Category Archives: Marriage

What Does Chastisement Look Like?

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From Romans:

chastisement18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

 

Reading this gives an interesting view of Chastisement.

I think our tendency in reading this is to focus on verses 26-32 and think about these things in terms of the target of God’s unhappiness with us – as the source of God’s wrath.   And certainly, these actions are noted as sinful and depraved so there is some element of truth to that.

Often enough, we see lamentations of the world around us – its immodesty and impurity, the continued degradation of social norms that were previously founded on Christian principles, but are now redefined by secular humanism, relativism, and liberal progressivism.   We view all these things and think that, surely, chastisement cannot be far behind.

What we are missing, I think, is that these things are chastisement.

Reading above, the real sin that brought on chastisement is:

  • those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
  • for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him
  • they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.
  • Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

 

OK, so the last bullet point is a bit archaic, but the modern equivalence of it is money, self, and power.    It is also anything we spend our time on that detracts us from God and the responsibilities He has given us.   To some extent, we are all likely guilty of that.

A spiritual social decay does not start with sexual perversion or confusion.   It starts with a much more subtle turning from God.   It first starts by moving God out of the public square.   By discouraging prayer.   By being ungrateful.   By considering your own personal needs before the needs of others.   By greed.   By turning Sunday into a day spent on yourself with maybe some little sliver of time for God, or maybe not.

At some point, the relationship with God changes, but this change is a disaffection of the real valid relationship that we should have and becomes something of a fantasy.   When this becomes our own pervasive reality, we’ve lost our way.

Pretty soon, this whole thing morphs into either an unbelief, or some weird belief that what we do doesn’t really matter because God loves us and that’s that.   Our own “wisdom” in assessing our relationship with God is borne of just that – our own wisdom – and is not a reflection of the reality of what Scripture has to say, what the Church teaches is true, or from any study of the wisest of Saints that went before us.   We decide that God is Who we want Him to be.

This is the real sin that separates us and invites chastisement.   The question is, what does chastisement look like?

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Notice that in Romans 1, we don’t get into the sins of impurity until after the “Therefore.”    The chastisement God sends us is not typically fire and brimstone.   It is ourselves apart from God.   Until this time, Paul seems to be saying that God recognizes that we are weak and protects us against ourselves.   He knows what brings us emptiness, heartbreak, desolation, and loneliness.   He doesn’t want that for us.   So He helps us, blesses us, gives us the grace to deal with many of life’s temptations and disorders.   He loves us.

But when we do not recognize any of this, and we are ungrateful for it, this is a sin against the very goodness of God Himself.   When we decide that God can be secondary in our lives, we are not loving God back.   The more and more we send God the message that we really don’t care that He is an instrumental part of our lives and culture, the more likely He will be to eventually give us what we desire – as stupid as that desire may be.

Paul writes that “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts.”   Paul does not say that God imposed those lusts.   God basically said – OK, you want to do things without me, then go ahead.

One of the first evidences of this abandonment of God to ourselves is homosexual activity.   We too often fall into the trap of judging those who are imposing the acceptance of the homosexual agenda as a major root of the problem in this country.    In reality, this is a fruit of the problems that led God to removing His blessings from us in the first place.  But accepting sexual impurity outside of marriage became the norm well before homosexuality became the social revolution of our time.   The latter does not happen without the former preceding it, so it’s hardly the case that we can start hurling stones only with the advent of the gay marriage agenda.   No, the sexual revolution led to weaker families, fewer children, abortion on demand, and the beginning of the end of a healthy and functioning society.  Having made that bed, God turned us over and gave us the direct evidence of His handing us over to ourselves with the acceptance and celebration of homosexuality.   To blame gays for chastisement without recognizing the sinfulness that brought is to the point of accepting it is like blaming the sinking of the boat on the last gallon of water that bubbled up through the hole in the side.

But it doesn’t end there.

They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

The push for acceptance of the gay lifestyle started in earnest less than two decades ago.   We went from most people believing that marriage should be between a man and a woman to the Supreme Court signing off on it as law of the land.   We put our stamp of approval on this “progress” when we voted for Barack Obama the second time after this agenda became perfectly clear.    Shortly thereafter, the rest of society followed with basically that entire list.

And note the last line:  “they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.”   Think of the way Christians are now considered bigoted for their beliefs, and how “courageous” the practitioners of different sins are.   We openly encourage gay marriage as a good thing, and even a Godly thing.   Those who are against abortion are labeled as haters of women, while those who support abortion are considered to be on the higher moral plane.  Having only one or two children is considered more moral than welcoming a larger family – I’ve actually been called “selfish” for daring to have nine children.

