There are millions of people in the world who don’t believe in marriage.
There are billions who don’t believe all the same things about marriage that you believe. I may even be one of them. Hopefully, your spouse is not.
I know that most people in the world, in the United States, in my town and probably even in my own family don’t feel the exact same way about marriage as I do.
As a member of the Engaged Marriage community, there’s a good chance you do share some key beliefs with me:
We have some common ground that enables you to enjoy the 300+ posts here, and it allows me to really enjoy writing them to share with you.
As an advocate for healthy, happy marriages, I’m often presented with opportunities to share my expertise with others.
This can be through speaking to groups that already largely share my beliefs. It can be through writing on this blog or publications where I know the response will be lots of nice comments applauding my views.
This is pretty easy and provides a great ego boost. Preaching to the choir is a pretty nice gig.
However, there are times when the opportunity comes to share advice with a hostile crowd, or at least an audience that has beliefs that are quite different from my own.
This is much tougher and can be exhausting – so is it worth it?
Last week, I sent an email to our wonderful Marriage Time subscribers to share an opportunity to sign up for an awesome free online relationship event where I’m speaking.
(It’s called the Art of Love, and you can still register right here. I’m speaking on Sunday 2/17)
I promptly received an email back from a long-time subscriber:
I wanted to take a minute and ask, as a Catholic, why you are participating in this? The email sounded intriguing so I clicked on the link. When I got near the bottom of the page, there was a circle stating that relationships come in all forms and that this organization/seminar proudly supports LGBT.
Knowing that, even though I’m sure there will be valuable information presented, I cannot support it. With you participating in it, it is confusing to your Catholic supporters; and perhaps other Christian denominations as well who do not support same-sex marriage.
I have to say I wasn’t all that surprised to get this response. After all, I’m a devout Christian, and I certainly don’t keep my Catholic beliefs to myself.
It only took me about five minutes to respond with these thoughts:
This is a fantastic question!
You’re correct that I’m Catholic, I support traditional marriage and I don’t support same-sex marriage. So why would I participate in a seminar that does support it?
It’s my opinion that we best get our message heard when we are willing to venture into areas that don’t necessarily agree with our views. If I restricted my writing and speaking to groups that agree with me, I feel like I’m missing a huge opportunity to spread the good word about all that traditional marriage can be and the goodness of Christianity in general.
A prime example is the writing I’ve done on a site called Your Tango. Their content can be quite racy with lots of articles on sex outside of marriage and some posts promoting the gay lifestyle. However, I’ve written there numerous times, including a post about Why I Believe in Natural Family Planning.
This was definitely stepping foot into “enemy” territory and it incited quite a reaction. However, I felt it was important to set the record straight on NFP, and it required me to go to their turf to do so.
For the Art of Love, I’m on a panel with two other men who are popular relationship writers. I suspect I’ll be the only one talking about traditional marriage and probably even defending it at times in this setting. I’m OK with that, and I feel like it’s part of my calling as a promoter of healthy, happy marriages in a culture that too often rejects that idea.
In a nutshell, I am firm in my beliefs. But I am happy to share them and spread them within forums that don’t consist entirely of people who agree with me or the Catholic Church.
I hope that helps, and it is an excellent question. It may even be worth a blog post to discuss!
The reader said she was very appreciative of my response and understood my perspective.
The fact is I’m confronted with these kinds of decisions on a regular basis.
I feel like I’m doing the right thing by branching out to share my message, yet there are always those who are quick to judge your motivations.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
That last point is particularly important to Bethany and me.
We regularly present on the topic of Natural Family Planning to groups that didn’t sign up to hear that particular information (usually as part of a marriage preparation workshop). Our hope isn’t to necessarily convert folks to our way of thinking, but we implore them to hear us out and keep an open mind since they might learn something new.
I think an open mind is a wonderful gift. What do you think?
Please leave a comment below with your thoughts or experiences on this topic.
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.