Tag archives: marriage

The Dinner Table and the Banquet

by Family Research Council

July 28, 2014

Ronald Reagan once said that great change starts at the dinner table.

One Easter Sunday morning after the Vigil Mass, my family sat down to a beautiful yet simple brunch, still in our pajamas. It was nothing extraordinary, but it remains in my memory as one of the most harmonious days of my life, surrounded by family, in the peace of the Risen Christ.

But there is something greater that allows for a dinner table to even exist and for a family to be around it. That something is love.

In God’s first words regarding mankind in the beginning, He established the whole basis for love and marriage in the Trinity: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). This Trinity, the plurality of persons (“our”) in a singular unified entity (“image”) speaks the generative Word that brings humankind into existence. This love is the love which is reflected in the institution of the family.

In marriage, the persons of the husband and wife become one body. They take upon themselves the work of God and partake in the creative words of the Trinity. The parents also choose to make man in “our likeness.” Their unitive love produces children, just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the communion of the Father and the Son. The family, in its unity of distinct members, becomes a reflection of the Trinity.

President Reagan also said that the strong and loving families fathers help create are the soul of a nation. The family is the most fundamental institution of any nation, so vital that it is the very animating factor of society. It is the institution that stems from and proceeds towards charity, towards the heavenly institution which it reflects — the Trinity.

When the family sits down at the dinner table, all the members come together to share in a meal made possible by the provisions of the father and the nurturing of the mother.

And as a Catholic family, my family begins our meal with the Sign of the Cross and grace; we mark ourselves in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We invoke the love of the One Name upon our one family.

The dinner table is the place where love engenders transformation, radical changes that pour out from the family to the nation. Some of those changes are immediate; others take place over time, taking root on good soil to blossom later. Yet whether sudden or subtle, the dinner table is where life is fashioned and souls cultivated, souls which set the world aflame.

This earthly table is a prefigurement of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. It is a place of communion in familial love, the starting place for change, and an earthly vision of the eternal end in the heavenly banquet.

Truth is the Greatest Weapon

by Chris Gacek

April 14, 2014

The Brendan Eich firing controversy at Mozilla has prompted a flurry of commentary. I would like to bring your attention to two excellent opinion pieces that place Eich’s firing in a larger context. The first article is a brilliant essay written by Mollie Hemingway (The Federalist) entitled “The Rise of the Same-Sex Marriage Dissidents.” The second is Daniel Greenfield’s piece, “The Left Isn’t Pro-Gay – It’s Pro-Power,” in Frontpage Magazine (online).

Hemingway understands something so few analysts grasp these days: the struggle over the definition of marriage is more deeply about how we are going to define reality and whether truth can exist in our society about anything having to do with “gender” and sex. First, Hemingway broadens the discussion about Eich’s firing to note that we should be defending him because his support for Prop 8 was correct – not just that Eich has the right to speak freely while being wrong. Second, she reminds us of one of the most impactful political essays of the 20th Century – Vaclev Havel’s “The Power of Powerlessness.” Havel argued in 1978 that “post-totalitarian” systems rest on a bed of ideological dishonesty and falsehood. The “powerless” can resist by defending the truth – the true description of reality – and by not acquiescing in the propagation of the regime’s falsehoods. Orwell recognized this too when he said: “During times of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” And, Solzhenitsyn suggested this in the title of his book, Live Not By Lies.

So, what is the Big Lie upon which the growing pan-sexual tyranny rests? It is the rejection of the reality that the male-female sexual act is the only one in which two individual humans are literally coordinated to a single bodily end. True marriage is “about the sexual union of men and women and the refusal to lie about what that union and that union alone produces: the propagation of humanity.” I would add that the sexual complementarity of male and female is physical, emotional, and psychological, and the male- female relationship cannot be duplicated by other forms of sexual relationships or behavior.

The sexual Big Lie demands that all recognition of sex differences be eradicated from public discourse. It is this foundational truth of male-female complementarity that modern feminism and all sexual revolutionary movements must reject. Unless the sexes are basically interchangeable, same-sex unions can never be considered comparable. As Hemingway notes, it was this fundamental truth that Eich refused to renounce and that refusal made Eich a dissident inHavel’s sense.

