Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Consumer Dating: Should Catholics Marry Young?

Should Catholics Marry Young? YES!!! Over at the National Catholic Register and Creative Minority Report, Pat Archbold is asking this question. He sees the trend to marry later in life as an extension of the narcissism of immaturity, and dangerous for the development of the love of God necessary for marriage. Having married late. I have to agree.

This weekend we celebrate our 13th anniversary and my 48th birthday. I don't dwell on my years as a single person much. They were markedly lonely years for me and for my husband. Now as my son begins to talk about girls (saying things like, "I know there's something special about her for me because it's really hard to talk when she's around.") I hope to teach him to accept the love God sends to his life at the time he is most prepared to develop fidelity to that love. For that reason I do not discourage a crush he has had since kindergarten on a sweet little girl.

I work with college students, meeting about 100 young men and women on the cusp of their adulthood. It would be in their best interests to take dating more seriously at a younger age. The shop-around culture turns relationships into consumerism. Everyone becomes nothing more than their parts, a check-list of attributes, with the non-negotiable items that may be as shallow as good hair. The wise ones see more deeply into the soul of the person with whom they are developing a relationship. The slow ones, like me, keep looking for the greener pastures, and if we're lucky, God knocks us over the head before it is too late.

I met my husband on the first anniversary of my Grandma's death. I believe he was a gift from her. I pray in gratitude everyday for her intervention.

Before that I was definitely into the consumer culture of narcissistic dating. Comparison shopping of persons is dehumanizing on every level. It can start in the dating world and lead to the determination of gender and other attributes of children. If you don't like the child you get, because it's 'defective' or may be the 3rd girl when you wanted a boy, you could abort it. If the spouse you chose, or rather the one God gave you, is not what you imagined with your check-list in hand, you can divorce that one and re-enter the dating market. Do it online and you can reduce your shopping time.

This consumer attitude is not new. In The Country Wife by William Wycherley, his anti-hero Horner states, "For marriage is but a bargain made, to further the interests of commerce and trade." This iconic line of the Restoration drama of England is representative of the decadence of the royal classes. It is representative of the hook-up culture of Tom Wolfe's Charlotte Simmons. The difference between the two time periods is the wealth of our times. Even the 'poor' of our country can whoop it up with a non-committal fling because the birth control is free or discounted through government funding of Planned Parenthood.

I know these seem like big leaps. But the truth is that consumerism has replaced the fundamental faith of our fathers. Many people really do believe that you can spend your way out of debt. After all, "You have to spend money to make money." Right?

Translate that to the marriage market. You spend your self to make your... home? marriage? love? Instead that consumer attitude just seems to gnaw away pieces of soul. Only a gift from God can provide the re-growth.

Wouldn't it be better to avoid the damage in the first place? If taking yourself off the market earlier is the answer, because like me you didn't have the strength to avoid being damaged goods, then do it. Marry early. Strengthen your soul in its union to another. Parents and teachers should encourage young men and women to be thinking about the consumer metaphors placed on their persons. We did abolish slavery. We can stop selling ourselves again.
Post a Comment