Why is marriage precious?
It can be convincingly argued that marriage has been virtually abolished in the western world with the introduction of no-fault divorce No-fault divorce is divorce in which the dissolution of a marriage does not require fault of either party to be shown, or, indeed, any evidentiary proceedings at all. It occurs on petition to the court, typically a family court by either party, without the requirement that the , which on closer inspection is really nothing other than "unilateral divorce on demand." The state no longer demands that couples honour their permanent legal commitments. It no longer recognizes that nuptial nup·tial
1. Of or relating to marriage or the wedding ceremony.
2. Of, relating to, or occurring during the mating season: the nuptial plumage of male birds.
n. vows bring into being something that, once established, does not depend on the couple in order to continue to be. As American writer Maggie Gallagher points out, thanks to no-fault divorce, marriage has been demoted from "a binding relation into something best described as cohabitation A living arrangement in which an unmarried couple lives together in a long-term relationship that resembles a marriage.
Couples cohabit, rather than marry, for a variety of reasons. They may want to test their compatibility before they commit to a legal union. with insurance benefits."
Despite this, young people continue to wish to marry, and approximately fifty percent of them will do so successfully. Many of them cannot quite articulate what it is they intuit in·tu·it
tr.v. in·tu·it·ed, in·tu·it·ing, in·tu·its Usage Problem
To know intuitively.
[Back-formation from intuition. about the nobility of marriage, but they seem to know that if marriage was something less than themselves, like a revocable rev·o·ca·ble also re·vok·a·ble
That can be revoked: a revocable order; a revocable vote.
Adj. 1. and private contract, there would be nothing to aspire to aspire to
verb aim for, desire, pursue, hope for, long for, crave, seek out, wish for, dream about, yearn for, hunger for, hanker after, be eager for, set your heart on, set your sights on, be ambitious for ; for one does not aspire to what is lower, but only towards what is higher and loftier.
Indeed, young people want to aspire to what is truly larger than themselves, and marriage in the true sense of the word is larger than the self. What follows is an attempt to articulate some of the more essential points regarding the nature and dignity of the most fundamental and primary of institutions.
Unity is necessary
Unity and indissolubility in·dis·sol·u·ble
1. Permanent; binding: an indissoluble contract; an indissoluble union.
2. are essential properties of marriage; for there is no marriage without them, just as there is no square without four equal sides and four right angles. A permanent union is precisely what a couple intend when they marry. If they do not, they might intend something, but they do not intend to marry.
In fact, indissolubility is nothing other than the good of marriage itself. Two people who intend to marry intend to give themselves to one another not partially, but entirely. And a total self-giving will necessarily include the giving of one's body, since the human person is a unity of spirit and matter. That is why marriage is a joining of two into a one-flesh union.
All love is a giving of oneself to some degree or another, but conjugal Pertaining or relating to marriage; suitable or applicable to married people.
Conjugal rights are those that are considered to be part and parcel of the state of matrimony, such as love, sex, companionship, and support. love is unique in that it is a love that is necessarily exclusive. If I give myself entirely to a person, there is nothing left over and at my disposal to give to someone else. Should there be, then I have not given myself entirely, but partially.
But giving oneself to another requires that the other is able to receive that self-giving. A person can only do so if he or she has an understanding of what is being given and what is demanded as a response. It follows that a certain level of intellectual maturity is required in order for a marriage to occur. It is necessary as well that a person actually be able to give himself or herself in return, and so a certain level of moral maturity is also required in order for marriage to be at all possible. If a person is unable to love in the highest sense of the word--willing that good befall be·fall
v. be·fell , be·fall·en , be·fall·ing, be·falls
To come to pass; happen.
To happen to. See Synonyms at happen. another for the other's sake--that is, if a person is not able to love another on the level of the will, but only on an emotional level , then it is simply not possible for such a one to give himself or herself In marriage.
The mutual giving and receiving that is marriage also requires a free consent--for love is not love unless it is freely given. But this free consent is compromised in the case of fraud, when one of the partners withholds information about himself that had she known, she would not have consented to marriage (or vice versa VICE VERSA. On the contrary; on opposite sides. ), such as his true character, a criminal record, or a previous marriage, etc.
