Support marriage through actions

By Vinal Van Benthem | For The Compass | October 4, 2018

There’s been a great deal of conversation in the news lately about marriage. Christians believe that marriage is sacred, but movie magazines call it old fashioned and popular TV reality shows feature “bachelors” and “bachelorettes” in their quest for improved ratings. Meanwhile, politicians point to marriage as a kind of “litmus test” of political correctness, insisting that marriage should be protected at all costs. But sometimes it’s not.

Ellen was a lawyer, a wife and mother. Her husband was a doctor. They both worked long hours, but they were firm in their commitment to one another and to their marriage. The managing partner of Ellen’s firm believed in marriage, too. In fact, as a candidate for public office he was often photographed with his wife. He supported marriage — as long as it didn’t interfere with business. When Ellen asked for time off because she was expecting a second baby, her boss became angry. This was a law office, not a nursery, and he had no intention of running it any other way. Ellen was just going to have to decide where her priorities lay.

Our readings this Sunday talk about marriage. They remind me of a couple I saw one July day in downtown Chicago — curiously removed from the commuters around them, but present to one another in the comfortable way of those long married.

“Hot Rain”
Hot rain — early in the morning.
They walk — her dress, a farmer’s garden of dooryard flowers.
He’s tall, outdoor lines trace life across his face.
Each shelter for the other. No need to speak.
Long years of words let silence be enough.
His heavy feet find dry place on the earth.
She walks behind, content to take the path he claims for both.
(From: “On the Way to Work,” by Vinal Van Benthem)

Public statements supporting the sanctity of marriage make good press, but what about the people who make those statements? Are their words supported by actions? Unfortunately for Ellen and many others like her, the answer is too often “no.”

Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.

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