Love and Marriage and the Catholic Church

I’ve gotten several questions over the past few months about the Church’s teaching on same-sex marriage.  It’s a topic I’ve written on before, but today I wanted to focus on the bigger picture.  Let’s put same-sex marriage aside for a just one second and discuss what love and marriage are supposed to mean to man according to the Catholic Church.

The official teaching of the Catholic Church for all persons—gay, straight, male, female, single, married, what have you—is that we are all called to chastity.

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Let’s just stop for a moment and think about how counter-cultural that idea alone is.

As a Christian, I don’t believe that two unmarried people should live together as if they were married.  I don’t believe that any person—married or single—should look at pornography.  I believe, as Jesus teaches, that any man who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (and vice-versa).  I believe that the marital embrace ought to be reserved for, well, marriage.  I believe that a valid marriage is binding until death.  I also believe that marriage is for both the procreation of children and for the unity of the couple.

Let’s face it, you guys.  In eyes of the world, we’re nuts long before you even introduce the idea of same-sex marriage.

But this is sort of where the problem lies.  Like the frog slowly boiling in the pot, we’ve gradually become accustomed to the way the rest of the world views sex, love, and marriage (and unfortunately, it’s usually presented in the that order).  We invite all sorts of misrepresentations into our homes in the TV shows and movies we watch.  We stand by silently as our friends move in with their significant others before marriage.  Artificial contraception is accepted as normal— even responsible— for the unmarried and married alike.

We excuse our silence in the face of all of this because, “it’s not our place to speak up.”  It’s not our place to impose “our views.”

This could be why the rest of the world is— somewhat justifiably— so confused and so angered by our stance when it comes to things like same-sex marriage.  We don’t make a huge fuss when it comes to all of the other ways in which society has skewed the truth about sex, love, and marriage—why are we picking this one to be so upset about?  It’s a valid question.

Many other people in the Christian blogosphere have already made this point.  And by it I don’t mean to say that we’re so far gone that we should just let this one slide, or even that same-sex marriage is “no big deal” because we’ve already accepted so many other misrepresentations of what God designed sex and marriage for.  It is a big deal—but it’s also in some ways just the next [il]logical step along the slippery slope on which we’ve set ourselves.

So what’s a Christian to do in the face of misrepresentations of the truth about love?

We start living out the truth—the whole truth—of God’s plan for love in our lives.  Instead of opening up a book on what the Bible says about same-sex marriage for the sole purpose of winning the argument in the Facebook comments, let’s open up the pages of Scripture and ask God to write His Law on our hearts.  Let’s begin to speak up when love is misrepresented, and make an effort to stop welcoming the lies into our homes without so much as batting an eyelash.  And let’s do all of this not because we’re angry, but because it genuinely breaks our hearts to see love misrepresented as something less than what it is.

We’re called to be light to the world.  Are we living our lives in such a way that people are surprised to learn that we believe in the truth about God’s plan for love, marriage, and family life? 

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