I wanted to ask this question today. As it seems that the cultural norm is to live together and then be engaged for a few years and then get married. What does marriage then mean to those within this progression? I know what it is to me, a sacrament, a visible sign of the grace of Jesus. Its sacred, and a life-long covenant.
But what is the cultural norm definition of marriage. I mean I want to think that it is that total self donation of oneself to another, but its so skewed from that. Knowing that there are exceptions where sex isn't part of the picture yet, but usually it is but that is skewed from the pureness, and beauty of sex. The truth behind the act becomes hidden, at least I would think for the girl, the girl has to worry about commitment, pregnancy, infections. The guy thinking hopefully about the first and the last of those as well, but they wouldn't have to if neither one had sex until they were married. I guess you could argue away the infection scheme if they didn't have sex with anyone else, but again this is not the usual case.
So at this point I have ruled out that the cultural definition of marriage doesn't involve waiting on sex so that their can be total self donation of one another. So what is then the definition, does it mean children? I think this may apply to a percentage of those that follow this live together, then marry crowd. So to them does marriage mean responsibility? Along with that responsibility there is a person that binds them together now. Which if they are humble and loving should bind them together more. A good thing, because part of God's definition of marriage is to have children, if they are able to do so, some people cannot.
But what about the other percentage that still gets married after living together and is adamant about not having children? Why do they get married? Because marriage is part of life? Because others influence them to do so? And still what does it mean to them, as it doesn't mean total self donation, it doesn't mean wanting to have a family, so is it some sort of a commitment? I think in some way it has to be, as skewed from the original commitment it is, it must be something along these lines, or why else? Just to have a big fancy party and get dressed up all nicely? Sadly this could be true too.
Well, the good in all of this is that God can fix it and make the fallen rise again, if we just work at it and accept it. There are so many turn around stories that I have heard that make me think that the real definition of marriage is what we are striving for when we get married. So I pray that for the reader no matter where you are in this vicious cycle.