The Grace of Matrimony

Wedded Couple

Ola: I have heard that sex is sacred. How is it?

Uche: There is infinite number of ways for God to multiply human beings. The cells in our body increase in size, splits into two and the process goes on repeatedly. In this way, the cells multiply. It is not beyond the power of God to populate the earth in a similar manner in which man would grow wider and then split apart after the various organs would have doubled. But God chose another way. He made the man and the woman as partners with Himself in the work of procreation.

God made sex (for husband and wife). This makes sex something good in itself for there is nothing that God made that is not good. Following the reproductive act, the sperm fertilizes the egg and God as a partner gives a soul to what is formed which makes it a being from conception. God is involved when it comes to the purpose of sex. Sex is sacred.

Ola: A sacrament is said to be an outward sign of inward grace ordained by Jesus Christ by which grace is given to our soul. Matrimony is a sacrament, what is the grace it confers on the individuals involved?

Uche: First, marriage is the sacrament that is not administered by the priest. The priest is present but as an official witness representing Christ and His Church. The couple getting married administers the sacrament of matrimony to each other.

Matrimony is a sacrament that gives two kinds of grace. The first of all is the increase in sanctifying grace. This is imparted at the very moment that the sacrament is received. Hence, the wedded couple leaves the altar with souls spiritually stronger and beautiful. Matrimony increases sanctifying grace which means it is for those who are already in the state of sanctifying grace. Matrimony is not for the forgiveness of sin so it is a sacrilege to receive the sacrament with a mortal sin upon the soul. The marriage would still be a true and valid marriage but it is with a beginning that is unhappy.

Matrimony also confers its special kind of grace which is its sacramental grace. A marriage needs grace to endure, to be happy, and to be successful and sacramental grace consists in a claim upon God for whatever the couple may need through the years to achieve that. Thus, the time a husband or a wife feels discouraged in marriage due to problems is a good time to remember that marriage is a sacrament. (S)he should remember at such time that (s)he has a privilege to whatever grace (s)he may need to overcome the situation whether it be strength, guidance, or wisdom. Thus, (s)he can make a claim to God in prayer.

Ola: Marriage is a permanent union, hence, it is indissoluble. But this has resulted in great hardship for some. Children need a father figure, so should not a woman remarry for the sake of the children at least if her husband has abandoned the family?

Uche: Nobody including the Pope can dissolve the bond of a consummated Christian marriage. Jesus said, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Matt. 19:6). The passage containing that statement went on thus:

They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery” (Matt. 19:7-9).

God ordained that the union of marriage be permanent and indissoluble. The state may permit divorce but before God that is meaningless. The truth is that the divorced person who remarries lives in adultery habitually if the previous marriage was valid. It may be legal before the state so you can call it legal adultery if you like.

There can be separation for instance if it is to protect a partner against vicious or violent attacks. But separation does not dissolve the marriage bond.

In the instance of a mother left to care for the children while the father has disappeared, it is no doubt a difficult one for the mother. For children to be fully developed, they should grow in the company of their parents. This will aid their spiritual and emotional stability.

The deserted wife is suffering and this suffering should be offered to God. This is not something that would make sense to a lot of youths today with the me I no go suffer mentality. Many Christians see God not as a supreme being to be obeyed but as a servant at their beck and call to grant their every wish ‘full stop.’ They have little concern for God’s will not knowing that their happiness lies in His will.

It is a reality that the innocent suffer. At such moment, they exercise virtue. One who says the suffering of the deserted wife is meaningless is indirectly saying that virtue should only be practiced when it is easy. If this were to be so then the martyrs would be fools for not denying their faith when they could have easily denied it and lived. Goodness then would depend on the amount of pressure one is facing.

God is not absent in a marriage. He knows the need of the deserted wife better than anyone else. Remember that the sacrament of matrimony gives one the privilege to claim the graces that are needed particularly in difficult times. Such graces are available to the wife. She can depend on God. It is true that the abandoned children need a father but a stepfather cannot be a better father than God Himself. The children need God the most.

Besides all these, there are cases where the man who deserted his family came back later. In most cases, the wife never gave up on prayer even in her discouragement. There is nothing impossible to God.

 

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