Should the Church be in the Marriage Game?

We don’t mean to be facetious or sacrilegious with our title, but we hope to get your attention and input.

Marriage has been prominent in the news this week and the Catholic Church along with it – mostly in opposition to what is happening regarding marriage in the civil context.  We have been having some discussions about the news and beyond the news to:  What is marriage?  Why should anyone get married today? Since so many end the marriage they entered into, is there something wrong with marriage? Why do so many couples live together without marriage?  Our discussion finally led to the Questions:  Why is the Church involved in marriage?  Should the Church be involved in marriage?  If it should, how should it be involved?

Before we go any further our answer to the title question is a resounding, Yes.  As we were engaged in our discussions we were reminded that marriage in the Catholic Church involves two parts:  One is the legal or civil aspects of marriage.  The second is the religious component.  For more information about how they are different and related, read our earlier blog:  The Difference between Civil and Sacramental Marriage.  It is the most popular post we have written.

This is an ongoing discussion between us and we are not ready to do a full post on it, so we will leave you with a couple of our first reactions to the title question.

Our first response is that the Church should end its constant focus on the civil aspects of marriage.  Remember Jesus said in Mt 22: 21 (NIV) Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is Gods.  Church leadership should make it clear that the issues dealt with in civil marriage laws are the concern of the state and while they have to do with rights of individuals do not directly have any bearing on the religious aspects of marriage.

So the Church is properly left with the religious aspects of marriage.  In our long history of working with married couples and teaching about Catholic marriage, we understand that Catholic, Sacramental marriage calls a couple to support each other in mutual growth in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual parts of their lives as they become instruments of growth of the Kingdom on earth and prepare themselves for the Kingdom beyond.  We often ask ourselves, how many couples in Catholic marriages are unaware of this call.  We think that knowing this could make Catholic marriage attractive to more couples and encourage them to work on their mutual growth and to help make the Kingdom happen.  We would like to see Church leadership make this its prime focus for marriage.  The thing that we think needs to be explored is, how can couples deepen their understanding of what it means to be instruments of the Kingdom and what can they do to help each other prepare for the Kingdom which is to come.  We think that all persons who make up the Church, from the Pope to people in the pew, need to address what can be done to help couples grow in their mutual love for each other.  It needs to be far more comprehensive than the purpose of sex in marriage and support for parenting.  If marriage is the model for understanding the relationship of God with his people and Christ with the Church,  then all aspects of marriage must be addressed.  It is only then that marriage can and will be what God envisioned.

What do you think?  We are looking for input and will likely have more to say later.

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Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

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About Rita & Bob Boeke

Rita Boeke has experience teaching scripture and with her husband Bob has experience in enriching marriages through workshops and retreats. They post a weekly blog at thewonderofmarriage.com and co-authored Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime.
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