What God Has Joined Together

(Mark 10:9)

Pope Francis wedding couples

Let’s take one brief moment to consider some of the things the Church governs, and some that She does not. After all, the Church does not govern everything.

Church does not govern penalties in the NFL, for instance. You could read the Code of Canon Law cover-to-cover and find nothing about ‘holding’ or ‘ineligible man downfield.’ The Church does not govern parliamentary procedure in the U.S. Congress. No canon treats the filibuster. The Church does not grant patents or trademarks. And no priest or bishop would claim that his office qualifies him to judge a chili cook-off.

But: marriage is one of the things which the Church does govern. We believe in the separation of Church and state; we respect other Christian groups and other religions, also. But the Church does not hesitate to claim ultimate legal authority over holy matrimony, whenever at least one baptized person is involved.

This makes sense, after all, because marriage is inherently religious, and inherently communal. A marriage is a marriage because a man and a woman make vows to God. Getting married is, fundamentally, an act of faith in God. And getting married always involves not just the two individuals, but also their families, the children the Lord may someday give them, and all the other people who will relate to the couple thenceforward as a married couple.

The Holy Catholic Church never wanted marriage to become a political issue. The idea that marriage could even be “political”—the idea that people would get all worked-up over whether or not our Holy Father smiled at Kim Davis on the way to his car before Mass—the whole business of marriage as a political hot potato can only strike us as amusingly shallow. Marriage is not a political issue. Marriage is what Jesus said it is:

1. God made us male and female.
2. A man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh.
3. What God has joined together, let no man separate.

Hard to disagree with my brother here. Nonetheless, we did pray hard yesterday to St. Therese, that she would implore St. Joachim to implore God Almighty to move Hurricane Joachim/Joaquin east. And it happened!

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