* * *

Greenfielduses the Eich firing to point out that moderate and liberal Republicans who propose a “truce” on social issues while desiring to focus on fiscal issues ignore the fact that “there is no such thing as a truce on any issue with the left.” Unlike Greenfield, I think that, on the whole, the modern Left in the West is deeply committed to sexual nihilism and the “Culture of Death.” If for no other reason, the Sexual Revolution provides a direct line of attack on the authority of orthodox religious institutions in our incredibly sexualized society. That said,Greenfieldcorrectly observes that “[t]he idea that any part of the left’s agenda can be delinked and ignored is wishful thinking.”

He continues this analysis as follows:

The left doesn’t do truces. If the right cedes gay marriage, all it will have won is the right to be called homophobes for the next hundred years. And the culture war will move on to the next issue and the one after that. The purges will continue and more criminals guilty of thought crimes will be paraded for the virtual cameras. Yesterday’s commonplace idea will be tomorrow’s act of unspeakable bigotry that prevents you from being employed, opening a business or even staying out of prison.

You may be in the clear today, but you won’t be tomorrow.

Wars aren’t won by constantly retreating. They’re won by taking a stand for what you believe in.

Greenfieldis absolutely correct. There is no political benefit in allowing ourselves to be confined to intellectual and political ghettos created by the Left. Over time they will just be eliminated or reduced to irrelevance.

Surrender comes by accepting the Left’s premises, and this we cannot do. Hemingway reminds us that tyranny is overthrown by not accepting the web of falsehoods that the Left has advanced regarding sex. Orwell, Solzhenitsyn, Havel, and Pope John Paul II knew that the Truth is the greatest weapon we possess in fighting totalitarian thought control. And, the fundamental truths supporting natural marriage, including those related to sex differences, cannot be suppressed forever. Being on the wrong side of the natural law is never being on the right side of history.

Mozilla is Watching

by Travis Weber

April 4, 2014

You’d think there was rumor of treason and conspiracy when it was recently “uncovered” that Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich had donated some money to the 2008 Prop 8 campaign run in California in support of natural marriage. You’d think Mr. Eich had just been convicted of a felony when he was then subjected to protests on Twitter as employees demanded he step down for committing this crime … the “crime” of thinking differently. Three Mozilla board members quit in protest. Even dating site OKCupid was so put off by this offense against democracy that it could not resist interjecting itself from outside the situation and spending its corporate capital discouraging users attempting to access its site through Firefox, claiming: “Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.” Aside from the malice of such a response, it embodies Soviet-era government monitoring more than an America founded with civil liberties at its core. Ultimately, Mr. Eich “chose” to resign. All these parties should be ashamed of their role in a democracy valuing civil liberties such as free speech and freedom of expression. Educating Americans on the importance of free speech should not be necessary in 2014, yet it somehow seems to be.

Thankfully, there are still those, who, regardless of political views, recognize the value of free speech, free thought, and free debate in a free society. Thankfully, even folks who disagree with Mr. Eich’s position on this issue recognize the importance of protecting freedom of speech and expression for all, regardless of viewpoint. Andrew Sullivan, a gay writer and same-sex marriage supporter, writes: “The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society.” Business Insider’s Jim Edward says: “At the heart of the move is a fundamental contradiction: Eich’s foes disapproved of Eich’s intolerance for LGBT people. But in the end they could not tolerate Eich’s opinions, which for years he kept private and, by all accounts, did not bring into the workplace. The “tolerant” were not tolerant enough of a man they considered intolerant, even though he had tolerated them for about 15 years, in other words.”

Mozilla seems downright confused about these concepts of free speech rights and equality: in an online posting, the company writes: “Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech.” Except when that speech takes a certain view. “Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality.” But you can’t have free speech when you censor certain views. “Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness.” Except, it would seem, when employees hold a certain view. “We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.” Actually, it would appear Mozilla does not. “We have employees with a wide diversity of views.” Yet soon, if its practices of firing those who disagree continue, Mozilla will not. “[O]our mission will always be to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just: that’s what it means to protect the open Web.” And so, by its own words and actions, Mozilla supports an open web but not an open workplace.

It is sad that employees of such an innovative company, who are doubtless intelligent, are so incapable of grasping such basis concepts of civil liberties and free speech. Ironically, despite the finger pointing at “anti-gay moralizers,” supporters of hounding those of opposing views out of their positions are making a statement about their “moral superiority” in doing so. It’s one thing to critique the merits of someone’s view. It’s another to critique the fact that they have that view, and punish them for having it. The former is American. The latter is Orwellian.

