Monday 24 May 2021

Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 4.

Chapter 4, Love in Marriage, gives a basic human and moral framework, not a theological one. It reads as a 'vademecum' for spouses, to help them to keep their love on an even keel. Or as a guide for couples preparing for marriage, helping them to discern what they want their marriage to look like.

This chapter does not give a vision for married life. It is not prophetic about how marriage needs to be in the world today. It is merely descriptive, whilst being morally optimistic about what love should look like in marriage.

Today, we live in an idealistic age, but find practically that our love can't live up to the ideal. Our culture has seen a sharp move away from the supernatural aspect of marriage to the natural aspect. The primary concern today is the love of the spouses, not of the family. Today, marriage is more about having a wedding - a celebration of 'us' - and not about marriage.

Amoris Laetitia seems to play up to this, rather than to challenge it, presenting an idealised and human-centred marriage. The big question remains, how do we evangelise marriage?

JPII's way was to hold before couples a Christ-inspired vision of marriage. He placed an ideal before us, whose starting point was Christ Jesus. Pope Francis' way is to place before couples the human aspect of marriage and suggest that this can come alongside Christ. His starting point is the here and now.

Neither of these ways appears to be a key for today. In fact, the key is evangelisation. That is, couples encountering Christ and being changed by him before they marry. Christian marriage is not a human symbol with a Christian veneer. We should first announce Christ to the couple who are preparing for marriage. And we need to be speaking about marriage, not a wedding.

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