Changing Discipline Changes Doctrine, Again

In a recent piece on the Synod, I argued  that sometimes a change of Church discipline cannot not happen without a change in Church doctrine, and that since Church doctrine about Communion for Catholics who have obtained a civil divorce and remarriage does not change, Catholics should not expect Church discipline to change either. Today I would like to suggest that the same holds true with the Marriage Pledge  proposed by Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz, and hosted by First Things.  It is not possible for Catholics to embrace a pledge whereby clergy refuse to acknowledge civil recognition of marriages performed in churches. Even though the pledge aims to send a clear witness about Christian marriage to society, the practice it proposes entails something contrary to what Catholics believe about the sacrament of holy matrimony, and about the relationship between human law and natural law.

It would be impossible to trace all the lines of argument in the recent explosion of material on this proposal, so I will focus on one small point which gets right to the heart of the matter. Recently, Edward Peters responded  to Matthew Schmitz’s claim  that separating the “simultaneous enactment [of the] civil contract with the sacrament of marriage” would “protect” the Church’s witness to the Christian nature of marriage. In an important but passing point, Peters observed that Catholics could not willingly embrace this because Catholics believe that the first exchange of matrimonial consent (which Schmitz would presumably have done in a Church) creates both the civil contract and the sacrament (Canon 1055.2). But just because Peters references canon law doesn’t mean he’s not talking about doctrine. There’s infallible doctrine lurking under that Canon.

The Catholic understanding of marriage is built on the Catholic understanding of grace. Catholics believe that receiving grace does not destroy your humanity and then remake it; it restores the humanity you already have and makes it better—purified and healed from sin, elevated to friendship with God and enriched with God’s heavenly gifts. Nowhere is this idea more true than in the sacraments. A sacrament is not a magical symbol dropped out of the sky, which changes us into something other than who we are. In each of the seven sacraments, God takes some ordinary human activity (like washing or eating), and perfects it so that he can perfect us through it. That’s part of how God helps us understand the truth of Genesis 1: “God saw all that he had made, and behold it was very good.”

Imagine, for a second, if you tried to separate nature from grace in baptism and the Eucharist. Baptism saves your soul by grace, but it also gets you wet by nature. Perhaps, like me, you don’t like getting wet. Can you get baptized without getting wet? Likewise, the Eucharist unites you with the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. But it also makes you eat and drink. Perhaps, unlike me, you’re on a diet. Can you take the Eucharist without getting food in your mouth?

Obviously you couldn’t. But apart from the silliness of trying to imagine wet-free baptism, what would it say about God’s creation if, per impossibile, you tried? It would say that God’s grace couldn’t reach you, that there was something wrong with your humanity, and that God had to replace your humanity before he could reach you.

Now let’s consider marriage. Catholics believe Jesus when he said that marriage was part of God’s original intention for the human race (Matthew 19:6). So there was marriage for thousands of years before there was ever a sacrament of holy matrimony, just like there was washing before there was baptism, and eating before the Eucharist. What was marriage for all those years? The same as it is today for everyone who has what the Church calls a “natural” marriage: a monogamous and lifelong relationship between a man and a woman, freely entered for the mutual enrichment of the spouses and the having and rearing of children (Canons 1055, 1057). That’s the “natural” reality that the sacrament of holy matrimony perfects.

Besides being the basis for the sacrament of holy matrimony, natural marriage is also the basis for a civil contract. But this civil contract is not like other civil contracts, whose terms are instituted by the State and can be dissolved by the State. Marriage is a reality that is instituted by God and promulgated through the natural law (CCC 1954). Since, moreover, the State has a duty to promote the flourishing of human nature in accord with the natural law, the State has what the Catechism calls a “grave duty” to protect marriage whenever and wherever it occurs (CCC 2210). That’s why the code of canon law talks about the “civil effects” of marriage (Canons 1059, 1672), but never about “civil marriage.” For Catholics, there is no such thing as a purely civil marriage. There is natural marriage, and sacramental matrimony, which is founded upon it. The State is bound to acknowledge when either occurs; and has the competency to pass human laws regulating what happens in connection with their occurrence. It does that by means of attaching a civil contract to the same exchange of consent which creates natural marriage and sacramental matrimony, but that does not make the State the final arbiter of what constitutes that consent.

One of the places where marriages that create civil contracts occur is in Church. But just like bathing and eating happen in Church but are enriched by grace to become baptism and Eucharist, so also marriage between baptized persons happens in Church and is enriched by grace to become the sacrament of holy matrimony, “an efficacious sign … of the covenant between Christ and his Church” (CCC 1617). What happens when two people get married in Church is like what happens when they get washed in Church: at their Baptism they wash and they get grace, because they get grace through washing; likewise at their wedding, they contract marriage and they receive the sacrament of holy matrimony, because they receive the sacrament of Holy Matrimony through contracting marriage. Consequently the “civil contract” of marriage is not separable from the sacrament of holy matrimony in the way in which supporters of the Marriage Pledge propose it to be. It is founded on the same natural institution to which the sacrament of holy matrimony is inseparably wed.

Since the sacrament of holy matrimony is intrinsically tied to the same institution as the civil contract, you can’t separate the civil contract from the sacrament any more than you can separate washing from baptism. Baptism by nature gets us wet; sacramental matrimony by nature gets us married. That’s not to say that an individual civil government couldn’t refuse to recognize what was going on and require couples married in Church to come to the courthouse and renew their matrimonial consent before a Justice of the Peace. Of course they could, and some currently do. But that wouldn’t change the fact that, when the couple went before the Justice of the Peace, they would be renewing a marriage that already existed, and that the State was failing in its grave duty to acknowledge an already existing marriage.

As long as nothing stands in the way of a Christian minister signing the civil marriage registration form in good conscience (and however unpalatable the terms “Spouse A” and “Spouse B” are in lieu of “Husband” and “Wife,” they are not false), then all that remains is for him to proclaim God’s dominion over marriage by nature and by grace—by nature, because the Christian minister attests that natural marriage is prior to the civil contract that regulates its effects; by grace, because the Christian minister attests that the sacrament which he witnessed the couple confer on one another occurred by the elevation of that natural institution.

In spite of R.R. Reno’s most recent protestations  for a Christian minister to abdicate his role in signing civil marriage registrations without being forced to do so can be nothing other than a twofold doctrinal retreat: from the doctrine that the sacrament of holy matrimony is based upon the same natural institution as the civil contract which it enacts; and from the doctrine that it is the duty of all Christians to ensure that civil law reflects, insofar as possible, the natural law. It is therefore not possible for Catholics to embrace this pledge. Moreover, it forces lay Catholics into the awkward position of explaining to society why what they did in Church didn’t count in the courthouse, even though their actions in the Church and the courthouse were supposedly based on the same natural institution. They may as well try to give instructions on how to get baptized without getting wet. It would put Catholics in a similarly impossible situation.

