Friday, February 04, 2005

What is Marriage?

The media is repeatedly telling us that the "traditional" definition of marriage, that of, "one man and one women to the exclusion of all others" was defined only in the late eighteen hundreds, giving the impression that this thing called marriage hasn't really been around all that long. What they are talking about is the common law definition of marriage. The judiciary simply legally defined what was already in place in society.

Additionally, we hear these days from feminist who assert that traditional marriage is but a means by which the patriarchy asserts its power and assures its property rights over its progeny. Thus they claim, the modern family finds its roots in capitalist patriarchy. Such claims are not surprising since much of radical feminist thought can be traced to Marx and Engels. Indeed Engels had this to say about the monogamous family in The Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State:

It [the momogamous family] is based on the supremacy of the man, the express purpose being to produce children of undisputed paternity; such paternity is demanded because these children are later to come into their father's property as his natural heirs.
Sound familiar? Proponents of same-sex marriage go to great lengths to inculcate the notion in the public mind that marriage, as we know it in Western civilization, is a recent institution, constantly changing and not really all that spiritual in origin. But is this true?

As a Catholic I know that the institution of marriage is a very old sacrament going back to the beginnings of the Church and beyond. The Fathers of the Church wrote about it. St. Augustine, 354-480 AD, wrote of the sacrament in Of the Good of Marriage:

For as much as each man is a part of the human race, and human nature is something social, and hath 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. ... For they are joined one to another side by side, who walk together, and look together whither they walk. Then follows the connexion of fellowship in children, which is the one alone worthy fruit, not of the union of male and female, but of the sexual intercourse.
For two thousand years, in Western society, marriage has been understood not as something made by judges, nor as something derived from a purely economic arrangement, or as a means to pass on wealth, but as a spiritual bond between a man and a woman which allows for the procreation, protection and nurturing of children.

Why do I mention this? To put to rest the canard that this institution is a fleeting changeling, or a legitimate plaything of political dilettentes, or a matter only concerning the loving couple themselves.

Anyone who is a parent knows that marriage is not about the rights of adults, but the obligations to the children. In enduring the many hardships of parenthood: the sleepless nights with sick babies, the allocation of the available income to the needs of the little ones, the loss of freedom to spend time in the pursuit of adult pleasures, the extra hours at the factory to pay for the schooling, the best cuts of food to the hungry little tummies, the wearing of last year's fashions to provide a few extras for the kids, the watching of Barney, and other kids shows, over and over and over..... You get the drift.

Marriage is a giving, not a getting. But oddly enough it is in this constant giving of oneself to one's children that one becomes fully human and more robustly alive. To the extent that I can call myself a man, it is because I am a father. In giving myself completely as a father, I become a man.

Marriage is the cornerstone of the family and the family is the cornerstone of society. We socially engineer this ancient institution at our peril.


At 2:06 pm, February 05, 2005 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judging by the length, frequency and times posted of your commentaries here on this web site, I would say you dedicate more time to yourself and imposing your unasked for opinions on the public than you do focussed on your children. I feel for your family.

At 7:53 pm, February 05, 2005 , Blogger Slick said...

anonymous: that is an absolutely ridiculous statement. I can not believe that one would be so daft as to say that because one spends time on a blog, he doesn't spend enough time with his family. There is nothing wrong with spending time on something like this, besides, I am shocked that you would be so judgemental as to say that.

John, I thought your post was rather well written, I especially liked the next to last paragraph.. nice :)

At 8:21 pm, February 07, 2005 , Blogger David Wozney said...

Bill C-38 contains this text: "NOW, THEREFORE, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:".

Do you believe Queen Elizabeth II, "Defender of the Faith", will enact legislation that is contrary to the Christian faith?

According to the Christian faith, marriage is honourable in all (Hebrews 13:4) whereas homosexual relationships (Romans 1:26-27) are not honourable.

Also, "he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please [his] wife" and "she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please [her] husband" (1 Corinthians 7:33-34).

By enacting Bill C-38, Queen Elizabeth II will have broken her promise to maintain, to the utmost of her power, the laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel.

The existing lawful opposite-sex definition of marriage applies equally to every person in Canada no matter what his or her sexual orientation is.

The Lawful Definition of Marriage in Canada

At 11:26 pm, February 07, 2005 , Blogger John the Mad said...

"By enacting Bill C-38, Queen Elizabeth II will have broken her promise to maintain, to the utmost of her power, the laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel."

One could argue that the British monarchy has already done this. The title Fidei Defensor (Defender of the Faith), is a Catholic title bestowed upon Henry VIII by Pope Leo X in 1521, as a reward for opposing Lutheran (Protesant)ideas. When Henry and subsequent monarchs broke with the Catholic Church one could argue they lost the legitimate right to the title.

But your main point is well taken.


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