Made for a Reason Retreat Day Three – Marriage: Made for Each Other
Day Three – Marriage: Made for Each Other
Breaking Open the Theme
God created man and woman together and willed each for the other. “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him” (Gen. 2:18). The woman that God ‘fashions’ from the man’s rib elicits from the man a cry of wonder, an exclamation of love and communion: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23). This beautiful account from the book of Genesis of the creation of Eve from Adam’s side demonstrates how woman was created specifically as a helper, companion, and suitable partner for man. Unlike any other created being, man discovers woman as another ‘I’, as sharing the same humanity (see CCC, 371).
“Man and woman were made ‘for each other’ – not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be ‘helpmate’ to the other, for they are equal as persons (“bone of my bones…”) and complementary as masculine and feminine” (CCC, 372).
Because they are equal as persons in their humanity, but complementary in their differences as masculine and feminine, man and woman contribute unique gifts to the marriage, especially the physical differences of their bodies which allow for the transmission of human life. Only through sexual difference can a husband and a wife give themselves completely to one another.
True marital union, therefore, is not possible without sexual difference; for this reason, sexual difference is essential to marriage. Sexual difference is the necessary starting point for understanding why protecting and promoting marriage as the union of one man and one woman isn’t arbitrary or discriminatory. Rather, it’s a matter of justice, truth, love, and real freedom. Only a man and a woman—at every level of their identity: biological, physiological, emotional, social, spiritual—are capable of authentically speaking the language of married love, that is, the language of total self-gift, open to the gift of the other and the gift of life.
Our maleness or femaleness is essential to our identity as persons. Our gender is not something that is pasted onto us as an after-thought, or that is an incidental part of who we are. Male and female are two different ways of being a human person, body and soul. When we deny our identity as sexually differentiated beings, we diminish our humanity.
A conjugal or marital union comes about only through sexual difference. Only a husband and a wife have the space or capacity to truly receive each other’s distinctive sexual gift, and only a husband and a wife can make a gift of their selves to the other in that way. The beauty of the Church’s teaching on marriage, grounded in this anthropological foundation, sheds light on the responsibility of man and woman to collaborate with God in His plan for the human race.
To Think About
(Choose one or more of the following questions to reflect on by yourself and/or with your spouse)
(1) How do reason and faith not conflict when it comes to marriage? In other words, how does the sacrament of marriage, which is between a baptized man and a baptized woman, build upon, and not detract from, the basic and reasonable truths at the heart of every marriage?
(2) Do you think sexual difference, man to woman and woman to man, is understood and appreciated today? Why or why not?
(3) As a couple, how can you help others reflect on the importance of sexual difference and complementarity?
Prayer of Married Couples
Almighty and eternal God,
You blessed the union of husband and wife
so that we might reflect
the union of Christ with His Church:
look with kindness on us.
Renew our marriage covenant.
Increase your love in us,
and strengthen our bond of peace
so that, [with our children],
we may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.