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Marriage is an institution ordained by God, and a basic building block of decent societies. Uniting man and woman in permanent bonds of love, marriage models the relationship between Christ and his bride, the Church, while furnishing a stable environment for the rearing of children. Liberalized patterns of pre-marital sex and cohabitation, the relaxing of restrictions on divorce, and growing pressures for the legal recognition of same-sex partnerships have drastically altered both the conception and lived reality of marriage over the past several decades. Even among many Christians, an essentially contractual view of marriage now prevails over a more covenantal understanding of the institution.

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