Why bother talking about God’s plan for the family since first of all, God seems to have been kicked out of it and secondly, it’s useless to try to define what the family is nowadays. Truly, both God and family are under attack, but does that mean that we shouldn’t bother talking about either one of them? On the contrary, it’s all the more reason to talk about it.
In times past, people gave their life for a number of noble causes: their country, their faith, etc. Heresies arose and martyrs were born to defend the most basic truths of our Creed. Now, the world is in need of a different kind of martyr: those who are willing to lay down their life in defense of the dignity of the human person, life, marriage, and family. This arena is the Colosseum of our time.
It’s necessary for us to return to our roots, to take a look at the beginning – the beginning of our creation. “God created mankind in His image; in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:27-28). Here, we have the key to God’s plan for the family. So, let’s break it down a bit:
1. “God created mankind in His image and likeness.” God’s plan for the family and marriage begins with a proper understanding of who we are. We are each made in His very own image and likeness. This means that we have the capacity and also the responsibility to love and live in communion with one another. And because we are incarnate spirit, that is an immortal spirit which expresses itself in a body, we are called to love as a unified whole. The dignity of the human person is based on this truth. We can’t begin to understand the family, unless we first understand ourselves.
2. “Male and female He created them.” Since the body has been created to share in spiritual love, it’s important to recognize that when God created us, He created us male and female. This point, in particular, has been a recent object of attack in our gender confused world. People are no longer allowed to teach, talk about, or be raised to believe that the purpose of sexuality is the union of love between a man and a woman and the creation of children. This reality isn’t just a truth of faith valid only for Christians – it’s a verifiable fact that stable heterosexual relationships are fundamental to the existence of society. Sexuality is also not something purely biological, but concerns the innermost core of the human person. We aren’t just male or female because we choose to be, we are who we are in our soul and in our body. The male-female complementarity and union is essential to a stable marriage and family. It requires totality and commitment.
3. “God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” The totality of conjugal love also points to the demands of responsible parenthood. The love of a man and a woman in marriage is destined to be fruitful and find its fulfillment in the common task of taking care of creation. Procreation and the education of children is the crown of the very institution of marriage and conjugal love. The reciprocal love of the couple, which unites them as “one flesh,” makes them also capable of the greatest possible gift: to collaborate with God in bringing new life into the world. The care and education of children is a great responsibility and task. Children also are entitled to a stable and loving environment with both parents. Even when procreation is not possible, spouses can still exercise their calling to be fruitful through a life of service, and this can be done in numerous ways.
This is God’s plan for the family. Jesus Himself affirmed it when He said, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’… For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).
It’s time for us to return to our original design: to know who we are and to discover the greatness of the family called to live according to God’s plan.
Article contributed by Sr. Mary Donovan, SHM