“So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them, and God said to them,
“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.”
Book of Genesis 1:27-28
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother
and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Book of Genesis 2:24
One can see from the Bible and the very biology of the human body that it is natural for a man and a woman to be together. God created woman because “it is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). From the beginning of time, as recorded in the Book of Genesis, God planned for man and woman to unite in love and harmony for continuity of his creation, the human race.
True love between a man and a woman leads to marriage. Marriage brings mutual comfort and a family. Children are the fruit and bond of a marriage. The family provides a framework for each family member to grow as a person in love and security.
Marriage is the institution of our Creator and blessed in the ceremony of our Churches to realize in man God’s design for love. Marriage recognizes the interpersonal relationship of man and woman, in which the well-being and self-realization of each partner become a priority for the other. Marriage provides a framework for the mutual love and self-giving of man and woman to each other in human sexuality, and in so doing, provides for continuity of the human family. Religions have always protected the sanctity of marriage and the family.
Marriage provides a solid foundation for romantic love. The union of a man and a woman is natural. The natural language – indeed, the very biology – of the human body is such that the man gives to the woman and the woman receives the man. The love and friendship between a man and a woman grow into a desire for marriage. Marriage gives the couple the grace to grow into a union of heart and soul, to provide stability for themselves and their children. Children are the fruit and bond of a marriage.
The bond of marriage between a man and a woman lasts all the days of their lives, and the form of the ceremony consists of the mutual exchange of vows by a couple. The man gives the woman a ring, but often there is a mutual exchange of rings. The Church celebration and requirements vary with each particular faith. In the Sacrament of Marriage, both members of the couple have been baptized. In the Catholic and Jewish faiths, the couple marry each other through an exchange of solemn vows and ring(s), with the priest or rabbi serving only as a witness. During the Middle Ages and in times of persecution, such as in England, Ireland, and the British colonies such as Maryland Colony, where public Catholic ceremonies were forbidden, clandestine marriages were considered valid. The marriage could later be blessed from the beginning with a Catholic priest as witness. In many Protestant and Eastern rites, the minister himself marries the couple by pronouncing the couple man and wife after the exchange of vows and ring(s). The marriage is later sealed during the honeymoon through consummation of the marriage act.
Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God, and concludes with a vision of the “wedding-feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7-9). The bond of marriage is compared to God’s undying love for Israel in the Old Testament and Christ’s love for his Church in the New Testament of the Bible.
Jesus stresses the importance of the marriage bond in his Ministry (Matthew 19:4-9, Mark 10:5-12). The importance of marriage is substantiated by the presence of Christ at the wedding feast of Cana, where he began his public ministry at the request of his mother Mary by performing his first miracle (John 2:1-11). It is the Apostle Paul who identifies the marriage of man and woman with the unity of Christ and his Church.
But from the beginning of creation, `God made them male and female.’
`For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.
What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
Gospel of St. Mark 10:6-9
“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.
For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does;
likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 7:2-4
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church.
This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.
In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself,
and the wife should respect her husband.”
St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:25, 32-33