Unlike the world in which we live, marriage is a culture of commitment, perseverance and endurance. Pope Francis recently said (September 17, 2015), “We live in a time that is very, very unstable, and also a time that seems to be ‘a piece of time’: We live in the culture of the provisional.”
This raises a few questions: How much has this culture influenced our love relationships? How immersed are we in the Christian culture of God’s radical love? God’s love is not provisional (Jesus does not say, “I will love you provided that you are good and resist temptation”). As a reflection of God’s love, neither are our marriages provisional (we do not say, “I will stay married to you provided that I still feel loved”).
The Pope gave an example of how the provisional culture has infected many in the Church: “A Bishop said to me … that a good youth went to him, a good youth, a professional, who wanted to be a priest, but only for 10 years — ‘then we’ll see.’ But this happens … also in marriages: ‘Yes, yes, we are getting married! — while love lasts. When love goes, good-bye: you go to your house and I will go to mine.'”
The Christian culture — Christ’s radical love — is definitive. “God sent his Son forever!” Pope Francis explained. “Not provisionally, to a generation or to a country, but to all. To all and forever. And this is a criterion of spiritual discernment. Am I in the culture of the provisional?”
The culture of the provisional is based on the unhealthy belief that we can feel good all the time, and when we don’t, when whatever we’re doing no longer feels satisfying or fun, it’s time to move on to something different, someplace different, someone different. Our culture has lost the value of commitment, perseverance, and endurance, and in losing this, we also lose the feeling of accomplishment that comes from commitment, perseverance, and endurance.
The deepest experience of love in marriage is not reached on the wedding day. It’s not reached while we’re having good times together. It’s reached only after committing ourselves to each other when it’s not easy, when we have to choose to continue persevering through bad times, and when we need Christ’s strength to endure the cross so that we follow him to resurrection — to the new and better life that always comes when both husband and wife walk with Christ together.
- How much do I value commitment, perseverance, and endurance?
- How much does my sweetheart value commitment, perseverance, and endurance?
Strengthen your relationship:
Describe to each other how you define commitment, perseverance, and endurance. Cite examples from your relationship and other experiences. Then tell why you want to remain committed to each other. Finish with a prayer that recommits you to the permanence of marriage.
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© 2017 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries
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