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gp-church-stateThe Supreme Court’s bizarre decision to impose same-sex “marriage” on all the States is the making of history by the breaking of history. It is to make something that humanity has never sanctioned and has always shunned not only legal but compulsory. Until a few short years ago, the very thought that marriage was anything other than the union of a man and a woman would have been impossible because the very thought would have been unthinkable. The Supreme Court has, therefore, divorced itself from the collective experience of humanity as manifested in the continuum of moral norms that are the hallmark of civilization. Having done so, we can safely predict that, having crossed this egregious threshold, much worse is in store. It is only a matter of time before incestuous “marriage” between siblings, or between parents and children, is legalized and then made compulsory; it is only a matter of time before polygamy is legalized and made compulsory. It all follows as surely as night follows day, or, considering the darkness of the situation, as surely as night follows twilight.

And there are other things that follow as surely as night follows the abandonment of the light. This destruction of marriage will lead to a further fall in the birthrate, leading to an increasingly aging population becoming increasingly dependent on an increasingly fractured welfare system. It will lead to a shrinking workforce, necessitating a greater dependence on immigration. It will lead to an increase in the number of children raised in the absence of a father, with a corresponding increase in the many problems associated with this. Whichever way you look at it, the future does not look very rosy.  

So be it. We should not be too concerned or too surprised that the culture of death is hurtling towards the hell of its own collective suicide. What should concern us is that Christians find a way to abandon this ship of fools before it sinks. We need to take to the lifeboats, the largest of which is the Barque of Peter, before this titanic idiocy plunges to the depths of its own despair.

One of the things that needs to be salvaged is sacramental marriage, which should be severed as soon as possible from the savagery of its secular counterpart. In order to be sure that we understand the meaning of sacramental marriage, as distinct from the way that “marriage” is now being defined by the culture of death, let’s look at the way it is defined by the Catholic Church in Her Catechism:

The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament.… Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. Polygamy is incompatible with the unity of marriage; divorce separates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its “supreme gift,” the child.

What has any of this to do with “marriage” as defined by the Supreme Court? The answer, of course, is nothing whatsoever. The two views of “marriage” are as incompatible as chalk and cheese. This being so, the Church and State should seek an amicable divorce, as soon as possible, not least because the Church, as the Bride of Christ, already has a spouse and cannot serve two bridegrooms.

This divorce can be finalized with relative ease. All that is needed is for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to declare that the sacrament of matrimony is no longer to be considered binding in US law, thereby making it necessary for those getting married in the Catholic Church to also get “married” civilly. This makes absolute sense logically (and theologically) because the two things called “marriage” are clearly two entirely different things. This will prove inconvenient and may dissuade some couples from opting for a sacramental marriage, which is all to the good since such couples, in opting for the easier secular option, are thereby demonstrating that they have no understanding of the nature (and supernature) of the sacrament.

Needless to say, this same amicable divorce from the culture of death and its “marriage” should be sought by other Christian denominations who value the preservation of authentic Christian matrimony.

Church-and-StateThe happy divorce will not only protect the dignity of true marriage but will save the Church from legal challenges from those who will seek to impose the culture of death’s definition of “marriage” upon Her. If the Church insists on remaining “married” to the secular legal system it is only a matter of time before same-sex “couples” demand the right to be married in a Catholic church, and only a matter of time before renegade priests perform such “marriages.”

Although the declaration of this happy divorce is very easy in principle, it will require a degree of courage in practice. And this might be the problem. History shows that bishops are not generally known for their courage. One only has to recall what happened when Henry VIII established a state religion in England. Only one bishop, St. John Fisher, had the courage to defy the secular tyrant. He has his reward in heaven. God only knows what reward awaited the rest of England’s shepherds who had deserted their sheep to the wolves of secularism.

It remains to be seen whether America’s shepherds will have the courage to separate themselves and their sheep from the wolves of our contemporary hedonism. Either way, and regardless of the stormy seas that await Her, the Barque of Peter will sail on, reeling but erect, as the ship of state continues to sink beneath the weight of its own unsustainable folly.

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38 replies to this post
  1. A year or two ago i was against the separation. My argument was that removing the church altogether out of marriage reinforces a secularized attitude. And it will, but given the events of the last few weeks there is no longer any choice. We cannot allow government to define marriage, and so we need to separate.

