“What Therefore God Hath Joined Together, Let No Man Put Asunder”
On the sixth day of creation God formed man out of the slime of the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life, and gave him a companion, Eve, whom He drew in a wondrous manner from the side of the sleeping Adam.
By so doing, God willed that couple to be the source of the human race, which was to be propagated by successive generations; and, in order that His wise designs might be the better accomplished, He endowed the union of man and woman with the qualities of unity and perpetuity.
Christ Himself taught that, by its very institution, marriage should be between two only ; that the two became one flesh, and that the marriage tie was so close that no man could loose it. (Mt:19:5-6)
But the primitive perfection of marriage gradually became corrupted even among God’s own chosen people. Moses permitted them, on account of the hardness of their heart, to give a bill of divorce.
“If a man take a wife, and have her, and she find not favor in his eyes, for some uncleanness: he shall write a bill of divorce, and shall give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” (Dt: 24:1)
Among the Gentiles every sort of abomination prevailed, so that woman was degraded from being the man’s companion to being his drudge or his toy, and children became the mere chattels of their parents. These evils, however, were not to be without a remedy. Jesus Christ, Who restored man’s dignity and perfected the Mosaic law, took marriage under His special care. He deigned to be present at the wedding feast at Cana, and made it the occasion of His first miracle.
He reproved the Jews for their corrupt practices regarding marriage, and particularly forbade divorce. But He did far more. He raised matrimony to the dignity of a sacrament, thereby giving it the power to confer upon those who receive it the grace required by their state, and making it a figure of the union between Himself and His Church.
“Husbands, love your wives,” says St. Paul to the Ephesians “as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered Himself up for it, that He might sanctify it. … Men ought to love their wives as their own bodies. . . . No man ever hateth his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the Church; because we are members of His body, of His flesh, and His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh. This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the Church.” (Eph:5:22-32)
A Manual of Catholic Theology based on Scheeben’s “Dogmatik,”
by Joseph Wilhelm and Thomas B. Scannell
Benziger Bros. -1908