Jacob W. Wood

By

Jacob W. Wood is an Assistant Professor of Theology and a Faculty Associate of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He earned his Master's in theology from St. Andrews University and his Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    In many countries, civil marriage must precede the religious ceremony and it is a crime to conduct a religious wedding for a couple not legally married (e.g Code Pénal 433-21)

    Now, for Catholics, the consent given in the civil ceremony is no marriage, for the Council of Trent provided that “Those who shall attempt to contract marriage otherwise than in the presence of the parish priest, or of some other priest by permission of the said parish priest, or of the Ordinary, and in the presence of two or three witnesses; the holy Synod renders such wholly incapable of thus contracting and declares such contracts invalid and null.” This is now contained in Canon 1108.

    Of course, this is a matter of Church law, not doctrine, as Trent made clear: “Although it is not to be doubted, that clandestine marriages, made with the free consent of the contracting parties, are valid and true marriages, so long as the Church has not rendered them invalid; and consequently, that those persons are justly to be condemned, as the holy Synod doth condemn them with anathema, who deny that such marriages are true and valid…” It would be possible to return to the pre-1563 position, where any mutual manifestation of consent was sufficient for a valid marriage.

    • ColdStanding

      The difficulty is that these marriages are only natural marriages, which means the union of fallen natures, which means the union of wounded souls. The Church teaches that extra graces are given to those, that is to say those souls in a state of grace, that enter into the married state under the sacrament of matrimony. These graces are very necessary for the life long union of the couple by which they become one flesh. Jesus Christ never makes a command without supplying the graces by which to fulfill the command. He also never makes plans to supply the grace without having His creatures participate in the delivery of that grace, which is why holy matrimony is as sacrament of the Church.

      This is the ground which we need to reclaim. That the current point of engagement in this conflict with demonic thrones and powers, is over whether or not fallen nature marriages, those enacted without the aid of God’s sanctifying grace, are valid just shows what a failure constant retreat has been as a strategy. The natural minded, I mean to say, the material minded man with this protecting entourage of “rights” is neither natural nor material but robbed of the spiritual. He is a product. He is not the result of evolution but breeding. He is not man in a natural state, for there is no such thing. He is an imagination of the darkened, faithless, “enlightenment” school.

      Therefore, I take umbrage with your distinction between law and doctrine. You seek to separate law from its spiritual communion with teaching/doctrine. God has put those two things together. They should not be separated. It is unwholesome to foster the idea that the only necessary thing is doctrine and that law, being somehow lesser, can be dispensed with. The change in the law of the Church you site comes from this teaching. It is an increase in discipline that has the purpose of fostering teaching.

      You should tread more carefully.

      What many civil jurisdictions do is as a reaction to the God-given authority of the Church. We are reaping the bitter harvest of these masonic inspired laws.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        But no one disputes that the Holy Father could revoke Canon 1108 with a stroke of his pen and not a few Canon Lawyers favour it. After all, the marriages of baptised non-Catholics are sacramental and require no formalities at all. The Tridentine legislation and Canon 1108 does not apply to them.

        Now, I happen to think those who propose the abolition of canonical form are ill-advised, but that is by the by. There is no doctrine of the Church that they dispute.

        • ColdStanding

          This over-emphasis of the power of the Pope has got to stop. The Pope has no moral authority, and his authority is all moral, whatsoever to teach the faith in a way that obscures the highest good to which a given doctrine is pronounced or a moral law promulgated.

          That there are those outside of the Church to which Canon law does not apply does not mean that the law which they are under can, in any way, be considered as superior to or a viable contender to the sacred Canon laws of Holy Mother Church. A people that would choose the lesser over the greater are not to be trusted in their judgement. On the contrary, every morally lawful means must be applied to win their ascension to the loving rule of God’s mercy and justice.

  • publiusnj

    This supports the position I am taking in a multiplicity of comments on the First Things Board, but from a far more intellectual approach, so hooray!

    From a practical viewpoint, the only reason for giving up the authority to bind a couple under civil as well as Church law is to protest the efforts of the secularists to clear the public square (i.e., the institution of marriage regulated by civil marriage laws) of the last residue of Christian Morality. Yet that gives the secularists exactly what they are hoping for: Christianity in retreat from this most important question. Sure, we would be pronouncing sophisticated distinctions between mere civil marriage and the grand conception of Christian Marriage, but we would still be ceding the field to the secularists. And the truth is that the secularists probably wouldn’t otherwise try to force the Church to do gay marriages.

    In all events, even if the secularists someday do muster up that chutzpah, there will be plenty of time to cry out religious persecution then. Even then the better course would be to fight in courts, not to say: “well we’ll just pick up our bats and balls and retreat into our religious ghetto.”

    To give up the authority before the State makes such a persecutive effort is what people call: “hoisting ourselves on our own petards.”

    • I no longer have any hope of saving the State. It’s going to fall, no matter what we do. Saving Christianity is more important than saving a corrupt state that no longer recognizes right and wrong.

  • JP

    The author is correct up to a point. During the period of the Early Church, many pagans who converted had concubines. They were not free to convert and to enjoy all of their many spouses. They not only had to chose one wife; but according to Church law they had to continue to care for their other, former spouses and children. That is, these pagans, despite their position within society (in many cases they were rulers) had to conform to Church Law concerning marriage.

    The problem arises when what the Church teaches and the civic culture at large believe diverge. Which is what is occurring now. And when a critical point is reached where the Church must chose between the culture or its own internal teachings, a decision must be made. The Church no longer can conform society to its own internal teachings. It hasn’t had that kind of influence in decades – or more accurately in centuries. Eventually, the culture will force itself upon the Church. When that happens all of those happy-go-lucky Christians will finally realize what is at stake. It is best for the Church to get out of the civil marriage business now, while it still has the chance. People will be able to see two different moral visions all the more clearly.

  • Daniel P

    Dr. Wood, you seem to assume that the thing American courts call “marriage” currently refers to the same thing as natural marriage — at least in certain cases. (Otherwise there’s no reason to say that seculars and Catholics are talking about the same thing “marriage”). Do you have any argument for that view?

    • Jim Russell

      The point here is much simpler–it really doesn’t matter at *all* what the state’s view of “marriage” really is, in terms of the particular *reality* that is happening when a man and woman freely consent to marriage before a state witness.