Why Do Courts (and the Media) Ignore Federal Precedent on Marriage?

by Peter Sprigg

January 16, 2014

Advocates for changing the fundamental definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in order to include homosexual relationships have been encouraged by two recent decisions by federal district court judges.

On December 20, Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that Utah’s state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman violates the U.S. Constitution. On January 14, Judge Terence C. Kern said the same thing about the Oklahoma marriage amendment.

However, one odd aspect of both rulings is their failure to cite one of the most relevant precedents regarding the constitutionality of state definitions of marriage as a male-female union.

Only two federal appellate courts have ever ruled on the constitutionality of a state law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. One was the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which in 2012 ruled (on narrow grounds specific to California) that California’s marriage amendment “Proposition 8” was unconstitutional.

However, in one of two major decisions on marriage in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit ruling, on grounds that the proponents of Proposition 8 had lacked proper standing to appeal a district court decision. (Liberal state officials had refused to defend their own constitution at all.)

With the Ninth Circuit’s ruling having been effectively wiped off the books, the only remaining federal appeals court precedent involves a challenge to Nebraska’s marriage amendment. In that case, too, a district court judge, Joseph F. Bataillon, ruled in 2005 that the amendment was unconstitutional.

However, a year later, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit overturned Judge Bataillon’s decision and upheld the Nebraska amendment. This 2006 decision thus remains the highest federal court ruling with a written opinion on state definitions of marriage as one man and one woman.

Yet oddly, neither Judge Shelby in Utah nor Judge Kern in Oklahoma saw fit to even mention this decision. Neither judge’s district is in the Eighth Circuit (both are in the Tenth), so the Bruning case is not binding upon them — but given the relative dearth of such cases that have reached the federal appellate level, it seems odd that it not be mentioned at all.

Below are some excerpts from the opinion, written by Chief Judge James B. Loken:

Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, 455 F.3d 859 (8th Cir. 2006)

. . .

The State argues that the many laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman and extending a variety of benefits to married couples are rationally related to the government interest in “steering procreation into marriage.” By affording legal recognition and a basket of rights and benefits to married heterosexual couples, such laws “encourage procreation to take place within the socially recognized unit that is best situated for raising children.” The State and its supporting amici cite a host of judicial decisions and secondary authorities recognizing and upholding this rationale. The argument is based in part on the traditional notion that two committed heterosexuals are the optimal partnership for raising children, which modern-day homosexual parents understandably decry. But it is also based on a “responsible procreation” theory that justifies conferring the inducements of marital recognition and benefits on opposite-sex couples, who can otherwise produce children by accident, but not on same-sex couples, who cannot. See Hernandez v. Robles [New York, 2006]; Morrison v. Sadler, [Indiana, 2005]. Whatever our personal views regarding this political and sociological debate, we cannot conclude that the State’s justification “lacks a rational relationship to legitimate state interests.” Romer, 517 U.S. at 632.3

The district court rejected the State’s justification as being “at once too broad and too narrow.” But under rational-basis review, “Even if the classification … is to some extent both underinclusive and overinclusive, and hence the line drawn … imperfect, it is nevertheless the rule that … perfection is by no means required.” Vance v. Bradley (1979). Legislatures are permitted to use generalizations so long as “the question is at least debatable.” The package of government benefits and restrictions that accompany the institution of formal marriage serve a variety of other purposes. The legislature — or the people through the initiative process — may rationally choose not to expand in wholesale fashion the groups entitled to those benefits. “We accept such imperfection because it is in turn rationally related to the secondary objective of legislative convenience.” [Vance].

. . .

Appellees argue that § 29 [the marriage amendment] does not rationally advance this purported state interest because “prohibiting protection for gay people’s relationships” does not steer procreation into marriage. This demonstrates, Appellees argue, that § 29’s only purpose is to disadvantage gay people. But the argument disregards the expressed intent of traditional marriage laws — to encourage heterosexual couples to bear and raise children in committed marriage relationships.

. . .

In the nearly one hundred and fifty years since the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, to our knowledge no Justice of the Supreme Court has suggested that a state statute or constitutional provision codifying the traditional definition of marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause or any other provision of the United States Constitution. Indeed, in Baker v. Nelson (1972), when faced with a Fourteenth Amendment challenge to a decision by the Supreme Court of Minnesota denying a marriage license to a same-sex couple, the United States Supreme Court dismissed “for want of a substantial federal question.” (Emphasis added.)

