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

Obergefell Destroyed Marriage as a Legal Construct. It Did Not Destroy Marriage. June 30, 2015


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?


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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38 responses to “Obergefell Destroyed Marriage as a Legal Construct. It Did Not Destroy Marriage.”

  1. I said this on one of your previous posts: No court, no judge, no legislation can make two people of the same gender married. It is an absurdity, a non sequitur. No judge nor politician or even a vote can by decree make one plus one equal three. Nature is nature as arithmatic is arithmatic.

  2. The truth is that the beginning of the end of marriage as a legally protected institution probably started with the widespread acceptance of divorce, as you say. The truth is that if that had never happened, we might not be where we are today.

  3. Very true. The damage will be done to our society as we are already seeing. Feral children is a good description.

  4. True, our civilization will fail if we don’t do some fast backtracking. A big event is going to happen in Philadelphia this year, Pray for the Pope’s safety.

  5. If I were to love my neighbor as myself, I would not want to deny my neighbor the right to marry the person of her choice.

  6. No-fault divorce, specifically. Before that, grounds for divorce were abuse, abandonment, and (I think) adultery. Get married, have kids, grow up. Order variable.

  7. I… don’t quite understand how a decision allowing people to get legally married can be said to have destroyed legal marriage?

  8. The first part of that commandment is Love the Lord Your God with all your heart with all your mind and with all your strength. And, love your neighbor as yourself.

  9. What’s happened is that the government is essentially saying you can ‘marry’ whomever you want, without any guidelines whatsoever. It makes ‘legal’ marriage utterly meaningless, and gives the government no reason to take an interest in it. If ‘legal marriage’ is about feelings and emotions, there’s no room for legislation, right?

  10. Even if acting on her feelings would send her to hell for all eternity? I wouldn’t want that for my worst enemy, much less a friend.

  11. Words have meaning. As of a very few years ago, marriage meant a man and a woman and that was basically a consensus meaning.

    To change the meaning of a word requires a broad social discussion, which hasn’t happened. Gays have talking points that fail under scrutiny, and Christians talk religion, which can’t be the basis of civil law. I’ve tried to make non-religious arguments, but neither side wants to hear it. A propaganda campaign is not a discussion.

    The process also matters and the process has almost guaranteed social disorder. Calling people who disagree with you “bigots” does not persuade. Anthony Kennedy ‘ s majority opinion is offensive to a free people. He should be impeached.

    And in pretty laissez-faire about civil ssm.

  12. That is mere opinion. It has never been verified as a certainty. If I believed that human experience lasted beyond human life, I would be more concerned about winding up in the bad place as a result of dehumanizing people based on their sexuality.

  13. From reading the comments on this subject it appears the majority now needs protection from the minority.

  14. What’s happened is that the government is essentially saying you can ‘marry’ whomever you want, without any guidelines whatsoever

    This is not actually true. The only guideline that has been removed is that of gender. There are still requirements in all jurisdictions for things like legal adult age, degree of blood relationship, legal dissolution of any prior marriages, mental capacity to enter a marriage contract. I don’t expect them to be repealed any time soon, and they all apply to same-gender pairs.

    Legal marriage still has plenty of meanings. I’m not looking for laws regulating next-of-kin status, joint property, income tax guidelines, health insurance, social security benefits, survivor benefits, divorce dispositions, etc, to be repealed any time soon, either.

  15. There’s been discussion on this for years and years and years. But there comes a time when the rights of the minority are no longer up for debate by the majority. That’s why we have courts as well as legislatures.

  16. I repeat: a propaganda campaign is not a discussion.

    And this purported right came through an embarrassing bit of jurisprudence that demonstrates the emptiness at the heart of all this. Like I say, when the argument is that those you disagree with you are bigots, the stage is set for tyranny. This decision is right up there with Dred Scott.

    By the way, I’ve been pretty open to civil same-sex marriage for awhile. At this point, the only way to turn this country around is for everyone to see who the real haters and bullies are. Public opinion is yours to lose.

  17. If this world is all there is, being a Christian is still worth the joy and peace I have in this world. Trouble-free ecstacy? Please! Successfully going from strength to strength? Hardly. The arms of God has held me close, filling the ups and downs with his grace, not my goodness.

    So if this all there is, it’s pretty good.

  18. Polygamy, polyamory and incest prohibitions are already being debated. The decision does away with those as well. There are already demands and pending lawsuits. Just watch.

  19. The polygamy lawsuit has been filed, I want to say in Idaho. The other restrictions now have no rational basis. To oppose polyamorous marriage can only be the fruit of personal animus.

  20. Okay, I’ll watch. Who knows, I may be surprised, at least about polyamorous unions.

    But I don’t expect qualifications for age, free consent, and mental capacity to enter a contract to be overturned, even if polyamory is regularized.

    And even if polygamous marriages were to be legalized tomorrow, well, they’d be, you know, legal. There would still be a concept of legal marriage even if it doesn’t resemble our current understanding.

    Nitpickery, maybe, but I still say that any contract, registered with the state, that defines the participants’ rights and obligations, is a legal matter. Unless you expect the government to get out of the marriage business entirely, to do away with any distinction at all between “married” and “not married,” there will still be such a thing as “legal marriage.”

    As we all say, words have meanings. And “legal” has a meaning that’s much easier to pin down than “marriage.”

  21. I thought I left a reply to this last night. Did it get lost, or did it get axed?

    Because I don’t think I was any ruder to you than you were to me.

  22. I have no idea what happened to it. I may have deleted it … or not. I got a group of nutty stuff that I deleted. Maybe I got yours along with theirs. Maybe Disqus ate it. Don’t know.