      Compare this to the fact that even an *atheist* can actually be the very *minister* of the Sacrament of Baptism, provided he/she intends to do what the *Church* means by Baptism.

      And in the case of marriage, the witness to the marriage–whether a civil or ecclesiastical witness–isn’t even the *minister* of what occurs, but is merely a witness of the reality brought into being by the couple’s exchange of consent….

      • Daniel P

        I agree that real marriages can take place before a state witness (or a justice of the peace, etc.). Real marriages can take place with a palm tree as the only third-party witness. What I question is whether the word “marriage” as applied by the US government has any ontological/referential connection to genuine marriage. If not, then I’m not sure how Dr. Wood’s argument goes through.

        • Jim Russell

          As long as the word “marriage” does not *exclude* genuine marriage as applied by the US government, then I would say that it clearly does have an ontological/referential connection to it.

          • Daniel P

            Why? Because it used to be nearly synonymous? Even though usage has changed to such an extreme?

            When the US does not define marriage as male/female, and does not define marriage as ordered to childbirth, and does not even define marriage as related to the love of spouses, I’m puzzled as to what possible connection it could have to natural marriage, which necessarily includes all three characteristics I’ve mentioned.

            • Jim Russell

              Here’s why: the state definition of “marriage” has not been *synonymous* with the Church’s definition for a verrrrry long time. The state has been “marrying” people invalidly for how long?

              Even so, the state has continued to recognize presumably valid marriages alongside their recognition of invalid marriages. This is not new.

              Imagine a baker who sells bread in his shop. He sells his own but also sells another baker’s bread, supplied daily by that baker. One day the baker who owns the shop starts putting both real bread *and* stones out, trying to sell them as bread. Some stones actually sell as bread, amazingly, on a daily basis. But the *other* baker’s real bread also sells daily.

              Does the other baker do wrong by selling bread alongside both the shop owner’s own baked bread *and* the stones? He has an important interest in maintaining the connection to the shop, no? It’s crazy that the shop owner is getting away with selling rocks, but he’s got no direct control over that. But by cooperating with the shop, the baker that makes only real bread is at least serving his customers…

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              Like most countries, it does not have any formal definition of marriage at all.

              The law provides a functional definition of marriage in the rule that “the child conceived or born in marriage has the husband for father.”

              As the French Senate rather elegantly put it in 2005, “The presumption of paternity of the husband rests on the obligation of fidelity between spouses and reflects the commitment made by the husband during the celebration of marriage, to raise the couple’s children. The report presenting the order to the President of the Republic rightly points out that ” it is, in the words of Dean Carbonnier, the ‘heart of marriage,’ and cannot be questioned without losing for this institution its meaning and value.”

              • slainte

                But whose ox is gored if a couple enters into Holy Matrimony in a religious ceremony conducted by a priest, who is not acting as an agent of the state, and who thereafter delivers to the couple evidence of their publicly professed consent in the form of a certificate of Holy Matrimony?

                The state can require the couple to register that certificate in a designated location thus meeting the legitimate interest of the state to maintain public records and causing actual notice to the world of the couple’s marital status.

                Doesn’t Holy Matrimony, without intervention by the state, yield the same effect as civil marriage which you state the the French Senate describes as:

                “….The presumption of paternity of the husband rests on the obligation of fidelity between spouses and reflects the commitment made by the husband during the celebration of marriage, to raise the couple’s children…”?

                • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                  Slainté

                  There are several possible models.

                  In England, one can marry in the parish church (Church of England) where one of the parties resides, without any state licence at all. All that is required is due publication of banns or the bishop’s licence dispensing with them. Indeed, one can marry anywhere with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s licence, issued by the Master of the Faculties. The incumbent is required to make a quarterly return to the Registrar General, but that is a purely administrative requirement and the marriage is perfectly valid without it.

                  Otherwise, notice must be given to the District Registrar and the ceremony must be performed by an “authorised person” in a registered building.

                  In Scotland, each of the parties has to give 15 day’s notice to the District Registrar, who publishes it and issues a certificate that no objection has been received. The marriage schedule is signed and returned to the Registrar by an authorised celebrant. The ceremony can take place anywhere. Until recorded in the Register, “the same to make no faith in Judgement by way of action or exception in prejudice of a third party,” but the marriage is otherwise valid

                  In France, notice has to be given at the Mairie (which is published and notified to the Parquet) and clear searches obtained from the Civil Register. The wedding must take place in the Mairie, with open doors, the marriage contract, stating the property régime, must be registered by the mayor or his adjunct and Articles 213-215 and 371-1 of the Code Civil must be read to the couple before they exchange consent.

  • Dan

    The problem is that by separating “civil” and “religious” marriage we have accepted the civil redefinition of marriage. “Religious” marriage would be confined to the walls of the Church, similar to how the HHS mandate sought to reduce “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship”. Christians, do whatever you like inside your Churches, but don’t influence society with your beliefs.
    We must remember that a valid marriage between two baptized Christians is always and in every case a Sacrament. A Justice of the Peace can conduct any number of “pseudo-marriages” between a man and another man, a woman and a dolphin, a man and four women, a mother and her son. But, when Joe and Sally, both baptized non-Catholic Christians, approach this same Justice of the Peace to exchange their vows, they receive not only the civil recognition of marriage, but also a Sacrament.

  • What the state recognizes in my state no longer even rises to the dignity of natural marriage. By dictate of a judge, we no longer recognize natural marriage in Oregon. We have replaced covenant for life with recognition of adult friendship, to be abandoned at a whim and not even necessarily between a man and a woman or even just two people.

    • LWC

      Are two people of the same-sex incapable of a loving fidelity? (independent of ‘doctrine’)

      • St JD George

        Does it matter? Are three people, are four, a man and his dog, a person to themselves (yes, someone has tried that), a man with a machine, a robot? Confused people are clamoring at the door for all those expressions of free will and degeneracy. God created man and woman to form a union in marriage and procreation for those who are able, what is so complicated to understand about his purpose of creation?

        • What is complicated is that LWC seems to have forgotten that the Knights of Columbus added the words “one nation UNDER God” to the pledge of allegiance, and therefore prefers the freedom of secularism and sin to the freedom of right behavior under Christ.

        • LWC

          That wasn’t the question.

          I’m afraid false dichotomy won’t release you from this construct.

          • St JD George

            Tell me then what was the question so I may come to understand what you are trying to express.

            • Phil Steinacker

              He can’t.

      • If they pretend to have sex, then they have broken loving fidelity. Non-procreative sex is incompatible with loving fidelity.

