Continuing to debunk the erroneous comparison of marriage redefinition to interracial marriage, Ryan Anderson and Gloria Purvis talk about what marriage is.
This is the question that has been continuously ignored or set aside in the “marriage debate,” even before the Supreme Court. The state’s version of marriage is necessarily a weak one, and open to manipulation and more changes, because it appears to be solely based on the emotional desires of adults.
Interracial marriage is simply marriage. It is not any different from the definition of marriage that held steady from the ancients until the modern era of one man and one woman, for life, who (often) have children together. The redefinition of marriage in the law to include same-sex couples is completely different; two persons of the same sex, who– by definition, not accident– cannot unite completely or conceive children with one another in a sexual act.
Gloria talks about the distinction between actions and being. The rhetoric today is that a person “is” a “gay man”—but this is an entirely new category in history and the construction of an identity that is based on a feeling or attraction [which can change] and/or actions related to it, not the being or the core of the person. The person remains a man or a woman, whose body is objectively ordered, sexually, toward the other.
In this clip, Gloria Purvis discusses the common comparison of the “Equality” movement to the Civil Rights Movement, pointing out that the ethos is of a completely different character.
The Civil Rights Movement was based on the knowledge that racial segregation was not part of the divine law, and thus was unjust.
How did they know this? Through reason, and a conviction that God created a moral law that is inscribed in human nature. Here’s a copy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, if you need to brush up on it!
King writes, “Now, what is the difference between the two [just and unjust laws]? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law.”
In other words, a right to be treated equally regardless of your race comes from God, not man, and thus a government that denies that right is not acting rightly.
Likewise, the institution of marriage was designed by God, not man…
“An unjust law is no law at all.”
Today’s video is about the phenomenon of third-party reproduction and its effects on children.
This technological “advance” has made it possible for men or women to become parents without knowing the other person (or persons!) whose gamete or uterus is involved in the process. The gamete or body comes from a “third party.”
This topic is relevant to marriage redefinition because, as Alana noted elsewhere, “if you redefine marriage, you redefine parenthood.” We have seen this being played out all over the country, such as in cases where two women want to be listed on a birth certificate as the parents of the child, effectively lying to both the child and society about the child’s origins. The child has no right, in this system, to the knowledge of who supplied the other half of his or her DNA.
Doesn’t this sound like “baby-selling,” as Alana put it? How can we advocate for the rights of children in these cases, and more fundamentally, to advocate against the use of technologies like this in the “production” of human beings?
In addition, the long term risks to women who are “egg donors” are essentially unknown.
In this clip, Kellie Fiedorek says something common-sense that seems to be missing in today’s discourse. The virtue of tolerance is precisely the virtue of “putting up with” someone or something that is not good (from your perspective). You don’t “tolerate” an ice cream sundae; You don’t “tolerate” your closest friend, unless at that moment they are doing that thing that drives you crazy. Tolerance is part of love, but only because we live in such an imperfect world. We will not have to “tolerate” one another in heaven.
But today, it seems we cannot even do that. The Church’s beliefs about marriage and about the best home for children is being regarded as hateful or discriminatory. (A big thank you to those states who have passed laws to protect religious adoption and foster care agencies!)
As Pope Benedict XVI pointed out, “In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished.” He speaks of how the Church is being prevented from being herself, “and that, instead, an abstract, negative religion is being made into a tyrannical standard that everyone must follow.”
Don’t we see this happening today in America?
 Benedict XVI. Light of the World. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), p. 53.
 Ibid, p. 52.
At the June 2017 General Assembly, the USCCB approved the continuation of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty to a permanent standing committee. This demonstrates the bishops’ commitment and the Church’s investment in assuring religious freedom for all people in America.
As Ryan Anderson points out, Americans tend not to value rights that they do not exercise. It is probably not too much of a leap to guess that the “elites” in America (celebrities, media personnel, politicians, CEO’s) are not that interested in religion, and therefore in religious freedom, especially its expression in the public square.
For this reason, it’s even more important for lay people in the Church to make it clear to their representatives and others that religious freedom is important to them. This is an issue that lay people must be engaged in, since the clergy enjoys more leeway because of their “official” ministerial positions, and could more easily be dismissed as not representative of “normal people.”
