Lesson 29: The Nature of Marriage


"And God created man to His own image:  to the image of God He created him:   male and female He created them.  And God blessed them, saying:  Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.'"  (Genesis 1:27-28)

  1. Who made marriage?

  2.    God made marriage and the laws concerning marriage.

  3. When did God make marriage?

  4.    When He created Adam and Eve.

  5. Why did God make marriage?

  6.    For two purposes:
    1. For bringing children into the world and rearing them...
    2. For the mutual help of the husband and wife.

  7. How do you know the first purpose of marriage is children?

  8.    The Bible says so -- "Increase and multiply."  (Gen. 1:28)
    "I will therefore that the younger should marry, bear children, be mistresses of families."    (1 Timothy 5:14)

  9. Does not common sense show that the first purpose of marriage is children?

  10.    Yes, the very differences, both physical and mental, between man and woman show the first purpose of marriage to be the bringing of children into the world.
    A woman's body is made for the bearing and nursing of children; whereas, a man's body is stronger so that he can protect his family and give them food and shelter.  A woman is kinder, more sympathetic, more emotional than man.  She needs these qualities to care for and instruct her children.

  11. How do you know that mutual love and help are the second purpose of marriage?

  12.    The Bible says so:
    "And the Lord God said:  It is not good for man to be alone:  let us make him a help like unto himself...  Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam:  and when he was fast asleep, he took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it.  And the Lord God build the rib which he took from Adam into a woman:  and brought her to Adam."    (Gen. 2:18, 21-22)

  13. Does not common sense indicate this too?

  14.    Yes, common sense shows that men and women are incomplete without one another but find their physical and spiritual completion in marriage.

  15. What is the purpose of sexual pleasure?

  16.    To attract husband and wife to have children and to foster love for each other.

  17. Who are the only ones that may enjoy sexual pleasure?

  18.    Husband and wife who are validly married to each other.
    "but I say to the unmarried, and to the widows:  It is good for them if they so continue, even as I.  But if they do not contain themselves, let them marry.  For it is better to marry than to be burnt."    (1 Corinthians 7:8-9)

  19. How many wives did God create for Adam?

  20.    Only one wife; God wanted this marriage to be the model for all marriages -- one man and one woman.
    "Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife:  and they shall be two in one flesh."    (Genesis 2:24)

  21. How long does God intend husband and wife to stay together?

  22.    Until the death of one of the partners.
    "A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband die, she is at liberty:  let her marry to whom she will; only in the Lord."    (1 Corinthians 7:39)

  23. Why does God command husband and wife to stay together until death?

  24.    Because the lifetime welfare of the children and of the married couple themselves requires that they be permanently united.
    Divine law requires the couple to stay together until death, even if they have no children.  In special cases separation is permitted, but the bond of marriage remains.

  25. What is a valid marriage?

  26.    A union that is a real marriage in the eyes of God and therefore can be broken only by death.  No power on earth, therefore, can break a valid marriage.  "What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." (Mark 10:9).  This includes the civil government.

  27. What is an invalid marriage?

  28.    A union that was never a marriage in the eyes of God.  A couple invalidly married must either separate or have the marriage made valid.  Otherwise they are living in adultery or fornication.
    "Neither fornicators... nor adulterers... shall possess the kingdom of God."    (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

  29. What is necessary for a valid marriage?
    1. A single man and a single woman
    2. Who are of age
    3. Free to marry
    4. Capable of sexual intercourse
    5. Who intend to live together
    6. Who intend to be faithful to each other until the death of one of them
    7. Who intend to have a family
    8. Who are in no other way prohibited by the law of God from marrying.
    For example, it is forbidden to marry close relatives, such as uncles, aunts, nieces or nephews.

  31. Did God make these laws only for Catholics?

  32.    No, all human beings have to obey these laws.
    However, Catholics are also bound by Church laws.  For example, a Catholic cannot marry validly except in the presence of a priest and two witnesses (unless there is a special dispensation from the local bishop for a particular case and that for a sufficiently grave reason).

  33. Does the state have authority to change God's laws?

  34.    No.  God's law comes before man's law.
    But the State can make laws requiring a license and registration, and concerning health, property rights, and so on, as long as these laws are not against God's laws.

  35. Can men and women find real happiness in marriage?

  36.    Yes, if they follow God's plan for marriage.
    "Happy is the husband of a good wife:  for the number of his years is double.  A virtuous woman rejoiceth her husband and shall fulfill the years of his life in peace.  A good wife is a good portion, she shall be given in the portion of them that fear God, to a man for his good deeds.  Rich or poor, if his heart is good, his countenance shall be cheerful at all times."    (Ecclesiasticus 26:1-4)

  37. What is the greatest source of happiness in marriage?

  38.    Raising children in the fear and love of God.
    Court records show fewer marriage breakups among couples with large families.


  1. All laws, both human and divine, are made for the good of society.  Once in a while, a law will work a hardship on an individual, and this is sometimes true of God's laws on marriage.  But you marry "for better or for worse."  Therefore, if through no fault of yours, your married life is unhappy, or if your partner has left you, or if you find God's laws hard to observe, ask God for the strength to do His will; ask your crucified Savior for the courage to carry your cross.  The Sacrament of Matrimony gives married people special graces to live their lives according to God's laws.  In any case, God made no exceptions to His laws on marriage; to break them for any reason is a serious sin.
  2. Do not try to judge whether your marriage or anybody else's is valid or invalid.  That can be done only by one who is skilled in the knowledge of these laws.  The priest who is instructing you will tell you whether your marriage is valid or not.
  3. An "annulment" is not the dissolving of an existing marriage, but rather a declaration that a real marriage never existed in the eyes of God on account of some dire defect or impediment that was present at the time the couple exchanged their vows.  For example, if one of the two parties did not intend to enter a permanent union until death, no marriage would take place, despite the appearances.  An annulment is more properly termed a "declaration of nullity."