The Radical Meaning of “Gay Marriage”

Sixty-five years ago Richard Weaver wrote about the destruction caused by the triumph of nominalism, the denial of the reality of transcendentals such as the good, beautiful, and true. He wanted to reverse it, and insisted on the importance of the right to private property, calling it “the last metaphysical right.” The point was to emphasize that the right of property exists independently of social utility and public policy, and thereby serves to limit the supremacy of the collective, for example by providing a material basis for individual and local independence.

It’s said that capitalism has won the battle with socialism. That may be so, but it’s capitalism as a system of organizing industrial production that has won, not any metaphysical right of private property. (Weaver himself distinguished the two.) And it’s won not because it’s metaphysical and limits the supremacy of politics, but because it provides a better mix of efficiency and manageability in realizing collective economic and political objectives.

So the type of private property that’s won has little to do with the freedom and independence of ordinary people. The difference can be seen three blocks from where I live. Capital, in the person of a real estate developer, wanted to take the kind of private property Weaver wanted to protect, homes and small businesses, for one of his construction projects. The legal system, in the form of various politicians, judges, and public authorities, decided he could do so. The move would increase the value of the land on which the homes and businesses stood, and that would increase the general prosperity (as well as the personal prosperity of politicians who played the game). So the developer was given the right to tear down homes and businesses for the sake of his project.

That’s the system that’s won, and it’s not so different from what was feared by humane opponents of socialism. Individuals, families, and local communities don’t matter, just large institutions and established powers, and what advances the latter’s interests becomes the law in the name of the general welfare. There’s been a grand compromise: we’ve socialized property, since it’s all fully at the disposal of public policy, but the manner in which it’s been socialized involves assignment to particular individuals and institutions, so a degree of economic efficiency is preserved and rich people don’t get annoyed. We’re capitalist as well as socialist now, and with that point settled progress can turn its attention to bigger and better projects, like reconstructing human nature.

In retrospect, Weaver overstated the unique centrality of private property. Fundamental though it is, it’s less property than the family that has stood as the major institution outside the state that has authority of its own because it is part of the nature of things and not simply a vehicle for someone’s purposes. As a metaphysical reality, the family could give us a position in the world. It meant we were not lost in a cosmos that modern natural science presents as meaningless and therefore incomprehensible. Nor were we naked and helpless before the faceless and abstract social cosmos defined by the modern state and economy. All of us, except a few unfortunates, were part of a family, of an institution to which we were connected body and soul, related by degrees to the rest of the society of which we are members, and possessing a reality that precedes that of the larger society. As such the family provided a firm position from which the work could begin of reconstructing a humane world from the wreckage created by radical modernity.

Progressives had long recognized that the family was profoundly at odds with their project. The problem was what to do about something that was at once so recalcitrant and so deeply embedded in human nature. Communist regimes initially tried to do away with it, but failed because of their hurry and the crudity of their methods, and they soon gave up the effort. Liberal modernity has made much more progress, as it has in other aspects of life. Its strategy of radicalism by degrees has transformed religion more profoundly than communism ever did, cut our connection to the past more effectively, and is discovering how to control our thoughts and redefine our social relations under cover of what is thought to be freedom.

Its mills grind slow but they grind exceeding fine. The attack on the family, less a conscious campaign than a natural consequence of liberal practices and understandings that have become ever more demanding, has proceeded in depth and on a broad front. Step by step it has chipped away at the functions, solidity, and legitimacy of the family. Divorce has been made easy, childcare professionalized, schooling extended, family meals replaced by fast food, and a combination of professional expertise and all-pervasive electronic entertainment become the universal guide and teacher. A feminism that denies all legitimate distinctions between the sexes, except those intended to counter assumed masculine privileges, has become official in government and all respectable institutions.

What “gay marriage” does is bring the attack on the family to a new level by destroying the basis of marriage in human nature. It means that marriage is a creature not of nature or natural law or metaphysics but of what particular people want and law provides for them. It thereby puts the belief that marriage is a pure human construction at the heart of social life.

Such a radical change makes coexistence with those who disagree extremely difficult. How will Catholics be able to live a common life with their fellow citizens when the fundamental assumptions on which that life is based reject natural law at the very point at which public and private connect? How can we accept common schooling, when the public schools teach that sexual distinctions are irrelevant to human connections, that they are whatever people decide they are, and that two men or two women can constitute a marriage that must be treated and spoken of as such on pain of severe, immediate, and inescapable consequences?

However bad things are, they can always get worse. If marriage is a pure construction, then the family is simply a group of people who agree to associate with each other and have whatever status the law defines. If that’s so, it’s not obvious what’s special about the bond between parents and children. That too has been considered a matter of natural or metaphysical right, a view that is radically opposed to the ideal of individual choice on which liberalism is based. So why not view it instead as a creation of the state for public purposes, a sort of foster-parenting arrangement, to be administered as such in the interests of the child and the larger society? That kind of view is gaining traction, often under the banner of “children’s rights,” and it is not clear what contrary arguments are available to Catholics, traditionalists, and proponents of natural law that will fare better than the arguments they have presented in other settings.

James Kalb


James Kalb is a lawyer, independent scholar, and Catholic convert who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command (ISI Books, 2008), and, most recently, Against Inclusiveness: How the Diversity Regime is Flattening America and the West and What to Do About It (Angelico Press, 2013).

  • Patrick_Heren

    Thank you for putting this so clearly. It increasingly occurs to me also that the whole liberal social agenda fits remarkably well into the teaching of the evil fraud Aleister Crowley who used to say: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”.

  • Mr. Kalb, your arrow is well-aimed: In the God-free zone of Progressivism, “marriage is a creature not of nature or natural law or metaphysics but of what particular people want and law provides for them.”

    Modern man has philosophized himself out of philosophy in favor of legal and philosophical positivism: what is truth is what we say it is, and what is good is what we make law. As Paul saw so clearly in his day, the advance of evil begins in the heart of man, where his desires are, and he will have his way:

    Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
    Rom 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
    Rom 1:20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;
    Rom 1:21 for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.
    Rom 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
    Rom 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
    Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
    Rom 1:25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.
    Rom 1:26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural,
    Rom 1:27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

    Their victory seems inevitable, unstoppable, even “moral” – after all doesn’t everyone have the right to love? Many Christians – and Catholics in particular – have found an apparent compromise position between the Gospel and the World, such that “live and let live” seems perfectly reasonable to them. Where are the shepherds of the sheep! Where are the watchmen on the walls! Where is common sense!

    Paul’s insight speaks to the whole society, the whole culture – in our case, perhaps, to many sitting in the pews, maybe to many preaching at them, as well as many who gave all that up a long time ago: “although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened… they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator….”

    There is a power sufficient to turn the tide of homosexual equivalence, of moral subjectivism, of the idolatries of our pleasure-obsessed age. The Truth of God can still pierce the hearts of men, and can divide soul from spirit, and can ignite a potent love for righteousness. It only takes a few: let us pray the Lord of the harvest to send out His laborers.

