Marriage is a call to discover the meaning of life
In marriage, by God’s design, a man and woman totally and freely give themselves to each other. In this self-giving they discover who they truly are and the meaning of life. Their union is meant to become a joyous discovery of God’s faithful love to each of them. At the same time, each married couple is a witness of God’s love to the world.
Married Love Images God’s Love
Because we are made in God’s image and likeness, our married love is meant to embody God’s love – the full and unreserved gift of self, freely given, faithfully lived and ever open to the fruitfulness of new life.
Like God’s never-ending covenant of love with us, Christian marriage is a covenant that cannot be broken. Couples who have been married for a long time recognise it as a long pathway to sanctification. Marriage is not an easy way of life, and couples must therefore carefully discern before entering into this sacrament. From Jesus’ example of faithful perseverance and self-sacrifice, we learn how to live married love. On the cross Jesus showed us that true love seeks to give, even when it hurts and costs us everything. Love demands self-sacrifice. Likewise within marriage, it is in patiently giving ourselves to our spouse and family that we find life’s greatest reward. Within a culture that seeks first and foremost to satisfy the self, authentic married love witnesses to a great paradox – that whoever is prepared to ‘lose’ their life out of love for another, will find life’s meaning and fulfil their true purpose. (Matt 16:25).
Marriage is both Love-giving and Life-giving
God created man and woman for each other (Gen 2:18), placing deep in our being a yearning for communion, and he gifted us with a physical body capable of expressing and satisfying (in part) this longing. “A man’s body does not make sense by itself. Nor does a woman’s. Seen in light of each other we discover the unmistakable plan of the Creator: man is designed for woman and woman is designed for man… Our bodies literally fit together, summoning us to the ascent of love and enabling us to be a life-giving (spousal) gift to one another.” (Theology of the Body, Pope Saint John Paul II, Ch 15:1). By God’s design, the married couple seals their wedding vows of love and commitment through their sexual union. The intimate, beautiful encounter of man and woman becoming one flesh is meant to symbolize and communicate God’s free, total, faithful, fruitful love. When a husband and wife give themselves to each other without reservation they are giving the most personal and powerful sign of their love. This total gift of self is healing and creative, increasing the graces in a marriage. In a multitude of ways, it is both love-giving (unitive) and life-giving (procreative). No other act so participates in God’s creative power to bring forth new life. “Be fruitful and multiply: fill the earth and subdue it”. (Gen 1:28) Fertility, then, must be regarded with awe, as a great privilege.