intersection

the Church, the State, and me

Lord, thou hast made us for thyself, therefore our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.
- St. Augustine of Hippo
Posts tagged "marriage"

From Catholic Voice NC, Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Raleigh on the North Carolina Marriage Protection amendment:

Also check out the earlier videos from Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte.

Originally published in Touchstone, an essay by Prof. Anthony Esolen opposing same-sex marriage based on secular considerations:

Most people believe that the principal objections, or even the only objections, to the drive to legalize homosexual “marriage” spring from religious faith. But that is simply not true.  Beginning with this post I’ll offer ten objections that have nothing to do with any religion at all, except insofar as the great religions of the world happen to reflect the nature of mankind.  These objections spring from three sourcesThe first is a commonsense observation of man — his needs, his shortcomings, and his aspirations.  The second is a consideration of history: our own recent history, and the history of those who once committed the mistakes we are committing now. The last is logic, that relentlessly honest instrument of thought. The objections are such as should make everyone in our world uncomfortable, both those who call themselves conservative and are busy destroying the heritage of western civilization, and those who call themselves liberal and are busy curtailing and denying every freedom but that of the zipper.

1.  The legalization of homosexual “marriages” would enshrine the sexual revolution in law.

Forty years ago, we were advised by popular singers that we needed to open our hearts to love, meaning a free and easy practice of sexual intercourse, without what were called “hangups”.  Modesty was decried as prudishness, and chastity ridiculed as either impossible or hypocritical.  Experimentation abounded: the so-called “open marriages,” public intercourse, intercourse under the influence of psychedelic drugs.  A few of the experiments fizzled out for a time, though they are now resurging, as witness the sewer of websites devoted to “swingers.” The #### explosion shows no sign of abating, having been given its second life by the internet….

Is there any honest observer of our situation, or any political partisan so intransigent, who dares to argue that the results have not been disastrous?  We were told that the legalization of abortion would lead, paradoxically, to fewer abortions, and fewer instances of child abuse.  Instead it led to far more abortions than even the opponents ever imagined, and it so cheapened infant life that child abuse spiked sharply upward….

We were told that the legalization of contraceptive drugs would lead to fewer unwanted children — certainly to fewer children born out of wedlock.  Anyone with a passing familiarity with the human race should have known otherwise.  Whatever one may believe about contraception, one must admit the historical fact: by reducing the perceived risk of pregnancy almost to zero, contraception removed from the young woman the most powerful natural weapon in her arsenal against male sexual aggression.  She no longer had any pressing reason not to concede to the boyfriend’s wishes….

2.  It would, in particular, enshrine in law the principle that sexual intercourse is a matter of personal fulfillment, with which the society has nothing to do.

It is hard for us to imagine, in a world of mass entertainment and its consequent homogenization of peoples, how central an event the marriage is in every culture.  It marks the most joyful celebration of a people, who see their own renewal in the vows made by the young man and the young woman.  For although marriage focuses upon the couple (and it is interesting to remember that even our word focus is a marriage word, denoting in Latin the hearth), it does so because the couple embody a rejuvenation in which everyone, young and old, male and female, take part….

Of course [marriage] is personal and private: and it is public, and universal, even cosmic.  It bridges two chasms that must be bridged, lest the culture, that is the cultivation of all that a people most dearly cherish, wither away, and the people separate one from another, into a suspicious world of privacy.  One chasm is that which divides the generations.  At the true wedding, the elders know that the future belongs to the couple, who in their love that night, or on a night soon to come, will in turn raise up yet another generation.  Sexual intercourse is, as a brute biological fact, the act by which we renew mankind.  We celebrate the wedding because it betokens our survival, our hope for those to come after us.

But we could not have children without the bridge thrown over the more dangerous divide, that which separates two groups of human beings who seldom understand one another, whose bodies and psyches are so markedly different; who try to love one another, and so often fail, yet who try again for all that.  I mean men and women.  The wedding is a symbol of the union of differences: the generations, certainly, and separate families, but most strikingly, man and woman.  The very word sex derives from Latin sexus, denoting that which separates; it is cognate with a whole host of words for severance, such as (in English) schism, scissors, sect, shed.

What man and woman do in the marriage bed is not “have” sex; the sex, that is the separation, they are provided with already.  What they do is to unite, across the separation.  And unless man and woman unite — and, given their differences, it always amazes me that they can — the culture cannot survive.  The women will split away to protect their persons and their relatively few children; the unattached males will pass the dull hours in destruction.

3. It will drive a deeper wedge between man and woman.

The unhappy parting of man and woman that I have described in argument 2 is already a common feature of our day….

