Is this theologically accurate, RE: Marriage

I am asembling an article about the Church’s understadning of Marriage and homosexuality and would like a peer-review of the following paragrpah for accuracy:

“The Church does not forbid Marriage to any person, regardless of their orientation. Every human person has a right to Marriage. What we do NOT have a right to, is redefining what Marriage is and expecting God to change His own covenant sign. We do not have a right to engage in carnal activities and simultaneously expect God to recognize each and every carnal act as a “Marital” act. God created Marriage for a very specific purpose, with very specific ends and components. Marriage is a life-long union, a commitment, between a man and a woman, which is ordered toward the generation and education of children. If a union between two persons is neither life-long (the two do not actually have a true commitment between them) nor ordered toward generation (meaning it is not physically possible for them to generate life), there is no true Marriage.”

Please note, I realize this topic tends to stir heated debate. Debate is not my intent in this thread…I am just looking for comment on whether this is an accurate representation of Catholic teaching.

Let’s see, not everyone has the right to marry. Two people of the same gender can’t be married. And some people are just plain meant to be single. Sometimes it’s found that two people married to each other are in a relationship that was never meant to be. They can’t agree on anything, do nothing but fight, don’t live together, etc. On the part of not being validly married if they can’t have kids, I don’t agree with that. After all, how many people know they can’t have kids until they try? :shrug:

I’m speaking of the theology of it. A right to Marriage mean they have the freedom to enter into a lifelong, monogomous relationship with a person of the opposite sex. They might not CHOOSE to enter into that, due to their preference of persons of the same sex, but they have an inherent right to it.

And some people are just plain meant to be single. Sometimes it’s found that two people married to each other are in a relationship that was never meant to be. They can’t agree on anything, do nothing but fight, don’t live together, etc

Yes. But they have the “right” to enter into a lifelong, monogomous relationship with a person of the opposite sex. (Remember, I am looking at the theological perspective here…this question may have been better suited for “Moral Theology”?)

On the part of not being validly married if they can’t have kids, I don’t agree with that. After all, how many people know they can’t have kids until they try? :shrug:

Right, but theologically speaking, if it is “impossible” to genereate life (impotence, lack of sexual complemetarity)…this is what I mean when I say an act is not “ordered toward generation…not possible to generate life.” To my understanding, this is an impediment to MArriage. Is that correct (based on Church teacing)?

Yes. Permanent, antecedent, and incurable inability to engage in conjugal relations is an impediment to the validity of marriage. Infertility is not an impediment.

But permanent and incurable impotence existing prior to marital consent is relatively rare.

I think that Christy Beth touches on the two points that are most likely to be misinterpreted with the way things are worded currently.

You begin, “The Church does not forbid Marriage to any person, regardless of their orientation. Every human person has a right to Marriage.” I understood what you meant because I assumed you were being consistend with Church teaching. Thus, I knew you meant that every person has a right to marry someone of the opposite gender. Someone else reading that sentence might walk away with a much different impression.

As to the second point, I don’t think “not physically possible for them to generate life” is the best choice of words. It will immediately lead to questions about infertile couples or elderly couples getting married. You could say that it is “not physically possible for them to generate life”. But they can still be validly married in the Church. It’s not so much about the individual person’s physical capabilities as it is about the person’s ontological capabilities.

Otherwise, I think it’s good. :slight_smile:

ahs,

I think your paragraph is accurate. However, to avoid the mistake which the first response on this thread fell into, you need to clarify what you mean by “marriage” upfront. A person with a gay agenda in their head will think that first sentence means the Church allows gays to get married.

So, I would add to the end of your second sentence, “a permanent union of a man and woman.”

That would make the sentence clearer:
“Every human person has a right to Marriage, a permanent union of a man and woman.”

Awesome! Thanks for those clarifications and suggestions. I am editing it accordingly as these things pop up in this thread. :slight_smile:

Just to add to this question in the OP (and hopefully not make things more complicated), is the following also a fair statement (it would be followed by CCC references 2331, 2332, 2335):

“Everything the Church teaches about Marriage and the purpose of the conjugal act can be linked back to “man” (both male and female) as being God’s creation in His image and likeness, and to the means of the generation of human life.”

