The Christian Family and Marriage
The Christian Family as the first cell of society finds its conception in marriage. It is interesting to note that even at the purely social level, marriage formed a social constraint for the formation of society and the bringing of order at the micro level. Yet this natural social evolution had deeper yearnings at the center of man’s soul. The yearning for spiritual communion took this merely social institution to a level that also satisfied the spiritual and theological needs of man. Within the spiritual structure of humanity, the Mystical Body of Christ found marriage also as its most intimate cellular level where a man and woman took a vow before God to love each other and remain faithful. Through this intense love, two became one and an unbreakable bond was created that transcended the societal order.
This sacred institution received it distinctive Christian mark via Christ at the wedding feast of Cana where in Catholic theology, it became a sacrament. Protestant theology while not proclaiming the institution as a sacrament, nevertheless, shares a common belief that marriage is sacred and carries a serious bond. Christian counselors find themselves in difficult situations when attempting to preserve these bonds of matrimony. Various marital issues erupt that threaten to tear the very fabric of the union. With such a heavy burden, Christian counseling must establish first and foremost the sacred nature of matrimony. With this ideal in place, issues of finance, career, children, infidelity, or other selfish motives can hopefully be overcome.
In addition to dealing with an already existing Christian family, Christian counselors also deal with soon to be Christian families. A Christian counselor during premarital or pre-Cana sessions, must evaluate the maturity and spiritual lives of the man and woman who are to marry. During these early sessions, one should become acquainted with the future spouses and review their spiritual, financial and career goals. While love is important, it is imperative to illuminate possible differences prior to vows and to help the future couple understand the problems they may face. Other issues of importance include faith, the raising of children and ideas on what marriage is.
Most importantly, the counselor must emphasize the theological importance of the sacrament and ascertain if both parties understand the bond that will exist. Obviously after various sessions, the counselor becomes more aware of the couples maturity, understanding of marriage and if their goals correspond. During this period of time, the couple may also become more aware of any differences they may have previously dismissed.
Ultimately in the end, it is the couple’s love that will define the marriage. If true love exists, all problems can be overcome, especially if the couple dedicates their union to God. Men should emulate St. Joseph, while women emulate Mary. The couple should to the best of their abilities imitate the ultimate paradigm of the Christian family; the Holy Family.
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