February

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DISCIPLESHIP: MISSION TOWARDS TRANSFORMING HUMANITY

What Are The Essential Elements of Christian Marriage?

God's image is the married couple, a man and women, together. Not just the man. Not just the woman. No, both of them. That's God's image. - Pope Francis.

In the Sacrament of Matrimony, there are four essential elements:

1. Unity: Marriage is a covenant that by its very nature brings about bodily, intellectual, and spiritual union between a man and a woman;
2. Indissolubility: Marriage lasts "until death do us part"
3. Openness to offspring: Every marriage must be open to children;
4. Commitment to the spouse's welfare.

lf one of the two spouses deliberately excludes one of the four points listed above at the time of their wedding, the Sacrament of Matrimony does not take place.

According to God's will, husband and wife should encounter each other in bodily union so as to be united ever more deeply with one another in love and to allow children to proceed from their love.

In Christianity, the bodily, pleasure, and erotic joy enjoy a high status: "Christianity... believes that matter is good, that God Himself once took on a human body, that some kind of body is going to be given to us even in Heaven and is going to be an essential part of our happiness, our beauty and our energy. Christianity has glorified marriage more than any other religion: and nearly all the greatest love poetry in the world has been produced by Christians. "If anyone says that sex, in itself is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once" (C.S. Lewis). Pleasure, of course, is not an end in itself. When the pleasure of a couple becomes self-enclosed and it not open to the new life that could result from it, it no longer corresponds to the nature of love.


What Is The Significance Of The Child In A Marriage?

The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish. - Pope St. John Paul II

A child is a creature and a gift of God, which comes to earth through the love of his parents. True love does not desire a couple to be self-contained. Love opens up in the child. A child that has been conceived and born is not something "made", nor is he the sum of his paternal and maternal genes. He is a completely new and unique creature of God, equipped with his own soul. The child therefore does not belong to the parents and is not their property.

A Christian married couple has as many children God gives them and as they can take responsibility for. All children whom God sends are a grace and a great blessing. That does not mean that a Christian couple is not supposed to consider how many children they can raise responsibly, given the health of each spouse and their economic or social situation. When a child comes "nevertheless", that child should be welcomed with joy and willingness and accepted with great love. By trusting in God, many Christian couples find the courage to have a large family.

A Christian married couple may and should be responsible in using the gift and privilege of transmitting life. Sometimes social, psychological, and medical conditions are such that in the given circumstances an additional child would be a big, almost superhuman challenge for the couple.

There is no absolute right to have a child. Every child is a gift from God. Married couples to whom this gift has been denied, even though they have exhausted
all permissible medical means of assistance, can take in foster children or adopt children or become socially involved in some other way, for instance, by caring for abandoned children.


May A Christian Married Couple Regulate The Number Of Children They Have?

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of f warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. - Psalm 127:3-5

Yes, a Christian married couple may and should be responsible in using the gift and privilege of transmitting life. However, there are clear criteria that the married couple must observe: Regulating births, in the first place, must not mean that the couple is avoiding conception as a matter of principle. Second, it must not mean avoiding children for selfish reasons. Third, it must not mean that external coercion is involved (if, for example, the State were to decide how many children a couple should have.) Fourth, it must not mean that any and every means may be used.

The Church recommends the refined methods of self-observation and natural family planning (NFP) as methods of deliberately regulating conception. These are in keeping with the dignity of man and woman; they respect the innate laws of the female body; they demand mutual affection and consideration and therefore are a school of love.

The Church pays careful attention to the order of nature and sees in it a deep meaning. For her it is therefore not a matter of indifference whether a couple manipulates the woman's fertility or instead makes use of the natural alternation of fertile and infertile days. It is no accident that Natural Family Planning is called natural: it is ecological, holistic, healthy, and an exercise in partnership. On the other hand, the Church rejects all artificial means of contraception - namely, chemical methods ("the Pill"), mechanical methods (for example, condom, intra-uterine device, or IUD), and surgical methods (sterilization) since these attempt to separate sexual act from its procreative potential and block the total self-giving of husband and wife. Such methods can even endanger the woman's health, have an abortifacient effect (cause a very early abortion), and in the long run be detrimental to the couple's love life.


What Is The Church's Judgment On Surrogate Motherhood And Artificial Fertilization?

'A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The 'supreme gift of marriage' is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged 'right to a child' would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right
'to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his [her] parents,' and 'the right to be respected as a person from the moment of conception'" - CCC 2378


Married couples who suffer from infertility can accept any medical assistance that does not contradict the dignity of the human person, the rights of the child to be conceived, and the holiness of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

However, all assistance in conceiving a child through research and medicine must stop when the common bond of parenthood is loosened and destroyed by the intrusion of a third person or when conception becomes a technological act outside of sexual union in marriage.

Out of respect for human dignity, the Church cannot approve of the technologically assisted conception of a child through artificial insemination or fertilization. Every child has in God's plan the right to have a father and a mother, to know his parents, and if at all possible to grow up surrounded by their love.

Artificial insemination and fertilization with the sperm of another man or the ovum of another woman (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) also destroys the spirit of marriage, in which husband and wife have the right to become a father or a mother only through the other spouse. But even homologous artificial insemination and fertilization (in which the sperm and the ovum come from the spouses) make a child the product of a technological procedure and does not allow it to originate from the loving union of a personal sexual encounter. lf the child becomes a product, however, then that leads immediately to cynical questions about product
quality and product liability.

The Church also rejects pre-implantation diagnosis, which is carried out for the purpose of killing imperfect embryos. Surrogate motherhood, too, in which an artificially conceived embryo is implanted into another woman, is contrary to human dignity.


What Does The Church Have Against "Marriage Without The Certificate"?

It was God who brought Eve to Adam and gave her to him as his wife, and it is God, my friends, Who with His invisible hand bound the knot which united you and gave you to one another; therefore give good heed that you cherish a love which is holy, sacred and divine. - St. Francis de Sales (the Devout Life)


For Catholics there is no marriage without a church wedding. In that ceremony Christ enters into a covenant with the husband and the wife and generously endows the couple with graces and gifts.

A Christian marriage is not a game, however, but rather the greatest gift Cod has devised for a man and a woman who love each other. God himself unites them at a depth that man could not achieve. Jesus Christ, who said, 'Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), is present in a lasting way in the Sacrament of Matrimony. He is the love in the love of the spouses. His strength is still there, even when the strength of the lovers seems to dry up. That is why the sacrament of Matrimony is anything but a piece of paper. It is like a divine and seaworthy vessel that the loving couple can board - a ship that the bride and groom know carries enough fuel to bring them with God's help to their longed-for destination. Whereas today many people say that there is nothing wrong with uncommitted premarital sex or extramarital relations, the Church invites us to resist this societal pressure clearly and forcefully.

Some today claim a "right to a trial marriage" where there is an intention of getting married later. However firm the purpose of those who engage in premature sexual relations may be, "the fact is that such liaisons can scarcely ensure mutual sincerity and fidelity in a relationship between a man and a woman, nor, especially, can they protect it from inconstancy of desires or whim." True human love does not tolerate "trial marriages." It demands a total and definitive gift of persons to one another.

 

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