The Sanctity of Marriage
“THE CHRISTIAN HOME AND FAMILY” The Sanctity Of Marriage INTRODUCTION 1.Marriage as an institution today is struggling… a.Many seek to redefine what constitutes a marriage b.
We hear of same-sex marriages, open marriages, polygamy, polyandry, polyamory c. Others decry marriage altogether, preferring simple cohabitation d. Many joke about it: “Marriage is a wonderful institution. But who would want to live in an institution? ” – Henry Mencken 2. The family as an institution today is struggling… a. Husbands and wives often suffer strained relationships b. Parents and children are frequently at odds with one another c.
Much misery in life is due to dysfunctional family relations d. Some prefer that government assume the role of raising children 3. I believe much of the problem is due to self-centeredness in our society… a. People are told to “look out for #1” in all their relations (business, family, etc. ) b. Thus many enter marriage and start families with selfish attitudes c. Yet no relationship can exist peacefully and lovingly with selfish participants 4. The Bible has much to say about marriage and family… a. Especially in the teachings of Jesus and His apostles b. That has helped many to have long-lasting, fulfilling relationships c.
Which can affect both our temporal and eternal happiness [In this series of lessons, we shall consider what Jesus and His apostles taught concerning the Christian home and family. I believe a good place to start is by affirming “The Sanctity Of Marriage”… ] I. THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE DEFINED A. THE MEANING OF SANCTITY… 1. Sanctity is defined as the quality of being holy, sacred 2. Thus it is common to speak of “holy matrimony” (i. e. , sacred marriage) B. THE SACREDNESS OF MARRIAGE… 1. Marriage is one of the holiest of relations two people can have 2. Marriage is a bond created by God Himself, thus we must treat it as sacred . Marriage is not something to be entered into lightly 4. “Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage. ” – President George W. Bush [Is the idea of marriage as a sacred union a Biblical concept? What did Jesus and His apostles say about it…? ] II. THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE DELINEATED A. MARRIAGE WAS INSTITUTED BY GOD… 1. From the very beginning, following the Creation – Mt 19:3-4; cf. Gen 2:18-24 2. Designed for those created as male and female – Mt 19:4 3. Whose union becomes “one flesh” (produce offspring) – Mt 19:5 — Marriage is not a creation of the state, but of God Himself! B. MARRIAGE IS REGULATED BY JESUS… . Jesus has been given all authority, will be our Judge in all things – Mt 28:18; 2Co 5:10 2. He taught that man may try to put asunder, but only God puts asunder – Mt 19:7-9 a. One may legally divorce and remarry, but adultery can still occur – Mt 5:31-32 b. God allows divorce only for fornication, and remarriage by the innocent – Mt 19:9 3. He taught some might have to remain celibate (“make themselves eunuchs”) for the sake of the kingdom of heaven – Mt 19:11-12 a. Perhaps because they had been divorced for adultery or unlawfully married b. Or because they were single by choice, or never asked to be married 4.
His apostle Paul had more to say concerning marriage a. Marriage is for life; marrying another while one’s spouse is alive is adultery – Ro 7:1-4 b. Each person is to have his or her own spouse, not shared – 1Co 7:2 c. Husbands and wives have certain duties toward one another – 1Co 7:3-5 d. One is not to divorce; if divorced, must remain single or return to spouse – 1Co 7:10-11 e. If an unbelieving spouse departs, a believer is not obligated to fulfill marital duties (but that does not necessarily imply they are free to remarry) – cf. 1Co 7:3-5, 12-16 — Jesus as Lord over all is the final Arbiter regarding marriage! C.
MARRIAGE IS RESERVED FOR INTIMACY… 1. The only proper relationship for sexual intimacy (intercourse) is marriage – He 13:4 a. Not before the wedding, during courtship, but only after the wedding b. Greatly simplifying the perennial question: “When is the right time? ” 2. Sex outside marriage (between a man and a woman) is fornication a. Fornication includes pre-marital, extra-marital, or same-sex relations b. Such conduct can keep one out of the kingdom of God – cf. 1Co 6:9-10 3. Sex outside marriage is not without physical and psychological consequence a. Even casual “hookups” deeply affect the brain and our emotions – cf. 1Co 6:16 . Chemical reactions in the body occur that lead to bonding, even addiction (this is not even considering the consequences of STDs! ) c. Leading to an increase of depression and suicide when there is no marriage – Heritage Foundation, 2003 d. 25. 3% of sexually active teenage girls experienced depression, compared to 7. 7% of sexually abstinent girls – ibid. e. 14. 3% of sexually active girls attempted suicide, compared to 5. 1% of their virgin peers – ibid. f. For more, read this: There Is Nothing Brief About A Hookup 4. Pre-marital sex endangers having a successful marriage a. The national divorce rate in the United States is over 40 ercent – National Survey Of Family Growth b. Couples who wait to have sex until marriage – and remain faithful – have a divorce rate of only 20 percent – ibid. c. Couples who have more sexual partners prior to or outside of marriage have a much higher rate of divorce – ibid. d. Those who have as many as five partners have only a 30 percent chance that their marriage will not end in divorce – ibid. 5. A successful marriage requires mutual respect and trust a. Courtship is the time to build respect and trust which will strengthen your marriage b. If your potential spouse will sin with you before you marry… c. … hat assurance do you have they will not sin against you after you marry? — The sanctity of marriage is preserved when it alone is the realm of sexual intimacy! CONCLUSION 1. Marriage is not an institution… a. Created and designed by man or the state b.Subject to alteration by societal whims 2. Marriage is a sacred institution… a. Instituted by God in the beginning b. Regulated by Jesus and His apostles in the Word of God c. Reserved for sexual intimacy between a man and a women 3. Marriage is a successful institution… a. When we follow the Biblical injunctions concerning it b. When members of the family fulfill their proper roles
We shall consider those injunctions, starting with the duties of husbands in our next lesson. In the meantime, some food for thought from an uninspired (though wise) perspective… The 10 Commandments of Successful Marriage Judge Joseph Sabbath, after twenty year’s experience in presiding over what he called “the nightmare world of the divorce courts,” framed ten commandments of a successful marriage which, he predicted, could prevent at least ninety percent of marital smash-ups: 1. Bear and forbear. 2. Work together, play together, and grow up together. 3. Avoid the little quarrels, and the big ones will take care of themselves. . Compromise (give and take). It is the antitoxin of divorce. 5. Practice sympathy, good humor and mutual understanding. 6. Don’t grouch before breakfast or after it. 7. Respect your “in-laws,” but don’t criticize them or take criticism from them. 8. Establish your own home, even in a one room flat. 9. Fight for each other, but not with each other. 10. Build your home on religious faith, with love and forgiveness as the watchword. The Sanctity of Marriage by Rev. Chauncey Giles Introduction and Table of Contents Like a Dickens novel, this work by Chauncey Giles unfolds slowly at first, as he sets the stage for what is to follow.