How can you help make a difference? Join our action alerts! https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns
In this clip, Kelli Wild speaks about her work with couples who choose to entrust their children to the adoption process. She says that it is not an easy path, and that it must be “laced in love.”
It may not be possible for someone who has never gone through it to truly understand a woman’s experience when she gives her child to another couple to raise, but empathy can go a long way.
One of the things that we can learn to do as a culture is to honor this choice and to be conscious of our language about it. The phrase that was traditionally used was that a woman “gave up” her baby to adoption, while the phrase that perhaps better captures the truth is that she “gave her baby to” a couple to raise, when she knew that she was not able to do so. That is an expression of the authentic love of a mother—willing to bear all the uncomfortable and painful moments of pregnancy and birth for the sake of her child, even though she will not enjoy the consolation of their smiles, giggles, or “I love you, mom” in future years.
While we should always support a woman who is committed to mothering her child on her own, if the circumstances demand it, we should also rightly honor the gift a birth mother gives when she chooses adoption.
Stay tuned to this space for a series of videos about various topics.
In the meantime, what do you think about this short story? What does the consumer mentality toward children say about our society?
By their very nature, the institution of matrimony itself and conjugal love are ordained for the procreation and education of children, and find in them their ultimate crown.
–Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes (1965), no. 48[i]
How are marriage and life connected?
Everyone knows “where babies come from” and that marriage, commitment, or really any knowledge of the other person is not strictly necessary. So why is “Life” (or “Children”) one of the four themes for the Marriage: Unique for a Reason initiative? To answer this question, it’s necessary to answer a couple of other questions first:
- What are human beings?
- What do human beings require to flourish?
What are we? There are many helpful definitions of the human being out there that get at our unique constitution: rational animals, ensouled bodies or embodied souls, individuals-in-relation, or, to be a bit more technical about it: “A man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance.”[ii] We are at the “top of the food chain” even though we are by no means the strongest of animals, and we are the only animals able to consider our own being and destiny. And yet, despite these inherent capacities, we are, at the same time, the most helpless of all animals when we are infants. We take the longest time to become “self-sufficient” and require other creatures to care for us and educate us for years. We cannot survive without our parents or some other adult human being who is willing to step into the place of a parent. And since our senses develop in utero, we know the smell of our mother[iii] and the sound of her voice[iv] and can recognize her when we are born. Our mother’s physical presence can calm us down as infants. There is also evidence that the presence of an involved father during pregnancy reduces the risk of death for the infant for the first year[v] and his physical or mental status can affect his baby’s health.[vi]
In view of these facts, what do human beings need in order to flourish? We need a mother and a father—and not only when we are infants, but all the way through adulthood![vii] If this is how we have been created, it makes sense that in God’s plan, a new human being would come-to-be within a relationship that would (at least attempt to) guarantee that this human being would be cared for by his or her mother and father for all of life. Marriage—the permanent, faithful, fruitful union of one man and one woman—is God’s first and primary way of taking care of each and every one of us from the beginning of our existence. We come-to-be in an act of sexual intercourse between a man and a woman; if that man and woman are married, we end up in the situation best suited to our human development.[viii] “Marriage as fundamentally pro-child, protecting the gift of the child and preserving the vital roles of mothers and fathers.”[ix] So that’s why “Children” is one of our considerations when we talk about the uniqueness of marriage.
The series we are beginning on the MUR blog accompanies short segments of the video Made for Life. In this video, married couples discuss the importance of openness to life to their marriages, and why children do best in homes with married mothers and fathers. During the next six weeks, we will explore these themes a bit more. Much of the posts will contain text found in the Viewer’s Guide of Made for Life. The questions provided can be used for personal reflection or for group discussion.
[i] Second Vatican Council. Gaudium et Spes. http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html
[ii] Oxford Living Dictionaries. “Human being”. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/human_being
[iii] There are a number of places to read about this, including: https://www.womenshealth.gov/itsonlynatural/addressing-myths/incredible-facts-about-babies-breast-milk.html and http://www.parenting.com/article/your-babys-sense-of-smell
[iv] Similarly, there are any number of articles on this, including: http://www.parenting.com/article/what-babies-learn-in-the-womb
[v] “Father Involvement in Preganancy Could Reduce Infant Mortality,” EurekAlert, June 17, 2010, www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-06/uosf-fii061710.php, as referenced in Paul Raeburn, Do Fathers Matter? (New York: Scientific American, 2014).
