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4 Little reasons why our marriage works

October 8, 2012

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Eric and Kathy Schneeman in Chile

1.  We love each other

Duh, right? This is the #1 ingredient for making a good marriage.

My father-in-law told us about love when we were engaged, “Do a lot of nice little things for each other.” St. Therese of Lisieux, “The Little Flower,” became a saint by doing for others what my father-in-law suggested. Her “Little Way” teaches us to do the ordinary things in life with extraordinary love. Eric and I apply this to married life. As husband and wife, we not only practice our faith together, but we are also asked to bring each other closer to God. We can do this by expressing our love in small, selfless ways: getting the coffee & tea ready (when we’d rather sleep in), mixing a whiskey sour just right (when we’d like to dive into our own glass of Cabernet), changing the baby (when we could pretend to be asleep), driving the teenagers to school in our PJs (when we could be answering emails), giving a back rub (when we’d rather read our novel). The smallest action, done with love, is more important than great deeds done for personal glory or gratification. Such is the power and presence of grace, and this grace strengthens marriages.

2.  We complement each other

Yes, we compliment each other, too: “Honey, you look hot in that dress!” or, “Wow, your muscles look bigger than yesterday!” and “You grilled that steak just right!” (Everyone likes to have his or her feathers ruffled.) But now on to complementing  each other without getting into anatomy 101 too much…

It’s obvious that man and woman were made for each other. For instance, “… He created male and female in His image so that they might become one body and might be fertile and multiply…” (See Genesis chapters 1 and 2). This Biblical passage goes hand in hand with the Natural Law. It just makes sense that we complement each other because the marriage bond is procreative. Human sexuality is sacred. Within marriage, it fulfills its purpose as an expression of deep, faithful and exclusive love that is open to new life (ForYourMarriage.org). Family arises from marriage, which in turn, forms the “Domestic Church.” Marriage between one man and one woman is the building block of society.

With nine kids whom we are raising to be good, Catholic leaders, I feel like my husband and I are doing our share in creating a hopeful future, and so are a lot of our friends and family. Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, says, “The long-term success and economic prosperity of societies depends upon the health of intact families.” The findings of the social sciences confirm that the best environment for raising children is a stable home provided by the marriage of their parents. (Please read my blog Six reasons kids do best when raised by married parents)

3.  We keep the romance alive

This is the fun part, but it ain’t easy. As you know, couples who are happily married work at it. And they work at it VERY HARD! My husband and I stay faithful to our vows. Eric travels a lot for work and when he is in difficult situations (like when someone he knows goes to a strip club) he leaves temptation behind. We have a friend who is a celebrity and has women who flirt with him. He told us, “I just flash my wedding band.” Exclusivity is paramount to a successful marriage.

To keep our hearts pitter-patting my husband and I make time for each other. Eric calls me a lot throughout his day. We travel. We run together. We pray together. We have mini dates in the pub area which we built in our basement–and we tell the children, “This is Mommy and Daddy time so…scram!” (They usually get a smile on their faces and then exit quickly–they’re glad their parents want to spend time together.)

Which brings me to…

4.  We witness our vocation to others

Oftentimes when Eric and I are sipping on cheap wine down in this “pub” (It’s cheap because we have to pay for college and Catholic high schools–not necessarily because my husband is cheap), our kids’ friends come over for a visit. Many of these children come from single-parent homes. They appreciate seeing a married couple enjoying each other’s company, and we are more than happy to let them know about the many blessings of a faithful, loving marriage. Our kids tell us that their friends have commented on this subject and remind them about how lucky they are to be raised in a stable home. Our sons who have left the nest (and who now appreciate their parents), will actually say to us, “Thanks for giving us a ‘normal’ home, and for being good role models.”

And we often say to them (after we get over our shock), “Remember, it’s the little things that make marriage work.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Marriage Matters

October 1, 2012

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Vote YES!

What if marriage is redefined? right now, according to Minnesota for Marriage, there is a court case pending in Hennepin County through which same-sex couples are asking judges to redefine marriage. I believe that the people–not the judges or politicians–should determine what the definition of marriage should be. Today a television ad was introduced by Minnesota for Marriage which will educate us and challenge viewers to really think. It will also encourage Minnesotans to VOTE YES on the Marriage Protection Amendment on November 6th.

