BY: HARE KRISHNA G. SENGA, BSBA ECONOMICS, LETRAN
MARRIAGE, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is the state of being a married couple voluntarily joined for life, or a close and intimate union of a man and a woman bounded by love. It is classified as divine and human. The divine concept of marriage is that it is constituted by God Himself. When God created man and a woman (Genesis 1), marriage is already constituted. God intended to put the earth into order by giving the humanity the power to govern His creations, and by unification of both sexes, there is an intended procreation to be able the humans inherit the power constituted by God. The story of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2), already suggests that God has great appreciation of unification. As Adam was created to protect God’s creations, the man was very lonely because he has no companion at all until God noticed it and He made Eve after taking one of Adam’s ribs. When Adam saw Eve, he said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken” (Genesis 2:23). This means that God created man and woman as one body, that a woman was a flesh of a man. Because of unification and oneness of body, a man and woman were intended by God to love one another and to do their purpose—procreation. Marriage is a divine institution that converts two opposite bodies into one. It means that a man has no rights to his own body already but to his wife. Conversely, the woman or the wife has no rights to her own body but to her husband. This idea suggests that marriage is a sacred mutual union between a husband and a wife.
Marriage as a Contract
Marriage is a contract because it is instituted by laws created by humans. It is a binding agreement between a man and a woman that involves permanent union. A husband and wife are expected to live connubially and establish a well-instituted family. This marriage as a contract is inviolable, as the law states. Entering such contract is not enforceable. A person has a freedom whether he wanted to marry or to whom to be married. Once he entered this contract, there is no turning back. A person has no power to go out from the window. A marriage, once instituted, is not irrevocable. So, the person must know his limits before making decisions of marrying. He must have sufficient knowledge about the essence of having a conjugal life and responsibilities as one-body couples. Ignorance is not a valid reason of revoking a marriage. A person, before entering this contract, must accept the consequences of being married.
Consent is needed to be able a marriage to become valid. Only mature people can entered this kind of special contract. The reason behind it is that mature people have already sufficient knowledge of making decisions correctly. A mature person has already learned (and keeps on learning) the laws and principles of life. Another point is that mature persons have already their control to their emotions. They always have an explanation about their feelings and finding its solutions easily. Unlike the minors who are struggling about their physical and emotional identity. They are easily to be confused about their emotions because they are on the stage that discovery and curiosity are frequent.
Factors Affecting Person’s Capacity to Make Decisions
According to Father Tamerlane Lana, O.P., and et.al. (2006), there are five factors that affect a person to make rightful decisions. First is that a person made a wrong decision due to deficiency use of reason or rationality. Making rightful decisions is difficult, especially when your heart or emotion is involved. Most people made wrongful decisions because they used their heart first rather than mind. They were easily defeated by their strong emotions with regards to someone or something without thinking what might consequences may happen to the situation or to themselves. Sometimes, people think that their first decision is better enough without making or viewing alternative decisions. The result is they always fail and the burden was passed to someone else. There is a Filipino saying that is applicable to it: “Laging nasa huli ang pagsisisi.”
After committing wrong decisions, people always blame it to others, and sometimes to God. Marriage is a critical decision so the person who will enter to this special contract must carefully decide whom to marry because it is already for lifetime.
Second is that people committed wrong decisions due to lack of judgmental discretion or misinformed about the rights and duties of marriage. This is very common nowadays. For most people, marriage is only for sex, sometimes for pleasure. They did not know that marriage always include responsibilities. Yes, marriage is full of responsibilities: To your spouse, to your children, to your community, and to God. Marriage is not only for pleasure because God instituted sex for procreation and at the same time, permanent union. Pleasure is always bounded with aftermaths. Sex as pleasure can result to grave effects that can affect both persons’ life and morality. It may bear unexpected difficult responsibilities like being pregnant out of wedlock. The latter situation can also affect the person’s dignity as it stains by the perception of the community that being pregnant out of wedlock is a deviance.
Third, due to psychological conflicts between two people can also hamper right decision making. Every individual has unique personality, perception and thinking. Because of its uniqueness, people seldom become close without any conflict happened. It is nature to a person to have conflicts to others especially to the opposite sex. If a person has a different view about a certain topic, or has psychologically incapacitated, it can serve as a barrier to make rightful decisions for him and for others. Marriage is involved here. A husband and a wife have different personalities that can result to their conflict. The remedy to this conflict is that, I think, they must have their consent, understanding, patience and faithfulness. Every married couple was already united as one body so they must learn to forgive and to forget about their conflicts. This will help save their sacred relationship.
Ignorance about marriage is not excused in revoking a marriage contract or covenant. But sometimes, ignorance can also contribute to the person to make wrongful decisions. Logically, if you have no sufficient knowledge regarding a matter, you are expected to make a wrongful decision. In connection on the second item above, people nowadays think that marriage is only for sex or pleasure without knowing of its effects. Because of that perception, married couples often ended into separation due to their ignorance to their responsibilities as couples and their limitations to their freedom.