    My only remaining hangup is that couple that will not go for the sacremental marriage will be abandoned to a state of sin.

  2. Marriage, as defined by the US government no longer serves a compelling public interest. That interest used to be procreation. Procreation is not inherently tied to the government’s definition of marriage. The governments new interest in marriage is merely to affirm peoples’ love for one another. This does not meet the standard of a compelling public interest required of the government to get involved in matters of personal, religious matters of its citizens. Thus laws recognizing and regulating marriages (same-sex or traditional) are now unconstitutional. The proponents of the separation of Church and State must challenge marriage licensing laws as an undue intrusion of the government into the personal and religious lives of American Citizens.

    The Vatican should begin in haste issuing civil marriage licences to complimentary-sex couples according to the real, natural-law definition of marriage. Neither the Vatican, nor the church should recognize any marriage license issued in countries after their first mandate of “gay marriage”. The IOR should expand to provide banking/financial services that protect married couples from the governments of their home countries.

  3. If couples after civil marriage did not proceed to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony, would they be in the same boat as the present divorced and remarried?

  4. I have held a view similar to this since the first rumblings of ‘gay’ marriage back in the mid-00s; there has to be a distinction between secular marriage and being married in Christ, as I somewhat clumsily referred to sacramental marriage as back then.

    This would do much to clarify the matter regarding divorce vs. annulment, it would be less confusing for couples knowing that there has to be two ‘ceremonies’, one which can end in divorce, the other not. It would very much reinforce the reality of legality vs. sacramentality that has overwhelmingly been lost from time when.

    I do not think it would be too inconvenient; for the couple there could be the ‘proper’ wedding that is celebrated as is customary, and then the perfunctory civil ceremony giving Caesar what is his, as it were.

    It would also end the notion that any legal permissiveness regarding secular marriage is erosive to the sacramental institution, and may offer a way to circumvent this pointless cultural tug of war drama which some are seeking to perpetuate for their own agendas.

    It is said that we are not to be of the world, sacramental marriage has been dragged down and around into it far enough by its legal chain by those yanking it, it is time for sacramental marriage to be freed so the distinction can become more stark in contrast.

    I think back to when a lot of followers left Jesus after muttering words to the effect of ‘this teaching is too hard’, I believe that there is something to be said about the fact that Jesus did not go chasing after them apologetically. Let those who want to be married sacramentally do so – with full knowledge, and those who wish not to may do as they please also.

  5. ***This makes absolute sense logically (and theologically) because the two things called “marriage” are clearly two entirely different things. ***

    Well, no. No, it’s neither absolutely logical nor theologically sensible. It’s a profoundly wrong-headed proposal, in fact, because the “two things called ‘marriage'” are *not* always two entirely different things. Valid marriages *are* and will continue to be witnessed by civil authority. Even valid *sacramental* marriages are and will continue to be witnessed by civil authority. The unicity of marriage keeps getting lost in these not sufficiently-thought-out proposals to alter the status quo. The truth is that the status quo *remains* the best possible scenario for safeguarding the integrity of marriage as it exists both inside the Church and outside the Church.

    If a cleric witnesses a marriage, yet refuses to fulfill his fundamental job description *as* witness by ensuring that the state knows he’s witnessed a *real* marriage, he disrespects the reality of both his witness and the marriage he witnessed. It’s his *job*–it’s fully in accord with natural law and the common good to let his witness suffice for both Church and state.

    If a cleric merely washes his hands of witnessing for the state, insisting that by sending the *couple* to the state that the “Church” has been “divorced” from the process, he’s just belittling the reality that the *couple*, too, are part of the same *Church*–and every bit as important *to* the Church as is the cleric. It’s an insult to the couple to claim to witness their real marriage while sending them off to *pretend* to exchange marital consent *again*. Consent makes marriage. Clerics can’t just compel couples to repeat a false marital consent before a different witness. This is absurdity.

    • Indeed, I was forced to reflect on the reason Francis stayed out of this. And I realize now that all this talk of partitions is failing to realize or find any way of riding home the conservative consolation prize in all of this: the MONOGAMOUS FAMILY has been resolutely affirmed as the building block for community and society, above the wanton individual!