Look for more ads to come in this series.

YouTube Preview Image

Thanks to Minnesota for Marriage for their hard work and dedication. And once again, I’m grateful to Kalley Yanta for sharing her news casting talent (I love your new hair style, Kalley!)

(Please view my other posts on theis subject: Marriage: 1 Man and 1 Woman, Marriage=1 Man+1 Woman, 6 reasons kids do best when raised by married parents, A joke: (But if it comes to this, it’s not funny) )

 

 

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A Joke (But if it comes to this it’s not funny)

September 24, 2012

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This came my way from our pastor’s file. Someone handed it to him…

Licensed under Creative Commons (Vectorportal)

A scene in City Hall in San Francisco:

Judge: “Next!”

“Good morning, we want to apply for a marriage license.”

Judge: “Tim and Jim Jones?”

“Yes. We are brothers.”

Judge: “Brothers? You can’t get married.”

“Why not? Aren’t you giving marriage licenses to same gender couples?”

Judge: “Yes, thousands. but we haven’t had any siblings. That’s incest!”

“Incest? No, we are not gay.”

Judge: “Not gay? Then why do you want to get married?”

“For the financial benefits, of course. And we do love each other. Besides, we don’t have any other prospects.”

Judge: “But we’re issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples who’ve been denied equal protection under the law. If you are not gay, you can get married to a woman.”

“Wait just a minute. A gay man has the same right to marry a woman as I have. But just because I’m straight doesn’t mean I want to marry a woman. I want to marry Jim.”

“And I want to marry Tim. Are you going to discriminate against us just because we are not gay?”

Judge: “All right. All right. I’ll give you your license. Next.”

“Hi. We are here to get married.”

Judge: “Names?”

“John Smith, Jane James, Robert Green and June Johnson.”

Judge: “Who wants to marry whom?”

“We all want to marry each other.”

Judge: “But there are four of you?”

“That’s right. You see, we’re all bisexual. I love Jane and Robert, Jane loves me and June, June loves Robert and Jane, and Robert loves June and me. All of us getting married together is the only way that we can express our sexual preferences in a marital relationship.”

Judge: “But we’ve only been granting licenses to gay and lesbian couples.”

“So you’re discriminating against bisexuals!”

Judge: “No, it’s just that, well…the traditional idea of marriage is that it’ s just for couples.”

“Since when are you standing on tradition?”

Judge: “Well, I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere.”

“Who says? There’s no logical reason to limit marriage to couples. The more the better. Besides, we demand our rights! The mayor says the constitution guarantees equal protection under the law. Give us a marriage license!”

Judge: “All right. All right. Next.”

“Hello. I’d like a marriage license.”

Judge: “In what name?”

“David Deets.”

Judge: “And the other man?”

“That’s all. I want to marry myself.”

Judge: “Marry yourself? What do you mean?”

“Well, my psychiatrist says I have dual personalities, so I want to marry the two together. Maybe I can file a joint income-tax return.”

Judge: “That does it! I quit! You people are making a mockery of marriage!”

 

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Marriage: 1 Man and 1 Woman

September 17, 2012

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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/.)

 

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Church points to impact marriage redesign would have on children, society

August 14, 2012

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Each family is a cell that is as vital to society as a cell phone is to communication. Photo/d:space Licensed under Creative Commons

Have you ever wondered why phones are called “cell” phones? If you already know this, you’re ahead of me: “Cell” doesn’t refer to a component in the phone but the fact that service providers divide up a city or region into geographic areas called cells which are equipped with a tower and radio equipment. Because of this structure, users within a cell can communicate with those in other cells.

