Caught a zika virus segment on the Today Show this morning in which a doctor discussed that the virus can be sexually transmitted. And she had advice for couples who are at risk.
Abstain from sex for a little while, she said, or, and I quote, “maybe more realistically, use condoms.”
To which I say STOP IT.
To call condom use more realistic than abstinence is accurate, in the sense that people are in fact more likely to use contraception than to abstain from sex (for many reasons, not solely to prevent the transmission of the zika virus).
But to call condom use more realistic than abstinence is also to actively discourage abstinence (and, subtly, to shame the people who practice it). It implies that nobody chooses abstinence, or that nobody can — that humans won’t govern their urges because they can’t.
It is to say “YOU SHOULD DO THIS, BUT YOU WON’T.” What if that’s how our parents raised us?
Love, as it turns out, will not sustain your marriage. It isn’t even supposed to. In fact, just the opposite is true. Marriage is supposed to sustain your love.
This is one of several of lessons I learned in a brilliant little book called Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love, by Dietrich von Hildebrand. It is short (77 pages) but important.
I wrote about it for yesterday’s post on the Catholic Match Institute blog.
Marriage, I wrote, “is an environment provided to us in which we can maintain (and when necessary, fight for) the love that brought us together.” Then I elaborated:
I recently read an article about first kisses, and it didn’t sit right. The author called a first kiss a litmus test. It’s how you confirm that he’s into you, she wrote — it’s how you determine whether he’s confident.
And maybe, for her, that’s what a first kiss is. And maybe it is for you, too — a gauge you use to measure stuff, like your interest in a person, or a person’s confidence. But is it supposed to be?
Relationships are good but hard, and I know it because of personal experience and because of the emails I received throughout 2015 from readers whose requests best can be summed up with one word.
“HELP.” — as in, “Should I break up with her?” and “Why won’t he ask me out?” and “Should I pursue a relationship with her?” and “Is it ok to tell him that I like him?”
It is normal to desire to do relationships well and it is also normal to feel a lot like you have no idea what you are doing.
This weekend, I finished the book The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, which issues this reminder: marriage will bring out the worst in you.
Which, to be clear, is a good thing. So is the book, which is by Protestant pastor Timothy Keller. It isn’t short but it’s easy to read and I actually implore you to read it if you intend to get married (or if you already are).
The book defines marriage as God designed it.
It equips readers to do marriage right in a culture that does it wrong. To pick a spouse wisely. To stick to our commitments. To create of our marriages occasions “for God’s presence on earth,” as St. Josemaria Escriva called it.