Redefining Marriage, Part 1-10: Who’s to Blame? The Root of the Problem

Redefining Marriage: Who’s to Blame? The Root of the Problem

Editor’s note: In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark opinion legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, it seems fitting to repost this article written in June 2011 by Steven Greydanus.

06/26/2015 

Redefining Marriage, Part 1: Who’s to Blame?

Don’t blame the gays.

Same-sex marriage was not foisted on New Yorkers by less than 5 percent of the population. I mean, you can blame them a little. But same-sex marriage isn’t the real problem—it’s only a symptom of the problem.

Don’t blame the Evil Party or the Stupid Party. They were instruments of evil, not the root cause. I’m not saying don’t hold responsible the politicians who pushed through same-sex marriage in New York, or that their offense is not very great. (This particular legislative push was a Democratic governor’s personal cause, and according to an intriguing, depressing post mortem in the New York Times, he mobilized an extremely effective campaign with the aid of top Republican donors and the passive cooperation of lackluster Republican leadership.) But it’s only because the meaning of marriage is already so eroded that this was able to happen—and it wasn’t politicians or gays who brought us to this point.

Don’t blame the bishops or the priests. I’m not saying that our shepherds don’t bear a fearful burden of responsibility, or that they have in general discharged it effectively. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter that most priests have fallen silent—or worse, dispensed with or openly rejected Church teaching—on subjects that should be shouted from the rooftops. Nor am I saying that bishops haven’t dropped the ball on Church discipline—say, on Canon 915, a canon that too many bishops seem unwilling to implement under any circumstances. These things matter a lot.

But our shepherds have been swayed (wrongly, certainly) by pressure coming above all from the laity. By and large, we are the problem—we, and the rest of the culture. A problem our shepherds are charged with taking by the horns, which by and large isn’t happening, but still, the marriage crisis isn’t something that’s been foisted upon us by external forces. It’s something that, by and large, we ourselves—Catholics as well as Protestants—have accepted, tolerated and embraced.

Recently in an online forum a same-sex marriage advocate wrote to me, “I’ve never once had any conservative be able to tell me how the legalization of gay marriage affects, in any measurable way, their relationship with their spouse.”

My response was: “I’ve never once had any same-sex marriage advocate be able to offer a coherent account of what marriage is and is not, and why it is the state should have a bureaucratic apparatus for certifying (and decertifying) sexual partnerships involving two and only two non-related adults in any gender combination.”

The problem is, it isn’t just same-sex marriage advocates who are unable to explain what marriage is. It’s practically everyone. Marriage has been redefined for decades in our society, and it isn’t homosexuals or politicians who have done it. It’s our culture as a whole. And that’s why we are where we are.

Redefining Marriage, Part 2: The Root of the Problem

How has marriage been redefined?

It’s not something that started a few years ago with juridical edicts (and now, sadly, legislative maneuverings) mandating same-sex marriage. That’s merely the latest permutation in an ongoing dismantling of marriage in a culture increasingly defined by serial monogamy, cohabitation, children born and raised out of wedlock, artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, divorce-ready prenuptial agreements, pornography, abortion and contraception.

Of all these, the root of the problem, more than anything else, is contraception.

A contraceptive culture is a divorce culture, a cohabitation culture, a pornography culture. Same-sex marriage is inevitable in a contraceptive culture, because a contraceptive culture can have no coherent understanding of what marriage is, or even what sex is.

That’s why I said that the problem is something that “by and large, we ourselves—Catholics as well as Protestants—have accepted, tolerated and embraced.” Here, at the very root of the problem, we Catholics are as culpable as anyone else, if not more so. Contraceptive use among Catholic couples appears to be comparable to that of the population at large.

The notion that contraception pollutes a marriage in a manner comparable to adultery, something commonly understood by Catholics and non-Catholics 75 years ago, is incomprehensible to most Americans today, Catholic as well as non-Catholic. Yet once we accept the divorce of the unitive and the procreative aspects of the nuptial embrace, the other battles are lost.

Contraception destroys the integrity of the nuptial embrace, destroys the meaning of sex and therefore of marriage. People have enormous difficulty wrapping their heads around this point because it’s so foreign to the dominant worldview today: The true union of husband and wife always has a procreative meaning—even during infertile periods, or in the case of a sterile couple.That’s because the spouses always share and join their reproductive powers at that moment, whatever they may be, holding nothing back.

Contraceptive sex is neither truly unitive nor procreative, because the unitive aspect is inseparable from the sharing of one’s reproductive powers at that moment. Contraception shatters the procreative meaning of the nuptial embrace, and therefore shatters the unitive aspect as well, whether it is by physical separation of the spouses (in the case of a condom) or a hormonal or chemical suppression of one’s reproductive powers.

The contraceptive mentality has become so entrenched that for most people sex and babies are essentially unrelated topics, and many adults become bewildered at the suggestion that one has anything to do with the other. Reinforcing this separation, of course, are artificial conception techniques, which perpetuate a view of children as products. In principle, we should be able to order them up when we want them, and reject them when we don’t.

Once sex is divorced from procreation, it becomes much harder to see why sexual union implies a binding commitment. If sex means a potential pregnancy, obviously sex is a momentous act potentially ushering in long-term joint responsibilities binding the parties to one another for the sake of their potential offspring. But if sex is divorced from procreation, then there is no obvious need for a binding commitment. It can become a trial transaction. It can be merely recreational.Giving and sharing recedes, and taking pleasure and fulfillment comes to the fore.

Above all, marriage itself need no longer mean openness to life. Couples can marry solely for companionship and mutual fulfillment with no intention of sharing their reproductive potential with one another. But then it’s no longer obvious that marriage need be a binding commitment. If mutual fulfillment was the only goal, then there is no obvious reason to stay in the marriage if and when it should cease to be mutually fulfilling—or rather, as soon as either partner stops finding itself-fulfilling.

Once this mindset takes hold, it becomes increasingly plausible to leave a marriage even when there are children. An essentially social understanding of sex and marriage has been replaced by an essentially individualistic, self-centered understanding, and to the individualistic mindset is no longer obvious to why one should have to sacrifice one’s pursuit of self-fulfillment and happiness just because there are children involved.

And of course in a culture shaped by such individualism, the number of unhappy marriages—of unfulfilled partners who never sought to give themselves as they ought, and now find themselves without the self-fulfillment they sought—can only increase. A culture that increasingly doesn’t understand what marriage is cannot fail to produce more and more unsuccessful marriages.

