Theological Anthropology 101: Why Marriage is Between One Man and One Woman

Harrison Ayre

One of the more difficult truths about Christianity that we must navigate today is one of the most basic: the truth about what God has intended for marriage. The familiar Genesis story explains how God established man and woman to be together in a covenant and how that covenant is affected in a negative fashion through the fall (see Genesis 1-3). We read in Matthew's Gospel about Jesus' reference to the beginning (Mt 19:8) and how marriage is not meant to end in divorce. Even in this context, Jesus is clear that marriage is constituted in a lifelong bond between one man and one woman.

While the permanence of marriage is something worthy of discussion all on its own, it is just as essential to uphold marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman. The covenant of marriage reveals certain truths about our humanity that would be lost if marriage were open to different definitions such as homosexual marriage, polyamorous marriage, etc.

Marriage reveals to us is that man is by his nature a communion of persons. So often we are inundated with the idea that we are atomized individuals in a society. That's a fancy way to say that we often see life in very individualistic terms and that we determine our own vision of humanity. But marriage shows us that we aren't created for isolation, but for communion. Even in the movements for the redefinition of marriage we see this implicit desire played out: we find our meaning only in communion with another.

The reason the Church insists on marriage between one man and one woman, though, is that communion has a goal, a mission, a purpose. The Church teaches that marriage is for the mutual enrichment of the spouses and the procreation of children. The term mutual enrichment is enlightening in and of itself: it is not about self-enrichment. Rather, enrichment only comes through and with another.

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