MARRIAGE IS A LIFETIME COMMITMENT
“What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
In a debate about divorce, Jesus restates God’s original design for marriage: “a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two shall become as one..... What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
Matthew 19:5-6. Jesus’ ideal of marriage was more radical than what was required by the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law allowed divorce in certain circumstances, but Jesus called on men and women to marry for life.
God created man and woman as climax and the crown of his creation (Gn 1:27). He blessed them and intended that they survive together taking care of everything (Gn1:18). His original design was that they are meant for each other and inseparable. The Lord wanted them to grow together and live together sharing their love and concern for one another. Moses had allowed divorce due to hardness of the people’s hearts; “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” Matthew 19:8.
In practice, some marriages do not last a lifetime. Many relationships break down, and couples go their separate ways. That is the observable reality. But Jesus knew the reality of people’s lives. He was a keen observer of life around him and engaged with people just as they were.
He knows all of us in the concrete situation of our lives. Yet, he also had a vision, God’s vision, of how human life should be, including married life. He proclaimed his ideal vision while continuing to relate in a loving way to people who could not reach it, for whatever reason. That includes us all, for none of us lives up fully to the values Jesus proclaimed and lived. There will always be that two-fold aspect to his relationship with us; he loves us where we are, but keeps calling us beyond where we are.
Lifelong commitment to marriage is possible through the Sacramental grace of the Sacrament of Marriage. In addition, accepting one another with their talents, strengths and weaknesses helps the marriage to move on. It is union of two equal partners. Both the husband and wife deserve equal respect from their partners.
Marriage should not take place to finalize a business deal; or to ‘solve’ a delicate situation such as pregnancy; or to secure one’s financial stability, or even to fulfil societal expectations. Marriage should not be taken as a matter of convenience and personal interest; rather, marriage should be taken as a matter of two persons who are joined together by God for a lifetime commitment.
The church will continue to proclaim the dignity of Christian marriage as indissoluble and bond of love as permanent as love of Christ for his Church. The church will continue to advocate for an approach that honours the seriousness and integrity of marriage commitment. The church will continue to preach marriage as a vocation and not just a social practice. Marriage is a call to a stable way of life and a call to a deeper commitment to another person.
Difficulties coming out of differences of personalities and interests are not occasions to separate but to deepen the commitment of Christian marriage through loving and caring adjustments and sacrifices.