In my essay, I intend to discuss why Roman Catholics marry, and I will refer to religious teachings and the marriage service in my answer. Marriage can be described as many things – a legal contract; a holy deed; a symbol of love. Indeed none of these are wrong, because marriage is a combination of the three. Catholic Christianity Today describes marriage on page 89 as “condition of man and woman legally united for purpose of living together and, usually, creating lawful offspring.” Dimensions of Christianity describe it as “a solemn contract between man and woman who love each other. The marriage contract is made holy in the sacrament.”
Marriage has three purposes; for the good of the couple, and for the procreation and education of children. These are briefly outlined in the marriage service. “The Catholic Church teaches that God created man and woman for each other,” (Genesis 2:24). Many Roman Catholics marry to fulfil the Church’s teachings, and to carry out a life-long relationship full of love for each other.
The marriage vows ask the couple to state their intentions clearly. They are asked: “Are you ready to love and honour each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives? Are you ready to accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?” The vows are promises, and by simply saying “I do” you are agreeing legally to the vows. The marriage service consists not only of exchanging vows, but rings also, to symbolise the unending nature of marriage. Apart from these, biblical passages and prayers are read before and after communion. The communion prayers also have a marital twist: the very last part says “so now make them in love for one another.”
Another reason for marriage is for the lawful procreation of children. Many married couples have children, and the Church teaches that they must be brought up to believe in Christ and his teachings, to lead a Catholic life. They should be baptised, and taught throughout their life to know and love God.
Marriage is mainly about a man and a woman spending the rest of their lives together, till death do they part. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that from marriage should arise a lifelong bond, spiritually, physically and mentally, and that in Catholic marriage this bond is “consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament.” This exclusive bond should be accentuated by the spouses’ love for one another, and strengthened by procreation.
“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.” (Ephesians 5:25). This biblical reference shows how the Church teaches about marriage, about how important it is to love and respect one another. “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body,” (Genesis 2:24).