The sacred plan for marriage Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Thursday, May. 07, 2015 -- 12:00 AM
This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear Friends,

I cannot help but comment on the events of last week, namely the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments with regard to a number of consolidated cases about the definition of marriage.

Now, in the first place, I must take a moment to remind you that when Christians speak of such things, we must be very clear about separating acts done from the individuals doing them.

We can speak of the inherent goodness of marriage, as it’s been understood from time immemorial, and we can even speak of the sin which is committed in same-sex physical unions (just as we can speak of the sin which is committed in adulterous acts, or even in “contracepted” marital acts) without condemning the individuals who may think it possible to make marriage something other than what it is, or those who undertake sexual acts that are far less than what sex is made to be -- truly unitive and open to new life.

We can and we do hate the sin, while loving the sinner. It is a very important distinction and one that is sometimes forgotten by Christians, and sometimes glossed over and even rejected by those who wish to paint any attempt to preach the truth of marriage as a judgement of individuals.

What’s at stake

That being said, let us discuss what’s at stake in the cases that are being considered by the Supreme Court.

The case, of course, will have an impact on whether or not it is deemed constitutionally valid for us, as a society, to provide a certain designation for an institution that has been respected as necessary for the good of humankind since the beginning: that being the joining of one man and one woman, for one lifetime, with openness to children.

That institution, the stable formation of a micro-community with two individuals designed to be complementary, providing a united basis for the procreation and loving raising of children, has always been the most stable building block for society. As such, society has a vested interest in supporting and protecting it.

Male, female vital to marriage

In recent weeks, in his general audiences, Pope Francis has hit again and again on the need to respect and promote an understating of the complementarity of men and women.

The Holy Father has made clear that the complementarity of male and female is vital to the loving union of a married couple and to the rearing of children.

His recent catecheses harken back to a talk he gave in November on the very same topic. Then too, he noted how complementarity is something designed by the Creator and the very “root of marriage and family.”

He decried the crisis of marriage and family in today’s world, saying, “This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.”

He went on to tie the destruction of the family not only to a decrease in morals and societal disorder, but also to an increase in poverty and other social ills, and even to destruction of the environment.

Laws need to promote good of families

He said it is necessary for laws to promote and defend the good of families. “It is necessary first to promote the fundamental pillars that govern a nation: its non-material goods,” Pope Francis said.

“The family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation. Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child's development and emotional maturity.” Somehow the mass media has failed to cover any of this -- I do not wonder why.

Pope Francis says lots of things. Yet, his most famous line is, “Who am I to judge?”

The mass media has assured us what he meant by that was to clear the way for homosexual behavior. Never mind anything else that he says directly about the complementarity of the sexes in marriage and his defense of the “traditional family,” and never mind that the context of his “who am I to judge” comment was very specific and had regard to the person striving for a life in Christ, the media has decided that a single phrase sums up the solemn teaching of Pope Francis on homosexuality: “Who am I to judge?”

It is a lie, and it is a lie that fits very well into the context of the movement of our time. Look at the lie that’s been perpetrated on the American people: “We can change the definition of marriage if we want!” That is a lie!

The creed of an increasing number of Americans and even of many Catholics has become, “live and let live.” And, we are told, this is what Jesus came for, and what Pope Francis says we should do.

What Pope Francis is saying

But, what does Pope Francis actually say?

He says that marriage has to be defended for the sake of the community and the common good.

Not only for the sake of people who enter into it -- it’s not just about two people of the same sex who happen to love each other. Many people today wonder, “Who am I to tell others they cannot love each other?”

That is very true. No one can make people not love each other. But, it is for the good of the society to tell them that whatever your love may be, it is not marriage. The typical American argument I now hear is, “Well, if two men or two women love each other and want to get married, that does no harm to me.”

First of all, realize how selfish that is. As long as it doesn’t harm me, it’s okay; that’s the principle. That’s my moral rule, as long as it doesn’t bother me, it’s just fine! That’s a sin of self-centeredness in itself, apart from same-sex unions.

We know, and Pope Francis has reiterated, that marriage is not simply about two individuals who wish to express their love in some outward way. It’s about the community and about the common good.

In his audience address of April 15, he challenged us all to consider again the importance of not only the complementarity of the sexes in marriage, but also the need for a lifelong commitment.

“On this human basis, sustained by the grace of God,” he said, “it is possible to plan a lifelong marital and familial union. The marital and familial bond is a serious matter, and so it is for everyone, not just for believers. I would urge intellectuals not to leave this theme aside, as if it had to become secondary, in order to foster a more free and just society.”

The definition of ‘marriage’

I’m noticing that proponents of redefining marriage are now clamoring for everyone else to quiet down.

It is a foregone conclusion, we are assured, that the term “marriage” will soon mean whatever anyone wants it to mean. Those who do not support this movement are told to “shut-up and sit down.”

Well, I cannot. The stakes are too high and the truth too important. As a pastor, I cannot quietly condone sin, and as a citizen I cannot concede the deconstruction of the foundational institutions serving the good of human kind. In love, I must speak out. And I urge you to do the same.

This doesn’t have anything to do whatsoever with our respect and love for those with homosexual inclinations. This has to do with the truth of an institution so important to God, that as soon as He created male and female, He made the case for marriage -- “It’s not good for man to be alone . . . increase and multiply!”

Just in case Adam and Eve couldn’t look at their bodies and figure it out themselves, God gave them a big hint as to what their intentions were to be.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this.

May the Lord continue to bless you -- especially through the intercession of Our Mother Mary in this month of May. Praised be Jesus Christ!