February 9, 2007


God’s plan for marriage

(Listen to this editorial being read)

We call your attention to our Marriage Supplement on pages 11-15 in this issue. Twice a year, we celebrate with couples who marry. Unfortunately, it appears that such couples are in decline.

It used to be taken for granted that most men and women would marry when they grew up then have children and raise families. Today, though, for the first time in our country’s history, the percentage of adult women who are not married is greater than those who are.

Our secularized society seems to rejoice in women who are proud of the fact that they don’t need a husband in order to have children. In earlier generations, it was a tragedy to become pregnant outside of marriage, and those who did so certainly didn’t plan it that way.

That’s no longer true. Single women now are impregnated with sperm that men have deposited in “sperm banks.” They become “mothers-by-choice” instead of by accident and they are bearing “designer children.”

All this is happening despite the well-known statistics that single-parent families are much more likely to live in poverty and that the children are more likely to go to prison and/or to continue to have children out of wedlock. For example, in 2004, more than 98 percent of the 2 million families that qualified for welfare were single-parent families.

We acknowledge the fact that those women who become mothers-by-choice are far different from the young women who are already living in poverty when they become pregnant. But we still lament the fact that the children grow up without a father.

OK, some of them do have a father. The practice of cohabitation, of couples living together without marriage, has become prevalent in our society. There is no longer a stigma attached to what was once called “shacking up.” Of course, these couples are also different from the single women who become mothers-by-choice.

The decline in family life has taken place within the past half-century. It probably began with the so-called “sexual revolution” in the 1960s, powered by the invention of the

birth-control pill that made it possible for men and women to have sex with less fear of becoming pregnant. Many people saw no reason to get married if their partner was willing to have sex with them outside of marriage. The ages at which men and women married gradually increased, too.

What happened to morality when all this was going on? When did it suddenly become all right for non-married men and women to have sex? Today our society takes it for granted that sexual activity is part of dating. Our television situation comedies revolve around men and women having sex outside of marriage.

The Catholic Church still believes that God’s original plan for men and women is best. It teaches that God himself is the author of marriage.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes” (#1603).

The Church also teaches, “By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory” (Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes #48).

Because it believes so emphatically in marriage and the family, the Church also opposes those techniques that make it possible for women to become mothers-by-choice.

The catechism states: “Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple [donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus], are gravely immoral. These techniques infringe the children’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage” (#2376).

We are still old-fashioned enough to believe that intact family units are vital for our civilization. Despite trends to the contrary in our modern society, the Church must continue to promote God’s plan for marriage and family life.

— John F. Fink

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