Bonus Essay 4: Why should the church care about marriage?

Marriage is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. The word “sacrament” has its origin in the Latin word “sacrare” meaning “to consecrate.” Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a sacrament as a “religious rite or ritual that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality.” While most Protestant religions only see Baptism and Communion as sacraments, traditionally most have looked upon marriage as a sacred rite, not to be taken lightly.

My wife and I were both raised in the Roman Catholic Church, so when we became engaged to each other, there was no doubt whatsoever that our wedding would be in the church. Specifically, in Immaculate Conception Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the same place that her mother and father were married.

We both were living in Tucson, Arizona, so arranging a long-distance ceremony had its many pitfalls. One that we didn’t have to worry about was the required Pre-Marital counseling and Engaged Encounter weekend. We just went to our local parish in Tucson to arrange these matters, and the priest in Tucson sent the paperwork to the priest in Iowa. We were married on the last Saturday of November, 1980, a glorious, sunny, unusually warm day. Of course it started snowing later in the day, but that’s another story for another time.

My oldest child is getting married at the end of May. He and his bride-to-be will be married in North Carolina, but soon thereafter move to Missouri. No one in Missouri will question the validity of their marriage. My second child has been married for over 10 years. She and her husband were married in Arizona, and whenever they travel to any other state, no one questions the validity of their marriage.

When my youngest daughter and her partner decide that they want to get married, they will most likely have an out of state wedding. Not that they really want to do so, but because same-sex marriages are unconstitutional in the great state of Arizona. So they will travel to Southern California for a civil ceremony. Of course, as it stands now, when they get home, they won’t be “legally” married in Arizona. That my youngest daughter cannot have the same legal recognition as her brother and sister makes me very, very sad. This is why the church should and must care about marriage – all marriage.

Marriage, for me, is a sacred rite, not to be entered into frivolously. It IS an expression of God’s Divine Grace, and it IS a symbol of spiritual reality. When my wife and I promised to be with each other until one of us died, we entered into a bond that was recognized by the community and consecrated by God’s Grace. We have been together in this marriage for almost 34 years. I hope that someday ALL of my children will be able to look upon their beloved one knowing that “what God has brought together, no person should attempt to keep apart.” Marriage matters in the community, and it should, no it MUST matter in the church.

Why do YOU think the church should care about marriage?