No, I hate to say it, but Chastisement is not on its way.  It’s been unfolding before us for some time.   And the unfortunate result is that God will not step in and save us until we ask Him to do it.    And while it may be true that many among us are asking, if the country as a whole continues to act in defiance of Him by the way we act and the people we elect to serve as the example of what we stand for, then God will continue to allow us to live under our own “wisdom.”  And do any of us see a sudden welcoming of God back into our lives on a collective basis?   We can pray and hope for a miracle, but as of this point there is no such indication.

How bad will things need to get before we come to our collective senses?   Unfortunately, there is every likelihood that we are about to find out.

 

 

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Male and Female He Created Them

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It’s one of the most fundamental aspects of creation.   Aside from all the theology of it all, God created us to procreate.   The mechanism by which He did this was to create man and woman.   This is not just true of the human race, but of all living creation, save certain exceptions that are either single-cell organisms or random things God seems to have created just because He can and enjoys messing with us a little bit.

Yes, it’s true that certain elements of creation are either non-gender (bacteria, for example) and propagate through cell division, or are hermaphrodites (both male and female) and reproduce all by themselves through some sort of kinky process I don’t really care to dwell on.   But there is one common characteristic that every aspect of reproducing creation shares:  the way you reproduce is the way you’re designed, and the way it’s meant to be.

Man, of course, is our focus here.   We are made in the image and likeness of God.   It may seem strange that God the Father, a Spirit and neither solely masculine nor feminine, created us as male and female.   But we need to keep in mind that our image and likeness is our spiritual nature.  God has no body, so there can be no physical form at all that would be a perfect reflection of God.    Further, God is not just the Father, but the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It has long been theologically accepted that the family is a reflection of the Trinity.  While the Trinity’s oneness is spiritual and not physical, our humanity requires a way to commune with each other physically in order to physically propagate.  The Holy Spirit is the result of the love between Father and Son, while our children are the result of the love between mother and father.

One thing that has been apparent from the beginning of the first moment of man’s existence is that the devil realizes that the best way to undermine God, to mock God, to pull people away from God, is to attack humanity precisely where we most reflect God’s design for us, and most reflect His very essence.

People have often pointed to “End Times” study – such as in Revelation – and noted that there seems to be a false prophet (mockery of John the Baptist) who precedes the Antichrist (mockery of Christ).   The Family is, of course, attacked continuously throughout all of salvation history.

One thing that has also been easy to see throughout all of history is the attack on the procreative aspect of sexuality.   Whether we are talking about sex outside of marriage, or sex for pure pleasure, or contraception, or homosexuality – when the procreative act takes place without the procreative aspect of it willfully and purposefully in play, then this is an attack and a mockery of the very love between Father and Son that produces the third Person of the Trinity eternally.   It’s a mockery, then, of the Trinity itself.

This has always been a human struggle, and in different times these things ebb and flow and rise and fall.   It is probably worse in our time than it has ever been, but it is not a new attack.   The attack just seems to be more successful in its acceptance and effectiveness in drawing people into error and away from God.

However, we are now seeing an attack that I believe is unprecedented in all of world history.   It is an attack on the very existence of human being being male or female.    It is so absurd on its surface that it is easy to not take it seriously.   And quite frankly, we shouldn’t even be having a debate about it.   It’s is self-evident that we are male and female.   But it shows how easily duped we humans are, particularly among the supposed intellectual elite – that this is even something we are now discussing.

The deception is insanely diabolical.   Homosexuality is problematic, but it does not by its nature deny the gender of the person, whether male or female.    Even someone who feels like they are a man trapped in a woman’s body or vice-versa is recognizing that there is such a distinction – male and female.

I am talking about people who are now believing, and convincing others to believe, that they are neither male nor are they female.   They dismiss gender as “binary.”

This may at first be viewed with a bit of eye-rolling and easy to dismiss.  Quite honestly, I am not sure I even heard of the concept as non-binary genderism until a year or two ago. But we ignore this heresy at our peril.   This is more than an attack on family, it is more than a mockery of the Trinity, it is more than any of the previous confusions in the realm of human sexuality and family.  This is new, and it is an attack on the very nature of humanity itself.   It is the utmost mockery of the human person, and of God’s design, and of God.

It is already the case that Canada is considering the passage of – and very well may pass – a bill that will make it a criminal offense to address a person by the pronouns “he” or “she” in lieu of “they.”    I’m not making this up.     Within the last year or two – really as soon as the Supreme Court OK’d same-sex marriage – the entire issue of transgenderism reached a fever pitch, and transgenderism evolved in meaning from a man feeling like he needs to become a woman and going through some action or process to make that happen, to now being able to just say he’s a woman because he feels that way regardless of his biological design, to being no such thing as a man or a woman.   We are all just non-binary creatures who have no business calling ourselves one thing or another because it offends the sensibilities of those around us who don’t accept that we are one thing or another.