    • This is so wrong. The State had no business in marriages until after the Protestant revolution. To say only the State can conduct a valid marriage is clearly false. Today’s State conducted “marriages” are for tax purposes, period. By doing whatever voodoo you doodoo, the IRS grants you the privilege of using the “married” tax table, vs. the “single” tax table. Big Whoop!
      Your argument that the Catholic Church has to continue to work for the tax man is absolute stupidity. The Church works for God, not the IRS.
      The Catholic church must immediately divorce itself from such madness. Bring back the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. That covers what is important, your eternal soul. Tax rates be damned!
      (p.s. that’s how to neutralize the SS marriage steamroller. Eliminate marital status from the 1040. Have everybody file individually at the single rate. Caesar gets more $$$$, every married person gets the shaft. What’s not to like?)

    • Hear, hear! Marriage is, and always has been, by its very nature, a civil institution, and this desire to split a ‘spiritual’ from a ‘civil’ marriage is bizarre (and rather hippie). The effects of this would likely be far more negative than positive. Now, if the state were to attempt to compel churches to conduct marriages that are illegitimate in their eyes, that would be another matter; it would force orthodox churches out of the marriage business. But that is highly unlikely — unless many congregations start voluntarily getting out of the marriage business.

  6. This option seems entirely sane. It will presumably be forced upon us, anyway, when the state suspends the ability of priests to preside at civil weddings. So we have nothing to lose really.

    • The Church has been refusing to marry many people, for a long time. (e.g., the divorced, and non-Christians) We’ve always had our own rules about who is eligible for the sacraments. Perhaps being optimistic, but I really don’t predict the Church being “forced” to conduct homosexual weddings. And I haven’t seen any such threat, so why should we surrender a fight that hasn’t even started?

      • Good point. The feminists have not been able to force the church to ordain women, and they’re not even fighting that battle any more.

  7. The day the decision was made by the Supreme Court I felt an great deep sadness. It lasted for days. The decision heralds more such immorally wrong decisions, and I am saddened that my country regards the freedom of one set of individuals to be greater than another set. We are slowly and surely losing God in the US, and yet our nation was founded on the belief that He is the basis of our existence. I am not sure I agree with two marriage ceremonies, but, as Catholics and as Christians, we must fight for our right to religious freedom, our right to uphold our beliefs and and the teachings of Christ. We cannot let the supporters of same sex marriage call us Bible bigots. Let everyone not forget that our Constitution also gives us the right to practice our religious beliefs. We cannot and should not be punished for them. We should not be forced to abandon them.

    • We have been murdering babies for 40 years. Is this *really* so bad in comparison? Another nail in the coffin, perhaps, but hardly the beginning of the end.

  8. You are 100% correct. Treat holy matrimony just like the other sacraments. The State issues a birth certificate but the Church baptises. The State has the marriage, the Church has the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The State has the ACA, the Church has Anoiting of the Sick.

  9. Incestuous marriage is legal in New Jersey and one other state. I do not understand the “compulsory ” argument. No one, no matter how, is forced to marry by the state.

    I have always viewed civil marriage as separate from matrimony. In fact, my daughter had two ceremonies, one civilly with a judge and another with a priest

    Also, you imply that everyone is now going to go out and get gay married. 98% of the population is straight.

  10. Separation of Church and state is problematic. How does Christ life manifest itself in our lives and in the world without Evangelizing? It’s not possible. Withdrawing from the conversation, in whatever divisive state it might be, is an easy way out for Catholics to run away. It is cowardly. We are already in between a rock and hard place so to where would we be running. It is our responsibility to those who are hostile towards The Faith, that we are about the Truth and maybe be prepared to accept the fact that there are those minds, rooted in the world, that we will not be able to change but then help the world understand that there are those Catholics whose minds they will not be able to change, as well. We have to use peaceful force. Running away or walking around like nothing has happened to our Country is to be heavily engaged in cognitive dissonance. Yes, find a balance, a way, in Christ, that you can manage each day, if that’s what is required but don’t pretend that all is well. Don’t be fooled by the quiet. It is designed to rock you to sleep in sin. Are we prepared to not back away from the world but live how Christ calls us to live? Require Catholics to be civilly married and require them to have a covenant marriage that could only be given by the church. And, yes, there should be a finger prick that extracts blood to place your finger print beside your signature. Okay, maybe that’s going a bit far but you get my meaning. I think it’s a mistake to fight about civil marriages as they are just that, civil and bound by the law of the world. Gods law should permeate the laws of the world but increasingly, this is not the case so Catholics should be required to go the extra step and not just be married in the Church building but have a covenant marriage with the understanding that there can never be an annulment. Our conversation with the world must be a forceful peace, in Christ.