        If, however, they stay celibate, and honor one another’s personal dignity, then yes, they are capable of fraternal fidelity. Ideally they would encourage one another in that commitment to celibacy, or alternatively, use their intimate knowledge of each other to help each other find heterosexual mates.

        • LWC

          This is indeed progress.

          What then to do with heterosexual marriages incapable of reproduction?

          • Stop blocking the reproduction intentionally, and alternatively, work to remove chemical contraceptives from the general environment (many couples today are infertile not through any disease in their own body, but because society generally pollutes water supplies with contraceptives, causing problems for far more than just human beings, but also fish, frogs, and turtles).

            It is the contraceptive mentality, as GK Chesterton put it, that is at the center of eugenics.

            • St JD George

              You are correct, but still as LWC points out still not all unions are blessed with ability to procreate through no fault of their own. That does not make their marriage any less valid or sacramental in the eyes of God. I know of some people and have read many stories of deep depression arising from that scenario. Some do find their problems answered through modern medicine, others chose to adopt, and others not, and they are all in blessed marriages. I know you aren’t advocating contrarily, I’m mostly just responding to LWC’s question.

              • I cannot entirely consider such marriages to be equally blessed. Those of us in such marriages, myself included (16 years of trying has produced an only child with disabilities) certainly look upon more fertile marriages with some envy.

                Psalm 127 still applies, no matter how much we try to deny it.

                • St JD George

                  I understand that it is often hard to fully personalize different experiences than our own, though I know people with circumstances quite similar to you and your wife’s. After great longing I know some become bitter or have resentment. It’s a little different I know, but as I’ve shared before .. I insisted that we only have 2 when we were having children and long before Christ was in my life, but now he is and we’ve made friends with large Catholic families I have regrets for arguing with my wife over not having more. I say that in half seriousness because we had 2 difficult children to raise and my wife reminds me that maybe God blesses us with what he knows we are able to handle. I like to think that’s the case.

                • slainte

                  Theodore writes, “…Those of us in such marriages….certainly look upon more fertile marriages with some envy…”

                  I suspect Theodore, from having read many of your prior comments, that you look upon more fertile marriages with charitable admiration, not envy.

                  Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

                  • St JD George

                    I suspect so as well.

                  • Charitable admiration is just the public face of it. There’s always a certain amount of envy- especially when your only child wants a sibling so much that he goes up to say hello to babies in restaurants….

                    • slainte

                      Theodore, my mom used to tell me about couples who were experiencing difficulties getting pregnant or maintaining pregnancies… who would then adopt because both husband and wife had given up hope of having their own biological children.

                      Sure enough, as soon as the couple adopted a beautiful orphaned child in need of wonderful parents…within the span of just a few months…that couple would find that God had graced them with a biological child.

                      Sometimes Theodore, it is God’s plan that a kind and loving couple should provide a home to an orphan before that couple receives additional blessings. You and your wife may be among those whom God seeks to bless with abundance.

                      If you have not already done so, please consider the possibility of adopting an orphan child. As you do unto the least among us (the orphans)..so you do unto Him.

                      Pax tecum on this day of thanksgiving.

                    • We are considering adopting; in the mean time, we’ve opened our home (and turned my wife’s career into a home business) to child care for parents, often in poverty, who have no choice but to have both parents work. In fact, in about 15 minutes, we welcome into our home a little two year old boy whose parents are both in retail and must work today for Black Friday.

              • Richardson McPhillips

                Marriage between a man and woman is by nature designed to produce children, over the course of a lifetime, even if in practice in some cases something goes wrong. A sexual relationship between two people of the same sex can never by its nature produce a child, no matter how loving or committed those two might be.

                • St JD George

                  Amen

          • GG

            They have nothing in common with homosexual pairings.

            • LWC

              Indeed it does in context of the preceding premise.

              • GG

                No. You may as well compare a tree to a married couple and draw conclusions. It is absurdity.

        • LWC

          Politics aside, and beyond all this, Theodoor, I sincerely wish you and your family a Happy a Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas, Brother Knight.

          • Hope to, I’ve got a lot of work to do this year! Between my own families’ celebrations, the fact that I can’t take any time off from work, and Archbishop Sample suddenly redirecting the center project of Knights in Oregon to _Building the Domestic Church_, plus my duties on the Pastoral Council, I have a lot on my plate this holiday season.

            Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you too.

            • LWC

              Indeed you are a busy and devoted family man! Merry Christmas!

              –and also a great sparring partner 🙂
              (It’s never personal; only the joy of dialogue and debate)

              • Hopefully, concentrating my spiritual life on building my own domestic church, will lessen the despair I feel over the domestic churches of others.

      • ColdStanding

        There is no such condition of being independent of doctrine. There is only one doctrine, that is the great gift given to fallen man from the lips of Jesus Christ, preserved and propagated by His Holy Church. All other attempts at teaching are grievously defective and need to be set aside.

        To be, as you say, “independent”, is to be reverting to the nothingness from which you where called forth, which is to be depriving yourself of the good for which you were created. That good being God.

        Nor can one protest that you do not believe, for this too bespeaks of one’s state namely that you are attempting to act authoritatively without any connection with authority. There is only one authority, that is He in to Whose hands has been place all authority, Jesus Christ.

        Either you serve Him or you serve His enemy.

        If you contradict by your speech and advocacy, or, worse yet, your actions, the teaching of Holy Mother Church, who is the duly authorized public authority entrusted with promulgation of the moral and spiritual law, then you are His enemy. Given that He holds your eternal fate in the balance, I suggest that this is an unwise stance to adopt.

        • LWC

          Felicitous greetings and effusive salutations!

          I’ll set aside your empty (and condescending) pretense for now.

          The Church is truly free to define and proclaim her doctrine. That said, the Church may no more impose its doctrine upon the People than any other church may its.

          • ColdStanding

            There are many usurpers and brigands that arrogate to themselves the honor of claiming to be a church, but there is only one Church, the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. Their mock pronouncements only add to the already intolerable burden they struggle under.

            The teachings of Holy Mother Church are not wrongly thought of as condescending, for God, seeing the pitiable state of His robbed, beaten and fallen creation, set aside His eternal glory to assume the headship the Human race, an act of supreme condescension. So, yes, condescending. However, not in the pejorative sense which you employ it.

            Parenthetically, it is upon this issue, the incarnation of God as man, that the spiritual histories say 1/3 of the angels fell.