His prose style, like other writers of his day, is also sometimes more complicated than we’re used to. But for the reader with a little patience there is great reward in this remarkable man’s inspiring and insight-filled discussions of the teachings of the Word on this subject. In the space of this short book he paints a picture that stretches from its background in the nature of God to the practical principles of building a marriage that will last to eternity in heaven. 1. The Origin, Nature and Sanctity of Marriage 2. How True Marriages are Formed 3. The Ministry of Marriage in Regeneration 4. Resurrection and Marriage . Marriage in Heaven 6. The Marriage of the Soul with the Lord Sanctity of Marriage What is the fundamental attitude in married life order to achieve sanctity? What can motivate us to become saints within marriage? by Father Nicolas Schwizer | Source: Catholic. net I think the secret is this: to be always there for your spouse! When someone becomes a Franciscan, the person embraces poverty. When someone becomes a Jesuit, he embraces obedience. When someone becomes a Schoenstatt Father, he embraces the Marian apostolate, and when people marry, what do they embrace? Their spouse, they are to embrace each other for eternity.
Being there for the other, although it may seem beautiful, is most difficult in life. To be there for the other means that I no longer have the right to think of my comfort, that I have to forget myself, that I have to be there for the other just as Christ is there for the Church. My mission is, then, to support my spouse, to complement my spouse, to lead my spouse to heaven. This is not easy – you know it better than I do – because we are often selfish and narrow-minded. If someone is able to maintain this attitude throughout one’s married life, “I am only there for the other,” this person becomes a saint.
If it deals with canonizing a married spouse, then it will always be looked into if he/she was there for the other. To be there as Christ is for the Church is to be there with noble and transparent love, not with love which asks that the other be there for me but that I may be there in return. The marriage will be a happy one according to the measure in which spouses live out this norm. I should then know how to limit myself in my likes for my spouse. What if I like noodles and my spouse likes French fries? Am I condemned to eat French fries all my life! I will bear it for one week. But will I bear it for 20 years, 30 years?
What if God has given me the joy of 60 years of marriage? Perhaps you are laughing, nevertheless, here is the key to marital happiness or to marital tragedy: See the positive qualities always Being there for the spouse means to always be disposed, to always be conscious of the other, of the good qualities the spouse has. Never become accustomed to your spouse’s qualities however. Be accustomed to many things, but you must not become accustomed to the good qualities of your spouse. On the contrary, every day you should learn to appreciate them more. I think this must be something which makes sanctity in marriage so difficult.
One soon becomes accustomed to the good qualities the spouse has, and later only focuses on the bad qualities. It seems that the bad qualities increase and the good qualities decrease. Therefore, marital happiness depends on the spirit of sacrifice, on the ability of letting oneself be crucified for the other. It is the way of true love which is really what is most difficult in this human existence. The German poet, Rilke, said it: “The most difficult, the most difficult task man has to learn is love. ” Why? Because the hardest thing we can do is to forget ourselves and to seek the other’s best interest.
Questions for Meditation 1. Do I often sacrifice my likes, or do I insist on them? 2. Do I continue to see the qualities of my spouse or have I become accustomed to them? 3. Is it easier for me to see the short comes or the virtues of the other? 1. The Origin, Nature and Sanctity of Marriage “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. ” Genesis 1: 27 Marriage, in common with many other subjects which touch the personal happiness and vital interests of man and woman, is attracting new and general attention.
This movement is in accordance with the universal laws of human progress. We are impelled by the evils we suffer, and allured by the hope of gaining more light and attaining greater happiness, to seek for new truth and devise new methods for a better organization of society. This process must go on until we find the ground of all human relations in the immutable laws of the Divine order. There is no other way of settling any question of human life and destiny. This principle applies in a most intimate and specific manner to the relations between man and woman.
There is a common perception that they are the most intimate relations that one human being can hold to another; that they are not merely formal, artificial, and determined by legislative power, but that they grow out of the specific nature of man and woman; that marriage has its source and sanction in a power higher and prior to any human authority. But there is diversity of opinion upon the subject, and the origin and nature of marriage are not generally understood. If we turn to the revelation which the Lord has made to man in the Sacred Scriptures, we find the origin and nature of marriage distinctly declared in the creation of man. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness : and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. ” Our Lord, in His answer to the Pharisees concerning divorce, refers to this passage in Genesis and confirms its special application to marriage. Have ye not read,” He said, ‘that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female? and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. “‘ In these words the important truth is revealed that man was created in the image and after the likeness of God, – that is, that the attributes of the Divine nature are finited in man. In the beginning man erived his essential nature from God. This truth applies to every human being. Every man begins in God. The first steps in his creation and the essential elements of his nature, unstained by evil and unperverted by error, are derived from God. Man inherits all his intellectual faculties and moral qualities from God according to the universal laws of heredity, as every seed inherits its qualities from the plant that bore it, every animal derives its form and nature from its parents, and every child its nature from its father and mother.