I agree with those who question your statement that marriage is a “right”. Marriage as defined by the Church is sacramental. The sacraments are outward signs instituted by Christ to give us gifts of sanctifying and sacramental grace. These gifts are neither owed to us as a right nor can they be merited.

“Ordered toward generation” does not necessarily require that the couple be able to physically conceive. Many couples cannot. What it does require is openness to the procreative end of marriage. One must not impede the possibility of procreation.

The Church holds with an additional purpose for the sexual act. It is unitive and its unitive nature cannot be separated from its procreative nature. Both are intrinsically good.

I’m only quoting Joe in order to prevent lengthy responses, but this is directed at everyone.
I reworded the first part like this:

The Church does not forbid Marriage, as the Church understands Marriage, to any person, regardless of their orientation. Every human person has a right to Marriage, which is a lifelong, monogamous relationship with a person of the opposite sex.
(italics will be in the article)

Does that sound more clear?

As to the second point, I don’t think “not physically possible for them to generate life” is the best choice of words…

I definitely see the point. How about this:

“…If a union between two person is neither life-long (the two do not actually have a true commitment between them) nor ordered toward generation (meaning they don’t have the complementary sexual organs that could at least potentially generate life, even considering old age or natural loss of functionality), there is no true Marriage.”

Hmmm. I see your point. I’ll have to think about how to word that…

This is not quite accurate. Marriage is a part of human nature, and can only occur when the natural requirements are strictly met. Describing it as a “right”, when some people are not capable of meeting its requirements through no fault of their own (through impotence, birth defects, etc.), is misleading.

Similarly, as others have pointed out, your use of “orientation” is somewhat non-standard and potentially misleading, though I understand the point you are making that a person is not prohibited from attempting true (“heterosexual”) marriage, even if attracted exclusively to the same sex.

What we do NOT have a right to, is redefining what Marriage is and expecting God to change His own covenant sign. We do not have a right to engage in carnal activities and simultaneously expect God to recognize each and every carnal act as a “Marital” act.

Again, this is not quite theologically accurate (and to use theological language, you ought to strive for accuracy). Marriage is not, in fact, part of any of the Covenants between God and Man. Rather, it was deeply engrained in human nature from the beginning.

The Old Testament Covenants were agreements meant to help bring atonement to mankind. These affected practices of worship, but did not change human nature. The New Testament Covenant, similarly meant to save us from sin, introduces baptism, which augments human nature to allow us access to sacramental grace, but does not fundamentally change our nature. Baptism, for instance, seals the marriage bond until natural death, but it is still our innate human nature that allows the bond to be formed.

God created Marriage for a very specific purpose, with very specific ends and components. Marriage is a life-long union, a commitment, between a man and a woman, …

Again, this is tricky. Marriage was firstly intended as a life long bond. However, prior to reception of baptism, divorce is technically possible. The Law of Moses allowed divorce freely as a concession to the Hebrew people’s hardness of heart. Today, Church Law allows divorce among unbaptized persons in very specific instances, such as when a married unbaptized man marries a baptized women.

… which is ordered toward the generation and education of children. If a union between two persons is neither life-long (the two do not actually have a true commitment between them) nor ordered toward generation (meaning it is not physically possible for them to generate life), there is no true Marriage."

In general, accurate.

Please note, I realize this topic tends to stir heated debate. Debate is not my intent in this thread…I am just looking for comment on whether this is an accurate representation of Catholic teaching.

I similarly do not wish to deeply criticize, but to expand upon the complex and through teachings developed over the centuries on this topic.

In general, marriage is deeply imbedded in human nature. It may be helpful to study in detail Natural Law philosophy to get a better understanding of the Church’s teachings, which are formulated according to the Natural Law framework. Your summary uses some of the same language, and while your description is colloquially accurate, some of the language has very technical meaning within Natural Law which are not always used in a perfectly accurate manner.

Hello AHS.

I commend you on your intention. It’s a big one.

