Defending Marriage


What is marriage and why is it important?

Marriage, properly understood, is and has always been a covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership for life that is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring.

Arland K. Nichols: “The word ‘marriage’, like all words, means something and it is for that something that we fight. We defend a natural institution that is essential for the flourishing of humanity and we argue for it from varied perspectives. Many have the conviction that God created marriage and from the beginning ordered it toward his command to be fruitful and multiply and then further dignified marriage by elevating it to a sacrament that signifies the love Jesus has for His Church. Some rally around an institution we know to be the cornerstone of society, indeed the first natural society, and the fundamental building block of a thriving community and nation. Others are concerned because we know that children have a natural right to be raised by both parents in a stable and loving home.”

CCC 1603: “The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. . . . God himself is the author of marriage.”

bride and groom with bouquet

The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity, some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures.


Why are children the focal point of a proper definition of marriage?

Familiaris Consortio 14: “According to the plan of God, marriage is the foundation of the wider community of the family, since the very institution of marriage and conjugal love are ordained to the procreation and education of children, in whom they find their crowning.

“In its most profound reality, love is essentially a gift; and conjugal love, while leading the spouses to the reciprocal ‘knowledge’ which makes them ‘one flesh,’ does not end with the couple, because it makes them capable of the greatest possible gift, the gift by which they become cooperators with God for giving life to a new human person. Thus the couple, while giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity and a living and inseparable synthesis of their being a father and a mother. …

“It must not be forgotten, however that, even when procreation is not possible, conjugal life does not for this reason lose its value. Physical sterility in fact can be for spouses the occasion for other important services to the life of the human person, for example, adoption, various forms of educational work, and assistance to other families and to poor or handicapped children.”

happy parents with baby between them

Family Structure Studies: “To be raised by an intact biological family presents clear advantages for children over other forms of parenting. In particular, the NFSS [New Family Structures Study] provides evidence that previous generations of social scientists were unable to gather—evidence suggesting that children from intact, biological families also outperform peers who were raised in homes of a parent who had same-sex relationships. Therefore, these two new studies reaffirm—and strengthen—the conviction that the gold standard for raising children is still the intact, biological family.”


What impact does legalizing “same-sex marriage” have on society?

Cardinal Francis George: “What is certainly at stake is the natural relationship between parents and children. Children, even if they are loved and raised by those who are not their biological parents, want to know who their parents are, who are their natural family. The fascination with genealogical tables and the opening of adoption records are evidence of this desire to find oneself in a biological succession of generations. No honest study has disproved what we all know. Stable marriage between a husband and wife has safeguarded their children, surrounding them with familial love and creating the secure foundation for human flourishing. This natural desire, already weakened in a seemingly more and more promiscuous society, will no longer be privileged in civil law. It will be no more ‘normal’ than any other ‘family’ arrangement. If the nature of marriage is destroyed in civil law, the natural family goes with it.”


What does the Catholic Church teach about homosexuality?

Dr. Mark Latkovic: “According to the Magisterium of the Church, the basic ends or purposes of marriage and sexuality are twofold: union and procreation. By the ‘unitive’ end, she means the one-flesh bodily union of the couple, made possible by the complementary character of the male and female gender difference. By the ‘procreative’ end, she means the openness to life-in-its-transmission, made possible by the complementary character of the male and female bodies with their sexual capacity.

“In Catholic teaching, only the union between a man and woman can realize the full spiritual, emotional, and moral bond between the couple.”

CCC 2358: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

man praying in dark

“Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”


Does buying something from a business that supports redefining marriage make me complicit?

Fr. Brian Thomas Becket Mullady: “Mediate material cooperation consists in a concurrence in a sinful action of another when one’s actions are not central to the deed or one does not agree with the evil intention of the evildoer. The action which one does must be good or at least indifferent in object. Such would be the case again with regard to a custodian who sweeps the floor in a hospital where abortions are performed and does not agree with the procedure. As to this cooperation, the possibility of doing this deed must be judged by how necessary or unnecessary it is and how proximate or remote it is.”


Is it bigoted to oppose same-sex marriage?

In a word, no.

Dr. Don DeMarco: “The word ‘bigot’ is now routinely used, not to convey meaning, but as a kind of verbal slap in the face, as an expletive rather than as an argument. It signals the end of discourse and an invitation to violence. Demonizing supporters of marriage between a man and a woman does not change minds or hearts; it simply terminates dialogue and welcomes vandalism and warfare.”

Melanie Baker: “In a country where same-sex couples already are afforded the same treatment as married couples, where virtually every organization states openly that it does not discriminate on the basis of one’s sexual orientation and where gays and lesbians are openly integrated members of society, why is there such a need for such same-sex couples to be specifically recognized as ‘married?’ And why the insistence that failure to cede such recognition is tantamount to bigotry?”

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HLI staff writers bring you stories from the mission field and the latest information on life and family issues. All HLI articles are true to Catholic teaching.

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