This past weekend, Clancy and I flew back to Delosa and attended a wedding in the town of Genesis. Genesis happens to be where Clancy and I were married, a surprising number of years ago. We got married on the plantation*. Clancy’s cousin got married at the local Catholic Church.
Being in a Catholic church is always an odd feeling for me. All of the trimmings so closely mirror that of its Episcopalian counterparts, and the services take on the same structure, but the rules are different.
The priest started off giving what may have been the best wedding sermon I have heard to date. From there, things sort of went off the rails. Where, precisely, they went off the rails is a subject of disagreement amongst the Corrigan/Himmelreich/Truman clan.
He started off talking about relationships and the transition between a relationship where mutual needs are being met to a relationship where you plow forward even when your needs are not being met. He did so in what I thought was a very good way.
There were some murmurs when he defined plowing forward or not as the choice between “you split up or you grow.” This bothered some people because the bride’s mother was divorced and they felt it as a sort of slap in the face.
My thought was… what is he supposed to say, exactly? Leaving aside the Catholic views on divorce, it is the goal of most marriages - certainly those with a religious component - that they endure. There are exceptions to this, but they are (in my view) rightly viewed as exceptions. To an extent, “it’s okay to get divorced” is not what couples want to hear, as they get married. It certainly isn’t what I wanted to hear, even know I was and am fully aware of that option.
This is one of the stresses of a diverse culture. Society itself legally permits divorce - and rightfully so - but one of the things that allows for freedom are the cultural pushbacks to abuses of it or resistance of the utilization of the freedom to begin with. To argue that all legal options should be considered equally valid from a social standpoint actually becomes an argument against things we disapprove of being legal in the first place.
As far as the parents of the bride are concern, they had one of the most benign reasons for divorce there are, in my book. One of them had a life-altering experience and was altered. The other was not altered. This resulted in genuinely irreconcilable differences.
But even when we accept the rationale for a divorce, it can still be chalked up as a disappointment. As something that did not go as planned. And, to a degree, not something that we should tip-toe around when giving sagely advice to a newly married couple that hopes not to meet the same fate. For most, even if it’s the least-bad option when the time comes, it’s still an undesirable fate.
And without the condemnation or prohibition of law, it’s up to society and social institutions - including churches - to say so. The undesirability of divorce ought to be a part of our dialogue of marriage.
Of course, a Catholic priest would say the same thing about the next part, wherein he incorporated God into it. As I would say to the others, what should I expect from a Catholic priest? Even an Episcopalian one would bring it up. I guess my objection to the next part - which involved a married couple’s primary duty being to God and not to one another or society or future children - is an example of why I would not make a remarkably good Catholic.
* - It’s called such, and you are probably envisioning something more grand than the venerable-but-quaint cottage - occupying a field - that it is.