There’s been a lot of news about marriage over the past week and I wanted to summarize as much a I could now that I’ve had a small breather from the week’s busyness.
Reading some of the comments to my previous posts, it’s clear there is a great deal of confusion about the Church’s teaching on the meaning of marriage, the need to support it, and why she continues to oppose same-sex “marriage.”
Last week, for instance, despite a letter from and lobbying by the Catholic Conference of Illinois, a problematic civil unions bill was passed in the Illinois lame duck session.
“He did not say what religious faith that would be, but it certainly is not the Catholic faith. … If he wishes to speak as a Catholic, then he is accountable to Catholic authority, and the Catholic church does not support civil unions or other measures that are contrary to the natural moral law.”
Quinn’s shrugging response? “I follow my conscience.”
Well, let’s educate Mr. Quinn’s conscience. I would urge readers who disagree with what I am about to write to commit the courtesy of reading the articles I cite before jumping into the comment box. Responding to arguments you haven’t troubled yourself to understand is no way to have a constructive conversation.
Jennifer Braceras writes, “Who Needs Marriage? Kids Do“:
When it comes to marriage, political correctness has given birth (literally) to an epidemic of illegitimacy and single-parenting. And these demographics have important social and economic consequences.
Braceras references a recently-released Pew Study “The Decline of Marriage and the Rise of New Families.” Do we really believe society will be better served by a “post-marriage culture?” Do we really believe children will grow up in an environment that is conducive to their short-term needs and long-term interests?
The push to redefine (or abandon) traditional marriage has huge unintended (yet still direct) consequences, as the above studies suggest. Additionally, Elizabeth Marquardt persuasively argues “How Redefining Marriage Redefines Parenthood.” In a media culture that already is producing severe social problems of isolation among children and young people, removing them from the experience of even being raised and nurtured by their biological parents will cause further alienation.
Europe gives us a taste of what a post-marriage culture looks like. Pope Benedict, in his message to the new Hungarian ambassador this week, issued these startling words, “Europe would no longer be Europe if the basic cell of the marriage disappears or is transformed.” Same-sex marriage, while one of the threats to marriage, is not the only one: every attempt to undermine the traditional definition of marriage, especially as it stands in law, has a harmful effect on the culture:
[The pope went] on to say that marriage and family are now affected by the erosion of their “values of stability and insolubility,” because of “the growing liberalization of divorce, the increasingly widespread habit of cohabitation”, because of the “different kinds of union which have no foundation in the cultural or legal history of Europe”.
The Church – adds the Pope – can not approve “of legislative initiatives that involve the enhancement of alternative models of married life and family.” These models contribute to “the weakening of the principles of natural law and thus to the relativization of law,” as well as to the weakening of “awareness of society’s values”.
American bishops are doing their best to communicate the same message here. Besides making “strengthening marriage (and the value of children and family life” one of their top five priorities next year, their concrete efforts are well-summarized by Michelle Martin.
The efforts to preserve and promote marriage are an opportunity for Christian ecumenism and common effort. Here is one example by R. Albert Mohler at the Christian Post of a Protestant explaining the social consequence of marriage, while Ron Snider encourages evangelicals to rethink what they do and say about gay marriage.
To round out this weekend reading linkfest, see these last three articles:
Deacon Moynihan – “In support of Marriage”
Vicki Thorn – “Why So Disillusioned About Marriage?”
Debra Saunders – “Polygamy Debate Evokes Familiar ‘Rights’ Language”
A final thought about the reason I believe it is important to spend so much time thinking, reading and writing about marriage. Some have hurled the accusation in the comment box that is it basically because I hate gay people. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This issue is important to me, rather, because I love God’s plan for us, and believe His plan reveals how human beings are called to live, which can be understood by our reason.
It is because I care about human happiness, care about vulnerable children and young people, care about human connectedness and fulfillment, that marriage matters so much.
When asked if we agree with the Church and God’s vision of marriage, I hope we can say, “I do.”