Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Defending Traditional Marriage (part 1)

Defending Traditional Marriage part 1

          I wrote last week in my article How Did We Get Here? that it is important that we give reasoned arguments for our beliefs as Catholics in the public square, especially because of the juvenile discourse that currently reigns.
          The definition of marriage has become one of the most contentious issues of our day.  This would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago, but today nothing inspires more anger and character assassination than defending the traditional view of marriage (despite the fact that over half the country still does).
          As Catholics it is our duty to defend traditional marriage, and we must do it with charity and reasoned arguments.  But how?  How do we explain to a pagan culture that marriage between one man and one woman, for life, is an indispensable piece of the social puzzle?  Simply quoting Scripture or Church teaching will not be enough.  Civil marriage law affects Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and sadly, there are many Catholics who also wouldn’t be swayed.
          I will focus on five specific points in this series, with only the last one relying on religious arguments.  I am far from the most qualified person to give a comprehensive defense of marriage, so please find other sources as well, and continue to learn.
          The first thing we must do is to focus the conversation on marriage, not homosexuality.  Homosexuality is a different topic and it is never appropriate to engage in “gay bashing” or to treat anyone with less than human dignity and inestimable worth.  We are concerned with the definition of marriage.  Certainly gay marriage is the imminent issue, but we would fight with the same intensity against polygamy, incest, or any other new version of “marriage,” and we should have fought as hard against no-fault divorce.
          The first point is that our laws should reflect reality.  Marriage was not given to us by the U.S. government or any other government.  It predates every nation on Earth.  As Catholics we know that God gave marriage as a blessing to our first parents in the Garden of Eden, and that blessing even survived the Fall.  But all honest people must acknowledge that marriage as a human institution has been universal since the beginning of human history. 
          It has existed as the union of a man and woman in all cultures throughout all history.  It was in ancient Rome, Greece, the Americas, Africa, everywhere.  Marriage has always been between a man and a woman.  The state has no right to change the definition of an institution it did not create.  In fact, it has no power to.  Just because the state declares a homosexual union a marriage would not make it so.  The law would be contrary to reality.
          The state can not decide that I am no longer my children’s father.  If it were to declare that the brother of the man who sires a child is now that child’s father, that wouldn’t make it true.  If the state declares my sister to be my mother, or my uncle to be my aunt, or my cousin to be my daughter, it would not become reality.  Those are human relationships that were not defined by the state to begin with, so the state has no power to redefine them.  In such cases, the laws of the state would simply not reflect reality.
          The same is true of the definition of marriage.  Marriage always has been and always will be between a man and a woman.  We have every right to demand that our laws reflect that reality.  If they do not, they become ridiculous.
          Of course, ridiculous laws still have power, which makes it even more urgent that we fight against the redefinition of marriage.  The power wielded by ridiculous declarations of the state is the basis for my next three arguments.

Click here to read the second installment