Perhaps the reader will ask what homosexuality has to do with this problem. It is simple: the acceptance of homosexuality is predicated upon the tacit assumption that male and female are not made for one another. It defines male apart from female, female apart from male; or it leaves those terms free-floating, without definition. Young men and young women already are growing up without understanding what they are to be for one another. Again, the results are predictable. Fewer young people marry.  When they do marry, their emphasis on personal fulfillment, rather than on interpersonal and complementary gifts, bodes ill for the survival of the marriage; for a spouse will destroy many a foolish daydream of youth. They will have fewer children. In no western country does the birth rate now assure even a replacement of one generation by the next; in many countries, the birth rate is so low as to constitute a slow and numb despair, a resignation to cultural suicide….

5. It will curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained. This is particularly true of men….

Let me give you an analogy. Our sexual customs constitute a language, one that we must all use, whether we like it or not. If, all at once, clothing becomes optional on a certain beach, then that beach is a nude beach. If you wear your suit to that beach, your action has a meaning it did not have before. At the very least it means that you do not approve of public nudity. It may mean that you are ashamed of your body. It may mean that your religion forbids it. It may mean you are a prude. But it does signify something; and it must. You cannot say, “It means nothing to me,” simply because language is by its nature public and communal.  Suppose the incest taboo were removed. You may say, “I will hug and kiss my niece in any case,” but your actions will now have a significance they did not have before. The shadow of the thought must cross any beholder’s mind; it might cross the niece’s mind. If you were at all considerate of her feelings, you would hesitate before you did it.

The incest taboo is surely not irrational: it allows members of a family the freedom to share each other’s company, in what might otherwise be often embarrassing circumstances, and to touch, in ways that would mean something, were it not a brother or an aunt giving the kiss. On pain of expulsion from the group, that taboo must be upheld, so that the deep feelings and intimacy of a family may develop freely and sanely….

Not so long ago, it was conceivable to suppose that two men might share an apartment merely as close friends; if Oscar and Felix of The Odd Couple did the same thing now, homosexuality would be the first thing to cross your mind, whether you support the homosexual agenda or reject it. One of my students related to me an incident that happened to him in a bar. His closest buddy had been abandoned by his girlfriend, and was weeping freely as the young man cradled his head in his arms. A young lady walked up to them and chirpily asked them if they were gay.

The effect upon boys is devastating; it is hard for women to understand it. Their own friendships come easily, and in general are not based upon shared conquest, physical or intellectual. It is simply an anthropological fact that male friendship is essential for the full development of the boy’s intellect: the history of every society reveals it. But now the boys suffer under a terrible pincers attack. The sexual revolution causes them to rouse themselves to interest, or to pretend to interest, in girls long before they or the girls are emotionally or intellectually ready for it; and now the condonement of homosexuality prevents them from publicly preferring the company of their own sex. This is simply inarguable….

6. It leaves us with no logical grounds for opposing any form of consensual intercourse among adults.

No culture in history has accepted (even celebrated!) homosexual acts between adult men or adult women. (I will deal with the case of Athens in a later post; it is lethal to the homosexual cause.) But plenty of cultures have accepted polygamy, or, more appropriately, polygyny, the marriage of one man to several wives. Certain religions allow it or encourage it: Islam allows a man to have up to four wives, and radical Mormonism is, as I understand it, even more generous….

What grounds could we possibly have to deny people the opportunity to marry more than one person? If we establish as a matter of law that marital relations are free to any two people who consent, why limit the number to two? Polygyny, after all, is much easier to justify than are homosexual relations: it does not violate the biology of the people involved; it brings forth many children; it preserves the ideal of the union of male and female. But what would happen if the door were opened to polygyny? Would we not find ourselves, almost overnight, in a world utterly different from the one into which we were born? Nor would it be enough to say to oneself, “I do not believe in it; I will never marry another.” What about one’s spouse? What about the members the opposite sex whom you may happen to meet? In every culture that allows polygyny, the pressure of the possibility of dalliance and marriage, no matter who you are (for it turns married men instantly into eligible bachelors), compels the severest separation of roles for men and women. Is that what we want?

On what grounds could we deny any combination of people who wish to “marry”?…

Read the whole essay.