            I can not fathom what sound reason you’d have for condemning my post as “empty pretense”. It is God, exercising His rights and authority over His creation through His chosen means, His spotless Bride, Holy Mother Church, that places His loving imposition upon the “People” (why capitalize people?). You, in a disordered exercise of the will, refusing to admit His suzerainty does not change the fact that Jesus Christ is the King of Kings.

            • LWC

              A most prodigious and eloquent reply notwithstanding the most onerous of circumstances; no less within an inescapable vacuum of ignorance and insipid intellect we must endure ad infinitum. How extraordinarily tiresome it must be to endure such ennui within an abyss of asininity and fatuity of rhetorical construct.

              That aside, I’m keen as to your impression of our Jewish and Muslim brothers.

              And no matter your self-righteous sanctimony, this remains the United States of America wherein the establishment of religion is clearly proscribed.

              It is precisely that proscription that ensures religious liberty in perpetuity.

              The United States is a nation of laws; not religion.

              Cum laetitia votis!

              • ColdStanding

                The subject requires a specific style. I employ it. Deal with it.

                The mosaic covenant (testament) has been replace with a new and better testament, praise be to God. This is the New Testament. Those that claim rights to live under the Mosaic laws are mistaken and are obliged to repent and hear the Word of God so as to translate themselves to rule under the New Testament.

                The mohammadans are heretics and are to be treated as such until they, I pray God it be soon, repent.

                It does not get better for you in making recourse to the unlawful declaration of separation of Church and state. The United States of America owes its existence to an act of rebellion against a lawful authority. A rebellion that is itself the offspring of rebellion notwithstanding. Usurpation is usurpation.

                As all authority comes from God and the founding fathers, in rebelling against a lawful authority, rebelled (better said, they furthered their rebellion) against God. That God employed the founding fathers as an instrument to punish the interests of the English sovereigns for various extremely obvious reasons does not mitigate the gravity of the crime the founding fathers committed. Only George Washington can have any hope of forgiveness as he made a deathbed conversion to the Church Jesus Christ founded. The fate of the rest of the masonic rabble is in the hands of merciful God, the results of said judgement will only be known at the Trumpet Blast that ends time.

                Be warned: hiding your rebellion under the cloak of even worse rebels does not do your case any favors. Renounce your errors, repent, and make amends to God before your season of grace comes to an end.

                • LWC

                  Well then, I’d suggest packing up your family and belongings and heading to Vatican City.

                  • ColdStanding

                    An ill-advised and desperation inspired suggestion.

                    God’s goodness is lavished upon the good and the evil. This is God’s mercy. This is God’s season of grace. That the evil unlawfully avail themselves of God’s goodness without thanks, worse, with a slap to His face, bespeaks of God’s greatness and their meanness.

                    I am where I am to expiate the terrible punishment due to my sins, for I have sinned and am justly due punishment, by giving witness to His infinite mercy. His mercy is available to you, too, if you’d but ask Him for it and pledge by your actions a willingness to live as His Beloved Son has told you to live.

                    Besides, it is not this country that we are to immigrate to. This earth is exile. Heaven is our home. I pray God You welcome me home, and LWC while you are at it, please.

                    • LWC

                      And while I truly appreciate your supplication, I am no less dependent upon God’s grace and mercy. That said, I render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

                      We are a nation of laws, not religion.

                      Of what profit is virtue if it is a matter of public policy?

                    • Major914

                      “Of what profit is virtue if it is a matter of public policy?”

                      Your question is the wrong question altogether.

                      Of what profit is civic government (in which as a democracy we are all morally implicated) if restraining vice according to natural law is not its explicit and actual aim?

                    • LWC

                      Wrong question?

                      Absurd.

                      Surely you understand the ‘profit’ of what you suggest is not too unlike that found in Tehran, or for that matter, the Tangi Valley.

                      Theocracy is forever doomed and self-consuming.

                    • Major914

                      Natural law is not theocracy; are you pretending not to understand that, or are you just absurd?

                    • LWC

                      The US Constitution is not a document of Natural Law.

                    • Major914

                      The American founding documents, including the Constitution are indeed based on the natural law…

                      http://www.nccs.net/natural-law-the-ultimate-source-of-constitutional-law.php

                    • LWC

                      I did not say it did not contribute. Permit me to rephrase, the US Constitution is a not a document solely of Natural Law.

                    • Major914

                      What other utterly trivial truths are you the font of today?

                    • LWC

                      You need only ask.

                    • burnman

                      Well, it actually is a document written under the assumption of Natural Law.

                    • asmondius

                      The same can be said of homosexuality.

                    • ColdStanding

                      What Caesar has, God gave him. It is all God’s.

                    • LWC

                      Tell that to Planned Parenthood.

                    • ColdStanding

                      They will know all too well soon enough.

                    • asmondius

                      Well then, in my state same sex unions are illegal.

                      Say hello to Caesar for me.

                    • LWC

                      Not for long, Precious.

                    • asmondius

                      But….we are a ‘nation of laws’, eh?

                    • LWC

                      Going the same way as Jim Crow and slavery.

                      The US Constitution prevails. Eh?

                    • asmondius

                      Then we are not a simply a ‘nation of laws’, as you claim.

                    • LWC

                      Surely you’re familiar with Article Six . Eh?

                    • asmondius

                      I am now familiar with the fact that you are just another rainbow warrior working off scripted talking points, thus you can never answer a direct statement but merely offer up another flimsy motto.

                    • LWC

                      Precious, I write my own material.

                      I’ve yet to ignore a single ‘direct statement’ of yours.

                      And certainly you know blog etiquette discourages repeating previous statements. Besides it’s only common sense to have read previous posts before challenging anyone’s comment.

                      Your pursuit of wit is adorable.

                      Eh?

                    • asmondius

                      Thanks Gollum.

                    • LWC

                      You got it. Anytime.

                    • LWC

                      And since I only offer ‘flimsy’ mottos, surely even you could easily neutralize them.

                    • asmondius

                      Homosexuality is not a race. Neither marriage or sodomy are mentioned anywhere in the Constitution.

                    • LWC

                      Homosexuality is an immutable trait, no less than the color of eyes, hair, or height.

                      Religious liberty, due process, and equal protection are indeed within the US Constitution.

                    • asmondius

                      It’s not a ‘trait’ at all – the old ‘homosexual gene’ myth died quite some time back. No law can protect you from reality.

                    • LWC

                      Mm, wrong on that account too.

                      A quick Google on Xq28 should quickly disabuse you of that notion.

                      And indeed SCOTUS will soon make it unambiguously clear that discrimination against orientation is no less onerous (and illegal) than is discrimination against color, creed, or national origin.

                    • asmondius

                      SCOTUS can’t transmute biological reality, so spare us.

