The Divine Dignity of Marriage
Updated: Jan 2, 2021
By Marcus B. Peter
It's no wonder that in today's materialist, empiricist, hedonistic paradigm, many lose sight of the origins of marriage. Amongst the many battle cries of the numerous liberal movements is "marriage is a social construct, not a divine institution." This is contradictory to the fundamental nature of Marriage. To reclaim right ordering in society, right reason needs to be established, and, within that reason, man needs to return to the source and summit of the fundamental cell of the society, i.e. marriage and the family. The fact is, long before the advent of complex societies and their politics, God designed marriage and instituted it as a Covenant, a union within which man and woman come together to give of themselves selflessly and wholly to the other in a permanent, lifelong, and indissoluble bond.
As such, marriage is, first and foremost, a Divine blessing, long before it can ever be seen as a human right. As a gift bestowed by the benevolent Creator of all that is, therefore, it demands to itself the reverence owed to all things that are true gifts of the Creator. As a Covenant and, as elevated to a Sacrament in Christ, Marriage is enshrined in divinely stipulated laws, not man voted ones. Man does not get to redefine the terms of Marriage the same way man cannot redefine the laws of the universe. Any attempt to do so breaks man in his fragility. The laws of Marriage are far above the socio-political, they are metaphysical. Attempting to break the laws of the covenant, therefore, breaks man himself. God creates man unmistakably as man and woman, without any notion of fluidity of gender.
In this dual reality of the sexes, God implements the principle of complementarity and artfully inscribes within the hearts and bodies of all man and woman this inherent aptitude for Marriage as covenant and sacrament. (see Gn 1:27-28, 2:21- 24). This is why a form of the the nuptial blessing explicates, "Father, by your plan man and woman are united, and married life has been established as the one blessing that was not forfeited by original sin or washed away by the flood." Regardless of the many sins of man, Marriage will always remain an indissoluble sacramentum or sign of Trinitarian intimacy, and the man and woman called to share in marriage axiomatically shares in the divine intimacy of the Trinity itself.
Christ, in becoming incarnate, not only restored the divinely intended dignity of marriage, but also elevated it to a ecclesiastical dignity higher than that of a mere covenant, He enshrines it as a sacrament, bringing with it now all the graces and demands that a sacramental channel of grace entails. Marriage between baptized Christians is now a true sign of His own love for His Bride, the Church. This mystery will never be eradicated. In fact, it awaits its fulfillment in being eternalized in the Heavenly Jerusalem. What God the Father instituted as a sign of His own divine relationship with His Covenant bride, Israel, we now see and participate in fullness within the Mystery of Christ and His Bride, the Church.
This is the dignity of Marriage. This is why Marriage is far more than a means of alleviating man's loneliness. It is a divinely instituted journey unto Sainthood. Bride and Bridegroom are not called to have the other fulfill their individual personal needs; rather, they are called to draw out of themselves, to daily die to themselves for the sake of the sanctification of the other. Marriage is a journey to Heaven, and one day, both bride and bridegroom will stand before the throne of the Just Judge needing to make an account of their fidelity in leading the other to Holiness in selfless love. This. This is the Call of Marriage.