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Horns honk, text messages ding, there’s a new deadline to meet, college assignment to complete, a relative needing attention, a service commitment to carry out, or sadness to process with a friend who just got divorced. Our minds get so full of noise that becoming conscious of something can be difficult. I find it takes me a lot of quiet, alone time to even focus on something for a short time.
I recently re-read a quotation that I’ve read countless times before, and the phrase “acutely conscious” struck me. The passage relates to how young people can consciously create a better future, but I think it’s worth everyone’s time and attention. The Universal House of Justice tells us (the bolding is mine):
…young women and men become acutely conscious of the exhortations of the Supreme Pen… 1
Young adults are described as not only conscious, but “acutely conscious” — intensely, seriously, vitally, and fully aware, with mental faculties fully active and focused. Aware of what? What are young adults paying attention to?
…young women and men become acutely conscious of the exhortations of the Supreme Pen to ‘enter into wedlock’… 2
Oh, marriage! That’s a big deal. However, being conscious of the encouragement to get married can be difficult and confusing. What guidance can we turn to? Who do we know that does it well? What can we do to get to a place where we are conscious and happy about the idea? Marriage is a crucible of intense personal growth and intimate friendship and service with another person. Not easy to step into, but I find that it’s also often a place of intense joy when we are well-prepared for it.
To help with our conscious focus, there are many resources available. For example, Baha’i Blog shared a list of 5 books about marriage, there are websites like www.bahaimarriage.net, and I, along with Johanna Merritt Wu and Jeremy Lambshead wrote a book called Starting with Me: Knowing Myself Before Finding a Partner. Furthermore, 40 years of research and information about the value of marriage and how to “do marriage” well is available to us.
Science affirms Baha’u’llah’s guidance. In their book The Case for Marriage, Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher observed that “Marriage actually changes people’s goals and behavior in ways that are profoundly and powerfully life enhancing.” 3 They also concluded that:
Marriage makes you better off, because marriage makes you very important to someone. When you are married you know that someone else not only loves you but needs you and depends upon you. … Spouses expect to be able to trust each other, financially, sexually, and emotionally, not only because of their individual personal qualities but because being married means that most of their goods are jointly owned. The trust implicit in marriage reduces the need for spouses to monitor the behavior of each other closely… 4
Why, though, do the Universal House of Justice and Baha’u’llah describe this focus of consciousness?
…young women and men become acutely conscious of the exhortations of the Supreme Pen to ‘enter into wedlock’ that they may ‘bring forth one who will make mention of Me amid My servants’… 1
Wow, having children. 5
Another one of those really, really big responsibilities. So, why is this is so important?
This generation of youth will form families that secure the foundations of flourishing communities. Through their growing love for Baha’u’llah and their personal commitment to the standard to which He summons them will their children imbibe the love of God, ‘commingled with their mother’s milk’, and always seek the shelter of His divine law. 6
Here, then is the balance. By being “acutely conscious” of the nature of marriage, we can create flourishing communities that are established on a secure foundation. And, for me, the following quotation helps me better understand why unified, happy families and “flourishing” communities are so important:
[I]f the friends are not able to maintain harmony within their families, on what other basis do they hope to demonstrate to a skeptical world the efficacy of the pre-eminent character of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah? What possible influence could they hope to exert on the development of nations and the establishment of world peace? 7
Our credibility as promoters of unity of all types is linked to family unity, with happy, healthy marriages as the foundation. The world needs courageous, committed, and well-informed men and women to “enter into” marriage. This single act has the potential to build a better world.
- Universal House of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Counsellors, December 29, 2015, para. 39; 5 Year Plan; bolding added
- Ibid; bolding added
- Waite and Gallgher, The Case for Marriage, p. 17
- Ibid, pp. 31, 33
- It’s my understanding that while having children is one of the primary purposes of marriage, couples can create sacred unions at any point in their adult lives.
- ibid; bolding added
- On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, #740
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