                    • LWC

                      And that’s not too far afield from arguments against miscegenation.

                    • asmondius

                      Homosexuality is not a gender or a sex.

                    • LWC

                      It’s an immutable trait.

                      This Sarah Palin I’m debating?

                    • asmondius

                      All humans are mortal, an immutable trait. Yet there is no evidence that there is a ‘death gene’. There is also no specific scientific evidence that homosexuality is immutable. But don’t you worry, once the true genesis of homosexuality is discovered, we will find a cure.

                    • LWC

                      Wrong there too. Indeed genetic markers can predict the likelihood of apotosis (cell death).

                      And believe me, Science (and industry) will cure gray hair before they’ll cure homosexuality.

                      But I get your point, none the less.

                    • asmondius

                      ‘Likelihood’ is not predestination.

                    • LWC

                      Well, share that enthusiasm with your lady friends who carry the BRCA gene.

                    • asmondius

                      You can’t make a rule from an exception.

                    • LWC

                      Precious, BRCA and many other markers are not exceptions.

                    • asmondius

                      Of course they are.

                    • LWC

                      That depends upon a statistical threshold of ‘exception.’

                    • asmondius

                      translation = you punted

                    • LWC

                      Not a’tall. Though indeed I know less about football than I do quantum physics.

                      Where am I wrong?

                    • LWC

                      Suggested reading: the United States Constitution; Amendment 14, Section 1.

                      It’s less than 100 words, each less than four syllables.

                    • asmondius

                      Homosexuality is not a gender or a sex.

                    • LWC

                      Well then, appears your argument is good to go and ready for SCOTUS.

                      Good luck with that.

                    • asmondius

                      SCOTUS nor you can change an ontological truth.

                    • LWC

                      Not exactly the function of SCOTUS.

                    • asmondius

                      Then don’t expect them to make homosexuality any more than a deviation exhibited by sexual practice.

                    • LWC

                      Wouldn’t exactly bank on that.

                      Just sayin’

                    • LWC

                      It is indeed an ontological truth.

                    • asmondius

                      Yes – homosexuality is a deviance.

                    • LWC

                      No less than blond hair is a deviance from black.

                    • asmondius

                      Hair color, or even lack of hair, is not a deviation – it is a simple variance. It does not affect the norm of human behavior.

                    • LWC

                      And the difference is….?

                    • Paul

                      … which is still a lot more than your IQ.

                    • LWC

                      Yes indeed–by light years!

                    • Paul

                      Nonsense ! Please explain why numerous case studies of identical twins (i.e. identical DNA) where one turns out gay while the other remains straight ?

                    • LWC

                      Precious, indeed current research studied these exact populations.

                      “Genome-wide scan demonstrates significant linkage for male sexual orientation” A. R. Sanders. Psychological Medicine. Cambridge University Press 2014.

                      Give that a quick read and get back to me.

                    • LWC

                      Then again, neither are assault rifles, FISA, or iPhone privacy (among a few others).

                    • asmondius

                      Exactly.

                    • LWC

                      Well then, certainly your armoire must be well-stocked in breeches, banyans, and cravats.

                    • asmondius

                      Thus to say that moral imperatives are meaningless because ‘we are a nation of laws’ is false.

                    • LWC

                      Not true. Many laws protect many things that ‘violate’ ‘moral imperatives.’

                    • asmondius

                      Such as the legalization of slavery, prostitution……..

                    • LWC

                      Well go ahead and get your own Bunny Ranch and plantation up and running.

                      It’s never too late with adult entertainment, though I suspect you’ve already missed the cotton planting window.

                      Yow-s’um.

                    • asmondius

                      I accept your surrender and parole you.

                    • LWC

                      With deepest gratitude, my dear Parole Officer. Though in full disclosure, I am a repeat-offender.

                • eddie too

                  there is no moral obligation to submit to an immoral government.

                  • ColdStanding

                    A little fuller comment would be appreciated. You leave too many premises undefined and, thus, open to misinterpretation. I think I get you, but if you’d be so kind…

                • Nicholas Reed

                  There’s nothing stylish about being haughty and pretentious. Deal with it.

                  • ColdStanding

                    Death, judgment , heaven and hell are real. You’d best deal with these truths rather than waste your self in fretting over finding instances of writing styles that the literati deem unstylish.

                    There is nothing stylish about burning in hell for all eternity.

              • GG

                Laws devoid of moral truth are unjust. You want tyranny.

                • LWC

                  Laws consumed with ‘moral truth’ are no less unjust and no less tyrannical.

                  • GG

                    You are a nihilist then?

                    • LWC

                      No indeed.

                    • GG

                      Then a relativist.

                    • LWC

                      Not entirely.

                    • ColdStanding

                      Coquettishist.

                    • LWC

                      Just caught that. Very clever…and funny! 🙂

              • eddie too

                the laws of the usa prohibit the passage of federal laws regarding “an establishment of religion” not “the establishment of religion”.
                it may be a subtle distinction, but i am pretty sure that the founders of the usa recognized that “religion” had already been established in north America long before their conventions. even before the Europeans arrived in America, the natives practiced religion. the founders were finite and fallible men but they were not so foolish as to put in the constitution a clause that made no sense. religion existed and they knew it was not going to go out of existence so that the government might re-establish religion. give them some credit.

                • LWC

                  Indeed I believe your correction made my case that more compelling.

                  From the definite article to an indefinite article.

                  Thank you.

                • LWC

                  And indeed I give our Founders credit.

                  My greatest frustration is that such minds exist only once in a millennium.

              • asmondius

                Adolescents armed with a Thesaurus are always so droll.

                • LWC

                  Someone clearly missed their dose of Satire Awareness Deficiency Syndrome (SADS) serum.

                  • asmondius

                    Don’t pay any attention to that person behind the ‘satire’ curtain.

          • GG

            Is saying 2+2=4 imposing doctrine?

            • LWC

              No indeed. Anthropology and genetics is no less doctrine in matters of truth.

              • GG

                And the truth is same sex persons can never be married. That is not a “doctrine” that is self evident truth.

          • eddie too

            what do you mean by “the People” (do you mean devout and faithful Roman Catholics or all of God’s human creatures or the inhabitants of the usa or what)? also, what do you mean by impose (through the use of force or something else like excommunication or what, i hope you see my confusion as to how you define your use of this word)?

            • LWC

              Simple. The People as specified in the US Constitution.

              vis-à-vis: imposition of religious beliefs upon the People.

          • linred

            Thank you for saying this. ColdStanding needed it!!! The church is harmed by such bombast!!!

