“The main reason for the rise of Protestantism in the sixteenth century was in one monosyllabic word – sex.”
Mandeville, LA – “There are two names by which the Church refers to this sacrament – either marriage or matrimony. Most popularly when we refer to this sacrament it is matrimony, although marriage is an appropriate name.
I think the best place to begin an immense subject, is to ask ourselves, why did Christ, when He came into the world, institute the Sacrament of Matrimony? After all, marriage itself was already instituted by God at the dawn of human history. Evidently, there must have been a profound reason, and in plain language the reason was because it was necessary.
When God first instituted marriage, our first parents were told to live together, be faithful to one another, they were to be “two in one flesh”. But as we read the history of the human race, surely one of the most devastating effects of original sin is, it is a result of original sin, human nature in both men and women. Human nature now has tendencies that we have to resist and control if you want to remain faithful to the will of God.
Even the chosen people for some two thousand years, beginning with Abraham until the time of Christ. Even the chosen people, as we know, practiced polygamy. Whatever then, the Son of God who became man in the person of Christ was to do, He had better have provided some supernatural means (let’s change the adjective) some superhuman means of insuring that marriage would indeed be what God had originally intended it to be at the dawn of human history.
Practically speaking, what the Church over the centuries has had mainly to defend is not so much polygamy, it has to defend indissolubility. There have been now in almost two thousand years of the Church’s history some major breaks with the Roman Catholic Church. The two most devastating were in the thirteenth century with the break of the Eastern Orthodox and in the sixteenth century of the Protestants. In both cases this was the main reason: the main reason why hundreds of millions of professed Christians are not Catholic is right here. Martin Luther wrote (just for the record) sixty-two volumes. I tell people I have read enough of Luther to be able to say this, you can spare yourself reading all those books. The main reason for the rise of Protestantism in the sixteenth century was in one monosyllabic word – sex.
We begin by asking ourselves, “Why did Christ institute the Sacrament of Matrimony?” That was one reason. In order to preserve, and of course, restore the meaning of marriage to what God had originally intended it to be when the human race first began. But another reason why Christ, I don’t hesitate saying, had to institute the Sacrament of Matrimony is because as you remember at the Last Supper Christ told His followers, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” If then Christ raised the level of the practice of love beyond anything that had been known before, Christ commanded His followers to love one another as He who is God loves us. Such love, absolutely selfless love, was utterly unknown in all the previous ages of human history. Well, if Christ demanded that His followers practiced absolutely selfless love, patterned on the very love of God become man, then for married people, needless to say, every follower of Christ is obliged to practice selfless charity – this includes the married. And you don’t practice selfless charity without a lot of grace from God! That is why Christ instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist- to provide us with the grace we need to love one another as He who is God became man has been loving us.
At the Last Supper He gave us the commandment to love one another with absolute selflessness and He instituted the Eucharist to make that humanly impossible command possible. Now back to marriage.
If Christ’s command to love one another as Christ has been loving us, if that command applies to all the followers of Christ, it surely applies to His married followers. And I have no hesitation in saying, that the selflessness of love demanded in marriage is impossible to observe unless Christ has instituted a sacrament to make, and I repeat, the humanly impossible-divinely possible through the grace received in the Sacrament of Matrimony.” – Father John Hardon, Sacrament of Matrimony Retreat, 02 March, 1990