  11. I have to agree that authentic lives as abetted by natural procreation, and as opposed to artificial means of “planning” plus further sanctioning for material productivity that “contributes” to the economy, has been the relentless assault for some time. We should be defending MOTHERHOOD first, then try to go back and salvage marriage.

    Here is what I fear: by dropping out instead of eating the humble pie, we are failing to realize he silver lining in all of this. We are refusing to accept the positive affirmation of the MONOGAMOUS FAMILY as the building block of community and society, above the individual, and build from these ashes.

    Building walls isn’t going to win one soul over to the “marriage-as-sacrament” camp. People have to be led back to the living and loving God, first.

    • The MONOGAMOUS FAMILY was annihilated in law, since “monogamy” literally means MARRIAGE to one person (which two people of the same sex can’t do). There is no consolation prize. There is no humble pie. There is recognition that the monogamous family is the source of civilization. There’s only the legal annihilation of monogamy.


    Can.  1071 §1. Point 2

    “Except in a case of necessity”

    I have a sacramental marriage without any civil marriage. I did not need to wait for this Supreme Court decision to get one.

    The very fact that civil marriage laws allow for divorce is reason enough for a Catholic to stay away from them.

    The Catholic Church hierarchy does not need to do anything in particular , it is enough that Catholics who wish to marry under God and avoid being “married” by the government go to their Priest, present a “case of necessity” and then they, along with their Priest, must go to their Bishop for approval.

    The US Conference of Bishops need not declare anything. Catholics should simply take advantage of existing canon law and existing practice to avoid government marriage and partake only in a Sacramental marriage.

  13. There is a serious flaw in this article. “The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops should declare that the sacrament of matrimony is no longer to be considered binding in US law, thereby making it necessary for those getting married in the Catholic Church to also get “married” civilly.”

    I categorically disagree with this proposal. Civil marriage is lawful between persons of the same sex because (as the Mexican Supreme Court reasoned) marriage is not for procreation. A man and a woman can enter a civil marriage only if they intend never to have children.

    No, a better idea would be for the clergy to hand in their licences to officiate at civil marriage, because as far as the State is concerned, if you enter a sacramental or natural marriage, then you do something other than marry in the legal sense.

    Let the Church offer to officiate at, and provide social recognition for, true marriage by extending its services even to the unbaptized.

  14. Well, the supreme court has just done the legal equivalent of declaring 2 + 2 = 5.

    Still, there could be some good in this. It might further erode respect for the SC as an institution. Just as in Roe vs Wade, they have essentially put themselves ABOVE God, first in determing what is life, now what is marriage. Liberals who recently screamed “Foul!” over things like Bush v Gore and “Citizens United” can be told “Now you know how our side feels when the Supremes renders a decision you don’t like.”

    Also, by giving the gay rights movement everything they wanted on a plate, they’ve now lost the right to claim “Victim” status ever again. Homosexuality will have to stand on its own two feet, and once it proves to be as dysfunctional as most of us think it is, they can no longer evade this fact by calling the rest of us “Bigots”.

    • I think you are correct. I believe gay marriage, and homosexuality for the most part, will turn out to be nothing more than a fad a generation or two from now. I think what has been fueling the gay movement up until now, was more from those wanting to be part of a movement, rather than defining an alternate “lifestyle”. In the future “gays” will realise there is just no logical reason to marry someone of the same sex, other than to prove a point, and only a very small percentage of the hard core will actually choose it. Mankind has made many mistakes as it has progressed, and gay marriage will likely turn out to be just another one. The legalization of gay marriage will likely hasten, and expose all of its shortcomings. As they say, “careful what you wish for” .

  15. It is well past time to get the state out of the sacraments. The Church should have done so when rights to contraception were “discovered” many years ago, as one could have foretold then that the present silliness was down the road.

    The Church should make a big deal about sacramental marriage, and could even create its own legal marriage contract to go with it, and to do what the state does not, in regards to keeping families together.

    As to the state, states should eliminate marriage licenses and instead issue partnerships. Let two bachelor uncles support each other. Single women and their widow mothers, etc. Take the presumption of sexual relations out of the equation, and stop calling it marriage. That would take away the prize from the other side.

