Have no doubt about it. The legalization of same-sex marriage will change the legal status of matrimony for traditional heterosexuals. This will happen through the courts over the next several years.
Same-sex marriage will become a non-negotiatable civil-rights issue so that all non-profits, private schools, and churches rejecting same-sex marriage will permanently lose their tax-exemption status and face legal penalties.
Do you like your local Catholic private school? It will be shut down for its “bigotry.” You want to send your kids to Franciscan University? It will lose its accredidation, it’s federal loan priviledge and it’s non-profit status. It will be ruined. Just give it time.
Do I have your attention? Good. It’s time get Maccabean about Matrimony. So here’s the game plan that we must fight for:
10 Ways Catholics Can Save Marriage:
- Start using the term “Holy Matrimony” and always use that term. Yes, you don’t need permission. That’s capital H and capital M. Go there. The word “holy” is important and “matrimony” has its etymology in the Latin mater meaning “mother.” Matrimony brings about the procreation of babies and makes women into “mothers.” Holy Matrimony. Got it?
- We must encourage Catholic Church to officially declare ex cathedra that our Holy Matrimony is a sacrament between a man and a woman that resides above the natural order of government and that it is ratified and regulated by the Catholic Church alone. True, this is already Catholic teaching, but we need to be vocal about it and make it clear as day.
- The Catholic Church should consider all Western marriages “dubious” since most contemporary married people are generally lacking formal and material intent. Those who are not practicing Catholics enter into an arrangement called “marriage” that does not correspond to the traditional Christian definition that ensures monogamy, procreation, and heterosexuality. If Bob and Sue get “married” in the Episcopal Church nowadays, their view of marriage may and probably does include no-fault divorce in case “it doesn’t work out,” the “need” for contraception, and a definition of marriage that includes homosexuality. Their intent is lacking and thus the marriage is dubious and ready for annulment. (BTW, this is a theologically correct way for liberal (German) Catholics to grant more legitimate annulments and find a solution without changing the Catholic theology of Holy Matrimony)
- The Catholic Church has traditionally and charitably presumed that Protestant marriages are valid and even sacramental. The Catholic Church should rescind this presumption since most Protestant denominations believe in divorce and remarraige…and now same-sex marriage. What they call “marriage” is not what we Catholics mean by “Holy Matrimony.”
- All Catholic marriage prep should end with a video recording of the male and the female to be married in which both personally articulate the Catholic teaching about matrimony, monogamy, indissolubility, procreation and contraception, and heterosexuality. This will be useful in the future if one party seeks an annulment. The diocese can simply pull the video and say, “Well, here you are being filmed 3 weeks before the wedding and you are rationally describing the Catholic sacrament of marriage and articulating your full consent to enter into it with your spouse. So explain to us again why you think you aren’t really married?” This video also demonstrates that the deacon or priest adequately prepared the man and woman for Holy Matrimony.
- Casual pre-marital sex should be seen as an impediment to Holy Matrimony. Holy Matrimony is a holy sacrament and a spiritual vocation. You cannot be leading each other into mortal sin as you prepare for this holy state. What if a Seminarian started to celebrate Mass and hear confessions before his ordination? He would be dismissed. But what if the seminarian said, “Yeah, but I needed to try it out to see if it was a right fit?” Sorry. Still dismissed. He’s not worthy to be priest. Yet, why are we so lazy and lax when it comes to the other sacrament of vocation.
- Recapture Holy Matrimony as a church event and this means we need to distance ourselves from the pomp of the afterparty, flowers, cake, guests, etc. Holy Matrimony should feel more somber like a priestly ordination and less like a Quinceañera or debutant ball. Holy Matrimony is not a narcissistic parade for princesses and their mothers. It’s a sacrament. Rein it in.
- We need to decouple civil marriage from Sacramental Holy Matrimony. This can be done in two ways:
First, can priests cease serving as ministers of the State in administering marriage, as this Eastern Orthodox priest is doing.
Second, we need aggressive pre-marriage civil agreements that secure monogamy and traditional marriage. Why? Because the legal teeth of civil marriage have been removed. A woman can commit adultery against her husband with 50 different men, and then seek a divorce…and the poor husband still has to pay alimony to her! Why? Because American courts do not believe that marriage is a monogamous contract. In a study of 566 gay couples, only 45% had made the promise to be sexually monogamous. David Nimmons cites studies which show that 75% of gay male couples are in open relationships. Oh, and the NYTimes are citing these facts as ways that homosexual married couples can help “innovate” a new view of marriage for heterosexual marriages. We need to stress monogamy in marriage if we are going to save the institution. There should be a pre-nup (that word scares people for good reason – let’s call it pre-matrimony or “civil marriage addenda”) for both parties saying, “This is a monogamous, exclusive, and sacred bond that is only dissoluble by the death of one of the parties. If you’re unfaithful and commit adultery, you get nothing from the other spouse if you file for a civil divorce. Nothing.”
- Hang on to your Catholic vocabulary. If you have a gay co-worker who is “married” don’t call his partner a “husband” and don’t call his union a “marriage.” You wouldn’t call a Protestant service “a Mass” and you wouldn’t call the Reverend Jesse Jackson a “priest” or “Father.” I also don’t call a Lutheran a “Catholic” even though he claims to be one. Sorry, I have to be true to my beliefs. If I get fired, so be it. If you don’t follow your conscience, you’ll be miserable.
- Do not attend marriages that are not really marriages. When the judge or minister says, “Is there any reason why these two should not be married? Speak now or forever hold your peace,” you are morally obliged as a patriotic citizen of your community and as a baptized Christian to speak up and say it. If you don’t want to be in that awkward situation, don’t go!
Question: Do you agree? What else can we do? I expect this post to get lively. Please stay respectful and rational. Don’t be a troll. You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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