  • publiusnj

    Th Church needs to contrast the marriages it performs with those the state is presently engineering. The Catholic Church’s marriages are marriages between people who come together for life to make a life (not two flesh but one)–and additional lives–together. It is the indissoluble basis on which two people can share together all their hopes and aspirations and live their fused life together through love, and make a family that will last beyond either the husband or the wife’s life. Absent an inability to conceive/bear, the children of the marriage are both their children and the husband sees himself as much in the child borne by his wife as the wife sees in the child borne out of her womb.
    By contrast, a state marriage is an agglomeration of two persons of indeterminate sex for the purpose of getting certain governmental benefits (not including income tax, btw, because the income tax laws are actually more favorable to unmarried heads of household than to married couples filing jointly) that can be dissolved at any time for any reason or no reason at all. Indeed, alimony is no longer even a disincentive to divorce in the first decade or more of the relationship due to state requirements for a long periond of non-work for a spouse before much support wil be offered. State marriage doesn’t even require that the two members of a marriage have the ability to create lives together. In the newly recognized gay form of state marriage, the two men or two women actually have to import genetic material if either “partner” seeks to reproduce him/herself.
    One of the things I find most distressing about State Marriage is the way the children of a broken up or never occurred “marriage” often have no identities as members of a particular family. How often do news accounts recount the teenager in trouble with the law (or killed as a drive-by victim) who had one last name (say John Smith) while his mother had a different one (say Jones) and one or more of his siblings had yet different ones (say Reilly and Rivera). What family did John Smith belong to? the Smiths? The Joneses? The Smith-Joneses? Did anyone ever tell him: “you are a Smith and Smiths respect women and support their families?” Or maybe his mother was somewhat honest and said “the Smith Jones-Reilly-Rivera family?” Or was he essentially on his own with nobody to protect him except the all powerful state and its DFS apparatchiks?

    • TheodoreSeeber

      I find it really curious that as hard as the feminists have tried to stamp out fatherhood, the child still ends up with the last name of the father when the father is known.

      • publiusnj

        If the parents don’t name the child after the putative father, how will the mother (we know who she is due to the fact that the child is born out of her) get anybody to step up to support the kid, other than the State or the dam herself? Of course, that won’t work for a gay marriage unless one of the supposed “fathers” declines his “right” to name the child after himself.
        And any alternative to naming the child after the father is going to quickly break down. If the mother wants to name the child after herself, she can and maybe she can even get a court to support her claim to support from the putative fatther, but the father is almost certainly likely at that point not to do anything more than the legal minimum.
        And even if chikdren start to be named after both mother and father, that will break own in two generations when the child will have four names and after three eight etc. that may be acceptable in Spanish speaking countries, but can you imagine what wwould happen here where a woman might have children sired by a large number of different men,as is becoming more an more freqauent in this “civilization”? John Smith-Jones-Reilly-Rivera’s sister might be Jane Reilly-Jones-Chen-Akinduro, and they might not even be able to keep each other’s names straight.

        • TheodoreSeeber

          “If the parents don’t name the child after the putative father, how will the mother (we know who she is due to the fact that the child is born out of her) get anybody to step up to support the kid, other than the State or the dam herself?”

          I thought the whole intent of feminism was to put women in the workplace so that they didn’t need men to help raise their children.

          • Adam Baum

            And when they found out work was a four-lettered word, they ascribed its indignities of employment to such things as a glass ceiling. The rabid activists, if they really wanted to tear down what they think are artificial distinctions, should have experienced the ceiling my grandfathers experienced-an Anthracite coal mine. If you didn’t get hurt or killed, your career usually resulted in anthrasilicosis, also known as “black lung”.

            • TheodoreSeeber

              I had a step grandfather who died of that.

        • TheodoreSeeber

          “If the parents don’t name the child after the putative father, how will the mother (we know who she is due to the fact that the child is born out of her) get anybody to step up to support the kid, other than the State or the dam herself?”

          I thought the whole intent of feminism was to put women in the workplace so that they didn’t need men to help raise their children.

      • Alecto

        Well, bully. If we’re assigning blame, there’s plenty to go around, including to the men who are nothing more than cheap imitations of the men who fathered them. Real men don’t leave. Real men are strong. Real men take care of their responsibilities, i.e., their children and love their wives and don’t cheat on them.

        Teddy, Teddy, Teddy! You still haven’t figured it out, have you? There are very few women who want to stamp out men, definitely don’t want to stamp out fathers since most sane women understand the importance of fathers in their own lives, but since men have surrendered without firing a shot let alone fighting a battle, it’s difficult to respect their cowardice.

        • TheodoreSeeber

          By the time I was in grade school in 1976, the battle was already long surrendered. The message I got was “Anything a man can do, a woman can do better, and they don’t cause wars or rape anybody like those evil men”. Complete lie of course, but if that’s what you are going to teach young men instead of to be strong and take care of their responsibilities, is it any wonder most of my generation is divorced and playing X-box instead?

          • Adam Baum

            There’s posters on this board that consistently assert men as superfluous. The idea that women are morally superior to men is an assault on the reality of original sin. When you consider the number of abortions performed in this country, women murder at a far higher rate than men.

            • Alecto

              Unbelievable, especially from you, whom I respect! Has it occurred to you that a good number of those women, especially the young women without family, education or means, are dependent on the men in their lives? That they’re often looking for that man to stand by them, to offer a proposal of marriage? Yes, I know how corny that sounds, but I’ve heard that story from too many women to discount the truth of it. Many of those women actually believe and are searching for men who will do the “honorable” thing, because they grew up with fathers who didn’t! Many women are pressured, sometimes they are threatened into having an abortion by the men in their lives.

              The prevailing message they’re receiving from the culture is that pregnancy is a disease, a problem or a mistake that will hinder their future, and they will “pay” for for the rest of their lives? Adam, many of these women, girls, are told by their parents, “if you get pregnant, don’t bother coming home” or “How could you do this to us?” Or, for those raised in single parent homes their mothers tell them to “do the smart thing.” And Adam, that’s sometimes from “good Catholic” families. I’m not making excuses for the women, but if you think those abortion stories are all the same, or that men don’t have blood on their hands, you haven’t met the women I’ve met, and there are some real horror stories out there.

              Men aren’t superfluous. They may be egotistical, insecure, arrogant, narcissistic, self-centered, selfish, patronizing and condescending, chauvinistic, immature, and stingy but never superfluous. And yes, women are vain, self-centered, superficial, avaricious, jealous, conceited, and duplicitous, too. It isn’t called the “War Between the Sexes” for nothing. It’s time to call a truce.

              • Adam Baum

                I concur. Let me tell you a little story. A few years ago, I had a female employee with “issues”. One day, she began waiving a an object like a gun”.

                This was the apex of a series of bizarre behaviors, which required supervisory counseling.

                Three weeks later, I was asked to respond an assertion of sexual harassment, made on nine handwritten pages,many accusations were simply ridiculous (one was that I “mounted” this employee, as if this could be done without anybody seeing it). In response to several questions, I had to answer, “I don’t think that is possible”.

                For three months, there was an investigation. Finally, I was exhonerated-wait, not really. The investigation doesn’t respect the idea of “not guilty”, it simply says “there is no evidence to support”. Despite this, the document will be one of the very few things kept in my permanent file. Trust me, I will forever be affected by the experience.

