February 6, 2009


The Church values marriage and defends it in society

We call your attention to our Spring Marriage Supplement in this issue. We publish that supplement twice a year because of the Church’s emphasis on the sanctity of marriage, one of the important sacraments of the Church.

Increasingly, our society doesn’t see it that way.

Marriage appears to be increasingly irrelevant as more and more couples live together without getting married.

Premarital sexual activity is now not only acceptable but taken for granted, and the social stigma of having a child out of wedlock disappeared long ago.

The Catholic Church, though, continues to tell society that marriage is not only sacred, but can be a bond between husband and wife similar to that between Christ and his Church.

That is what St. Paul made clear when he wrote: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her,” adding, while quoting Genesis, “ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.’ This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:25, 31-32).

Unfortunately, though, the ones who seem most interested in marriage these days are homosexual couples who want society’s blessing on their relationships.

At present, two states—Massachusetts and Connecticut (both heavily Catholic, by the way)—bestow legality on same-sex marriage, but that will probably change soon.

California has gone back and forth on this subject. First, such marriages were illegal. Then the state’s Supreme Court legalized them. Then the voters passed a state constitutional amendment that made them illegal again. But the state’s Supreme Court will again hear a challenge to the voters’ wishes next month, and there’s no reason to believe that it will decide differently than it did the first time.

The whole concept of “same-sex” marriage should be an oxymoron, an impossibility. Throughout history, in every culture, even when homosexual activity might have been accepted, marriage has been seen as between a man and a woman.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “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 catechism also tells us, “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament” (#1601).

Homosexual acts cannot result in the procreation of children, which is why such sexual activity is forbidden.

The U.S. bishops’ document Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children, explained the Church’s teaching this way: “First, it is God’s plan that sexual intercourse occur only within marriage between a man and a woman.

Second, every act of intercourse must be open to the possible creation of human life.

“Homosexual intercourse cannot fulfill these two conditions. Therefore, the Church teaches that homogenital behavior is objectively immoral, while making the important distinction between this behavior and a homosexual orientation, which is not immoral in itself.”

The bishops’ document also stated: “The teachings of the Church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression or violence against them.”

We must respect the rights of homosexual persons, and it is encouraging that society respects their sexual orientation better than previous generations have done. Society has also made strides in recognizing difficulties with ownership of property and other legal matters involving homosexual couples, but these difficulties must not be solved by obscuring the meaning of marriage.

Those “fundamental human rights,” though, do not include same-sex marriage because marriage includes sexual intercourse which, as we have noted, must be open to the possible creation of human life. That is why same-sex marriage cannot be a true marriage.

— John F. Fink

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