of marriage - 2
Bush's State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening brought last week's hot topic
of the defense of marriage back for another round of editorials and op-ed columns,
interviews, and even legislation at state and local levels. An article in the
Michigan State University State News found a range of reactions to the
President's promise to defend the sanctity of marriage.
seated in a Case Hall lounge Tuesday evening, social relations senior Franny Howes
said she was so offended by President Bush's stance on marriage in his State of
the Union address that she began to boo out loud. "I was just so outraged by it
that I couldn't stay quiet," said Howes, the president of South Complex's lesbian,
bi, gay and transgender student group PRISM....
have out-of-control liberal judges trying to change our society without a vote
of the people," said Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, who introduced the Marriage
Protection Amendment to the state Legislature in October. "It's totally antagonistic
to the democratic ideals that we have."
there are some people, such as international relations senior Natalie Rose, who
are undecided as to which side they support. "In the Bible, God defines marriage
as an institution between a man and a woman," said Rose, who is a member of Campus
Crusade for Christ. "On the other hand, I also want everyone to have equal rights
because God is a completely just God. There's really two hands to it," she said.
Maybe I spend too much time reading liberal news sites and watching comedy TV
shows. Cracks like Jay Leno's recent, "It's not gay marriages they should
be going after; the problem isn't gay marriages, but celebrity marriages,"
no doubt take a toll on the moral underpinings. So I find it easy to lose track
of what may be lost in letting homosexual partners who believe themselves permanently
attached to each other go through the ritual of getting married if a member of
the clergy or public official is willing to perform a ceremony and the state or
local jurisdiction is amenable. I sometimes "forget," but of course
I know that there will be a terrible price to pay, socially, if our culture redefines
marriage. High divorce rates, capers like Britney's recent 55-hour marriage and
an earlier almost-as-short one by Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra also mitigate
the "sanctity of marriage" and make it an easy target for liberals committed
to social change for its own sake and "anything goes," as well as comedians
looking for laughs anywhere they can find them. The fact that there is a lot wrong
with marriage even as it's currently practiced doesn't excuse a revolutionary
redefinition of humanity's oldest and most venerable institution.
Some say that part of the problem these days, also a factor in making the change
more likely, is the Catholic Church with its baggage of worldwide scandals involving
sex, the clergy, and resultant attacks on celibacy. I don't believe in requiring
celibacy for the clergy, but I think that is a side issue. That does not negate
the definition of marriage the Catholic bishops have promulgated in the wake of
the growing controversy over extending marriage beyond a relationship between
a man and a woman. If you look for a statement summarizing what's at stake, I
don't think you'll find a better one than that recently released by the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Space doesn't allow our reviewing it all
this time, but we will begin with these opening paragraphs:
What is marriage? Marriage, as instituted by God, is a faithful, exclusive,
lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and
love. They commit themselves completely to each other and to the wondrous responsibility
of bringing children into the world and caring for them. The call to marriage
is woven deeply into the human spirit. Man and woman are equal. However, as created,
they are different from but made for each other. This complementarity, including
sexual difference, draws them together in a mutually loving union that should
be always open to the procreation of children (see Catechism of the Catholic Church
[CCC], nos. 1602-1605).
about marriage are present in the order of nature and can be perceived by the
light of human reason. They have been confirmed by divine Revelation in Sacred
2. What does our faith
tell us about marriage? Marriage comes from the loving hand of God, who fashioned
both male and female in the divine image (see Gn 1:27). A man "leaves his father
and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body" (Gn 2:24).
The man recognizes the woman as "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (Gn 2:23).
God blesses the man and woman and commands them to "be fertile and multiply" (Gn
1:28). Jesus reiterates these teachings from Genesis, saying, "But from the beginning
of creation, 'God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave
his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one
flesh'" (Mk 10:6-8).
These biblical passages
help us to appreciate God's plan for marriage. It is an intimate union in which
the spouses give themselves, as equal persons, completely and lovingly to one
another. By their mutual gift of self, they cooperate with God in bringing children
to life and in caring for them.
is both a natural institution and a sacred union because it is rooted in the divine
plan for creation. In addition, the Church teaches that the valid marriage of
baptized Christians is a sacrament—a saving reality. Jesus Christ made marriage
a symbol of his love for his Church (see Eph 5:25-33). This means that a sacramental
marriage lets the world see, in human terms, something of the faithful, creative,
abundant, and self-emptying love of Christ. A true marriage in the Lord with his
grace will bring the spouses to holiness. Their love, manifested in fidelity,
passion, fertility, generosity, sacrifice, forgiveness, and healing, makes known
God's love in their family, communities, and society. This Christian meaning confirms
and strengthens the human value of a marital union (see CCC, nos. 1612-1617; 1641-1642)."