                The response to this for these false allegations? Nothing, because making sexual harassment investigations requires that the accuser is protected. I’m fairly certain that the individuual did this in full knowledge that falsehood was a protected right for her.

                You want men to man up? So do I. I have a young niece who I want to have a happy and fulfilling life, and that won’t happen if there’s no decent men around.

                The first thing is to stop this widespread and institutionalized portrayal of men as predators. Men have a natural protective response, but they need something to protect. Their natural aggression needs to be directed, not suppressed. The modern man has been neutered by social pressure and legal suppression. Since authentic expressions of masculinity are suppressed.

                And yes, I’m aware that men pressure, induce and encourage abortion. It’s also true that some men would assume responsibility, if they even knew that they had a bun in the oven. You see, it goes both ways. Yet the law provides that women have the “choice” and men are spectators until it’s time to write a check. The authorities don’t care much beyond that, and will do nothing if the mother denies or frustrates visitation. That’s true even if the parents were married. I have a lot of friends who remained single because they didn’t want to risk that.

                It’s my theory that restoration of the rightful order will come from women. Just as Eve (began) but didn’t complete the fall, and Mary’s assent was the necessary precondition for salvation.

                • Alecto

                  Thank you for sharing your story. I am truly sorry that happened to you. Since you were so forthcoming, I hope you won’t mind if I share a story with you?

                  My first job out of college was with a small investment boutique on LaSalle Street in Chicago. I felt so lucky to get that job. I was the only woman in the office, which was a satellite of a firm headquartered in another state. The principle in charge was a, forgive the language, real pig, le cochon blanc. Married to wife #3, who was pregnant. He bragged about squirreling away assets to avoid taking care of wives and kids from marriage #1 and #2. Even though my desk was furthest from his office, and he had to wade through my male colleagues, he would routinely walk over and drop papers on my desk to type, or fetch him coffee or file something, regardless of having clients on the phone, or in a conference room, or studying for my licensing exams. When I passed them, it was routine for everyone to celebrate with Friday drinks at the local trader’s lounge. When Friday came, all of my colleagues suddenly had plans and it was too late for me to back out of a celebratory drink with Mr. Pig. Later, I found out he asked them not to attend! As we sat outside, he began asking me a series of extremely personal, inappropriate, even bizarre sexual questions. He would randomly pick out men and ask me if I would sleep with X or Y. After repeatedly dodging these, making jokes and changing the topic, I told him, “Look, I’m Catholic, we don’t use birth control, or have premarital sex and personally, I’d like to have at least 8-10 kids.” It shut him up fast. When I finished my drink, I made some excuse and left.

                  A few months later, I met a female colleague of mine in another office. Turned out she had a similar experience. We contacted a number of other offices and it turned out le cochon had used the same modus operandi with about 5 or 6 other women. Not being the shy type, I called a meeting at my place, and we approached a local law firm known for its aggressive handling of such cases. The attorney told us given the number of women affected and the pattern of behavior we had a great case. I think we were all so young, we were afraid of what he was capable of doing to us professionally and weren’t looking to sue anybody, we just wanted it to stop. Before we could actually get him fired, he left town, cleaned out his bank accounts, taking even things like paintings and furniture when his wife had a small baby at home. Don’t know what happened to him, but I suspect he left the country. Sometimes there just is no justice to be had in this life, but I still think about his poor wives, his kids, and those stupid women who believed he was really going to be “faithful” this time. Poor, dumb girls.

                  Nothing is more powerful than a real life example. If we want our kids to be good, we have to be good. If we want them to take chastity to heart, we have to be chaste. If we want them to get married and stay married, we have to provide the example. Kind of a no brainer, but how many of us ignore that?

                  Peace be with you and God bless.

                • Reets46

                  Men have a natural protective response, but they need something to protect.
                  So true. This is why I think putting women in frontline military situations is so dangerous. That “protective response” is powerful and will make it hard to keep the fighting unit cohesive and focused on the enemy. Women will be a dangerous distraction.

                • Watosh

                  Now the military is under great pressure to stop sexual abuse of particularly the women in the military, so they will protect charges made by women that they were sexually abused and levy serious penalties of any male soldier so charged. Women soldiers will be encouraged to bring any charges against their male counterparts and particularly their superiors. We know that some women, in order to gain custody of their children during a divorce will charge their spouse with child abuse or spousal abuse and their spouses have little defense. This will further ruin the military as male superiors will hesitate to incur the wrath of some of their female soldiers, since they will be in a position to ruin him. I don’t support sexual abuse at all, but this is the other side of the coin. Mix men and women, particularly young men and young women closely together and you will have problems that no amount of laws will be able to resolve. But since the American religion requires the pursuit of absolute equality of the sexes (or should I say “genders”?) we will not be deterred from this madness.

        • TheodoreSeeber

          By the time I was in grade school in 1976, the battle was already long surrendered. The message I got was “Anything a man can do, a woman can do better, and they don’t cause wars or rape anybody like those evil men”. Complete lie of course, but if that’s what you are going to teach young men instead of to be strong and take care of their responsibilities, is it any wonder most of my generation is divorced and playing X-box instead?

        • Bono95

          I don’t know just how many women there are who want to stamp out men, but I do know they are dangerous and that even just one is one too many.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        In Scotland, where a younger son marries an heiress, it is quite common for him to assume her name and arms.

        Similarly, double-barrelled surnames, such as mine, occur where heir marries heiress and their heir inherits land or arms from both

        • TheodoreSeeber

          In America, we’ve long ago done away with most of that, officially. Aristocracy is supposed to be taboo here. I’d personally like to see Estate Taxes be 100%, with a $1 million/heir deductible.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            It is the reason one has names like “Maitland of that ilk,” in other words, Maitland of Maitland – the branch of the Maitland family living at (and owning) Maitland (ilk = same or likewise)

            Iain of Maitland would be known as Mr Maitland (= master of Maitland) and his wife would be Mrs Maitland (= mistress of Maitland). It is not a case of the wife taking her husband’s name, but of both taking the name of the family seat. Thus, the wife of Maitland of Lethington is Mrs Lethington, not Mrs Maitland.

          • Alecto

            That’s just crazy talk. Do you consider many of those “estates” subject to the tax are family businesses which are passed from generation to generation? Do you have the first clue of the work, sweat and sacrifice that goes into building a business that spans generations? Do you have any clue what those taxes destroy? Of course not. It would destroy your ignorant fantasy about all “rich” people inheriting their money, which is really just an offshoot of Hollywood and the New Deal propaganda machine. You ignore the thousands of American families who have spent decades working together, employing thousands of people, with a dream of making something better, and having the Benevolent Government strip that away. And, that does not even get into the fact (yes, there are facts to consider, too) that those businesses and individuals have already PAID taxes for a lifetime.

            You don’t believe in private property. Maybe you should go to Europe and work to re-establish monarchy or their communist redistributionist nonsense that is collapsing? We fought a war over here to get rid of that thinking.

            • TheodoreSeeber

              We have always had royal families. I see no use in allowing inheritance of businesses- children should have to *purchase* the business from their parents, thus providing the parents with a retirement and skipping the inheritance problem altogether. The parent also gets the assurance that way that the child is responsible *before* inheritance.

