Tuesday, February 7, 2012
But the concept that is radical to modern ears is the inseparable part. The notion that sex cannot fulfill the purpose of bringing a couple close together when there is no openness to having children. That seems insane to modern culture. We love the idea of falling in love. Our culture is constantly telling stories about lovers. All cultures tell love stories. Our culture tells them in a more explicitly sexual way and they rarely involve children. But then the church tells us that openness to life and true romantic love can't be separated. One has to involve the other. Why is that?
Think about what children are. They are people like their mother and father. So if you love someone, why would you not want to create more people like that someone? Often it is because we don't really love them. We love the idea of being in a sexual relationship with them but we don't really love them. They are very different things. Being in a relationship where you can use them for your pleasure and tolerate their closeness is not love. You would not want to spend time, money, and energy to raise a child who is going to be like that person. You only want to make that kind of effort to raise a child if you believe strongly they are going to be a huge blessing to the world. That means you need to believe that your partner is a huge blessing to the world. But if you don't believe that then do you really love him or her?
Many people today approach marriage from a selfish point of view. I can see myself being happy with this person because they are good looking and they have a good sense of humor or good manners or whatever. It boils down to what I get. Can I take the good and tolerate the bad? Are there more pleasures than pains? This is what John Paul II called the opposite of love. That is a self-centered relationship where a person uses the other. That is contrary to the nature of sex. Sex calls you to a complete gift of self but as long as you are in a using type of relationship it will be destructive to you and your partner.
But does every relationship that is closed to children have to be a using relationship? That is the claim. It is not that you must have children. It is that the desire must be part of your relationship. You might have practical reasons why having children is not going to work but the desire should be strong. It should be as natural as living together. There might be reasons not to live with your spouse but they need to be serious reasons like you have jobs in different cities. If a couple lives apart without serious reasons that is a very bad sign. The same goes with children. If you avoid having children without serious reasons there is something very wrong with the relationship.
Many people will say their relationship is wonderful and they have chosen to never have children. People say a lot of things. Some say committing adultery made their marriage better. You don't want to call people liars but that can't stop you from identifying the essence of marriage. Society is very lost and there are many good-hearted people who have strayed far from it. That does not make it unimportant or optional.
What about those who are not drawn to have children? There is the option of the celibate life. People dismiss that too quickly. Marriage is hard. Celibacy is not easy either but it is a very different road. If a man wants to spend his life on something that takes too much time and provides too little income to allow for a family then the celibate life can free him up to do that. The priesthood is the obvious example but there are others. With women it is more common. Motherhood is more demanding so women tend to choose celibacy in greater numbers. This is all good. Marriage and children need to be top priority. If you feel God is calling you to make something else top priority then marriage is not for you.