[vi] Prakesh S. Shah and Knowledge Synthesis Group, “Parental Factors and Low Birthweight, Preterm, and Small for Gestational Age Births: A Systematic Review,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 202, no. 2 (2010): 103-23, as referenced in Paul Raeburn, Do Fathers Matter? (New York: Scientific American, 2014).
[vii] So-called “grey divorce” has dramatically risen in the last decade, and adult children struggle when their parents split up. See one of these articles: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/24/fashion/weddings/never-too-old-to-hurt-from-parents-divorce.html?_r=0; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terry-gaspard-msw-licsw/how-to-move-on-from-your-grey-divorce_b_5242932.html; https://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=32532
[viii] See, for example, W. Bradford Wilcox, “Even for Rich Kids, Marriage Matters,” Family Studies, December 19, 2013;“Why Marriage Matters: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences,” Institute for American Values, 2011. Robin Wilson and W. Bradford Wilcox, “Bringing up Baby: Adoption, Marriage, and the Best Interests of the Child,” William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal. Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 883-908, February 2006. David Ribar, “Why Marriage Matters for Child Wellbeing,” The Future of Children. Vol. 25, No. 2, Fall 2015. Paula Fomby and Andrew Cherlin, “Family Instability and Child Well-Being,” American Sociological Review. Vol. 72 (2007): 181–204, doi: 10.1177/000312240707200203. Wendy Manning, Pamela Smock, and Debarun Majumdar, “The Relative Stability of Cohabiting and Marital Unions for Children,” Population Research and Policy Review. Vol. 23 (2004): 135–59, doi:10.1023/B:POPU.0000019916.29156.a7. Kathleen Ziol-Guest and Rachel Dunifon, “Complex Living Arrangements and Child Health: Examining Family Structure Linkages with Children’s Health Outcomes,” Family Relations. Vol. 63 (2014): 424–37, doi:10.1111/fare.12071.
[ix] USCCB, Made For Life Viewer’s Guide, p. vii.
Check out the newest video in the MUR series on marriage and religious freedom! Please share it and spread the word.
In honor of a season that directs our attention to a babe in a manger, we’d like to remind you of the resources about marriage and children available through Marriage: Unique for a Reason:
- “Made for Life” DVD: reflections from real married couples on what it means that children are a gift and why fathers and mothers matter
- “Made for Life” Viewer’s Guide: brief reflections on the DVD with discussion questions for groups
- “Made for Life” Resource Booklet: an aid to priests, deacons, catechists and teachers with more developed commentary plus tips for handing on the Church’s teaching
From the DVD: “You give yourself, then, totally and completely…saying ‘I love you so much, I’m going to give myself to you as a gift, and I am open to whatever that brings and whatever God wants.”
“It’s kind of a beautiful miracle, that from our difference comes a brand-new life.”
From the Viewer’s Guide: “If sexual difference is important – necessary, in fact – for conceiving a child, then it makes sense that sexual difference would also be important for raising a child. In other words, the importance of sexual difference does not end at conception” (17).
“Beyond the distinctive talents and gifts of fathers and mothers, there remains a core difference between them. Only a woman can mother; only a man can father. Mothers teach femininity in a distinctive and vital way; fathers teach masculinity in a distinctive and vital way. This is not stereotyping. It is acknowledging and celebrating the unique gifts of women and men” (21).
From the Resource Booklet: “Even husbands and wives who are not blessed with children still form a total communion of persons, and still are called to be fruitful and generously loving” (xi).
“Marriage is the essential pro-child institution, and thus it is the essential pro-life institution. Children are meant to be welcomed into life as the gifts they are, and the loving union of a husband and a wife is the natural context that protects the child as a gift” (12).
You can read the written materials online or download and print them for free. Enjoy!
Pop quiz: What is the “supreme gift” of marriage?
If you answered “children,” ding ding ding ding! Children are the “supreme gift” of marriage and its “ultimate crown” (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, nos. 50, 48). Put another way, the procreation of children is one of the two ends, or purposes, of marriage: (more…)
Do a man and a woman really matter for marriage?
Some today might not even think to ask this question. Others might answer a resounding “no” to this question. “What does being a man or being a woman matter?” they might say. “All you need is love…”
But is this true? (more…)