              Children getting a birthright without working for it destroys multi-generational businesses faster than anything- remember Edsel Ford?

            • TheodoreSeeber

              I believe in the universal right of private property, not the specific right of lazy children to inherit the wealth of their parents.

          • Adam__Baum

            Estate taxes, serve no useful purpose and are an attack on private property and intergenerational comity.

            As an aside, bluntly, this statement reveals and astounding amount of economic ignorance. Your 100% estate tax will destroy family farms, closely held businesses and other forms of wealth that cannot be disassembled or liquefied to satisfy such a tax, that should be void ab ovo, simply because its pedigree is right out of the Communist Manifesto.

            In the meantime, there are always forms of wealth that escape the taxman. Once one generation develops celebrity or political capital, it still passes on. Do you think it’s an accident that Jay Rockefeller is now in politics as a business, or that politics is the family business of the Kennedys or the Bushes have made politics the family business?

            A heavy estate tax will not defeat aristocracy, in fact the years that it most closely approximated your desire, (low deductible, 55% rate), we had the closest thing to royal families.

            Please, exercise discretion in commenting. If you formulate an idea that equal parts visceral indignation and popular ignorance, practice the prudence of silence.

            • TheodoreSeeber

              We have always had royal families. I don’t see how removing the estate tax will encourage the spread of wealth. I’m for distributionism and a UNIVERSAL right of private property- not your communist and centralist pipe dreams of capital destroying religions and civilizations through multi-generational corporations. End the centralization of wealth completely. Let each man make his own way in the world instead of being handed it on a silver platter.

              I’ll never vote for a Bush, a Rockefeller, or a Kennedy, because I have a memory.

      • Adam__Baum

        It’s not at all curious, because as anybody whose seen a domestic relations court in action, knows paternity has been stamped out, except for economic responsibility.

    • Makalu

      Not true that last line. The next step to legitimize their fantasy world is to clone themselves once the technology is reliable. Then their fantasy will be complete until they die and God help them if there really is a God. Where will thier silly arguments get them before God?

      • Alecto

        Yes, Makalu, there truly, really is a God. I am not certain of anything else, but I am sure of that.

    • Adam Baum

      Th Church needs to contrast the marriages it performs with those the state is presently engineering.

      The problem with that strategy is that Catholics don’t conduct themselves in marriage much differently than others. They cohabit, contracept, they divorce at much the same rate as others.

      This is something only the laity can do.

      • publiusnj

        Self-defeating stuff there, Adam. If you want to surrender to the zeitgeist, keep insisting that the Church cannot teach Christ’s way if any Catholics can be proven to have sinned. The difference between State Marriage and Church Marriage is that the Church has standards (til death…; graciously accept children, etc.) while the State has none (no fault divorce; no requirements on sexual diversity, etc). The Church needs to call the people to something better than the State’s pandering substitute for indissoluble marriage.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          The Church does, indeed, have standards.

          According to Canon 1095, “the following are incapable of contracting marriage… (2) those who suffer from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning the essential matrimonial rights and duties mutually to be handed over and accepted; (3) those who are not able to assume the essential obligations of marriage for causes of a psychic nature.”

          Given the fact that there are some 60,000 annulments a year, mostly founding on c 1095, there must be a great many Catholics who could not say, with any degree of certainty, whether they are married or not; nor can their doubts be set at rest, until a marriage tribunal has pronounced on the matter.

          • Alecto

            That Canon 1095 reads cryptically, and I believe that was intentional on the part of the drafter. And the fact that most of those 60,000 annulments a year affect marriages into which children were born argues for it being a total crock. What parent would make a bastard of his or her child?

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              What it suggests to me is that annulments are only sought, when the relationship is an unhappy one. If 60,000 are litigated, how many more de facto marriages are, in reality, invalid? It is pure guess-work

          • publiusnj

            Your observation requires some perspective. The peak in annulments was back in the Nineties at about 78,000. Too many obviously but JPII tightened up on the practice somewhat and we are down by 23% or so. Still too high but a far cry from the divorce rate in these United States. There’s more than a million divorces a year here in a population only 1/4 the size of the Universal Church. So a frequency 64 times higher for divorce in the US than for annulments in the Church.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              No, the comparison should be with the number of nullity decrees in the temporal courts.

              My point is not that marriages break down; it is that, whether they break down or not, there must always be a considerable number of persons who could not say off-hand whether they were validly married or not. It is only when the question has been decided in a marriage tribunal that their doubts can be removed. But although they do not know if they are married, and no one could tell them with certainty till the action was tried, it is nevertheless true that they must be either one or the other. There is no half-way house.

              • publiusnj

                Nullity decrees in civil courts are quite beside the point. As I have pointed out, Church annulments are a merest drop in the bucket compared to the divorces granted by the concocters of “civil marriage” (i.e., politicians). When the Church shows that, it shows the essential meaninglessness of civil marriage.

                • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                  How can the number of marriages dissolved by divorce have any bearing on the number of marriages not validly contracted in the first place?

                  If a great number of marriages are shown to be invalid under Canon 1095, it is not unreasonable to suppose there are are great many more that have simply not been adjudicated upon.

                  Put another way, a lot of people thought they were getting married when, manifestly, they were not.

                  • publiusnj

                    How can it? Who said that was the question. My point was that the Catholic Church should be talking about the differences between civil and Church marriages. Civil marriages can be dissolved for any or no reasons (“no fault divorce”). Church marriages cannot. Church marriages are for life; civil marriages are for however long one of the “partners” (now of indiscriminate sense vis-a-vis one another) decides not to divorce. When a civil marriage is over, the USA rewards the divorced people with a better income tax rate if they can qualify as head of household. So, civil marriages are inferior to church marriages for those who wish to pledge their troths to one another and become one flesh as Christ taught.

        • Adam__Baum

          You miss my point. If the Church says X and the laity continue to scandalize society by being indistinguishable from everybody else-that defeats the efforts.

          • publiusnj

            If you want the Church to lead from behind, maybe it should wait until we have a Church of Saints not Sinners, but you will be waiting an eternity.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        The clergy would go a long way towards this merely by insisting that they can no longer be agents of the state and can’t witness marriage licenses.

        The state would go a long way towards this by eliminating the bureaucracy and the witnesses and replacing the whole mess with a simple web form, since there’s no real need left to have society involved.

  • AcceptingReality

    “How will Catholics be able to live a common life with their fellow citizens…….”, you ask? Well, faithful, authentic Catholics, who are the remnant spoken of by Pope Benedict, will lives somewhat estranged from their fellow citizens. It will be and already has become as in New Testament times when Christians were oppressed and persecuted suffering both white and red martyrdom for the faith. The very fact that it is known that you attend Mass at the local Church will cause many to keep their distance from you and keep acquaintances from becoming friends. It’s just the facts of life, especially at this point in time. Be thankful. As it is stated in the beatitudes and again in 1Peter. We should count ourselves as blessed when the hate us and mock us for our faith. It is our job to convert rather than cavort.

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  • JERD

    Excellent article. Thank you.

    To sum up, Mr. Kalb, can we conclude that discarding our “nature” and replacing it with our “will”” leads to this:

    1) Loss of community (family; fraternal membership; neighborhood; church etc.)

