A bill was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that redefines marriage in the eyes of the government. Appallingly, it was one of the more bipartisan bills in recent years, with 47 Republicans joining every Democrat to redefine marriage from being between a man and woman to being between two spouses of any sex. Sixty-six Catholic members of the House affirmed the vote.
Marriage in the modern era is just a contract to most. Sadly, I don’t think this is as new as we would like to believe. We have a cultural deficit of understanding that is now being mirrored in our government. As Richard John Neuhaus observed, “Culture is the root of politics, and religion is the root of culture.”
Governments are typically reflective of the morality (or lack thereof) of their people. In a society such as ours, the political circus is at least partially representative of our lack of culture. Yes, plenty of corruption influences policy, but nevertheless, most politicians at least play the role of being representative of their constituents. An honest reflection on the contemporary ambient American non-culture reveals what the U.S. House just attempted to cement: that masses of Americans see no unique value in marriage.
It’s a contract—one with loopholes galore. No-fault divorce has made that contract even easier to dispel than most other contracts. Some even plan for failure with prenuptial agreements. Then they stand before their fellow man to say “till death do us part,” having first pocketed a document stating, “But if things get rough, I get the car.” This shouldn’t be, and I think we all know that something is wrong; or more accurately, someone is absent.
If you eliminate God from marriage, as has become the norm, then there can be little that separates it from a lease, an insurance agreement, or an employment contract. You’re just a decent lawyer (and a large bill) away from getting out of it.
But what if it was a covenant? What if it was one of the most important and most pious things a man or woman could partake in? What if they stood on holy ground (not on a beach), in God’s house, with respect for the sanctity of where they stood, swearing to their Creator that they would stand by one another, and help to guide one another, in the service of God till the end of their days?
If they do anything less, I’m not sure it’s love at all. What if they had no care about the government at all in that moment? What if, after their own eventual death, they expected to answer to God for how they conducted themselves within that marriage?
That’s a real marriage. It requires a love that a homosexual union can never fulfill. Spouses in a real marriage can and must guide each other to God because they love one another enough to care for their eternal souls. A homosexual union, on the other hand, is an embrace of sinful desire in which both parties lead one another away from God—which cannot be love. It cannot be love to say to the other, “Engage in this act with me, at the expense of your soul, for I consider my pleasure to be more important than your salvation.”
This, by the way, is why it is not moral for Catholics to refuse to speak on this issue—or worse, to encourage it under the guise of tolerance. It is not moral for us to ignore or encourage what is sinful. To do so is to deny truth (and therefore deny Christ).
There can be no morality in implicitly saying, “I care so little about your soul that I won’t even tell you the truth.” That’s not morality. That’s cowardice. It’s common, even normal. There are people who will proclaim that it is somehow moral for us to stay silent as others imperil themselves; but that’s cloaking cowardice in virtue, when there can be none. In the words of St. John Bosco, “The power of evil men lives on the cowardice of the good.”
The bill that recently passed the U.S. House was ironically named the “Respect for Marriage Act.” It is outrageous to assert that you can respect something by undermining it. One does not demonstrate respect for something by fundamentally redefining it. That’s erasure, not respect. If you undermined or redefined the institution, then you didn’t find it worthy of existence, so you certainly did not respect it.
In order for us to respect marriage, we must not only refuse redefinitions, but we must also acknowledge the importance of marriage in our society. It is the building block of it. It is the institution that begets children and from which a healthy society stands. The holy institution of marriage has bonded men and women together throughout the ages, that they might be ready to raise the next generation. It has provided direction for woman’s nurture while domesticating man’s aggressiveness in his position as protector of his household.
Each home should be built upon the clear foundation that God mandates, that reason ascertains and universal human experience confirms, thereby enabling them to raise their children under God to the best of their ability. From there, they join together with other such families to build charities, civic institutions, and communities. If this were not the foundation, what would be the alternative?
There is only one: government. The order of society becomes inverse. There is no natural marriage but only a contrived and ephemeral one, for the all-powerful state becomes the ever-active arbiter of all. It can take and define contracts and call them marriages, groups and call them families. In so doing, it redefines itself also: as god.
Make no mistake, when marriage is redefined, so too is the sacred institution of the family, for it is left without a foundation. If the truth of marriage is erased, how then is one who accepts the government’s new power going to argue when presented with a homosexual coupling as being “fathers”? And how then might those same fools argue when the schools teach their children perversities? If such should be allowed in the intimacy of the home, then why not the distant school?
Accepting the government’s redefinition of marriage is not about the tweaking of the legal conditions of a contract, for it was never just a contract. It is about the debasing of the foundation of Christendom.
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