The litany of things in which Catholics are no different from the culture at large is as vast as the number of consonants in an Icelandic phone book.
As we watch the destruction of marriage in the US proceed vote by vote with critical assistance by Catholics, I think it worthwhile to look at some other trends impacting marriage.
The redefining of marriage as some sort of unadorned legalistic relationship similar to a joint checking account, but without a toaster, simply dumbs down the divine. Such vapid redefinition of something so critical to society naturally results in a disintegrating society. Truth be told, this redefinition process has going on for a while now, it is just that the gay lobby has accelerated this process for its own precious desires.
In my mind, a key indicator of the societal value of marriage is at what age do we encourage our young people to get married, if we encourage them at all. By this measure, marriage means very little to our society. Does it mean any more to Catholics?
Many Catholics, like society at large, encourage their children to postpone marriage. Go to college. Get a job. Get financially stable. Date around. Find out who you are first, then consider marriage. Problem is, by the time you do all these things to find out who YOU are, the one things you can count is who you are is ‘not married.’ This is why people now do not get married until they are in their late twenties, if at all. By then, society has messed them up so much by a decade of self-centeredness that they will probably make lousy spouses.
Speaking from experience, from the time I turned twenty-one until I got married in my thirties, I learned nothing other than how to be a narcissistic jerk. I learned more about who I really am in my first two years of being a husband and a father than during that entire lost decade.
We all know that from the dawn of civilization up until 50 years ago or so, people routinely married young. Heck, a century ago if a woman was unmarried at twenty-four, there was usually a giant unfortunately-situated mole involved. Otherwise they were hitched. And They stayed married and they had more children, too. And society was better off for it. That is not to suggest that all was rosy before the invention of the pill and microwaves, but marriages were better.
Today, we treat marriage as some sort of elective class that you can drop if things don’t go well rather than the core curriculum.
If we want our children to grow up to be good wives or good husbands, good fathers and good mothers, why do we tell them to wait? What message does it send about how we value marriage?
I think that Catholics should encourage our young people to find themselves in marriage. We routinely ask our little children what they want to be when they grow up and they often respond “I want to be married. I want to be a mommy/daddy.” We think it is cute and then ask them “But what do you want to do?” As if being married and being a parent is not enough.
I think that the best thing that could happen to marriage is that people, particularly Catholics, encourage their children to get married younger. The more time they spend finding themselves, the lesser the likelihood that there will be anything worth finding.