4.19 Why all this emphasis on marriage and the family?
God created human beings as an outpouring of his great love. He also gave us the important task to pass on that love, and therefore to be fruitful Gen. 1:28: God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”.
Marriage is an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together. When they also experience their love in their sexual relationship, this love can literally become ‘fruitful’ because children are conceived and born. Family life is important to children: for example, it makes them more sociable and more resilient, and it is (hopefully) the environment where they first learn about faith. Therefore, the family is sometimes called ‘the cornerstone of society’.
> Read more in the book
The Wisdom of the Church
What place does the family occupy in society?
The family is the original cell of human society and is, therefore, prior to any recognition by public authority. Family values and principles constitute the foundation of social life. Family life is an initiation into the life of society. [CCCC 457]
Why are families irreplaceable?
Every child is descended from one father and one mother and longs for the warmth and safety of a family so that he may grow up secure and happy.
The family is the basic cell of human society. The values and principles that are lived out in the small circle of the family are what make solidarity in the life of larger society possible in the first place. [Youcat 369]
What are the offenses against the dignity of marriage?
These are: adultery, divorce, polygamy, incest, free unions (cohabitation, concubinage), and sexual acts before or outside of marriage. [CCCC 502]
What is adultery? Is divorce the appropriate response?
Adultery is committed when two people, at least one of whom is married to someone else, have sexual relations. Adultery is the fundamental betrayal of love, the violation of a covenant that was made in God’s sight, and an injustice to one’s neighbor. Jesus himself explicitly declared the indissolubility of marriage: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mk 10:9). Citing the original will of the Creator, Jesus abolished the toleration of divorce in the Old Covenant.
The encouraging promise of this message of Jesus is, “as children of your heavenly Father you are capable of lifelong love.” Nevertheless, it is not easy to remain faithful to one’s spouse for a lifetime. We must not condemn people whose marriages fail. Nevertheless, Christians who irresponsibly bring about divorce incur guilt. They sin against God’s love, which is visible in marriage. They sin against the abandoned spouse and against abandoned children. Of course the faithful partner in a marriage that has become unbearable can move out of shared living accommodations. In some serious circumstances, it may be necessary to go through a civil divorce. In well-founded cases the Church can examine the validity of the marriage in an annulment proceeding. [Youcat 424]
This is what the Church Fathers say
It is God who joined together [two people] in one so that they are no more two, it is said, 'but one flesh'... from the time that the woman is married to the man. And, since God has joined them together, on this account in the case of those who are joined together by God, there is a "gift". [Origen, Commentary on Matthew, Bk. 14, Chap. 16 (MG 13, 1229)]