What is a Christian marriage according to the Catholic Church?
First and foremost marriage is covenant. A covenant is considered a divine promise. The Bible teaches that a covenant is a strong pact made between humans or between God and humans. A promise is made between one another to assist each other to work towards a common goal.
God created man in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. He created man out of love and also called him to love and thus created woman. Their mutual love symbolises the image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. Man and woman were created for one another: “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Woman is the “flesh of his flesh” and thus she is his equal, his nearest in all things.
The matrimonial covenant takes place between a man and woman. This covenant is established through the marital consent of the spouses and is a promise they make, an intimate communion of life and love. It is a commitment to dedicate their lives to and honour the blessed sacrament of marriage for the duration of their lives. It is a partnership beyond time, in which each spouse is committed to helping the other in every aspect of the others life as best he/she can. Marriage involves the partners being suitable for each other through the sharing of strengths and weaknesses. This unbreakable union of the two spouses represents the Creator’s plan from the very beginning: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (Matthew 19:6)
The goals of this covenant include the mutual welfare of the spouses (physically, emotionally and spiritually) and procreation, welfare and education of the children. A true marriage is heterosexual, monogamous, exclusive and permanent. The covenant has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator and gives the spouses the grace to love one another with the same grace with which Christ has loved his Church. The grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life.