Our culture is deeply confused about what marriage is. Same-sex “marriage” is the latest manifestation of this problem, but the confusion is widespread about heterosexual marriage as well. What is marriage? What is it for? Why do we have it in the first place?
You may have noticed that the Church often refers to marriage with the term “Holy Matrimony.” Well, it turns out that one of the key truths about marriage that our culture misses is actually hidden in the word “matrimony.”
The English word “matrimony” ultimately comes from the Latin term matrimonium. This word means “marriage,” but with a specific etymology.
It comes from two other Latin terms, mater and –monium. Mater simply means “mother.” –Monium is a suffix meaning “action,” “state,” or “condition.” So matrimonium, taken literally from its parts, means something along the lines of “mother-making” or “the condition of motherhood.” So, when a man and a woman come together in “matrimony,” they are preparing to make a new mother by having kids.
In other words, the key truth that our culture has lost is that marriage is ordered toward procreation and family.
This lost fact helps to explain a number of perversions related to sex and marriage, such as widespread use of contraception and the acceptance of same-sex “marriage.”
Of course, having and raising children is not the only thing marriage is about. Marriage is also ordered towards the good of the spouses and, for Christians, is a Sacramental sign of Christ relationship with his Church. All of which also need recovery in our culture.