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A Dialogue on Marriage: Part Five

Posted Jan. 28, 2015 by DOM No comments yet

Dialogue-Part-Five-no-wordsPart Five of the Six-Part series beginning with the question, “What is Marriage?”

Socrates: Bob, I have a cute story to share with you, if I may.
Bob: Sure, go ahead.
Socrates:  I was tucking my daughter into bed, and she got a dreamy look on her face as she said, “Daddy, I want to marry you.” I smiled and told her that she couldn’t marry me, but that someday she might want to marry someone else. She looked very sad, and said, “But I love you so much!” I told her that she would always love her daddy, but that love isn’t the same kind of love as married love.
Bob: I think I know where you’re going with this.
Socrates: Well what do you think about that? Should a daughter be able to marry her dad, since she loves him?
Bob: Of course not!
Socrates:  But why not?
Bob: Because, like you said, it’s a different kind of love—or at least it should be.
Socrates:  Do you think it is true love though?
Bob: Of course.
Socrates:  Then we agree that there are several ways of truly loving people, not all of which lead to marriage.
Bob: Naturally. But I think that the love that two men or two women have for each other can be the kind that leads to marriage.
Socrates:  Even though, when we talked previously, you admitted that they can’t unite completely, the way that a married man and woman can?
Bob: They can unite on a deeply personal level though, and be companions for one another throughout life . Maybe it shouldn’t be called marriage, but it’s something.
Socrates:  What would you call it?
Bob: Some laws call it a civil union— that they are close friends who support one another and love each other, and implied in that love is a sexual relationship.
Socrates:  Do you think that the sexual relationship is an integral or essential part of a same sex friendship then?
Bob:Not in general, but for people who are attracted to the same sex, it is: yes!
Socrates:  Then you would say that the body itself is neutral in terms of sexual expression?
Bob: What do you mean?
Socrates:  It seems you’re saying that the body, the way it’s made, doesn’t reveal how one’s sexuality is meant to be expressed.
Bob: You mean that the attraction and the body are entirely different things, so that a man can be attracted to either a man or a woman and it’s basically the same thing?
Socrates:  Right. Is that what you think?
Bob: Yes. Clearly some people are attracted to others of the same sex. You wouldn’t deny that, would you?
Socrates:  No, I wouldn’t, but I would question the idea that just because it happens, it’s the same as when someone is attracted to people of the opposite sex.
Bob:Sexual attraction is just that, attraction… being drawn to someone, feeling connected to them. It’s not everything about a person, but it is pretty determinative of a person’s life: who they love.
Socrates: Okay, but what is the “end” of sexual attraction?
Bob: What do you mean, “end”?
Socrates:  I mean purpose. What is the purpose of sexual attraction?
Bob:The continuation of the species… and the making of a community and family.
Socrates: How does sexual attraction to a person of the same sex continue the species?
Bob: It doesn’t; but it can make two people into a community.
Socrates:  How?
Bob: Like I already said, they can share a life together.
Socrates:  Okay, but I can’t see any reason why being “a community” requires a sexual relationship. In fact, I think a sexual relationship in which the most obvious purposes of sex (total union and procreation) are not respected does more harm than good. That’s usually the case when something is used in the wrong way, and not treated with the dignity or respect it deserves.
Bob: We’re going to have to come back to this.

FAQs: Isn’t marriage a private relationship? What does it have to do with the common good?
What about “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships”?

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Evangelii Gaudium, Marriage and Family: Part Three

Posted Jan. 27, 2015 by DOM No comments yet


Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world, Evangelii Gaudium or “The Joy of the Gospel,” has many points that are relevant to the work of Marriage: Unique for a Reason. This series will explore some of these themes and apply Pope Francis’s words to the culture of marriage and family in the United States.

