EWTN Catholic Q&A
marriage intamacy
Question from charles finch on 07-18-2008:

My wife and I where married at justic of peace, weve been married 6yrs now and have 3 children. My wife is catholic and I am enrolled with RCIA. I am baptist, my question is she says since the church doesn't regonize us as being married in the catholic church but through the justice of the peace. That we can't be intimate since we weren't married in the catholic church. Is this true? why is our marriage not as important since we still made a covenant between each other and GOD

Sincerely Charles Finch

Answer by Fr. Thomas Loya on 08-13-2008:

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Charles,

Making a Covenant together is certainly part of being married. However, not just any "covenant" will do. A Sacramental Covenant is one that is made within the Church which gives the convenant a certain quality with certain characterstics. Just as in the case with baptism and Confirmation marriage is not only about two people promising something to each but it is also about their covenant and relationship being received into the life of the Church. When a person is baptized they are united to God but also to the community of the Church. This is why public baptisms are the preferred practice rather than "private" baptisms. As a candidate is united to the Church in baptims so too is a couple's relationship united to the Church in Marriage. Also the couple is united to God and the way that God designed this union to take place would be through His Church.

When a Catholic party is involved in a marriage the Church has "jurisdiction" over them. In other words the Catholic party is obligated to connect their marriage with their Catholic Church. The one flesh union between a husband a wife is a ratification of the vows made during the wedding. This act of intimacy between a husband and wife is "sacramental" which means it becomes most authentic when the couple's relationship has been united to the Sacramental Catholic Church.

The one flesh union between a husband a wife finds its meaning in the Eucharist. To be united to the Eucharist a Catholic person has to live what the Eucharist is about. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our existence, the supreme sacrament of the Church. To be united to the Eucharist is what gives a marriage its ultmate significance and integrity.

Yes, Marriage is a covenant but it is even more than that. It is a sharing in the very interior life of the Holy Trinity. It is our ability on this earth to love as God has loved and the Church is the vehicle by which we share in God's presence. So, to sum up, when a Catholic party is united to the Church they are united in the most authentic way to their spouse.

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