God's Plan for Marriage

Weekday Homily 12 Aug 11
Jos 24: 1-13 :: Ps 136 :: Mt 19: 3-12
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB

Here we have the classic locus for God’s plan for marriage and spousal love. This is the Scripture that the Church uses to root her entire teaching on marriage. This is a teaching that we need to retrieve and put back into our pulpits and catechesis.

Divorce is not unique to our times. Jesus had to deal with it in his time on earth. Some Pharisees asked Jesus for his opinion on divorce, since there were different schools of thought on divorce; some were strict and others were very lenient. Jesus does not endorse any school of thought. Rather, he takes us back to the original plan of God for marriage, spousal love and family. He takes us back “to the beginning,” to creation itself, when God first made them male and female.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. So they are no longer two, but one. What God has put together, let no man put asunder.”

Marriage is God’s plan, and his alone. No one, no government, and no legislature have any authority to change the definition of marriage. This is completely beyond their competency.

God’s plan for marriage is that a man and a woman, who are deeply in love, freely choose to enter into a permanent, irrevocable, commitment. When they exchange their marriage vows, they freely choose to enter into a permanent covenant with God and between themselves. When they marry, they change themselves from being just good friends to become spouses. As spouses they are totally devoted, totally committed, to each other. Their marital relationship is an exclusive relationship, to which they will be faithful all the days of their life. Because they are spouses, they are capable of expressing their love through their spousal act, which is their way of making the total gift of self to one another. They open themselves to the goodness of love and to the goodness of life. All this is God’s gift to them.

What happens when difficulties, misunderstandings, and unforeseen problems arise, and the ardor of romantic love cools? God knows that problems will come into every marriage, into every relationship. He wants the couple to work with their problems, to draw upon the grace of their sacrament, to rely upon God’s help, and to grow into more mature persons through their problems.

Marriage is an irrevocable commitment, and divorce is forbidden, because this is how God has

defined marriage. There are some commitments you cannot exhaust in ten or twenty years. It takes a lifetime to accomplish a marriage. God will not change his plan for marriage. It is a very good plan, and he is not disposed to revise that plan.

If marriage has fallen upon hard times, and it certainly has today, then the solution is not to increase the opportunities for divorce and remarriage. The solution is to rediscover God’s original plan, to propose it clearly, and to point to the many helps and aids that God provides a couple to meet any difficulties they will encounter, if both spouses are willing to work at it.

Everyone wants a strong marriage and a healthy, happy family. Children want to live with their natural fathers and mothers, with their brothers and sisters. May we all do our share in promoting God’s plan for marriage, spousal love and family. The world desperately needs to hear this plan proposed and explained.

“What God has put together, let no man put asunder.”

Prayer of the Faithful

  • That our spiritual leaders and moral guides will clearly proclaim God’s plan for marriage, spousal love and family at the pulpit and in their catechesis, let us pray to the Lord …
  • That legislatures, courts and civil leaders will understand the importance of marriage as God designed it, and protect it from all groups who attempt to change or undermine it …
  • For more effective marriage preparation courses that will prepare young couples for the challenges awaiting them …
  • For married couples who enjoy a good marriage and are working as coaches for couples experiencing difficulties in their relationship …
  • That more Catholic family practice doctors and Ob/Gyns will understand God’s plan for marriage and spousal love, and cease prescribing contraception and sterilization …