The marriage act
If both are willing to give themselves bodily to one another but are unable to actually receive bodily what they pledge to give, strictly speaking Adv. 1. strictly speaking - in actual fact; "properly speaking, they are not husband and wife"
properly speaking, to be precise they are unable to marry. For example, a man and woman receive one another bodily through the act of sexual intercourse sexual intercourse
or coitus or copulation
Act in which the male reproductive organ enters the female reproductive tract (see reproductive system). , which is why sexual union is called the marriage act. If for some reason they are unable to perform the marriage act, they are unable to consummate their marriage. That is why impotency and frigidity frigidity /fri·gid·i·ty/ (fri-jid´i-te)
2. former name for female sexual arousal disorder.
n. are impediments to marriage.
Both must also intend a permanent union, not a temporary one or one that leaves an opening for divorce. The reason is that when she gives her bodily self entirely to him and he gives his bodily self to her, she now has exclusive rights over his body, and he has exclusive rights over hers --if not, then no total self-giving has taken place. This self-giving is until death because it is only by his dying that she no longer has possession of his body, and vice versa. That is why vows that conclude "for as long as we both shall love," are not marriage vows Marriage vows are promises a couple makes to each other during a wedding ceremony.
Civil ceremonies often allow couple's to choose their own vows, although many civil marriage vows are adapted from the traditional Catholic wedding vow "To have and to hold, from this day at all.
A genuine and valid marriage also includes the intention to beget be·get
tr.v. be·got , be·got·ten or be·got, be·get·ting, be·gets
1. To father; sire.
2. To cause to exist or occur; produce: Violence begets more violence. children. If she truly gave herself to him, and he gave his body to her without any reservations on the part of either one of them, that very intention includes an openness to children, because a child is the result of the physical union of both of them. Their mutual self-giving and one-flesh union continues on the bio-molecular level as sperm and oocyte oocyte /oo·cyte/ (-sit) the immature female reproductive cell prior to fertilization; derived from an oogonium. It is a primary o. prior to completion of the first maturation division, and a secondary o. join and become something else entirely, namely a child. To deliberately intend that this not occur is to intend not to be one body. Hence, it is to intend not to marry. 
Now a couple can discover that they are infertile in·fer·tile
Not capable of initiating, sustaining, or supporting reproduction.
adj unable to produce offspring. yet still intend to become reproductively one organism (one body). Thus, infertility (the inability to have children) does not render a marriage invalid. Rather it is the intention not to have children that renders a marriage invalid, because that amounts to an intention not to become reproductively one organism (one body).
And so what is established when this mutual and total self-giving takes place? A unique, exclusive and permanent relationship, an indissoluble in·dis·sol·u·ble
1. Permanent; binding: an indissoluble contract; an indissoluble union.
2. one-flesh union that has reference to children.
Marriage is irrevocable
Why is indissolubility the good of marriage itself? If both husband and wife consent to dissolving it, can they not do so?
If the marriage is a genuinely valid one--which is very often not the case, the answer is no. The reason is that what they have established is not sustained or perpetuated by their will, only initiated. It is something objective that exists independently of their will. Just as we cannot by an act of the will undo the fact that we are parents, so too is it impossible by an act of the will to undo the fact that we are spouses. Through the act of marital consent, a man and a woman give to one another a new and irrevocable identity. He becomes this woman's husband and she becomes this man's wife, and together they become spouses.
But why is it irrevocable? The reason is that if I can revoke what I give, then I have not given it entirely; what I gave was to some degree always in my possession. If I give you a stick and continue to hang on to it, I have not given all of it to you. But marriage is a total self-giving, which implies that he has given himself irrevocably to her, and she to him.  Allow me to attempt to explain this more fully.
What both of them consent to is the establishment of a union that exists until death separates them, not before. This giving is not like giving someone a house, for example, to be had until that person dies. In the latter case, the one who receives the gift could conceivably return it. But the only way to return a gift like a house that was gratuitously given is to "give it back." If I gave it to you and later on ask for it back, what I am asking is that you give me something, namely a gift, the same one that I previously gave you. Even if it is completely and irrevocably yours, the only way you can return it is by giving it to me as a gift.
