Recently Time Magazine came out with a cover story, “The Childfree Life”, which has generated lots of controversy. While I could add to the conversation by inserting my own opinion, this is not the time for that because ultimately it isn’t really about whether or not a person wants children. When opinions and emotions are striped away from this debate, we find we are left with more than simply a difference in lifestyle choice. We are looking at a difference in core philosophy–a philosophy of our whole understanding of the meaning of marriage.
What is the purpose of marriage?
As my fiancé and I count down the days til our nuptials, we are not only excited for the wedding day; we are excited for the a lifetime together. More specifically, we are thrilled to fulfill our vocational call to marriage. As we see it, there are two reasons people can and should get married.
Marriage is unitive. We love each other so much we are choosing to spend the rest of our lives together (all of it…the ups, downs, heartaches and joys). When we say our marriage vows we are committing ourselves to one another, no matter how difficult it will prove to be at times. Why? We want to spend the rest of our lives helping each other become the best people we can be. Aside from helping one another grow, marriage is uniting with another person in the deepest sense of the word. It is the journey of two becoming one – intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Human beings are made for community, more so we are made for companionship. This intimate companionship can be found in marriage.
Marriage is meant to be procreative. Marriage finds its culmination in the procreation and rearing of children. Marriage is so much more than Patrick and I’s love for one another. Yes that is part of it and a crucial one at that, but getting married without the intention to have children is like stopping short of home base. Love is to be shared and propagated. Marriage will be difficult. There is no denying that. It will take a lifetime to learn and cultivate true selflessness. I fully expect that there will be many times when Pat will irritate and annoy me, but what better reminder would I have of my call to love him than my children? Just in case I ever forget why I love Pat, children will be a continuous reminder of the love we share — a mini me in the next room ramming his toy trucks into the wall.
You see, marriage is not an end in itself. Marriage is the foundation for a life full of opportunities for continual selflessness. This self-giving will be perpetuated in parenthood when our days will be drenched with moments to take care of another, a child who cannot take care of himself. These are opportunities over and over again to step outside of our own selfish world and care for another. This is the point of marriage as we see it. Others may disagree, exclaiming that marriage has a singular purpose–to be committed to another person and enjoy life’s many blessings. To those of you out there we don’t disagree, but joy and happiness for us is not the end goal. The fulfillment of our marriage will be in our selfless choices to love each other and our family.