Emmaus strongly supports the sanctity of marriage and does not want to become a wedge or a divisive force in marriage relationships. To support these values, Emmaus has developed the equal commitment rule, which is designed to create harmony in the marriage relationship.
The equal commitment rule states that Emmaus encourages the participation of both spouses in The Walk to Emmaus. However, when a married couple is presented with the opportunity to attend the Walk to Emmaus, one of the spouses may indicate that he/she does not wish to participate in the program. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that the Walk to Emmaus has been thoroughly explained to both spouses and that they understand what the commitment will mean to the individual attending and the impact it may have on their marriage relationship. The equal commitment rule does not mean that the non-attending spouse may never attend or that a wife can never go to Emmaus unless her husband has gone first.
The non-attending spouse may decide at a later date that he/she would like to go on the Walk to Emmaus. It is all in God's hands and His timing.
It is strongly recommended that sponsors familiarize themselves with the equal commitment rule as it is written in the "Sponsorship" booklet available from the Upper Room.
Why Men's Events Precede Women's Events:
Men's Emmaus experiences do not precede women's Walks for theological reasons. This scheduling pattern does not reinforce a belief that men are the spiritual heads of the household and that wives should follow their lead. The reasons for this scheduling pattern are historical and practical. Cursillo's original intent was to reclaim men for Christ as committed members of Christ's church; women's weekends were a later development.
The pattern of scheduling sets of three-day short courses with the men's events preceding the women's also encourages more men to participate then might otherwise and to break the machismo inclination to leave the business of religion and church to the women. Early on, Cursillo leaders observed that husbands were less likely to attend a religious weekend than their wives and, in some cases, less likely to participate if their wives had gone first. They also observed that husbands would go on a weekend if their participation enabled their wives to participate. Women, on the other hand, seemed just as likely to participate after their husband's weekend as before. There generalizations do not characterize all husbands and wives today. But in families where these generalizations are true, the likelihood of those husbands participating increases when the men's Walk precedes the women's.
The sponsor should present the information about The Walk to the husband and the wife at the same time. Both parties have the opportunity to get the information firsthand and in each other's company. Each partner may ask questions and hear the questions raised by the spouse. If one partner does not choose to attend the Walk to Emmaus, the sponsor should:
- Suggest that the couple think and pray about the decision for six to nine months. During this time, the couple may discuss and pray about attending The Walk to Emmaus. It is strongly recommended that the couple also meet and discuss the subject with their pastor. After that time, the sponsor should talk with them again. If the one partner is still disinterested, then sponsor the one who does want to attend, being assured that the other partner agrees. Note that if one spouse does not participate in the church, or is of another faith, and understands and supports his or her spouse's involvement, you need not wait the suggested six-to-nine-month period. The key is that the particpant’s attendance and subsequent activities will not adversely affect the marriage.
- Submit an "Equal Commitment Declaration Form" (included below) along with the standard sponsor's sheet.
- If the registrar receives such an application without the sponsor's declaration, he/she should call the sponsor and ask if they have had this conversation with the couple and discussed all the aspects listed in the Equal Commitment Declaration. If they say they have, the registrar proceeds as normal to place the candidate on the next available Walk. If not, the registrar will tell the sponsor that the application will be held until the sponsor has had this discussion. At that time they are to call or email the registrar stating that the discussion has taken place and they desire to have the candidate placed in the next available Walk. The sponsor should then forward the Declaration Form to the registrar as soon as possible.
- If the non-attending spouse is not supportive of the candidate making the Walk, then the application should be discarded and any funds submitted should be returned.