THE THREE GOODS OF
The expression "goods" (or "bona")
of marriage originated with
one of the leading
figures in the history of western thought.
In his early Catholic years, he defended the greatness
and dignity of marriage against the pessimism of the
Manicheans, who held material creation, including the
human body (and therefore also sexuality and marriage), to
Later on he combatted an error at the other extreme:
the pseudo-optimism of the Pelagians who denied the
presence of any disordered and selfish element in
sexuality, and therefore ignored the importance of
married chastity and the need for the grace of God in
order to live it.
In St. Augustine's writings, we find constant insistence that marriage
is good because of three fundamental values or "goods". He says: "Let these
nuptial goods be the objects of our love: offspring, fidelity, the unbreakable
bond... Let these nuptial goods be praised in marriage by him who wishes
to extol the nuptial institution“
The three "bona" are essential properties which distinguish the
marital covenant from any other type of relationship between two persons
"This is the goodness ["bonum"] of marriage, from which it takes its
The (potential) fruitfulness of the union (procreativity or
the openness to having children: the "bonum prolis", or the
"good" of offspring).
The fruitfulness of the conjugal union fulfils man's and
woman's normal longing for self-perpetuation and for the
perpetuation, in offspring, of the conjugal love between them.
"A child does not come from outside as something added on to
the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of
that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment" (CCC 2366).
The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits
of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents
hand on to their children by education. Parents are the
principal and first educators of their children. In this
sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to
be at the service of life.
Spouses to whom God has not granted children can
nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both
human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a
fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.
2. Chaste Fidelity
The exclusive fidelity of the marital relationship
(one man with one woman: the "bonum fidei")
Many people today are suspicious of an exclusive
relationship. And yet everyone wants to be someone very
special in someone else's eyes.
Hence arises the good or value of the "bonum
fidei", the commitment to a faithful and exclusive
love in marriage.
The person who does not wish to "belong" to
someone else (in a mutual "belonging") consigns himself
or herself to perpetual isolation and loneliness.
Miracle (1972), 142–
There are those married people who permit their eyes
to wander and their hearts to become vagrant, who
think it is not improper to flirt a little, to share
their hearts and have desire for someone other
than the wife or the husband. The Lord says in no
uncertain terms: “Thou shalt love thy wife with all
thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else”
And, when the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for
no sharing nor dividing nor depriving.
And, to the woman it is paraphrased: “Thou shalt
love thy husband with all thy heart and shalt cleave
unto him and none else.”
The words none else eliminate everyone and
everything. The spouse then becomes
preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and
neither social life nor occupational life nor political
life nor any other interest nor person nor thing
shall ever take precedence over the companion
3. Unbreakable Bond
The permanence of the relationship (the unbreakable
character or indissolubility of the marital bond: the "bonum
Many people today are suspicious of binding themselves for
ever. And nevertheless that is what love aspires after: "I'll love
you for always".
"Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement
'until further notice'..." (CCC 1646).
3. Unbreakable Bond
When there is acceptance of a permanent bond of love, one
enjoys the goodness of knowing one is entering a stable home or
haven, that one's "belonging" to another - and that other's
belonging to one - is for keeps.
People want this, and while they know that it will require
sacrifices, it should be natural for them to sense that the
sacrifices are worth it.
"It is natural for the human heart to accept demands, even
difficult ones, in the name of love for an ideal, and above all in
the name of love for a person“ –Pope John Paul II
No normal person wants to be just
one of the wives or the husbands of
another. No normal person wants to be
accepted as spouse on trial or just for a
time. No normal person marries
positively excluding children.
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