This is such a devious attack on human nature by the devil that I don’t think any one at any time ever saw it coming.    I have read countless accounts – fictional and predictive – of what the world would become as we near the End Times or Chastisement or whatever.    Most of those accounts properly foresaw a world falling away from God, becoming more selfish and violent, increases in sexual perversions, and so on.    I never recall seeing anyone accurately forecast that a good chunk of humanity would devolve to a state where we utterly ignore our physical attributes and refuse to recognize our gender, and further that this group would gain acceptance and relevance to the point where governments would promote this idea, outlaw opposing views, and completely turn the argument around and call all those who oppose it from the very simple arguments of observation, reason, and logic immoral bigots.

It’s quite mad, and it’s the world we live in.

We all know, in the end, that God has His ultimate victory over the Devil.   We may or may not see that in our lifetime, but one wonders how long we can sustain such a path of utter disregard for humanity.   The one remaining step to absolute perdition seems to be laws that criminalize the belief that humans are any different than plants or animals.   We’ve seen people argue this in the past, and they’ve been dismissed as the lunatics that they are.    But we may soon see the day where they are no longer dismissed, but accepted and celebrated, and their ideas legislated in some form or fashion.

If I were God, I likely would have wiped us out long ago.   Thankfully for all of us, I am not God (despite what the Relativists think).   But the only way for Him to gain the ultimate victory here on earth can’t be pretty for anyone.

 

Thankfulness

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There is a lot going on in the world.   But at the end of the day, all of us need to reflect on our blessings and give thanks.   Without God, we are nothing.    I mean, literally.   Without God, nothing would exist.   Which is weird to think about all on its own.   But because God is, so are we.    And He gives us creation and each other during this temporal life, and only He and those who have gone before us really knows what is waiting for us on the other side.

So, let me express my thanks publicly here.

My wife and I have just returned from a vacation.   just the two of us.   It is difficult for us to remember the last time we spent extended time together – just us.   Nine kids will do that.   We’ve also vacationed with friends in the past as well.   But this time it was just us.

We celebrated 25 years of marriage on July 27.   Time sometimes feels short and sometimes drags on, but it is almost overwhelming to consider what has happened in the last 25 years.

God has been remarkably good to us.   I humbly express my gratitude for having had consistent work and the ability to manage finances throughout the years.    I am awed by His goodness in bringing my wife and I together in the first place.   When I reflect on how that all happened, I see His hand in it, even if we didn’t recognize it ourselves.   He had a plan for us and it took us a few years to figure that plan out, and I’m not sure we ever fully got it, but we keep trying.

Had someone told me I’d have nine kids at this point in my life I would have snorted coffee out my nose.  Which is really something, since I don’t drink coffee!   But we have nine wonderful children ages 3 to 20, and while this heaps up a boatload of frustration and anxiety at times, I am so incredibly thankful for every last one of them.

As a Christian, it goes without saying all the big things I am thankful for.   Jesus sacrificing Himself for all of us – salvation – the big stuff.   But all that just seems to big it is sometimes hard to wrap ourselves around it.    I think God likes to give us smaller things (still big – but smaller than, oh, eternity in heaven…) that we can actually grasp with our little minds so we can have things a bit more tangible to give Him thanks for.   A sunset, nice weather, safe travel, a good family…  My goal, sometimes achieved and sometimes not, is to never take any good thing for granted and to give thanks.

But today, I thank God for my wife and my marriage.   I thank God for the financial ability to take this vacation to Maine.   I thank God for providing us family that was willing to help make this happen by staying with the younger kids.   I thank God for safe travel to, throughout, and back.   And I thank God that my wife and I still love each other and enjoy spending time together.   And I pray that we continue to be blessed on many of these regards, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

I offer my own well-wishes to any who might read this.   Take stock of your surroundings today and recognize God’s blessings, and say Thanks.

How Did We Reach a Point Where Disagreement = Judgment and Hate?

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“Love won today!”

I saw this statement and claim made shortly after the 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court that legalized gay marriage.

A couple days later, my wife posted a video on Facebook.   The purpose of the video was to once again lay out the case for the traditional definition of marriage.   It was not in any way presented hatefully, but it was not apologetic, either.   It simply presented the facts about what marriage has been considered forever, why it was considered that way, and why same-sex marriage doesn’t properly fulfill the requirements to be considered marriage.

Responses to her sharing this were that it made someone “sad that you feel that way.”   In a followup response, once again the idea that “well, I just choose to love people” came up.

Whether intended or not, these responses and reactions have as a premise that if the Supreme Court did not rule as they did, then love would have lost.   Or that thinking about this issue in the traditional sense must mean you don’t love people – at the very least, you don’t love them as much as someone who supports redefinition of marriage.   They’ll say “oh, that’s not waht I mean, or what I’m implying.”   That’s a shallow retort.   You can’t make a statement about love winning and then backtrack and say that you don’t mean that others are haters, or at least not as loving as you.   It’s a logical impossibility.

This, of course, is poppycock.

