Our spouse, a gift from God.

Taking our vows in the presence of Christ,we must trust He will give us the best

"Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery, and the man who marries a woman divorced by her husband commits adultery" (Luke 16:18)

When we were young we were taught by our priests and catechism teachers that marriage is sacrament that is very sacred. Once we are married we enter into a permanent lifetime commitment with our spouse. This bond could only be terminated by death. Divorce, we were taught is evil and sinful. At that age when marriage did not mean anything to us, we took those teachings very seriously and our belief was further reinforced by the exemplary lives of our parents, who despite all their problems and differences, never considered divorce as a solution.

Today divorce and even adultery is not frowned at anymore. In fact in many cultures they have become accepted as norms. Unfortunately such an attitude is also slowly but surely creeping into our Christian and even Catholic communities.

The divorce rate is increasing at an alarming rate all over the world. It is distressing to note that, in Malaysia, there were 19,800 cases of divorce in 2004 and this continues to increase over the years. Even among Catholics it is on the rise. What is happening to our belief that marriages are made in heaven? Where have we gone wrong in upholding the sanctity of matrimony?

Many of our young men and women are shunning away from church weddings. They do see the role for God in their marriage. They are happy to just have a civil registered marriage or worst still staying together, a state they fashionably call cohabitation. This new form of relationship among young unmarried couples is becoming increasingly popular these days. According to the 2000 Census, there were about 11 million people living with an unmarried partner in the U.S. This includes both same-sex and different-sex couples.( U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).We may not be very far from the Americans.

Others are having church weddings for wrong reasons - as a sign of glamour. They plan a grand church ceremony with procession and mass concelebrated by many priests and if possible even the bishop. They are taken away by all the external celebrations of grandeur but forget the real essence of what they are getting into – a life time bond with their spouse who is special gift of God to them.

This may the reason for their separation and divorce soon after marriage, which is becoming more frequent these days. Their elaborate church ceremony, banquet and other arrangements have failed to instill the sanctity of their marriage in a way God wants. It is the presence of Christ that is important not the priest, bishop or relatives and friends however elevated their social status may be.

As a Christian marriage is solemnized by a priest in the presence of Christ, it implies that it is sanctioned by none other than Christ himself. It should also mean that Christ has specially chosen the particular spouse for us who should be the best for us. It will therefore be futile and even foolish of us to leave him/her for someone “better” in the course of our life.

If we really have the faith in Christ, as we profess we do, then we must accept this fact and abide by it. As sanctioned by God Himself, it is therefore sacred and its sanctity must always be safeguarded at all costs.

Today even among Catholics, divorce is slowly being accepted as a norm. What is frightening is that it occurs not only soon after marriage but even after many years of marriage. If only the couples, who took their matrimonial wows, in the presence of Christ, understood that they were chosen for each other by God himself and that they are the best for each other, they would have never considered divorce as the solution to whatever problems that they encounter.

Very often we see only the defects in our spouses. In fact it is much easier to see the bad than the good in them. It is easy for us to say "Lord, I love you", and we do say that many times a day, but very difficult to say the same to our spouses even once. If only we realize that Christ reveals himself daily in our spouses, in their strength and more so in their weaknesses, then saying the phrase to our spouses will be become a joy.

Once when we are convinced that Christ would give us the best in everything, including our spouses, only then will we see the good in them and overlook their shortcomings. This would be the beginning of a lasting and unshakably strong relationship with them that will withstand the stress and strain which are common in the process of bringing up the family.

We preach so much about faith and trust in God and we often presume we have that faith in us at all times. It may be so in good times but the real test of faith is at times when tragedy strikes and our lives are thrown into disarray. That is the time we must recall our matrimonial wows we made to the person handpicked by God to be our partner in life, in the presence of His son, Jesus Christ, "I'll be true to you in good and bad times,in sickness and in health

Very often we see only the defects in our spouse. In fact it is much easier to see the bad than the good in them. It is easy for us to say "Lord, I love you", and we do say that many times a day, but very difficult to say the same to our spouses even once a year. If only we realize that Christ reveals himself daily in our spouses, in their strength and more so in their weaknesses, then saying the phrase to our spouses will be become a joy.

Once when we are convinced that Christ would give us the best in everything, including our spouses, only then will we see the good in them and overlook their shortcomings. This would be the beginning of a lasting and unshakably strong relationship with them that will withstand the stress and strain which are common in the process of bringing up the family.

We preach so much about faith and trust in God and we often presume we have that faith in us at all times. It may be so when times are good but the real test of faith is at times when tragedy strikes and our lives are thrown into disarray.

That is the time we must recall our matrimonial wows we made to the person handpicked by God to be our partner in life, in the presence of His son, Jesus Christ, "I'll be true to you in good and bad times, in sickness and in health ….till death do us apart.".


Dr.Chris Anthony

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