Humanae Vitae 8: God’s Loving Design

sperm and eggHumanae Vitae is online at the Vatican site, and the text highlighted below is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Pope Paul presents the Church’s basic teaching on marriage.

8. Married love particularly reveals its true nature and nobility when we realize that it takes its origin from God, who “is love,” (See 1 Jn 4. 8) the Father “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” (Eph 3. 15) Marriage, then, is far from being the effect of chance or the result of the blind evolution of natural forces. It is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to effect in (people) His loving design. As a consequence, husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives. The marriage of those who have been baptized is, in addition, invested with the dignity of a sacramental sign of grace, for it represents the union of Christ and His Church.

There is a first acknowledgement here of “married love.” Love may not have always been considered essential to marriage, but in many human cultures, it is thought to be a vital part.

Is marriage the result of evolution? Many animals are loyal to mates to the death. We human beings are not quite unique in that respect. I can certainly accept God’s agency in that human beings were made for marriage, and this is certainly a key portion of God’s design of the human species.

Note that the exclusive union of two persons involves not just sexual intimacy, but is worded very broadly here. How about some questions for discussion:

  • Do we see marriage as a means of sanctification of a couple in all forms of marital intimacy?
  • Do we see the generation and rearing of new lives beyond just children, but extending to grandchildren and others in the family?
  • Do married couples provide a certain service within the Christian community for a shared bond with other couples, other families, and children?
  • Do couples married later in life not have the same duties and responsibilities outside of their biological state?
  • Does the married couple not also have a wider responsibility, perhaps in a deeper recognition of the need for fostering life through the exercise of Christ’s mandate in Matthew 25:31ff?
  • And how does the sacramentality of marriage enhance, add, or change any of this?

Any questions or answers coming from the commentariat here?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Humanae Vitae. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Humanae Vitae 8: God’s Loving Design

  1. Catholics who haven’t read this are missing out.Non Catholics shouldn’t be afraid to read it either.It is a letter that speaks to our times.

  2. Pope Paul VI was prophetic in his assessment and predictions of the consequences of the contraceptive mentality.

  3. I’ll address the questions with my thoughts.

    Do we see marriage as a means of sanctification of a couple in all forms of marital intimacy?

    I think the Church is moving in that direction very quickly. The historical teaching about marriage and sex saw marriage as a remedy against concupiscence. The couple’s sexual relationship promoted holiness only insofar as it healed them of concupiscence and priests occasionally encouraged couples to wean themselves off of the marital privilege. The idea that a sexual relationship could help a couple grow in holiness is certainly a recent innovation, and for my money, a very positive one. I think that it is definitely worth considering how a couple’s sexual relationship could promote the couple’s growth in faith, hope, and charity.

  4. Do we see the generation and rearing of new lives beyond just children, but extending to grandchildren and others in the family?
    To be honest, I sometimes wonder if Catholics see the the generation and rearing of new lives as extending beyond birth. I remember when I first started attending Mass I witnessed a baptism by a very orthodox priest. He counseled the family that they should commit themselves to sending their child to Catholic school. If that was not possible, they should work to educate their children in the faith. I heard him say this on several occasions and each time I remember thinking how this shows a stark divide between Catholics and Protestants. For Catholics, Catholic schools and and the Church are responsible for educating children in the faith. For Protestants, parents are responsible for educating children in the faith. I had a similar experience a few years ago when I was talking to a very faithful Catholic about Catholic schools; their merits and drawbacks. She said, “But how are children going to learn about their faith?” I said, “Their parents.” It didn’t even occur to her that parents could (or should) teach their children about faith. I realize that this is an incredibly small sample size and doesn’t really mean very much. But still, I think we should think about the parent’s role in educating children (as well as grandchildren, nephews and nieces, etc,) in the faith.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s