MARRIAGE . . . "The Two Become One Body"

By Lenora Grimaud

The “Institution of Marriage” has gone through many transitions over the past centuries, but from the very beginning, God intended for Marriage to be a Sacrament, two becoming one body in Jesus Christ, the “Image of God.” As Bishop Sheen has said: “It takes three to get married: a man, a woman, and Jesus Christ.” Ever since the beginning of time, Marriage has been on a roller coaster ride towards its fulfillment as an authentic, Sacramental Marriage.

The 20th Century produced a very dramatic shift in our understanding of the Theology of Marriage, and Marriage as a Sacrament. Before this shift took place, our culture, including the Church of our times, had a very different concept of what an authentic Marriage is. Our culture had a very different concept of what it means to be a whole man and what it means to be a whole woman, as well. Naturally, this concept would also distort the meaning of two becoming one body. Women were not regarded as having equal worth and dignity to men. At best, the attitude of society regarding women as brides, was rather like that of a “mail-order bride”—a woman who was contracted to be a wife in exchange for security and the basic necessities of life. Women were regarded as an asset or possession of their husbands, to serve his needs and goals in life. Women were not equal partners with individual or equal rights of their own. The well-being of the man was top priority, and the well-being of the woman was not really even a consideration. The world revolved around the man. These concepts were usually not preached or spoken out loud, but in reality, this was the mind-set of society and our culture. This kind of mind-set could never produce a truly Sacramental Marriage. It is a contradiction to the Gospel of Life and of Jesus Christ. This kind of mind-set is contrary to the Kingdom of God.

In spite of the cultural mind-set of the times, many Christian couples, after having a total conversion of hearts and receiving the sacramental grace of Marriage, became one body. Even though they lacked an intellectual conversion and still had the cultural mind-set of the times, their conversion of heart changed their reality, their attitude, and their vision of life, and the two became one body. When two become one body, each spouse loves the other as much, or more than their own self. Their marriage is a covenant, rather than a contract. They see themselves as equal in dignity and worth. Their lives do not revolve around only the husband, but also the wife, and every child that is brought into the family. No longer is the well-being of the man the primary consideration. The physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of every member of the family is equally important. This mutual well-being is the basis for every choice and decision the couple has to make regarding the sanctity of the marriage and the good of each member of the family; and every decision and choice is made together, not just the choice of one of them. They are one—united in everything—not divided or dominated by one or the other of them. Everything is held in common; what belongs to one belongs to both. Their income, property, possessions, awards, honors, accolades, status, position, as well as present and future benefits—earnings, promotions, savings—belong to both of them. Not only do they have an equal share of all their goods, talents, and gifts, they also share in each others sufferings, losses, weaknesses, and disabilities. Any duties or responsibilities one spouse has to family, friends, community, Church, or Country, both spouses have. Whatever sacrifices that one spouse makes to family, friends, community, Church, and County, both spouses make. Whatever happens to one of them happens to both of them. Even their own individual body belongs to both of them, because they are no longer two, but one body.

The human family is a micro-church. The marriage between a man and a woman prefigures the marriage between Christ and his Church. Just as a man and woman become one body in Christ, through marriage, the Church becomes one body—the “body of Christ,” through her union with Jesus. There is no separation between Jesus and the Church because they are one body.

If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing which would make me completely happy. There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people's interests instead. (Phil. 2:1-5)

When the shift in the cultural mind-set came about, and women were seen to have equal worth and dignity—when women were seen as persons instead of objects—it had a radical affect upon marriages of couples who lacked a conversion of hearts. Intellectually, they bought the new mind-set, but their reality, vision of life, and attitudes remained the same. They became confused and divided and divorce was on the rampage. Battles over custody of children and divorce settlements ensued. Women resisted the equal rights and entitlements of their husbands, regarding their children and custody of them. Men resisted the equal rights and entitlements of their wives, regarding community property, alimony, and retirement. Those who lacked a conversion of heart saw themselves as “victims” and felt violated by their spouse. This suffering, however, cannot end by one of them giving up their individual rights; that can only lead to abuse and tyranny.

In a marriage where the two become one body, there is no place for revenge, retribution, competition, jealousy, or envy between the spouses; only a couple that are divided and separate, experience such things. There is nothing that they can’t forgive each other for. Whatever they do to their spouse, they do to themselves. Love cannot exist in a person who refuses to forgive another person; they can neither receive nor give love because their heart is hardened.

Divorce and the consequences of divorce still plague our society, today. We cannot forgive because we don’t want to forgive. We want to hold onto our desire for retribution, revenge, and our distorted perception of justice. Unless a person is willing to forgive and let go of their desire for retribution, revenge, and what they perceive to be justice, they will remain in the prison of their own pain. The healing of the wounds and suffering caused by divorce and unjust mind-sets can only come from a conversion of hearts and forgiveness. We cannot forgive those who have hurt us, except through the grace of the Holy Spirit and the will to forgive. But, if we don’t forgive we will continue to live in a prison of pain; a prison that we have built ourselves.

It still takes three to make a truly authentic marriage—a man, a woman, and Jesus Christ. A true marriage needs the mind-set that comes from Christ—to “put on the mind of Christ.” Both, the man and the woman need to have a conversion of heart—to love each other unconditionally until death, as Jesus loves us. An authentic, true, and sacramental marriage still requires that the two become one body.

Beatitudes for the Married:

Blessed are they who do not let the sun go down on their anger and make every attempt to be reconciled before going to sleep. The Son will always shine on their marriage.

Blessed are they who have such mutual support for one another that they strive to not allow themselves to be angry both at the same time, so that all strife and dissension between them may be avoided. The Holy Spirit will always dwell in their house.

Blessed are they who guard their spouse’s reputation and never allow anyone to criticize them. They will be esteemed and respected by their community.

Blessed is the woman whose husband is praised by others, for she knows she has been a loving wife.

Blessed is the man whose wife is praised by others, for he knows he has been a loving husband.

Blessed is the woman who honors her husband in the presence of her children, for her children will call her blessed and reverence their father.

Woe to the woman who ridicules or criticizes her husband in front of her children, for her children will rebel against her and hate their father.

Blessed is the man who honors his wife in front of his children, for his children will honor him and cherish their mother.

Woe to the man who ridicules or criticizes his wife in front of his children, for they will rebel against him and treat their mothers with scorn.

Blessed is the woman who is humble and submissive, for her husband will treat her like a queen.

Blessed is the man who is dependable and faithful, for his wife will have confidence and trust in him.

Blessed is the woman who keeps her eyes fixed on her husband’s virtues instead of his faults, for his faults will disappear.

Blessed is the man who keeps his eyes fixed on his wife’s virtues instead of her faults, for he makes her holy.

Blessed is the woman who shows affection to her husband, for she makes him strong and courageous.

Blessed is the man who shows affection to his wife, for he makes her gentle and kind.

Blessed are they who do not judge or analyze one another, for they shall not be judged.

Blessed are they who forgive their spouse, for they shall be forgiven.

Blessed are they who are made righteous by God, for they will impart righteousness to their children.

Blessed are they who are detached from everything, for everything belongs to them.

Blessed are they who know how to listen, for they shall be heard when they speak.

Blessed are they who renew their marriage vows, daily, for their honeymoon will never be over.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

make a joyful noise unto the lord!!!!