the principal purpose of marriage.

            Finally, any priest can advice couples on these courses of instructions or lectures which thoroughly discuss the meaning and responsibilities of the marriage state. And they can also discuss problems with informed persons, whether in private or in study groups.