Called to “the Office” of Marriage

Called to “the Office” of Marriage May 15, 2012

Elizabeth Scalia — briefly picking up her pen while still on hiatus from her cell — has an utterly different take on marriage that is well worth pondering:

If all proclaiming Christ are accepted to baptism, one might wonder, then why not all to marriage?

I think it comes down to offices, and the equality to be found therein. We talk about vocations and “one’s state in life,” but I wonder if we would not better serve both clarity and charity by considering that beyond baptism we are called to an Office. Since all Offices are callings, then all servants are equal within them and each office is lived within the fundamental calling of all baptized people, which is to chastity, first and foremost.

This brings home the barely-recognized fact that, except for those called to the Office of Marriage—who are themselves meant to be chaste within that Office—the rest of the world, the majority of humanity walking about, gay or straight, are meant to resist sexual concupiscence, whether within the Office of Singleness or Religious Consecration.

From a Western perspective, that sounds severe, but Eastern religions teach similarly, that all are called to sexual continence. Buddhists and Taoists understand that sexual energy has a “right” and “wrong” use. I know a Taoist couple who have sexual relations only for procreative purposes and during rare “seasonal” occasions. As the church calls homosexual activity “disordered”, Taoist understanding of Yin (feminine) and Yang (masculine) energies calls same sex activity “unbalanced.” In his book Beyond Dogma, the current Dalai Lama clarifies the Buddhist view: “A sexual act is deemed proper when the couples use the organs intended for sexual intercourse and nothing else . . . homosexuality, whether it is between men or between women, is not improper in itself. What is improper is the use of organs already defined as inappropriate for sexual contact.”

Despite differences in origin of understanding, the Dalai Lama’s pronouncements are remarkably similar to Catholic teaching, and next to the Taoist couple, Catholic sexual teaching—particularly Blessed John Paul’s teaching on the Theology of the Body—seems quite free. And yet gay activist Dan Savage is not attacking the Dalai Lama to cackling, appreciative crowds; no one is calling the Taoists “haters” or “homophobes.”

From a religious perspective, therefore, it does seem that in our nation of 300 million people, only a distinct minority of about 120 million (even less, discounting non-sacramental unions) are meant to be gifted with the duty of delight that is the sexual expression of love, within marriage.

Read it all.

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