God’s Gift of Marriage
The Supreme Court has chosen not to uphold the definition of marriage that has guided human society for much of recorded history. As people of faith this decision saddens and deeply troubles us but we must continue to look to scripture and tradition to address the important questions of our time and specifically the meaning of marriage. Our Catholic faith constantly reminds us to turn to these fonts of truth.
Let us begin with the word of God. In the Gospel of Mark 10:6 Jesus reminds the disciples that in the beginning God made them male and female and the two shall become one. Here we have Jesus Christ taking us back to the very beginning of creation to indicate that marriage involves one man and one woman in a covenant of unity. We have to acknowledge that the Hebrew Scriptures tell the story of the chosen people of God gradually coming to understand what was God’s plan from the beginning of creation. We can point to numerous instances where this original plan of God was not followed but as Christ appears on the scene he clearly calls His flock to recognize that marriage as the commitment of one man to one woman was God’s plan from the beginning of creation.
Now let us look to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1601 as it speaks of our Tradition.
“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”
The phrase, “partnership of the whole of life”, speaks beautifully of the reality of marriage. It is God’s will that a man and a woman enter into this partnership and if we take a moment to reflect on what this is saying it truly reinforces the basic meaning of marriage. Only a man and a woman can share the whole of life as is intended in marriage. This phrase reminds us that marriage is about sharing physical, emotional, personal, sexual and intellectual aspects of life. We must acknowledge that this sharing is a great challenge and often breaks down in one aspect or another. It is intriguing that even the failures of this partnership that occur between a man and a woman seem to reinforce the reality that it is simply impossible for any other configuration of marriage to have any real success. No matter how much some may want to distort marriage and shape it in new ways it is simply not possible.
At this point I would like to reflect on the word offspring. It is a term that somehow harkens back to a different time and a society more rooted in the earth. The term from old English has been in use for more than one thousand years. In a beautiful way it seems to speak organically of how children come to be as they are an offshoot of the relationship of a man and a woman. Although modern medical technologies can separate the conception of a child from the sexual union of a man and woman ultimately offspring are only possible when a man and woman come together.
These brief reflections only begin to touch on some of the issues that we need to address in light of the Court’s decision let us continue to pray and focus on the truth that our loving God has revealed to us.