Over time, the old idea that marriages fail through the fault of one or both partners appears cruel; it is enough to cite “irreconcilable differences.” No-fault divorce becomes thinkable, then becomes the norm, with either party empowered to sue the other for divorce on demand, leaving no recourse to the other. With this new autonomy comes a further weakening of the marital commitment, a further erosion of the marital ideal.

Yet marriage is still seen as a path to self-fulfillment, and so you get serial monogamy (or serial polygamy, whichever way you want to look at it). The dissolution of marriage is no longer seen as something radically contrary to marriage, but a fairly common phase in one’s marital life. Far from the dissolution of marriage being unthinkable, it is the commitment of marriage that is hard to fathom. An exit plan becomes as sensible for a marriage as for a war, and so we get divorce-ready prenuptial agreements.

The possibility of children is increasingly seen as a potential threat to one’s autonomy and pursuit of self-fulfillment. Contraception is a necessary first line of defense, but when prophylaxis fails, there must be a cure. Abortion is that cure. Self-gratification becomes paramount, and the other person becomes a useful means to an end, an object to be enjoyed. Objections to pornography no longer make sense in such a milieu.

It needs to be said: Within marriage, the acceptance of unnatural acts as a means of self-gratification further undermines the teleology of sex and marriage. In an unfashionable euphemism, men with same-sex attraction, men who engage in homosexual acts, have historically been called “sodomites”—a term that has sometimes been opposed on the accurate grounds that the specific acts so designated occur among heterosexual couples as well. Such acts are as unnatural between a husband and wife as between two men. There is no sharing of reproductive powers, no union in one flesh, through such acts.

Finally, the divorce rate slows and sinks, in large part because marriage itself has become increasingly dispensable and couples merely cohabit, circumventing the need for divorce. In such a culture, more and more children will be raised in single-parent households.

Redefining Marriage, Part 3: Consequences

Same-sex advocates sometimes accuse marriage defenders of Chicken Little alarmism. Is the sky really falling? they ask rhetorically. Same-sex “marriage” has been legally recognized in the Netherlands since 2001, and a handful of other countries have followed suit. In the United States, a handful of states, most recently New York, have recognized same-sex “marriage,” either by judicial fiat or through legislative means. Have these changes oppressed heterosexual couples or families in any way, or had other harmful consequences?

To this challenge there are several points that must be made, not all of which I can discuss in this post. The first point is that after only ten years at most, direct evidence on the social consequences or fallout of same-sex “marriage” is still very much in the early stages. We have yet to see how marriage and the family will fare in the long term as generations are raised in societies with officially gender-blind marriage laws.

Second, we are already seeing same-sex “marriage” laws used as a stick to beat those with traditional marriage views:

Thus, we now live in a world where the state attempts to force Catholic charities to place children in same-sex families, college students are punished for speaking against same-sex parenting, graduate students are thrown out of college for refusing to morally affirm homosexual sex, tax exemptions are denied when churches don’t make their property available for gay weddings, and social work licenses threatened merely because a school counselor supported a state marriage amendment.

Such pressure is certain to increase over time. Same-sex “marriage” laws will also continue to reshape public education. In the name of combating discrimination, every effort will be made not only to normalize homosexuality but also to marginalize and ostracize those with traditional marriage beliefs.

There is a much larger issue, though—an issue that goes far beyond the same-sex marriage debate, which I’ve been arguing is only a consequence of a larger cultural erosion of marriage. Divorce and remarriage, cohabitation, illegitimacy, abortion, pornography and contraception remain the larger threats—threats not only to the marriage ideal, but to the health of society, in very practical ways.

Is the sky falling in connection with the decline in marriage and family? In some real and measurable ways, yes. True, many people will quarrel over the real moral character of many of the social ills I mentioned in my last post, from serial polygamy to cohabitation. However, one unavoidable and growing consequence of all these issues must be reckoned on by society as a whole: the decline of fatherhood.

The United States is swiftly becoming a society without fathers. From the 1960s, when my parents married, to the 1990s, when I married, the percentage of children living apart from their biological fathers more than doubled. If current trends continue, by the end of this century as many as half of all American children could be growing up without a present father.

The absence of a father in a household is not merely a matter of conservative moral handwringing. The social consequences are undisputed, measurable and devastating. Poverty and welfare dependency, childhood sickness and mortality, poor school performance and dropout rates, substance abuse, crime and imprisonment all dramatically increase where a father is not present.

Where fathers are absent, young men are more likely to be violent, to lack empathy, to mistreat women. Young women are more prone to eating disorders and other psychological problems, to unhealthy relationships with men. Both are more likely to become parents out of wedlock, and to perpetuate the cycle of fatherlessness.

Same-sex marriage advocates may bristle at this: What has this to do with them and their issue? Nothing, at least directly. That’s actually my point.

I’ve been saying all along that the ongoing decline of marriage is much larger than the same-sex issue and that heterosexual behavior, not homosexual behavior, is the real problem. At the same time, the social ills related to bad heterosexual behavior are, precisely, marriage problems: problems for which marriage has always been mankind’s solution and salvation. The fact that same-sex “marriage” is even thinkable, that it is increasingly defined to be a “right,” is both a symptom of our culture’s worsening marriage problem and an obstacle toward recovering a healthy marriage culture.

Redefining Marriage, Part 4: What IS Marriage?

Why does marriage exist?

What is marriage? Why is it recognized by the state at all? Why, as I asked in Part 1, does the state have a bureaucratic apparatus for certifying (and decertifying) sexual partnerships involving two and only two non-related adult partners? Why should the state have such a bureaucracy? Why is it any of the state’s business? Why is it that in the whole history of state bureaucracies up to 2001 those partnerships were always between a man and a woman? Why is it that in every society, culture and civilization known to history and anthropology, we find this universal institution of an enduring union of a man and a woman as the socially privileged place for sexual relations?

Skeptics and polemicists hype the differences in how marriage is seen from culture to culture. Divorce, polygamy, concubinage, kept women, prostitution and other practices in many forms have been known throughout history. Contracting a marriage has meant many different things in different times and places. Within marriage, men and women have been subject to vastly different sets of social expectations. Sex before or outside of marriage has been subject to varying levels of tolerance or acceptance. Homosexual acts also have been the subject of varying moral attitudes, often disparaging but not necessarily always. Men (and sometimes women) wealthy and powerful enough to buck social expectations or to create their own social climate have always done so, and will do.

And yet whatever cultural vagaries or ambiguities have existed, whatever wiggle room has been permitted, tolerated or carved out, there remains a clearly recognizable institution, found everywhere that human beings are found, in which a man and a woman are socially recognized to have formed an enduring union, a union that is the socially sanctioned context for sexual relations between a man and a woman, from which it is generally expected that children may arise.

