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This room is for discussion related to learning about the faith (Catechetics), defense of the Faith (Apologetics), the Liturgy and canon law, motivated by a desire to grow closer to Christ or to bring someone else closer.

Saint Augustine of Hippo is considered on of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time and the Doctor of the Church.
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The ultimate purpose of marriage is...

Finish the sentence.

Let us see what people think and how they argue their points. I have met at least one interestng opinion that I think breaks down at some point.
Aug 19th 2014 new
There are a few ways to finish the sentence.

There's a dual unitive and procreative purpose - to bring the spouses together as a couple physically and emotionally and to bring life from the two of them. I can give you a natural law argument for that if you want.

Marriage is also a foreshadowing of Christ's relationship with His Church, which is why marriage doesn't exist in Heaven since we will be experiencing the actual relationship there and why the sacrament of Holy Orders is such a good, since priests give up the earthly good of marriage in order to show us the heavenly good on earth.

Marriage also has a function in aiding the spouses in guiding each other and whatever children they might have in getting to Heaven.

All of that to point out why marriage is a sacrament and not just a relationship between any two people. :-)
Aug 19th 2014 new
I still think that it misses the point of 'ultimate'.

If you say that the ultimate goal of marriage is having kids, then it looses it's senses when you can't have kids.
If you say that the ultimate purpouse is unitive then the next question is what is so good about unitive. Sure you can bring circumstances where the unitive nature of marriage is not going very well, yet the spouses live in fidelity to eachother and you could also state many examples why two people living together might be better of than living alone. But considering the sacramental nature of marriage I think there is one more thing. It might be so obvious that people seem to miss it out, yet I think it is so fundamental that the two things that you mention only make sense in it. It is indeed connected to your second paragraph and I think it seems to be for whatever reason being pointed out more in the East than in the West.

It ultimately aims at drawing two people closer to God.
Religious live in obedience to their superiors and for the good of their communities, spouses live in obedience to eachother and for the good of their household. And through this both try to give a witness to the Faith.

The other interesting thing is that people are will to argue that living a consecrated life is sacrificing earthly pleasures, as if sacrificing your life for your spouse and children was not...

Your point about Holy Orders is not correct. Married men can become Deacons and Priests. This was always the case in Eastern Catholic Churches and to a large part (historicaly) and small part (temporarily) is the case in the Western Church.
What might be better fitting your point is Consecrated Life:) There people try to hang around with God and His Saints through prayer, contemplation and Liturgy. Indeed trying to enjoy the foretast of the Heavenly Banquet.
Aug 19th 2014 new
The unitive purpose of marriage only loses its purpose in the face of infertility if you assume that the fallen nature of mankind is the way that it was meant to be. If you take a more Theology of the Body approach to things and look at Jesus' words - "In the beginning, it was not so" then you would see why I worded my answer the way that I did. We weren't made to be infertile by God's original intent. Original sin did that and now we have to live with the consequences. Even an infertile couple is still called to be life-giving, even if that life is through ministry or through adoption. Again, I can offer you a full natural law argument behind the dual purpose of marriage, but it's lengthy so I didn't want to type it out without invitation.

And I'm aware that in our Eastern brothers are allowed to participate in both marriage and Holy Orders but even there, there is a particular order to the sacraments. You must marry before receiving Holy Orders and once you are ordained, you do not marry again. The same goes for deacons in the Western Church. And in the Eastern Church, a married priest never becomes a bishop, only a man who has chosen to enter the priesthood celibate. There are, of course, a variety of pastoral reasons for that, but one of them is that higher sacramental sign of Christ's marriage to the Church.

