Marriage and Sacraments

I believe that the Sacraments, or, as the Eastern Orthodox Christians would put them, the Sacred Mysteries, genuinely communicate God, the Most Sacred and the Grand Mystery himself. In particular, they gave us a glimpse of God’s climactic communication of himself in and through the redemptive work of Jesus of Nazareth. In that sense baptism and eucharist didn’t merely re-tell the story of Jesus, but invited us to be taken up in those stories as well. We become participants in that story and not only spectators.

Marriage, in some sense, also communicates the redemptive work of Jesus. Indeed, the husband-wife relationship is a metaphor of the YHWH-Israel and Christ-church relationship. You could feel some sense of holiness and mystery in a wedding ceremony. God’s enduring faithfulness to his people is symbolized by the lifelong commitment of the husband and the wife. Hence you could appreciate why the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches put marriage as one of the sacraments/sacred mysteries. Their reasonings are valid enough for me.

But then in the end I would not accord marriage of the sacramental status, basically because marriage is not applicable for all. Unlike baptism and eucharist, which do are applicable for all. And I believe universality is one of the necessary litmus tests of what we call a sacrament, since a sacrament does not only communicates God, but also the whole people of God. Universality, of course, is what make baptism decisively different from circumcision. While, on the other hand, to use my previous metaphor, not all of us would be participants in a marriage.


6 thoughts on “Marriage and Sacraments

  1. pedro

    in communicating any messages about marriage, we must be doubly careful not to elevate it to some special experience. for example, does marriage communicate more than other things the redemptive work of jesus? you did qualify it later though. sense of holiness and mystery – can we sense that elsewhere?

    modern-day wedding ceremonies are mere western construct, as much as marriages are holy and mysterious. how would you advise someone who has no opportunity to get married, or has not gone through a marriage to experience that holiness and mystery? if marriages are truly holy and mysterious in pratical reality, why are there increasing number of divorces? did people really mean it (holy and mysterious) when they made the vow? or is there constant renewal of the vow?

    at the end of day, we must not communicate to the church that those who have not, or do not intend to get married ‘is missing out something’ – that would be distorting the Bible, and our faith.

    feel free to comment.

    p.s. not to pour a bucket of cold water on anyone, but in reality, after the ceremony marriages are not as rosy as most people thought it would be. so whenever we talk about these redemptive work, holiness and mystery, they are mere high ideals, (how do we see them (these ideas) float amog the students/ graudates?), and when reality of the married life sinks in… we no longer can call marraiges redemptive, instead with the language of bondage (for some). :D

    1. duca™

      @pedro monogamous ceremony being a modern western construct is as true as the abolishment of slavery is another western construct.

      but should we ignore these faithful constucts?

      @sept i think the RC’s sacraments need not to be universal, that’s why another sacrament is exclusive for those called to be single. -maybe- for them if its universal, there’s no mystery anymore..

      1. pedro


        i wasn’t talking about monogamous marriage ceremonies as a western construct. but merely that our experience of being in a wedding, and the feelings associated with it, “You could feel some sense of holiness and mystery in a wedding ceremony.” is heavily influnced from my west. we are very used to western, church weddings.

      2. septian Post author

        @dun: yep. i guess we have different sets of qualifications on what defines a sacrament.

        @pete: when i said ‘communicating the redemptive work of jesus’, i referred to the Christ-church metaphor and not the holiness & mystery experience. so it is placed in a firm foundation and not a merely experential construal. thats why even if you lost those holiness/mystery aspect of a marriage, you should still fight for it, since a marriage stands for the relationship of Christ and his people, and his love for his people endures forever…


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