An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

FAQ Series: Why does the Church care so much about Marriage?

FAQ-3-meme

In this 5-week series, MUR is going over a few of the FAQs on our website. This week we look at FAQ #10: Why does the Catholic Church care so much about marriage?

Short answer: Because it’s such a good thing for people and for society. In fact, nothing really compares to marriage when it comes to creating a stable environment for children, and a strong foundation for communities.[1]

The Church’s ultimate goal is to help people to get to heaven. This is the gift that Jesus made possible by his passion and death, but it’s not automatic. We “work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12) This means that participating in our redemption is a daily work, a lifelong journey. The Church’s deep desire is for all people to join in this work, to receive the abundant mercy that God is always offering. “For as long as we are alive it is always possible to start over, all we have to do is let Jesus embrace us and forgive us.”

So the Church cares about marriage because she cares about the salvation of married people. All married people. She knows that marriage is the context in which God, in most cases, wants to save people and show them His mercy. In experiencing the total love and acceptance of another human person, who is different but the same, a human being can come to understand God’s love and forgiveness. In having children with that person, giving life out of the union of sexual difference, spouses can come to understand God’s love in an ever deeper way through the overwhelming love they experience toward their children. These are great gifts of love in themselves, and at the same time, they point toward a higher love, a love which also expresses both difference (3 persons) and sameness (one God). This is a way to help them understand what it means to be a man or a woman. Pope Francis talked about this with engaged couples.

In addition to willing the salvation of all married persons, the Church wills the salvation of every one of their children, and as expressed above, there is no healthier context for children than in a home with a married mother and father. It is the best place in which a child can learn what love truly is, and how it includes sacrifice and hard work. In a home where at least one parent is voluntarily missing, children may question whether God’s love, too, is changeable or temporary. It will then be more of a challenge for them to internalize the concept of unconditional love and acceptance.

Much of this is evident through personal experience. Reflect on the people in your own life who either grew up in a home without one or the other parent, or experienced a parental divorce later in life. The Huffington Post is actually running a series right now on the children of divorce, including adults. (For Your Marriage has a round-up about this, if you’re interested.) There are also children who were raised with two parents of the same sex who have spoken about their wound of the missing parent.

In conclusion, marriage has significance not only to the persons contracting it, but to their families, their communities, and – really– the world.

[1] See the numerous research findings by W. Bradford Wilcox at the National Marriage Project, for example.

5 responses to “FAQ Series: Why does the Church care so much about Marriage?”

  1. Cathy says:

    The Church is correct that marriage is good for people and society. It puzzles me then as to why to Church seems indifferent to the enormous number of singles, both in society and in the Church these days. Single adults now outnumber married people in the US population (2010 US Census). Even within the Church, unmarried people now make up 48% of the Catholic Church in the US (Pew Research Center May 2015). Since marriage is the manner in which God intends to save most people, why is there so little concern or at least prayers for all of these singles, most of whom are supposed to be married, many of whom are well into their 30’s, 40’s and beyond? Since singles are the building blocks of marriage shouldn’t we be preparing these people for their vocation to marriage? We’re waiting until the marriage prep classes, but the reality is that the Catholic Church is badly in need of singles ministry, and single Catholics are in just as much need of tlc from the Church as married people.

  2. P Edward Murray says:

    Talk about the wound of missing a parent, what about the wounds of not being married..of not having children, of not having anyone to be close to? Yes Cathy is right…

    And sadly , our Holy Roman Catholic Church is in dire need of a big reality check….

    When there are MORE singles then marrieds in the church or for that matter, in our country, then something is amiss!

    Our Church needs a true Singles Ministry…

    And we need it YESTERDAY!

  3. Dirge says:

    I thought St. Paul said it was good to be single. Shouldn’t more people be striving for that?

  4. Renee says:

    The Church is in fact focusing heavily on singles and marriage. It focuses on the vitally important groups of youth, young adults and also on older-but-still-fertile singles who might have a vocation of marriage. Although a couple past childbearing age can be married by the Church, they’re in a different category. It’s been said often by the Church in response to “childfree” couples that, without openness to and acceptance of potential children, there really is no need for marriage at all. How sad it is for older singles (and I am one) that little pastoral concern for our “social desert” exists.

    • DOM says:

      I’m sorry that you are experiencing that! As I always say to people who are looking for a Church ministry, “Why don’t you start it?” Take a look around the parish some Sunday and see how many people like you are sitting alone, and meet them… we all have to do our part.
      -Sara

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.