From Brendan O’Neill for spiked.com (U.K.), a thought-provoking essay on who is pushing for same-sex marriage:

Nothing in the gay-marriage debate adds up. Nothing. For example, gay-marriage rights are presented as a radical rallying cry on a par with the struggles for women’s suffrage or black civil rights, and yet they’re enthusiastically backed by such superbly un-radical institutions as The Times, Goldman Sachs and David Cameron. Politicians say they must do ‘the right thing’ on gay marriage, just as earlier politicians eventually did the right thing on giving women the vote, neglecting to mention that there has been absolutely no sustained public agitation, no leaping in front of the Queen’s horse, for the right of gays to get hitched. Self-selected gay spokespeople present this effort as the logical conclusion to their 60-odd years of campaigning for equality, overlooking the fact that a great many gay activists once saw marriage and the family as problems, and demanded recognition of their right to live outside of those institutions….

Given its surreality, it is remarkable that so many intelligent people are taking the gay-marriage issue at face value, seriously saying ‘Yes, I fully support the enactment of this long-traduced historic right’. What they should be doing is asking why gay marriage is an issue at all and untangling how it came to be a defining battleground in the modern Culture Wars. Because it strikes me that what is happening here is that, under the cover of ‘expanding equality’, we are really witnessing the instinctive consolidation of a new class, of a new political set, which, lacking the familiar moral signposts of the past, has magicked up a non-issue through which it might define itself and its values.

The reason the gay-marriage issue can feel like it came from nowhere, and is now everywhere, is because it is an entirely top-down, elite-driven thing. The true driving force behind it is not any real or publicly manifested hunger amongst homosexual couples to get wed, far less a broader public appetite for the reform of the institution of marriage; rather it is the need of the political and media class for an issue through which to signify its values and advertise its superiority. Gay marriage is not a real issue – it is a cultural signifier, like wearing a pink ribbon to show you care about breast cancer….

One of the most striking things about gay marriage is the disparity between mass feeling for the issue (which is best described as weak to non-existent) and elite passion for it (which is intense). All sorts of elite institutions, from political parties to massive corporations, are lining up to back the gay-marriage ‘cause’, clearly having sensed that it is the issue through which their kind can now make a display of their sanctity. So not only are old-world, conservative media institutions such as The Times and right-wing parties like the Conservatives declaring their support for gay marriage, so is the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein. He has become a spokesman for one of America’s largest gay-rights group, appearing in its adverts to say ‘I support marriage equality’.

Gay marriage is clearly looked upon as an opportunity to demonstrate ‘true statesmanship’ at a time when other opportunities to do so are few and far between for our aloof rulers.

The transformation of gay marriage into a barometer of moral decency explains why the debate about it is so shot through with censoriousness and condemnation. That is another striking difference between the old genuinely democratic reformers and today’s gay-marriage supporters – where the proper reformers were in favour of openness and debate, the gay-marriage lobby seems far more keen to stifle dissent. As a writer for the Guardian put it, ‘There are some subjects that should be discussed in shades of grey, with acknowledgement of subtleties and cultural differences. Same-sex marriage is not one of those. There is a right answer.’ This is clearly not a political issue as we would once have understood it, where different views clash and compete for support; rather it is more akin to a new religious stricture, where the aim is to distinguish between those who are Good (the elite enthusiasts for gay marriage) and those who Bad (the people who oppose or can’t get excited about it)….

But even in its own terms, gay marriage is a bad idea, for many reasons. Primarily because, while it is presented to us as a wonderfully generous act of cultural elevation (of gay couples), it is more importantly a thoughtless act of cultural devaluation (of traditional marriage). An institution entered into by millions of people for quite specific reasons – often, though not always, for the purpose of procreation – is being casually demoted, with the Lib-Con government even proposing that the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ no longer be used in official documents. The overnight Orwellian airbrushing of two such longstanding titles from public records demonstrates the extent to which the elite is willing to ride roughshod over traditional identities in pursuit of its own new identity as gay-friendly and moral.

Now, perhaps you think the institution of marriage should be devalued, that it is stuffy and conservative and in need of an overhaul. Fine. Then argue for that, openly and honestly. But no one benefits from the charade of gay marriage. The fact is that marriage is not simply about co-habitation or partnership; it is not even simply about having an intense relationship. It has historically been about much more – about creating a unit, with its own rules, that is recognised by the state and society as a distinctive union often entered into for the purpose of raising a new generation. Yes, some couples enter into it for other reasons – for companionship, larks, a party or whatever – but we are not talking about individuals’ motives here; we are talking about the meaning of an institution. Collapsing together every human relationship, so that everything from gay love to a Christian couple who want to have five kids is homogenised under the term ‘marriage’, benefits no one. It doesn’t benefit gay couples, whose ‘marriage’ will have little historic depth or meaning, and it doesn’t benefit currently married couples, some of whom may feel a corrosion of their identity….

