Marriage & Family Life: Real Freedom Takes Commitment & Risk

December 18, 2017

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Occasionally, when either my wife or I (usually me) make a bone-headed decision, we’ll tap our wedding bands and playfully point out to the other that we’re “locked-in.”

Since we got married seven years ago, there has been a firm conviction that we’re in this together, with all the ups and downs, the good and the bad.

Kara and I are able to joke about being “locked-in” because neither of us experience the permanence of our marriage as a burden, we experience it as a gift that makes us more free, not less.

Pope Francis reminded us of this reality when he wrote “the indissolubility of marriage… should not be viewed as a ‘yoke’ imposed on humanity, but as a ‘gift’ granted to those who are joined in marriage” (Amoris Laetitia 62).

Our culture tends to teach us to fear commitment, to keep our options open and to make sure there is always an escape hatch.

And yet, I think this doesn’t lead to freedom. It leads to an enslavement to ourselves. Instead, for Kara and me, permanence has set us free. It sets me free because I know that Kara will always be there for me. I know that she has confidence in me and I know that whatever we’ll face, we’ll face it together.

Most of all our vows have set me free because they are a reminder that life is not just about me! Kara and I have sacrificed one small, childish freedom (the freedom to walk away) for a much more liberating and joyful freedom (the freedom to love).

This is a gift that cannot be known without commitment and without risk. But it is so worth that risk!

This is an especially important message today, when our culture tries to turn marriage into a dissolvable contract, and when more young people are foregoing marriage for unstable cohabiting relationships.

The gift of the permanence of marriage, along with the entirety of the Christ’s vision of marriage must be shared with love. It should be shared as an invitation, not as a burden. And we should always be welcoming and consoling to those who have struggled to live in accord with Christ’s vision. But in a world that tends to be self-absorbed and fearful, this message of liberation and love is more needed than ever!