Originally, the Church frowned upon marriage. Relationships were encouraged to be with God only. The highest calling for a man was to be a priest, for a woman it was to be a nun: both resulting in celibacy. Yet, despite the Church’s attempts to dissuade its followers from marrying, people were still choosing to. In ancient times, marriage was preserved as a means to produce heirs, strengthening familial power and land. (Pretty much having everything to do with government only.)
The Church eventually got on board around the 5th century after the Roman Empire collapsed. With it’s followers increasing in numbers (due to procreation from marriage), in 1215, the Church declared it as one of its seven sacrifices. It wasn’t until the 16th century that a wedding ceremony would traditionally take place in public, with a priest and witnesses.
I was surprised when I first read this in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed. I was raised in the Catholic Church. I remember what a big deal it was for me when I had my First Communion in second grade and then six years later, my Confirmation. The next big sacrament for me was Matrimony. I expected to be married around the age of twenty-five. I never thought I would instead decide to wait, or even possibly not participate in it altogether.
One of the main reasons people get married in a church is to get married in front of God. During college I began researching avenues other than Catholicism. Eventually, nature and meditation replaced church and priests. These were the new vehicles that ignited my spirituality.
When people don’t understand why Mike and I are not married, a lot of the confusion stems from their religious views. Though, to me, if anyone knows what’s going to happen down the road, it’s God. I guess I just feel like God has been there from the beginning and we are the ones trying to learn what is in front of us.