The Christian church based its approach to marriage and the family, as it found it to be in different places, on the one-flesh union of man and woman. They were not only given a common mission (known as the cultural mandate in the world) and created and ordered towards one another for the birth and nurture of children, but also for their own fulfilment and security. It is very important to understand this.
Throughout the course of Christian history there have been many expressions of this view of marriage and the family, but I want to examine just one. His is a name difficult to avoid on the topic: St Augustine, the great Bishop of Hippo in North Africa. Augustine saw marriage first of all as the coming together of man and woman for the sake of children, but also for the sake of the security of the partners. This is what you might call the contractual view of marriage. It needed to be understood in a lifelong sense because, apart from anything else, the human child takes a long time to grow up.
But Augustine didn't stop there. He went on to speak of the commitment that is necessary — contract is not enough — so that we do not use one another simply as a means to our own selfish ends, but commit ourselves to the other as a person.
Read it all.
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