It has long been a tactic of those engaged in policy, social, and moral debate to appeal to emotion and the impugning of character in order to advance an opinion or agenda.   And while neither side of any issue is immune to that temptation, I do think there is a definite difference in applicability of that approach.   In general, the more “conservative” position on an issue is an argument based on the logical or rational merits of an idea.  This may be to a fault in many cases, where the human side of things may not be fully considered, and it’s something that conservatives need to guard against.    That is not to say the right cannot get emotional and accuse others of this thing or that, but I would venture to say that the underlying view of an issue has more of a logical train of thought to it.   The more “progressive” elements try to paint their side much more as on the side of compassion and tolerance.   This is a very emotional plea – one of inclusiveness and love (except for those who disagree, anyway).   I am not saying there is never anything deeper to have formed their opinions, but the overriding element is feelings.

The gay marriage argument is really a very easy case study on this, and I’m sure people will disagree with me on it.   Well, it’s OK to be wrong, because this is about as simple as it gets.    The main argument that the progressives have on this is “we just want people to be happy and have a companion, and be recognized for it so they are not viewed differently and they can get the same benefits other people get.   Because we LOOOOVVVVVEEEEE them SOOOOOOOOO much!”   It really is that simple.   I have yet to hear any gay marriage supporters really even attempt to suggest there’s more to it than that.   “We want what you have” is pretty much what it was all about.

Those on the other side of the argument seldom thought all that much about the individuals enough to say that we love, like, dislike, or outright hate any given person or group.   The simple fact is, this has never been about emotional and personal feelings as much as it just simply doesn’t make one friggin’ bit of sense to us at any rational and reasonable and intellectual level.    It’s about a series of facts and observations:  (1) who do we think we are to redefine an institution that’s thousands of years old into something new? (2) Men’s parts are made for women’s parts by natural design or order or however you’d prefer to characterize it; (3) the sexual relationship is pretty much designed for one purpose – procreation.    Yes, it feels great, and we’ve turned its purpose into a self-serving thing of pleasure, but most people recognize that the entire reason there are men’s parts and women’s parts is so that there end up being more people.

Of course, morality and religion come into play, and it’s somewhat ironic that this generates protests from the progressives who claim that there should be no place in the debate for religion, when their entire platform is not actually based on anything of substance on any level.

Attempts to bridge this chasm usually do not go all that well.  Let’s focus on the Christians who have both purely rational reasons for believing what they believe, and also the affirmation of the good book to boot that really solidifies their position.  One of the problems that will occur on the one side of the debate is that, even though the root of the belief is based on sound judgment and logic, the emotional element does kick in for an entirely different reason than the progressive side.    It could be a few different reasons, but it’s generally something in this universe:   I love God so much and want others to love God, and this is so wrong that my head’s going to explode, and I JUST CAN’T UNDERSTAND HOW OTHERS CAN’t SEE IT!; or there are numerous reasons and examples already that create a fear/anxiety that my own religious liberty will soon be at risk; or it just flat out makes so much sense that anyone who can’t see it is completely rationalizing in their opinion for some purpose or another (likely to appease the conscience of a loved one, or they can’t bear to believe that someone they know or love may be sinning), or just flat-out stupid.    So, because we Christians are not impervious to sin, these emotions do move us past the “hate the sin, love the sinner” frame of mind and we become uncharitable.   And this causes all sorts of issues that make us sound like haters.

But before the progressives get all puffy, you’re at fault too.    Because you simply cannot tolerate dissent, or anything other than complete complicity in both thought and action, you are unable to have a reasoned and rational debate.    A Christian can be utterly loving and charitable, but let’s face it…   if we believe something is sinful, there really isn’t a way to say that, even in the most loving way, that isn’t a little bit harsh.   And a Christian can present this without talking directly about “you” and recognize that God alone ultimately judges, and can throw all the caveats under the sun in there, but once the word “sin” is mentioned, every other word that has been said is forgotten.   All the love, compassion, delicate weaving of the argument or opinion…  gone.    After all, we dare not use the word “sin” these days.    YOU THINK I’M SINNING?!!!!   (even though I never said “you are sinning”)   YOU HATEFUL BIGOTED CHRISTIAN LOOOOSSSERRRR!!!    JUDGER!   JUDGER!

Don’t get me started on the perversion of the “Though shalt not judge” scriptural reference, which has been transformed into such a meaning that it eviscerates Paul’s requirement that we admonish the sinner.    But that’s a digression I won’t get into right now.

Sigh.

As a Diatriber, I guess I’m a judger.

All we can do as Christians is continue to strive for our balance point.   We must love, yet admonish.   But we must admonish with utmost charity.    But we cannot judge, especially without looking at the log in our own eye.    We must not capitulate our beliefs and participate in something that is wrong, but we cannot discriminate against people unfairly in our day-to-day lives, nor should we withhold our assistance and generosity to them either.   We must stand firm, publicly if necessary, in favor of what is good and right, while not being unnecessarily confrontation and mean-spirited in the way we make our stand.

