One day I will look my future husband in the face and say it: “Please don’t accept me as I am.” I turned 30 before I decided that I would do this — a decision that Timothy Keller helped me make.
In his book The Meaning of Marriage, Keller dissects, in part, the prevalent urge to resist relationships with people who won’t accept us as we are, whose involvement with us could disrupt the habits we established before we met.
The quest then is for a spouse who doesn’t just choose and love you as you are, but whose relationship with you doesn’t change you.
Which makes little sense for us who are Catholic, because we believe that marriage, like all vocations, should change us — we’re supposed to be holier at the end than we were at the beginning, because of grace and each other. We’re supposed to be committed to each other’s sainthood, not to maintenance of each other’s status quo.
As a colleague and I crossed the parking lot at the Port Richey bureau of the Tampa Bay Times, he pointed at the bumper sticker on my car’s rear windshield.
He read it aloud: “Chastity is for lovers.” He furrowed his brow and tilted his head, perplexed by what he had read. “How can chastity be for lovers if it means you can’t have sex?” he asked. What I said surprised him:
I explained why, what chastity is, and how it differs from abstinence in a column I wrote last year for the Tampa Bay Times. Today, I invite you to do two things:
- Read the column (even as a refresher if you’ve read it before).
- Share it via social media — we all know somebody who needs to hear this message.
Click here to read and share the column. Grateful!
I recently saw an article about body language and dating that had the following subheadline: “Next time you find yourself wondering what he’s thinking, try observing these nonverbal cues.”
Or — here’s an idea — ASK HIM (or her, gentlemen — it works for you, too).
We do not know what other people are thinking but advice that encourages us to use any method for finding out other than “ask them” is advice that discourages communication. And that is advice that misleads us.
This is not always easy but it is healthy, and it is worth discomfort. If we are unwilling to communicate while we date we will be unwilling while we are married.
And neither our world nor our Church needs more marriages with the walls that spouses build between each other when they don’t communicate.
3 Lessons and 2 Tips is a series of interviews in which some of my favorite people (and probably some of yours) share three lessons they’ve learned by being married, plus two tips for single people.
This edition features Mike Gormley, aka “Gomer,” who is hilarious and has been following Jesus Christ seriously since he was 17.
He has struggled with atheism, self-hatred, and a very nerdy persona in a house of athletes and sportsball fans. He is husband to Shannon and father to four insane children who are the delights of his life.
Gomer has been in full time churchy-work for nine years and runs his own side project called LayEvangelist.com and an awkward (his word) and awesome (my word) podcast for young adults, called Catching Foxes.
He is gracious to share three lessons and two tips with us:
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?