Witnessing for Marriage
Every day, everywhere that we go, we have the opportunity to show those around us what it means to be married. By our words and our deeds we implicitly share our experience of marriage with the world. What that means is that we have the opportunity to show how wonderful it is, or to witness poorly to it.
I consider myself to be an extremely professional worker. I stay well within the traditional rules of decorum in the office and in business transactions. I have a great deal of professional pride in how I conduct my business.
A few days before Lent, there was some discussion amongst three self-identified “non-Church going” Catholics. They talked about how hard it is to be Catholic and why they stopped, “Going to Church and listening to the Pope.” As someone who clearly is very serious about my faith life, I was extremely frustrated by the scandal that these individuals were giving to the non-Catholics in our office. Not to mention my personal belief that you’re either Catholic and living in the community, or you’re not and you should stop self-identifying as Catholic.
In the moment, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to be pastoral. I knew that even if I did speak up, I would have no chance of changing anyone’s perceptions. I said nothing. I failed.
Upon reflection, I see real parallels between that scandalous discussion about being Catholic and the regular scandalous discussion about being married.
It’s true that marriage rates are declining and that there seems to be fewer high-quality marriages in our society. But that perception may not be true at all. We might not have fewer high-quality marriages, just fewer people willing to openly witness to the beauty of the married life.
How can we help to make sure that we aren’t giving scandal to the vocation of marriage?
- If our marriage reflects Christ’s love for the Church, be a good mirror. The mystique of marriage is disguised in the ordinary. Though our days are full of seemingly mundane domestic tasks, the undercurrents of love and self-sacrifice perfectly mirror the intense and deep love Christ has for the Church. A simple daily reminder to ourselves of our high station and duty can help us make the attitude alignment we need.
- Fight the battles where we find them. Thankfully, we’re not called to take on every threat to marriage at all times. That would be tiring! In fact, there’s little need to seek out challenges to the married life. If we commit to fighting them when they come to us, we can make a huge difference. So when that conversation comes up at a barbecue this summer, or around the lunch room that reflects a poor understanding of marriage, speak up. There’s no need to be hostile or correct other people. Share your experience of the majestic.
- We can change the culture. If you’ve ever worked at a big company with a big culture problem, you know how hard it is to get everyone to shift to a new way of thinking and acting. A better approach is to start with you. Find the things that you would like to see changed, and make the changes in your own life. Then, watch them filter to those around you and beyond. We can do the same thing with marriage. By living the marriage we want to have, we can slowly (but surely!) get society back to its roots
Change is a tall order. The status quo just really isn’t for us. Fight the battles were you find them, love your wife well, and show the world the depth of Christ’s love.