That is a tough balancing act, and most of us will stumble around – possibly our entire lives – trying to figure out how to get it right.

A Couple Final Thoughts From My Most Recent Posts

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OK, so basically I wanted an outlet to put down my thoughts on how the re-definition of marriage transpired.

I think I covered most things, but in re-reading and reflecting what I have written, there are a couple things that I want to add to wrap things up.

I’ve alluded to this general theme throughout, I guess, but I really just want to emphasize how critical it is that we tie the purpose of marriage together with what marriage actually is.   We need a triple-knot on this.   The entire idea of what people think marriage is meant to be directly affects what they think marriage should look like.

The current debate has almost completely normalized the idea, even among Christian folk who should know better, that marriage is an avenue of self-fulfillment.   Some may view this as just one aspect of marriage, but many view this as the primary purpose.   This is truly upside-down thinking, but it is the predominant view.

Thinking about Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles and then dying on the cross for His Church, marriage is supposed to emulate Jesus as the bridegroom and the Church as bride.   Are either side in that equation concerned primarily with self-fulfillment?   No.   Jesus died for His Church and the Church has suffered countless martyrs that were/are persecuted and even sent to death for Christ.

Yes, marriage is about love.   But not “Sleepless in Seattle” romantic love.    That provides a wonderful element to a good marriage relationship, but it is a byproduct of it and not the purpose of it.

All the things I wrote about, in one way or another, center around the transition from marriage as being about sacrificial love for another and instead to companionship and self-fulfillment.  This then directly leads to a complete abandonment of the idea that begetting children is a necessary element to marriage.

If this is what marriage is all about (or not about), it is no surprise whatever that people can come to grips with and accept gay marriage.   After all, it’s not about having kids, and each person just wants to be loved and have companionship and be happy.   And that’s all marriage is, so there you go.

I already discussed the evolution of acceptance of homosexuality as a lifestyle alternative.   Underlying this acceptance is either a real or perceived increase in people who are actually gay.   Some would argue that there is no percentage difference in the number of gay people, only that they are now more willing to be open about it, thanks to our newly open and progressive society.    I think there’s probably truth to the fact that people who are gay are much less likely nowadays to hide it or suppress it, but I also think there are factors that have actually increased the numbers of people who are gay from the viewpoint of genetic predisposition, as well as those who are steered that way due to a culture that almost seems to prefer that a person seek out every alternative than a heterosexual and monogamous lifestyle.

I already discussed one factor: fewer dads and less fatherly availability is directly linked as a factor in men being gay.   It could be entirely environmental, or it could be a factor in driving a person towards a genetic predisposition.

Another factor that has been studied and confirmed, and then basically suppressed as explanatory is the hormonal pollution of the water supply, particularly in more populous areas.   And what is the hormonal pollution from?   The birth control pill, primarily.   It is an interesting irony that one of the outcomes of a society that embraces the temporary sterilizing of itself is that it leads to more people who desire relationships that are, by their very nature, sterile.

There really are more issues that are ancillary to all of this that help fill in even more gaps.   The fact that we now procreate in ways that fall outside of the unitive act of marriage in turn devalues the family.   It is no longer from an act of unitive love, it is a scientific process.   Don’t even get me started on frozen embryos.

And then there’s abortion.   As if it isn’t enough to prevent the conceiving of a life, we somehow managed to convince ourselves that it isn’t really a human life after all, and we can just do away with it.   An entire class of people just dehumanized.    There is simply no way 50 million plus abortions can occur with it taking a toll on marriages and what people believe is true of marriage.

I’m sure more could be added to the list.   But I think I’ve said my piece.   I’ll move on to other things, or at least different aspects of this thing.

Catalysts that have helped lead to the Redefinition of Marriage

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I’m probably about to step in it.   I’m about to discuss some issues that many people will thing “hey…   he’s talking about me, and I’m NOT <insert whatever it is you think I’m saying you’re doing>.”

So, I’ll just get to my point here, and you can go ahead and be mad if you want.

1) Dad is removed from the home for his work day:     This is something I struggle with all the time.   I grew up on a farm where I was blessed to have dad there all the time.   But in most cases, this isn’t happening, and it’s not for me either.   I think dad being away from the family 40-80 hours per week, depending on the situation, has taken a toll in a few different ways:

  • It created a whole lot more opportunities for dad to work closely with other people who may or may not be the best influence.
  • In the more modern work force, he will be working more closely with other women.
  • It greatly diminishes the time at home and participate in the raising of the children.
  • The entire idea that it is somehow good for husband and wife to be separated for most of the day and be free of the other is antithetical to the idea of service and sacrifice that helps cement the marital relationship.
  • In the context of the most recent rise and acceptance of gays , the gay lifestyle, and gay marriage, it has been shown that most men who have same-sex attraction also have a very tight – an unusually tight – bond with mom, usually at the expense of a similar bond with dad.   I’m not going to argue genetics and environment and all that here.   But if there is a predisposition towards something on a genetic basis, it still doesn’t necessarily manifest itself.  It would seem that there is both a predisposition, and an environmental element at play here, at least in many cases.   Dad not being around, I believe, is directly contributory to the gender identity issues of today.