I think it's unfair to say that marriage is simply about two people trying to draw each other close to God. Any two friends can and should do that. Married couples are called to do that in a different way precisely because they create families between them. There is a reason that Paul compares the relationship between Christ and His Church to a bridegroom and his bride in Ephesians 5, not simply two best friends. To draw on your example, I'm sure we can all pick out two people in our lives who have been life-long friends and also two people who divorced. So why did Paul - and thus the Holy Spirit - pick the example that he did? There is something different about married love perfected - remember that we live in a fallen world - than simply brotherly love perfected. It is the fact that the two become one flesh, that they form families and live out their lives for each other regardless of where they came from before and that new life comes from that union - something unique to marriage that cannot be replicated in friendship, no matter how strong. That is supposed to tell us something about Christ and His Church that no other relationship can.
Aug 19th 2014 new
I am not saying that the unitive purpouse of marriage loses it's meanig when a couple if infertile, I have said that the procreative one does. The unitive is deminished if people live in faithfullness to eachother, but are not drawn closer together (like a marital spiritual dryness) and I am sure that there are plenty of examples of such couples - I guess that is why obedience is so important and so valued.
My point is that this is all important but misses the 'ultimate'. Why would you make such a huge decision if it was not for the good of your soul? I think it is unfair to think of marriage as primarly a baby producing association between two people. If God is meant to be at heart of every marriage then surely that hints to what marriage, with everything else being either the means to it or the consequences of it. And I think by you could also point out that various other types of relationships can be both unitve to some degree and maybe not procreative in a strict sense, but geared towards the up-bringing of future generations.

Please do not forget about married priests in the Western Chrch as well. Also the fact that Bishops can't be maried men was not the case throughout history. But I think this thread is only important with regards to your previous argument about the giving-up of earthly marital comforts for the Heavenly Banquet. And I think you have agreed to my argument with relation to that.
Aug 19th 2014 new
I thought it was to help each other get to Heaven. We married as we planned, although discovering two weeks before that the local doctor did not believe I could have children. I wanted to withdraw my consent to the marriage but my husband said no we could adopt children so after much persuading we married. Baby#1 arrived 10 months later. And that was only the beginning of the baby infusion into our marriage. Baby #2 arrived just about 1 year of baby #1
Aug 19th 2014 new
You haven't at all answered my objection though - why is marriage the comparison between Christ and His Church and not simple friendship?

What makes marriage different than any life-long relationship between any two people? Certainly there are people who have been friends even since infancy all the way to old age. Why not make friendship a sacrament then and have us aim towards that? What makes marriage unique?

You've twisted the problem around. The ultimate purpose of marriage as a sacrament is to point to the greater sign - to Christ and His Church. By living out their sacramental vocation, a husband and wife lead each other to Heaven. But if you only focus on getting to Heaven and miss the living out of the sacrament - which necessitates understanding the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage - you will miss out on what makes marriage a sacrament in the first place. You cannot separate the two from each other.

Aug 20th 2014 new
Because the relationship in a marriage is meant to be much more intimate and Christ's relationship with the Church is probably as intimate as you can get.

But then I think you actually agree with me that focusing on getting to Heaven is the 'ultimate' aim, by the means of living out the sacraments, which is shown by love which is both unitiv and creative. You can not separate the two, but I think one is the aim and the other the means. They answer differnt questions, why we do something and how we do it.
Aug 20th 2014 new
Getting to Heaven is the purpose of every human though. To say its the purpose of marriage uniquely is false. The sacrament of marriage helps the husband and wife specifically, yes, but so does every other sacrament they receive. The purpose of their sacrament of matrimony specifically is to image Christ's relationship with the Church on earth, just like the purpose of baptism is to wash away original sin, or the purpose of Confession is to cleanse away actual sin.

It's not like you and I as single people are somehow hindered in getting to Heaven by the fact that we don't have a spouse to help us get there. We should, however, choose our future spouses as people who will help us and any future families we might have pursue the grace to seek out Heaven. The sign of the sacrament itself, however, is the husband as the Groom and the bride as the Church and they renew that sacrament between them every time they come together in the unitive aspect of their marriage.
Aug 20th 2014 new
. . . to provide clients for divorce lawyers.
wink
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