Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Thinking about Marriage

On thinking about marriage, specifically the idea that sex is a sacrament, the question of why that is arose. It has been said for centuries that sex is a sacrament of marriage, but how often does one stop to actually think about what that means and why it might be so?

Sacrament, according to, has several meanings. 
1. Ecclesiastical. a visible sign of an inward grace, especially one of the solemn Christian rites considered to have been instituted by Jesus Christ to symbolize or confer grace: the sacraments of the Protestant churches are baptism and the Lord's Supper; the sacraments of the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, matrimony, penance, holy orders, and extreme unction.

2. (often initial capital letter). Also called Holy Sacrament. the Eucharist or Lord's Supper.

3. the consecrated elements of the Eucharist, especially the bread.

4. something regarded as possessing a sacred character or mysterious significance.

5. a sign, token, or symbol.

6. an oath; solemn pledge." 

The meaning most likely to apply to the monogamus sex in a marriage would be numbers 4-6.

 Marriage is defined by monogamy. Mostly because the birth control options available today were not available throughout most of recorded history but also because the family unit consisting of a married father and mother and children turns out to be the most successful.

 The contract of marriage - and marriage IS a contract - is one regarding the production of children. It is a contract whose terms state that the utilization of one's bodily resources for the production of children will only be used with the other party to the contract.

Meaning number 6 is obvious enough, the usual oath or pledge of marriage is "forsaking all others" . 

Meaning number 5  refers to sexual monogamy as a sign, token or symbol that the contract is between only the two people making it. It is a sign to the rest of the world that you are no longer available as a spouse.  It is a token to each other of the dedication necessary to maintain a marriage for life and possibly raise a family. It is a symbol of the bonds that the two parties to the contract agree to in order to have a successful marriage. 

And meaning number 4 is the act of sex itself. It is a sacred act of mysterious (as well as obvious) significance because sex is the act by which new people are brought into the world. 

Isn't that a marvelous thing? Bringing a new person into the world is not always just bringing that person into the world, but all of the potential offspring of that new person as well. How could there be anything more holy, more sacred than that? 

The Jewish culture regards saving a life as saving a whole world because you may not be saving just the life of that one person, but the lives of all their potential offspring and generations beyond that as well. If that is the case for saving someone's life, then how could starting someone's life be less wonderful and holy? 

Our current culture has become so obsessed with avoiding having children (tragically to the point of actually killing them in the womb) that many young people seem to regard having a family as a disaster. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes it is difficult,  which is an excellent reason to marry - so that you have a partner in the adventure as well as a greater chance of success - but so is almost anything that is really worth doing.  

Children are the hardest, best and most rewarding adventure in this lifetime. You can climb Everest as many times as your wallet lets you, but can it compare to the depths of sheer endurance of forever letting your heart go walking around outside your body, as Author Elizabeth Stone once put it?

Motherhood in particular has been so thoroughly demeaned and ridiculed by those with an agenda to push, that it is become altogether unfashionable. This is not only wrong, but dangerous to the nation as a whole. A nation needs children, and more, it needs children who have been trained by loving parents to be good people as well as good, informed citizens. Stay-at -home parents do yeoman's work in shaping the next generation. 

Life is precious and sex is and should be a sacrament of marriage because it brings new life into the world. The agenda pushers seem to have forgotten how valuable that is on all levels. Parenthood is and should be a badge of honor and perhaps it is time to remind the culture of that fact. 

"16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her." ~ Gen 17:16

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