Activists have labored mightily to avoid this conclusion. Historical and anthropological records have been scoured with vigilance for any possible departure from the pattern. Numerous proposed precedents for same-sex have been compiled: accounts of this or that Roman emperor “marrying” a male slave; reports of curious customs in this or that African culture. Nearly all these supposed precedents collapse on second glance, and none of them provide a true precedent for gender-blind marriage, or pose a serious challenge to the universality of marriage as the enduring union of a man and a woman.

Catholics believe that Christ changed marriage, that for baptized Christians marriage is a sacrament, the sacrament of matrimony. Marriage itself, however, is a natural institution that still exists for all men of any religion or of none. A marriage between a man and a woman who are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or atheist is not a sacrament, but it is still a true marriage before God. It can be dissolved by divorce; a finding of nullity would not be needed to contract a new marriage in the Church, but the union itself is real and lawful as long as it exists.

What is the nature of this union? Why does it exist in all cultures, even those with scarcely any glimmer of the knowledge of the true God? As Christians, we may say that the understanding of marriage, like the rest of the moral law, is written on our hearts via the natural law. Those of a non-religious bent might point to factors in biological and social evolution—reasons why marriage “works,” why it is so beneficial to society that any society foolish enough to dispense with it would quickly be disadvantaged and fall apart, or be eclipsed by other societies practicing marriage.

These explanations need not be contradictory. The natural law is accessible to reason, even without special revelation, precisely because it is rational, which means that it “works,” it is beneficial. Not to follow the natural law is not merely to be a bad person—it is to be a foolish person doing injury to oneself. Even from a naturalistic or Darwinian perspective, we can see how murder and theft harm communities, and why proscriptions against such actions benefit society. (This doesn’t automatically provide the moral impetus to obey such proscriptions, but we can certainly see why societies would want them.) A society without such proscriptions would be on a path to destruction.

Putting aside special revelation and considering the matter from a natural perspective, can we describe how marriage benefits societies—why societies need the enduring union of a man and a woman as the privileged place for sexual relations? A key piece of the puzzle was touched on inPart 3: children need fathers. In Part 5 we’ll explore how this relates to the role of marriage as a social institution.

Redefining Marriage, Part 5: The “No” of Marriage

As Christians, we believe that the institution of marriage is a reflection the universal human vocation to love. It is a union of free and equal persons, a partnership ordered toward the perfection of the spouses. It is also a reflection of the divine romance, of God’s love for mankind and more particularly of Christ’s love for the Church. Within the Christian economy marriage has been elevated to the dignity of a sacrament.

All of these things are true, but none of them is the rationale for the institution of marriage as a civil reality recognized and regulated by the state. Certainly we have not yet touched on the essential reason why, as discussed in Part 4, marriage as the enduring union of a man and a woman is a socio-cultural constant found throughout all of human history, culture and civilization. Indeed, marriage as it has existed in many times and places wouldn’t especially suggest the description in that last paragraph at all. The notion of a “union of free and equal persons” is quite contrary to the reality of many patriarchal cultures, and the idea of a “universal human vocation to love” would be unknown in many times and places. Yet marriage itself as the union of a man and a woman is not likewise variable.

This suggests a fundamental social impetus for marriage that is not touched on above—some practical, naturalistic, even Darwinian reason why societies need marriage and will suffer without it. The obvious factor not addressed above is this: (a) Men and women engage in sexual relations, and (b) men and women having sexual relations is where babies come from. To these we may add a third: (c) Human babies are born helpless and require a long period of intensive care and education before they are ready to be self-sufficient.

It is no answer to this to object, as same-sex “marriage” advocates invariably do, that some married couples are infertile or sterile, or that post-fertile couples marry. It remains the case that if human young did not require such an enormous investment—if like the young of many species they were self-sufficient after a few months—or if, say, women became pregnant spontaneously without sexual relations with men, marriage as we know it would not exist. We could still imagine a universal vocation to love in such a world, and people might have reasons rooted in religion or tradition for forming special bonds or partnerships between persons, but such practices would likely be highly variable and in many cultures entirely unknown.

In a word, marriage as a social reality has existed throughout human history in order to toregulate sexual activity between men and women for the good of society and the next generation. For all of marriage’s glories and freedoms, marriage as a social reality is largely about society telling both married and unmarried men and women whom they may not have sex with. (Again, as discussed in Part 4, this is not to say that Christian ideals of chastity and monogamy are found in every culture; still, marriage is always the privileged place for socially sanctioned sexual relations, and outside of that context are significant if not always absolute proscriptions or taboos.)

From the dawn of human history, men have devoted enormous energy toward the goal having sex with women. In the absence of some sort of constraint, whether moral, social or prudential, few goals are more obviously attractive and rewarding for a typical healthy, unattached male than coupling with a suitable woman. Both consciously and subconsciously, he is highly motivated to pursue this goal, and to pursue it often.

In the absence of moral, social or prudential considerations, few men would be inclined to limit their pursuit of this goal to a single woman. Promiscuity, after all, can be a highly successful reproductive strategy for the individual male as well as a successful recreational one. A promiscuous male can potentially father many more children than a male who forms a stable partnership with one woman, because he can father multiple children simultaneously.

Such a man’s children may grow up comparatively disadvantaged, without the benefits of a present, involved father (see Part 3), but what his approach lacks in quality it makes up for in quantity. If, still prescinding from moral and social constraints, he can get children with a woman who happens already to have formed a stable partnership with a male who is likely to provide for the woman’s children, whether or not they are his (and especially if he doesn’t know), so much the better from the promiscuous father’s point of view.

The promiscuous man’s approach offers many advantages for him; it is notably less advantageous for the women who bear his children. Women have always had far more invested in a sexual encounter than men, and this inequality is heightened by promiscuity. That’s why on the whole women tend to be choosier about potential partners than men—and why parents tend to worry more about their daughters than their sons.

As that last point suggests, irresponsible male behavior isn’t only the woman’s problem. The support of those disadvantaged children tends to become society’s problem—the problem of the community upon whom the burden of the father’s abdicated responsibility falls, whether that community is an unattached woman’s parents or extended family, a cuckolded husband, or social welfare mechanisms and the society that supports them. Such children are a greater burden to raise and tend not to be as productive in adulthood, perhaps particularly in a developed society.

Society can partially mitigate such imbalances in various ways, for example with laws requiring paternal support. But there is no better equalizer, no more ideal scenario that serves children best and benefits society most, than a father and mother working together for the long haul to raise the children they bring into the world. This is not to say that a heroic single parent or a good adoptive family can’t also do a good job raising children, or that a troubled family can’t do a poor job. Nor is it to say that children cannot be successfully raised in other contexts, including step-families (a topic I will return to later). On the whole, though, father and mother working together to raise their biological children represents society’s best hope for the next generation.

