Do a man and a woman really matter for marriage?
Some today might not even think to ask this question. Others might answer a resounding “no” to this question. “What does being a man or being a woman matter?” they might say. “All you need is love…”
But is this true? Does the reality of being male or female mean anything at all? Or is sexual difference merely an invention of society? If all we need is love, then what makes marriage different from other loving relationships, like those between parents and children, siblings, or friends? These are real, and serious, questions that deserve serious answers.
As the Catholic Church teaches, men and women do matter for marriage. In fact, sexual difference is essential for marriage. As the U.S. bishops wrote in their 2009 pastoral letter Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, “It is precisely the difference between man and woman that makes possible this unique communion of persons, the unique partnership of life and love that is marriage” (p. 11). This truth is accessible to all people of religious belief or not; it is a truth that spans the millennia of human existence, based in human nature.
In other words, it is through sexual difference – the difference of man to woman and woman to man – that husband and wife are able to give themselves completely to each other, forming the unique lifelong and fruitful bond that is marriage.
Interested in learning more? We invite you to explore the Church’s teaching (that is, God’s truth about marriage) with fresh eyes. As a start, we encourage you to watch the 12-minute video “Made for Each Other,” which introduces the topics of sexual difference and complementarity between men and women. There’s also the Viewer’s Guide that accompanies the video, as well as a series of FAQs about this topic. For those who might lead a group discussion or teach/preach on the topic, a Resource Booklet is available too.
Finally, feel free to contact us with your questions, or add a comment/question to this post. Peace be with you!