I have been intending to post on the same sex marriage as it relates to heterosexual Christian marriage in order to respond to a readers comment on this post . But getting ready for RCIA, and a bit of writers block delayed my response.
“My reader writes, in part, This is a very tough subject in that we cannot accept as marriages, such unions, yet we must treat all with dignity, respect, and the love of Jesus. I suppose we need to reevaluate how we treat heterosexual marriages that are not sacramental. They are virtually identical to a gay marriage, aren’t they? Not self-giving, not fruitful, not faithful?”
She makes an excellent point. Marriage has been harmed, greatly. It has been a long and slow process which began with the Anglican Church. As I wrote in this post https://adeaconswife.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/878/:
‘Same sex marriage fundamentally changes the traditional definition of family. It is the final death blow to marriage that began in the 1930’s with the permitting of contraception in some circumstances, at the Lambeth Conference (Anglican), the sexual revolution and the loosening of divorce laws.”
I stand by the above statement with one exception. After the recent ruling on Proposition 8, I am concerned that same sex marriage is not the final blow. What comes next? Polygamous marriages? Marriage between siblings? Adult children and parents?
Yes I know it sounds far fetched that so called the right to equal protection or privacy can go so far as to allow such extreme cases. But there are few taboos left. It is all about diversity! Tolerance! Luv! Doncha know. Truth? We now speak like Pontius Pilate, “What is Truth?”
But I digress. G-e-t-t-i-n-g off soap box now. Back to my readers concern. She is an Orthodox Christian, and I can’t speak from an Orthodox position. In her comment, she says that she has a good marriage, but she seems to think that is rare. Frankly, I don’t think that it is that rare. I know, personally, a great number of couples who have holy and joyful marriages. There are many couples, in our parish, who receive blessings at Sunday Mass for their long term marriages.
But there are a lot of marriages that do not live up to their Sacramental promise. There is a lot of pain and suffering out there. The idea of self giving and self sacrificing love is often not lived out even in Christian marriage. Most contracept. Some even decide not to have children.
So she asks how should we treat such marriages.
Well in the Catholic Church, if one of the spouses (or both) marries with the intent to not have children, it is grounds for an annulment. It would be ruled that it was never a Sacramental marriage. If this becomes known to the Priest or Deacon before the wedding, they would not be allowed to marry in the Church.
Apart from that we have to proclaim the Gospel. We need to do a better job of presenting the Church’s teaching. Bishops, Priests, and Deacons should preach it with great love from the ambo (pulpit).
But most of all those of us in joyful and solid marriages need be good witnesses. Sometimes teaching by example is the best way.