Thien-An Nguyen, Youth Speak News

The sanctity of marriage

By  Thien-An Nguyen, Youth Speak News
  • April 25, 2012

It’s a sad irony that during this past Lenten season of holiness, all around me marriages and families were falling apart.

There were stories of fathers leaving their families after infidelity, as if he’s Eddie Fisher and she’s Elizabeth Taylor. Wives sunk into despair waiting for prodigal spouses to return. Some fathers were shunned by their children, others remained home with little remorse, bringing pain to their children and spouses who were left to wonder about the adulterous act. Frankly, there was enough drama for a BBC mini-series. Except for one crucial difference — this was reality.

While my parents are still “till death do us part,” witnessing the deterioration of my friends’ families was heartbreaking, especially when I saw how soul-destroying it was. My friends were consumed with hatred and despair, feeling powerless and trying to make sense of what went wrong.

In this context, it’s no surprise that there’s a growing cynicism about the institution and sacrament of marriage.

I’m gradually reaching the age where most of my friends in relationships are contemplating the prospects of a future with their current significant other. However, there’s a substantial degree of scepticism among them towards matrimony. One friend told me that although she loves her boyfriend, she is terrified of marriage with its potential for divorce and all the suffering that comes with unfaithfulness.

This is reminiscent of how the disciples lamented that people should never get married after Jesus said that divorce was unlawful: “Man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh… they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Matthew 19:4-6). Christ knew that this was a difficult commandment, but to help us, He gave us an inspiring example with His passion and death. He loved His bride the Church so much that He was willing to die for her, regardless of mankind’s ingratitude and sinfulness. As St. Paul writes: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and handed Himself over for her” (Ephesians 5:25).  

When you see the suffering caused by a marriage not modelled after Christ and the Church, you realize the truth in Christ’s words. While I can’t exactly give marriage counselling advice, as a young person currently searching for my vocation, I beg of you to not take your relationships lightly and to take your vocations seriously.

Yes, statistically speaking, chances of a successful marriage and a united family are less than they once were. But by following the example of Christ and asking God for help, a holy marriage is possible.

Marriage requires sacrifice and an agape love that puts the other before yourself, as Christ did the Church. This means being committed to your family regardless of how attractive that ex-flame of yours still is. After all, for the future offspring, spending the rest of their lives angry at a parent is a tragic waste of energy.

(Nguyen, 19, is a history and political science student at the University of Ottawa.)

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