The Sacred Synod of the Church of Greece issued an encyclical in response to the so-called "Free Cohabitation Agreement" of the Greek government regarding the dignity of Marriage, its sacramental nature and salvific purpose, and attacks and offenses against that dignity. An excerpt:
"In the case of free cohabitation, we experience most deeply the theological and social alteration of the family institution. The family is no longer considered a "little church", but simply a symbiosis with one another.
The Marriage ceremony gives the impression of a very serious commitment and seems like an anachronistic event, like a meaningless act, if it ends up being simply like a folk ceremony.
It does not express anything existential nor poses eschatological or other metaphysical expectations.
The actual problem of marriage today is not so much a disruption of
relations, disagreements or the cruelty of one spouse to the other, but
the idolization and empowerment of the family, and the lack of progress,
testimony and orientation of Marriage towards the Kingdom of God.
In this case, the family has ceased to exist for the glory of God and be the sacramental entrance into His presence.
What dissolves contemporary families so easily and makes divorce
basically its natural shadow, is not a lack of respect for the family
institution, but its idolization and a refusal to accept the Cross
within the Marriage."
Read the rest over at Mystagogy.
Marriage is not an institution; it's a sacrament. It's not for procreation. An institution is something natural. Procreation is something natural. Marriage is something supernatural. Marriage is a sacrament. That means that it has as its purpose union with God. Sex has as its purpose union with each other in Divine Love: a perfect giving simultaneous to a perfect receiving in the flesh, the body's participation in the exchange of Divine Love that already takes place in the soul between the two spouses, as an icon of the same exchange between Christ and the Church, as an icon of the same exchange between God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Ghost is Divine Love and unites the Trinity as One, Christ and the Church as One, and spouses as one.
The purpose of sex is procreation. The environment for procreation is sex. The environment for sex is marriage. The environment for marriage is Divine Love. The purpose of marriage is union with God-the union of yourself with God via your spouse and the union of your spouse with God via yourself; the perfect giving simultaneous to a perfect receiving that constitutes Divine Love.