The married man and woman, committed in covenant to one another, is the basis of society. All other relationships are dependent on the solidity of the marriages society is composed of.
In the marriage relationship, the man tends to be the reasoning, logical, and physically strong protector. The woman tends to be spiritual, intuitive, pictorial, and nurturing. These are the complementary traits of each. Both can and do exercise the full range of traits. In creating us male and female in His image and likeness, He allowed for a means to be individually fulfilled through the exercise of their diverse gifts and talents (See Proverbs 31:10-31 for a surprising depiction of the ideal marriage).
Love requires an object. The object is the beloved and the beloved’s love for her lover. When we marvel at being made in God’s image and likeness, it is most profound in the best understanding we have of his Triune Nature. So, too, is the relationship between husband and wife, and how we were made as male and female. The third element is the power of the love between husband and wife. It is awesome as the power of the Holy Spirit. Both create, nurture, and guide the fruits of their love for the greater glory of God and the wholeness of the human family. From that basis, all other relationships and adventures have their justification, or their condemnation.
A covenant man will love his wife as Scripture commands. A covenant woman will honor her husband as Scripture commands. With the power of love, they are the full and childlike image and likeness of the Triune God, worthy of honor and praise from those they serve and the children they nurture. (Childlikeness = Key to the Kingdom of Heaven) Many marriages fail today because one or both partners no longer “feel” anything. A covenant is a lifelong commitment to perform as promised. Love has nothing to do with feeling.
In a non-contraceptive union, the couple share enzymes in the fluids involved in coitus that create a bond of responsibility (covenant) so necessary for the proper raising of children (perhaps a touch of natural law?). Could the blocking of this “mixing” by contraception reduce this natural bonding and be a big reason for divorce and single mothers today? The world always creates a problem – the devil may care for a contraceptive- and abortion-oriented society – and then blame the victims while covering society’s sins with blood money.
With so many abandoned children, it is a noble act for people to adopt or foster a child (or a house full.) Sadly, government interference and the militancy of the so-called “gay” movement has made it difficult for co-habiting folks to take in a child without making demands that destroy the entire child adoption and care structure. A gay or unmarried pair has a greater responsibility to recognize that their role in parenting is to lead a child back to the way he was created for the glory of God – male and female and their covenant with God. They may also learn how to adjust their own obsessions.
The image of God is perfect. The Word is perfect; there is nothing held back. So, the Father has an unconditional self-donation. The Word therefore receives everything from the Father and is one with the Father, as we would hear Jesus later teaching us that “The Father and I are one.”
This is an eternal embrace, an eternal kiss, and an eternal union from which proceed the Lord and giver of life forever. God’s unconditional love has, on one side, “eternal transmission of life.” God’s eternal life has, on the flip side, “unconditional love”. Love and Life are totally inseparable.
The only way you can give yourself in this total, radical sense, in this image of God, is to that which is able to actually reproduce yourself. That involves the wonderful mystery of the fountain of life. The mutual reproductive gift of a man to a woman and a woman to a man is the fountain of life, the self-ability to reproduce.
To give self, therefore, means that in unconditional self-donation of the husband and wife in that which is called conjugal relations, these powers of self-donation will always be present, even if the couple proves to be barren.
The extension of this divine image of God in marriage; the interrelationship of a man and a woman in marriage has to be unitive and therefore pro-creative. “Unconditional love” translates into unitive, and “Lord and giver of life” translates into pro-creative. The two qualities of conjugal relationship therefore are meant to be based on the beginning of God’s eternal being.
Marriage is a way to learn how to live in God in such a way that when we end this life, we will be ready to enter into God’s eternal love and eternal life. Because that which we lived on earth, we are ready now to do forever where “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things our Heavenly Father has prepared for those who love him.”
We also must face the reality of Satan, who spoils the genetic code. He wants to change the words “unconditional love” into mutual exploitation, into conditional love. That changes love into increasing degrees of hatred or hostility. He wants to change the word “life” into contraception. He wants to halt the transmission of life into the blocking of the transmission of life. He doesn’t tell you overpopulation is the result of fear, stress for survival because of despotic government, not love or even lust.
God only intended to make the relationship between man and woman to be the way to heaven. We also have the opportunity to make it a path to hell. Such is the way of our free will and the presence of evil to overcome. May we again get back to the beginning as we were made in the image and likeness of God, for His eternal life and eternal love?
Based largely on a talk by Fr. Philip Pavich, then Associate Pastor of St. James Church, Medugorje, Bosnia – August 1990. This chapter from my MSS “The Reign of Innocence” contains over 5,300 words.. 1,000 words is enough for anybody!
Gerald V. Todd is married to the former Joanne Dean since January 30, 1960. They have three adopted children born in 1963, ’65, and ’69, with 8 grandchildren.
Photo credit: charlesfettinger (Creative Commons)