Each cell plays a critical role in ensuring communication for the entire city or region. In a similar way, the Church teaches that each family is a cell vital to the function of society. According to the Catechism:

The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society. (CCC:2207)

Marriage is a private matter between a couple but the Church teaches that the broader society has an interest in the institution because it’s where children are most often conceived and raised. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 recognizes the family’s special role: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

Caring for Children

Supporting marriage is a way of protecting children even though more emphasis is often placed on marriage’s legal and economic considerations. Congress, government administrative bureaus and agencies define the word ‘marriage’ as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

The Church doesn’t disagree with this definition but she views marriage and family also through a sacramental lens, focusing more on the welfare of children and their parents, who are the future of society. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states:

By reason of the vocation and social responsibilities of the person, the good of the children and of the parents contributes to the good of civil society; the vitality and stability of society require that children come into the world within a family and that the family be firmly based on marriage. The tradition of the Church and anthropological reflection recognize in marriage and in its indissoluble unity the only setting worthy of truly responsible procreation.

Unfortunately, many marriages today do dissolve without unity but that’s not a reason to re-engineer the institution. According to Pope Benedict XVI, “marriage and family are rooted in the inmost nucleus of the truth about man and his destiny.”

He continues,

Today, the need to avoid confusing marriage with other types of unions based on weak love is especially urgent. It is only the rock of total, irrevocable love between a man and a woman that can serve as the foundation on which to build a society that will become a home for all mankind.

Consequences for Society

If government redefines marriage ignoring the particular roles of husband and wife—and mother and father—children won’t get the guidance they need as they grow to sexual maturity, the U.S. Bishops wrote in their pastoral letter, Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan. Without this protection the State would effectively deprive children of the right to both a mother and a father.

In addition, they write, expanding the definition of marriage beyond that of one man and one woman would make the pattern of spousal and familial love and the generation of new life only of relative importance rather than fundamental to the existence and wellbeing of society as a whole.

Church leaders have foreseen some consequences of fundamentally changing marriage and family but ultimately some believe it would take a generation or more to know the full effects. Bl. Pope John Paul II wrote about the possibility of “a destructive ‘anti-civilization.”

Promoting stability in marriage and the virtuous life it entails, will ensure “the happiness and well-being of the nation is safely guarded; what the families and individuals are, so also is the State, for a body is determined by its parts,” wrote Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Casti Connubii.

Those parts, or cells, are superior to other communities, wrote philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand in his book, Marriage: Mystery of Faithful Love.

We cannot dwell any further on this important question beyond seeing the rank that marriage holds among communities and understanding that it represents in itself something far superior to all others, and that in itself it would glorify God as an image of the relationship of Christ and His Church even if no other communities existed.

Continuing to Share God’s Plan

Given how vital the cell of marriage and the family is to all of civilization, the Church will continue to share God’s plan for the holy institutions as they are attacked from many sides, wrote Pope John Paul in his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio:

 At a moment of history in which the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or in some way to deform it, and aware that the well-being of society and her own good are intimately tied to the good of the family, the Church perceives in a more urgent and compelling way her mission of proclaiming to all people the plan of God for marriage and the family, ensuring their full vitality and human and Christian development, and thus contributing to the renewal of society and of the people of God.

 

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Why fruitfulness is an essential mark of marriage

July 17, 2012

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Whether you consider them fruit or vegetables, tomatoes are evidence of nature’s fruitfulness. Photo/Andrew Fogg (ndrwfgg on Flickr.com) Licensed under Creative Commons

Gardening becomes more fun in midsummer when the first produce appears. I like spotting the tiny cucumbers and watermelons, and watching the tomatoes turn red.

As important as fruitfulness is to the natural world, the Church teaches that it also is one of the two meanings of the conjugal act in marriage. According to the Catechism:

 The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family. The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.  (CCC 2363)

This idea of fruitfulness in marriage raises some interesting questions: What does the Church say is the essence of fruitfulness and how is it part of marriage? How do the body and soul interact when married couples have sex? Can a couple’s union still be fruitful when they’re not able to conceive a child?

Just as the vines in my garden produce fruit and vegetables,  the body can make present one tangible aspect of the fruitfulness of love–a new human being.  Bl. Pope John Paul II writes about how fruitfulness is part of the essence of the person in the Theology of the Body. The body can add a new dimension to the fruitfulness of spousal love,  in a way that the soul alone can’t.

