In these reflections so far we have seen that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, for life. The next topic we will reflect on is the importance of fidelity in marriage.
Marriage is an exclusive relationship. When a man and woman marry they are saying, “you are the one I want to spend the rest of my life with, and I forsake all others, giving myself entirely to you.” This is a radical commitment, for Scripture tells us that a married couple becomes “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24, Mt. 19: 4-6). In a spiritual way husbands and wives are joined together in a covenant of love. They share all material goods, becoming partners and helpers to one another. Their union is fruitful, for true love is not selfish, but seeks to share itself with an ever widening community of persons (in this case the community formed is the family). This spiritual union finds its physical expression in the couple’s sexual union. It is the concrete sign of the marital covenant. In their loving embrace, the couple express their love for one another and share in the creative act of God. Because sex in marriage has such a high purpose adultery is a grave sin against the unity of the sacrament.
Last time we reflected on annulment and the tragedy of divorce. While adultery is not a grounds for annulment, it is undeniable that many couples find it impossible to continue to live together after one of the spouses has been unfaithful. Ideally the offended partner should forgive his or her repentant spouse and resume married life. In the day to day reality this is not easy. Even if the couple stays together, their relationship is often changed for the worse. Marital infidelity destroys trust, and its loss is not easily regained. Because of this it is important for couples to fight the good fight every day to stay faithful. Marriage is not simply a private relationship. When the two individuals become one, and then have children, they are forming a family. The family is the basic building block of society and the Church. When families are strong and unified, so is society. Family life is difficult to maintain, even in good times. Adultery places a strain on the family that often times proves too much to bear.
Next time we will continue our reflection on marital fidelity by reflecting on chastity. It is my hope that we can come to understand that all people, married and single, are called to live this virtue. The difference will be how they live it out.