When we call the Lord our Father, as we are taught to do, it is not by courtesy or a figure of speech; it is a statement of a positive fact. It follows as a necessary consequence that the intellectual faculties, which are the masculine qualities of man’s nature, and the affections, which are the feminine qualities of his nature, were derived from the Lord. These factors of the human mind, which in general terms we call love and wisdom, or goodness and truth, must be united in every human being. Love alone does not constitute a human being, neither does truth alone.
The two qualities or factors must be united. Love has its form, and means of action from truth, and truth has all its power from love. They must be conjoined – married – before either of these two essential elements of the human mind can act. This union is not an artificial one. It is like that of substance and form. Each becomes the other, and together they make one. Here, then, we find the origin of marriage. It is derived from the Lord. It has its highest and perfect form in Him, for in Him love and wisdom are one. We do not mean by this that they are the same.
His wisdom is the adequate and perfect form of His love, and His love finds full and adequate expression and embodiment in His wisdom. There is no excess of the one over the other, as there is in human minds. As they go forth in the creation they become embodied in spiritual and material forms, distinct from one another, each one embodying the same essential elements, but in different proportions, and each seeking the other and drawn to the other by a power derived from their common origin. This power we call attraction, which literally means “drawing to. The particles of matter have an affinity for one another, and they draw those of a homogeneous nature to themselves and combine, are joined together, or are married, and form other bodies. Gases marry and become liquids and solids, as water and precious stones. The earth draws all things to herself. The sun draws all planets to his fiery bosom. There is, moreover, throughout creation, in its largest and least forms, a duality. There is everywhere the passive and the active; objects are adapted for each other and find their use in union with each other.
Everywhere they possess more or less perfectly the qualities of masculine and feminine, male and female, and present an image of marriage. This general principle running through all, separating all, combining all, gives unity in infinite variety. The union between man and woman, which we call marriage, is only an eminent instance of the universal marriage by which each is bound to all, and all to the Lord. Marriage, therefore, has its origin in the Lord, and its highest and universal form in the union between love and wisdom, or good and truth.
Marriage originates, derivatively, in the inmost degrees and principles of man’s spirit; in the germs and beginnings of his nature as a human being. God created man male and female. God joined man and woman together as He joined heat and light, affection and thought, heart and lungs, love and wisdom. Marriage has its origin, therefore, in God; its highest, inmost, fullest created form and manifestation in man and woman. Such being the origin of marriage, we proceed to the second question we are to consider, which is, the nature of marriage.
This is necessarily involved in its origin. But the subject is so large and important, and one which is so little understood, that it will richly repay special consideration. As marriage has its human origin in the first principles and most interior forms of man’s nature, it consists essentially in the union of two minds or souls. The human spirit is the subject and theatre of its operation. It is, therefore, spiritual in its nature. It is not in itself a civil or legal contract; it is not effected by ecclesiastical sanction.
It is as impossible for the state or the church to marry a man and a woman, in the essential meaning of the word, as it would be to join light and heat, or make two material substances combine which had no affinity for each other. The state may throw restraints around marriage; it may prescribe legal forms and conditions for its natural and visible consummation; it may protect and conserve it by the sanctions of its authority, as it is its right and duty to do; but it can neither unite nor separate human souls.
The church may give its sanction, and consecrate its consummation by solemn ceremonies; it may instruct the people in its nature and use, and the proper steps that lead to it; but here its mission and power end. It cannot touch the interior and invisible bonds that bind soul to soul, either to confirm or dissolve them. God alone can join human souls together, and of the twain make one. This fact, that real marriage can be effected only by Him who created man male and female, will appear more clearly, if possible, when we consider the nature of that power that conjoins the man and woman and of the two makes one.
The power which draws man and woman to each other, and binds them together, and unites their souls, is love, which is spiritual attraction, and, like the attraction between material bodies, it operates in interior ways. Love effects and consecrates the real marriage. The degree and nature of the love determine the degree and nature of the marriage and the plane of man’s nature in which it is effected. This is an essential truth, and has a most important bearing upon the whole subject.
It is impossible to understand the essential nature of marriage without some knowledge of the fact that there are distinct planes or degrees of the human mind, each of which has its distinct faculties and qualities. It is from ignorance of this fact that the church has believed and taught that sex is merely a physical distinction and marriage a temporary relation whose bonds are dissolved by the dissolution of the material body. When it is nothing but a civil contract for worldly and natural considerations, the dissolution of the material body will sever all its bonds, as it does every bargain and civil bond.
But if the marriage is a union of souls, nothing but the destruction of the soul itself can sunder the ties which unite them. The doctrines of the New Church, in which the organization of man’s spirit is disclosed and set forth in the most specific, rational, and logical forms, and in the fullest manner, all derived from the Word of God, teach that man as to his spirit is a threefold being. Marriage can be effected on either of these planes, and its nature will depend entirely upon the degree of life in which the husband and wife are united.
If they come together for merely natural, worldly, and selfish motives, because of wealth and social position, or physical beauty, or natural possessions, the union is a marriage only in name. It is more properly a bargain, a copartnership between the man and woman by which they agree to live together as husband and wife, for the attainment and possession of some natural good. No spiritual principle enters into it; no spiritual affection is awakened by it. There is no union of souls. There is no giving and receiving of personal life. It is not a real marriage.
Husband and wife are not joined together interiorly by God. It is an agreement, a copartnership to secure – a personal good, rather than a union of hearts by which each becomes the other’s. Such a partnership between a man and woman may result in much natural happiness. The husband and wife have common interests, which can be promoted by mutual and united effort. There is a constant interchange of thought and service. They become accustomed to each other’s ways and peculiarities of thought and character, and learn to adapt themselves to each other. Custom grows into habit.
They have common joys, common duties, and common sorrows, and they become necessary to each other. Probably the great majority of marriages are of this nature. They relate only to this life and this world. Husband and wife are bound together only by natural affection, and this affection is not primarily the love of each other, but of some common good. It is not the love of rendering the other a service, but of receiving service from the other. The inspiration of the marriage is love of self rather than love of the Lord and the neighbor, and the relation does not rise above the level of a business partnership.
