What Is Marriage

The understanding of marriage and family in western culture has changed significantly in the past thirty years. What used to be taken for granted is now challenged and even rejected.

What Is Marriage? is presented by Fr. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem., as an exclusive video series for our friends who support this community as members of the Abbot’s Circle. We encourage you to join this special group of people.

The understanding of marriage and family in western culture has changed significantly in the past thirty years. What used to be taken for granted is now challenged and even rejected. The first videos will consider the meanings of the terms “marriage” and “family” and will answer modern objections to the traditional definitions of marriage and family. Among other things, the course will consider the foundations of marriage and family in human experience and human nature. Then the videos will cover marriage as a sacrament, that is, insofar as God has revealed truths in sacred Scripture about marriage and family. Finally, the course will give practical advice to Christian couples about how to live a flourishing family life.

Episode 1: Course Outline

This is an outline of the entire course. Marriage will be considered from the perspective of: 1) natural reason; 2) divine revelation; and 3) practical advice about how to help your marriage and family flourish, and how to heal wounds in family life.

Episode 2: Definition of Family

This module gives definition of family (a communion among a husband, his wife and their children) and explains this definition.

Episode 3: Definition of Marriage

This module gives the definition of marriage: (the lifelong communion between a man and a woman, established by their free consent, for the sake of the generation and education of children) and explains it.

Episode 4: Marriage Is Natural

This module explains how marriage is something natural, arising spontaneously from our common human nature. And so marriage is not something created by the state or by a law.

Episode 5: Is Marriage Really for the Purpose of Generating and Educating Children?

This module raises the following objection against the definition of marriage: How can marriage be for the sake of the generation and education of children if elderly and infertile couples can obviously get married? Also, if infertile couples can marry, why can’t persons of the same sex marry? These objections are answered.

Episode 6: Are Infertile Couples Truly Married?

This module raises the following objection: Are an elderly or infertile couple not fully married if they can’t have children? In response, the video explains how infertile and elderly couples have a marriage in the full sense of the word. Another objection is: How can someone who can’t have children intend to enter into something which is for the sake of children? This objection is answered.

Episode 7: Is Love in the Definition of Marriage?

This module raises the objection: Shouldn’t love be in the definition of marriage? It answers this objection by showing that love is implied in the definition of a good marriage, and by distinguishing between the motive for getting married and the intrinsic purpose of marriage.

Episode 8: Why Is Marriage Lifelong?

This module explains why marriage should be lifelong. It argues from the fact that marriage is for the sake of educating children to the fact that marriage should be lifelong. It also considers why marriage should be lifelong even if children don’t come. Also this module asks and answers why divorce and remarriage is not permitted if there is abandonment or abuse by one spouse.

Episode 9: The Difference between Marriage and Same-Sex Unions

This module examines the difference between marriage and same-sex unions. It evaluates and responds to the contemporary position that marriage and same-sex unions are similar enough to be treated equally.

Episode 10: Should Marriage and Same-Sex Unions Be Treated as Equal Under the Law?

This module considers whether or not marriage and same-sex unions should be treated equally under the law. It raises objections and answers them by explaining the purpose of law, and what kinds of differences are legally significant.

Episode 11: Who Gets Hurt if Society Permits Same-Sex Unions to Be Treated as Equal to Marriage?

This module explains the harm done to the wider society if same sex-unions are treated as equivalent to marriage.

Episode 12: Aren’t My Friends My Real Family?

This module considers the last objection to the definition of marriage and family: Isn’t my true family the people I love rather than the people I happen to be related to by biology? It replies by showing the unique and essential role that natural generation and family plays in human relationships beyond mere friendship.

Episode 13: Marriage and Family: A Window to Heaven

This module considers marriage as a sacrament, a sacred sign, of the union between the divine and the human. It also shows the relationship between the fundamental mysteries of the faith (the Trinity and the Incarnation) and the mystery of the sacrament of marriage and family.

Episode 14: Marriage as a Sacrament of the Incarnation

This module considers the likenesses between marriage and the Incarnation.

Episode 15: Family Reflects the Communion in the Trinity

This module explains how the communion within a family mirrors the communion within the Trinity.

Episode 16: What Are the Five Marks of the Ideal Christian Family?

This module contains practical advice about married life: What are the five marks of the ideal Christian family?

Episode 17: Practical Advice about Dating

This module answers questions such as: How should dating and engaged couples prepare for marriage? What is dating for and how should dating couples behave together?

Episode 18: Advice for Newly Married Couples

This module gives advice for newly married couples. How should a newly married couple respond when they find that the powerful positive emotions fade?

Episode 19: Healing Wounds in Your Family

This module considers how to heal corruptions in family life. How can we love unconditionally, and seek to love without demanding to be loved in return? How can couples learn to love each other at different stages in their marriage.

Episode 20: Family Is a Place of Mercy

This module considers the harm which comes from looking at marriage and family as a place of strict justice rather than as a place of mercy and selfless love. It also gives advice about how to make your family a place of mercy. Finally, it explains how to forgive a family member who has hurt you deeply.

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