Read it all.

From Catholic Voice NC, information on the May 8 vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment:

A bi-partisan majority of the North Carolina Legislature has voted to put the North Carolina Marriage Protection Amendment on the ballot to preserve marriage in our state as the union of one man and one woman. North Carolinians will finally have the opportunity to vote on May 8, 2012, to preserve a traditional definition of marriage, just as 30 other states have already done.

North Carolina Marriage Protection Amendment Language: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

Fact: The State of North Carolina should protect marriage.
Marriage as the union of a man and a woman is uniquely in the common good and serves as the basic building block of civilization and a productive society. Marriage benefits men and women, their children, our economy and the state as a whole. It is not merely a private contract, but a social institution of great public importance.

Fact: Marriage is vulnerable to being redefined by future legislative or judicial decisions.
Judicial decisions in other states have redefined marriage to make it genderless, thus imposing same-sex marriage with no input from the people of those states. This has occurred in Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut and California. All told, same-sex “marriage” is allowed in six states and the District of Columbia. Any homosexual couple “married” in one of those state could move to North Carolina and sue to have their “marriage” recognized by the State of North Carolina.

Fact: The Marriage Protection Amendment ensures that North Carolinians control the definition of marriage in our state.
By putting the traditional definition of marriage in our state constitution, as 30 other states have already done, we will ensure that voters will control the definition of marriage in our state. This will also prevent a homosexual couple from another state suing to force North Carolina to recognize their “marriage” under state law.

Fact: Defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is already the law in North Carolina.
While the current marriage law in North Carolina permits only traditional marriage, it can be changed by a judicial or legislative act. The Marriage Protection Amendment simply puts into our state constitution the traditional definition of marriage, thereby prohibiting judges and legislators from attempting to give other relationships the legal status of marriage. Judges elsewhere have attempted to use the existence of “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships” as a legal means to redefine marriage. The Marriage Protection Amendment provides that those types of relationships will not be considered marriage-like relationships under the law.

Fact: The Marriage Protection Amendment does not take away any rights from same-sex couples.
Marriage has always been defined in North Carolina as the union of one man and one woman. North Carolina law has never allowed civil unions or domestic partnerships as legally binding entities. The Amendment preserves those provisions, but does allow same-sex couples and others to enter into, and enforce, private legal agreements. For instance, a private company could agree to provide health benefits to same-sex couples, and the couple could enforce this agreement in court. Nothing in the Amendment prohibits local governments or the UNC System from offering or continuing to offer benefits to same-sex partners of employees or students if they choose to do so by changing the basis upon which benefits are offered.

Fact: Children do best when raised by their married mother and father.
The overwhelming body of social science evidence shows that children, raised by their married mother and father, experience less poverty, commit far fewer suicides and far fewer crimes and are half as likely to become pregnant out of wedlock. They also develop better academically and socially and are healthier physically and emotionally when they become adults.

Fact: North Carolina is the only southern state that has not defined marriage in its state constitution.
The Marriage Protection Amendment will allow voters in North Carolina to preserve and protect the traditional definition of marriage in our state. Please vote for the amendment on May 8, 2012 so we may join 30 other states in protecting traditional marriage.

In response to President Obama’s public opposition to the North Carolina Marriage Protection Amendment, Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte and Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Raleigh have issued the following letter:

March 21, 2012

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last week, President Barack Obama took the unusual step of commenting on a state ballot initiative. His stated opposition to the referendum on the marriage amendment in North Carolina is a grave disappointment, as it is reported to be the first time that the President has entered into this issue on the state level, further escalating the increasing confusion on the part of some in our society to the very nature of marriage itself.

As Catholics, we are FOR marriage, as we believe it is a vocation in which God calls couples to faithfully and permanently embrace a fruitful union in a mutual self-giving bond of love, according to His purposes.  It is not only the union itself that is essential to these purposes, but also the life to which spouses are called to be open, the gift of children.  Children have the right to the indispensable place of fatherhood and motherhood in their lives as they grow, are loved, nurtured and formed by those whose unique vocation it is to be a father and a mother through the bond of one man and one woman in marriage.  As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI,  has stated, children have the fundamental right to grow up with the understanding of the proper place of sexuality in human relationships.  He recently emphasized that “Children are the greatest treasure and the future of every society: truly caring for them means recognizing our responsibility to teach, defend and live the moral virtues which are the key to human fulfillment.”