It is often attended by some measure of outward success, but sometimes with miserable failure; and at the best it is hollow and without interior blessing. When we rise to the spiritual plane of our nature, we come into the presence of faculties where a genuine marriage is possible. Here we find the love of what is good and true as the essential characteristic of the affections and the motive of all action. It is the love of others for what they are, rather than for what they possess. It is primarily the love of goodness and truth.
The splendor of truth attracts more than the brilliance of the eye; the grace of a well-ordered intelligence is prized above a pleasing manner; the fresh beauty of innocence is more charming than the clearest and fairest complexion; a true, steadfast, and pure affection is more precious than any or all merely natural gifts and possessions. Respect and honor and worship combine in pure and unselfish affection. There is true nobility in it. It equally dignifies and ennobles the one who gives and the one who receives it.
When a man finds a woman worthy of such love, and capable of receiving, appreciating, and reciprocating it, when a woman finds a man capable of exercising it, they have secured all the conditions for a genuine marriage. They are united by bonds which neither time nor space nor material conditions nor death nor life can sever. The bonds are substantial, indissoluble, and will continue to draw them into closer and more blissful union forever. Each loves the other for what the other is and can receive; each desires to give to the other of his or her own, to become the other’s own.
Thus, by mutual giving and receiving, they are joined together and become one. This is the nature of true, spiritual marriage. And if we rise to the highest plane of human life and the most interior faculties of the soul, we find that man and woman attain their most intimate and holiest union as they join in love and service of the Lord. This is the highest marriage, and it becomes pure and blessed as that love and service are so. The ground of marriage consists in the fact that man and woman are created complements of each other; they are so made that each needs and loves the qualities possessed by the other.
The woman loves intelligence in the man. She is charmed with his ability to discover the secret laws of nature and apply its forces to human use. This ability and his strength in overcoming the antagonism of men in the arena of life are a staff to lean upon, a shield to protect, and the magician’s wand to compel the elements into her service and provide her with the means of happiness. All the qualities of the masculine nature are the mates and complements of her affections. They round out and complete her own being.
And the man loves the woman for her beauty of form and grace of manner, for her pliancy and gentleness. He loves her for her strength, because it is of a different nature from his own; it is the strength of love. He delights to be overcome and yield to that. It matches his power of intellect and proves her his equal, though she uses different weapons and wields them with a skill impossible to him. Her soft and gentle hand is a match for his hard and muscular one. She conquers by winning, he by force of muscle and brain.
He storms the citadel; she gains possession of it by secret and charming ways which make it pleasant to surrender. Defeat under these conditions is better than victory,-or rather, there is no defeat. Both surrender and both are victorious. Both attain what they desire. The woman gives beauty and grace to the man’s strength, and he gives power and substantial form to her affections. Faculty is wedded to faculty, and each gives and receives what the other needs. Both natures are enriched and perfected by the exchange. Both gain and neither loses.
In a true marriage there is this remarkable result, which is possible only in the spiritual plane of the creation. The twain become one not by the merging and absorption of one into the other and the loss of personal identity, as two drops of water melt into one. Each becomes the other, but remains more distinctly herself or himself. The husband is not changed into a woman, nor the wife into a man. On the contrary, the wife becomes more distinctly feminine in all her faculties, and the husband more distinctly masculine. The unity which marriage effects is not the unity of sameness, but of harmony in variety.
The peculiar qualities and the forms of sex are more clearly revealed and sharply defined. Each partner comes into greater freedom of thought because the intellectual faculties of both husband and wife are perfected. They come into greater freedom; and as they go on into the eternal future, and each one becomes enlarged and perfected by the mutual interchange of thought and love, the wife will become more distinctly and beautifully and charmingly feminine, and the husband will become more nobly and grandly masculine, and both will come into more intimate and distinct and blissful union.
Such, as we understand it, and as the New Church teaches, is the origin and nature of marriage. It is the union of one man and one woman in the bonds of a pure and holy love derived from the Lord and descending through heaven from Him. Such being its nature, it follows as a necessary consequence that there can be no human relation so sacred as this. It contains in itself, in its essential nature, and in the manifold legitimate forms of its manifestation and use, all that is orderly, lovely, pure, and holy.
It is a lower and special form of the union of the Lord with the individual soul and with the church, which He calls His bride and wife. It is the most intimate, the most perfect and blissful relation which one human being can hold to another. It is implanted in the constitution of man’s nature and woman’s nature; it is a union to which they are predestined by the Divine love and wisdom, and by every faculty of their constitution and principle of their being. It is the union of homogeneous natures by which each finds the complement of itself and attains its own perfection.
Such being the high and sacred nature of real, genuine marriage, it follows as a necessary consequence that anything which tends to hinder its consummation is a loss; that any violation of its sanctities is a most deadly sin, and that every truth which throws light upon its true nature, and helps man and woman to find the complement of their souls, is the most precious gift that man or God can bestow upon them. 2. How True Marriages are Formed “What . . . God hath joined together. ” Mark 10: 9 The Lord creates people in pairs, and these pairs are specifically related, like the heart and lungs.
Each part is made for one other, and for no other but that one. It will not fit any other; it cannot unite perfectly with any other. This specific adaptation is as perfect in human beings as it is in the components of any material substance. The Divine wisdom is not limited to a general arrangement of the substances and forces in the creation. It operates in the least things and in the most specific manner. The Lord is faithful in that which is least, and in this way He becomes faithful in much.
What a defect and defeat of the creation it would be if it were left to chance and accident whether an animal or a child was born without a heart or lungs, or with half a brain, or with only one hand or foot! It would be just as great a defect in the Divine methods if it were left to chance to provide the complement to every human being’s nature which he needs to gain the happiness for which he was created. A true marriage, which consists in the union of souls, can take place only between those souls that were made for each other.
Only those can unite. There may be what is called marriage between a man and woman of the most opposite nature. That is a merely external and legal union. But a real marriage goes deeper. It is not determined by circumstance; it is not formed by merely natural and worldly means. In such legal connections the man and the woman – we can call them husband and wife only by common courtesy and common usage – meet on the material and merely natural plane of life. Their thoughts and affections are limited to this world and to this life.
