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Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 7.2 (2004) 118-136



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Understanding Marriage through Holy Communion
Rediscovering the Essential Meaning of Sexual Love

Matthew Tsakanikas


A new, more important aspect, which might be ignored in a narrowly conceived sacramental theology, now emerges: the Church is the Body of Christ in the way in which the woman is one body, or rather one flesh, with the man.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Introduction

I will say it bluntly and then provide the foundations of this most ancient Christian vision: God desires nothing less than to be joined (married) to us, to elevate us to share in His divinity, and to provide an endless and most intimate union with Him that will perfect our unique identity and give us infinite and unending joy.1 This was the message of Jesus the Christ.

Does it sound strange to hear that God wants to marry us. . . literally? Should we not instead regard the relevant passages in the Old or New Testament as purely figurative? They were not solely figurative but pointed to the essence of marriage, which is the growing [End Page 118] of two hearts into one: "The two shall become one" (Gen. 2:24).2 There is no need to blush at the Song of Songs. Our Judeo-Christian heritage has been corrupted so that most everyone has lost the sense of the purpose of sexual love—a God-designed tool to make hearts become one. Often, we mistakenly think of physical sex when we hear the word "marriage" instead of asking why did God compare his desired relationship to us with that of marriage?

The marriage with God I speak about is in no way natural but rather something supernatural and lived through supernatural methods and modes; there is nothing sexual about it. Yet, it is not without reason that Saint Paul says, "For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God, since I betrothed you to one husband to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2). Paul clearly is stating that every Christian is somehow entering into a marriage relationship with the risen Christ through Baptism and Holy Communion. Through this understanding the essential meaning of sexual love in marriage can be rediscovered.

I.

God's Marriage to Humankind Is Contracted but Not Sealed

Because of the coming of the Messiah and the fullness of God's revelation in Him, we can now understand the full meaning of the story of Adam and Eve. God tried to marry the human race in Adam in order to share His divinity with us, but He did not seal it as a covenant until Jesus Christ appeared. It took a second and final Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) to give God the marriage He was after and make it into a covenant (Matt. 26:28). Let me explain.

First, we need to understand contracts and covenants.3 Covenants, when speaking in reference to the Bible, are permanent and unable to be broken. They form family relationships where there was no relationship before.4 They determine future relationships either by birth or by vows and rituals. Once finalized, once in existence, [End Page 119] covenants can not be broken; they can only be violated and degraded. Contracts, on the other hand, can be broken. They exist to exchange goods and services or are entered into when there is no desire that the relationship should be permanent. Thus, the contract relationship between an employer and an employee is a far inferior relationship to the family and covenant birth relationship between parent and child. The contract relationship of a prenuptial agreement is far inferior to the sacramental covenant of marriage between a Christian man and woman who accept that it is adultery to marry again while the other is still alive.

The whole story of Adam and Eve and the two trees at the center of the Garden of Eden explains God's attempt to marry us and share His divinity...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-791X
Print ISSN
1091-6687
Pages
pp. 118-136
Launched on MUSE
2004-03-25
Open Access
No
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