The Gospel and Finances
In chapter two of Evangelii Gaudium, the Holy Father comments on the crisis of communal commitment by going through a series of “No’s”: “No to an Economy of Exclusion,” “No to the New Idolatry of Money,” “No to a Financial System Which Rules Rather than Serves,” and finally, “No to the Inequality which Spawns Violence” (nos. 53-60).

All of these statements about money and its place in our lives have implications for marriage and the family. First, on the “economy of exclusion,” Pope Francis writes that by excluding certain persons or groups from access to social and economic opportunities, “we have created a ‘disposable’ culture which is now spreading” (no. 53). The first step in combatting a “disposable” culture must be to acknowledge that from the beginning to the end of life, each human being is precious and irreplaceable. The proper context for this is the family, where the child is first welcomed, and where, on the other end of earthly life, the elderly may be cared for.

Pope Francis notes that in the modern world “we have created new idols… man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption” (no. 55). The gap between the rich and the poor keeps widening and the “deified market” becomes “the only rule” (no. 56). The family can counter this trend by remaining as a place where human beings are clearly valued above financial gain or consumption. A family who chooses and is able to receive the blessing of a large number of children, for example, gives up material comforts for the sake of human beings. Children can be taught to value their characters over their cash and to sacrifice for the sake of others.
“The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor” (no. 58). Families are called to foster generosity in their children: awareness of the privileges they have and the obligations such privileges entail. Parents must model respect for the poor and solicitude for those in need.

Parents are also called to educate their children about the larger systems that affect family life, and to help them develop compassion for the poor around the world in concrete ways. In many places evil is “embedded in the structures of society” (no. 59). Families cannot ignore the larger societal trends and policies that keep the poor poor and the rich rich. They must not be complacent about the desire for justice. Pope Francis’s words on the “economy of exclusion” have implications for every family.

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A Dialogue on Marriage: Part Four

Posted Jan. 26, 2015 by DOM No comments yet

Dialogue-Part-FourContinuing the series on marriage with Bob and Socrates. Check out parts one to three first!

Bob: I think I understand now your objections to same-sex couples being considered the same as married couples: it’s about children and what’s good for them.
Socrates: That’s true, but it’s not all. It’s also about doing justice for everyone, even those who are attracted to persons of the same sex, since they were also made to love as God does.
Bob:  Except that’s what you’re denying them: the right to love.
Socrates: Who said that?
Bob: You did. You said they can’t get married because that’s not what marriage is.
Socrates: Is marriage the only form of love?
Bob: No, but it is the ultimate form. Even according to the Bible!
Socrates:You mean because marriage is a symbol of Christ’s union with the Church?
Bob:  Yes. Basically, you’re denying people the ultimate way to express their love for each other.
Socrates: How did Christ express His union with the Church?
Bob:  By marrying her, like I said.
Socrates: And when did He marry her?
Bob:  I don’t know. Didn’t Jesus go to a wedding at some point?
Socrates: Yes, He did, but it wasn’t His own. I’ll give you a hint: Jesus showed His love by dying for the Church.
Bob:  Oh. On the cross.
Socrates: (silence)
Bob:  What?
Socrates: Well it doesn’t sound like Christ’s idea of love or marriage is about an emotional attachment to another adult, does it? It sounds more like Christ’s love was expressed by self-sacrifice; by offering Himself to do the Father’s will, even when that was obedience unto death.
Bob:  What are you saying?
Socrates: I’m saying that we are all called to imitate Christ before anything else. Every one of us is called to sacrificial love. For some people, that means the total gift of self in marriage, which always entails sacrifices. For others, loving as Christ does may mean celibacy for the Kingdom of God.
Bob:  But telling someone they have to be celibate for life seems so harsh.
Socrates: Only if you equate love with sex and don’t acknowledge other ways of finding love and fulfillment. There’s also a distinction between telling someone they have to do something and someone’s freely choosing and accepting to be celibate.
Bob: Sounds like we might need to talk about this more.

FAQ: Isn’t it unjust discrimination to not allow two men (or two women) to marry?

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