On November 6 we vote to uphold traditional marriage. Our church is supporting efforts to pass a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Many people–including this blogger– are praying for the graces needed to foster, strengthen and support faith-filled, holy marriages and families. And I know that when it comes time to fill in my ballot for the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment, I will mark “Yes” with an affirmative stroke in order to promote the well-being of children and the common good. (Remember: a non-vote is a NO vote. Dinner guests at our home recently had a hard time believing this fact.)
We are blessed to have Fr. Michael Creagan as our pastor at The Church of Saint Joseph in West St. Paul. He granted me permission to share with you one of his bulletin articles on this subject. Father touches on some important points and pulled a lot of his information from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Please pass this on.
Marriage: 1 Man and 1 Woman
by Fr. Michael Creagan
In the past few years there has been a move to change the laws concerning the definition of marriage. These laws have been changed in countries such as the Netherlands and Canada (and in some parts of the U.S.A) to allow marriage between same-sex couples. The movement away from the traditional teaching on marriage can also easily open the doors for a variety of other relationships including polygamy. Canada is already experiencing the effects from its unfortunate decision.
The definition of marriage has quickly become a topic of discussion in our culture. The Catholic Church continues to teach that marriage is only between one man and one woman. It is important for us to have a brief understanding of this teaching. From time to time we may be involved in a discussion with someone who does not understand our teaching, and it is up to us to offer a clear answer delivered with great patience and charity. Sacred Scripture is filled with teachings and images concerning marriage between one man and one woman. This brief column does not present enough space to examine each of them, but I think most are familiar with these biblical teachings. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 1639 and following) speaks of the natural structure of human sexuality that makes a man and woman complementary partners for the transmission of human life. Husband and wife are called to give themselves totally to each other in their masculinity and femininity (CCC1643). They are equal human beings, but different as man and woman fulfilling each other through this natural difference. This unique complementarity makes possible the conjugal bond that is the core of marriage. It is true some couples struggle with infertility or other issues, but the intent and beauty of this complementary gift are still present. A union of two men or two women can never allow for this conjugal gift and, therefore, it is wrong to equate it with marriage.
Some people may think, Well, that is okay for the Catholic Church, but what is wrong with changing the laws? The USCCB wrote:
“Across times, cultures, and very different religious beliefs, marriage is the foundation of the family. The family in turn is the basic unit of society. Thus, marriage is a personal relationship with public significance. Marriage is the fundamental pattern for male-female relationships. It contributes to society because it models the way in which women and men live interdependently and commit, for the whole life, to seek the good of each other. The marital union also provides the best conditions for raising children: namely the stable, loving relationship of a mother and father present only in marriage. It is true that some single parents have nobly and beautifully provided for their children, but the normative situation remains the best. The state rightly recognizes this relationship of husband and wife in marriage as a public institution in its laws because it makes an essential contribution to the common good.”
The teaching on marriage between one man and one woman is not meant to discriminate against anyone, rather, it is meant to uphold marriage in its fullness and for the common good. What are we to do as Catholics? First we must pray for a great understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman. Sometimes we may be called to patiently and charitably witness our faith in conversations. Other times we may be called to vote in support of marriage or encourage candidates to defend the definition of marriage as one man and one woman. Married couples themselves will be the best of teachers through their faithful witness. This is not an easy topic to understand. It requires a comprehension of both scriptural teaching and an understanding of natural law. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great resource. Current speakers such at Dr. Janet Smith have also offered helpful information. For further information on this teaching visit the USCCB website at http://foryourmarriage.org/marriage-resources/why-marriage-matters/
St. Joseph, pray for us! ~Fr. Michael Creagan
(Blogger’s note: Thanks to Father Creagan for sharing this article. If readers would like more information, visit this site: http://www.mncc.org/advocacy-areas/marriage-and-family/marriage-amendment/ And for an article written by Archbishop Nienstedt on the subject see http://thecatholicspirit.com/that-they-may-all-be-one/marriage-speaking-the-truth-with-love/.)