            • LWC

              You got it! (though I may disagree with you everywhere else) 😉

          • asmondius

            Just as you may not claim to speak for ‘Da People’ any more than any other person.

          • Phil Steinacker

            The Church most assuredly CAN impose Her dogma and doctrine on the world, and the world may – through free will – refuse to obey. This dance ha ensued for centuries, and the consequences will eventually be paid in full.

        • linred

          You sound most arrogant and self righteous; work on this. Your attitude neither gives glory to God, nor would it attract others to the faith.

          • ColdStanding

            Is not the ground prepared and the seed planted in spring?
            Does not the wheat grow with the rains and warmth of the summer sun?
            In the fall are not the golden stalks the signal to take up the sickle?
            When the wheat is on the threshing floor, what is next other than the winnowing?

            Read the signs of the times, friend. Know the season. When a steady wind leaves you cold standing, you know winter is not far off.

            Through life’s long day and death’s dark night, let gentle Jesus be your light.

          • Phil Steinacker

            You demonstrate how to eviscerate another by lecturing him while not saying anything. I didn’t know that could be done so well.

      • GG

        Huh? You mean like siblings? Yes. If you mean like husband and wife, then no.

        • LWC

          Consanguinity is not at issue. Again, false equivalence.

          • Major914

            The only false equivalence is that of some supposed form of combination of two members of the same sex with a true and actual marriage.

            • John200

              It took a while to give LWC the truth.

              Now he has it, at least.

          • GG

            What? You asked about love and fidelity. I responded two as brothers may be faithful in a pure sense. Two same sex persons posing as married are not in a loving faithful relationship as a husband and wife.

            • LWC

              Not true. Same-sex couples are no less capable of the fidelity, love, and romance of any heterosexual couple.

              • GG

                How bizarre. Who taught you this strange philosophy?

                • LWC

                  Direct observation.

                  • GG

                    Well, truth cannot contradict truth. Your observations are faulty to say the least.

                    • LWC

                      Precious, my observations are indeed truth.

                    • asmondius

                      My observations are the opposite.

      • JP

        What does your question have to do with the article?

      • thebigdog

        How can you prove that they are “in love”?

        • LWC

          As well as anyone who’s observed and to whom you’ve professed love for your spouse (assuming you’re married).

          • thebigdog

            It was a rhetorical question… the answer is that love can not be proven and therefore should not be part of the equation. It is just another disingenuous element of the homosexual mafia.

            • LWC

              Ridiculous!

              Authentic bigotry.

              • thebigdog

                I’m not saying that heterosexuals can prove love but homosexuals can not… I’m saying that nobody can objectively prove that they love anything. “Bigotry”? Try critical thinking for a change.

                • LWC

                  Precious, I’ve provided adequate critical thinking throughout this discussion.

                  You need only read my previous posts to get up to speed.

                  Once you’ve done your homework, get back to me.

                  • thebigdog

                    Your responses to me have been based in emotion and illogical… why would I possibly want to waste my time reading more of your drivel?

                    • LWC

                      Weak.

                      FAIL.

      • fredx2

        “Loving fidelity” exists between sisters. And between parents and their children. And between Grandmothers and their dogs. So I don’t think that “loving fidelity” has anything to do with marriage.

        • LWC

          What a lovely holiday moment it will indeed be when you relay such devastating news to your spouse.

      • asmondius

        Such as father and son?

        • LWC

          The context of this discussion has been marriage (in case you missed it).

          If indeed you posit an absurd notion of father and son marrying, two things.

          First, consanguininity presents a compelling interest to the State in proscribing such arrangements. Second, incest is likewise an unambiguous matter of moral edict.

          So neither Equal Protection, nor moral endorsement apply.

          • asmondius

            Exclusion of homosexuals from marriage is also an unambiguous matter of moral edict.

            • LWC

              Perhaps. But certainly not under the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

              • asmondius

                You are mixing apples and oranges now.

      • John H. Graney

        Of course they are. This relationship is called _friendship_.

        • LWC

          And within that loving fidelity may or may not include sexual intimacy.

      • Paul

        And for that matter (i.e. independent of doctrine) do you believe in incests , pedophiles , those who wish to have sex with animals and the necrophiles are also capable of a loving fidelity ? It seems the question should be about morality.

        • LWC

          False equivalence.

          That, and just plain stupid.

  • John O’Neill

    In the present Obama/Biden American State Christian bakers are being subjected to penal laws for refusing to be part of a homosexual marriage and American torte lawyers are salivating at the chance to do the same to Christian pastors. It would be wise to obviate the massive onslaught of law suits and criminal indictments to do something pro active to prevent pastors who refuse to perform homosexual marriage rites from winding up in prison. The Europeans since the time of the Napoleonic code have had to live with separate laws, civil marriages performed by government functionaries and sacramental marriages. To argue that we must work for the State and do their work which is essentially an exercise of property law is flawed. It is time to recognize that fact that American society has been fundamentally changed as promised by its current leader and that as Christian and Catholics we must choose the City of God over the city of man.

    • St JD George

      I think most of us here have made that choice as to which city we are at home in. However, while we are not of this world while we are in it we should not be afraid to spread the good news and be an affront to evil. This man is no leader except as an occupier of an office. I take comfort in knowing that there is a ground swell of resistance to the immorality of this man and his aggressive arrogance is causing a lot of people to take notice that they might not have otherwise. Maybe it’s small, but it’s positive sign of life. American society has been wooed away by the wolf, if we care at all about our mission it’s time for us to pick up the shepherd’s crook and lead what we can of the stray flock back to the safe pasture.

  • clintoncps

    “… the Christian minister attests that natural marriage is prior to the civil contract that regulates its effects”

    QUESTION:
    Does the above statement imply that a man and woman, in a sexual relationship, who are engaged to be married, but who subsequently break off their engagement prior to the wedding ceremony, are in fact already married?

    • ColdStanding

      They have unlawfully partaken of the marriage debt. It is not that, by so acting, they have contracted marriage (for no contract has been made, only a non-binding agreement to make a marriage contract), they have done that which is only a lawful act of the married. This is called fornication, aka unlawful knowledge.

      That this law is disregarded is evidence of rebellion not abrogation of the law.

  • Jacqueleen

    Liberal Bishops would like to change what the church has interpreted and decreed to be doctrine or discipline for thousands of years. Kudos to the Orthodox Bishops who stand on the Word of God, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. I asked the question, “Why is the Pope bringing together all Bishops from every country for a Synod to discuss sinful behavior? Why isn’t he just teaching the liberals the Word of God and be done with it?” Then, the money spent on the Synod could have gone to the poor! Isn’t that the thrust of this Papacy? God bless Raymond Cardinal Burke and those who support his side of the argument.