Through their bodies, God allows married couples to participate in His creative action and possibly become parents.   The Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes puts it this way: “…wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’”

The Trinity as model of fruitfulness

God didn’t tell Adam and Eve to do anything that the Persons of the Trinity weren’t also doing—though not in same way. Love, consisting of both union and fruitfulness, is the basis of Trinitarian life and also of our being, Pope John Paul writes. Union and fruitfulness are also necessary aspects of spousal love.

Couples reach the peak of both unity and fruitfulness during sex, which is the heart of spousal love, according to Maria Fedoryka, associate professor of philosophy at Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla.  During the conjugal act the body and the soul intersect and communicate in a special way, she writes in her article, “The Family in the Theology of the Body.”  (2012. Manuscript submitted for publication.)  They expand each other’s capacity and each acquires a new dimension. The spirit gains something new because of its connection to the body, she writes.

Love is about superabundance. Because fruitfulness is at the core of love, the spousal union creatively overflows beyond itself—or else it’s not love. A couple’s love becomes a physical reality when they conceive a child.

Obviously, love doesn’t take this path with every conjugal act. Pope John Paul writes in Donum Vitae,  “Nevertheless marriage does not confer upon the spouses the right to have a child, but only the right to perform those natural acts which are per se ordered to procreation.”

Marital act is fruitful even if couple is infertile

In the “noble and worthy” marital act by which life is transmitted, Pope Paul VI states in his encyclical, Humanae Vitae, that an infertile couple always remains ordained toward expressing and consolidating their union. When couples can’t conceive or are not seeking to achieve pregnancy for a legitimate reason, they can express the fruitfulness of their conjugal act by serving others.

“In fact,” writes John Paul II, “every act of true love towards a human being bears witness to and perfects the spiritual fecundity of the family, since it is an act of obedience to the deep inner dynamism of love as self-giving to others.”

Clearly, to love means to be fruitful, but fruitfulness in marriage holds the potential for the most profound collaboration with God in the creation of new human life.

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Why men and women’s differences matter in marriage

June 27, 2012

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When Mark Twain wanted to highlight differences between the sexes, he filled in the creation story with the perspectives of the first man and first woman in his Diary of Adam and Eve:

Adam: The new creature says its name is Eve. That is all right, I have no objections. Says it is to call it by, when I want it to come. I said it was superfluous, then. The word evidently raised me in its respect; and indeed it is a large, good word and will bear repetition. It says it is not an It, it is She. This is probably doubtful; yet it is all one to me; what she is were nothing to me if she would but go by herself and not talk.

 Eve: This morning I told him my name, hoping it would interest him. But he did not care for it. It is strange. If he should tell me his name, I would care. I think it would be pleasanter in my ears than any other sound. He talks very little. Perhaps it is because he is not bright, and is sensitive about it and wishes to conceal it. It is such a pity that he should feel so, for brightness is nothing; it is in the heart that the values lie.

Twain’s account of the first married couple’s relationship comes out of his own study of human nature and because that nature is common to all of us, it’s not hard to imagine Adam and Eve having these thoughts. As he delves into the age-old topic of gender difference, Twain makes a good case for it being more than biological.

Besides anatomically, how exactly are men and women are different? Are those differences complementary? What does the Church say about how differences and complementarity affect a marital relationship? And in an age when divorce is common, can we believe in any kind of complementarity between men and women?

Complementary? How?

According to Bl. Pope John Paul II, a person’s gender is not an “attribute” but part of their essence.  As distinct as men and women are, they complement each other—not only biologically but individually, personally and spiritually, he writes in a Holy See position paper for the 1995 UN Conference on Women.

Dietrich von Hildebrand, a 20th century Catholic philosopher who influenced Pope John Paul, agreed that differences between men and women are not merely biological but are also metaphysical. They are two equal and complementary types of the spiritual person of the human species—two different expressions of human nature–with specific personality features, he writes in Man and Woman: Love and the Meaning of Intimacy.

Generally speaking, women have a unity of personality because their heart, intellect and temperament are more interwoven than those of men, according to von Hildebrand. Their inner and exterior lives come together in a “unity of style embracing the soul as well as the exterior demeanor.”

Men, he writes, have a specific capability to free themselves intellectually from the emotional sphere. They have their own particular creativity, and place somewhat greater importance on objective accomplishments.

