Posted by: frroberts | April 1, 2015

The persecution is coming

When the government changes the definition of marriage, there is always collateral damage..

The beheading of Saint John Fisher.  When the government changes the definition of marriage, there is always collateral damage.

According to the Code of Canon Law baptized Christians have a right to marriage in the definition of marriage, of course, is important.  Marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man and woman ordered toward the good of the spouses, the transmission of life and the education of children.

It is interesting to point out that while there is a right to marriage in the Church this right has limitations, called impediments.  Some of these can be dispensed from with permission:

One may not marry another who still has a living spouse(s) (bigamy and polygamy)

One may not marry a close relative (consanguinity, incest)

One may not marry a man in holy orders or anyone who has taken a vow of celibacy.

One may not marry a non-Catholic without a proper dispensation from ecclesiastical authority (disparity of cult or religion).

One must exchange vows before a witness with Church delegation (canonical form).

One cannot marry an impotent person.

While  a Catholic enjoys “the right to marriage,” this right comes with responsibilities–lifelong fidelity to one’s spouse, openness to life within the conjugal relationship and the duty to raise children lovingly.  It is also not an absolute right; one cannot marry just anyone for any reason.

In the United States the consensus definition of marriage until recently was that it is an exclusive union of a man and woman ordered toward the good of the spouses that lasts as long as both spouses individually want it to last. The prevalence of and ease with which divorces (which are sometimes a lesser evil) are obtained make a legal mockery of the moral duty to do all one can reasonably do for children to provide a stable home life.  Secular marriage is neither understood as permanent nor child-centered, but individual-centered.  Why, when nearly half of children are born to single mothers, we give preferential tax treatment to married people seems more and more strange to me with each passing month.

Some state courts have mandated that any two people cab marry as long as they are not already married.   Advocates of same-sex marriage would like to see marriage redefined as “an exclusive union between two people ordered to each individual’s respective good that lasts as long as both individually want it to last.”  We are not sure why one cannot marry a sibling or close relative using this rationale.  Nor is it clear, if one should be able to marry who one loves regardless of who they happen to be, why marriage cannot include three or more consenting adults.  Is there really that much of a difference between serial monogamy and polygamy?  Those who practice polyamory would say no.

It seems likely that the state will insist that redefining marriage is its business.  Such a redefinition will be used as a club with which to beat  people who have religious beliefs that define marriage differently.  The cultural elite in our country see same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue like forced segregation and racial discrimination was in the 60s and 70s.  We can be assured that they will be willing to use all of the power of the state to force their opponents to conform publicly to their view of the matter.

Civil unions for people who share property are a good idea.  After no fault divorce became the rule, marriage between a man and woman effectively became a more or less temporary civil union anyway.  When people talk about “marriage’ between a man and woman today, most mean something very different from what Jesus meant in the Gospels.  Perhaps it is time for the Christians to come up with a new word for Holy Matrimony.

How does “the Sacrament of  life-long union wherein as many children as God chooses to give are received with joy” sound?

Even with such a redefinition, there will not be an agreement to disagree when it comes to marriage.  The state will insist that its new definition be promoted by the government (especially in the public schools), affirmed in the workplace and protected in public speech.  We who believe what Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel reveals about marriage can expect to be persecuted.  There are precedents.

Beheading of Saint Thomas More, he disagreed with the state about the definition of marriage too

The beheading of Saint Thomas More. He disagreed with the state about the definition of marriage too

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