    2) Increase in atomized person-hood (temporary, short term relationships; decrees in “agape” type commitments, lonely isolation)

    3) And finally the emergence of the state as a proxy for the community that has been lost, and to serve as a counter-weight to the atomized, isolated individual, who longs for the “nature” that he has lost.

  • jpct50
  • Steven Jonathan

    An excellent article Dr. Kalb, thank you! Ownership of the family has been seized by those with dark minds and souls. I think the liberal progressives know not what they do. They are grasping, as Machiavelli would have them do, at what is possible without asking if it is a good idea. The difference between public/private and social/anti-social has been removed and the two are now conflated.

    I think we Catholics, first and foremost must remember that there is no common ground between the leftist, progressive, liberals and Catholics, and to concede that there is can only be pretense. There will be no dialogue with the bent ones.

  • Newark

    It’s all true, but eventually moral thought will reclaim the position held for many centuries. While the in between time will be insufferable earlier times have proposed similar absurd beliefs…Mormonism and polygamy is only one. This interregnum time will have to be sufferable…

  • David Elton

    When the Muslims take over — who’s gonna stop them, the 19 year old girls in the trenches? — there ain’t gonna be no “gay marriage” or no “womens’ movement”. There’s gonna be a new sheriff in town – a brutal, intolerant sheriff. Glad I won’t be around.

    • Adam__Baum

      Don’t be so sure it’s in a distant future.

  • hombre111

    A strangely disjointed essay, a long discussion about private property morphing into a lament over the collapse of the modern family, blamed, of course, on the liberals. Mr. Kalb captures the Catholic understanding of the family as the basic building block of society, but he oversimplifies the reasons for its malaise. Ignored, for instance, are economic factors. Recent studies have shown that relatively affluent families are much more stable than the families of the growing American lower class, with its marginal wages and lack of a safety net. What seems to be missing down there where more and more folks live is a sense of hope.
    Mr. Kalb is obviously in great pain. But if we pay attention and look in the world for some glimpse of the Kingdom Christ came to proclaim, we should all be in pain. I don’t know if we solve the problem by longing for a return to yesteryear, and maybe we could agree that conservatives who lack mercy and compassion and a sense of the common good are just as much to blame as liberals who confuse freedom with license.

    • Bucky Inky

      A strangely disjointed comment…

      I don’t know if we solve the problem by longing for a return to
      yesteryear, and maybe we could agree that conservatives who lack mercy
      and compassion and a sense of the common good are just as much to blame
      as liberals who confuse freedom with license.

      What does this have to do with the essay? It would be helpful to point out where Mr. Kalb here, or anywhere for that matter, lacks “mercy and compassion and a sense of the common good,” keeping in mind, as a Catholic should, that these are not the only, nor in every case the most important, virtues. Also helpful would be a demonstration of how Mr. Kalb is merely “longing for a return to yesteryear.” Are you asserting that he is merely nostalgic?

      • hombre111

        A recent blind study asked men and women to look at pictures of distressed and struggling children and adults, and measured their response. Some responded with compassion and sympathy, others did not. With these results in hand, the researchers then interviewed the same people about their financial and political sympathies. The affluent and the conservatives tended to be the ones who were slow to respond with compassion when faced, for instance, with a picture of a hungry child, or of the victims of war in Iraq. PBS just did a program which examined this study in depth.

        • Deacon Ed Peitler

          So what you’re concluding from this study is that “compassion is measured by the reaction to a set of pictures”? That’s is the best summary yet of what has gone wrong with our body politic: people are making decisions of grave importance based on immediate and ephemeral emotional reactions. Like far too many liberals, they have suspended rationality.

    • Alecto

      The simple reason for the marginal wages and lack of stability in lower classes is the disappearance of marriage amongst blue collar and poor families. Charles Murray’s Coming Apart is a must read. Must. Marriage is truly the foundation of not simply social success, but economic stability. Affluent families are affluent because they’re married! It’s a no brainer. Marriage is the distinction between affluence, and poverty!

      Factually, conservatives are far more generous than liberals, who treat OPM as charity. Mercy? Common good? Common good starts with personal responsibility, and discipline and emanates out to the community.

      • hombre111

        Excellent post, Alecto. But the role of economics in marriage is not so simple as you would have it. In my state, three people are still looking for every available job, and their families are unraveling under the pressure. I think a key issue is hope. Affluent families are affluent because they are married, because they were in a favorable position with a good education and other opportunities. Observers have pointed out again and again during the past years that there is now less upward mobility in America than in most of the countries of Europe. The economic system makes people poor and then we blame the poor for being poor.
        As for the common good? You have it backwards. The common good does not start with personal responsibility. It demands personal responsibility. I think of things from a biblical perspective, where family and community come before the individual.

        • Adam__Baum

          “But the role of economics in marriage is not so simple as you would have it.”
          ” In my state, three people are still looking for every available job, and their families are unraveling under the pressure”

          You are clearly as ignorant of matrimony as you are of economics. If economic pressure was such a determinant of marital failure, it would have occurred during the depression, or any of the other “panics” that occurred. “families” that are comprised of an unwed mother and children are compromised out of the gate, because one person has to do everything.

        • Alecto

          I do not blame the poor for being poor. Blame doesn’t offer any illumination. I would posit that marriage, being one of the variables between rich and poor should be the preferred state between men and women. You of all people should know that “good education” has little to do with money. Survey the success of homeschoolers, most of whom have few resources and no money.

          Government creates dependency, immorality, and saps whatever unique gifts individuals have. This naturally leads to generational poverty. But, unlike you, I do not view poverty in and of itself as an evil. It is not immoral. My mother grew up very, very poor, but her family was very close and loving. Poverty is prevalent in the world. I will grant that It is very bad to be spiritually poor, not materially poor. It may reflect deeper spiritual issues and be a consequence for a sinful lifestyle.

          I do not see how family or community are possible without first the individual, and I wish I could persuade you that the individual is not at all what you view as…selfish, thinking only of satisfying one’s desires or needs. On the contrary, the voluntary choices of individuals are what start families: It’s “I do”, not “we do” that constitutes assent to be married.

          • hombre111

            Good post, Alecto. Our system does create poverty and then blames the poor for being poor. In my state, homeschoolers struggle along as adults, just like everyone else.
            To me, material poverty is an evil because it grinds people. It cuts off opportunity. It destroys a sense of self and crushes hope. You mention that your mother had a wonderful, supportive family, and that was surely a major key to her success. Her strength and growth surely depended on an extraordinary family. She did not make it simply by being an extraordinary individual.
            Societies that put family and community first are now tens of thousands of years old. Individualism is something that arrived only with the Enlightenment, and already those societies are under tremendous stress. Will they survive even two hundred more years?
            The same with modern “I do” kinds of marriages. If the couple then goes on to live in glorious isolation outside the larger extended family, or some good substitute for the same, then it is going to have a sky high divorce rate. Well I’ll be. We do have a sky high divorce rate, with almost forty percent of our children being raised in single parent homes.

            • Alecto

              I believe you and I differ on the meaning of “our system”. I see the system we have now not as a free enterprise system, but a Statist one and in that context, I agree that a Statist system destroys opportunity. I am a Freeper. Do you why? Because it is the one system under which the strength of one’s character is as much a determinant of success as effort and talent. No person can remain materially successful in a Freeper system if he is dissipated.

