Tag Archives: Marriage

Marriage and Governmental Identity Theft

The union of two people creates a relationship that previously did not exist. But, what kind of relationship is it? A heterosexual relationship and a homosexual relationship are not the same thing.  Otherwise, we would not need to place “hetero” or “homo” before “sexual” in order to distinguish the two different types. Of all the types of human relationships that exist, the heterosexual relationship stands apart (irrespective of race) because it is a union of counterparts.

Even in cases where the relationship does not produce children, it retains its unique standing because it is a relationship between counterparts, not same parts (again, irrespective of race). A sterile woman does not become a man. A sterile man does not become a woman. Males and females are always counterparts that create a unique relationship. For example, an arranged, homosexual marriage would never make sense in any culture. This is not to validate the practice of arranged marriages, but to illustrate the fact that matching the counterparts is an intuitive aspect of marriage.

I believe it would be dishonest for a government to issue any license that strips the identity away from one entity and assigns it to other entities that are essentially different. For example, the government does not issue motorcycle licenses to cars or dog licenses to cats. Though the types of vehicles and animals have many similarities, they also have essential differences.

On a more human level, men and women deserve equal, civil rights. Yet, it would be dishonest for a government to say that all people will now be referred to as “men,” thereby robbing women of their unique identities. The push for inclusive language suggests that words such as “he,” “man,” “men,” or “his,” should not be used when referring to all human beings. Many inclusive language advocates insist that God should be called “Creator” rather than “Father.” Nevertheless, men and women still want to be called “men” and “women” respectively when it comes to their personal identities. Women generally want to be considered equal to men, but they generally don’t want to be men or be personally called “a man.” Likewise, few men want to be personally referred to as “she” or “a woman.” Men and women have many similarities, but they also have essential differences.

Inclusive language only goes so far because people instinctively understand and desire the natural differences between men and women. It seems to me that only a few extremists genuinely want to completely eradicate all differences and create a completely androgynous society. There is always a tension between “honoring our differences” and “liberty and justice for all.” We want to be “unique” and “the same” simultaneously. This produces a societal identity crisis. People in crisis can be reactionary and irrational and the government is no exception. The government is people, after all.

I submit that, when a government issues the exact same license to heterosexual and homosexual couples and calls it “marriage,” it is committing a type of identity theft. It removes any and all distinctions regarding the unique identity of each type of relationship. It hijacks the word “marriage” away from the distinct, heterosexual identity and assigns it to homosexual identity thereby declaring both unique identities to be identical. It is dishonest and unfair to both types of relationships. Such a law is oppressive to everyone, since it forces all of us to be accessories to a type of identity theft.

The government would be more consistent and honest if it issued “committed relationship licenses” and designated on the license each relationship type. Heterosexual unions could rightfully retain the descriptor and identity of “marriage” while other types of unions could have different descriptors.

Many people want to reference the struggle for interracial marriage when considering this issue. Race can be mixed and matched anyway we please. However, male and female can only be paired one way as natural counterparts. Therefore, the interracial, civil rights struggle, as noble as it is, is a false comparison (aka apples and oranges). “Liberty and justice for all” does not mean that all civil liberty issues are “the same.” Skin pigment is simply not an essential difference. Indeed, many argue scientifically that “race” is genetically non-existent, a myth. One cannot make the same claim regarding male and female distinctions.

Religious liberty issues certainly need to be considered regarding gay marriage. However, I believe that governmental identity theft is also an issue worth pondering. Laws need to be honest in order for love to truly win for everyone.

Another Great Reversion Story (Plus Marriage Tips)

I came across this post and was impressed with how applicable it is to the American Catholics of my generation.  I identified with much of her reversion story.  It is not a short read, but every bit of it resonated with me in some way.  If you are a Catholic born in the 60s or 70s, chances are good that you share at least part of her story.  If you are a Catholic that left the Church (or know Catholics that have), this story is also for you.

Her blog also has some interesting marital information from a woman’s perspective worth checking out.  If any of you have read the books she mentions, I would love to hear your opinions since I have not read them.

http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2012/11/this-is-my-story-it-might-be-your-story.html

 

Peace!

A Therapist’s Question

The question that is famously associated with therapists is, “How does that make you feel?”  There is a time and a place for that question (or a variant of it), but answering it is certainly not all there is to therapy.  There are many questions to be asked and processed.  One question that seems to probe the heart of the matter quite often is, “What are you afraid of?” or “What are you afraid will happen then?”

