An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

How to use Marriage: Unique for a Reason (7th of 7 in a series)

Note: This post is seventh in a series of posts about what we can learn from the Supreme Court’s June 2013 DOMA decision, and how that can help us better promote and defend marriage.  This series is based on a July 2013 talk by staff of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

Earlier posts:


PART TWO: Practical ways to promote and defend marriage

Post #7: How to use Marriage: Unique for a Reason

The audience that the bishops have in mind for the Marriage: Unique for a Reason project is Catholic young adults. The bishops reasoned that young adults are most bombarded and most susceptible to faulty messages about marriage, but the materials could certainly be used for older audiences too. The materials do not assume much in the way of prior catechesis, but they are written for a Catholic audience, not a generic or secular one.

The end-goal of the resources is inculcating a renewed understanding and appreciation of what the Church teaches in regards to marriage, and a sense of its reasonableness. The hope is that learning the Church’s timeless teaching can build confidence to promote and defend it.

The videos themselves are meant as a kind of “artistic introduction” to the topic that can spark questions and comments from the viewers. The written guides that accompany the videos can help “train the trainers” to get the right content to be confident in facilitating and answering questions. For example, the comment in Made for Each Other – “It’s not just about biology…” could open the discussion to talking about sexual difference as greater than just anatomy, about the spousal meaning of the body, about the role of science, etc. Or the line in Made for Life – “My husband plays in a way I don’t” – could lead into talking about the unique gifts of fathers and mothers and how sexual difference is more than different “roles.”

There are many settings in which to implement the Marriage: Unique for a Reason resources. Here are a few:

  1. Host a small-group event where you show one or more of the videos and lead a discussion.
  2. The videos also work well in a classroom setting, and are something that high school teachers or college professors could use with the same aim in mind. They can be used in RCIA as well.
  3. In the marriage preparation or enrichment setting, the videos could be used to help the participants gain a better understanding of their own marriage and how sexual difference matters to them. The leader might guide the discussion in that direction.
  4. The videos could also be helpful when you are training volunteers, for marriage prep or NFP, etc., to help them become more confident in what the Church teaches so that they can best help others.

Fundamentally, the videos and their companion resources are meant to “break open” the questions that need to be asked in the marriage debate: what is marriage? Why does sexual difference matter? What does marriage bring to society? And they aim to do that in a non-confrontational, invitational way.

Other ways you could use the Marriage: Unique for a Reason materials is to include one FAQ from the website in your newsletters or other communications. Or compile several for a simple bulletin insert or handout, and direct people to the website for more information.

Collaborate…and pray!

The final “tip” we’d like to offer is something that we’ve learned over the past year in our work at the USCCB, and that is the importance of collaboration and the key importance of prayer. Specifically, we’ve helped to develop and promote the Bishops’ Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty, which began in December 2012 and is ongoing. The bishops urge Catholics to pray and fast for the causes of building a culture of life and marriage, and gaining religious protections. In particular, they encourage praying a daily rosary, attending adoration monthly, fasting and abstaining from meat on Fridays, and there are special petitions that can be read at mass, in English and in Spanish. The second annual Fortnight for Freedom (June 21 – July 4, 2013) was the 5th component of the Call to Prayer.

We’ve collaborated with several offices in furthering the Call to Prayer, particularly the pro-life office and religious liberty office. This was important not just because it shared the workload, but because these issues are tied together. Marriage is the “sanctuary of life,” and a pro-life society is a strong marriage society and vice versa. And as we’ve already talked about, marriage and religious liberty are strongly linked together.

We encourage you to reach out to others in your diocese or region who are doing pro-life or religious liberty work and find ways to collaborate together. There is strength in numbers, and it’s so important, for example, to encourage pro-life folks to promote and defend marriage, and vice versa. (This would include your State Catholic Conference, particularly with regard to policy issues and aiding in communicating it to the faithful.)  One idea is to host a seminar with the relevant offices – marriage and family life, pro-life, State Catholic Conference, etc. – on how catechesis and policy/advocacy work together.

The Call to Prayer also witnesses to the fact that prayer is key. Fundamentally, the battle is spiritual, and it’s a battle for souls. Prayer and fasting are essential, not optional. That is the vision behind the Call to Prayer – that we do what we can, but it is God who changes hearts and minds. We encourage you to check out the Call to Prayer website: There you can read about the five ways to participate and can sign up to receive weekly reminders to fast on Fridays, along with a different intention and reflection each week. There are also web banners to put up on your own website.

One response to “How to use Marriage: Unique for a Reason (7th of 7 in a series)”

  1. John Buckley says:

    There is nothing reasonable in this seven part diatribe. The entire package is part of a grand scheme to gain allies by targeting unsuspecting individuals to carry out your bidding. As part of the larger plan led by the Catholic Church to prevent same sex marriage, it is a deliberate attempt to denigrate an entire class of people through a campaign of defamatory remarks and lies.

    There are people who are likely to accept the vitriolic statements because they do not know an openly gay person. But if they did, they would realize immediately the harm they are inflicting and may easily change their minds. There is, however, another more vulnerable faction, easily accessible and, I suspect, more coveted because they attend Church and are easily deceived by their fears. They do know a gay person, most likely a close friend or relative. They do not want to lose salvation for themselves or their loved ones. This, I think, is tantamount to brainwashing and the most despicable deception in the entire campaign.

    I have seen many family relationships (including my own) destroyed by this duplicitous action. I have known others who killed themselves after telling their family they are gay. The scientific community and medical professions consider homosexual orientation and the associated behaviors normal human characteristics and should not be repressed. Reparative therapies (which you describe as helpful and even provide direct links to practitioners) are rejected by the psychological profession and in most states for the deadly consequences. The Church is completely irresponsible and negligent to contradict science in favor of disproven ancient doctrine, especially when doing so destroys innocent lives. I know the Church knows what it is doing to gay men and women, you admitted as much on this blog; I just don’t know why. It borders on criminality.

    Marriage equality provides the acknowledgement that gay men and women, and their relationships require the same dignity as straight relationships. The Church is losing on this front as we realize and accept new discoveries about ourselves and the world around us. An institution as large and influential as the Church should endorse marriage for same sex couples to celebrate and welcome humanity instead of trying to destroy it.

    Although my comments are honest and true to the best of my knowledge and supported by many, I fully expect that they will not make it past your moderators. I have been prohibited from this blog’s Facebook page for lesser offences; however, I know someone will read them and perhaps they may be swayed. For that, I am hopeful.

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