I’ve got a half started post sitting in drafts about teaching sex education in home ed. But reading a few things recently has made me realise that it’s not sex education children need, it’s marriage education. In fact, looking at some of the more traditionally based curricula, I see things that lend itself towards forming children in such a way as to make them good parents when they are old enough. This learning also lends itself to making good priests and religious. In fact I remember Mother Angelica saying (and she isn’t alone in this view) that a woman who has never felt the desire to have children, will make a terrible nun or sister.
The reason I’ve been thinking more about preparing children for marruage, and the discernment of their vocation is because there is yet another bunch of statistics that show annullments in the USA are epidemic, and I am going to assume the problem is nearly as bad, or worse even, here in the UK. From vague memory, I don’t think Australia or Canada are doing well either.
As a whole, Christian marriage is in a mess, as more and more demoninations cave to the culture on divorce and remarriage. The Catholic church still teaches the Biblical law on marraige and still maintains it sacemental nature, but the shocking number of annullments granted begs a few questions:
Have annullments become Catholic divorces? That is, are ‘pastoral’ concerns over-riding truth and validity of marriages? And is this at the expense of children?
Or are these marriages really invalid? In which case an awful lot of people are entering into marruiage without the proper standards and freedom to do so.
Ot is it, as I think is most likely, a messy mixture of the two?
Whatever the root problem, there are some serious problems that need addressing urgently, to try and prevent more broken marriages and destroyed families. The Holy Father has already asked priests to be more aware of who they are marrying, because if these annullments are legit, then a lot of people are coming to the pastors and asking to be married when they have neither the knowledge or freedom to do so, and the pre-marriage preparation on offer at parish level is neither long enough, nor deep enough to root out those who are not validly entering the Sacrament.
Parents, as the primary educators of children, have a “right and duty” to educate our children for their adult life. It’s up to us, first and formost, to ensure out children know what marriage is, how to prepare for it, and what constitutes a valid marriage. And we have to face the fact that the biggest lesson our children will learn on marriage is from their parent’s marriage.
As both Pope Benedict and John Paul II pointed out, a man having a “mid-life crisis” and committing adultery is not grounds for annullment. The adults need to take responsibility for what is happening, and make valiant attempts to protect the children.
Jesus was firm that divorce was not acceptable to God (in fact the OT has the words from God “I hate divorce”, which I think is in Hosea) and Moses had only allowed it thanks to “hardness of hearts”. Jesus said marriage is for life, unless it has been cotracted in “pornaea”. A lot of English translaters put this down as “adultery,” but scholars understand Jesus didn’t mean adultery. He meant illegal marriages such as the pagans got up to, where siblings married or some other forbidden set up. St Paul allowed divorce for those unevenly yoked – that is a Christian to a pagan who might otherwise hand them over to the authorities. This, today, is called the Pauline Privalege.
A marriage is valid when a man and a woman enter into it, freely, in understanding of the nature of the covenant and oath they are taking and open to children. They need to know what the vows mean and they need to know what it means to make a covenantal vow in God’s Name to receive the Sacrament and the grace that goes with it. If someone is standing in the face of God swearing in His name to take that other person til death do them part, and to be open to the children God wants to send, but has no intention of doing either – they are lieing in a very serious manner.
The sad, and scandelous information is that many people have no real idea what marriage is, when they enter into it – and that is what is getting them annulled. And while it is certianly true that children retain legitimacy, the damage and pain to children in these situations is just as devastating as divorce.
I want any child of mine to first discern what life they are called t,o and if it is marriage to have a full understanding of what that means. There are times to talk and for questions to be answered. They must understand the nature of marriage and the dignity of the person. They must learn about service to others and putting the needs of another ahead of their wants and even needs at times.
They must learn to be responsible and independant, to have life skills and to have such a deep understanding of family life that they can “do family” themselves when the time comes.
I have not, at this point, bought any books or curricula on this, although my older ones have taken a great deal from the talks given by Jason and Chrystalina Evert: there are some good youtube vids which I think I may have posted here some time ago.
I haven’t even mentioned the horrible Wedding-consumer culture. That is truly yuk.