Celebrating love and marriage Print
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

We will be experiencing two very different ways to celebrate love this week as we approach Valentine’s Day.

On one hand, the week of February 7 to 14 is observed as National Marriage Week, a collaborative campaign which aims “to strengthen individual marriages, reduce the divorce rate, and build a stronger marriage culture, which in turn helps curtail poverty and benefits children.”

Celebrating gift of marriage

This effort is supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In a letter sent to all U.S. bishops on January 16, Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, N.Y., chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, hailed National Marriage Week as an opportunity “to celebrate the gift and blessing of marriage and to affirm and support engaged and married couples.”

In his letter, Bishop Malone identified numerous resources that can be of assistance to bishops, priests, and lay leaders in promoting, strengthening, and defending the gift of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman, including the websites,, and

Bishop Malone also expressed eager anticipation for the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, September 22 to 27. A preparatory catechesis and other information are available at

The USCCB is providing a daily virtual marriage retreat for National Marriage Week, available through Facebook ( The theme of this year’s retreat is Pope Francis’ words of wisdom to married couples.

Fifty Shades of Grey

On the other hand, the movie Fifty Shades of Grey will be released on February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day. The film is based on the 2011 erotic romance novel by British author E. L. James. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism.

I’m happy to see that there are people calling for a boycott of Fifty Shades of Grey. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has launched a campaign called Fifty Shades is Abuse, saying the film adaptation of the novel glamorizes violence against women.

“When you strip away the glitz, the glamour, the power, the fancy suits, the fancy soundtrack of the film, this is really just a movie about domestic violence and abuse against women,” Dawn Hawkins, the center’s executive director, told ABC News.

Another campaign, 50 Dollars not 50 Shades, is calling for moviegoers to boycott the movie and instead donate the money they would spend on tickets to women’s shelters. That seems like a good idea to me.

Another alternative

I received an email with a trailer about another new movie called Old Fashioned. This film is being described as vying for “America’s heart on Valentine’s weekend” with a much more positive message about love and marriage.

The writer/director/lead actor of Old Fashioned, Rik Swartzwelder, said, “Films like Fifty Shades of Grey may succeed in seducing some, but there are other moviegoers out there who long for tender, genuine romantic stories about real people with real problems . . . stories about romance that leads to love that is mutual, healing, and lasting.”

It sounds like a much better choice to me. I’m sure there are many other movies to watch on Valentine’s Day that celebrate love and marriage in a positive way.
Needless to say, I suggest people boycott movies that glamorize violence and abusive behavior towards women.

Or better yet, I plan to enjoy a nice dinner out and spend an evening with my husband on Valentine’s Day.