They may get along comfortably, be of great assistance to each other, and enjoy much of natural life, and yet have no communion of spiritual and human affection and thought. But man is a spiritual being. He is destined by every faculty of his nature to find his home and the means of his happiness in the spiritual world. The longest life in this world, compared with his life in the spiritual world, is as a moment to eternal years. It is as the acorn which lies in the ground for a few months, compared with the oak which lives for centuries. Our life in the aterial world is the acorn; our life in the spiritual world is the undying oak. The Lord provides for the organization of man’s spiritual nature and its perpetual development. He bends every event and natural circumstance to man’s permanent and highest good. He provides for it in the creation of human pairs and in their preparation for union. They may be separated by time and space and circumstance, and even by worlds. They may never meet in this world, and still the preparation may be going on for the eternal union of natures destined to be joined together by God.
If this fact were known and understood, it would have a most important influence on all our thoughts and purposes with regard to marriage in this world. We should regard it as the most important relation that exists between one human being and another. It would enter into and control all our purposes and the whole conduct of life. Young men and women would be instructed in the nature and importance of this relation, and how to prepare themselves for it. While it is true that human beings are created in pairs, and every one has a specific nature and original endowment of faculties for union with a corresponding nature, this . reation is not completed, and, as it were, stereotyped and unchangeably fixed by one act of creative power. The work is continually going on. It is true that the first step enters into all the subsequent ones and modifies them. But the original endowment is also modified by all the influences and means that are active in its development. Human freedom enters as a large factor in the result. A human being is not made as the artist moulds an image in the soft and passive clay, or cuts it in marble. Man himself co-operates with the Lord in his creation.
The Lord says to every human being, “Let us make man. ” Every man and woman, therefore, co-operates with the Lord in determining the final result. What each one becomes, without any knowledge of the unknown being who is the complement of his or her nature, is determining who that being shall be. Everyone is becoming the complement of some other being by the character formed. The knowledge gained, the affections cherished, the habits confirmed, the character organized, are all elements which must enter into, modify, and determine the result.
Common observation and universal experience testify to this fact. Why is there a reciprocal attraction between one young man and one young woman rather than between others? Is it not because there are qualities of heart, some peculiarities of manner, some graces of form and speech, of look and act, that are specially pleasing? But these are mostly the result of culture in its largest sense. The whole life in all its acts and apparently trivial circumstances has contributed to the result.
What the boy and girl are doing in early childhood and youth, the innocent affections they exercise which give to the morning of life the charm that fragrance and tender beauty give to the flower, the education of circumstance and relation, and the little unnoticed daily acts as well as the formal instruction, give quality to the affections, color and form to the intellect, tone to speech, and grace, or the want of it, to manner; all combine to determine those special and peculiar qualities that constitute individuality and prepare for union with one person rather than another.
It is in the nature of things, therefore, that boys and girls and men and women are determining, by the characters they form, to whom they are to be joined in eternal union. They are to be matched and mated. They are to find their counterpart, the complement of their form and nature. But what that counterpart will be must be determined by what each one is and becomes. It necessarily follows from this that in an important sense every man and woman has the power of determining, and is determining, who the real partner shall be.
The responsibility of choice is committed to each one. The man may ask, Where am I to find my wife? The woman may ask, Where am I to find my husband? The answer must be, Look within your own mind and see what manner of man or woman you are. Who will fit you? That must be determined by what you are. God cannot join incongruous natures together, much less those of opposite and hostile character. The pure and the vile are not homogeneous; evil is not the complement of good, virtue of vice. They are as opposite as heat and cold, light and darkness. God cannot join them together.
He can join those natures only which are the complements of each other. True marriages are formed, and can be formed, only by the cultivation of those faculties which can be united. The man must cultivate and develop those faculties that are distinctly masculine in form and quality. The woman must cherish and perfect those qualities of heart and intellect that are distinctly feminine. The union of the masculine and feminine mind is not the conjunction of the same mental qualities. It is not the direct union of heart with heart, or thought with thought, as is often supposed.
It is the union of the will of the one with the understanding of the other, of affection with thought, and thought with affection. The wife does not love the husband because he possesses the same qualities of brain and heart that she does. She has no desire to marry herself. She does not want a wife, but a husband. The husband does not love the wife for masculine qualities, but for womanly ones. He does not want a man for a wife. Men of great intellectual powers are often devotedly attached to wives who are quite their opposites in this respect.
The man has an intellect already. It is not a library, or a dictionary, or a geological cabinet he needs. He wants intelligence, it is true, but not in its cold and sharp forms. He seeks it clothed in the garments of feminine beauty and bathed in the warm light of love. He is not attracted by the dry bones of truth; he seeks it clothed with living flesh and rounded into graceful feminine forms. On the other hand, the woman is not charmed by weak and blind affection. She desires love, but she prizes it in the power and glorious form of truth.
She loves wisdom, but wisdom is love directed by truth to a noble purpose. This is a universal law of the Divine order, which is beautifully exemplified in chemical affinities and in the numberless combinations of matter in the creation of material objects. Affinity is not due to sameness, identity, but to those qualities which mutually accommodate and adapt substances to one another, and enable them by their union to form a more excellent whole. Every woman is preparing herself for marriage by the disposition and qualities of head and heart she is cherishing.
This is true not only in general but in particular. Every affection must have its corresponding truth, which is the form and measure of it; the affection itself determines with what truth it shall be joined. If we have one of the elements of a substance we desire to form, we must obtain the other; and what the other will be must be determined by the one we possess. If we desire to form water and have hydrogen, any gas will not answer; we must have oxygen; we must have the element that will combine with the one we possess.
The one we possess then determines the one we must procure. According to the same principle, what a man or woman becomes by heredity, by education, and by culture in its widest and most specific sense, determines who the corresponding partner shall be. To every woman, in a large degree, therefore, is given the choice of her husband, and to every man the choice of his wife, and every one is choosing by the character he or she is forming. Each one is becoming the measure of the other; each one is developing the special qualities that must find a correspondent.
