Family Seen as Scapegoat for All Evils

Theologian Says Marriage Isn't Attracting Youth

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ROME, DEC. 7, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The negative image surrounding marriage as the source for many personal problems is making it difficult for young to become enthusiastic about the institution, said an Italian author and theologian.

Carla Rossi Espagnet is co-author of "Marriage and the Family in the Documents of the Magisterium: A Course in the Theology of Marriage," published in English by Ignatius Press.

The author has a doctorate in theology from the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome, and since 2003 she has taught a course titled "Love, Family, and Education" at the Apollinare Higher Institute of Religious Sciences of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

"Marriage," Rossi Espagnet told ZENIT, "no longer benefits from general social acceptance, and has become, to a certain extent, the scapegoat of all our evils. For example, if one has relationship troubles -- and who doesn't -- one immediately thinks they are due to tensions between our parents; if one doesn't experience academic success, it's due to a lack of familial support; if one cannot foster good professional relationships, it's because one was insecure as a child, etc."

"Obviously," said the author, "there is some truth in these considerations, because the family context is extremely important in personal history, but this applies both in the case of good things and of bad things. However, if we use it almost exclusively to explain bad things, in other words, the negative or burdensome aspects of life, marriage loses its positive value in people's opinion.

"Therefore, it is normal for a young person to have doubts as to the advantages of getting married. And I do not mean the material advantages, which in fact must be considered, but rather, the benefits of the choice itself."

Commitment

The author said that in addition to the decision of whether to marry is the incapacity to face "the difficulties which the bond -- as any other commitment -- inevitably encounters as time passes."

Rossi Espagnet said: "Love has become the decisive component in the marital choice -- a step ahead with regard to the days when weddings were arranged on the basis of economic or political advantage -- but often, in the common mentality, it is not clear that love is not a state, but an act.

"The fact of loving someone to the extent of wishing to share one's life with them is not a static situation, but a process.

"Loving each other means carrying out reciprocal and new acts of love, and not bringing time to a halt at the instant of the love rapture."

"That is why love is always a novelty," she said, "not a standstill. But it requires a certain amount of effort, the wish to continue building the relationship, supporting it where it is weak, reinforcing it where it is strong."