              How can you write about a system that crushes the sense of self, and in the next sentence criticize individualism? The collective is an illusion, it is false. There is only and ever, even in God’s eyes, individual human beings making individual choices.

              • hombre111

                You are a freeper? Never heard of the term. Libertarian, maybe? Sorry to disillusion you about what is in God’s eyes, but the Bible is a book that is written from a collectivist perspective. Ancient Hebrew did not even have a word for “individual.” It was a creation of the Enlightenment. I can talk about crushing the sense of the self while criticizing individualism, because the self exists within a collective called the family or the community.

                Right now, it is not the state that is destroying opportunity. As I have noted several times before, recent studies published by major news outlets point out that upward mobility in the United States ranks far behind upward mobility in the much more state dominated countries of Europe. In the U.S., if your parents are poor, that is probably where you will be.

    • There’s been a tendency toward a mixture of contract and bureaucracy as the basis for all human relations, with everything integrated into a single regulated system in which nothing is privileged, independent, or exempt. The weakening of the particularity of private property is one aspect of that process, tendencies in family life provide another.

      I don’t think current trends in family life result from economics in any simple way. People aren’t poorer than they were 100 years ago, two people don’t live cheaper apart, you don’t save money by not getting married before having children, and economic mobility is not normally necessary for stable families.

      I don’t know what’s meant by a return to yesteryear. The issue is obviously how to do better starting now, which requires diagnosis of what’s going wrong. And liberal modernity includes Mitt Romney just as much as Barack Obama. As I’ve said repeatedly, a higher vision is needed that just isn’t present in disputes between left liberals (Democrats) and right liberals (Republicans).

      • Adam Baum

        “I don’t know what’s meant by a return to yesteryear.”

        Hombre received his marching orders last year, and he’ll be yelling “forward” until his master gives him a new order. Anything that doesn’t advance that agenda is an anachronism to him.

        If your aren’t familiar with him, he likes to confuse hackneyed cliches for brief witticisms.

      • hombre111

        I am honored that you replied to my post. I wish I had time to do a study of the origins of the modern concept of private property, but I am busy with other projects. It seems to me that private property was almost non-existent in the Middle Ages.
        But anyway, I think many sociologists would disagree with you about the key role of economics. Capitalism is most essentially an economic system, where the owners of property and the means of production control the lives and futures of countless others. Nobody voted for them, but they controlled society. And their only object is to minimize costs and maximize profits…and put aside more capital for expansion and change. It is a system characterized by what many economists call “creative destruction.” History shows how destructive this system has been with families. Take the Industrial Revolution in England, where families lived like diseased rats in squalid slums, with short horrible lives. Children were forced to work under inhuman conditions.
        My state is 48th. on the list when it comes to wages. Some of my relatives work two or three jobs, and both parents work. I think of a nephew who gets up at six and home at six. He is too exhausted to be much of a husband or much of a father. His wife gets up at five and home at six. They do their best and have three fine boys, but I don’t know how they do it. This is normal in my town.
        By a return to yesteryear, I guess I mean a return to the immovable principles of substance thinking. This dualistic Platonic view of reality causes people to look wistfully at unreachable ideals. If only we could go back there. But we are making our reality as we move forward. Aesthetics, ethics, and logic are still needed, but in a different way.

        • As to private property, Weaver’s claim was that it was the main point of resistance to the conversion of all social life to a universal rationalized system oriented toward wealth and power. In the middle ages that wasn’t much of a problem and there were lots of local strongholds.

          As to economics, I’d agree that not everything should be contractual, and creative destruction destroys so it shouldn’t be the supreme social principle. I suppose the points I’d make are that the problem as to marriage and family life isn’t economic hardship, since you don’t fix money problems by divorce, illegitimacy, etc., and many of the proposed solutions to economic hardship make matters worse, because they turn people into clients rather than participants.

          • hombre111

            This morning, I prayed in the Office of Readings: “Eternal Father, through your Word You gave new life to Adam’s race, Transformed them into sons of light, New creatures by your saving grace.” I believe in the reality of the Incarnation. If, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we really are new creatures, then we should see examples of it in the world. If we try to reduce it to some invisible reality that cannot be expressed in this world we live in, then Freud was right and it is an illusion. This is a basic starting placed of mine as I try to make sense out of this world and where it is going.

            At the same time, I believe there is more than one anti-Christ. And so I look around. Do I see around me Christ, the Word made human flesh? Or do I see the anti-Christ made human flesh?

            So, the discussion about private property. A metaphysical value on par with Beauty, Goodness, and Truth? Whew. The six Walmart heirs have more private property than all the 140 million Americans who make up the bottom of our society put together. What kind of “metaphysical” reality is made flesh here? Christ, the Word of God who took upon himself our pain and poverty? or the Antichrist, who lives for power and accumulation?

            • I said what Weaver meant by calling private property “metaphysical” and he certainly didn’t put it on a par with Beauty, Goodness, and Truth. It’s using the term in a much more limited but nonetheless politically important way to characterize an institution that is not entirely subject to public policy and is therefore able to give particular individuals, families, and local communities an opportunity for exercising genuine agency. And it was clear from what I said and from the example I gave that it is important that it be widely distributed.

              • hombre111

                I’m trying to get your point but I get the feeling that Weaver is using the word metaphysical as loosely as New Age thinkers. I had a classical training in metaphysics, especially Plato, Aristotle, and Thomas Aquinas. There, the word “transcendental” characterizes timeless realities that play a key role in formulating a convincing theory of everything. (Another definition for metaphysics). But I don’t see private property as approaching that level, especially since it cannot follow us into the grave.

                • He’s not using it loosely, exactly, but he is using it in an unusual sense:

                  “Though we may not be happy about its provenance [in the bourgeois revolutions of the 19th century], here is a tool at hand. Its survival may be an accident, yet it expresses an idea. It is the sole thing left among us [Americans in 1948] to illustrate what right, independent of service or utility, means.”

                  So by “metaphysical right” he means something that’s treated socially as a metaphysical right and so serves to limit Leviathan. Can you think of a better expression? I should note that Catholic social teaching rejects socialism and so should accept Weaver’s view of the function of private property.

                  • hombre111

                    Que tal, James? So, if I understand, he is looking for an example of what he calls a “right,” something that has great worth standing by itself, independent of its service or utility value. This “right” limits the growth and tyranny of Leviathon. The only example he can find is private property. If this is so, then the first question that pops into my mind is, is it an absolute right? The social teaching of the Church says, no.

                    • He doesn’t say it’s absolute, only that it’s independent of a determination of social utility. It’s not simply an administrative category that can be changed tomorrow by whoever holds power.

                      As my comments on “capitalism” and my favorite New York real estate developer suggest, he has no interest in defending Wall Street. His economic views are basically distributist. He says “The last metaphysical right offers nothing in defense of that kind of property brought into being by finance capitalism … Respecters of private property are really obligated to oppose much that is done today in the name of private enterprise.”

