The theological meaning of marriage and family Essay

The theological meaning of marriage and family

 Marriage is a holy union propounded by God. It can be defined  in two major ways. Legal  and civil definitions, which sometimes is as simple as the union of a one man and one woman, and the Christian definition of marriage. The conditions for the two vary greatly. In most cases a civil wedding just require the presence of an authorized official, the exchange of vows and the signing of the marriage certificate. On the other hand a Christian marriage is a ritual with a number of strict rules to be observed. However in this case the focus will be on the Christian marriage ritual. The meaning and the importance of the Christian marriage institution will be discussed with focus on the Catholic Church

Marriage is a step of faith where a man and a woman make a decision to start a life together and adapt their personal life to each other and grow together in their personalities and in their love. The bible defines marriage as when ” a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body”2

When a couple gets married they accept each other and a lasting union is born. Their cohesion union is important for the sake of their off spring and the society as a whole. This is because this union is the most basic of the society.3

1.  Francis W. Nichols, “The Spiritual Journey of the Nuclear Family,” Spirituality Today (Spring 1984, Vol. 36, No. 1,): 4-14.

2. Genesis. 2:23-24.

3. Gaudium et Spes, The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, The documents of Vatican II, Par. 48

Marriage is a pact between a man and a woman which is made before the church and God. It is based on true love. This love is beyond erotic desires which are of the flesh and weathers away fast. This love is expressed through chaste and worthy actions and is guided by mutual faithfulness.

In a church for a marriage to be valid the couple must exchange vows which are a mutual consent to enter into matrimony before a priest or pastor. The couple must understand that this union cannot be broken, and should aspire to live the marriage vows.3

Marriage greatly determines the continuity of mankind and the society as a whole. By sharing in conjugal love a couple brings children into the world, guide them in personal development, and school them in religion.

By taking the sacrament of marriage a couple invites Jesus into their life that in turn helps them love each other with faithfulness and trust.

Marriage love is aided by Devine love and enriched by Jesus Christ which brings the couple to God who in turn strengthens them in the challenging and sacred duty of being parents.

This love in marriage brings a couple the blessing of children. Children are the true reward of marriage.3

The Catholic Church makes great emphasis on the importance of marriage; the topic is in detail taught during Catechism. The church considers marriage a sacrament, which is an outside sign of an occurrence that is divinely inspired by Jesus Christ. 3

3. Gaudium et Spes, The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, The documents of Vatican II, Par. 48

The church requires the couple be adequately prepared by a Deacon or Priest. The couple should mutually and without pressure from any person or institution in the presence on a deacon or priest. The church also stresses that the love should be the only reason for getting married.

In the Catholic matrimony is celebrated within the Holy Mass after reading of the Gospel and before the ‘prayer of the faithful’. The ‘prayer of the bride’ which reminds the couple of their obligations to each other is also said in this celebration.4

According to the Catholic Church, marriage is based on mutual consent between two people and which in the eyes of the society and God should not be broken. It is a sacred union that not only exists because of human decision but also because of Gods will and guidance. This union is bestowed with sacred functions by God and it is holy.3

The Catholic Church considers family which is the direct result of marriage as the basic unit of the community. Family determines the development and destiny of the individual family members. Marriage is therefore vital for continuity of man through procreation and education of children.

The church believes that when a couple get married and share love they become one in person and actions. This oneness is the true meaning of marriage. The married couple perfect this state of oneness as they continue living together and sharing. They share is sorrows and in joy. They become life companions.

3. Gaudium et Spes, The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, The documents of Vatican II, Par. 48

4. Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Constitution of the Liturgy, The documents of Vatican II, Par. 78.

Married couples take a special sacrament that strengthen them and consecrate their duties and state in the society. As the couple fulfills their duties to each other and their family the sacrament enables the spirit of Jesus Christ to come upon them and fill them with faith hope and goodwill.

The church feels that family should be the first church that the children attend. Parents should be the preachers at home through their actions and words. They should encourage their children to grow in faith and teach them about salvation.3

 Parents therefore have the moral authority to educate their children in religion by virtue of their responsibly. Parents have the obligation to procreate life and to educate their off-springs. They should understand that this is the will of God.

On the other hand children also contribute to the spiritual growth of their parents.

For they will respond to the kindness of their parents with sentiments of gratitude, with love and trust. They will stand by them as children should when hardships overtake their parents and old age brings its loneliness.3

Christian family members share in spiritual growth and are a reflection of the church of Christ by showing each other love, sharing and in being faithful to each other. They share life in Christ and in the Spirit and have faith and hope in each other. This eventually becomes the life of the community which they interact with.

3. Gaudium et Spes. The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, The documents of Vatican II, Par. 48

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Francis W. Nichols, “The Spiritual Journey of the Nuclear Family,” Spirituality Today (Spring 1984, Vol. 36, No. 1,): 4-14.

Gaudium et Spes. The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, The documents of Vatican II, Par. 49

Genesis. 2:23-24

Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Constitution of the Liturgy, The documents of Vatican II, Par. 78.