Christian marriage in India is also woven around a lot of religious beliefs and ideas. Marriage, according to Christianity, is one of the sacraments.
The Christian community in India has got two major sects or divisions within itself, namely
- the Protestants and
- the Catholics.
The Catholics are further subdivided into Latin Catholics and Syrian Catholics. Each sect and each subgroup is endogamous. Catholics marry amongst themselves and do not normally marry Protestants. Further, the Latin Catholics and the Syrian Catholics do not normally intermarry. Marriage as a social institution is common to all the sects and subgroups in the Christian community. As it has been in the case of the Hindus and Muslims, marriage is quite popular among the Christians of India.
From the point of view of Christians, marriage is considered very necessary and important. It is not established just for providing sexual satisfaction but for other purposes also. The Christian churches have always held that the universal institution of marriage has a special place in god’s purpose for all human life.
- Christian marriage is defined as “a contract between man and woman normally intended to be binding for life for the purpose of voluntary union union, mutual companionship and the establishment of a family.”
- Among the Christians, marriage has been defined as “a voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of others. This type of marriage is based on monogamy and not on the religious beliefs of the partners.”
According to Christians, Marriage is a permanent and exclusive contract of love between a man and a woman. Marriage is a covenant of love. Love is the basis of marriage. One freely chooses another and commits oneself to her [him]. One does not get married just to settle down or to obtain social and economic status. Love is and must be the strength and the atmosphere of the whole married life. The deeper it becomes the more unselfish and faithful it grows and the more continually renewed.
Christians too consider marriage as a social institution strongly supported by religion. “In fact, United Churches of Northern India declares its belief that marriage is a holy estate instituted by God and so existing in the natural order and also that our lord’s principle and standard of marriage is that a divine institution involving a lifelong union for better or for worse of one man with one woman to the exclusion of all others on either side and that the marriage relation signs the mystical union of Christ and his church.”
As per the Christian belief “God himself is the author of matrimony, endowed as it is with various benefits and purposes.”
Christians in India consider marriage as an enduring and exclusive covenant of love between a man and a woman. Fidelity is the essence of covenant. Covenant signifies partnership, communion, and love.
Christian marriage in India is very much based on religious traditions. Christians in India believe that marriages take place because of the will of God. The impact of Hindu marriage is also there on the Christian marriage. Hence after the marriage man and woman develop strong identification with each other. Marriage creates biological as well as psycho-religious relationship between them.
Aims or Objectives of Christian Marriage
The major objectives of Christian marriage in India can be specifically mentioned below.
- Establishment of Family: The purpose of Christian marriage is to help the marital partners to establish a family of their own so that they can bring up their children in a proper manner.
- Stability of the Relations: Christian marriage provides for the stable sex relationship between the husband and the wife. It is a type of lifelong contract entered into between husband and wife. Conjugal faith is the secret of marital success. This faith is based on mutual love.
- Voluntary Union: The main aim of the Christian marriage is the voluntary union of one man and a woman.
- Mutual Love and Co-operation: Development of qualities such as love, mutual co-operation, sacrifice, etc. constitutes yet another purpose of Christian marriage.
Love is the basis of marriage. Love pervades the whole lives of husband and wife. As it is hoped love is and must be the strength and the atmosphere of the whole of married life. St. Paul writes: “Husbands, love your wives. We who loves his wife love him. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.”