These are characteristics common to many people, though not necessarily in the same proportion.

As different as men and women are, their complementarity runs just as deep, Pope John Paul writes in The Theology of the Body. Man and woman are two “reciprocally completing ways of ‘being a body’ and at the same time being human.” They are “two complementary dimensions of self-knowledge and self-determination and, at the same time, two complementary ways of being conscious of the meaning of the body.”

This difference and complementarity is most evident in Our Lady and Christ, von Hildebrand writes in Marriage: Mystery of Faithful Love.

“Raising our glance to the Blessed Virgin, we see that she, who of all creatures is most like to Christ, could not possibly be imagined as anything but a woman, and that she, Queen of all Saints, is womanly in the highest and most sublime sense of the word.”

Is complementarity important in marriage?

The Catechism says it is:

Physical, moral and spiritual difference, and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.  (CCC2333)

Men and women are spiritually oriented toward, and created for each other, von Hildebrand writes. They have a mission for each other—to enrich each other and to give one another the positive influence of the opposite sex, he writes. This influence of their complementary natures reveals a tension—and spiritual fruitfulness.

Von Hildebrand continues, “because of their complementary difference, a much closer communion and more ultimate love is possible between them than between persons of the same sex.”

The complementarity is reciprocal, von Hildebrand writes.  Marital love, which involves each giving completely to the other and mysteriously grasping the other’s full personality despite obstacles, “can exist only between two types of the spiritual person, the male and the female, as only between them can this complementary character be found.”

From Gen. 2:23, where Adam realizes who Eve is, John Paul II concludes in the Theology of the Body that femininity in some way finds itself before masculinity and masculinity confirms itself through femininity. Each conjugal union of husband and wife is a new discovery of that masculinity and femininity, he writes.

Unfortunately, some couples see more difference than complementarity in their relationships but knowing how marriage can work when husband and wife recognize who they are in Christ, gives hope for more holy marriages in the future.

In the Spirit of Christ, writes Pope John Paul, men and women can find themselves by discovering the entire meaning of their masculinity and femininity and by being disposed to make a “sincere gift of self,” whether or not they’re called to marriage.

In his “ghostwriting” of Adam and Eve’s diary, Mark Twain makes Adam seem a little reticent but Gen. 2:23 records his amazement upon discovering the “helper” God has given him:

This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman …

 

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Where did marriage come from?

June 6, 2012

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Photo/makelessnoise Licensed under Creative Commons

I did a search on “marriage” recently and was blessed with more than 700 million results. It didn’t surprise me that Wikipedia was on top with this definition: “a social union or legal contract between people called spouses that creates kinship.”

I thought that was vague enough to please just about everybody. The Catechism’s definition is a little more specific:

The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole 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. (CCC 1601)

A covenant, a sacrament—the Church not only has her own definition of marriage, she has her own language. The mainstream media doesn’t understand that language so we don’t see it in the paper, on TV or on news websites.

With this and the next few posts, I’m going to get into that language to try and discover what the Church actually teaches about marriage. I’m looking for answers in scripture and Church documents. Anywhere along the way, I’d like to know what you think–if these posts are helpful, if you have insights to share or if you have constructive criticism.

In the Beginning

After laying out the Church’s definition of marriage, my next question is, where does she say that it came from? Marriage is believed to predate recorded history in cultures around the world. Among other places, tribes in the Western Hemisphere practiced it before Europeans arrived.

In Judeo-Christian traditions, the book of Genesis records that God established marriage when He created Adam and Eve. (Gen. 1:27-28; 2:18-24 RSV) While some skeptics claim the Genesis creation story is taken from a pre-scientific Babylonian myth,  I am basing these posts on my belief that it is the Word of God and therefore truth.

