Can you guess what stands as the primary cause of marriage problems and disintegration in our day and age? To make the question easier for you, it is not infidelity, neither it is money nor property issues.
Marriages fail because of the absence of God in the marital equation. It takes the profound presence of God to love for the interest of those who may argue that marriages crumple because there is no love. True love cannot exist without God. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Marriage is a divine institution, so it cannot have sustenance outside of God, the author of marriage. Marriage exists as the crowning of creation, as we can see from two important instances in the Book of Genesis.
The first instance (Gen. 1:27-28) tells us that God created humanity (male and female) in His image, the image of Three Persons in One God. Furthermore, God pronounced the blessings of fruitfulness and increase on them, which we did not see when God created the other creatures.
The second instance (Gen.2:18-24) details the creation of marital union in the creative process. We learn here that God said: “it is not good for the man to be alone.” Hence, His decision to make a suitable partner (helper) for the man. However, there was none suitable among the animals God brought to the man to name
Consequently, God made the man sleep and taking one of his ribs, God fashioned a woman, and when the man saw the new creature, he said: “this one, at last, is the bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called woman for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.
The account ended with an important note that shows God’s basic intent for marriage: “that is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.”
In the Gospel of Mark (10:2-16), we see the Pharisees coming to Jesus to put him on the spot with a divorce question, “is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife.” They referred to the law of Moses that permitted a bill of divorce and dismissal to state that it is allowed.
Answering, Jesus takes them to God’s original plan for marriage before the law of Moses, which came because of their hardness of heart. Thankfully, Jesus quotes the first marriage instruction: “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.”
Returning to God’s Original Plan
There is little doubt that marriage as a divine institution faces many challenges both from within and outside the marital walls. For example, the Institute for Family Studies reports that for every 1,000 marriages, there are up to 14.9 divorce cases. While this finding of 2019 shows a decline from previous years, there is a corresponding finding that the rate of marriage engagements also declined, so it is significant.
On a deeper analysis, any marriage that fails to recognize and celebrate the presence of God would eventually run into deep waters. When God has no stable place in the marital union, people become unfaithful, selfish, dishonest, hostile, and even wicked and brutal.
Going back to God’s original plan about marriage should be the most potent way to overcome the distractions and distortions that confront the marriage institution in our society.
In the original divine plan, marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman. So, any diversion from that foreground would amount to normalizing immorality to use the words of Matthew Kelly in the Book, “The world is messy.” Therefore, revamping the marriage institution we need to do the following:
Prayer: Notice that the first time the word “bless” was mentioned in the bible was over the man and the woman; in other words, over marriage; “And God blessed them” (Gen. 1:28). This idea tells us that marriage needs constant blessings, and this can only happen through prayer.
Love, as a sacrifice, not as feeling: One of the misfortunes of our day is the misunderstanding we have about love. Love is not how you feel but what you do selflessly for another person. Love is sacrificial giving. St. Paul would tell us (1 Cor.13:4-8) that love endures all things because it does not seek for its good, and love never ends as feelings do.
Marriage is a vocation and a precious divine gift that expresses the unity of the trinity Persons in one God. Therefore, the excitement in marriage should go beyond the external beauty and comfort to the awareness of the presence of God through prayer and sacrificial love.
Undoubtedly, our world will stand or fall on the strength of the quality of the relationships that exist in marriages. However, we would need to understand that marriage is not a bed of roses. That is why couples pledge to remain committed in good times and in bad times. Trials in marriage should not be a reason to quit; it could be an invitation to pray and love more.
God bless you.
2 responses to “MARRIAGE: A CHRISTOCENTRIC TOUCH REFLECTION FOR THE 27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.”
Thank you Fr. Bonnie for this wonderful reflection. This one is very much different from what we use to get. More blessings
Thanks a lot.