Several years ago a friend sent me an e-mail asking me to put down my thoughts on the virtues of marriage. This is what I wrote:
Why Marriage is the Path to Heaven
1] While it is easy to live alone, it is hard to perfect yourself living alone. It is easy to think only of yourself, have everything your own way, consider only yourself, but this lets no air into the soul. Living with someone, caring for them, being forced to consider them with each of life smallest decisions, is the very life breath of the soul. In a real, vital love relationship one simply cannot fall into depression, self indulgence, or boredom because one is always faced with the consequence of how this will affect one’s beloved. Left to themselves, people are prone to do the easy thing; knowing that all one does will be seen by one’s beloved, one feels compelled to do the right thing.
2] Men and women are different and benefit from this difference. Men are creatures of habit while women are creatures of intuition, men are reliable while women are accessible, men are disciplined while women are spontaneous — and these are all virtues. What man cannot learn empathy from a woman? What woman would not benefit from the stolidity in crisis of a man? Men without women are brutal, just as women without men are capricious. Without the tempering and correcting companionship of a mate, one has little hope of become a really whole person.
3] Sex without creative love feeds upon itself. Sex is a heady mixture of pleasure that can be taken, given, reciprocal, or mutual. Pleasure that is taken is mere self-indulgence and coarsens the heart, closing it to real love. Pleasure that is given is the very lever of power, used to dominate, and this too has no part of love. Reciprocal pleasure is merely a crass bargain whose value erodes with each use. All of these things either dull us to love or make us slaves to carnality. Only by giving freely of ones self, through real devotion, can the pleasure of sex become mutual. Only when our lover’s happiness pleases us more than our own can we be free of lust and achieve the genuinely intimate union that God intended.
4] Only by taking a mate, someone with whom we wish to have children, can we transcend the narcissism of romantic love. Only by accepting this full creative partnership with the beloved can we transform infatuation into complete acceptance of the beloved irrevocably as a whole person. Only through this understanding can we transform our awe and infatuation with God into a submission to Him and a love of His Divine Will.
5] Ultimately, to know God, we must participate in his creativity by having children and loving them as He loves us. No earthly love, be it filial, fraternal, or amorous, begins to approach the natural love of parents for their children. Only by having and loving children can we begin to understand real piety, can we make sacrifices without any regret, can we honestly care for someone more than we love life itself. Only a living saint could understand by themselves the kind of devotion every loving parent feels in their breast. The easiest, surest way to Metanoia (the death of the desires of the self) is through the love of children.
6] The sure knowledge that there is only one person on Earth who loves your children as you do is an unparalleled unitive factor. The love of mutual children reïnforces and re-doubles the love that mates have for one another and thus further brings them into communion with the Divine.
There are other ways to get to Heaven, but this is the surest.