Obergefell Destroyed Marriage as a Legal Construct. It Did Not Destroy Marriage.

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/

He who made them in the first place, made them man and woman. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and go to his wife and the two shall become one. So they are no longer two, but one. What God has put together, let no man take apart. Jesus Christ

 

Jesus’ statement on marriage was one of his “tough” sayings. He didn’t equivocate about marriage, and neither can we.

Here’s what He said, broken down:

1. God created humanity as man and woman. This was ordained from the beginning, as part of the order of creation.

2. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Not, notice, one man and many woman, or groups of people, two men or two women. God’s created gift of marriage is not any of the innovative adaptations humans seek to apply it. Marriage before God is between one man and one woman. This definition of marriage is also given in the first chapters of Genesis. Jesus is not creating new law here. He is quoting Scripture which decides the order of creation as God intended it.

3. Divorce is a human contrivance that comes from our hardness of hearts. Further down in the exchange I quote from above, the Pharisees challenged Jesus in an attempt to attack Him. They asked Him why the law of Moses allowed divorce. Jesus answered them simply: Moses (not, notice God) allowed divorce because of the Israelites’ hard hearts. But, He adds, it was not so from the beginning. He goes on to say that, basically, divorce is a human contrivance and that even if someone divorces under civil law, they are still married before God and that any further marriage would be living in adultery.

What does this mean to us as Catholics?

It means that gay marriage is, at best, a human contrivance that has no existence before God. Churches of various denominations can decide to allow it, but they are teaching a false teaching to their flocks. I would not want to be a preacher who had deliberately done this on the Day of Judgement.

It also means that people who divorce and remarry are not remarried at all before God. They do not have the power to dissolve a sacramental marriage. The courts do not have this power, and neither does the Church. Jesus Christ has plainly said that it can not be done. When divorced people remarry, they are not married before God. They are cohabiting.

This gets into the thorny questions of the various accommodations the Church has made to our human fallenness in this area. Marriage Tribunals exist that go over divorced individuals’ marriages in detail in order to see if they can find a way in which the original marriage was not “licit,” which is to say that it was not a marriage before God in the first place. This looks, from the outside, like they are straining out gnats of situation so that they can swallow the camel of divorce. But that is a topic for another blog post.

What does all this say about gay  marriage? It says that gay marriage doesn’t exist before God. It has never and will never exist before God.

What does that say about us and how we conduct our social and professional lives?

It says, first of all, that we cannot accept or accede to gay marriage as a social construct, anymore than we should accept or concede to divorce as a social construct.

Now we all know that we’ve done the hat-tip to divorce. My husband and I were once part of a large Sunday School class at a Methodist Church that was comprised of about 20 married couples. In that group, there were only three couples who had not been previously married, divorced and remarried. We actually felt like outsiders in much of the conversation, since we had no share in the miserable, teary-eyed stories of grief and personal tragedy that accompanied this divorced lifestyle and history.

Divorce wasn’t so ubiquitous in the Episcopal Churches we attended. In fact, it was rather rare. It’s certainly a reality in our Catholic parish, but when we gather with groups, life-long married couples with their only spouses are the majority.

The point to all this is simply that we’ve swallowed the camel of divorce. In the process, we’ve created generations of feral children and all but destroyed the working class.

One reason why divorce has been so disastrous for the working class is that divorce creates and exacerbates poverty. Divorce splits the assets of the married couple. Every single divorce does this. Several divorces can atomize an individual’s lifetime accumulation of property and savings to the point that they have, literally, nothing.

Divorce with children is much easier to weather when the divorcing parents are each capable of financially providing for their children’s care. When divorce hits people who are struggling to get by with McJobs, the family is plunged from barely getting by into a sinkhole of poverty. Whichever spouse ends up with the children is always the most poor because the kids are such a drain on the time, resources and career opportunities of a single parent.

This means, among other things, that unless family members can take up the child care, these kids spend almost all of their waking hours either under the authority of bad public schools, or home alone. As we say here in Oklahoma, they get their raisin’ from indifferent teachers in slum schools and other children.

Is it any wonder that they grow into messed up adults? Is it any wonder that they turn to gangs for the family they’ve never had? Is it any wonder that they are prey to every social innovation that comes along?

Divorce has destroyed our families and it has fed our kids into the maw of the culture.

Enter same sex marriage.

If divorce damaged and defaced marriage to the point that it created generations of feral children, gay marriage destroys it utterly. Marriage no longer exists as a legal construct in this country. It is now an elastic non-definition based on feelings rather than law. Since the Supreme Court “found” a right to privacy in the 14th Amendment, along with a new right to individual autonomy, the legal fence around marriage that allowed it to exist as a discreet legal entity is down.