So many people are driven by fear.  I don’t mean the healthy kind of fear that causes one to avoid genuine danger, but a nagging sense of emptiness or discontentment (I am not necessarily discussing anxiety disorders here).  It is a fear described by Tillich as a fear of “non-being,” although few people draw that conclusion as they move through their fearful lives.  People generally attempt to ease the fear by means of acquiring material goods, pleasures, or by investing in relationships.  Since people, pleasures and things are imperfect and finite, they will eventually disappoint, deteriorate or disappear.  Therefore, the fear remains below the surface.  It is Thoreau’s life of “quiet desperation.”

I have seen many couples, for example, that found in each other what they initially perceived to be the antidote to their fear of non-being.  Yet, they failed to resolve that fear in each other.  They discovered that it is not possible for one person to be “everything” despite what the lyrics of romantic songs may suggest.  They have somehow failed to “complete” each other and now they sit before me, their therapist, wondering what is wrong with their relationship.  Generally, each partner wants me to change the other partner into someone that will ease their underlying fears and make them feel whole.

One of the most repeated phrases in Scripture is, “Fear not,” or, “Do not be afraid.”  Having created us, God understands us to the core.  God also knows that our fear of non-being cannot be entirely eased by people, pleasures or things.  Only God can fill that void.  We are designed that way.  Hence, people of all places and times have turned to some form of religious expression.  As St. Augustine said, “We are restless until we rest in You, oh Lord.”  The admonition to “fear not” is a constant reminder to be adequately unattached to people, places and things, and to place our ultimate “OK-ness” in God alone.  Having placed our trust in God, we become free to fearlessly enjoy God’s gifts without desperately clinging to them as our source of being.  Relationships, pleasures, places and things take on new meaning.

The beauty of Christianity is not that it is one religion of many that seeks after God to resolve the fear of non-being.  The beauty is that through Christianity, God seeks after us.  God, knowing our fear, has revealed Himself to us as the antidote for fear.  We do not need to scratch and claw our way to the peace of God.  God has come down to us, embraced us, and told us to rest in Him.  Jesus shows us that we can live lives of faith, not fear.  There is more to our existence than this short life.  Through Christ we can live abundant lives instead of quietly desperate lives.

Becoming One Flesh: Eucharist And Marriage

Dr. Scott Hahn recently posted an excellent Facebook response to a question about the Eucharist being closed to non-Catholics.  His answer reflected on his own spiritual journey from Evangelical Christian to Presbyterian minister to Catholic.  Each step in his journey brought him closer to understanding the sacramental aspect of both marriage and the Eucharist.  Each relationship is a “one flesh” union requiring fidelity and integrity.

As I reflected on Dr. Hahn’s answer, it occurred to me that perhaps a lack of understanding about the Eucharist and marriage contributes to the wide acceptance of contraception.  For example, if marriage is not viewed as a sacrament, it becomes only a symbol and loses integrity.  It can be manipulated according to the will of anyone desiring to make use of its symbolism.  If Holy Communion is only a symbol, it loses any need for fidelity.  Anyone can “join in.”  There is no need for full union between participants.  The Eucharist becomes merely a symbol of common feelings rather than a reality of a “one flesh” union.  Since everyone “feels good” about Jesus, they should all be allowed to partake of the Eucharist, right?

Ironically, few married people would be comfortable becoming one flesh with someone they were not fully united to in marriage.  That’s called infidelity and it is rightfully frowned upon by most married people.  We don’t let everyone “join in.”  So, why should we be ok letting people “join in” the one flesh union of the Eucharist if those people are not fully united with Christ’s Church?

And why should we let people partake of the Eucharist if they don’t even believe that what they are participating in is an actual, “one flesh” union?  That’s like being in a contraception marriage.  There are lots of “good feelings” that feel like bonding, but there is not a one flesh union taking place in the marriage.  It is a lack of integrity.  The marriage is only symbolic of the feelings they have about each other.  They do not take the marriage to its full realization of a one flesh, life giving union.

One of the best ways for the devil to mess up our relationship with Christ is to promote the following errors:

–          The Holy Communion is only symbolic.  The bread and wine are not transubstantiated into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.  We don’t need to become one flesh with Christ at Communion.  All we need is our good feelings about Jesus and the Bible.

