Excerpts are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
God is the author of marriage:
Part 1, Section 2, Chapter 1, Article 1, Paragraph 6, SubSection 3, Heading 2 372 Man and woman were made “for each other” – … for they are equal as persons (“bone of my bones. . .”) and complementary as masculine and feminine. In marriage God unites them in such a way that, by forming “one flesh”, 245 they can transmit human life: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” 246 By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman as spouses and parents co-operate in a unique way in the Creator’s work.
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, Heading 1 1602 Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of “the wedding-feast of the Lamb.” 85 Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its “mystery,” its institution and the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end…
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, Heading 2 1603…. God himself is the author of marriage.” 87 The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator….. “The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.” 89
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, Heading 4 1609 In his mercy God has not forsaken sinful man. … After the fall, marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one’s own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving.
Indissolubility of Marriage
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, Heading 4 1610 Moral conscience concerning the unity and indissolubility of marriage developed under the pedagogy of the old law.
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, Heading 4 1611 Seeing God’s covenant with Israel in the image of exclusive and faithful married love, the prophets prepared the Chosen People’s conscience for a deepened understanding of the unity and indissolubility of marriage. 102 The books of Ruth and Tobit bear moving witness to an elevated sense of marriage and to the fidelity and tenderness of spouses. Tradition has always seen in the Song of Solomon a unique expression of human love, insofar as it is a reflection of God’s love – a love “strong as death” that “many waters cannot quench.” 103
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, Heading 5 …. 105 The Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence.
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, Heading 5 1615 … Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy – heavier than the Law of Moses. 108 …It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. 109 This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.
Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 6, SubSection 4, Heading 2 2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. 174 He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law. 175 Between the baptized, “a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.” 176
Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 6, SubSection 4, Heading 2 2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:
If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself. 178
Marriage as a Sacrament
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, Heading 5 617…. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant. 112
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, Heading 6 1620…. 117 Esteem of virginity for the sake of the kingdom 118 and the Christian understanding of marriage are inseparable, and they reinforce each other:
Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. …
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, SubSection 2 1622 “Inasmuch as it is a sacramental action of sanctification, the liturgical celebration of marriage . . . must be, per se, valid, worthy, and fruitful.” 123 It is therefore appropriate for the bride and groom to prepare themselves for the celebration of their marriage by receiving the sacrament of penance.
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, SubSection 3 1625 The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; “to be free” means:
– not being under constraint;
– not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, SubSection 3 1629 For this reason (or for other reasons that render the marriage null and void) the Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal, can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed. 132 In this case the contracting parties are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged. 133
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, SubSection 4 1638 “From a valid marriage arises a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive; furthermore, in a Christian marriage the spouses are strengthened and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament.” 142
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, SubSection 4, Heading 1 1640 Thus the marriage bond has been established by God himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved. This bond, which results from the free human act of the spouses and their consummation of the marriage, is a reality, henceforth irrevocable, and gives rise to a covenant guaranteed by God’s fidelity. The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom. 146
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, SubSection 5, Heading 2 1646 By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement “until further notice.” The “intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them.”
Divorce and remarriage
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, SubSection 5, Heading 2 1650…. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” 160 the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, SubSection 6 1664 Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. …divorce separates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its “supreme gift,” the child (GS 50 § 1).
Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, SubSection 6 1665 The remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ. They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion. They will lead Christian lives especially by educating their children in the faith.
Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 6, SubSection 4, Heading 1 2381 Adultery is an injustice. He who commits adultery fails in his commitment. He does injury to the sign of the covenant which the marriage bond is, transgresses the rights of the other spouse, and undermines the institution of marriage by breaking the contract on which it is based. …
Duties and responsibilities of civil authority
Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 4, SubSection 2 2210 The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society 13 entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family. Civil authority should consider it a grave duty “to acknowledge the true nature of marriage and the family, to protect and foster them, to safeguard public morality, and promote domestic prosperity.” 14
Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 4, SubSection 2 2211 The political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially:
– the freedom to establish a family, have children, and bring them up in keeping with the family’s own moral and religious convictions;
– the protection of the stability of the marriage bond and the institution of the family;
– the freedom to profess one’s faith, to hand it on, and raise one’s children in it, with the necessary means and institutions;
– the right to private property, to free enterprise, to obtain work and housing, and the right to emigrate;
– in keeping with the country’s institutions, the right to medical care, assistance for the aged, and family benefits;
– the protection of security and health, especially with respect to dangers like drugs, pornography, alcoholism, etc.;
– the freedom to form associations with other families and so to have representation before civil authority. 15
Living together before Marriage
Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 6, SubSection 2, Heading 3 2350 Those who are engaged to marry are called to live chastity in continence. They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity.
Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 6, SubSection 4, Heading 3 2390 In a so-called free union, a man and a woman refuse to give juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy.
The expression “free union” is fallacious: what can “union” mean when the partners make no commitment to one another, each exhibiting a lack of trust in the other, in himself, or in the future?
The expression covers a number of different situations: concubinage, rejection of marriage as such, or inability to make long-term commitments. 183 All these situations offend against the dignity of marriage; they destroy the very idea of the family; they weaken the sense of fidelity. They are contrary to the moral law. The sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from sacramental communion.
Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 6, SubSection 4, Heading 3 2391 Some today claim a “right to a trial marriage” where there is an intention of getting married later. However firm the purpose of those who engage in premature sexual relations may be, “the fact is that such liaisons can scarcely ensure mutual sincerity and fidelity in a relationship between a man and a woman, nor, especially, can they protect it from inconstancy of desires or whim.” 184 Carnal union is morally legitimate only when a definitive community of life between a man and woman has been established. Human love does not tolerate “trial marriages.” It demands a total and definitive gift of persons to one another. 185
Dignity of Marriage
Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 6, SubSection 4, Heading 3 2400 Adultery, divorce, polygamy, and free union are grave offenses against the dignity of marriage.