Marriage no longer exists as a legal construct. I think that, in time, this will lead to the overturning of laws that grant marriage special privileges. That almost has to happen, for the simple reason that enforcing and allowing those privileges will become too burdensome on governance at all levels.

Also, marriage in itself is no longer deemed either a foundational institution or a core method of child rearing. Marriage is now, under the law, a matter of nebulous feelings, intent, and newly created rights to individual autonomy.

In short, marriage, as the vague and non-defined whatever that it is under Obergefell no longer provides for a social good that justifies granting it special privileges. When it is promoted by nonsensical slogans such as “love is equal,” you almost know that marriage is now about nothing from a legal standpoint. The decision itself reflects this.

Does that mean that marriage no longer exists?

Have we, by our own contrivance, done away with what God created and told us that we may not put asunder?

No.

Marriage, real marriage is not a relationship. It is a reality. Marriage is the God-ordained root of human society by which human beings become more fully human. It is the civilization-builder that makes us unique among all of creation. It is also a gift that will last as long as this created order in which we live and breath, move and work, lasts.

Without marriage, there is no civilization. Men and women, when they are separated from one another, are useless creatures. Men without women rapidly descend to the brute. Women without men dither and spin. But when we come together, we create civilization.

We weren’t meant, as some false faiths teach, to lord it over one another and abuse one another. That is the sin of the garden. It is not the natural order of how we were created. Misogyny is the curse of our fallenness.

There is a reason why societies which degrade the female are both brutal and backward. That reason is that these societies violate the natural civilization-creating order that God intended. They suppress the feminine to the point that they descend to the male brutishness. They are societies that are trying to function with half their heart and half their brain.

The Obergefell decision destroyed marriage as a legal construct. But it did not destroy true marriage. The Court does not have that power.

And neither do you and I.

We cannot destroy marriage by divorce, domestic violence and adultery. We can not destroy it by the sophistry of legal definitions and media propaganda. Marriage, created by God from the beginning, is not ours to destroy. What we maim and damage and inflict grave harm upon with our behavior is ourselves, our spouses, our extended families, and, most of all, our children. If we continue down this path, and it appears that we will, what we will ultimately destroy is our society and our civilization.

Gay marriage does not and cannot destroy true marriage. Neither does divorce.

What both these things destroy is our society. Our children. And our own lives.

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Pope Francis: Marriage is the First Sacrament of Humanity

 

As we would describe it here in Oklahoma, Pope Francis said a mouthful.

His comments on family life have been spot on. Here are a few from a discussion he gave Friday to the XXI Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family:

The family is the “community of life,” the “natural center of human life,” the “engine of the world and society,” and the “place  (where) you learn to love.”

Each of us builds his own personality in the family.

In the family a person becomes aware of his own dignity and especially if his education is Christian, recognizes the dignity of every human person.

Marriage is the ‘first sacrament of humanity.’

A society that abandons its children and marginalizes the elderly severs its roots and obscures its future.

From News.va:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called the family a “community of life with its own consistent autonomy”, and that it is the “natural centre of human life”, “the engine of the world and history”, and the “place you learn to love”.
He was speaking on Friday to participants of the XXI Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The Assembly has been looking at the theme “Family, Live the Joy of Faith” and also marked the 30th Anniversary of the Holy See’s 1983 Charter on the Rights of the Family.

“Each of us builds his own personality in the family, growing up with their mother and father, brothers and sisters, breathing in the warmth of the house,” Pope Francis said. “In the family, a person becomes aware of his own dignity, and especially if his education is Christian, recognizes the dignity of every human person, and in a special way, that of the sick, weak and marginalized.”
The Holy Father reminded the participants the family is based on marriage, which he called “like a first sacrament of humanity”.
“In marriage, we give ourselves completely without calculation or reservation, sharing everything – gifts and sacrifices – trusting in God’s Providence,” Pope Francis said. “This is the experience that young people can learn from their parents and grandparents. It is an experience of faith in God and mutual trust, of profound freedom, of holiness, because holiness pre-supposes giving of yourself with faithfulness and sacrifice every day of your life!”
The Pope then spoke briefly about two stages of family life: childhood and old age.
“Children and the elderly are the two poles of life and also the most vulnerable, often the most forgotten,” he said. “A society that abandons children and marginalizes the elderly severs its roots and obscures its future. Whenever a child is abandoned and an old person is marginalized, is not just an act of injustice, but it also demonstrates the failure of that society. Taking care of children and the elderly is the only choice of civilization.”

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When Home is Hell

Comments on this post about divorce have, as these things usually do, veered off into the subject of abusive relationships in marriage. Here, just for the record is my two cents on that topic.

Never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.

John Milton, Paradise Lost

I chose the quote above because of it’s origin. It comes from Paradise Lost, which is the tale of Satan, cast out of heaven and down to hell because of his hatred.