                    • hombre111

                      Que pasa, James? I think we basically disagree in this way: You have a deep suspicion of government and any effort it makes to interfere with the use of private property, seeing it as a step toward tyranny. With my roots in the Great Depression, I have a deep suspicion about an unfettered market and the self-serving activities of the uberclass, which has great difficulty seeing beyond its own purposes. The “magic of the market-place” is great for those who profit by it. But as I said somewhere back there, capitalism is essentially destructive. This is mentioned in several of the economic texts I have read over the years. “Creative destruction,” they call it, without much concern over the fate of those who are destroyed by decisions other people make. There are way more losers than winners. For instance, in the last calamity, a few thousand (no more) well-placed individuals trashed the financial lives of millions if not billions of people. This calculus is so one-sided, I cannot help but see it as essentially evil, and find it difficult to understand how anybody (not necessarily talking about you) can argue that it is the best we have.

                • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                  Metaphysics certainly covers all non-physical relationships. Thus, the relationship between a word, considered as a physical sound, and the thing signified or between a proposition, considered as a sequence of sounds or marks, and its meaning, in fact the whole realm of semantics, is metaphysical.

                  In the same way, possession is a physical fact, but ownership is not a fact, but a right and belongs to the province of metaphysics, as do all ethical and juridical concepts.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        In “Ancient Law,” published in 1861, the legal historian Sir Henry Maine observed that the movement of progressive societies is from status to contract.

        “The movement of the progressive societies has been uniform in one respect. Through all its course it has been distinguished by the gradual dissolution of family dependency and the growth of individual obligation in its place. The Individual is steadily substituted for the Family, as the unit of which civil laws take account… Nor is it difficult to see what is the tie between man and man which replaces by degrees those forms of reciprocity in rights and duties which have their origin in the Family. It is Contract.”

    • Adam Baum

      It’s not conservatives “who lack mercy and compassion”, it’s people like you, who insist that humanity is better when the individual is stripped of the rightful gifts of God, an opportunity to find a productive place in the world to meet the market as a peer, and seduced into dependency. Ironically you serve not God but those temporal powers who are eager to resurrect a new kingdom based on feudal serfdom. Meanwhile you advocate for more and bigger golden calves to your god, the state.

      Maybe Mr. Kalb is in great pain, but he shouldn’t be alone and one wonders how much that pain exists because it was so easy for decades of clerics to work to turn the Church into “just another NGO”, and issue lengthy documents about economics and other matters that they are abysmally ignorant about, rather than to do the difficult task of tending to the sheep when the wolves were about, standing firm against the sexual revolution, encouraging chastity, vigilance, industry, fortitude and a genuine charity, not the counterfeit gospel of Marx you preach.

      You are bitter little man, who never misses a chance to insert some extraneous class-warfare bovine excrement into thoroughly unrelated topic. You are a scandal and in no position to criticize this thoughtful essay.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Liberals who confuse freedom with license, also have no mercy or compassion. Doesn’t matter if they are sexual libertines or fiscal libertines, the whole idea of freedom being license causes harm.

      There are no conservatives in America. The Americanist heresy is to destroy the subsidiarity and solidarity that would allow real conservatives to exist.

      • hombre111

        Hola, Theodore. I guess we would have to get down to definitions. To me, a modern liberal is someone who searches for possibilities and has a sense of community and mutual responsibility. A conservative is cautious about possibilities and prefers the individual over the common good. Both can go astray: liberals with their tolerance for sexual license and drug abuse; conservatives with their individualism, their general contempt for the poor and their inability to measure the common good by the measure of the Kingdom of God in our midst.

        • TheodoreSeeber

          I consider *BOTH* of those to be liberals. In that they want LIBERTY. The group you consider to be “conservatives” are also for “community and responsibility” governing “the common good”, that’s what “the invisible hand of the free market” is all about- the individual need for community and mutual responsibility.

          Human beings are incapable of forming communities above 10,000 people; therefore, community doesn’t scale large enough for multicultural society or even a modern city. Modern governments are far too large to be governed by community and mutual responsibility.

          And both have lost the Kingdom of God and any measure of the common good by their individualistic addiction to “liberty”. The Kingdom of God isn’t about “liberty” and “freedom”- it is a monarchy, a kingdom. The only liberty and freedom in the Kingdom of God is measured by Orthodoxy- and orthodoxy protects the common good through the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. Human beings are not capable of mutual responsibility and community enough to govern a large population any other way.

          • HigherCalling

            The Catholic definition of Liberals and Liberalism:


            • TheodoreSeeber

              Exactly. Liberalism is a sin. But what we fail to realize is that American Conservatives are often liberals in disguise, just for fiscal liberty (the free market and the rule of capital rather than Ora et Labora) instead of sexual liberty.

              • Alecto

                What you describe is a Libertarian, not a conservative. Conservatives are the most ardent defenders of traditional values like marriage, family, sanctity of life, charitable giving, preserving the innocence of childhood, or the Good Neighbor rule. I do not know what the source for your confusion about conservatives is, but I would certainly like to understand why you deride us.

                • TheodoreSeeber

                  The Republican Party Platform is the source of my confusion, but that’s why I said “American Conservatives”, not “conservatives” in the general or historical sense.

                  Soft libertarianism has intervened on both the left and the right in the United States.

                  I’ve even had a self-proclaimed conservative argue against the good neighbor rule, based on some idea that he should cheat his neighbors merely because he could get goods cheaper on the other side of the world.

            • Alecto

              I thought it was a mental disorder? Yuk yuk yuk…

        • Adam__Baum

          “To me, a modern liberal is someone who searches for possibilities and has a sense of community and mutual responsibility.”
          And in reality the modern liberal is a fascist, constantly working to create a more powerful and intrusive state, that destroys an intermediating institutions.
          Modern liberalism is the massive administrative state that promulgates ever more regulations, so many that the state has no idea how many exist. You and your ilk are the authors of the HHS mandate, the NSA snooping, the abuses of the IRS and all of the rest of the things that we’ve read about in past months, but should have been fighting for decades.
          You can paint your ignorance with all the vacant, nebulous euphemisms you want, but cheap wordplay can’t change the fact that you have been the handmaiden to the devil himself.

      • HigherCalling

        You don’t intentionally create a Godless Constitution from conservative principles:

  • Alecto

    Provocative reading, troublesome, too. And what of the effects of in vitro technology on the family? Obviously, there are no limits on science, medicine or research which are tools of the State. Frightening tools, hammers really. When science can treat children like a recipe, a commodity to be ordered from a catalogue of desirable or undesirable traits, who needs mothers and fathers? Take a little XY, add XX, add surrogate wench, change some genes around and voila! Le gateau humain!

  • Polly_Twocents

    Last summer during the Democrat convention, a promotional video was shown that claimed that we all “belong” to government. I remember feeling chills run up my spine. Government belongs to “we the people.” The idea that we have been co-opted into government and that the government has redefined us, and the institution of marriage and effectively family, is chilling.

  • John

    Great article, but no need to lose hope. the answer to the insanity of “gay marriage” and all the other idiocies of the crazies of both sides of the political Spectrum is the same as it’s always been: go to Church, live the faith, raise large families and answer hate with love and truth. That’s how christians beat every persecution down the ages and overthrew Kings and empires. We’ve had it too easy the last 60 years. Well, tough! Now we’re going to have to put our money where out mouths are and learn to be as plain speaking as our enemies. Who’s going to stop me going to Church and having a fifth kid and saying loudly and clearly that marriage is one man, one woman? No-one. Bring it on, folks!!

