Marriage Introduction

For Catholics, the Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person. It is also a public statement about God: the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values and also God's values.

Every marriage matters, because marriage comes from the hand of God. God brings a man and a woman together to love and support each other. Their love becomes visible in the children they bring into the world and in their acts of generous service.

In Catholic teaching, the valid marriage between two baptized Christians is also a sacrament. The love between the spouses symbolizes Christ’s love for the church.

According to Sacred Scripture, God instituted marriage as the peak of creation.  On the sixth day, in the first creation story, the Book of Genesis tells us: "God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.  God blessed them, saying: 'Be fertile and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it'" (Genesis 1: 27-28).

In the second creation story, God says that "it is not good for man to be alone.  I will make a suitable partner for him." (Genesis 2:18).  This suitable helpmate was formed from the very rib of man and thus woman was "flesh of his flesh" (Genesis 2:22-23).

Woman, then, is man's equal in dignity and the one closest to his heart.  Because man and woman were created for one another, "a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh" (Genesis 2: 24).  Scripture teaches that marriage is not a mere human institution, but something God established from the foundation of world.

Christians are new creations in Christ, healed of sin and its effects. Marriage is also recreated and made new in Christ.  By the grace of the Holy Spirit, husbands and wives can now truly love and honor one another.  St. Paul tells us that marriage bears witness to the indissoluble love of Christ for his Church.  Thus, husbands should love their wives, "even as Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5:25-26).  Wives, too, are called to love their husbands as the Church loves Christ. The Old Testament also shows how God taught his people to revere once more the institution of marriage.  God's covenant with his people was an image of the exclusive and faithful love of husband and wife. The prophets helped the people see that God had not intended husband and wife to be separated (See Hosea 1-3; Isaiah 54 and 62; Jeremiah 2-3 and 31; Ezekiel 16 and 23; Malachi 2:13-17).  The books of Ruth and Tobit bear witness to fidelity and tenderness within marriage.  The Song of Solomon shows how the love of a man and a woman mirrors God's love for his people.

Because marriage is placed within the saving mystery of Jesus Christ, Catholics recognize it as a sacrament. It is a means through which husbands and wives grow in love for one another and for their children, become holy and obtain eternal life.

Marriage
Married Love
Marriage and Cohabitation
Marriage and Divorce
Same Sex Unions