  23. I wouldn’t put anything past Disqus.

    Not important; it just kind of echoed the previous comment from the other side.

  24. I think the Catholic Patheosi are all agreed that Disqus is the spawn of satan. 🙂

  25. Neither of us were rude to the other.

    You could say I was rude to Anthony Kennedy, but he deserves it for dropping that swill on the country (not the decision itself, but his argument).

  26. There is and has always been a definition of “marriage.” It predates the state. There is also a suit pending for a father/daughter license and there is no more basis legally to deny it.

  27. “Marriage” predates the modern state, yes. It doesn’t predate human culture.

    And culturally, what’s defined as “marriage” has varied quite a bit. in a few outlying instances, has even included father-daughter pairings. (After all, it’s a man and a woman, isn’t it? If that’s the absolute most important requirement.)

    But still, I will be very surprised if that suit goes anywhere.

    Marriage, of course, isn’t only a legal contract. It has emotional, social, cultural, and religious aspects. But even in a homogenous society, let alone a culturally diverse modern nation, what those aspects are, and how much importance the participants place on any of them, are not uniform and invariable. And, they’re not the state’s business.

    All the state is doing here is defining what is its business: that gender is not sufficient reason to debar someone from a marriage for which they would otherwise be qualified.

  28. Well, I took mild exception (I’m a mild sort of person) to your characterizing everyone who disagrees with you as “propagandizing.” Propaganda, after all, implies deliberate lying, or at a least a total disregard for truth or falsity, in the service of some other aim.

    Although, on re-reading after a night’s sleep, perhaps you also include marriage-equality opponents among the propagandists?

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard years of honest discussion on this topic, from people whose lives are intimately affected by it, and from those who have seriously considered the issue according to their religious and moral understanding. To accuse them all of lying is rather unkind.

    And I’ve heard propaganda, accusations of bigotry, and genuine bloody-minded vitriol from both sides. The pure nastiness can be disregarded. But if someone accuses me of bigotry, I hope I would at least listen and consider what might have led them to form that opinion of me.

    You think it’s Dred Scott. I think it’s Loving v. Virginia. I suppose our grandchildren will be the judges.

  29. See, this is the problem. I didn’t say that everyone who disagrees with me engages in propaganda. You added “everyone”, which radically changes the meaning.


    Propaganda is information that is not impartial and used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively (perhaps lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or using loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information presented.

    Yes, Christians have engaged in propaganda, though the ssm argument is based on propagandist assertions, primarily that sexual preference is equivalent to race. Also, that the sufferings of gay persons are due to social oppression. I know too many gay people to accept that.

  30. I should add that after 40 years of being called a “homophobe” and “bigot” has left me with a pretty thick skin, but I’ll admit having the Supreme Court of the United States do that is a shock.

  31. It’s very, very good and the older I get, and the more experiences I’ve had, the more I realize that. Thank you for expressing it so well.

  32. I said, “I’ve heard a lot of discussion…”

    You said, “A propaganda campaign is not a discussion.”

    So, am I misinterpreting you to understand that to mean that no one, and especially no one on the equality side, is expressing an honest opinion?

    the ssm argument is based on propagandist assertions, primarily that sexual preference is equivalent to race.

    That’s not exactly how I understand it. The assertion is more that discrimination by sexual preference is analogous in many ways to discrimination by race, in its effects on the discriminated-against.

    Are you saying that anyone who makes that argument is by definition making an irrational appeal to emotion? Whereas opposition to marriage equality is rooted in objective truth?

    That’s an assertion that would need a whole lot of proof before coming across as “I’m right; you’re wrong and I can’t listen to you when you’re so unreasonable.”

    Also, that the sufferings of gay persons are due to social oppression.
    Except that nobody is saying that. Any individual gay person might have any number of unique difficulties.

    It’s just that, to cite a famous Internet analogy, Straight White Man is still the Easiest Difficulty Setting in the Game of Life. Is it really so shocking to consider leveling things up a bit?

    You may know gay people. Do you listen to them?

  33. You keep changing terms and manipulating my words. This has been the hallmark of the gay rights movement since I became aware of it in the mid 70s.

    You may know gay people. Do you listen to them?

    Now you’ve been rude. Good day.

  34. I’m trying to understand your words.

    Perhaps you can explain to me why your statement that the ssm argument is based on propagandist assertions isn’t a dismissal of any possibility of rational, principled arguments in its favor.

    And perhaps you can explain to me the basis for your assertion that LGBT persons don’t suffer from the effects of social oppression. Or am I misunderstanding you again?

    LGBT people suffer from the whole host of ills the flesh is heir to, like everyone else. They also suffer the effects of discrimination and prejudice. Wouldn’t those gay acquaintances of yours agree to that?

    But, if we’re done, then we’re done.

  35. You are denying the reality of history. There have been a few instances of incest, usually among the ruling class to preserve the dynasty. Ironically, it usually contributed to their downfall, leading to the long tradition of prohibition of the practice.
    Matrimony is between one man and one woman. There has never been SSM in any society, lots of hookups, though. So, now, SCOTUS has said there is in a mushy decision that will make the other permutations legal.
    Yes, incest, pederasty, polygamy, polyamory are all available because of this.
    Btw, the reason for matrimony as the foundation of society is for the nurture of children.
    You can disagree all you want, but that does not change the facts.

  36. Thank you for this article. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that Eternal Truths are precisely that – eternal. Man cannot change objective reality. The supreme court can call a tomato a bicycle if they wish, but it won’t make it so.