But this does not work for marriage. The reason is that divorce is not a gift. It is not a positive self-giving, like the giving of a house that once belonged to another. It is a negative, a negation NEGATION. Denial. Two negations are construed to mean one affirmation. Dig. 50, 16, 137. , not a positive.
What he has given in marriage is his very self until death, and she as well. It is precisely a permanent identity that both of them willed into existence for one another. That is what conjugal love is. But if she could give back what she received, she did not receive an irrevocable self-giving irrevocably, and vice versa, and one cannot give oneself irrevocably unless the giving is received irrevocably. By receiving his irrevocable self-giving "revocably," she simply does not allow him to give himself irrevocably, which means she does not receive what he offers her.
If she did not say "yes" to his total self-giving--and her "yes" requires nothing less than a total "yes;" or if he did not say "yes" to her total self-giving, which also requires nothing less than a total and irrevocable "yes," then they are not married. If they did receive one another irrevocably, they are married, and only death can sever TO SEVER, practice. When defendants who are sued jointly have separate defences, they may in general sever, that is, each one rely on his own separate defence; each may plead severally and insist on his own separate plea. See Severance. the bond that they mutually and freely established. That is the nature of this particular kind of love, and that is why it is so noble and so momentous. Unlike a friendship, it establishes a permanent and irrevocable identity. If it did not, marriage would simply be one friendship alongside others. But it is indissolubility that makes the vocation of marriage so demanding and so lofty, and to succeed in marriage is a sign of heroic virtue Heroic virtue is a phrase coined by Augustine of Hippo to describe the virtue of early Christian martyrs. The Greek pagan term hero described a person with possibly superhuman abilities and great goodness, and "it connotes a degree of bravery, fame, and distinction which places a . It is an achievement of the highest kind of human love.
THE SOCIAL NATURE OF MARRIAGE
An institution, not just a friendship
The marital consent establishes an organization or foundation, one that has an essential reference to the begetting and rearing of offspring. Marriage is thus an institution, not merely a friendship. It is not a private affair between two people. For society itself originates in marriage. Every one of us was introduced into the larger society through the more primary society of the family.
The family is thus prior to the civil community as a whole. That is why the state has no dominion over marriage. Marriage, rather, has a kind of dominion over the state. Indeed, the state has the right and duty to make laws that regulate and protect marriage because marriage is essentially a public affair, not a private one.
As was said, marriage is an institution, and what happens on the level of marriage and the family affects the civil community as a whole; for society suffers to the degree that marriages suffer, and it prospers to the degree that marriages are flourishing. But for society to protect and regulate marriage is for marriage and family to protect and regulate itself through the instrumentality Instrumentality
Notes issued by a federal agency whose obligations are guaranteed by the full-faith-and-credit of the government, even though the agency's responsibilities are not necessarily those of the US government. of the state.
Family comes before the state
In this sense, parental rights are more original than the rights of the state with respect to marriage. Those who hold public office are at the service of the common good, and the family is the most fundamental condition that enables the members of the civil community as a whole to flourish. The duties of the state with respect to marriage are dictated by the rights and duties of spouses with respect to their marriage and family, not vice versa, unly totalitarianism has had and will continue to have problems with this idea.
Couples that marry and generate offspring and who love their children, rearing them to become good citizens, do an incalculable in·cal·cu·la·ble
a. Impossible to calculate: a mass of incalculable figures.
b. Too great to be calculated or reckoned: incalculable wealth. service to, the civil community as a whole. In fact, children incur a debt to their parents that they cannot fully remit. There is no human work more honourable and more important than that of being a good spouse and parent. But like anything noble and heroic, the work is hard. A successful marriage is an achievement of love, and love is difficult.
Sacrifice is not easy
It is difficult because love is essentially sacrificial sac·ri·fi·cial
Of, relating to, or concerned with a sacrifice: a sacrificial offering.
sac , and human beings tend not to like making sacrifices. Husband and wife, both carriers of the wounds of Original Sin original sin, in Christian theology, the sin of Adam, by which all humankind fell from divine grace. Saint Augustine was the fundamental theologian in the formulation of this doctrine, which states that the essentially graceless nature of humanity requires redemption , will have to adjust to one another, get used to one another, and learn to live with one another. Each will have the difficult task of learning to relinquish his or her will often. Concupiscence--the inclination to seek the self first--is the biggest obstacle that threatens the success of every marriage.