All of these things are navigable, but create a difficulty in navigation that we all must be aware of.

2) Women in the workplace/traditional gender roles:   The increasing prevalence of women in the workplace goes beyond a simple desire for women to have a career.   There was a feminist agenda behind the promotion of women viewing liberation as having a career, while engaging in traditional roles as wife and mother and household duties as a form of slavery.    In the process, almost no respect was given to women from the very women promoting this concept.   Those who desired to forego career and stay home were scoffed at and derided.   It is perfectly clear that the desire of more and more women to pursue a career outside of the home had a number of effects on the modern-day family:

  • It blurred the gender roles that traditionally accompanied marriage.   The blurring of gender roles has eventually led all the way to no boundaries in gender identity with respect to who can get married.    This would not be possible had the traditional gender roles of male and female were not first made irrelevant.
  • This movement contributed to the idea of having children as a burden – they were in the way.   [NOTE:   THIS IS A DISCUSSION OF OVERALL TRENDS,  NOT A JUDGMENT OF ANYONE’S INDIVIDUAL SITUATION!]   This attitude increased the prevalence and acceptance of contraception as “necessary” for financial reasons, or other reasons.
  • Couples became dependent on dual incomes and material things became far more important than in the past.   The financial arrangement of the marriage was central to the relationship.    Financial stress is a leading cause in divorce, and much of that stress was caused either because people got in over their heads and now became slaves to career, or because they wanted to keep up with those around them, leading to one spouse thinking it “unfair” that he or she carries the financial load.
  • Many women outright delayed marriage, or never pursued it, who otherwise would have if career were not of central importance.

3) Increases in domestic partnerships/civil unions as the final stage of relationship:   Over the decades, more and more people have decided that there really is no reason for marriage.   Just live together, and if it lasts long enough you end up with a common law marriage.    Nothing special needed.   Some decide they want the benefits of marriage, and prior to everyone being able to marry anyone else civil unions were a construct to help validate the relationship for benefits or legal status.     The more this practice became acceptable between heterosexual couples, the more marriage was viewed as just one of many legitimate family options.    Since this isn’t marriage, it wasn’t a redefinition of marriage, but it further contributed to the view of marriage as nothing particular meaningful or special.

4) Children raised without a father:   Divorces, broken homes, or extra-marital relationships have led to so many kids being raised by either one parent, or splitting time, or multiple sets of parents that there is little question it has to completely distort the view of what marriage is with each successive generation.   At some point, the entire concept of marriage is simply confusing.

5) Acceptance of homosexuality as a lifestyle:  Getting to the current issue, before marriage could be re-defined as something other than a male-female union, there needed to be widespread acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.   I’m not talking about acceptance and love of people dealing with same-sex attraction, or who self-identify as gay.   I’m talking about the acceptance, then actual promotion and celebration of the lifestyle itself.    Once the dam burst on this, it’s remarkable how quickly things went from viewing homosexual acts as a form of perversity to something beautiful.

It is my opinion that the primary mover on this was simple and pure moral capitulation by family and friends, and entire churches.   In the well-meaning attempt to love, not condemn, not judge, and reach out to people with same-sex attraction, suddenly mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, cousins, friends, co-workers, etc. suddenly knew someone who was gay.    Gay and proud.   Gay and, actually, really nice.   Gay, and deserving of love and companionship.    Suddenly, the moral view moved from “homosexuality is a sin” to “all they want is love, and how can that be a sin?”   Nobody wanted to speak of sexuality as a struggle, or as a cross to bear, or sinful and harmful as a behavior.   Whereas it was once acceptable to “seek help” the mere suggestion of it now became insulting and demeaning.   God couldn’t really, actually, find fault with this.   No, in fact, God WANTS everyone to be happy, and he made so-and-so that way.   The slope to where we are goes something like this:

  • Omigosh, Jimmy is gay
  • I love Jimmy – he’s my <son/nephew/cousin/friend/roomate/ice cream man>
  • But there’s this “sin” thing
  • But waitaminnit.   Jimmy’s really nice and just wants to be loved.   I’m so confused.
  • A lot of people are telling me I’m a bigot for thinking Jimmy is sinning.   I don’t want to be a bigot.  So I’m not going to say anything any more.
  • Whoa – now Jimmy wants to be married.  That ain’t right.
  • I’ve been thinking about this.   I can’t figure out why it isn’t right.   After all, marriage is just about companionship and love.   After all, people get divorced and some people don’t have children and they’re still married.
  • I don’t want to tell Jimmy he can’t get married.   he should.   It has to be OK.   I want him to be happy.   And if I start talking religion he won’t listen anyway, and actually I’m not sure why it’s wrong anyway now that I’ve been thinking about it.
  • You know, I don’t care what the bible says, I don’t care what the Church teaches, I don’t care about all the thousands of years of prior ideas of homosexuality as disordered.   I am, here and now, defining morality as I see it.

