May 12, 2012 – What Defines Marriage

Well another weekend, another late blog posting.  I’m going to be running out of excuses for my tardiness pretty soon.  Actually this time I have a pretty legitimate reason, as I attended the graduation ceremony at McKendree University earlier today.  Congratulations to my nephew Ed and to the many who are graduating college this weekend.  Our prayers be with them as they enter the world of a continuing tough economy and continued divisiveness on many issues.  Normally graduation ceremonies are pretty run of the mill and not very riveting, and this one was pretty much the same way.  However, the President of the University gave some good advice to the students as the ceremony wrapped up.  He told them that “we have prepared you to do well, but we also want to see you do good.”  In other words, being a success means more than finding a well paid job and having a nice home and vehicle.  To be a success you need to be of service to others, and to leave a legacy behind for others to emulate.  Certainly a lesson not just for the students, but for all of us.

Once again this past week we saw a collision between politics and religion, with the politician getting the bulk of the headlines.  After comments by Vice-President Biden (a professed Catholic) on Meet the Press that he has no problem with “same-sex” marriages, President Obama a few days later reversed his earlier positions and proclaimed his support for these unions.  This of course goes completely against the position of the Catholic Church.  The U.S. Catholic Catechism states that “there are attempts by some in contemporary society to change the definition or understanding of what exactly constitutes marriage. Efforts to gain approval for and acceptance of same-sex unions as marriages are examples. While the Church clearly teaches that discrimination against any group of people is wrong, efforts to make cohabitation, domestic partnerships, same-sex unions, and polygamous unions equal to marriage are misguided and also wrong. The Church and her members need to continue to be a strong and clear voice in protecting an understanding of marriage, which is rooted in natural law and revealed in God’s law.”  Again, the Church takes this position, as with all of its positions on social issues, because this is what we feel the Scripture is telling us.  Scripture is filled with references to marriage.  One of the most clear is from Chapter 19 of the gospel of Matthew in which Jesus tells the Pharisees “have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 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.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

It was not a surprise to me that President Obama declared his position in the fashion that he did, particularly in an election year.  As Cardinal Dolan, USCCB President stated: “Unfortunately, President Obama’s words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his Administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage.”  What floored me is that the President and other politicians cited Christ and their Christian faith as reasons for their positions.  In part of his interview this past week, President Obama said this: “This is something that, you know, [Michelle and I have] talked about over the years and she, you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated…”  Contrast this to his statement on the same issue made in 2004: “I’m a Christian. I do believe that tradition and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”

Then there of course is Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader and also a professed Catholic, who made this statement: “My religion has, compels me–and I love it for it–to be against discrimination of any kind in our country, and I consider this a form of discrimination. I think it’s unconstitutional on top of that. ”  As a devout Catholic, I cannot in good conscience accept this position.  Discrimination certainly is wrong.  However, attempts to redefine what is rooted in natural law, what the Church proclaims, and what the Scriptures reveal, is also wrong and misguided.  What will be the next move by some of our politicians?  Appoint a commission to rewrite the Bible?  Abolish wine as a form of the Eucharist?  What I can tell you is that our religious freedom has never been more threatened in our lifetime.  I personally do not proclaim an allegiance to either political party.  In each election, I try to weigh the issues and the candidates and make the selection I feel is best.  I will do the same in this election.  However, when I weigh the issues this time, these issues concerning my values and rights as a Christian will certainly carry a greater influence than they have in the past.

In the past I have tried to avoid getting too “political” in this blog, but as Catholics part of our duty is to be informed about public policy  and to make decisions based on what our conscience guides us to do.  If you disagree with me, that is your right.  If you vote contrary to me, that is your right.  However, it is my right as a Catholic and witness of Christ to make His word known to the best of my ability.  As the McKendree President reminded me today, this is one way I feel I can do good.

Have a great week.  Happy Mother’s Day to all of our Moms, living and deceased.  Peace.




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