On faith: Marriage notes
By: Fr. Michael Lyons, Pastor , Lake County News Chronicle
It is hardly surprising that as a Catholic Priest, I received a number of emails on the proposed marriage amendment to the state constitution and on the Catholic Church’s vigorous support of it. Not surprising also that these communications were not always amicable, as with the vandalism to our Church signs and elsewhere in the community. While my explanations did not satisfy many of the inquirers, I assured everyone however that the Catholic understanding of marriage does not diminish our acceptance of homosexuals in the Catholic Church.
When asked about marriage Jesus replied: “Have you not read that the Creator, from the beginning, ‘made them male and female', and said: ‘ This is why a man must leave father and mother and cling to his wife and the two become one body'.” (Matthew) An affirmation no doubt of the foundational vision for humanity in Genesis, an ideal found in the unbreakable union of Adam and Eve and a model for all who were to follow. In fact, Jesus doubly affirmed this vision when he explained that Moses permitted divorce as a concession in view of the lost ideal as well as pressure from the surrounding culture.
Marriage in my view is founded on the primacy and beauty of sexual difference and its potential fertility. That too was part of the original vision. Without it, there would be no life on this planet, no human beings, no future. In the current discussion of marriage however, the rights of children and the relationship of marriage to procreation from its beginning is regrettably absent.
I am as aware as many others that a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman will not guarantee a healthy environment for raising children. Such an outcome cannot be assured by the proposed amendment, nor is it, I believe, intended to do so!
Many children are raised with one mother and one father but do not live in a healthy and loving environment. Many other children are raised by a single mother or father and receive a healthy, nourishing and loving upbringing. Children, however, need both a father and a mother who are mature, who love each other and who have the knowledge, wisdom and the resources to meet their children’s many needs. A healthy and loving father and mother generally provide, I believe, the best upbringing for a child.
In a news story this past summer, this point was poignantly made by Elton John, the successful pop singer and patron of several good causes. Elton has a son, Zachary, who was brought into the world by a complex arrangement of surrogacy. And although he says Zachary is a content little boy, he also admits that: “It will break my son’s heart to realize he hasn’t got a mother.”
Obviously, other bonds of love and mutual commitment exist. They may be good, and as in Canada they may even be recognized in law. But they are clearly not the same as marriage; they are something else. No extension of legal terminology will change the reality that only the committed union of one man and one woman carries, not only the bond of life-long love between the two adults, but the capacity to have and raise children. It’s the difference that matters.
Whatever the final vote on the marriage amendment, I hope and pray that tolerance of differing views will be preserved. As a poet has said: “We must love one another or die.”