Each one is making preparation for marriage, and determining who the partner shall be, by every affection exercised, by every thought indulged and every deed done. Chance, or circumstance, or casual meeting have no control over the final result. Beings that are the complements of one another cannot be kept apart. No obstacles of time, or place, or circumstance can prevent the union of those whom God has destined for each other. They may never meet in this world, but congenial souls cannot fail to find each other when all natural obstructions are removed.
The force that draws them together pervades the spiritual universe, touches every soul in the innumerable multitude, as the magnet finds the least atom of iron and separates it from every other substance. Those whom God has destined for each other cannot be kept asunder. This certainty of result in the operation of the Divine laws, and the agency which we have in the result, bring the whole question home to each one of us personally, and lay upon us the responsibility and necessity of choice, because our free choice in the formation of our own characters is a part of the Divine plan.
It is our share in the preparation that concerns us, and the knowledge that it is a most important factor in determining the result must have great influence with us in the ordering of our lives. If we were called together, knowing that whatever we brought was to be matched in quality and quantity and to become ours; if the material of our garments would determine the materials of which all future garments were to be made; if the ornaments we wore, or the metal of our money would be what we should forever possess, should we come in coarse and faded attire?
Should we adorn ourselves with tinsel and glass when we could put on gold and diamonds? Should we fill our purses with coppers and nickels instead of silver and gold? There is not a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, who would be guilty of such folly. Let us not, then, be guilty of the infinitely greater folly of being indifferent to what we become, because that will determine the character of him or her who is to be our other self, with whom we are to become indissolubly one.
In view of this law of the Divine order, from which it is impossible to escape as from the power of attraction, let us consider some of the special means by which we are to determine the character of husband or wife. As marriage is the destiny of every man and woman, and the means which the Lord has provided for our happiness, we should look forward to it as the most desirable, the most intimate and sacred relation in life. Parents should instruct their children in the principles of its nature, and as far as possible provide the means for a correct knowledge of its importance.
Many do labor diligently to provide the means for its natural wants and comforts. But when its true nature is understood and in some degree appreciated, they will be still more solicitous and diligent in providing the means for a more adequate appreciation of its spiritual importance, and for meeting its responsibilities and wisely performing its duties. Parents will not accomplish this by trying to find a suitable match, as judged by natural standards, but by training up their sons and daughters to become worthy of pure and noble partners.
In due time young people should diligently and faithfully begin to prepare themselves for this union. This should not be done in the silly and ruinous way that is so common, by thinking of this one or that, magnifying the importance of wealth and station and material conditions, but by making themselves worthy to mate the worthy, knowing that what they themselves are determines who are to be the complements of their being. The true effort to prepare for marriage leads to the shunning of every evil that would taint the purity of marriage, and every error that would tend to disturb its harmony.
This will be a most powerful motive in regulating the conduct of life. The young man and the young woman will say, If I am the measure of what I desire in husband or wife, I must raise the standard of excellence as high as possible. If I desire an unselfish companion through the eternal years, I must myself be unselfish. I must be pure if I would be linked to purity. I must be kind if I am to expect kindness, truthful if I am to wed the truth, faithful to every trust if I desire fidelity in my other self.
I must shun in myself every imperfection that could lessen my respect for husband or wife and tend to separate us. This would lead to the cultivation of those amiable traits of character which prevent friction and give a charm to the most intimate human relations. It would be a powerful and constantly operating motive to form habits and acquire graces and accomplishments that would break the monotony and relieve the drudgery of constant labor, sand make the daily contacts in the journey of life a pleasure rather than a weariness and an annoyance.
It would stimulate to industry, to a wise economy, and to wisdom in the conduct of affairs. It would quicken the desire to become intelligent and to cultivate all the qualities that would grace and make rich in promise and experience the union of two natures in one mind. It is too often the case in marriage that the husband expects the wife to yield entirely to his wishes, and the wife cherishes the vain hope that the husband will yield even to her whims and caprices. These expectations furnish the conditions for inevitable disappointment and division.
The true grounds of union are directly the reverse. The young woman should cultivate a love of what is right, true, and wise, and should seek for these qualities in the husband, that it may be a delight to yield to him and be guided by him as their embodiment. The young man should cherish the love of what is good and true, and seek the embodiment of this love in his wife. So far as he succeeds he will love to yield to the power of- her love and to be led by her affection.
In this state each one desires to be the other’s, each one desires to give and to receive, and the result is harmony of thought and affection and unity of life. The husband and wife cherish a sacred regard for the rights and happiness of each other. There is no question who shall yield. They both yield. There is no conflict to decide who shall govern. They govern conjointly. There is no question who is the greatest and wisest and best. Each one thinks the other is the greatest, the wisest, and the best.
The result is freedom, harmony, and union. It may be said that there are no such perfect men and women. This may be so; but it cannot be denied that this excellence of character is what every one should aspire to and strive to attain. Every woman should aim to become a perfect woman, and every man should aim to become a perfect man. This is the goal all should seek; and when we have a true idea of what human perfection is, it is not so difficult of attainment as is generally supposed.
Perfection consists in doing the best we can, according to the measure of our knowledge and ability. An infant maybe be perfect as an infant in all its ignorance and helplessness. Boys and girls can be perfect according to their ability. A woman can be a perfect daughter, sister, wife, mother; and she is perfect in all these relations when she faithfully performs all her duties according to her best knowledge and ability. The Lord makes the ability of every one the standard of perfection for him, and judges him by that.
He gives the same commendation of ‘good and faithful servant” to the one who has five pounds that He does to the one who has ten. Perfection is a relative attainment for a human being. The only absolutely perfect Being is the Lord. It is towards that perfection that we should move. Our happiness will not consist in attaining it, but in striving to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect; and every step we take towards Him will be a perfect step if taken according to the best of our knowledge and ability.