Actually the Church can and does forbid persons from marrying. There are things called impediments to marriage and if they exist, the Church cannot witness the marriage between some persons either until they resolve whatever the impediment is or in some other way, rectify it. There are however, persons who the Church can NEVER witness the marriage of. An example would be brother and sister or first cousins. Another example of an impediment that may be resolved by the parties is contraception. If one or both of the parties intends to limit their procreative powers in the marriage by chemical or other means, then the Church cannot witness that either. It needs to be resolved first. As for orientation, if a person claims they are homosexually attracted, as far as I know that too is an impediment that would require resolution prior to the Church agreeing to witness and depending upon the approach and intentions of the parties, it may never be able to be resolved. If a person was attracted to the same sex yet sought out and became engaged to an opposite sex partner and hid their same sex attraction for whatever reason, and then presented themselves as able to marry, they’d be fraudulently entering into the Sacrament and when it comes to light, is ground for not only divorce but annulment. Orientation IS an impeding element.

So, your second sentence, that everyone has a right to marriage is also not so.

You are correct in stating that we cannot re-define marriage, but the Church does have a definition of marriage that was given to her by God and it is this that she aims at preserving when she is witness to the intention of two persons at the altar in her nuptials.

Well, I’ve said enough and as you can see, it is my opinion that your representation of Church teaching in the above paragraph is a little lacking.

Thanks for sharing it with us though.

Glenda

Right. I reworded the confusing bit, and am working on how to reword the “right” vs. “sacramental” usage. IF you have any suggestions, I am open (and am willing to cite contributors at their request).

Again, this is not quite theologically accurate (and to use theological language, you ought to strive for accuracy). Marriage is not, in fact, part of any of the Covenants between God and Man. Rather, it was deeply engrained in human nature from the beginning…

The part about being part of God’s covenant sign comes from CCC 1601 "“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament

and CCC 1602 “Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of “the wedding-feast of the Lamb” (Rev 19:7, 9; cf. Gen 1:26-27). Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its “mystery,” its institution and the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end, its various realizations throughout the history of salvation, the difficulties arising from sin and its renewal “in the Lord” in the New Covenant of Christ and the Church (1 Cor 7:39; cf. Eph 5:31-32)

and CCC 1617, “The entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath (cf. Eph 5:26-27) which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist. Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant (cf. DS 1800; CIC, Can. 1055 § 2).”.

I think it’s appropriate to refer to Marriage as being a “covenant sign” in light of those references, no?

Again, this is tricky [the life-long component]. Marriage was firstly intended as a life long bond. However, prior to reception of baptism, divorce is technically possible. The Law of Moses…

I’d be comfortable arguing that though, and I doubt many of teh readers will hone in on that. All I have to do is use the same words Christ did, “in the beginning it was not so…” and that’d prety much wrap that up as far as the Church’s teacing, don’t you think?

Thanks! :slight_smile: So far it’s a 2,100 word article. If I can jsut iron out this one paragrpah, the rest will be a breeze because it’s mostly NOT me doing the talking. :wink: (I’m relying HEAVILY on the Catechism.)

Actually the Church can and does forbid persons from marrying. There are things called impediments to marriage and if they exist, the Church cannot witness the marriage between some persons either until they resolve whatever the impediment is or in some other way, rectify it. There are however, persons who the Church can NEVER witness the marriage of. An example would be brother and sister or first cousins. Another example of an impediment that may be resolved by the parties is contraception. If one or both of the parties intends to limit their procreative powers in the marriage by chemical or other means, then the Church cannot witness that either. It needs to be resolved first.

Yes, this is one of those things I need help wording.

“…The Church does not forbid Marriage, as the Church understands Marriage, to any person, regardless of their orientation unless there is some impediment to Marriage (ie. a known impotence, person is already Married, etc…)…” The other cases wouldn’t be a case of the Church forbidding a Marriage, as much as a person’s unwillingness to be “Married”, per se.

As for orientation, if a person claims they are homosexually attracted, as far as I know that too is an impediment that would require resolution prior to the Church agreeing to witness and depending upon the approach and intentions of the parties, it may never be able to be resolved. If a person was attracted to the same sex yet sought out and became engaged to an opposite sex partner and hid their same sex attraction for whatever reason, and then presented themselves as able to marry, they’d be fraudulently entering into the Sacrament and when it comes to light, is ground for not only divorce but annulment. Orientation IS an impeding element.

I had not thought of that. [Mind is tinkering on how to fit this in now…]

Thanks for the input!!

