June 26, 2015 by Alex Johannigman
Since you’re currently on the internet, you’re probably aware that this morning the Supreme Court announced in a 5-4 decision that two people of the same sex have the same rights to get civilly married as two people of the opposite sex. I’ve written in the past about why this ongoing debate isn’t as much about homosexuality as it is about what marriage actually means to us as a nation, and more recently about the cultural trends that are more dangerous than any court ruling, but now that it’s actually happened, how are we as Catholics to respond?
The first thing to keep in mind is that the legal definition of marriage isn’t going to change back anytime soon. As Catholics we believe that marriage truly thrives and benefits us most when it is between one man and one woman, for life, and open to children. Today, we lost the legal battle for “one man and one woman.” We lost the legal battle for the “open to children” part back in the 60’s when contraception was legalized. We lost the legal battle for the “for life” part back in the 70’s when no-fault divorce was legalized. And here we are 40 and 50 years later watching these trends run their course and seeing how they are affecting our lives, and in particular how they are leading to decreasing happiness, particularly among women. We’re having more and more conversations about if these changes were good or bad for us as a whole, but only time can tell if this revolution will ever be completely undone. Maybe in 50 or 100 years we’ll decide as a country that we made a mistake, maybe we’ll return to putting the rights of children before the rights of adults, but maybe we won’t. And while it seems like a lot of things are changing, many more haven’t.
What hasn’t changed is our call to love and care for our friends, neighbors, and family members with same-sex attraction. If you’ve forgotten how to do that, here are some tips and here’s why that love and support is needed so badly today. So many people with same-sex attraction have never heard of or experienced the joy of living a chaste life because we’ve chased them out of our churches (a call for people of all sexual orientations, both single and married, by the way). No wonder so many of them have embraced secularism!
What hasn’t changed is the need to care for the needs of the children in our lives, particularly those who are missing a mother or father figure. The biggest fear of many who have fought against the redefinition of marriage is that there will be more children being raised without knowing a mother or a father as same-sex partners win the legal privileges to adopt and reproduce using artificial processes. I think it’s safe to say we will see more and more children who are being raised without either a mother or a father, and we can’t alienate or discriminate against them just because we disapprove of the actions of their parents. Their families share our dignity as humans and are just as worthy of our love and respect as anyone else.
And finally, what hasn’t changed is your ability to live out Christ’s vision for marriage in your own life and show others through your example why you believe that marriage is something worth fighting for. The best argument for why marriage should be defended is seeing a healthy, thriving marriage in your life. The reason so many have lost faith in marriage is because they aren’t seeing it being attractive any more. My generation in particular is increasingly skeptical of marriage because they’ve seen more examples of divorced marriages, physically and emotionally abusive marriages, and just all around unhappy marriages than they’ve seen good ones. The best way to turn the momentum in the other direction is to live what you believe. Even if the law continues the path it has been taking for the past 50 years to discourage conjugal marriage, it doesn’t mean that we have to follow its example rather than the Church’s.
Brandon Vogt wrote on Facebook this afternoon:
“Holy marriages fuel a strong marriage culture. Commit right now to your spouse and to your kids that their vision of marriage will be shaped not by legislators, teachers, or activists but by YOUR marriage–by your heroic devotion, one-flesh union, and fidelity to the reality imprinted on our bodies and affirmed by our God.
The Supreme Court may turn the marriage culture with the swipe of a pen. But saintly spouses can move mountains. The tide will turn only when we stop complaining about the state of marriage and instead live a better alternative.”