There was a man, Nicky, and woman, Suzie, who one day decided to get married. They invited their families and friends to the wedding, had their preacher marry them, and went off to their honeymoon in the Rockies for a week. When they returned, they bought a house together, got jobs, and lived in the same home for their entire lives. The couple lived long lives: both died in their nineties.
There's just one problem: during their entire lives, Nicky and Suzie never--and I mean never--were intimate. They never even held hands. Not a single time did they even accidentally physically bump into each other.
Oh, sure, they intellectually knew so much about the other: Suzie could tell you, from memory, every job that Nicky had ever had. Nicky could tell you what Suzie's favorite TV shows were. They both knew each others' favorite cereals. If you gave them each tests about the other person, they'd surely ace them.
Would...that be fully participating in marriage?
I think we would largely agree that something essential is lacking in that relationship.
But we have many Nicky and Suzie stories out there, today, in Christianity. We have "Christians", so-called, who aren't Baptized. We have people who have never received the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. We have people who think that the Christian life is all about an intellectual ascent, or maybe merely an inward repentance, and nothing else. I'm not talking about special cases, like the thief on the cross, or the person who's dying and who's just heard the Gospel for the first time. I'm speaking of people who, for years, actively do not participate in the Christian life via the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist.
Baptism is our marriage into Christ: it is where we are physically enjoined to the death of Christ, so that we might rise with Him. That's in Romans 6, the entire chapter.
If Baptism is our marriage, then--and I don't mean anything funny by this--the Eucharist is sex.
1 Corinthians 10:16 seems to indicate as much in its usage of the word "koinonia"; it's meant to convey a most intimate connection. That's not necessarily sex, but I'm using it as an "if/then", and koinonia is certainly a very deep connection/participation/fellowship.
Not comfortable with that? We can use this instead: if Baptism is birth, then the Eucharist is feeding for nourishment.
However you want to look at it, Baptism and the Eucharist are important parts of the Christian Faith. Jesus claims that we have no life in us unless we "truly truly...eat [His] Flesh and drink [His] Blood". Back to 1 Corinthians 10:16, it asks rhetorically if Communion is not a participation in the Body and Blood of Christ; St. Paul also claims that we must be careful to discern the Body of Christ, or we partake to our own judgment (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).
Sacramental theology is the belief that we are actually, truly, connected to Christ in some mysterious way, through the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. That's what "Sacrament" means: mystery. Unlike much of modern American Christianity, it teaches that there is a tangible, incarnational element to our Faith that we can physically interact with.
Jesus didn't simply leave us with a book (well, He never did that anyway; let alone "simply" do that). Jesus left us with a cleansing and a meal. It was by eating that we fell in sin; how fitting that by eating, we are brought back into a most intimate fellowship with God.
Thanks for reading all of the way through; I hope you like my blog! If so, I'd love for you to check out my Patreon page and support me as I go through seminary. Oh? You don't know I'm in seminary? Well, I am! Yeah, if you wish you can check out my article on that, here. Be sure to check out my Facebook page, too!
Oh! And I also run a podcast with my atheist friend, Xrys! It's called The Religious Nut and Hellbound Sinner Podcast, and we have a fun time discussing all sorts of topics: religion, politics, science, philosophy, movies, etc. Check out our Facebook page on that, as well!