“We’re pregnant with another girl”, Levin announced with a grin.
“That’s great, I bet you and your wife are excited”, I responded, anticipating a family comment.
“Well, I’m not married, we just live together.”
“Oh, are you going to get married to her?” I asked this, hoping it wouldn’t offend him.
“No plans now, it seems a bit old fashioned, besides, we’re happy anyway.” Levin added, “We have a house… children, why bother paying for a piece of paper (marriage certificate)?”
Now I had to ask, “Why do you think living together has a higher breakup rate than traditional marriage?”
Then it hit me, he thinks the institution of marriage is outdated and no longer necessary. I decided to change the topic to avoid our business dinner becoming awkward as I had traveled all the way to Europe to see him. There we were, having dinner in Brussels discussing business; but his comment remained with me the rest of the night. I started thinking Levin represents a new attitude among young people that seemed to be a kind of new religion that has quietly seeped into the collective conscious in the secular world. It’s disguised as freedom but cloaked in rebellion. It requires no church, no priest, no formal book and becomes pervasive in its impact on the institution of marriage. It was apparent that traditions crumble in the face of this new religion.
“What about the classic wedding in Church, what every bride dreams of…..”, I innocently asked him.
“That seems to be an American thing; people over here hardly even go to church anymore”, he exclaimed.
I wondered aloud, “I thought Belgium was a Catholic country?”
“Well, most people are Catholic by tradition only and hardly go to church anymore”, Levin delivered a low blow.
Perplexed, I asked him, “What do these people believe in?”
At this point, my mind was racing with a heavy heart. It seemed that Catholic Europe has left the faith. The Altar of this new religion sacrifices truth for feelings… absolutes for moral relativism. Getting along, tolerance is the highest moral standard, even if you have to compromise your standards.
In my mind, the Catholic Church still stood for high moral standards, ideals that have been woven into Europe’s culture for centuries. How has this great area of the world slipped into secularism? This one encounter typifies statistics these days that being Catholic is typical but practicing the faith is not. The Church has offered charity to the poor, mercy for the unloved, hope in this world of sin and despair, and moral clarity to the confused. The institution of traditional marriage is upheld in the Church as a permanent sacramental union between husband and wife. Jesus comes to us and speaks to us through the Church in the Sacraments.
My concern is that apathy leads to the possibility that nothing is true and we can never know. People will no longer recognize sin in the world and will confuse good and evil. The pursuit of pleasure will consume us to love what is temporary and miss the unconditional love of Christ which is everlasting. We’ve already changed our language to relieve the guilty of the burdens of word – for example, like “affair” replaced “adultery”. Many European Universities that the Catholic Church established are now teaching philosophy from the Enlightenment and not philosophy from the Age of Faith. Voltaire over Aquinas is a formula for the elites and this questions the faith of our fathers. My prayer is that young people return to the Church… that engaged couples will recognize and embrace the time-tested benefits of Holy Matrimony and that God’s blessings will continue to grace the Church through the sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
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