There are many reasons for this. A father and mother who have brought children into the world are uniquely responsible for them—responsible for their very existence—and there is an innate tendency, rooted in biology, to embrace those children not only as their responsibility but also as their legacy, their posterity. A couple working together for their own biological offspring have a unique impetus to work and sacrifice for their children’s welfare and success. The sexual bond between the couple provides a foundation for a stable partnership, and if additional children come along this further reinforces and extends the partnership.

Unsurprisingly, since children being raised by their parents is the best and usual arrangement, children are well adapted to it. Children in a stable household founded on a stable marriage feel secure and thrive. The partnership of father and mother provides a foundation for their own future relationships. Fathers and mothers tend to parent differently, and children benefit from the diversity of the two. While children of both sexes benefit from both parents, a father is obviously an irreplaceable role model for a boy, and a mother is an irreplaceable role model for a girl.

Redefining Marriage, Part 6: The “Yes” of Marriage

How have societies gone about producing the type of long-term father-mother partnerships discussed in Part 5? In particular, how does society elicit this investment from men in spite of what would seem to be a strong natural inducement toward promiscuity?

Throughout history, societies have done this by creating cultural milieux in which, to varying degrees, sex outside of a sanctioned, enduring relationship is discouraged (forbidden, taboo and/or punishable) and comparatively hard to get, while such sanctioned, enduring relationships are the expected and respectable norm. Once again, I’m not saying that the Christian ideals of chastity, monogomay and fidelity have always been the ideal in theory or in practice, but a convergence of sexual ethics across cultures tending in this direction can certainly be observed.

The tart idiom “Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?” expresses tolerably well both the man’s natural disposition and the community’s interest in ensuring that he is not free to indulge himself as he sees fit. “Getting the milk for free” must be discouraged—and it must be discouraged across the board. The virtue of half the women in a community is undermined if the other half are reliably wanton. Communities therefore have historically shamed wanton behavior, and shamed the families in which it occurs.

Too often this has been taken to grotesque and tragic extremes, up to and including honor killings. Too often, too, the burden and consequences of social stigma have fallen disproportionately or entirely on women, who already bear all the physical difficulties of procreation (and precisely because of that fact). Even so, in principle the shame mechanism and other forms of stigma have a clear benefit for society. (“Buying the cow” is obviously a demeaning metaphor, intentionally so, since the expression itself has a shaming function and is only cited by way of criticizing wanton behavior. It’s only when the milk is free that the cow metaphor is used.)

The health of marriage as a social institution is directly related to this social mechanism ofproblematizing sex outside of marriage. As noted in Part 5, marriage as a social institution has always existed to regulate sexual activity between men and women for the good of society and the next generation. In a society that imposes no meaningful obstacles to or consequences for sexual irresponsibility, or that imposes only weak obstacles or consequences, marriage cannot perform this essential function. A culture that cannot clearly affirm the “No” of marriage is a society in which the “Yes” of marriage loses its meaning.

In such a culture, responsible behavior will become the exception rather than the rule. Some men and women will still form faithful, long-term relationships, partly because of the natural advantages of this type of behavior and partly because psychologically and spiritually we are made for love and virtue. But marriage as an institution cannot thrive in such a culture, and the culture itself will suffer for it, as in fact our culture is suffering from increasingly absentee fatherhood (see Part 3).

It has never been the case, of course, that all children enjoy the benefits of being raised by their biological father and mother. A parent may be abandoned or widowed and left to raise the children alone. A single parent may partner with grandparents, aunts, uncles or other relatives; they may rely on neighbors, nurses, nannies, babysitters or daycare services. (Any of these extramarital sources of support may also be involved, of course, where there is an intact marriage.)

Additionally, a single parent may go on to marry someone else, forming a step-family. Only in this case, though, has the new domestic arrangement been regarded as a marriage. If a divorced mother and widowed grandmother are raising a child together, their partnership may be as vital to that child’s well-being as that of a father and mother. Yet in no society in the world would they ever have been married.

It could be objected that marriage is for creating kinship, and since the mother and grandmother are already family, marriage would be redundant. In our society, though, a “marriage” would allow, for example, the grandmother to benefit from the working mother’s work-provided benefits. Beyond that, we could imagine a divorced mother living with a widowed neighbor instead of her own mother. In that case, there would be no kinship bond.

None of this changes the fundamental reality, noted in Part 5, that marriage as a social institution exists to regulate sexual activity between men and women for the good of society and the next generation. That is why a divorced mother who marries a new husband is recognized as marrying him—not because they will be partnering to care for children who have come into the world by some means, but because she is a woman and he is a man, and marriage exists to regulate sexual activity between men and women, which is where babies come from in the first place.

It is no objection to this to note, as same-sex “marriage” advocates constantly do, that some married couples are infecund. The large majority of marriages in history have necessarily been contracted in the absence of any knowledge of the partners’ fecundity. Moreover, while it has always been possible for fecundity to be definitively established, infecundity has historically been and largely remains elusive. A couple many be childless for many years and suddenly be surprised with a pregnancy. Communities have never had the leisure of marrying only those men and women who can and will bear children. The safest and best course for society is to treat everypairing of a man and a woman as potentially fruitful.

It even serves the social good of marriage to treat men and women who partner after normal childbearing years in the same way. That is the other favorite example of same-sex “marriage” advocates: If marriage is all about procreation, why should aged couples be allowed to marry? What this really means, I suppose, is why should women well past menopause be allowed to marry, since for male fertility there is a decline but no definitive end. (Even with female fertility there is a gradual transition rather than an abrupt cessation, and surprises can still happen for some time.)

Part of the answer, of course, is that elderly couples can obviously be married, because every married couple reaches old age unless one is prematurely bereaved of the other. A marriage of elderly people is in keeping with the institution of marriage. Beyond that, society’s vested interest in regulating sexual relations between men and women extends even to those beyond childbearing years. While unregulated or unsanctioned relations between men and women past childbearing years might not result in children born out of wedlock, it still tends to undermine the social ethic regarding marriage as the privileged context for socially sanctioned sexual relations between men and women.

A rule that applies to older members of the community as well as younger ones is stronger for it; indeed, particularly in societies with a healthy respect for elders, the natural authority of older members of the community strengthens the rule. Younger people often feel freer to disregard rules that they see their elders disregarding. As noted above, “free milk” must be discouraged across the board to keep the premium as healthy as possible. Communities would gain nothing, and would stand to erode the moral force of marriage, by adding riders such as “Women well past menopause are free to shack up or fool around,” etc.

