If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. (I Cor 13:1)
All Christians clearly must take a stand for a few things in our day and age. Among these, “traditional marriage” has a nice ring to it. And we can take heart from the fact that statewide referenda have thus far defeated the idea of “same-sex marriage” 32 out of 32 times.
But if we really want to bear witness to divine love–the divine love we read about in St. Paul’s letter at practically every wedding–we have to dig deeper.
It’s not just that marriage is between one man and one woman. There’s also the fact that it involves a bond that only death can break. What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.
Still we have to keep digging. Why get married? According to God, the reason is clear enough: Be fruitful and multiply. Onan wasted his seed on the ground; what he did greatly displeased God (Genesis 38:10).
So: Marriage is not just between a man and a woman. It is between a man and a woman for life; for richer, for poorer, sickness, health, as long as we both shall live. And marriage is a partnership of the whole of life, in which the man and woman become one flesh, without impediments of any kind (barrier, chemical) being admitted to the marriage of true minds.
Forgive me; I can’t help it: the idea of “gay marriage” strikes me as simply ridiculous. How can anyone take it seriously? Maybe one reason is because there is so much divorce these days. Some people have gotten the idea that marriage is nothing but an arrangement for my enjoyment which I make at will and control at will. A false idea indeed. But can we doubt that a lot of people have come by this idea honestly, because that’s what they see when they look around?
So we have to keep digging. Why are there so many divorces? Is it because the marrying public these days is so much more wicked than in the old days? Maybe. But such an explanation does not altogether satisfy. The Church Herself has granted annulments in many of these cases, which means that the spouses involved are not in fact bound by the vows they rashly made, and neither of them is necessarily wicked.
It seems to me that the whole contemporary “marriage problem” lies at the beginning of marriages. The perennial fact is: it is not easy to marry the right person. To enter prudently into marriage requires prayerful discernment over a significant period of time; it requires the discipline of chastity; it requires mature faith in God.
Thanks be to God, the Church possesses this art, the art of marrying wisely and well. It really isn’t anything too complicated. It’s just a matter of following our rules, living a life of prayer, staying out of potentially dangerous situations, and—above all—nourishing and strengthening oneself with the sacraments, especially the sacrament of Penance. The faithful lives of countless married Christians bear witness to the successful application of the Christian method of marrying.
So I guess what I am saying is: I don’t think the world needs us just to be opposed to “same-sex marriage,” which of course we are. The world needs us to give freely one of the gifts that has freely been given to us: the humble and quiet art of knowing how to get married.