“There is no relationship between human beings so close as that of husband and wife, if they are united as they ought to be.”  (St. John Chrysostom)

From Genesis to Revelation, Scripture is filled with images of marriage and family that are frequently used to describe God’s covenant love for His people.  God created man in His own image, as male and female.  When He blessed Adam and Eve and commanded them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28), He established the institution of marriage.  It is the most basic cell of human society.

Jesus elevated this natural union to the level of a Sacrament at the wedding feast of Cana (Jn 2:1-11), where He performed His first public miracle at the request of His Mother Mary.  Through Christ, marriage became not only an image and likeness of God’s love for His people but also a profound image of His own spousal relationship to His Bride, the Church.

In elevating marriage to the level of a Sacrament, Jesus built upon the complementarity that men and women have naturally, a complementarity that certainly includes our bodies but also the spiritual, the emotional, and more.  Scripture tells us that from the very beginning God made us male and female, and so the institution of marriage was from the beginning given for the mutual good of the spouses and for the good of any children they may have as a result of their union.  Marriage is something given by God and revealed through the language of our very bodies, and therefore it is not subject to redefinition by governments, courts, or individuals.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is sacred, permanent, exclusive, and unconditional.  Like Holy Orders, it is a Sacrament of Service or Vocation.  Its purpose is both the good of the spouses and the transmission of new life, and in order for marriage to be lived as God intended both purposes must be honored.  When truly lived out as God intends, marriage is a powerful witness and a foretaste of Heaven.  Marriage between a baptized man and woman, when blessed by the Church, provides unlimited grace to the couple so that their union can be lived out to the full and be a blessing to the whole world.

For more information about marriage and family life in the Diocese of Arlington, please visit the Office of Family Life.