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Sine matrimonio, nullum Matrimonium

January 8, 2015

The first half of Bp. Robert Lynch’s recent column on “same-sex marriage” is, but for one point, thoroughly sound. As for the second half of his column, well, it rapidly descends into what Stuart Chase might call ‘blah-talk’, being rife with odd metaphors, analogous terms, and vague abstractions, all used as if common and clear understandings of such words were obvious. Which they aren’t. If one doesn’t know what Lynch is saying in the second half of his essay, speculation on what he means therein is not a good use of one’s time.

But returning to that troublesome point in the first half of the essay, Lynch notes the “challenges we in the Catholic Church face as we strive to preserve the traditional sacramental understanding of marriage even as the law now accommodates couples of the same sex.” See the problem?

Lynch writes as if the Catholic Church were concerned only to protect “the traditional sacramental understanding of marriage”, and not, as is actually case, marriage itself. But as I (and others) have noted many times (e.g., in my essay here), there is no sacrament of Matrimony that is not already a marriage. To fail in the effort to defend marriagenatural marriage, marriage as entered into by all generations before us and indeed by most people around the world today—would not only be an unprecedented loss for Western civilization but it would inevitably be to fail in the effort to defend sacramental Matrimony. Sine matrimonio, nullum Matrimonium.

Don’t misunderstand me: of course the State cannot alter human nature and natural law so as to destroy marriage itself and it certainly cannot obliterate that sacrament called Matrimony which Christ built on marriage. But the State can distort, and with its allies in the global media seems committed to distorting,  marriage such that citizens lose an adequate understanding of it and try to live their lives in accord with a counterfeit instead of the truth.

In opposing, then, civil manipulation of the definition of marriage, one is defending a fundamental human institution first and, only secondarily, an ecclesiastical one.

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