The Sanctity and Gift of Marriage
Marriage is a gift from God to us. It is a partnership for the whole of life, designed for the good of the individuals and for having children (pg 7, 1st sent.). Like God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), marriage is a community of life and love (CCC 1603). God blesses the lifelong exclusive commitment of one man and one woman (Gn 1:27-30) to each other with the opportunity to join Him in creating life and in organizing the universe. Jesus dignified marriage by making it a sacrament. And He is present (Mt 18:20) in every sacramental marriage to help the individuals and the couple itself succeed in their vocation. This is good news!
But you might not know it from looking at our society. Marriage is subject to the age-old stresses of infidelity, addiction, distrust, pornography, finances and violence. A high divorce rate lessens respect for the sanctity of marriage and its lifelong commitment. In 2018, while 1.7% of U.S. women aged 15 years and over married, 0.8% divorced. A large number of children are born outside of God’s plan for having and raising children—marriage. In 2018, 40% of U.S. births (pg 5, block 5) were to unmarried women. Contraception and abortion opposes married love’s power to help create new life (pg 8, 1st para) and opposes life itself. In 2016, married women in the U.S. had 41 abortions per 1,000 (Table 15, last line) live births to married women.
Respect for marriage is also eroding in new ways. Same-sex marriage, legalized by the Supreme Court in 2015, is incapable (para 2) of producing children. The media and other organizations try to blur the biological difference between men and women, the two distinct kinds of individuals essential to a sacramental marriage (pg 7, 1st para).
Restoring the Divine Plan
What can we do to reinvigorate God’s plan? Everyone and every society is imperfect. But imperfections in a marriage and in our society are usually not inherent and with God’s help they can be eliminated (CCC 1608). It might be useful to remember the adage that God helps those who help themselves. Earning a healthy marriage every day benefits the married individuals, the marriage, and society (pg 3, 2nd para).
Individuals can improve themselves and their marriage by working to become selfless and less self‑centered. They can become more mindful of the needs of their spouse and children. With divine guidance, they can better grasp the importance of humility and the power of forgiveness. And they can learn how to give and receive, how to love and be loved (pg 2, para 4), and the benefits of teamwork.
Before marriage, couples can examine their compatibility and, if compatible, can prepare for marriage. During marriage, they can strengthen their relationship by praying for guidance. They can work to improve their honest communication with each other, and helping each other and their children to learn how to live well.
Couples can also work to improve society’s view of marriage. They can tell others about the high points of their marriage and how they work to improve the low points. They can support politicians and public policies that dignify marriage. And equally important, speak out against groups and laws that try to destroy the gift of marriage.