Marriage, like regeneration, or the attainment of any excellence, is a gradual process. The preparation for it begins in time, and some steps in its accomplishment may be taken in this world, but it never can be completed here. Indeed, there is no point in the degree and perfection of the-union between two homogeneous natures that will not be passed. A true marriage is not only an eternal union, but it is a continually increasing union. The ceremony that legalizes or consecrates the marriage is only an incident in the real union.
It is an important incident, and should be reverently regarded. It is a landmark in the progress of marriage, but it is not the beginning or the end of it. It gives to it the sanction of law, and the freedom of personal intimacy, which is most favorable to real union of thought and affection. . The genuine marriage is formed by the interchange of intelligence and affection in daily life. The will and understanding of husband and wife meet and become conjoined in the common duties and pleasures of social, domestic, and personal life.
Thought is received and adopted by affection, and affection by thought. The kind look, the true word, the helping hand, the loving tone, the gentle caress, the quick sympathy, and the innumerable and unconscious ways in which affection expresses itself are flying from will to understanding, and from understanding to will, and weaving the two natures into one web. By these mutual and constant contacts the bonds of affection are forming and gaining strength, and the power of mutual attraction is constantly increasing and drawing soul closer to soul.
It is true that there are many obstacles in the nature of both husband and wife to this interior and genuine marriage. Great difficulties must be met and overcome. Much must be surrendered that is very dear and hard to relinquish. There is immense significance in the words, ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife. ” The father and mother that both husband and wife must leave before they become one flesh, one life, are the supreme love of self and the world, and there is no treasure so precious to the natural mind as this love.
It is ndeed the life that we must all lay down before we can become one with the Lord and each other. It will cost many a struggle and much keen anguish, and sometimes despair. The relations of husband and wife are peculiarly adapted to effect this surrender of each to the other. The intercourse and reciprocal services of daily life constantly call for the suppression of self and for mutual service in little things which are not too great for our strength. So we give up one point after another, and every position of self abandoned is seized by a true love.
The surrender and the victory are mutual. The husband gets more than he gives; the wife gains more than she loses. Each one gets a nobler and a purer self. Each one gains a larger power over the other, and becomes more distinctly and consciously free. This process of giving and receiving, of surrender and victory, will go on until all the obstacles of union are removed and free play can be given to every affection, to seek and find its corresponding self. In all these trials and temptations God is joining husband and wife together.
The fine filaments of thought spun, as it were, from their life, like the fibres with which the silk-worm weaves its cocoon, are twisted into one thread which becomes a living bond binding each to each, and forming the line along which the messages of mutual affection constantly pass and repass. All that is not homogeneous to both is being gradually displaced, and in each a new nature, a new self, is forming, which is the image of the other, different but corresponding. The wife becomes the image of the husband, but in feminine forms.
The husband becomes the likeness of the wife, but in masculine lines, as a daughter resembles her father and a son his mother. The nature of each is modified and completed by the other, but in the process of assimilation the wife becomes more distinctly and beautifully feminine, and the husband more distinctly and nobly masculine. There is no merging of one nature with another by which each loses some distinctive quality, as two drops of water melt into one. This would destroy all individuality and all ground of affection and possibility of marriage.
The lines which distinguish husband and wife are more firmly drawn. The more closely they are united, the more distinct the union. Some conditions of life seem to be more favorable for the formation of this union than others. But this we cannot know. There is no condition wholly incompatible with it. Where husband and wife, by natural law, possess such incompatible natures that no real union between them is possible, still the one or the other or both may be exercising those qualities which will prepare for a true marriage.
The wife may be developing the purest and noblest feminine qualities, with a patience, fidelity, and heroism, under stress of opposition and desertion, which will fit her for a corresponding noble nature. The same may be true of the husband. Those who are truly married in heart and soul may be separated by time and space or the dissolution of the material body, and still be cherishing those affections and cultivating that love and wisdom in the conduct of their lives which will, at the proper time, and in the orderly ways which the Lord will provide, bring them into conscious and blissful union with those who possess corresponding natures.
We come, therefore, to this conclusion : that every woman prepares herself for a true marriage by cultivating and becoming the embodiment and form of womanly dispositions and qualities of mind and heart; that every man prepares himself for a true marriage by becoming a pure, true, and noble man, and in this way becoming worthy of a corresponding pure, true, and noble woman. Through whatever phases of life they may pass, and whatever natural unions they may form, every one will be joined by God with the one who is his or her measure.
And those whom God joins together can never be put asunder, but will continue forever to come into a more blissful union. The process of marriage will never cease. 3. The Ministry of Marriage in Regeneration “From the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; “And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. ” Mark10: 6-8
Marriage is the most sacred and intimate relation that can exist between human beings. Man was created male and female, that each one might find some object out of himself to love, and that by reciprocal affection the spiritual natures of both man and woman might become enlarged in their capacities for the reception of the Divine life, and, by mutual help, that they might become one. And in the Golden Age of humanity they did become one by a process of orderly and harmonious development. As the distinctive ature of man and woman unfolded, each one put forth tendrils of thought and affection that were clasped by the other; and while the man became more distinctly masculine and the woman more distinctly feminine, they grew together into a more indissoluble and perfect unity. Each one helped the other to a more distinct personality; and the currents of their lives, having their source in the fountain of the Lord’s life, flowed into each other, and flowed on together in unfailing and ever deepening streams.
The spiritual degrees of mind of those innocent men and women flowed down into all human relations, bringing the life and the light of heaven into all their natural thoughts and affections, into all their words and deeds. The spiritual degrees of mind were harmoniously developed. They grew into each other’s likeness and into the likeness of the Lord. When man fell from a spiritual to a merely natural life, the whole order of his nature became inverted; the spiritual planes of his nature became divorced from the natural, and having no basis and no means of development, they became as dead, and man began to live wholly for himself.
His thoughts and affections centred in himself. His regard for others was measured by what he could make them do for him. Man and woman became spiritually divorced from each other by everything that was false and evil in their natures. But while there were many causes that tended to drive them asunder, there were many still remaining that drew them together. Before the fall there was not a principle or a faculty, from the inmost to the outmost of the masculine or feminine being, which did not lead each to seek the other.
