A Rule Revelation

I have been very blessed, over the last 5 years, to teach our faith to a set of 22 amazing young people.  Of course I have not had all 22 of them in classes and Scripture studies every time, but I still think of each one of them as “mine.” They are currently in eighth grade.  Recently, some of “my kids” opened my eyes to an unsettling fact.

We had started a discussion about the Rules of the Church – how they are not meant to be restrictions, but are, instead, guidelines given to us in one of two ways: either directly by our loving Creator (like the 10 Commandments), or by His apostles’ well-reasoned, long-considered, appropriate responses to God’s love for us.  As a metaphor, I drew for them the example of a father telling his beloved son not to run into the street.  This rule does not exist to impinge on the boy’s freedom and happiness, but to keep the boy safe, at peace, and above all close to his father so that they can continue to develop their relationship.  A boy who obeys this rule will enjoy the benefits, and a boy who doesn’t may suffer great harm or fear – whether the father swoops in to rescue him from being smooshed that day or not.  Thus, following the rules is the easiest way to a full, joyful relationship with the Father.

I then mentioned that all the Church’s teaching is meant to be like that, and that’s why we have rules against stealing, and lying, and euthanasia, and living together before getting married, and such.

They looked at me in disbelief.  Hands shot into the air.  “But I thought you were SUPPOSED to live together first!” these well-catechized Catholics said.  (O, what did I get myself into?!?!)  I took a deep breath and explained that God’s purpose for the matrimonial act is twofold: union and procreation (both of which are Godly), and that sacramental marriage vows are His way of starting that process off on the best possible ground, so that His grace can be involved in each moment.

They were still surprised. “We know THAT,” the students said.  “But we thought… at least… separate bedrooms!”

Oh.  Well, I explained the concepts of how true love makes us desire the union and procreation that God designed for our good, and the importance of steering clear of such temptation until marriage.  We also talked a bit about the necessity of avoiding scandal – living in such a way as to allow everyone to see clearly that we are children of God.  They learned something that night, for sure.  And so did I.

When I mentioned my lesson to Fr. J.J., he asked me to pass the revelation on to you. This generation is growing up in a time when ‘living together’ is almost naturally viewed as a necessary step in the process.  In fact, it’s worth noting that what they often see in society is a timeline that severely distorts the development of a relationship.  Rather than a (1) Slowly learn about each other (2)Commit to each other (3) Enjoy communion with each other plan, they are constantly being shown a (1) Enjoy physical pleasure (2) Learn about each other (Uh, what’s your name?) (3) Ditch each other at any sign of inconvenience schemata.  We adults can see that and easily dismiss it as trash.  Our kids are seeing it and interpreting it a bit differently; they know it’s not right, but they aren’t sure what is.  Today is a great day to tell them. If you can’t find the words yourself, hand them this article.  Please.  Before they run out into traffic.