But all marriages are tested, and every couple is destined des·tine
tr.v. des·tined, des·tin·ing, des·tines
1. To determine beforehand; preordain: a foolish scheme destined to fail; a film destined to become a classic.
2. to fall out of that initial but illusory and deceiving Eros that too many of us confuse with genuine conjugal love. The tests inevitably come in the form of desert periods that only a pure act of the will has the power to bring them through. The emotional intensity of Eros simply does not have the capacity to endure the heat of such trials, and many people simply do not have the willpower required to endure it. Their relationships will usually collapse here. But with each successful passage, a love emerges that is stronger, more refined, and richer than the love supported and penetrated by the glaze glaze, in pottery
glaze, translucent layer that coats pottery to give the surface a finish or afford a ground for decorative painting. Glazes—transparent, white, or colored—are fired on the clay. and sweetness of emotion that brought them to marriage in the first place.
Modern society abandons families
The sad fact about the post-modern era is that married couples cannot expect a great deal of help culturally and legally in remaining faithful to the covenant they so generously established. Essentially they have been left to themselves, to do as they wish or as one of them might wish, whether that turns out to be fidelity to the very end, or an open relationship, or a complete unilateral trade-in after a few months or twenty-five years. The legal community is completely indifferent either way. But there are non-secular supports that will go a long way in helping married couples achieve the noble end they have established for themselves. Baptized bap·tize
v. bap·tized, bap·tiz·ing, bap·tiz·es
1. To admit into Christianity by means of baptism.
a. To cleanse or purify.
b. To initiate.
3. couples who have a valid marriage will be given the graces enabling them to be faithful spouses and loving parents.
But couples have to co-operate with those graces. A person who is willing to maintain a healthy mistrust of his own way of seeing things Seeing Things may refer to:
(1.) There are two kinds of love within the human person. Firstly, love is a basic emotion of the concupiscible con·cu·pis·ci·ble
Driven by or filled with strong sexual desire; concupiscent. appetite, which is a sensitive appetite that man has in common with non-rational animals. This kind of love is ultimately self-love, which is loving something for what it does for me. The highest and specifically human kind of love is on the level of the will, which is not an emotion of the sensitive appetite, but the rational appetite. The will is able to move in a direction contrary to the movement of the passions. The highest kind of love is benevolence BENEVOLENCE, duty. The doing a kind action to another, from mere good will, without any legal obligation. It is a moral duty only, and it cannot be enforced by law. A good wan is benevolent to the poor, but no law can compel him to be so.
BENEVOLENCE, English law. , or willing the good of another for the other's own sake, and not for the sake of what he or she does for me.
(2.) This of course does not mean that he may do anything he wants with her body. For he may not do whatever he wants with his own body, but is always and everywhere subject to the demands of natural and divine law Noun 1. divine law - a law that is believed to come directly from God
natural law, law - a rule or body of rules of conduct inherent in human nature and essential to or binding upon human society . What it means is that she has given herself to him. Fie is bound to love her as he loves himself.
(3.) That is why contracepted intercourse cannot consummate a marriage, for contraception is an anti-procreative act, unlike sexual union during a non-fertile phase of a cycle, which is at best non-procreative and consistent with an openness to new life. The act of intercourse need not result in a conception in order to consummate a marriage, but it does need to be open to new life, and not intentionally closed to it.
(4.) "... we love one another truly and absolutely only when we love forever ..." (Angelus, 10 July 1994; L'Osservatore Romano L'Osservatore Romano ("The Roman Observer") is the Vatican's newspaper. It covers all the Pope's public activities, publishes editorials by important churchmen, and prints official documents after being released. English edition, 13 July 1994, p. 1). Also, "Love seeks to be definitive, it cannot be an arrangement 'until further notice.'" (Catechism of the Catholic Church The Catechism of the Catholic Church, or CCC, is an official exposition of the teachings of the Catholic Church, first published in French in 1992 by the authority of Pope John Paul II. , n. 1646).