Lastly, error judgment is one of the factors that affect making rightful decisions. Due to their confusing emotions, they always used it rather than to use their mind. As expected, a person committed a wrong action attributable to bad judgment or ignorance or inattention. That scenario is very common to annulment cases filed at the court. An individual engages himself to marriage without knowing his wife-to-be deeply. He was conquered by his emotions, sometimes called infatuation, and he thinks that this woman is suitable for him. But when the time comes and he realized that the woman he’d married is not compatible for him, he already committed error of judgment not only to his wife, but also to his feelings.
When Love Begins
Love is a strong positive emotion of regard, sexual desire, affection and devotion. It is used mainly to show endearment to your beloved person, especially to your opposite sex. According to theologians, there are many kinds of love, but the three most popular are Agape, Eros, and Filio. Agape love is a selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications (especially love that is spiritual in nature). This kind of love is not common because only God can give this kind of unconditional love. Next is Eros, or love with desire. This kind of love is very common to individuals who have relationship to the opposite sex. This is also love that a human being can give because it is in human nature that we want something desirable to the other person. On the other hand, Filio is love for your brother or neighbor. Some theologians also include paternal love, or love of a father, and maternal love, or love of a mother.
The nature of love (the human way) is bounded by infatuation, physical attraction, admiration, and personal desire. A person wanted to marry is bounded by these terms. He wanted to marry because he has a strong passion to a woman who has a great personality. Admiration comes in, because he feels something, or delightful approval and liking towards a person of the opposite sex. It is often that a man fell in love with a woman because of the latter’s physical attractiveness like she was pretty, sexy, intelligent and other personal characteristics that makes her a “perfect” woman. Also, a man likes a woman because of his unsatisfied wants, that is, flesh. It is nature to a man to love a woman because of sex. Sex is a sacred activity associated to a mutual intercourse that results of feelings that urges sexual gratification. Marriage during the time of Moses is all about procreation. The only reason of marrying a woman is to give birth to a child and to satisfy her husband’s sexual needs. But to us Catholics, love is a sacred gift by God bounded by rights and responsibilities. God gave us power to love, to show our deepest emotion to others. In other words, love is not limited only for procreation, but also for maintaining friendly relations with another or others.
Infatuation is a temporary, foolish, and usually extravagant passion or love or admiration that is very common to adolescent people. This is present when an adolescent individual experiences confusion and curiosity about his emotions with regards to the opposite sex. It is also known as puppy love. When a young man falls in love with a young woman, confusion about his feelings towards her brings him in crucial situation. In this stage, he only uses his heart rather than his mind. Due also to his urging personal desire, the young man will find a way to gratify himself. There, he will discover sex. For him, sex is an enjoyable, adventurous activity that will bring him to a different “world”. At first a young man will stimulate himself by masturbation until such time; he will become unsatisfied and later engages himself to premarital sex. Lust (one of the deadly sins) will now enter; a self-indulgent sexual desire.
As the young man enters premarital sex, he is not aware about the consequences might happen to him. It may destroy his life and future if something bad happened. Example: after committing premarital sex, the young man’s partner became pregnant. This will lead to his early fatherhood and may serve as a ground for his personal problems, i.e. problems on studying, family, identity, and culture.
As of his young age, marriage is not suitable for him because he is still lacking the chance to make rightful decisions. The young man can made decisions without thorough examination. He can make decisions in haste, careless manner. And this will lead him to his own destruction.
Love-lines through the years
I’ve once read a joke book and my attention caught one of the jokes. It read as “Love-lines through the years”. Actually, it is intended only for a joke but as a conservative, it concerns me. This is what stated:
1980’s—I Love You.
1990’s—Tara sa Kuwarto.
2000’s—Puwede na rito.
For many people, it is only a joke. But scanning reality, it is not. If we observe nowadays, Filipino conservatism began to fade. I don’t know why. I think it is because we, Filipinos, are totally suckers of what kind of concept that is westernizing in nature. Conservatism among Filipinos is now decaying. The concept of sex, marriage and sexuality—all taken from westernize concept. The “Maria Clara” style of Filipinas was now turned as liberated, easy-to-get, and adventurous women. If you scan the modesty and simplicity of people fifty years ago, for sure, you will be disappointed and say: “BORING.” But the essence of sex, marriage and sexuality is more valued than today. Fifty years ago, sex and marriage is a crucial topic to discuss. People have greater respect to one another and their morality is strong. For them, sex and marriage are sacred things that it cannot be abused, revoked or stained. In other words, People, fifty years ago, have greater morality than today.
