How long does the bond of sacramental marriage last?

Mission Lab

The bond of sacramental marriage lasts until death, the death of one of the spouses.

The marital bond is rooted in the conjugal covenant of personal consent, whereby spouses give themselves to each other and accept one another. A relationship arises which, by God’s will, is a lasting one. This bond no longer depends on human decisions alone.

Marriage is for life, lasting until the death of one of the spouses. Jesus taught that marriage is permanent because married people should belong completely to each other just as He belongs completely to His Church. This mutual giving and acceptance of one another is expressed in the personal consent which cements the marital bond.

God has revealed that it is proper for a man to have only one wife, and a woman to have only one husband, unless one of the spouses dies. This is to protect both the Christian family and the holy state of sacramental marriage.

Since marriage is life long, divorce is an evil. The love of a Christian husband and wife for each other must endure. Divorce should be unthinkable for Christians, just as it is unthinkable that Christ should separate Himself from His Bride, the Church. In extreme cases, civil divorce is permitted, but only for its civil effects. There may be no remarriage, for in civil divorce there is no real breaking of the marital bond created between a Christian husband and wife.

Jesus Christ prohibited divorce and remarriage when He said: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). “And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery’” (Mark 10:10–12).

No authority on earth can dissolve the sacramental bond of marriage. Not even the Pope can dissolve a valid Christian marriage. Even after a divorce has been granted by a civil court, the spouses of a valid Christian marriage remain husband and wife before God.