By the death of the spiritual life the highest and most powerful sources of this conjoining power were cut off, and many of the merely natural tendencies to union were perverted. But many external links binding man and woman together still remained. Man and woman in every age and every state have been drawn towards each other; and while there has been much to hinder and repel, they have still found and must ever find mutual help in bearing life’s burdens, in performing its labors and in overcoming the obstacles to their regeneration, and in regaining the interior union and perfection of the state from which they fell.
I ask your attention to a statement of some of the ways in which marriage, even in the low and imperfect forms in which it now exists, assists the husband and wife in putting away their natural evils and falsities, and tends to the development of a genuine spiritual life. The principal obstacles to man’s regeneration are the love of self and of the world. Marriage is the great and most perfect school for learning and practising self-denial, and the exercise of those spiritual affections which constitute a spiritual life; and this is the special aspect in which I propose to present the subject.
The woman was created that she might convert the love of the man for himself into his love . for her. The end of marriage, therefore, so far as it relates to spiritual culture and regeneration, is the prevention of self-love, or its subjugation. It effects this end in various ways, and is one of the most beautiful examples of the manner in which the Lord provides for man in every state, and employs the same means to develop his spiritual nature, to restrain him from going farther astray; and to bring him back to unity with the Divine life and to harmony with the life of his fellow-men.
In the present state of humanity it is hardly possible that there will not be many obstacles to a complete spiritual union between husband and wife. Persons who have been educated in different families and in circumstances widely unlike must have acquired different habits and tastes; must view many questions in various if not opposite aspects, and there must be much that has become a second nature, to hold in abeyance, to change, and to surrender, before the unity of interior life can be established in external act.
The first jar that disturbs the harmony of the union between husband and wife often arises from these diversities of taste and habit. Self-love delights to have its own way. It always feels that it ought to be gratified even when it does not insist upon it. If it keeps silent, a little is gained, for when self-assertion is restrained in the least, a step is taken in the right direction. If it yields from regard to another, it enters upon the most difficult work of rege neration. The first state of married life is very favorable to the beginning of this work.
The young husband and wife invest each other with many ideal perfections. The natural imagination is active, and throws a halo of light over every beloved object. It magnifies virtues and overlooks defects and clothes all things with its own hues. This ideal life is the blossoming of those faculties which are to ripen into fruit; the sweet prophecy of joys which may spring up all along the pathway of life, as the essential character is developed, growing brighter and purer as the spiritual and heavenly planes of the mind become unfolded.
Those who mistake the flowers for the fruit are no doubt disappointed when they fade and fall. But this very illusion calls off the attention from real difficulties and disguises habits of thought and life, until objects of common interest in the various household arrangements and in the many plans for the future become absorbing. Thus, as one bond weakens, others become stronger, and the fibres are forming which are to be woven into the web of their mutual life, and bind husband and wife into one.
We may suffer the bright hopes and expectations, which shot up wild and disorderly in our young imaginations, to live about our homes, and, without robbing them of their savor and bright hues, may sort each with its kind, and hedge them round with the binding growth of family attachments. Thus even in the beginning the conditions are most favorable to meet the exact wants and difficulties of married life.
If marriage were invested with no hues of fancy, if it were not made roseate and glorious with hopes issuing from the opening fountain of life, if nothing but the hard and unrelenting facts appeared, we might shrink from this contact, and fail to obtain the rich blessings they are the rough instrument of conveying. The same law operates in every relation and duty of life. We never should gain the goal we value above all price, if we saw from the beginning all the difficulties which lie in the way.
But when the dissimilar habits and contrarieties of taste and opposite views begin to appear through the dissolving mists of youthful fancy, a multitude of mutual hopes and mutual fears have been formed; there are many pleasant memories whose influence still lingers like the fragrance of flowers; there are a multitude of events constantly occurring in which the husband and wife have a mutual interest.
If they look to the future, they cannot fail to see that their happiness depends upon their mutual forbearance and helpfulness, and a most powerful motive is presented to yield their own predilections and to conform to the habits and tastes of each other. If they have any wisdom they will yield to the necessity, and they will find their happiness in it. When the love of husband and wife for each other is genuine and unselfish, this renunciation of self for the sake of the other will be spontaneous and delightful.
Self will be forgotten in the de sire to live solely for another, and the greater the external contrariety of taste and habit the better the opportunity to show the depth and strength of affection. When this is the case the beginning of regeneration becomes pleasant even, and we become initiated into the great and most important work of our lives without pain and conflict, and even by processes of delight. The husband and wife begin to render to each other the service for which they were created and destined.
They are a help to each other in becoming all that their most glowing fancies ever conceived, and ineffably more. But this is only the beginning. We have all much more to put away than diversities of taste, or dissimilar habits, or opposite opinions on matters of natural interest. A man or woman of even temper and established principles may meet these difficulties with composure, may yield without much apparent self-sacrifice and without any humiliation.
But no persons can hold such intimate relations as husband and wife long, without penetrating beneath the surface and unveiling the secret springs of life. The mask we have worn, unconsciously to ourselves perhaps, will be removed, and our little weaknesses which, it may be, we cherish more than anything else, will be exposed; or the secret and selfish springs of action which constitute our inmost life are discovered by the sharp eyes of vigilant love. That is a discovery at which self-love may well tremble.
There is just cause to fear that we who have been almost worshipped as a superior being shall fall from our high position, and there is no more certain or terrible cross for self-love than this. And when we find, as we shall often and always find when there is any real love for each other, that such discoveries are regarded with that beautiful charity which thinketh no evil and invests the objects of its affection with its own robe of whiteness, we shall be humbled and the force of our own selfishness will be weakened. Our evils appear more hateful to us than ever before.
We shall keep a more vigilant watch over our hearts and lips, and strive more earnestly to be all that innocent and unsuspecting affection has ever imagine