In short, the more closely and firmly a culture adheres to a simple, strong and clear rule like “Men and women must be married to sleep together,” the healthier marriage as a social institution is likely to be in that culture. Not only does the absolute rule correspond to the reality that we are made for love and virtue and that promiscuity is spiritually and psychologically unhealthy, it also serves the community’s interest in regulating sexual relations between men and women as well.

Redefining Marriage, Part 7: The Irrelevance of Marriage?

Back from family vacation to (hopefully) wrap up my series on marriage in the next few days or so. (Incidentally, today Suz and I celebrate 20 years of wedded bliss!)

In Part 5 and Part 6, I argued that a key part of the social impetus for the institution of marriage—not the transcendent or interpersonal meaning of marriage, or the motivation for individuals to marry, but a key part of the value of marriage to the society that recognizes, supports and honors it, of why it “works” or benefits society, why all known civilizations and cultures throughout history have always recognized the enduring union of a man and a woman as a unique institution and the privileged context for sexual relations—is to regulate sexual activity between men and women for the good of society and the next generation.

From society’s perspective, uncommitted sex is a liability, largely because it disadvantages the children of such liaisons. That’s why societies throughout history have always, to one degree or another, discouraged such behavior—why marriage has always been the normative context for sexual relations between a man and a woman.

I’ve also argued that this social function of regulating sexual relations between men and women is contingent upon the social mechanism of problematizing sex outside of marriage. In combox discussion it was noted that while sex before marriage was far from unknown, e.g., in the 1950s, if a pregnancy did occur marriage often followed. Such patterns are obviously not identical to the practice of Christian sexual morality, but they converge closely enough with the social impetus for the institution of marriage to provide a useful level of regulation, and to provide the necessary support for the next generation.

It follows that the less socially problematic sex outside of marriage becomes, the less effectively the institution of marriage functions to regulate sexual activity between men and women. Unfortunately, this is precisely what our society has lost over the last several decades. Due in significant part to the rise of the contraceptive culture (Part 2), sex outside of marriage is no longer socially problematic in the way that it was not many decades ago, and as a result marriage as a social institution no longer effectively functions for the good of society. Premarital sex, cohabitation and serial divorce have risen catastrophically, with a disastrous rise in illegitimacy and children growing up without fathers—and the economic, educational and behavioral disparities that correlate with fatherlessness.

Because marriage as an institution no longer effectively fulfills its social raison d’etre, marriage in our day has become to an extent a social institution without a recognized mission—an institution we retain but no longer understand. Many people today no longer see the point of marriage.

In particular, a growing marriage gap increasingly divides social haves and have-nots. Not only is it the case (as it has been throughout history) that intact families and present fathers enhance the economic, social, and educational potential of their children, now the reverse is also the case: those least likely to get married and stay married are increasingly the less well-off and less educated. The meme “Marriage is for white people,” which hit the news cycle about five years ago, reflects a particularly catastrophic marital collapse in the black community. (This has not always been the case; not many decades ago poor people and minorities married at much higher rates, to the benefit of their children.) Thus the correlation of non-intact families with economic, educational and social limitation becomes a vicious cycle, a downward spiral for those caught in it.

Along with the value of marriage, the constitution of marriage as regards both fidelity and permanence is increasingly called into question. There is still a viable emotional and contractual objection to adultery as an act of betrayal and injustice—but this is predicated on an accepted ethic of fidelity that is rooted in part in the procreative meaning of the sexual act. That ethic of fidelity is greatly weakened in our day (though it is actually somewhat improved from its low point in the 1970s). While it is still reasonably clear that furtive and dishonest running around is shameful and hurtful, why marriage should be understood from the outset as an exclusive commitment, why allowances for extra-monogamous relationships should not be made from the outset, is no longer taken for granted.

For example, the New York Times best-seller Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, by the husband-wife team of Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, argues that monogamy is contrary to mankind’s evolutionary origins and that human beings are naturally polyamorous. (The paperback edition subtitle is “How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships.”) Although the authors claim that they aren’t arguing against monogamy (Ryan has likened monogamy to vegetarianism, saying that people can choose it if they want to), their thesis certainly undermines the moral normativity of marriage, which they claim is an economically motivated institution that subordinates women. (Not that they’re putting it down or anything.)

Sex columnist Dan Savage, who is gay, has breathlessly hailed Sex at Dawn as “the single most important book about human sexuality since Alfred Kinsey unleashed Sexual Behavior in the Human Male on the American public in 1948.” Savage is among a number of commenters who want to see society at large redefine its conception of marriage, not only to qualify same-sex relationships as “marriage,” but also to change its unrealistic expectations of fidelity for heterosexual couples, adopting a model more like, well, what a gay sex columnist thinks relationships should be like, which is basically a loosey-goosey pledge of mutual love in which expectations for outside sexual fulfillment may be negotiated by the partners.

Savage has even argued that openness and honesty about outside sexual gratification in his relationship with his partner has made their home a more “stable” environment for their adoptive child. In part, of course, that’s an easy claim for a man interested in men, where outside flings don’t involve potentially procreative acts. It’s also an arrangement more likely to be congenial to two men than to a man and a woman, given the woman’s greater investment in having sex with a man. (For some good perspective on Savage’s views, see Ross Douthat.)

Redefining Marriage, Part 8: The (Semi) Relevance of Marriage

In Part 7 I argued that in our society marriage has become an institution without an acknowledged social rationale or raison d’etre. We still do it, but we no longer know why it exists in the first place, or how it benefits society. Marriage is seen in individual terms, not social terms. It is something that people have a right to, and a healthy social egalitarianism inclines toward the view that rights should be equally accessible to all. But we no longer know what “it” is, and what qualifies as it and what doesn’t.

In part, marriage no longer makes sense because we have weakened or abandoned the connections between sex and children, sex and marriage, sex and commitment, marriage and children, marriage and commitment, and children and commitment.

Crucial to all of this is the mainstreaming of contraception. Contraception offered everyone the options of sex without children and marriage without children. The option of contraceptive sex helped make sex without marriage and even sex without commitment socially acceptable, contributing to the mainstreaming of casual sex, cohabitation and ever-delayed marriage. Contraceptive sex even weakened the taboo against adultery, while the option of marriage without children further weakened the connection between marriage and commitment, since marriage no longer entailed agreeing even in principle to the long-term joint project of raising whatever children might come along.

