Both the Church calendar and the liturgy in these days remind us constantly of marriage, in particular through the feast of the Holy Family that shows how the Lord was received and grew in a family as part of his human nature. We also see in the Epiphany of the Lord the bringing together of three great events that manifest the presence of the Lord: the adoration of the Wise Kings, the Baptism of the Lord and the transformation of water into wine at the wedding of Cana.
After life itself, the greatest natural gift of the Lord to mankind is marriage, which is the permanent and faithful union of a man and woman. Marriage has two purposes: generating and educating the children that they might receive from the Lord, and the mutual loving support of the spouses. As such, marriage is the natural basis of the family, and is fundamental to the well-being of all of society, not just those who are religious. It is for this reason that the preservation of the unique meaning of marriage is not a special or limited interest, but serves the good of all members of society.
Marriage was established by the Lord after the creation of the first woman, but before the Fall. When the Lord presented Eve to Adam, he accepted her, stating: "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man" (Gen 2:23). Interestingly enough the book of Genesis presents immediately afterwards the text that is the biblical ground for the indissolubility of marriage:"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Jesus Christ quoted this text to demonstrate that marriage can not be dissolved (Mt. 19: 4-6), explaining that the Jewish understanding of marriage that permitted divorce was against the original intent of the Creator (Mk. 10: 2-9).
God has willed to give the union of man and woman a special participation in his work of creation. Indeed, he blessed the man and the woman with the words "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen 1:28). Therefore, in the Creator's plan, sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage. As the liturgy of the Church states in the Nuptial Blessing, marriage is a "blessing which alone was not taken away in the punishment for original sin or in the doom of the Flood."
In the wedding at Cana, where Christ manifested his powers for the first time, marriage was elevated to the dignity of a sacrament. But here also we have the biblical grounds of the doctrine of the intercessory powers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, because Christ anticipated the time of His public manifestation due to her petition, transforming water in wine. Through the presence of Christ in this wedding, a natural gift was transformed into a sacrament, an efficacious sign of grace.
Marriage has been under attack at least since the introduction of civil divorce. Society in an arbitrary way has tried to nullify the gift of marriage trying to destroy its permanent character, which is an essential aspect of the nature of marriage. It is part of the nature of things that a man and a woman should wish to enter into a permanent union, but society erodes this natural good desire, inscribing in its laws that really marriage is not permanent. If it can be dissolved by different causes or worse just by the manifestation of the will of either spouse, how can we call it permanent? With this devaluing of marriage, our "civilized societies" are returning to the barbaric institution of repudiation. We have to remember that this view of marriage, with easy divorce, is not substantially different from mere cohabitation, which can be dissolved by any of the members whenever they wish.
On the slippery slope that leads to an anti-natural society, divorce was the first social sin against life and family, because any attack against the family, which is the natural cradle of life, is also an attack against life. Legal divorce brings about a mindset in many couples that their "marriage" will be maintained until it is comfortable for them, so as a consequence of this grave error they are not ready to make the necessary efforts to solve the difficulties of understanding and communication that marriage life might cause. Instead of trying to solve their difficulties they walk away, legally breaking their marriage. This is like solving the problems caused by a deadly disease through euthanasia.
There is ample evidence of the spiritual and social damage that divorce causes to men and women, and even worse, to children. The children of divorced parents grow without the support of a normally structured family; a family that not only nurtures them, but provides the example of the family that they will create when it is their turn. Through all of this we see clearly that the Church should intensify her efforts to carefully form the couples before they enter into marriage.
In our days, different societies have been legalizing the "marriage" between persons of the same sex, which is clearly against the will of God and the form of natural marriage, which I discussed in my Spirit & Life of October 22nd. Once the permanence of marriage is removed in law, the question of who (or what or how many) one can marry is up for grabs. If the meaning of marriage really is arbitrary, what boundaries at all can one place on it? How does one define it? Should we be surprised that the promotion of divorce on demand has led to the abomination of homosexual unions?
These old and new attacks against marriage should strengthen our determination to defend marriage as one of the most basic gifts that the Lord has given us. The fact that divorce has been a part of American society for many years should not lessen our commitment to abolish it because it is against the will of God and against the good of society. We have to insist that we cannot have a healthy society with divorce. In the same way we have to resist the new attack against marriage which is the legalization of the union of two persons of the same sex. There is no doubt that the Lord will come to our assistance in the integral defense of marriage.
Human Life International