–          Contraception is fine and even preferable.  Sex and marriage are mostly about bonding and “good feelings,” not primarily about becoming one flesh and creating new life.

–          Anyone that believes in Jesus should be allowed to participate in Holy Communion.  No fidelity to the Church or her Christ-given authority is necessary.

The two Sacraments of Eucharist and Marriage are intimately connected in such a way that an attack on one serves as an attack on the other.  A deeper understanding of one leads to a deeper understanding of the other.  “Becoming one flesh” is a critical theme that connects the two Sacraments in a unique way.

Catholics are not mean, snobbish “elitists” that refuse to let other Christians “join in.”  We simply hold to the understanding of Jesus and the Church Fathers who saw the need for covenantal integrity and marital fidelity within marriage and within the Church.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!

It took me a long time to see the light about the Church’s teaching on birth control.  Like so many other aspects of the Faith, the teaching holds both a simple beauty and a profound complexity.  There is still much I need to learn regarding the Theology of the Body.

If I had to sum up my thoughts on what the Church teaches about human sexuality, I suppose I might use the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  God knew very well what He was doing when He created our reproductive systems.  Healthy men and women don’t require medications, prophylactics or surgeries to fix or prevent anything.  Our reproductive systems need to be respected and managed, but not broken by being “fixed.”

The idea of natural family planning (NFP) was confusing to me for a long time because I did not grasp the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” concept.  Why not use chemicals or devices?  These are just various ways of managing the body.  We do all sorts of medical things to manage our bodies.  What’s the big deal?  The big deal turned out to be that artificial birth control “breaks” something that is already operating in a healthy and normal way.  It repairs or enhances nothing.  When else would we go to a doctor and ask for a drug or device to break that which is healthy?  “Gee, Doc, my legs are working so well!  Can you put one of them in a cast for me, please?”  “I have 20/20 vision?  Hey, Doc, can I have some glasses to blur my eyesight and really give me some good headaches?”  NFP does not “break,” or interfere with, a healthy, normal human system.

Artificial birth control does not teach people responsibility.  It teaches people to try and have their cake and eat it, too.  It teaches people that the primary purpose of the reproductive system is pleasure, when in fact, it is procreation.  God was nice enough to make sex pleasurable.  He could have made it as stimulating as shaking hands.  Let’s not forget that those “feel good” nerve endings have lots of other equipment attached to them.  Those nerve endings are part of an entire system, not just “accessories” for us to bat around like cat toys whenever we want.  NFP keeps this in mind by respecting both the pleasurable and the procreative aspects of sexual design.  Everything remains intact, unobstructed and chemical free.  It all works like God designed it to work, baby or no baby.

Incidentally, some people argue that since post menopausal women can no longer conceive, then they should not be having sex if sex is all about procreation.  Again, menopause is perfectly in line with the natural design of human sexuality.  No pills have been taken, no condoms have been put on, and nothing has been unnaturally altered.  So, of course, post menopausal women are allowed to enjoy the natural pleasure of sex.  It’s only natural!  (There are also women that have had hysterectomies or other medically necessary procedures that have rendered them sterile without choice).  And, of course, there are the stories of Sarah and Elizabeth.  God can surprise us.

Much more could be said, but I think the primary motivator is fear.  People are afraid of the responsibility that comes with new life.  That is why we now exist in a culture of death.  People want to have lots of fun without “fearing” the responsibility.  The entitlement mentality and the contraceptive mentality are very close cousins.  Look at it this way: we are not likely to see NFP being used among the promiscuous population.  Not because it is ineffective, but because it requires responsibility, communication, commitment, self control and respect by both partners.  Artificial birth control does not require those qualities in partners.  It only requires a willingness to break a normal, working system by “fixing” it.

I’m not trying to lay a big guilt trip on folks.  I’m just trying to help expose the lies we have swallowed for decades.  Christians in particular should be concerned about whether or not they are actually becoming “one flesh” within their marriages, and whether or not their sex lives are in keeping with God’s natural law.

This is not just a “Catholic” issue.  It’s not true “because the Catholic Church teaches it’s true.”  The Catholic Church (like a voice in the wilderness) still teaches it because it is true and always has been true!  Catholicism refuses to allow society to dictate God’s truth.  Catholic reproductive systems and non-Catholic reproductive systems were all created and designed by the same God.  Artificial birth control affects us all the same.  The truth hits everybody.  The question is, “Are we responsibly honoring God’s creative design, or are we trying to play God with our bodies just to have some pleasure?”

