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The Fight for Marriage

April 29, 2010

You’ve heard the statistic: 50% of all marriages end in divorce. But, have you ever stopped to ask the question, why?

Is it that we’re just not biologically predisposed for a life-long monogamous relationship? Have we been culturally conditioned to believe in the myth of marriage and its benefits, but half of us are reaching enlightenment and abandoning the error of our ways?

Whatever the reason, all of us have witnessed the destructive effects of divorce. We’ve seen families torn apart. We’ve had friends who have struggled to build meaningful relationships due to the emotional scars they carry from their parents’ divorce. It’d be difficult to find anyone in the United States that has not been affected by divorce in some way or another.

A few years ago, Michelle and I began a ministry for couples in the first seven years of their marriage. That, statistics show, is the time period in which most couples get divorced, as newly married couples struggle to navigate the challenges of building a life together, and most often struggle with the issues of time, sex and money.

Truth be told, we started the ministry because we wanted to build a community with people who were in the same place in life as us. We had plans to help strengthen marriages but, on some level, we were also just looking for couples we could call our friends.

Two and a half years later, it is clear to me that we were called to this ministry for a much more profound purpose: to fight for marriages.

A Spiritual Battle
Is there any doubt that the sacrament of marriage itself is under attack? The idea that a man and a woman would enter into a sacred covenant of mutual submission, is often treated with flip dismissal, if not outright mockery.

And yet, what image of marriage has supplanted this view? Marriage is often thought of as a contract of convenience, as a legal agreement between willing individuals who have reached a point in their relationship in which there is no place else to go. At some juncture in most relationships, although many couples have already deeply committed to one another in the sexual act, there is a sensed need to “make it legitimate” by having the relationship recognized by the state. Ultimately, the union of spouses is regarded, not as a union of body and soul, but as an intermingling of assets.

With this view of marriage, the prospect of divorce becomes palatable because it is nothing more than the dissolution of a contract. The biggest loss, then, is seen as a financial one.

On the contrary, the Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes the teaching of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians in declaring that the union between a man and a woman is the perfect metaphor for Christ’s love for the church.

If the sacrament of marriage holds such potential as to point people to the love of God by mirroring the relationship between Christ and the church, is it any wonder that the sacrament is under attack?

The Catechism says that there are two sacraments given to us by God for the express purpose of the salvation of others: Holy Orders (the covenant entered into by Priests and religious) and Marriage.

Are there any two institutions currently under greater attack?

With all of that said, Christian men and women who have entered into the covenant of marriage have been called to fight. It is a battle that none of us has chosen, but one that we must wage for the good of church, and of the world.

So, you’re probably asking, how do we fight?

Follow these steps in the days to come:

1. Renew Your Marriage Vows
2. Live Love

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