. . .

We hold that § 29 and other laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States.

Answers to Common Questions/Arguments Regarding the Redefinition of Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

June 25, 2013

The country is awaiting rulings from the Supreme Court in two cases involving laws which define marriage as the union of one man and one woman—the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is binding on the federal government but not the states, and California’s marriage amendment, adopted by voters in 2008 as “Proposition 8.”

Family Research Council has argued that it makes sense to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, because society needs children and children need a mom and a dad. Those are important public purposes that are not served by homosexual unions.

Here are some brief responses to a few of the common questions or arguments made in favor of redefining “marriage” to include homosexual unions.

  • Q—Shouldn’t everyone have the “right to marry?”

A—Every individual already has the right to marry; but not every couple or group meets the definition of what a “marriage” is.

  • Q—How can you deny homosexuals “marriage equality?”

A—The law does not require us to treat things that are fundamentally different “equally.” It only requires us to treat things that are fundamentally the same (“similarly situated”) equally. Opposite-sex unions are similar to same-sex unions in some ways, but are very different because they cannot fulfill the main public purpose of marriage—promoting responsible procreation and the best setting for childrearing.

  • Q—Why are you trying to impose a religious definition of marriage upon the civil law?

A—Marriage is not just a religious institution or just a civil institution. At its heart, marriage is a natural institution, rooted in the order of nature itself.

  • Q—If the law makes clear that clergy and churches do not have to perform same-sex marriages, doesn’t that protect religious liberty enough?

A—The “free exercise of religion” is not confined to ordained clergy, or within the four walls of a church. If marriage is redefined, religious schools, charities, counselors, businesses, and individual people of faith will all face the risk of being forced to violate their conscience.

  • Q—Isn’t the homosexual redefinition of “marriage” inevitable?

A—What is inevitable is that male-female unions will continue to be uniquely important to the future of society. The only question is whether the government will acknowledge that fact, or attempt to deny it. If the redefinition of marriage were inevitable, its advocates could trust the democratic process to bring that about. Instead, they have asked the Supreme Court to impose such a redefinition before the pendulum begins to swing back against them.

  • Q—Aren’t supporters of one-man-one-woman marriage on “the wrong side of history?”

A—It is more important to be on the right side of truth. The truth is that it takes a man and a woman to make a child; that men and women are not interchangeable in marriage, but complementary; and that children do best when raised by their own mother and father.

For additional information on marriage, see:

Keep the Definition of Marriage as the Union of One Man and One Woman

The Top Ten Harms of Same-Sex “Marriage” (booklet)

Family Research Council Amicus Brief, Hollingsworth v. Perry (Proposition 8)

Family Research Council Amicus Brief, U.S. v. Windsor (DOMA)

Marriage May Promote Safer, Healthier Pregnancies

by Family Research Council

January 7, 2013

U.S. News and World Report reports via HealthDay that “[c]ompared with unmarried women, married women are less likely to experience domestic abuse, substance abuse or postpartum depression around the time of pregnancy,” according to a study published last month in the American Journal of Public Health by Dr. Marcelo L. Urquia, Patricia J. O’Campo, and Joel G. Ray.

The study, entitled Marital Status, Duration of Cohabitation, and Psychosocial Well-Being Among Childbearing Women: A Canadian Nationwide Survey, was conducted with data on over 6,400 women from the 2006-2007 Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey. According to HealthDay’s report, the study found that 67 percent of separated or divorced women and 35 percent of always-single women dealt with domestic abuse, substance abuse, or postpartum depression. Twenty percent of cohabiting women and 10 percent of married women did so, though these problems diminished with duration of cohabitation.

Urquia stated, according to HealthDay, that “30 percent of children in Canada are born to unmarried couples, up from 9 percent in 1971,” and that the distinctions between married and cohabiting families were important, given out-of-wedlock birth’s rise.

The study’s abstract also noted that “[r]esearch on maternal and child health would benefit from distinguishing between married and unmarried cohabiting women, and their duration of cohabitation.” In fact, many studies do not distinguish between cohabiting households and married households and merely label these “two-parent families.”

For more on the benefits of marriage relative to other family structures, see the Marriage and Religion Research Institute’s 162 Reasons to Marry.

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