People who beat and batter their own families seem like that to me. Ditto for the monsters who sexually abuse their own loved ones.

I am talking about people so cowardly that they spend their frustrations on the people who trust them and who deserve their protection because they, unlike the rest of the world, are unwilling or unable to fight back against their real problems.

What kind of monster would hit or batter their own spouse? Don’t they know that their husband or wife is their own self?

You can not harm you’re life’s companion, the person you create other people with, the only one who will be there beside you throughout your days in this life, without also harming yourself.

I repeat: What kind of monster attacks his or her own wife or husband, his or her own children?

Home is refuge, one that, in these increasingly traumatic times, we all need. Home is, as Robert Frost said, “where, when you go there, they have to take you in.” Home is that last place on earth where you can go, where you will be safe, even when the rest of the world is perilous.

Home is also the last place on earth anyone should defile with their violence and abuse of other people.

If batterers are so brave, let them take their rages to the world and try yelling at their boss or talking back to the cop who writes them a ticket. See who lets them in the house later when they’ve been fired, or who empties the piggy bank to pay their bail.

It will be those people no one should ever attack: Their family.

Manly men do not beat up women. Manly men do not rape children.

Womanly women do not batter their kids. Womanly women do not berate and belittle their husbands.

To paraphrase Emily Dickinson, home is meant to be the closest thing to heaven we will know in this life. But, with our propensity to evil, many of us turn our homes into all we need to know of hell.

What should a Christian do when they’ve married what they thought was a good person and find later that they have yoked themselves to a monster?

If there is violence or sexual abuse, you must divorce them. If you have to go to a shelter or take out restraining orders, do it. If they are violating your children, send them to prison. You owe that to the rest of society, so that they won’t do it again to other children.

I do not fully understand the nuances of the Church’s teaching in this regard and I am speaking here entirely for myself. But you and your children have a right to life, the same as everyone else. Physical violence or sexual abuse are threats to that right to life. They are an abrogation of your dignity as human beings made in the image and likeness of God.

There can be no marriage with a monster and people who do things like this to their own families are monsters. I do not know how the Church treats these things, but as far as I am concerned, a person who is so morally deficient that he or she will physically attack their own family is incapable of entering into a sacramental marriage in the first place. They are too morally blighted for the words of their vows to have meaning.

In short, get yourself safe and sort out the finer points later.

As for those readers who actually batter their wives or husbands, you need to go to a priest and, after confession, ask for referrals where you can get help. You also need to move out of the family home until you are safe for them. If you never are safe for them, then realize that you are not worthy of having a family of your own.

If, on the other hand, you have sexually abused your children, you need to turn yourself in to the police. I mean that. You can get counseling and whatever in prison. But you do not belong free.

I don’t know that people who commit these kinds of crimes against their own families ever turn themselves into the police. I have never personally heard of it. However, I do know people who have gone to prison for sexually abusing their children.

That is just the beginning for the children who have been through this. If they do not get immediate help, they will suffer the consequences of what was done to them all the days of their lives.

If your spouse has done this to your kids, you need to consider the best ways to get your children the therapy they need. As always, the Church is a great resource. Here in my archdiocese, the Church offers all sorts of help for families and children in distress, and most of it is free.

If you are the victim of battering or abuse yourself, you need to take care of yourself by getting therapy and assistance for you.

In the midst of all this, do not forget your spiritual healing. A kind priest can do wonders about helping you through times like this. If you should run into one of the occasional bad priests who are unsympathetic or who try to get you to stay in a situation that is violent and dangerous, just find another priest. You can talk to your bishop about this bad guy later, when you are stronger.

Many times, families who have an abusive member are isolated from other people. You may not have been attending church. Or, if you have, you may not have been able to participate in the guilds and groups that help you meet people and form friendships. Don’t let this stop you from seeking their help now. I would not hesitate to call the parish altar society or Knights of Columbus, and ask them for support and help.

If you’re lonely, say so. If you need a job, ask them for leads. You will probably be astonished by the help they give you and how much it enables you to move forward with your life.

If, for some reason, they don’t respond, try another parish.

Above all, pray, pray, pray. The Rosary is a wonderful prayer for bad times for the simple reason that you don’t have to come up with the words. When you are distraught and can’t think what to say, the Rosary will pray for you.

Ruth Graham once said that if two people are married and never disagree, then one of them is unnecessary. All marriages, even the best of them, have their times when the spouses are at loggerheads over something or other.

In a good marriage, this usually lasts only a few hours at most, then the love the two of them have for one another works its magic. But even the best marriages have times when one spouse is in their private misery over work or feelings of failure or grief and the other spouse cannot reach them. These are tough times. But they are not a reason for divorce.

Love perseveres.