Okay, here is the re-worded version. Please don’t be shy about giving critique. :slight_smile:

[Preceded by CCC 2331, 32, 35 intro to sexuality; 2357, 58 , 59 on homosexuality; 2348-49 on chastity…in that order.]

The Church does not forbid Marriage, as the Church understands Marriage, to any person unless there is some impediment to Marriage (such as permanent, antecedent, and incurable impotence…not to be confused with infertility, or if one party is already Married, etc…). Every human person who is properly disposed to Marriage has the freedom to enter into Marriage, which is a lifelong, monogamous relationship with a person of the opposite sex.

What we do NOT have the freedom to do is redefine what Marriage is and expect God to change His own covenant sign. We do not have a right to engage in carnal activities and simultaneously expect God to recognize each and every carnal act as a “Marital” act. God created Marriage for a very specific purpose, with very specific ends and components.

Marriage is a life-long union, a commitment, between a man and a woman, which is ordered toward the generation and education of children. If a union between two person is neither life-long (the two do not actually have a true commitment between them) nor ordered toward generation (meaning they don’t have the complementary sexual organs that could at least potentially generate life, even considering old age or natural loss of functionality), there is no true Marriage.

[Followed by CCC 2360, 63…sexuality and ends of Marriage; 2366, 67 on fecundity; 1601-05, 17 on Marriage…in that order.]

Much better! :clapping:

Thanks…and thank you to everyone who chimed in. This was extremely helpful.

Here it is in final/published form. It’s a bit lengthy for my norm (it’s just over 2,100 words), but very little of it is me…mostly I let the Church do the talking.

Marriage and Homosexuality: What Does the Church Say?

I believe your final version covers this well.

The part about being part of God’s covenant sign comes from CCC 1601 "“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament

I don’t mean to get pedantic here, but this passage refers to the marriage bond specifically as a “covenant” which is accurate, and indeed deliberately alludes the bond between man and woman compared to that between God and Man.

However, (and I offer this more as point of stylistic advice rather than theological accuracy) if your audience is Catholics already well acquainted with religious terminology, then alluding to marriage as a metaphoric “covenant sign” might work.

Consider though, that “sign of the covenant” has a technical meaning referring to the acts that sealed the various bonds between God and mankind, for instance Noah’s rainbow, Abraham’s circumcision, etc. If your audience is non-Catholics, or novice Catholics, then the non-standard usage might add unnecessary confusion.

As I said, as a metaphor, it is accurate if properly understood. I do not wish to harp, but only to help clearly express our deep and ancient faith :slight_smile:


I’d be comfortable arguing that though, and I doubt many of teh readers will hone in on that. All I have to do is use the same words Christ did, “in the beginning it was not so…” and that’d prety much wrap that up as far as the Church’s teacing, don’t you think?

It is a point that is probably not relevant to the current post, but one that might need addressing if you get comments pointing out hypocrisy that Moses allowed divorce, etc.

Hmm. Yes, that’s a good point. I don’t know a better way to say it, though. I want to drive home the message that Marriage is more than society sometimes makes of it. Since it’s already posted, I’ll leave it for now and see if I catch any flack…and do some ‘splainin’ if I do. :o I really appreciate your feedback!

Actually, I liked the phrase “right to marry.” It is a right. The Church has used that phrase on a number of occassions. Here is an excerpt from the Pontifical Council for the Family’s 1983 document Charter of the Rights of the Family (emphasis added):

Article 1

All persons have the right to the free choice of their state of life and thus to marry and establish a family or to remain single.

a) Every man and every woman, having reached marriageable age and having the necessary capacity, has the** right to marry** and establish a family without any discrimination whatsoever; legal restrictions to the exercise of this right, whether they be of a permanent or temporary nature, can be introduced only when they are required by grave and objective demands of the institution of marriage itself and its social and public significance; they must respect in all cases the dignity and the fundamental rights of the person.

b) Those who wish to marry and establish a family have the right to expect from society the moral, educational, social and economic conditions which will enable them to exercise their right to marry in all maturity and responsibility.

c) The institutional value of marriage should be upheld by the public authorities; the situation of non-married couples must not be placed on the same level as marriage duly contracted.

Thank you for posting this! I have never seen marriage described in this way. I definitely concede the point. :slight_smile:

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