Evidence of God’s work in instituting marriage appears in Genesis 1: “God created man is his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply…” (Gen. 1:27-28)

Genesis 2 provides more detail:

Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him … and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman and brought her to the man … Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:18, 22, 24)

Jesus affirms the creation story when Pharisees ask Him about the lawfulness of divorce:

Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’? So they are no longer two but one. (Matt.19:4-6)

The story of “the beginning” that Jesus describes differs from how many tribes in pre-Columbian America would tell it. Still, they understood God’s plan for marriage because it was part of the natural law, the foundation of many of our laws, which is known to all people.  The natural law by which those outside the Church reach this conclusion is the basis of the Church’s teaching on the institution and laws of marriage, as Pope Pius XI presents in his encyclical on Christian marriage, Casti Connubii:

… let it be repeated as an immutable and inviolable  fundamental doctrine that matrimony was not instituted or restored by man but by God; not by man were the laws made to strengthen and confirm and elevate it but by God, the Author of nature, and by Christ Our Lord by Whom nature was redeemed, and hence these laws cannot be subject to any human decrees or to any contrary pact even of the spouses themselves.

This language of the Church is strong, affirming that her teaching on marriage, as established by God, is truth which doesn’t evolve. God’s law might seem  inflexible but in reading the Genesis story again, I see His care for the newly created humanity. The last verse, Genesis 2:24, shows that human beings, created as man and woman, were created for unity and through this unity they became one flesh, which from the beginning has a character of union, according to Catholic Encyclopedia.

In looking at the origin of marriage, St. Augustine sees this bond as kinship, which might be the strongest part of Wikipedia’s definition.

Forasmuch as each man is a part of the human race, and human nature is something social, and has for a great and natural good, the power also of friendship; on this account God willed to create all men out of one, in order that they might be held in their society not only by likeness of kind, but also by bond of kindred. Therefore the first natural bond of human society is man and wife. Nor did God create these each by himself, and join them together as alien by birth: but He created the one out of the other, setting a sign also of the power of the union in the side, whence she was drawn, was formed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Minnesota Marriage: One Man. One Woman. Video #1

January 9, 2012

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Marriage = One Man + One Woman 

Makes sense to me. Why would God have molded our bodies with different ingredients if the equation above were false? Plus, if an important aspect of marriage is to procreate–or embrace life–we obviously need those distinct private parts!

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’ ” (Gn 2:18)

If we were made to live our lives with a same-sex partner then, in my opinion, The Creator could have saved Himself a lot of work by merely devising a bunch of males or females to run around this world–not both sexes. We are His most blessed beings on Earth, and thusly He spent a lot of time going over our blueprints to ensure that we were perfectly designed for each other.

Wow…Thanks for this gift, God!

As scripture says, we were made to become “one flesh.” Human sexual union isn’t merely something biological; it’s also a theological and spiritual truth.

“The whole reality of married life, of course, is a sacrament. but nowhere is the ‘great mystery’ more evident than when the two become ‘one flesh’ ” (Christopher West in Theology of the Body for Beginners)

Defending Marriage

I have heard people say that the Church’s defense of marriage through the promotion of the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment is too “political.” Well, isn’t educating its flock one of the Church’s jobs? How else are we to really know and understand the beautiful aspects of our faith? I, for one, do not want to be part of a church that rests on its laurels and does nothing when we are straying from The Shepherd.

“The Church has no bayonets, nor does she want to coerce others. Rather, she desires to appeal to the consciences of all persons and to witness to those truths written on the human heart by the Creator…People are free to accept or reject the Church’s instruction, but she cannot remain silent because, in the words of Pope John XXIII, she has a responsibility given to her by Our Lord to act as mother and teacher of the nations so that all who would come to her fold might attain a fuller life on this earth and eternal salvation.” (From a recent article by Jason Adkins–executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference)

Video #1

This is the first in a series of videos prepared and paid for by Minnesota for Marriage in order to educate us about the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment. It was released a few days ago. The videos are in a question and answer format and will be available on a weekly basis. For example, some of the topics include:

• What is the Marriage Protection Amendment?
• Is there a clear and present threat to marriage in Minnesota?
• Why is marriage worth preserving?
• Isn’t marriage just about encouraging loving and committed relationships?
• And much more.

I’m so impressed that Kalley Yanta, a busy mother of six, has volunteered her time to host this dialogue. According to Hampton News, “Kalley, a former news anchor for KSTP-TV, gave up her 11-year career in broadcast journalism in 1999 in favor of a higher calling — motherhood. A native of South Minneapolis, Yanta (then Kalley King) enjoyed a career that took her to four different states and ended up in her hometown, where she met husband Jon Yanta, who proposed to her on a pilgrimage to Medjugorie.”