And thus, the self-appeasement and the appeasement to Jimmy is completed.   I think people honestly believe that if they just believe something is OK, then it actually is.   It is, of course, moral relativism.   But this one has a face.   Jimmy is a son , brother, cousin, neighbor, and friend to someone.   The discussion that was needed could cause division and hard feelings.   Who wants that?   it’s sad, yet understandable as well.

It became very difficult to get our collective heads wrapped around the idea that it is actually an act of love to tell someone that acting on disordered desires is a sin.  There should be no greater desire for us to love someone into heaven, even if it means saying something they won’t want to hear.   But we screwed that up through well-meaning meandering about the issue, and somehow the masses became convinced that trying to address the salvific aspect of this was hateful and bigoted.   Instead, the here and now, the temporal, was the consideration.   Disordered desires can now be acted upon with a free and clear conscience because – well – I don’t know why.   I guess it’s because God just goes with the flow and changes His mind as long as His teachings are violated for the “right” reasons.   Whatever those are.   It’s not so much that i can’t understand the people in this who don’t believe in God or a divinely ordained morality.   It’s that I can’t understand how easily Christians have rolled over on this.  Faced with the first real difficult circumstance in their life where they had to choose between God’s path and another path, they took the easy road.

And so, here we are today.

And it won’t end here.   It never does.   Let the capitulation continue.

Step 3 in the Re-definition of Marriage

Standard

As a quick recap for a couple previous posts, in my opinion (and the opinion of many others) the whole marriage debate has a lot of nuance to it, and the sudden realization that marriage has been re-defined carries with it no shortage of fault and blame going back centuries.    I won’t re-hash that detail, but it is important to remember the following points:

1) Marriage never has been universally defined.   Ages of people and cultures have viewed it, its purpose(s), and its structure differently.   Never has it meant same-sex relationships, though, to my knowledge.   But the historical nature of it has not been, and is not, universal.

2) The above point is not an argument that there should not be a universal definition.   Just as Jesus started the spread of the Gospel in a small area with a small group of people, there is some providential design that is apparently very important in the way Christian teachings are to take root in the world.   God wants us to live in a certain way and believe certain things, but He didn’t make that happen by zapping everyone in the world with a magical laser beam of perfect knowledge.   The Church was to grow over centuries and millennia and reach people at the designated time.

3) As with all things Christian, the true nature of marriage was revealed slowly and steadily throughout the world.   The lack of uniformity is not, and cannot be, an argument that there should not be uniformity.   And so the true nature of marriage became more understood and accepted and adopted not just in a religious sense, but in a secular and civil sense.  This truth largely prevailed, and even further, was recognized as a necessary base for a strong society and nation.

4) Some would say that marriage started to be redefined when governments (often backed by the churches) got involved.   This is not really correct.   It may have changed the way governments decided to view married people or treat married people.   It may have added conditions to the marriage arrangement that would later set in motion the redefinition of it, but none of these things fundamentally changed what marriage actually was, or what its purpose was.

5) Luther cracked the nut when he declared that marriage was not a Sacrament, which meant it was not covenental in nature.   It was a vow or promise, but between people.    When we talk about “redefinition,” we are now talking about this relative to the Christian ideal.

6) The next post was a review of how divorce moved from a rare and generally unacceptable thing to a very prevalent and acceptable thing.   The very idea that this is even possible stems from a belief that there is not a true, very real, singular unity of the spouses that cannot be broken.   This took a long time to take hold as a belief, but once it did it spread very quickly.

The fundamental purpose of marriage is not to have a companion for life.   The foundational purposes are to (a) unite with someone who can help you get to heaven, (b) have children, (c) raise children with the primary idea that you want them to get to heaven.

That, of course, is entirely simplistic, and it says nothing of all the things that go into actually having a “good” marriage.   There’s all sorts of love and sacrifice and struggle that goes into all that, but those are not what marriage actually is.  It’s what it should look like to the outside world.   What it actually is is more real at the spiritual level, and invisible to us all.   We don’t see a physical contraption binding husband and wife, nor do we see the Sacramental graces that come from God in the marriage arrangement.

OK, so that recap is nearly an entire post’s worth of words.   Sorry.

But now I move on to an issue that generally is a hard sell to people who really really really don’t like the implications of re-thinking what it would mean to change how they view it.   Wait for it…   wait…   almost there…

Contraception.

There.  I said it.

