Archbishop Blair's monthly column
I wish to express my deep disappointment in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
First and foremost, we have to bear in mind that the government and its laws do not create marriage. God created marriage, and this is reflected in the self-evident nature of sexual relations as these are recognized by human reason and common sense.
The government only regulates and promotes marriage for the sake of the human flourishing that marriage provides. The social sciences continue to confirm that human flourishing results from the stable union between one man and one woman and their procreation of children. Every child is meant to have a father and a mother, and the differentiation of these roles, profoundly rooted in being a man or woman, has an impact on how children fare in life.
Pope Francis has said that making same-sex unions the equivalent of matrimony is “a negative value and an anthropological regression … it transcends the religious issue; it is anthropological. … If a same-sex couple are considered married and can adopt children, the children could be affected. Everyone needs a male father and a female mother who help shape his or her identity” (Family & Life: Pastoral Reflections, Libreria Ed. Vaticana, 2015).
Regarding all attempts to redefine sexual identity and intimacy, the following words of our former Pope, Benedict, are prophetic: “When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then the Maker Himself – God – is necessarily denied, and man too is ultimately stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defense of the family is about man himself” (Dec. 21, 2012).
Attempting to redefine a fundamental institution like marriage on the basis of feelings and sympathy for others should give us pause. If the government can create a fiction of marriage, then what other realities and relationships will it claim the right to redefine, regulate or create, as is already the case with human life itself?
And if society, even on the basis of clearly demonstrated values, is no longer able to refuse any claimed “right,” then what behaviors can we expect to be sanctioned in the future? What prevents these behaviors not only from being accepted, but also promoted and enforced, as equal to other behaviors? And what about the freedom – religious or otherwise – of those who cannot, and will not, accede to society’s redefinitions?
It must be also emphasized that in opposing the redefinition of marriage, the church condemns violence and hatred against anyone, including homosexuals. She teaches that persons with a homosexual inclination “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358). The church also believes, however, that it is possible, by the grace of God, to live the virtue of chastity when either one’s sexual inclination or other circumstances of life do not allow for sexual activity. Firm in this belief, the church looks for ways to offer hope and support to those in this situation, and offers God’s mercy when people fail and seek to regain the road to chastity.
Today, there are people who dismiss or even ridicule the notion of the “God-given” meaning of marriage, and in doing so they deny what God has revealed in both Scripture and Tradition. At the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis, we find the institution of marriage by God, as Jesus himself reminded his hearers when he said, “Have you not read that the one who made them at 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 flesh’?” (Mt. 19: 4f).
This reference to marriage at the beginning of the Bible is complemented by a reference to marriage in the very last chapter of the very last book. There, in the Book of Revelation, we read that “the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come’” (Rev. 22:17). It is an invitation to the wedding feast of Jesus, the Lamb who was slain, but who now reigns in triumph forever, united to his bride the church. This is the triumph of heaven over sinful “Babylon,” one of the characteristics of which is that, in it, “the voice of bridegroom and bride are heard no more” (Rev 18:23).
Saint Augustine says that the way of the world is to either intimidate believers or to flatter them into compliance with its ways. More and more, this will be the experience, individually and corporately, of faithful Catholics and others who refuse to go along with the world’s redefinition of marriage and of the human person. So let’s take courage and comfort from what Jesus says: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27); “Remember the word that I said to you, servants are not greater than their master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15:20). Timely messages as the church celebrates the Fortnight for Freedom in the face of all the serious threats to religious liberty in the United States and throughout the world.