To watch the first one-minute video click here, and then please pass this on!

 

 

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6 Reasons Kids Do Best When Raised By Married Parents

November 3, 2011

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We’ve had a whirlwind of family weddings and engagements lately. At my nephew’s rehearsal dinner this weekend, my brother-in-law said in his toast, “There is great joy in commitment.”

Licensed under Creative Commons

So true! But…

Did you know that the U.S. Census Report showed fewer than half the homes in the Twin Cities are headed by married couples? In 2007, nearly four in ten births were to unmarried women, many of them in cohabiting relationships (National Center for Health Statistics). Today the nation’s retreat from marriage and the rise of cohabiting households with children is the biggest threat to the quality and stability of family life.

Wanting to defend marriage, the Archdiocese has decided to educate the youth. It has put together a team consisting of  married couples and priests who will talk to high school students about why marriage matters. My husband and I are part of this crew (Can you hear my knees knocking?) and we believe it’s a great approach to this dilemma. The Archdiocesan initiative has required reading for us speakers, and I wanted to share with you some of the information we’ve learned about why children do best when raised by two married parents:

1) They will be healthier

In one Swedish study, boys who were reared in single-parent homes were more than 50% more likely to die from a range of causes–e.g., suicide, accidents, or addiction–than boys who were reared in two-parent homes. Parental divorce reduces a child’s life expectancy by four years, and there is a higher risk of infant mortality when parents are divorced. Interestingly, higher levels of children’s psychological problems are  associated with cohabitation.

2) Less likely to live in poverty

Most children who are not raised by married parents will live at least one year in dire poverty (Between one-fifth and one-third of divorcing women end up in poverty). On the other hand, married couples appear to share more of their income and other property, and they get more support from friends, civic institutions and extended families. They also receive more wealth transfers from both sets of grandparents than do cohabiting couples (Single mothers almost never receive financial help from the child’s father’s kin). And a fascinating find:  Married fathers increased their assets after babies were born, while single fathers saw their rate of asset accumulation decline. (Many studies show that married men earn 10%-40% more than their single counterparts.)

3) More likely to attend college

Interesting fact: Married couples contribute a median of $1,804 to college, divorced parents–$502, and remarried parents just $500. This could be a reason why children whose parents are married are more apt to go to college and have a lower  unemployment rate. Plus, as adults, they have a higher rate of occupational status and earnings.

4)Less likely to be physically or sexually abused

How many times do you read in the newspaper that a child has been killed by the mother’s live-in boyfriend? Although boyfriends contribute less than 2 percent of nonparental childcare, they commit half of all reported child abuse by nonparents. Studies show that children living in single-mother homes have increased rates of death from intentional injuries.  A study in Missouri found that preschool children were 47.6 times more likely to die in a cohabiting household, compared to preschoolers living in an intact, married household. And sadly, Preschool-aged children living with a stepfather are forty times more likely to be sexually abused than one living with both biological parents.

5) Less likely to use drugs or alcohol

Twice as many young teens living with single-mothers or a stepparent have tried marijuana. Teens living with biological parents are significantly less likely to use illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Why? Studies suggest children living with non-traditional families have more family stress, less monitoring from parents, and weakened attachment to parents–especially fathers.

6) Decreased risk of divorcing when they get married–or becoming unwed parents

Girls raised outside of intact marriages are three times more likely to become unwed mothers. When parents divorce they increase the odds that their children will divorce by at least 50%. So far, research shows that divorce affects three generations.

 

Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, said, “The long-term success and economic prosperity of societies depends upon the health of intact families.” The findings of the social sciences confirm that the best environment for raising children is a stable home provided by the marriage of their parents.

Yes!

I also agree with my brother-in-law; that there is great joy in commitment. And this joy trickles down to the children. A happy marriage is a great gift that parents can give to their kids–it helps the whole family embrace life!

(Compiled using Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [visit http://www.foryourmarriage.org ] & Why Marriage Matters by the Institute for American Values [visit http://www.americanvalues.org ] )

 

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