No one is born in a vacuum, but into a particular culture. That culture forms the human mind, especially in its thought process and language. Thus culture influences how we interact with others. An intact culture protects good traditions and valuable customs that have been around for centuries, handed down from generation to generation. It is said according to a common adage that “people die, not the culture”. Our post-modern culture, however, clearly shows signs of fragmentation. Nothing now seems to be stable. Institutions seem incapable of “holding it together” for any prolonged duration. Long-held beliefs are shattered or, at best, seem to be only relative to their situation, revealing a mentality that “whatever suits is fine”. This is a complex issue, clustered with secular humanism, hedonism or, to coin a term, a “Godexit” that undervalues marriage. The dignity of families in general, to say nothing of the sacrament of marriage specifically, is thus threatened. Such a fragmented culture is marked by, but also itself, inculcates, varied mentalities: egotism, narcissism, individualism, cohabitation and a divorce mentality. Indeed, persons with a divorce mentality would say: ‘if marriage does not fit, let us quit and split’. Hence, even before the wedding, a couple may set a condition leading to breakdown. This can reveal a defective consent, whereby an attitude of impermanence of marriage can render consent invalid. Such an attitude can exclude one of the essentials for a valid marriage. These elements must be proven in the Marriage Tribunal.
In particular, some couples themselves come from broken families. When the unavoidable difficulties arise, such young couples cannot fall back on their parents or grandparents for support or guidance. If a marriage is not rooted in a solid, stable foundation, what is the fate of the families? This can be seen as an inevitable consequence of a decaying culture.
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia [The Joy of Love] states that it “is important that marriage be seen as a matter of love, that only those who freely choose and love one another may marry.” [para. 217]. To choose marriage requires inner freedom. This love must be pure and sacrificial, exercised for the benefit of the other, and not selfishly. God-loving persons, who uphold the core value of marriage, constantly battle against cracks in the culture. Spouses must possess the will, and willingness, to solidify their marital relationship day by day, using all available means of spousal love, such as telling each other how much each loves the other; by making sacrifices; by not taking each other for granted; and by being the best examples to their children. It can also help them if they attend talks and seminars aimed at married people. One must not omit the benefit of family prayers and a serious effort at a sacramental life. Married people should not wait for difficulties to arise before looking for a remedy. Rather, let them proactively ponder the rich vows taken on their wedding day, in the presence of God. Christian morals, leading a good life, mingled with the “Joy of the Gospel” — all certainly pave the way for evangelizing our contemporary broken culture.