Once sex without marriage, sex without commitment and even marriage without (the same level of) commitment achieved a level of acceptability, the connection between children and commitment was compromised. The normalizing of cohabitation, casual sex and divorce on demand was made possible in part because it was possible to take children out of the equation—but once the normalizing took place, it was no longer possible to stigmatize having or raising children out of wedlock, or without the commitment of both partners. Artificial conception technologies were another factor, opening the door to children on demand without a marriage, a committed father figure or even a baby daddy.

Because marriage no longer serves any acknowledged social function, what’s left of marriage is largely whatever it means to the individuals wishing to marry. Marriage used to be part of society’s pedagogy—something society imposed on individuals. Now, as far as the larger society is concerned, it’s substantially up to the individuals to decide what it is and what it means. (Since everyone comes to marriage for the first time with no experience of being married, this is a somewhat problematic arrangement. Mark Twain once noted, “No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.” The phenomenon of couples writing their own vows and creating their own ceremonies, proclaiming to society their own notions of what love and marriage are instead of being instructed by the long experience of society, reflects this social abdication.)

Since sex, children and even commitment are all available without marriage, and since society no longer offers any compelling reason to marry, why should anyone desire marriage? Clearly, the practical force of this question has been felt by many. Far more people choose not to marry in the first place, or to marry much later, or to divorce much sooner. Still, people still marry in large numbers, and even among same-sex couples there is at least some wish (though perhaps much less than one would sometimes gather from media reports) for something that is thought of as “marriage.” What explains this ongoing wish to participate in an institution without an acknowledged rationale?

For a great many people, including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and others, the meaning of marriage may be supplied not by society as a whole but by a religious subculture and its beliefs. In Part 5 I noted that Christianity teaches that marriage is a reflection the universal human vocation to love and a partnership ordered toward the perfection of the spouses. Many Americans still believe that, or something like it, and this is sufficient to explain a great deal of the ongoing desire for marriage.

There is likewise the ongoing cultural legacy of a time when marriage as a social institution functioned more effectively. Much as cultural forces have labored to tear down and dethrone marriage in many ways, we still live in a generally marriage-positive culture, and marriage still commands a significant cultural approbation. Cohabitation may be widely accepted, but marriage hasn’t entirely lost its aura of gold-standard authority.

Even an occasional wedding (or anniversary) among one’s peers can exert some social pressure on those who remain unmarried. Those who are cohabiting or dating may have a lingering sense of being second-class citizens, or may feel that they have not yet achieved the pinnacle of what life together is meant to be. A woman in particular is more likely to feel less than completely satisfied, and perhaps less than completely secure, with the love of a man who shares a roof and a bed but is unwilling to put a ring on it, to proclaim it to the world—particularly if she gets around to thinking about having a baby.

Children still grow up with fairy tales and Disney movies that end with wedding bells. Romantic comedies send mixed but still generally positive messages about marriage as the ideal. The wedding industry labors mightily to preserve the romance and pageantry of the “big day”—and of course there are the showers, the presents, the reception and so forth.

Of course the real effect of much if not all of this is often to encourage people to desire a wedding, not necessarily a marriage, and certainly not the fullness of what marriage entails. Still, the idea of marriage remains a compelling one.

Redefining Marriage, Part 9: Stigma and Hate

Because our culture still generally celebrates an institution it no longer understands, people are put in a position of wanting something without knowing what it is. The pageantry of a wedding, the emotional reward of exchanging vows, the social approbation of a marriage license, the security of “making it official”: these things still attract people to marriage. Not everyone, of course; increasing numbers of people no longer see the point of marriage, and many couples stoutly profess that a ceremony or a piece of paper can’t give them something they don’t have already (and often enough, in a perverse way, they are right). But enough people feel the pull of elements of the whole marriage thing, or even of the reality of marriage itself, to keep the institution alive, if diminished.

The wish to participate in an institution that is no longer understood naturally leads to redefining the institution, by stages, further and further from its true raison d’etre. The marriage contract must be modified—first passively, by society, with the groundwork of divorce on demand; then actively, by the couple, with divorce-ready prenuptial agreements.

As noted earlier, there are calls to remove fidelity from the equation—to redefine marriage as a pact of love that allows for some outside pursuits—a move that will allegedly strengthen marriage by redefining what used to be called adultery as a non-betrayal. Monogamy is regarded as unnatural, and marriage must be restructured accordingly.

Meanwhile, individuals with same-sex attraction grow up in the same marriage-positive culture as everyone else. They see the same Disney movies and romantic comedies. They watch their peers celebrate weddings and anniversaries. Like cohabitating couples, same-sex couples are uneasily aware of a lingering stigma regarding their socially unsanctioned status.

In the case of same-sex couples, this stigma is compounded by the more entrenched disapproval of homosexuality. It’s true that the concerted efforts of the diversity machine have gone a long way toward stigmatizing disapproval of homosexuality. So successful—and at times obnoxiously ubiquitous—has the effort been to raise the collective consciousness that a recent survey found that most Americans believe that homosexuals comprise 25 percent of the total population, exaggerating the actual figure of 2 to 3 percent by more than an order of magnitude.

Even so, aversion toward homosexuality runs deep. Deeper, in a sense, than religious instruction, and probably deeper than cultural formation, although both religious and cultural formation reinforce it. Unfortunately, the matter is clouded by distorted forms of disapproval—contempt, hatred, even fear—often lumped under the inadequate, overused, but not entirely invalid label of homophobia.

Terms like homophobia and gay-bashing are wrongly overused to stigmatize all disapproval of homosexuality as well as disagreement with or criticism of homosexual activists. As a result, many people who naturally recognize homosexuality as disordered are inhibited from expressing the validity of their moral beliefs. Hostile and punitive acts are increasingly being directed against those who affirm Christian moral teaching or who do not wish to acknowledge same-sex relationships in some way. (For example, photographers, caterers and other professionals who are Christians have been sued or fined for declining to serve same-sex ceremonies. Christian clergy have been harassed and even forbidden to express their views. Others have lost their jobs—and we are still very much in the early stages of all this. For more, cf. Mark Shea.)

We should resist this, but we shouldn’t easily dismiss the element of truth behind the terms homophobia and gay-bashing—especially since these distortions, and the failure of many to treat homosexuals with appropriate dignity, is also part of the context of our current difficulties.

Spontaneous feelings of aversion toward homosexual acts—feelings in themselves natural and in principle even healthy—are wrongly but easily extended to individuals who engage in such acts, or who are prone to them. Since those prone to such acts are few and thus weak, they are easily stigmatized by the majority.

Fear of stigma then causes others to fear to be associated with the stigmatized, either socially or, worse, by identification. Such pressures move many, particularly the vulnerable or insecure, to vigorous expressions and demonstrations of scorn for the ostracized population and their inclinations—bullying and contemptuous acts that reinforce their own identification with the acceptable majority.