But when a marriage descends into the hell of violence and abuse, that is a sure sign that there is no love there to persevere. Some things are not negotiable. One of them is that anyone who harms their family in this way does not deserve to have a family.

It’s as simple as that: They don’t deserve you.

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Shacking Up, Gay Marriage and Now Wed Leases: Is Marriage as the Larger Culture Lives It Dead?

Shacking up, gay marriage and now wed leases.

Given all this, I’m inclined to say as so many people do these days Why bother?

A reader sent me a copy of the Washington Post opinion piece excerpted below. The author, who is a divorce attorney, suggests that, given today’s revolving door marriages, we just set up marriage as a lease arrangement and forego all that “til death do us part” nonsense at the get-go. He sees it as a simplification of the court-laden bitterness of today’s divorce culture.

My first thought was that the guy deserves a couple of stars for innovative thinking and his willingness to legislate himself out of a job. But then I thought that he’s probably as sick of doing divorces as every other attorney I ever met. Setting up wed leases for his clients (His suggestions would require quite a bit of personalized legal tailoring for each couple.) would probably end up being, if not as lucrative as a high-dollar divorce, still a good living for an attorney, and without the need to Xanax.

So, I guess he’s not being entirely selfless.

However, he has put his finger on the truth of what is happening in our society.

We’ve trashed marriage to the point that it no longer means much of anything. Gay marriage is the end of marriage as a legitimate institution. Now the flood gates on redefining marriage are open and you can bet that a lot of garbage is going to trot through them. Of course, none of this would have happened if heterosexuals hadn’t trashed their marriages (and their kids, homes and finances along with their marriages) for so many years.

Christians who want to follow Jesus instead of the world are going to have to make a decision about their marriages. Are they entering into Holy Matrimony, which is a life-long union on which God rains down sacramental graces? Or, are they entering into an elastic “so long as we both dig it” legal contract endowed by the state with nothing much but a lot of misery and legal gas?

The truth is, marriage, as it is practiced today has nothing — and I mean nothing — to do with the sacrament of Holy Matrimony as Jesus created it and as the Church has provided it for 2,000 years.

Which is it Christians?

Have you and your spouse entered into a Covenant before God Almighty that bonds you together in sickness and health, for richer and poorer until death does you part? Or are you just play-acting with some legally created contract that you can breach or nullify anytime there is sickness or poverty or you just don’t feel like it today?

For centuries, the legal definition of marriage corresponded closely enough to the Christian understanding of Holy Matrimony that the two could function almost as the same thing.

No more.

In today’s brave new world, “marriage” is a legal construct. At best, it is a contract. At worst, it is a sham. Many times it is both — a sham contract.

Holy Matrimony, at least as the Catholic Church and some other denominations do it, remains unchanged. Outside of those churches that still treat marriage as the life-long Covenantal relationship between a man and a woman that God intended, there is no Holy Matrimony in our society today.

Christians who want to follow Jesus are going to have to learn to make this distinction, first in their own lives, and second as they regard the “marriages” in the wider world. There are things that redefining the law cannot change, and this is one of them.

True marriage, which, to distinguish it from the legal contracts of the wider society, I have decided to call Holy Matrimony, is a sacrament instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is up to you, my Christian brothers and sisters, if you want to be married in the eyes of God in Holy Matrimony, or you want a legal contract for sex and shared finances. If you want Holy Matrimony, then you must begin with the Church as the cornerstone of your marriage. By that I mean you must be married in the Church and you must make Christ the head of your home.

I do not think it will be possible for Christians to be the light the world so badly needs if we continue down this path of half Christian/half worldly.

More and more the world itself is demanding that we, as Joshua demanded thousands of years ago, choose this day whom we will serve.

Choosing to follow Christ begins in the individual heart, and it is first acted out in the home. The creator of home is Holy Matrimony.

Everything else is dead legalism.

From the Washington Post:

We all know that far too many marriages end in divorce, yet this institution does not adapt. Indeed, most Americans today want to expand conventional marriage to include same-sex couples.

So why is there no effort to improve the legal structure of marriage, when it shows itself to be deficient?

Marriage is a legal partnership that lasts a lifetime — one lifetime to be exact, that of the first of the spouses to die. Generally speaking, that is a long time for any partnership. People, circumstances and all sorts of other things change. The compatibility of any two people over decades may decline with these changes to the point of extinction.

In real estate, one may own a life estate in a piece of property. This is comparable to the term of a marriage — a lifetime. And in real estate, one may hold possession of property for shorter terms through a lease.

Why don’t we borrow from real estate and create a marital lease? Instead of wedlock, a “wedlease.”

Here’s how a marital lease could work: Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years — one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes. It could end up lasting a lifetime if the relationship is good and worth continuing. But if the relationship is bad, the couple could go their separate ways at the end of the term. The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.

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