Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Catholic View of Marriage

I have become rather distressed by some conversations in which I have shared recently, particularly with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ’s own Catholic Church.  Unfortunately, it would seem that many of my Catholic friends have a misplaced sense of justice regarding the recent Supreme Court rulings when it comes to the oxymoronic term “gay marriage”. 

This is not simply my opinion, but rather that of the Catholic Church as taught by the Magisterium for over two millennia of its history that marriage is an institution and indeed one of the seven sacraments that was created by God and is only between a man and a woman.  Support for any other iteration of a union is not a marriage and is contrary to what God and his universal church clearly states. 

God gives us free will, but for one to be fully in communion with the Catholic Church, one must use that INFORMED free will and thus abide by the Church’s dogmatic and doctrinal teachings, even when one finds them to be difficult.  (Indeed, this is especially true when one finds them to be difficult.)

I am further distressed that many folks ascribe such horrible labels of “bigot” and “hateful” at me for following God’s teachings.  I am writing these things not out of hate for our gay brothers and sisters, but rather out of love for God and what he teaches us is right.  I have no malice or hatred towards any of my fellow men and women who have same sex attractions.  I have friends and even family members who are homosexual, and I love them dearly.  My purpose is not to condemn anyone, as that is not my place to do so.  I simply wish to educate my fellow Christians what their church has to say on this issue, so that they cannot claim ignorance going forward, or think that their is no difference in the conjugal love of a gay couple and that of a man and woman joined in a sacramental marriage.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states the following:

2392    “Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being” (FC 11).
2393    By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other. Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.
2394    Christ is the model of chastity. Every baptized person is called to lead a chaste life, each according to his particular state of life.
2395    Chastity means the integration of sexuality within the person. It includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery.
2396    Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.
2397    The covenant which spouses have freely entered into entails faithful love. It imposes on them the obligation to keep their marriage indissoluble.
 
Further, the CCC states:

2357    Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (2333)
2358    The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359    Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (2347)
 
And lastly:

III. The Love of Husband and Wife
2360    Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament. (1601)
2361    “Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death.”143 (1643, 2332, 1611)

Tobias got out of bed and said to Sarah, “Sister, get up, and let us pray and implore our Lord that he grant us mercy and safety.” So she got up, and they began to pray and implore that they might be kept safe. Tobias began by saying, “Blessed are you, O God of our fathers.... You made Adam, and for him you made his wife Eve as a helper and support. From the two of them the race of mankind has sprung. You said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; let us make a helper for him like himself.’ I now am taking this kinswoman of mine, not because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that she and I may find mercy and that we may grow old together.” And they both said, “Amen, Amen.” Then they went to sleep for the night.144

2362    “The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude.”145 Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:  The Creator himself... established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment. They accept what the Creator has intended for them. At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation.146
2363    The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.
 
To have a valid marriage, one must be open to the sacrament and its unitive and procreative aspects of the union between a man and a woman.  Nature, and nature’s God has precluded this sacrament from members of the same sex, as the procreative aspects of the conjugal embrace are not possible in such a union.  The same sex couple acts contrary to nature’s design and God’s purpose of total and potentially life-creating giving of one spouse to another.    

Friends, if you are a Christian, especially a Catholic Christian, I urge you to pray upon this with an open and loving heart.  If you still choose to support gay marriage, just know that you are not in communion with your Church, which Christ himself established.  Yes, we should and absolutely must love and treat with dignity our gay brothers and sisters, just as we should strive to do with all people.  That does not mean we should be tolerant or supportive of actions that God and his church has clearly told us is wrong.  Indeed, as God’s word tells us in Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”  Let’s pray for each other and for God to grant us wisdom, love, mercy, and forgiveness as regards this exceptionally difficult issue.

Christ tells us that the greatest two commandments are to love God and to love our neighbor.  And indeed we must always strive to do so, but are we really loving our neighbor if we support them when they do something that God has said is wrong? 

19 comments:

Jerry Critter said...

"To have a valid marriage, one must be open to the sacrament and its unitive and procreative aspects of the union between a man and a woman."

You left out a very important qualifier, "as per the Catholic Church". However, the Catholic Church sanction of marriage carries no force of law. People married outside the Catholic Church as just as married, legally speaking, as people married inside the Catholic Church and their marriage is just as valid.

T. Paine said...

Jerry everything you said was absolutely true. From a temporal aspect and legally speaking, those are indeed marriages too.