Let’s take an example. Women, fifty years ago, seldom talk about sex. The ones who talked about it are the married women talking with their friends or just their “kumares”. If they talk about sex, they will not use vulgar words; instead they used figurative words to deliver their thoughts on sex topics. Also they seclude their conversation to others especially to their children. Also for men, fifty years ago, they have greater respect for women. You will seldom hear “kabit”, “kulasisi”, “puta”, and other vulgar or offensive sexual terms. But observe today. I am sure that you will surprise when a beautiful colegiala talking about sex vulgarly in public, or a fifteen year old young adolescent talking about the sex scandals he had watch. Also make a survey to women from your school and ask her if she is still a virgin. I bet that they will say: “Duh, hindi na uso ang virginity noh!”
I don’t know what is happening today. Is that the effect of democracy? Our freedom? Does our culture and norms change from time to time? Does morality is still important today? That was the question you might ask to yourself. But I think the reason behind it is our developing world.
Our concept of sex and marriage change from time to time. But for us Catholics, our concept must never change. Sex and marriage are two sacred things created and instituted by God. It is divine. That is why we must not stain what is the divine meaning of it for it is a shame for us Catholics and an immorality if we change it.
Sacredness of Marriage and Procreation
For Catholics like us, marriage is a divine institution because the one constituted it is none other than God Himself. Saint Paul stressed that marriage is a vocation, a difficult occupation that gives you lots of duties and responsibilities like establishing family. Marriage is like an oath, not only to your spouse but also to God. Every person entered in marriage must strive for the achievement for what he had swear to because just like any other contract, you must follow, respect and do what you have signed before the eyes of the witnesses. In this case, God is your witness and you are entering a divine covenant were your body and heart are the collateral. By marrying, your own body and heart are not already your own, but someone who will share for it, that is, your spouse because both of you are now in one united body. Marriage is intended for two reasons: Procreation and Love. A person who enters in a marriage must know its essence as covenant. He must be exclusive only to his spouse because they are all united as one body. One must gave their faithfulness to each other; forget their past and aim high for the better of their family.
A married couple must be indissoluble. They must be strong whatever obstacles will come from them. Their love to one another will be tested and enriched by their struggles that will sometimes destruct their relationship. One must learn how to forgive and to forget what struggles came to their relationship. A man and a woman must be faithful to each other to be able to preserve their relationship towards permanence. And by surviving in this test, their love to one another will last long.
Also, after marrying, the couple must be open with regards to fertility. The fruits of marriage are that they must have children and have a strong family. One must be open to fertility to be able to do their mission aside from loving one another—that is for procreation. Procreation is sacred and it is instituted by God so we, as Catholics, maintain its divine meaning.
Faithfulness: A covenant
According to Saint Paul in his letters to Ephesians, Husband and wife relations is like Christ’s relation to His Church. He said that if a wife became unfaithful, the husband must remain faithful. As to the relation to the Christ-Church’s relations, Christ remained faithful despite of the infidelity of His Church. A husband must offer his total love to his wife, as Christ gave His unconditional love to His Church. A husband must be ready to die for his wife, just like when Christ died for our sins. The husband has the greater responsibility to his wife. He must learn how to love and to forgive. He must give his full devotion and fidelity to his wife because a husband is Christ’s mirror—a divine representation of the Son of God. In turn to the husband’s faithfulness, a woman must be submissive to her husband. She must gave her life only to her husband and help him to strengthen their established family and also for the good of their offspring.
“Paglalagay sa Tahimik”: the Responsibility of Marriage
Filipinos often reasoned out why they decided to be married. “Paglalagay sa tahimik.” Actually, this is an odd reason. Marriage is not that way. It is better to say: “Pagkakaroon ng Mabigat na Tungkulin”. Marriage includes obligations not only to their spouse but also to their children. A married couple will always encounter conflicts and misunderstandings that can hamper their conjugal relationship. That is why they must learn how to forgive and to forget. Conflicts can actually be eased among married couples. Each of them should be faithful to each other. That is the secret of long lasting relationship. Faithfulness. If it is exercised among married couples, there will be minimal annulment cases filed in the court or the possibility of divorce.
A married couple must be a model to their children. Parents are the first teachers of their children. Being a role model is difficult but it can be strived if there is a motivation to show your goodness to your offspring. Broken relationships can hurt their children psychologically. Having a broken family, a child will ask himself why he is experiencing those and when the time comes and he became matured, he will do the same thing as what his parents do—because the parents served as a model to their child. Broken families bears broken lives of children. At the end, the child greatly suffers and not the parents themselves.
Morality and Marriage: A Conclusion
Marriage is an accepted norm. The perception of sex and marriage may differ to other norms but it portrays one thing: MARRIAGE AND SEX ARE SACRED. Every Catholic must value the essence of sex and marriage because they are divinely instituted by God Himself. We must preserve our morality even though we are now on the 21st century. Conservatism is sometimes needed to be preserved because it mirrors our past culture as Catholics—as God-fearer. We must not indulge ourselves to the sins of flesh and let’s respect one another.
Have respect to yourself.
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