In his comments on the upcoming referendum in our State, the President regrettably characterized the marriage amendment as a matter of discrimination.  While we are respectful of the Office of the President, we strongly disagree with this assessment.  As Cardinal Timothy Dolan, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently stated, “The Catholic Church recognizes the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction, and we reject all hatred and unjust treatment against any person.  Our profound regard for marriage, as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people, but reinforces it.  While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides.”

Join us in our support FOR the sacred vocation of marriage and what it means for us and for the future of our great State.  We urge you to visit our Catholic Voice NC website for more information and to vote FOR the referendum on May 8th.

Sincerely in Christ,


The Most Reverend  Michael F. Burbidge
Bishop of Raleigh


The Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis
Bishop of Charlotte

Check it out.

Worth a read. From Mona Charen at National Review Online:

…The collapse of marriage among the lower and lower middle classes is rapidly tapping our national strength. Women from wealthier families get it. They generally wait until they’re married to have babies. They know that two parents create stability, financial security, and the social structure to optimize the chances of rearing happy, healthy, and productive new citizens. The illegitimacy rate among women with college educations, while it has tripled since 1960, is still only about 8 percent. As Kay Hymowitz noted in Marriage and Caste in America,“Virtually all — 92 percent — of children whose families make over $75,000 per year are living with both parents. On the other end of the income scale, the situation is reversed: only about 20 percent of kids in families earning under $15,000 live with both parents.”

The failure to marry on the part of the lower middle and lower classes — not the tax code, or Wall Street, or competition from China, — is what is aggravating inequality in America.

The toll is incalculable. In every way that social science can measure — school performance, drug abuse, unemployment, suicide, poverty, depression, dependence on government handouts, mental illness, violence, and far more — children raised by single parents (especially when their parents never married) are at a severe disadvantage. The failure to form families is devastating our schools, exacerbating inequality, and diminishing happiness on a grand scale….

Read it all.

From Fr. Dwight

I disapprove of homosexuality because I approve of marriage. So instead of blasting homosexuals and homosexuality I wish to defend, support, explain and uphold the truth and beauty of sacramental marriage.

In order to do this, one needs to understand the fully Catholic teaching on marriage. Marriage, for Catholics, is a sacrament. It is a visible means of grace. In other words, through the physical actions and commitment of marriage God’s saving grace is active in our lives

Like all the sacraments, it is, by its very nature, life giving and healing and forgiving. Through the sacraments our broken humanity is ransomed, healed, restored and forgiven. This is especially true of marriage with it’s drama of joys and sorrows spread over a lifetime. It is also especially true of marriage since only through marriage do a man and woman participate with God in the creation of new human souls.

Because marriage is such a beautiful, eternal, precious and fragile sacrament we love and cherish it. We also oppose everything that would break this precious, fragile and life giving sacrament. Divorce breaks marriage. Adultery breaks marriage. Pornography breaks marriage. Co habitation breaks marriage. Promiscuity breaks marriage. Contraception breaks marriage. Abortion breaks marriage. Child abuse breaks marriage. Homosexuality also breaks marriage.

The proponents of homosexuality will argue that it is all about ‘love’. However, their definition of love is “the freedom to have sexual relations with whomever I experience erotic and romantic emotions toward.” They may add to this an idea of “commitment” or even “lifelong commitment” but a moment’s reflection will show that these subjective and sentimental notions of ‘love’ can just as easily be claimed by the adulterer, the child abuser, the co habiter and the divorcee. The adulterer will claim that he did not love his spouse any more and loves his mistress more. The co-habiter will claim to be in love with the person he or she is living with. Indeed, the child abuser will claim to love the child and may even claim to ‘be in a loving relationship’ with the teen they are abusing. The promiscuous man about town may claim to ‘love’ each woman with whom he has a one night stand. The couple who are using artificial contraception will claim that they are doing so because they love one another and ‘can’t afford’ a child. Abortion has even been rationalized through ‘love’ by claiming that the person choosing abortion is doing so ‘because they love the children they already have.’

Therefore, some other criteria for ‘love’ must be established, and a Christian society has recognized that bona fide relationship to be the thing we call marriage. In marriage love is objectified and strengthened and clarified by a life long sacrament…

We do not wish for homosexual people to re-define marriage on their terms, but we also disapprove of the re-definition of marriage that has occurred de facto through contraception, no fault divorce, re-marriage, widespread promiscuity and co habitation.

Our response is to note all of these crimes against marriage objectively and then accept on equal terms all people—no matter what their sinful condition…

We still see each person as a son or daughter of God and we hope to offer to them, as we do to all sinners—the heart of compassion and the chance for redemption, forgiveness, healing, peace and life.

For that is what we wish for ourselves, who are also sinners and in need of the same.

Check it out.