From the original definition of the term and the sacrament, many of them are not though.

Jerry Critter said...

Again, a slight, but important modification,

"From the original [Catholic] definition of the term and the sacrament, many of them are not though.

T. Paine said...

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

Four!

Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.

~ Abraham Lincoln

Jerry Critter said...

It doesn't make it a dog leg.

jim marquis said...

TP, I can respect your struggle with this issue. The change is big and happening much faster than I ever expected.

All I can say is we don't live in a theocracy. And there are just too many rights and benefits denied to gay people who truly love each other but can't be legally married.

I don't think it's fair to call folks like you a bigot or homophobe. We just happen to disagree about whether or not gay marriage is good for our society.

T. Paine said...

Jim, I know you disagree with me on this issue, but I greatly respect you for your thoughtful and civil response, my friend. I have other friends and family members that haven't shown such charity on this issue.

We do think differently on this matter, but that doesn't mean we have to resort to hatefulness. I applaud you as a good example accordingly, Jim!

John Myste said...

Jesus was a brother-loving hippi of sorts. If he lived today, in this culture, everything I know about Him suggests that he would have supported gay marriage.

T. Paine said...

Mr. Myste! I have missed you! And then I read your comment... ;)

I know that your comment was meant simply for effect, because I know that YOU KNOW more about Jesus than to make such a silly comment in all earnestness, my friend!

Norma said...

Your fellow Catholics who don't want to accept the church's teaching may switch to any one of 43,000 Protestant denominations where every day they can look in the mirror and see the Pope.

And no, Jesus would be a supporter of same sex marriage today. He invented marriage, and I'm sure he knew what was coming. He died for those sins too.

Norma said...

Sorry, that would be Jesus would NOT be a supporter. . .

T. Paine said...

Norma, I find myself in complete agreement with you.

I also found that to be remarkably well stated that if a Catholic disagrees with Church teaching, they are free to join another Protestant denomination and become their own pope and thus the arbiter of their own "Christian" dogma and doctrine.

John Myste said...

Thanks, Mr. Paine, but I was serious. Jesus, at least the Version constructed by Paul, often reject His Father's hard line in favor of more liberal social ideas. I suspect this would be more of the same.

I think Jesus was more concerned with equality in effect, than in specifics (Paul's Jesus, anyway).

T. Paine said...

Mr. Myste, what am I to do with you, sir? I guess I must finally sit down and address your preposterous accusation of Marcionism against Christ in the very near future. Let’s put it this way in the meantime: Christ did not come to abolish the law of the Old Testament, but rather to fulfill it. I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt due to numerous supporting Old and New Testament passages that Christ would NOT be in favor of “equality” if by that euphemism you are referring to the oxymoronically named issue of gay marriage.

John Myste said...

I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt due to numerous supporting Old and New Testament passages that Christ would NOT be in favor of “equality” if by that euphemism you are referring to the oxymoronically named issue of gay marriage.

One: I said if "He lived today."

Two: Christ's Law, as presented by the Gospels and by Paul, is not bound by, and does not always match, the Laws of the Old Testament. I would have to find the passages and I don't have time at the moment, but Christ through people of his time who followed the Old Testament to the letter were generally religious hypocrites. He offered alternative ways to live right.

T. Paine said...

John, it would not matter if Christ still walked the earth today or not. (He definitely does live today!) Christ (God) does not change his goodness or his morality based on the times. That is a purely human trait.

Further, Christ rebuked that Pharisees and Scribes because they were hypocritical, as you stated. They were concerned with the letter of the law and thereby often missed the entire points of those laws, the spirit, if you will. Further, upon Christ’s fulfillment of God’s revelation to us, some of the individual laws listed in Deuteronomy etc. fell away and were no longer relevant after Christ had come.

I am certain that something as basic to God’s design and plan for humanity such as the sacrament of marriage would not be one of those laws that fell away. Indeed there are plenty of New Testament passages, including Christ himself in the Gospels that support me on this. Christians that know what God teaches on the matter and then ignore his teaching are committing sin. They have purposefully and intentionally turned away from God.

John Myste said...

Mr. Paine,


John, it would not matter if Christ still walked the earth today or not. (He definitely does live today!) Christ (God) does not change his goodness or his morality based on the times. That is a purely human trait.

Christ was human, voila! If the human Christ could not learn from His mistakes and change His behavior, then that is very bad. And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Jesus had some growing to do.


