Marriage is a human reality founded on mutual consent and reciprocal love. Its very nature is prepared towards the interests of the partners as well as for the birth and rearing of children. The purpose of marriage is the increase of the people of God and mutual help for the partners in loyalty and love. As a sacrament, marriage reflects the covenant between Christ and His Church and is the efficacious sign of this New Covenant. It is symbolized in marriage by the reciprocal and indissoluble commitment of the spouses. Sacramental marriage is more than an example of the New Covenant. It is also a means of accomplishing it. Like the Eucharist, marriage is ordered to the building up of the Body of Christ. The place of the Eucharist in a marriage relationship is made clear when marriage and the family are considered as the basic Christian community or a "little Church."
Consent and Constitutive Elements of Consent
Since marriage is a contract, when viewed naturally, human will is deemed necessary in order to determine whether or not a marriage should take place. The will of man is so important in the creation of the contract of marriage that the mutual consent o the parties involved cannot be supplied through any other means. But in order to be valid, the will and act of which it is constituted must be subject to certain conditions and possess certain qualities. There are various circumstances that could go against the validity of the consent. For example, a person without the use or reason or impaired to make decisions (intoxicated, drugged, insane persons) cannot participate in the formation of a matrimonial contract. Mistaken knowledge and misunderstandings can also cause the contract to be invalid since the persons involved should be fully aware of all the aspects if the union. There should also be no force, coercion, threatening involved since marriage is brought about by the free will and choice of the parties.
Natural vs. Sacramental
Marriage has long been viewed as a natural institution, meeting and guiding the primary human inclinations toward sexual expression, reproduction, and emotional intimacy. It is a human institution in the sense that inherent in human nature is the need to establish relationships. There is an "affective attachment" between men and women that causes us to be attracted to each other, to feel a sense of well-being when we are together with a loved one, and to feel jealous when others attempt to intrude into our relationship. One reason that marriage is ubiquitous is that, as a natural institution, it is partially rooted in human biology. The love attachments of marriage are more than just social constructs. Unlike most animals, human males and females have a predisposition to have some emotional affinity for each other beyond the sexual act and to establish bonds in pairs.
A sacrament is a sacred sign instituted by Christ in order to give grace. Marriage is such a sign since...