Not too long after my last blog entry (see below), a fellow Catholic and friend called me to discuss what I had written.
“I liked it,” he said. I sensed a “but” was coming….and I was right.
“But,” he continued, “I don’t agree with the stuff about marriage.” When I asked him why, he said, “I think the Church is over-reaching on this one. I just think there are bigger fish to fry.”
He was referencing this excerpt from my last blog entry, in which I wrote, “In the current climate of attack against religious freedom and the definition of marriage by our government, we need to stand up for the truth and be heard.
I politely listened as he continued to explain his position. He shared with me that he has friends who are involved in same-sex relationships and that some of them were raising children and that there was really no difference between their families and traditional married families.
I wanted to share with him that I thought the research on this issue strongly supports the opposite of his hypothesis – that in fact children are sociologically, psychologically and developmentally better off when they are part of a family with a mother and a father, but instead I told him that we would have to just agree to disagree on this one.
And, most importantly, arguing over research and statistics wasn’t really the point. The point is that we are not called to be “Cafeteria Catholics”, where we pick and choose what we will believe and not believe regardless of what the Church teaches. Yes, we have consciences, but as Catholics, we have an obligation to form our consciences by educating ourselves about what the Church teaches and why on every issue – whether we think an issue is “small” or “big” fish – and to believe in, stand up and support its teachings. I understand this isn’t always easy. Admittedly, not that many years ago, I was in favor of capital punishment, but over time, as I read the Church’s teachings on the sacredness of all life, my heart was softened and my conscience was stirred enough that my stance changed on this issue.
We must be pastoral and loving to all of God’s creatures, for we were all created in His image. However, we have an obligation out of that love to share the truth about marriage and that truth is that the definition of marriage between a man and woman pre-dates the Church. Marriage between a man and woman has been the foundational element of the family throughout time because it is only through such a relationship that a true family can be created. Thus, marriage is an institution that is fundamental to the well-being of society, not just religious communities, and it is the natural basis of the family. To be sure, there will always be all types of families, but the sacredness and protection of the married family needs to be guarded and defended, for the good of all.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has created a great resource on the Web called “Marriage Unique For A Reason,” and it can be found at www.marriageuniqueforareason.org. It contains wonderful information about the Church’s teachings on marriage. If you haven’t yet visited this site, take a few moments to poke around it and to share it with your friends, loved ones and yes, those who do not believe as the Church teaches – which sadly includes some of our Catholic brethren.
Sharing the truth about marriage as Catholics does not make us bigots, haters or intolerant of others. We should not be forced as Christians and parents to accept anything less than what we believe to be true and best for our society and our families. As a father, I had to sit down with my daughter recently because she was confused and a little upset upon learning that one of her friends proudly boasted that her mother and girl friend were planning to get “married.” As I discussed the issue with my daughter, I felt a sense of anger that we are at a place in our society where our children are exposed to this issue at such a young age and are being browbeaten by the media and secular thought on marriage to buy-in to the opposite of what our faith teaches.
So, yes, friends, marriage is a big fish, and it is one that needs to be fried. Immediately.