  • Nicholas Reed

    This is utter nonsense. A lot of countries don’t even allow clergy to officiate civil acts of marriage; they require a separate legal ceremony for a couple to have a state-recognized marriage. This has never been an insurmountable problem for Catholic doctrine, why does it suddenly become one when gays are allowed the civil status of marriage?

    • St JD George

      The nonsense stops at the doors of the church … for now. Nobody believes for a minute that the militant heart is not going to stop at the door, and there have been a number of referendum’s floated already to attack the church if they deny a SSM ceremony. I firmly believe that this battle is yet to be waged in all it’s fury.

      • Scott W.

        Indeed. There is nothing live-and-let-live about evil. Believers in real marriage must be coerced into approval or silenced.

      • Nicholas Reed

        “…there have been a number of referendum’s [SIC] floated already to attack the church if they deny a SSM ceremony.” Show me one documented example of this; your paranoid assumptions about gay people don’t count.

        • St JD George

          NJ state legislature drafted a bill in committee within the year though it didn’t advance to the floor. A wedding chapel in Idaho was recently forced to by local authority. Two that come to mind though I’ve read others, will have to Google. Far from paranoid by the way, I just call it for what it is. There is no such thing as SSM, and unjust laws of men don’t make it so.

  • Major914

    “…natural marriage is also the basis for a civil contract. But this civil contract is not like other civil contracts, whose terms are instituted by the State and can be dissolved by the State. Marriage is a reality that is instituted by God and promulgated through the natural law (CCC 1954). Since, moreover, the State has a duty to promote the flourishing of human nature in accord with the natural law, the State has what the Catechism calls a “grave duty” to protect marriage whenever and wherever it occurs…”

    I would agree with all of this up to this point. But then, I see it as going off the rails here:

    “…however unpalatable the terms “Spouse A” and “Spouse B” are in lieu of “Husband” and “Wife,” they are not false…”

    Whether these terms are false or not may well depend on the broader intentions and concrete implications of their use… The terms cannot be said to be pure terms in a vacuum, in a case like this, but are in significant part defined by the overall, practical, functional–in this case legislative, and likely compulsory–activity associated with them.

    It is entirely reasonable to conclude that the State’s intention in compelling a change to the politically correct terms at this late date in history (Could a Christian minister simply white out these terms and write in Husband and Wife as a protest?) is as an essential building block in a much broader program of enforced formal acceptance that is not in accord with natural law–that would certainly be legitimate, and arguably necessary, grounds for refusal of the prescribed practical use of the terminology…

  • Richardson McPhillips

    “… it forces lay Catholics into the awkward position of explaining to society why what they did in Church didn’t count in the courthouse, even though their actions in the Church and the courthouse were supposedly based on the same natural institution. ” And yet in Europe what happens in the courthouse and what happens in the Church have no relationship to each other, except that the Church requires that the courthouse happen first. And they have no problem explaining it.

  • In most countries, the civil marriage and the Catholic marriage are separate events. Even in places where they happen at the same time, there still are two separate marriages, so to say, since one institution doesn’t recognize the other’s marriage in most cases. In the US, it is not enough to have a noted baptism certificate to prove marriage, but a civil marriage certificate issued by the state is expected.

    • Jim Russell

      But “two separate marriages, so to say,” is precisely the problem, since there really are *not* two separate marriages. The couple can marry only once. Only one exchange of consent is making them married. If, as you say, in most countries, two separate “marriages” happen, then at *which* event is the couple really married?

      • The same one that’s undone when they divorce.

        Why something that came out of the revolutionary government during the Reign of Terror in France is suddenly so dear beats me.

        The state has nothing to do with marriage. Marriage is a religious institution. All that the state can do with it is the same that the Jacobins intended: replace the Church as the arbiter of morals.

        In case of doing, look around you.

        • Jim Russell

          The teaching of the Catholic Church is that marriage and family is the fundamental cell of society and is essential for the common good. Thus we have an obligation to the state to work together to ensure that marriage and family is duly acknowledged as such for the sake of the common good.

          And we simply cannot abandon that collaborative reality just because the state’s view of what marriage is and isn’t has gone off the rails.

          • On the contrast, leaving the state to its thing is the best that the Church could do to affirm marriage and the common good.

            Persisting on doing the same and expecting results different from the traffic state of marriage is insane.

  • Dnnellymj

    Our Church ennumerates 7 sacraments of which MATRIMONY is one. This is what occurs when the proper conditions are met freely by a man and woman in our Church. As a normal ancillary action, the priest or minister is authorized to conduct the secular legalization of the marriage in most governmental jurisdictions – usually only to sign a marriage license which has nothing to do with the sacrament of matrimony.

    Since the state is formalizing gay marriage, it seems to me, that under separation of Church and State, the Church should renounce its legal authority to validate marriage licenses immediately. The couple would have to meet with a secular authority [such as a mayor] to fulfill any marriage requirements of the state. Even now, the couple must apply for the marriage license to the state. It may be an inconvenience to the couple but it ends any question of what the Church does in conferring the sacrament of Matrimony. We do not – and should not -perform a civil act.

    Likewise, it would be well worth removing all Church references to marraige as much as possible, where there is any likely confusion about the Church’s part in blessing a couple.

  • Jdonnell

    The baptism analogy may do more than intended. Contrary to what the author argues in this labored bit, lots of people get baptized without getting wet. Baptism of desire, etc. do not involve water. That is, baptism is much more flexible than he thinks; so we must recognize that couples may not follow the most customary matrimonial routine and yet be in a state of grace. No one who is in such a relationship is likely to be impressed by the article’s narrow argument.

    • Scott W.

      Baptism by water is not an absolute necessity as you say, but it is a normative neccesity by precept. In other words, it would be both immoral and irresponsible to say, “Ah, forget the readily available water baptism. We’ll just rely on baptism of desire to save him.” Likewise with cavalier attitudes toward marriage forms.

      • Jdonnell

        The norm is sometimes the sense of the faithful, who don’t take cavalier attitudes but act on reasonable grounds outside the proscription of the hierarchy, which one minute announces that people won’t any longer go to hell for eating steak on Fridays or that they may have general absolution instead of individual confession–and then decides that relinquishing such power was a bad idea and so reverses itself.

        • Scott W.

          Have a nice day.

          • Jdonnell

            Thanks, but I have other plans.

  • Derek

    ”…cannot not happen without…”

    Really? Cannot not???

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