Further, Christ rebuked that Pharisees and Scribes because they were hypocritical, as you stated. They were concerned with the letter of the law and thereby often missed the entire points of those laws

Jesus rejected some of the old logic in favor of hippie brotherhood. I applaud this. I don’t think Jesus, in today’s times, would have rejected gay marriage, for example. It does not follow His MO.

I am certain that something as basic to God’s design and plan for humanity such as the sacrament of marriage would not be one of those laws that fell away. Indeed there are plenty of New Testament passages

There are lots of Old Testament rules that modern Christians reject.

Christians that know what God teaches on the matter and then ignore his teaching are committing sin. They have purposefully and intentionally turned away from God.

Loving someone, or showing lover for them, is not turning away from Jesus’ teachings. It is, perhaps, turning away from the teachings of the father, but Paul’s Jesus did this outright. The Father was irrational, and Paul’s Jesus well knew this.


T. Paine said...

“Christ was human, voila! If the human Christ could not learn from His mistakes and change His behavior, then that is very bad.”

Yes, Christ was indeed fully human. He was also fully Devine. Therein lies the difference. He was subject to all of the human emotions, frailties, and temptations that all men do, but responded perfectly in obedience to the Father’s will regarding all of them. I am curious what mistakes you think Christ made, by the way? Perhaps from our fallen human perspective, he made mistakes, but in God’s plan everything Christ did was for a specific reason.

“Jesus rejected some of the old logic in favor of hippie brotherhood. I applaud this. I don’t think Jesus, in today’s times, would have rejected gay marriage, for example. It does not follow His MO.”

Wow! You certainly have a modernist and domesticated view of Christ, my friend. He didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Christ is the full revelation of God’s law. In that revelation, some of the old tenets of Mosaic law became superfluous. Circumcision comes immediately to mind. Those things that were part of the old covenant with God were no longer necessary and were thus fulfilled in the new covenant with Christ.

Further, Christ was not some domesticated pacifist. He was and is a counter-cultural radical. He didn’t say to his disciples to follow him because he was a good Rabbi. He told them that he was God and was the Way. In ancient Jewish culture, that was blasphemous and deserving of death, as Christ knew and experienced later on down the line. In allowing his crucifixion, He took what was a symbol of Roman oppression and torture in the cross and turned it into a symbol of faith, resurrection, hope, and life.

He wasn’t for everyone “getting along” regardless of what they were doing in some communal hippie ideology. He preached against those in power such as the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Scribes that were following the letter of the law but ignoring the spirit of it in how they treated others and in how they loved God. It was that condemnation that earned him his death. Even the woman whom the crowd was stoning for her adultery was not simply forgiven. If you will look at this story and other such in scripture, Christ doesn’t simply excuse her past behavior and forgive her. He forgives her and tells her to go and SIN NO MORE. Christ was very clear about the necessity of moral law, especially regarding marriage. Would he forgive someone that had performed homosexual acts or even adulterous heterosexual acts? Sure, if they came to him with a truly contrite heart and did not intend to do so again. That doesn’t mean he condones it. It certainly doesn’t mean he would condone homosexual marriage today simply because that is what the popular culture says is fine. If anything, as I said, Christ was quite counter-cultural.

T. Paine said...

“There are lots of Old Testament rules that modern Christians reject.”

True. And those laws that God still expects us to obey, such as the ten commandments, to love him, and to love one another, we reject at our own peril. Simply because a fallen human society has chosen to reject God’s laws doesn’t mean that they are right. Even every church is made up of sinful fallen humans. The Catholic Church preaches God’s word, but that doesn’t mean that its members don’t fall short of living up to that word. Every church is flawed because it is comprised of mortals. Indeed, if one were to find the perfect church, one should not join it, because it would then cease to be perfect.

“Loving someone, or showing lover for them, is not turning away from Jesus’ teachings.”

I would agree with that, assuming we are talking about an agape love and not an erotic love. The “eros” kind of love is supposed to be that which is meant between a husband and a wife only, as per God’s design.

“It is, perhaps, turning away from the teachings of the father, but Paul’s Jesus did this outright. The Father was irrational, and Paul’s Jesus well knew this.”

That statement is meant to draw a response from me, and indeed it will, but I do not have anywhere near the time to do this repeated claim of yours any justice right now. I am buried at work and home right now. I promise that very soon I will dedicate a long post in rebuttal to your assertion, my friend. By the way, I am glad you are back. I have missed you, buddy! Cheers!