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Chapter 21. The Sacrament of Marriage • 279


The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature

of man and woman as they came from the hand of

the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institu-

tion despite the many variations it may have undergone

through the centuries in different cultures, social struc-

tures and spiritual attitudes.

—CCC, no. 1603

Sacred Scripture begins with the creation and union of man and woman

and ends with “the wedding feast of the Lamb” (Rev 19:7, 9). Scripture

often refers to marriage, its origin and purpose, the meaning God gave

to it, and its renewal in the covenant made by Jesus with his Church.

God created man and woman out of love and commanded them to

imitate his love in their relations with each other. Man and woman were

created for each other. “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will

make a suitable partner for him. . . . The two of them become one body”

(Gn 2:18; 24). Woman and man are equal in human dignity, and in mar-

riage both are united in an unbreakable bond.

But fidelity to God’s plan for the unity and indissolubility of mar-

riage developed gradually among the people of ancient Israel under

God’s providential guidance. The patriarchs and kings practiced polyg-

amy, and Moses permitted divorce. Jesus later cited this case as a tolera-

tion of human hardness of heart and taught God’s plan for marriage

from the beginning (cf. Mt 19:8). It was the prophets of ancient Israel

who prepared for Jesus’ renewal of God’s plan for marriage in their

insistence that the permanent and exclusive fidelity of marriage illus-

trates the unending fidelity of God to his covenant with Israel and his

will that Israel be faithful to him alone (cf., e.g., Hos 3 and Ez 16:59-63).

The books of Ruth and Tobit witness the ideals of marriage. They

describe the fidelity and tenderness that should exist between the spouses.

The Song of Solomon pictures a human love that mirrors God’s love,

which “many waters cannot quench” (cf. Sg 8:6-7).