    • Tucker

      Great reply, John.

      Who’s going to stop me going to Church and having a fifth kid and saying
      loudly and clearly that marriage is one man, one woman? No-one.

      They will try, of course. But your solution is the correct one.

  • Jim

    Yeah, yeah. Gay marriage destroys marriage. How many zillion times do we have to read this hoary saw? This inane accusation is so old you could actually Carbon-14 date it to, oh I’d guess, sometime back in the Paleolithic. Don’t you losers ever come up with anything original? Anything at all?

    • Steven Jonathan

      Jim, honestly your comments are silly. We all can easily understand that you don’t understand. The truth is original in the best sense, your endless craving for innovation or a pseudo originality you mistakenly call originality is lost only on you. We don’t need anything new because we have the truth, you and your ilk do need something new, because the enthusiasm required to prop up addiction is all consuming. If I could help you I would.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      The original is always dangerous- for it is unproven.

    • Adam__Baum

      Since the notion that two people of the same sex can marry is only a few decades old, your c-14 notion is nonsense. I realize the hard left is intrinsically afflicted with neomania, but perhaps you can make a more intelligent analogy in the future.

    • Alecto

      Ah yes, the tolerance is so warm and inviting, c’mon in everybody!

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    #1. The “progressives” will necessarily have to resort to increasingly oppressive means to impose and enforce their will on the population. This will ultimately result in a societal collapse because a tipping point will eventually be reached. There are no forces inherent in the progressive mentality that can conclude, “We’ve gone as far as we can and should.” Let’s remember that theirs is a philosophy of destruction and not creation.
    #2. When #1 comes to fruition, man will have to re-discover who he is. That’s where creation renews itself. Man re-defines himself in light of the person of Jesus Christ.

    • WSquared

      Deacon Peitler, the question we don’t pose enough to “progressives” both inside and outside the Church is “progress towards WHAT, exactly?” Progress for the sake of progress, and moving forward for the sake of moving forward is meaningless.

      “Man re-defines himself in light of the person of Jesus Christ.”

      Does man re-define himself, or does he come to understand himself more fully? And does not Christ form us more fully– through Him, with Him, and in Him — as He feeds us? What do we even mean by “Jesus Christ”? I’m not trying to be facetious here. Rather, given that Pope Benedict XVI, Fr. Robert Barron, Brad Gregory, and Ross Douthat have all recently written about this, it seems that “Who do you say that I AM?” remains a pressing question. Not just for always, but perhaps especially in a “Christian” culture that likes emptying the Cross of Christ’s suffering, and where we have a President who tells Planned Parenthood, “God bless you,” and where we often have “Christians” praying for abortion rights.

      A lot of these hot-button issues also beg the question of the correct relationship between matter and spirit, whereby 40 years of bad catechesis has actually helped make the Incarnation (and even the Real Presence) the elephant in the room.

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        Man, living within the relativism of progressive thinking, defines himself in terms of himself. We might call him ‘narcissistic man.’

        Man who defines himself in terms of the other – God and his neighbor – will do so in terms of who Christ is. The goal of our lives, it seems to me, is to ever increasingly define who we are in terms of Christ – incarnational man – man who defines himself in light of the Incarnate God. The sacramental life of the Church forms us in this effort. And it is why evangelization of the society is so important these days.

      • Hello WSquared – You wrote “Does man re-define himself, or does he come to understand himself more fully?”

        A very big problem in the Church today, it seems to me, is the presumption of being in Christ – of being in the state of grace – simply by virtue of being a “normal” Catholic who gets to Mass when he can. In such a presumption, the call for radical following of Jesus Christ, for radical conversion to Christ, seems “protestant.” As a result, very few Catholics see any need for adult catechesis, or for continuing formation in the Faith, or for Bible Studies. Why should a Catholic who is “already in Christ” bother? It seems to many that “sin” has been done away with, and so conversion and the radical call to holiness and to a life worthy of the Cross of Christ seem, well, “fundamentalist.”

        Many Catholics are immersed in the secular world for most of their 24 hour days – and for many, the one hour of Sunday Mass does little to reorient them to concerns for and the reality of the eternal and the holy. For such Catholics, yes, I would say, a redefinition is needed. Conversion is needed – a radical turning away from the world, and a conscious turning to Him. Man cannot understand himself at all, until he first finds himself in Christ. He must discover the reality of Christ – the present, the real, the living Jesus Christ – and KNOW himself to be IN HIM. Then, he can begin to grow.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      André Breton, the founder of Surrealism, understood this very well. He called for “something dictated by thought, released from all control of reason, divorced from all aesthetic or moral preoccupation… We will then be able to say everything as well as to do everything, if we start by annihilating everything, what limits can stop us? None whatever.” Hence, “”The most simple surrealist act consists in this: to go down into the streets, pistol in hand, and shoot at random, for all you are worth, into the crowd.” Why not? This massacre of values is necessary to create values that are really new. “Everything is still to be done,” affirms Andre Breton, “every means becomes good when employed to destroy the ideas of family, native land, religion.”

  • Aliquantillus

    Catholics will have to learn what Orthodox Jews have learned since times immemorial, which is that when you are a despised minority, it’s essential to keep intact your traditional culture. This requires building fences and boundaries, making sharp distinctions between those who belong to your group and those who don’t. It requires keeping intact traditional ritual and liturgical observances — like meatless Fridays for instance — which make a separation between the groups that observes them and those who don’t. Emphasizing these distinctions can be of great help in order to maintain one’s traditional religious and moral values.

    Alas, it must be said that such a project is contrary to all the love and peace blather coming to us from the authorities in the Church since Vatican II, which only leads to assimilation and losing one’s identity by always playing nice. The policies of the Magisterium will have to change deeply if Catholicism is to succeed in being recognizably distinct from the mainstream of modern Western culture.

    • WSquared

      There’s some truth to what you say, in terms of keeping traditional culture intact. But we have to know where to build fences and boundaries– namely, who are we as Catholics, and who is Jesus, anyway? What does it mean to remain in Him? What is the relationship between matter and spirit? We can’t hide behind our traditions. We have to reach out to others. But the reason we need boundaries is that we can’t do reach out without knowing who we are, and we can’t give what we ain’t got. Because we won’t even know what we’ve got to offer.

  • Emerson_C

    In respect of its destruction of the family, is not liberal modernity not intrinsically suicidal? The most noticeable thing about it recent historical successes is the collapse in the birthrate of those milieus that have succumbed to the liberal virus. They will rapidly fade from history. the effects of liberal modernity on the family may have ground finely. But the wheels of God grind even more finely.

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  • kneeling catholic

    I think Mr. Kalb has hit this nail squarely. Either marriage is real, or it ain’t

  • Private property is a right, but only a moderated one. I’m not sure if it would be correct to call it a “metaphysical right.” The Church teaches that the Universal Destination of Goods supersedes the individual right to property, as this right is indeed not an absolute right relating to the intrinsic dignity of the human person.