6. Sunday after Trinity
Ask any priest and he could tell you horror stories about the state of family life in much of the western world today. May I recall a couple from my own experience?
The husband who told his pregnant wife that he didn’t want children and that the child wasn’t his, and then left his wife to go and live with her sister, whom he promptly made pregnant. The man who said he was eighteen but was in fact only seventeen on the day of his wedding, and therefore needed his father’s consent: the father protested a couple of weeks after the event by which time the man had left his wife to go and live with another woman at the other end of town.
Practically every couple I have seen wanting to get married have contemporaries who are divorced, and as often as not one or both sets of parents are divorced as well. It doesn’t seem compassionate to me to oblige people who have grown to hate one another to carry on living together in the married state, that hardly helps the cause of marriage, but nevertheless, what a state we are reduced to, and what do we do about it? It is estimated that in 2022 in my country the divorce rate will exceed 44%. Figures for divorce among Christian couples are hard to track down but appear to be less than 10%. Put aside all reservations about those figures – even if they are only half, even if they are only a quarter correct, there is something fairly startling here. But for some it may be perfectly obvious, that those who are trying to live lives of active Christian discipleship actually do on the whole enjoy better and more stable loving relationships, not simply with their spouses, but with others as well.
Being a Christian is of course no guarantee that the sun is always going to shine, that relationships are bound to succeed, and we all know the great heartache that is caused to Christians when relationships break down. But there is a great tendency in this materialistic age to debunk those with a religious faith, expressed in such comments as “science has disproved religion, so who needs it”? But those figures, even taken with a pinch of salt, tell us that Christianity is the basis for good and lasting relationships with others. Those who are prepared to take the message of the Gospel to heart and who seek however painfully, whatever the set-backs, to model their lives on the example of Jesus of Nazareth are given resources for living, and for living life to the full, far better than the world can offer.
We all know how difficult it is to turn the clock back to some probably mythical golden age where families thrived and divorce was so rare as to be statistically negligible, but we need to stop being apologetic for our faith and we need to stop focusing on the problems facing the church and trendy clergy who don’t seem to believe anything, and start living and proclaiming the good news, that far from being absurd and eccentric, Christianity does hold the key to life in all its fullness, and encouraging others, but especially the young on the threshold of their lives, to see for themselves what Jesus can do for them and their families too, if they will let Him into their lives.
Fr. Edward Bryant