Adolescents in the throes of the mysterious process of sexual maturing, intimidated by a world into which they have not yet been initiated and fearing ostracism above all, may be especially frightened of being implicated in, or even of developing, stigmatized inclinations. Parents likewise may fear not only the ostracism and unhappiness of their children, but also perhaps the emotional and social cost to themselves to have a child who may be stigmatized. Adults not paired off with a member of the opposite sex may be uncomfortable with how others could perceive them. And so on.

Any of these concerns and pressures can contribute to unjust hostility toward gays, in the process perpetuating and deepening the cycle of fear and hatred, all the more because of the lamentable human tendency to hate those we have wronged.

Homophobia, hatred and gay-bashing are contrary to human dignity and to the common good. Efforts to combat homophobia and gay-bashing have made real strides, partly through praiseworthy means, but also partly by promoting a false moral equivalence between heterosexual and homosexual indications and acts, by celebrating homosexuality as a positive good, and by stigmatizing not only gay-bashing but also moral disapproval of homosexual acts.

At the same time, individuals with same-sex attraction and in same-sex relationships continue to suffer bullying, hostility and the general stigma against their inclinations and acts. For all the gay-positive messages out there, they are sharply aware of the deep-rooted disapproval of their lifestyles. In some cases the conflict may not be all external: Influenced by mainstream culture, or by the movement of their own consciences, they may struggle with interior discomfort, shame or guilt regarding their own status and actions.

For such individuals, the institution of marriage can present a conundrum. On the one hand, they’ve been shaped by the same marriage-positive culture as everyone else, and many of them have supportive married parents, siblings or other relations and friends. On the other hand, marriage as it has has always been known and is still for the most part celebrated today remains an imposing cultural and institutional symbol of heteronormativity—a cultural, state-sponsored form of social approbation available to heterosexual couples but denied to homosexual couples.

Reductionistically put, marriage can feel to such people like a sort of state-sponsored private club that admits people of one persuasion but not others. The very existence of such a club, with the active recognition and participation of the state no less, both validates and perpetuates the heteronormative moral order, and can be seen as giving tacit support to the mistreatment of gays.

Which, lang syne, brings us to where we are today.

Redefining Marriage, Part 10: Defending Marriage

Okay, let’s wrap this up. (I hoped to do this before Labor Day, but Irene and such put a crank in my works. I’m determined to keep this to 10 parts, although I will need to cheat and add an epilogue.)

Where do the reflections in the first nine parts of this series leave us?

    1. Marriage and family life are in decline. On average, more people wait longer to marry, engage in more sex with more partners before marrying, cohabitate before marriage, eschew marriage entirely, or divorce (and remarry, and divorce again) than past generations.
    2. The effects of the decline of marriage and family life are not theoretical or moralistic, but measurable, practical and serious. The decline of marriage, and with it the rise of children raised out of wedlock, contributes to a host of physical, emotional, social, behavioral, educational and economic disadvantages, and those problems become society’s problems. (Family breakdown has been implicated, for instance, in the social environment that gave rise to the recent riots in England.)

Worse, the decline of marriage has disproportionately hit precisely those already disadvantaged in many of these ways and can least afford the additional hit. No paternal support laws can compensate for the absence of paternal involvement. (Recent research even suggests that unmarried cohabitation is worse than divorce for the children’s welfare.)

  1. The decline of marriage correlates the relaxing of social norms regarding sexual behavior associated with the sexual revolution, including the mainstreaming of contraception as well as artificial conception techniques and increased acceptance of nonmarital sex, cohabitation, casual sex, unnatural sexual acts, adultery and divorce and remarriage have all undermined the institutional authority of marriage.
  2. The relaxing of social norms regarding sexual behavior have undermined the traditional function of marriage as a social institution in regulating sexual behavior between men and women. The nature of marriage as the enduring union of a man and a woman as the privileged context for sexual relations between a man and a woman for the welfare of the next generation has been eclipsed. The value of marriage today is widely reduced to the happiness and fulfillment of the individual spouses.
  3. At the same time, the cultural legacy of marriage still commends it as a romantic and personal ideal. The celebration of marriage in a culture that no longer understands it has led to pressures to redefine marriage in various ways, e.g., no-fault divorce, divorce-ready prenups, and now, among other things, efforts to erode the social expectation of exclusive fidelity.
  4. It’s this context that the push for same-sex “marriage” has become first thinkable, then reasonable, and finally, in the eyes of many, seemingly inevitable.

Even as society suffers the corrosive effects of the breakdown of marriage, the historic social impetus for marriage—the reason marriage as a universal social institution existed in the first place—has become so inaccessible to most people today that it is widely supposed, by marriage defenders as well as marriage revisionists, that the case for marriage as the enduring union of a man and a woman is rooted not in the common good but in religious doctrine.

Even many people who intuitively recognize, or are at least sympathetic to the idea, that marriage can only be between a man and a woman are daunted by the seeming lack of self-evident reasons why marriage should be defined as it is and has been throughout human history. Filling in the blanks and helping people to really see and understand the rationale for what they already knew to be true is an important step in the right direction—a step I’ve tried to contribute to in this blog post series. We need to be clear and confident, not apologetic or intimidated, about what we believe.

Those unsympathetic to the historic understanding of marriage, of course, will resist this, while those on the fence may require more convincing. How can we respond to them? What needs to be done? Here are some considerations toward defending marriage.

    1. While we need to be clear and confident, we also need to be charitable and compassionate. It is both wrong and counterproductive to demonize those who oppose us. Unquestionably, we will be demonized ourselves by others—we will be called haters, bigots, homophobes and worse. The temptation to respond in kind is understandable, but must be resisted. The hollowness of the other side’s charges against us depends on our ability to be charitable rather than hateful.

Dealing charitably with those demonizing us may or may not win over our attackers, but it will help win over other people, and in the long run it will help us win the larger cultural discussion. It’s also helpful to remember that many individuals with same-sex attraction have suffered real cruelty, and some of the anger may be grounded in such experiences. Responding in kind will only confirm negative preconceptions, understandably so.

    1. We need to be clear, both among ourselves and with those who challenge us, that the problem we face is much bigger than one issue. A particular legal definition of marriage is far from a panacea. We need to work toward a healthier marital culture. This is a huge challenge, and it’s a challenge to the whole culture.
    2. Building a healthier marital culture begins with the Church. We need better catechesis and formation on marriage—from our bishops and priests, in our schools and religious education, and in pre-Cana programs. Catholics need to understand Church teaching better, not just insofar as it reflects divine revelation, but insofar as it is founded upon natural law. Pastors and religious instructors need to speak courageously about the most intimidating topics: cohabitation, contraception, divorce, remarriage.

