1 Corinthians 7 Preamble

Chapter seven deals with the issue of marriage, celibacy,
and all that comes with it. Most people pull out one, or even
just half a verse of this chapter to twist what they want out of
it. Sometimes, it is to twist condemnation on Paul and the
Catholic Church. This chapter can answer many questions
people may have today. Realize the Church cannot change
any teachings; she serves Jesus our Lord, and what the Lord
has said in Sacred Scripture is immutable: it is the very word
of God. This is not written to condemn, but because our
society is very weak on its understanding of marriage by its
very nature.
So before I even consider this sacred text, there is a correct
understanding that needs to be established by good human
reasoning, directed toward truth. To deny truth is to live a lie
and be dedicated to that lie. Lies hurt us. Humans suffer
when we have a lack of knowledge as expressed in
untruthfulness. If a doctor cannot find the cure of a disease,
we all are affected by it. Humanity suffers. In the same way,
when humanity does not understand the reality of what
marriage is, we suffer. When we think marriage is all about
type of love that is selfish, we use it as such and hurt the ones
around us and ultimately, we suffer. It is a misuse of a great
gift God has given us.
I remember when I was a child. My dad would let me use his
tools to make or “fix” things. Nothing ever came back the
same. My poor dad! Sometimes I would take a flat blade
screwdriver and use it as a chisel. But that is not what the
screwdriver was for, so it always happened that I would
break or at least chip the blade. Things got broken when I
ignored the way things were supposed to be used. Then
nobody could benefit and there was great sadness. Sounds a
lot like marriage today. This is why it is so important to listen
to what the Church and Paul have to say about marriage so
that those who get married can have a fulfilling marriage.
The more you conform yourself and your marriage to God’s
plan, the more joy you will get out of it. That is also why
couples that have good marriages should continue to listen to
the Church and Paul. How fulfilling can marriage be? That
comes in Ephesians chapter 5.
There are two forms of marriage: the natural and the
supernatural. The supernatural marriage is the sacramental
form. Paul here is dealing with the human practicalities of
marriage and gives sound advice. This is very important. St
Thomas Aquinas taught that grace builds upon nature. So if a
child has a test coming up, he has to study. He cannot ignore
the responsibility to study and just ask Jesus to help him pass
the test. It is the part of our responsibility to cooperate with
God’s grace in marriage to take care of what God created.
Nature can never be denied. Even when man learned how to
fly, he still had to obey the laws of physics. Grace builds

upon nature. This reality applies to all aspects of life; it is a
universal concept.
The nature of marriage is the bond between one man and
one woman who are able to give themselves to each other in
a way that marriage demands. Anybody who has been
married knows that marriage demands a lot. But through the
grace of God, the reward far surpasses. But that speaks of
the sacramental form. The natural form relies on the human
person and its physical, intellectual, and emotional
capacities with the decision (the will) to make marriage
work. Without the physical aspects, the marriage cannot
take place. What is the physical? One man and one woman
with the ability to give themselves to each other in a physical
way. That is why same-sex unions are not marriage by its

very nature. The physical nature cannot be denied for God’s
grace to enter. We are not angels, nor are we pure spirits
trapped in a body. God created us body and soul:
integrated. The body is the physical, the soul deals with the
intellect, passions and the will. Also, the consummation of
marriage is integral to marriage.
The intellectual is our understanding of what marriage is.
This deals with the consent: “I…take you….” This is why we
do not write our own marriage vows. By changing the words
of the consent or our understanding, we are attempting to
change the nature of the bondage. If one changes the nature
of the bondage, it is not marriage. The nature of marriage
exists outside our desires just like the concept of gravity
exists outside our understanding. I do not decide for myself
what marriage is, it just exists like gravity. So we have an
obligation to know that marriage is for life, meaning that
you remain bound to each other till “death do [you] part.”
Openness to children is necessary for marriage and is in the
very nature of marriage, especially due to the physical part
of marriage. This makes the integration of marriage come
forth. Body and soul are in union with each other; the
physical and the intellect with its understanding are in union.
Being faithful to each other is another necessary truth of
marriage. This does not just mean not galivanting around, it
means being there for each other “in good times and in bad,
in sickness and in health.”
The passions should see the beauty and give meaning to
this holy bondage. It is the means of natural strength to
preserve it and indeed pursue it to be accomplished till
death parts. The passions are led by what the intellect has
discovered as truth. Today, we allow our passions to tell us
what truth is. This pattern will always lead us astray. It

makes us chase after what we think will bring joy, but right
before we get there, everything falls apart. It is the biggest
lie of the devil, and it keeps us from having that joy that
only following God can give.
The will is where love comes to fulfillment. It is where we
decide to live out this truth in marriage and the beauty of
marriage is manifest, because the love of God is made
manifest in this sacred bond. But again, that is in reference
to God’s grace and His promise He made “for those who love
Him” (1 Cor 2:9). We do deeds of “love [for] one
another” (Jn 15:12) as physical proof of our love for each
other. Love is found in all aspects of the human person, body
and soul – the intellect, passions and the will – but it is
primarily in the will, not the emotions. Emotions come and go,
depending on what we feed them with our intellect and our
environment. Sometimes we simply get exhausted. Emotions
cannot be propped up all the time. But we can choose to will
the good for each other, even when we are tired.
Marriage has an all-in situation. It needs to be integrated,
body and soul, with the intellect, passions, and the will all
involved in a prudent manner. The nature of marriage is
very fragile for humans born with original sin, but by God’s
grace, it becomes an image of hope for the world to see.
Here I go again; I am talking about the sacramental form
again. Yes, because the ultimate goal of marriage is
supernatural, it is designed by God to bring the two spouses
to heaven, and inspire all those who see in this same
direction. That is why God gave us such a strong natural
desire for it. So what do we have to do to get there?

Father Barr