It shouldn’t be anything new.   After all, Pope Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae at a time when boatloads of theologians and clergy alike all thought he was going to give the green light to the use of contraception.    He pretty much pulled the rug out from underneath them.

I am not going to re-write that document or St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body here.   There’s a wealth of information for all who have the desire to be honest with themselves about really learning and understanding the Church’s teachings on the issue.    All I’ll say here is the top line summary:   Contraception is considered an intrinsic evil (yes, these words from the Catechism nearly instantaneously caused my own conversion on this issue after never receiving appropriate catechesis prior to marriage).  Why?   Boiling thousands of pages of detail into one sentence: The sexual act in marriage is about bringing life into the world through the act of love between man and woman that is our human and physical mirror image of the love between Jesus and His Father that gives us the Holy Spirit.   (It’s kind of a run-on sentence, but once I typed “into one sentence” I was pigeonholed.)   I admit, that comparison can seem quite odd, and even a bit disturbing if not viewed in its fullness of meaning, which is why I encourage much deeper study on it.

If this purpose of the marital act can be relaxed into one of pure pleasure without the life-giving nature of it, then it takes one of the foundational pillars of the purpose of marriage away and once again redefines it.   Yes, I know that these relations can still be an act of love, and a joining of two people, and all the good things that can come from that.   It’s not that every intimate embrace using contraception is entirely selfish.   But it almost always has at least some element of selfishness to it, and in many cases it really is just all about the pleasure of the act without the potential rewards of it. (I always hear “ramifications” as if begetting a child is like the aftermath of pressing the nuclear button.   I prefer “reward” when speaking about a new life coming into the world.)   And even removing the purity of motive, there is still the plain, old, legalistic, can’t-get-around-the-fact, aspect of using contraception that takes away the procreative aspect of sex.   Even if only intended to be a temporary measure for this reason or for that reason, you’ve removed the life-giving element of the act, which means you are no longer emulating the life-giving love between Jesus and the Father, which in turn means that act is no longer a human reflection of the Family that is the Trinity.    The longer one uses contraception, the more reasons one uses it for, and the fewer kids you decide is “right for you” because of it, the further away from the procreative foundation of marriage we get.

All the Christian religions universally agreed on the importance of this aspect of marriage until the Lamberth Conference in 1930.   The Church of England cracked open the door.   The Federal Council of Churches followed in 1931.   These initial allowances were conservative in nature – only when abstinence was deemed impractical for limited reasons.    But by 1961, nearly all Protestant religions followed suit, and many relaxed the standards, and the National Council of Churches finally declared that the only requirement was mutual consent of the couple.

The slippery slope is always an amazing thing to see historically.   And yet, every time someone proposes some relaxation of standards on just about any issue, they always seem to dismiss the future implications and the slippery slope argument.

From a social standpoint, the Federal ban on birth control in the US was lifted in 1938.   In 1965, states were no longer allowed to make their own decision on the matter.   The Supreme Court determined that contraceptive use is a Constitutional Right between married couples.    In 1972 the Supreme Court extended the right to unmarried couples.

The current prevalence of contraception, and its presentation as a good thing for women and “reproductive rights” has led to a world where numerous “Christian” nations are not even replacing themselves.  The sexual act is no longer reserved for marriage and comes (seemingly) without consequence.   The sexual act, primarily, is self-serving even within marriage.

Combine divorce and contraception, and you get a non-permanent arrangement where sexual gratification is one of the primary purposes of your maybe-lifetime-maybe-not relationship.   How many people call it quits when they are “no longer compatible sexually” or “that passion isn’t there anymore?”   How many don’t bother to get married in the first place?

This all needed to happen to get us to where we are today.   The Catholic Church stands alone, once again, in preserving the complete sanctity of what marriage is.    Unfortunately, an alarmingly high percentage of Catholics have decided that they do not need to follow Church teachings on this particular matter.   So, while the Church isn’t devaluing marriage in general, they are devaluing their own marriage, and likely passing that attitude on to their children and others.   I can empathize.   Many of those people simply do not know any better.   I thank God for revealing the truth to my wife and I after a few years of marriage before we did anything stupid and permanent, and I thank God for the grace to accept the truth.   It isn’t always easy.   Doubtless we would not have 9 children right now had we continued along our previously merry, but darkened, path.   We would have decided wrongly that 3 kids or so was the “right” number for us.

I digress a bit from the main point, but I don’t think we can understate what this has done to the mindset of marriage and relationship.   This, more than anything, has entrenched the idea that marriage is really about sexual companionship that has been given an official stamp of approval from someone or some institution that makes everything you do from here on out OK.

There are a couple more things that have assisted in re-defining marriage, though they are not, strictly speaking, a foundational thing.   By themselves, they wouldn’t be absolutely critical.   Combined with these foundational things, they acted to move things along, or were contributory elements in accepting some of the more fundamental changes.  I plan on posting about those as well.   May as well upset everyone while I’m at it.