We need catechesis and formation that is explicitly countercultural—that awakens Catholics, and especially engaged couples, to the toxic culture in which we live and move and have our being, and the extent to which we must accept the challenge to live in opposition to the values of the larger culture. Ultimately we want to redeem and transform the culture, but this goal starts with valuing and nurturing a distinctive Catholic and Christian presence within the larger culture.

How bad is the catechetical/formation problem? Consider this bar graph breakdown of social support for same-sex “marriage” by religion. Note that the reported point spread for support among Catholics (52% vs. 41% opposed) is statistically identical to white mainline Protestants—many of whom belong to churches that officially sanction homosexuality! (Even if this data is distorted, it’s hard to imagine that methodological bias entirely explains away the appearance of catechetical failure. For example, it’s fair to note that the “Catholic” population undoubtedly includes a great many nominal or lapsed Catholics—but why are there so many nominal or lapsed Catholics in the first place?)

    1. We must be clear what is at stake for the Church. Better catechesis and formation, and a more courageous defense of Church teaching, are not merely moralistic agenda items: Same-sex “marriage” is a legal weapon pointed right at the role and mission of the Church in society. Poor catechesis and formation has directly contributed to the social challenges now faced by the Church to her freedom to operate adoption agencies, hospitals and schools in a manner consistent with her moral teaching. Pastors cannot afford the sort of “pastoral sensitivity” (or timidity, or whatever it is) that avoids difficult topics. If we continue to lose ground in the broader cultural discussion, in the end Caesar will be calling all the shots.

Will we see direct legal action brought against churches merely for refusing to marry homosexual couples, or against pastors or bishops who merely affirm historic Christian teaching? In the United States, perhaps not—our First Amendment protections may be too robust for that; even the ACLU would probably be on our side in such a battle—but in other countries in which free speech is less robustly protected, including Canada and various European countries, it could be only a matter of time.

Other measures are more likely in the U.S. if they aren’t already underway. Will Catholic schools be forced to hire teachers with same-sex partners? To provide benefits for said partners? Will churches lose their tax-exempt status, or face other punitive measures? Will Catholic hospitals and charities find doors shut to them, be forced out of the work of helping people? Will churches that refuse to marry homosexual couples eventually lose their right to celebrate legally recognized marriages? Will Christian couples be required to marry twice, once by the church and once by the state? It is far from clear that we will win these battles if same-sex “marriage” continues to advance.

    1. Catholic families should live their vocation joyfully and support other families. We can help save the world by loving our spouses and our children. Research has indicated that divorce is contagious. The reverse can also be true: Happy marriages and families can be a beacon of hope and inspiration to others. If you don’t see any happy marriages, it’s harder to believe that marriage can work at all. Generosity in having large families can also be contagious.
    2. Looking beyond the Church, we need to keep the discussion focused on the nature of marriage itself. Instead of being defensive when challenged, we should challenge those on the other side to explain what it is they think marriage as a social institution is in the first place, and why the state has or ought to have a bureaucratic apparatus for certifying and decertifying sexual partnerships involving two and only two non-related adult partners. If Michael sets up house with Emma, or with Anthony, what business is it of the state’s? What compelling state interest applies to those situations, but not to Michael, Emma and Anthony all setting up house together? Etc.
    3. In pressing this argument, there is a place for pointing to actual people and institutions defending and seeking to legitimize, e.g., polyamory or group marriage as well as polygamy,pedophilia, incest, etc., as well as doing away with marriage altogether.

The argument, though, is broader than a pragmatic slippery slope; it is an in-principle challenge to articulate why any domestic arrangements and not others should have any particular standing in the eyes of the state. Marriage revisionists have no coherent answer to this question. The only answer that makes sense of marriage as a social institution is that society has a proper interest in regulating sexual relations between men and women, founded in human reproduction and the needs of children.

  1. Legal and educational measures can help, as the authors of a recent report propose. Instead of subsidizing marriage as it ought to, the state currently penalizes marriage in various ways, both via taxes and via support offered to cohabitating couples but not to married couples. This should be changed. Divorce laws should be reformed. Public campaigns have had some success in changing cultural attitudes regarding, for example, smoking and drunk driving. Similar campaigns could be helpful in promoting marriage and discouraging divorce.

Finally, we need to be prepared to counter arguments regarding same-sex “marriage.” This will be the topic of my next and final post.

 Read the source and comments:  http://www.ncregister.com/blog/steven-greydanus/redefining-marriage-10
Related Articles/ Videos:

Here-under are some articles about marriage for you to read or watch: 

  1. Getting to know you, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=284
  2. Be Positive, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=288
  3. Love and Marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=292
  4. Endless Love – Marriage after all, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=294
  5. Say it with love, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=298
  6. Quality family moments, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=300
  7. Secret of successful marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=302
  8. The vocation of marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1968
  9. Marriage as Covenant, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1974
  10. Humility: Foundation for Marital Happiness, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1986
  11. Gratitude: Foundation for marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1980
  12. True Meaning of marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1972
  13. Marriage and incompatibility, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=2112
  14. Love is a garden, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=2116
  15. Three kinds of love, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=2095

“God himself is the author of marriage” (GS 48:1). The vocation of marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes (CCC:1603)

FBI Homosexuality. Many believe the Freemasons are simply a centuries-old charitable fraternity. However, the Catholic Church has consistently condemned Freemasonry more than any other error in its history because it promotes indifferentism, naturalism, communism, and other dangerous philosophies.

Please click this link to watch the video on FBI Homosexuality by Michael Voris

Homosexuality, the Grave Evil Presented as Good, Part 1

Please click this link to watch the video on Homosexuality: Grave Evil Presented as Good, Part 1

Homosexuality, Question and Answer Part 2

Please click this link to watch the video on Homosexuality, Q & A

Homosexuals and Freemasons inside the Church

Please click this link to watch the video on Homosexual and Freemasons inside the Church by Michael Voris

“The Rite of Sodomy” Homosexuality in the Roman Catholic Church

Please click this link to watch the video on “The Rite of Sodomy” Homosexuality in the Roman Catholic Church

Mic’d Up “Pink Money and the Homosexual Mafia” 

Please click this link to watch the video on Mic’d Up “Pink Money and the Homosexual Mafia”

Michael Voris gives a series of short talks, answering questions coming in response to his talk on homosexuality in Nigeria.

In this talk from Nigeria, Michael Voris speaks about the grave evil presented as good – homosexuality. “Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (cf. Gen 19:1-29; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10), tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intinsically disordered” (CDF,