Here’s an interesting website I found recently about NPF.

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“I Love You, But I’m Not In Love With You.” (Marriage and Eucharist)

“I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”  I can’t count the number of times I have heard that phrase in my counseling office.  When someone says this to a spouse it typically means, “I no longer have those honeymoon feelings I used to have.”  There are occasions when a person is experiencing a genuine state of clinical depression and has lost the ability to experience feelings of happiness and appreciation.  However, more often these individuals are idolizing the god of subjectivity and have allowed feelings to become their master.  They have reduced the objective reality of their marriage to a subjective state.  They may not “feel” married, but they are still married.

The Church is the Bride of Christ and, as such, is married to the Bridegroom, Jesus.  The Eucharist is the marriage supper.  Hence, receiving Holy Communion is a joining together of Bride and Groom in an objective way.  It is a very real union that is not dependant on subjective feelings.  The fact that two people might “feel” married to each other does not make them objectively married.  Conversely, marriage is an objective reality regardless of the subjective feelings.  The Eucharist is not real because it “feels” real.  It is real.

Dr. Peter Kreeft points out that to regard the Lord’s Supper as merely symbolic is to reduce the relationship of a marriage to the level of a friendship.  Although a healthy marriage will include friendship between spouses (Jesus called His disciples friends), it is not the friendship that makes the relationship a marriage.  The marriage is created by the unique union of the body and soul of the bride and the groom.  That is the objective reality.  When the Eucharist is reduced to only the symbolic, all that remains is the subjective feeling.  In other words, when people receive the Lord’s Supper in non-Catholic churches, they may experience feelings about their relationship with Jesus, but there is no actual union taking place between Bride and Groom.  The relationship is subjective.  Communion becomes all about remembering what Jesus did and how believers “feel” about what He did.  The Catholic Eucharist includes the subjective remembering as well as the objective uniting of married partners.  Jesus is in our hearts, but He is also really united with our bodies and souls, like a bride and groom.

Think about how a vaccine works.  It is not a placebo.  It is not dependant on how the patient feels about receiving it, although the patient may be very happy and grateful.  The vaccine works by a very real process of interacting with the body of the patient.  It is an objective reality, not a subjective reality.  The Eucharist is not a placebo (nor are the other Sacraments).  It “works” by the power of Christ interacting with spirit and matter, not by the feelings of those receiving it.

The union of the Bride and the Groom is not dependant on “honeymoon” feelings, although such feelings may certainly be present.  Any experienced married couple will testify to the fact that honeymoon feelings do not sustain a healthy marriage.  Unless the honeymoon feelings grow into something much deeper, the marriage will suffer.  In counseling, the goal is not to take a couple back to their honeymoon days.  The goal is to bring the honeymoon forward to a deeper place.  Similarly, Dr. Kreeft says, “God does not want us to have a spiritual sweet tooth.”  God wants us objectively united with Him in the Eucharist, not just going by our feelings.  Feelings can become an idol of worship.  Feelings often become the cake instead of the icing on the cake (especially in America).

Moses did not feel good about God calling him to lead Israel.  Jonah did not feel good about preaching to Nineveh.  Jesus did not feel good about going to the cross.  Children do not feel good about getting the Polio vaccine or eating vegetables.  Married people do not always feel good about their spouses.  Catholics do not always feel their hearts “strangely warmed” or a “burning in the bosom” when receiving the Eucharist.  When it comes to love and obedience, feelings are not important.  Feelings come and go.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, and He invites us to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  Will we come and dine out of love and obedience, or will we let our feelings be our god?  “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:57)  “This is my body…this is my blood…” (Matt 26:26-28)  Jesus never asked the “therapist” question, “How does that make you feel?”  He simply said, “Take and eat.”

Three To Get Married

In my training as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I was taught that married couples tend to do better when they share a cause that they perceive to be bigger than themselves.  Although this idea was presented as modern research, it is a godly principle that the Church has understood for centuries.  What Aristotle knew in his day simply reflects the fundamental human design to find fulfillment not in other humans, but in God.  In this video, Father Barron does a nice job of articulating this idea.