    • It may come to that. Surely the State will slip further away from any understanding of marriage. CJ Roberts explained it well in his dissent. This was inevitable, and it will get ever sillier.

      But, I still insist that the State should recognize sacramental marriages as valid. It’s not our fault they will also recognize all sorts of other bizarre arrangements. Why shouldn’t the Church proclaim to the world that a valid marriage has contracted? Why should the Church throw an obstacle for young married couples, and say that they should have to do this civil business on their own time, and dime?

  16. To this day I ask myself what the controversy is. The male and the female union–sexual and spiritual, physical and psychological–is the primary relationship of Nature, the primary relationship of civilization, the fundamental relationship of Life. Therefore, it is superior to all other forms of human relation and thus must be allowed to preserve its hierarchical status as the crown of all forms of human relationships–i.e. the sacrament of marriage. But only in a society that has confused egalitarianism with equality is the mentality of Anything-Goes raised to the level of dogma.

  17. I find it interesting that activist homosexuals were not satisfied with the term, Civil Union. They wanted Marriage. As a result of the SCOTUS decision the only apt definition of marriage is a civil union. It seems to me that this is the only definition that will fit all possible scenarios. I also believe the Church should get out of the marriage business. We should give Certificates of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony properly designed to keep the State and those who hate us out of our hair.

  18. “All that is needed is for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to declare that the sacrament of matrimony is no longer to be considered binding in US law, thereby making it necessary for those getting married in the Catholic Church to also get “married” civilly.”
    Here in the Archdiocese of San Antonio Texas, we’ve always been required to get married in the civil court prior to the sacrament of matrimony in the Catholic Church. I thought it was the norm.

  19. The divorce between church and state as it concerns marriage has been a reality in many countries. I was married in a civil ceremony. My wife and I took our sacramental vows in a Catholic Church in the presence of consecrated priest. This took place in Mexico. My mother and father did the same in France.
    I have never attended a catholic marriage ceremony in the U.S. and when I attended a Protestant ceremony, I was surprised by the pastor declaring that by the power vested by the state he declared the couple man and wife.
    The fact that we could civilly divorce was never an option for us and for the majority of people who follow our faith.

  20. Thank you, Joe. Marriage is a religious function, not a political one. Only since the Reformation has the state gotten involved. And, remember, the common law is NOT a function of the state. The state is its guardian, not its creator.

    • This is incorrect. Marriage did not even become a sacrament until the Middle Ages. And, prior to the Christian era, the concept of “religion” didn’t even exist. For that matter, our concept of “state” didn’t quite exist before the modern era. While the exact relationship of marriage to government and religious authorities has varied with circumstances from one society and time period to another, what has been constant about marriage is that it has always been a public and, effectively, legal institution, conveying rights, conferring legitimacy on children, and in various ways impacting on the legal status of the couple involved. Without that it is not marriage.

      This does not necessarily mean that Catholic priests must be legally authorized to conduct marriage ceremonies. In many countries they are not. But I do not see what good is accomplished by compelling a couple to visit a courthouse to legalize their marriage.

  21. This apparently, has been the practice in Venezuela (before Chavez, anyway, I don’t know about today) I recall attending a ‘civil’ ceremony at the home of wealthy Venezuelans. A gov’t official came to the house (mansion, I should say), to perform the more intimate ceremony attended by immediate family and friends. I was honored to have been invited. The main ‘church’ ceremony was to be held on the weekend, where, I was told, “everybody and their brothers and sisters attend, and which is followed by a big reception.

  22. 1 Kings 3:16
    Recall the two women who came in front of King Solomon and the women who was trying to steal the other woman’s baby agreed to split the baby but the real mother would rather let him live even if with the other woman ?
    I don’t think the Church should agree to Kill marriage in the secular society by splitting the two processes, the Church is who gives marriage its real meaning, It still stands for true love and true sacrifice and it can do that because it derives its love from the one who gave all on the cross for her. We should be like the true mother who is willing to let it go as long as it lives and one day will come when the just judge will make all things new (Revelation 21:5). Until then we are here to witness to him who is truth and the joy that comes through being his friends 🙂

  23. I’m not sure I understand why Catholics still need to be married in the eyes of the state at all. What benefits are we really going to cost our kids if we teach them to just get married in Church? Forgive me if I’m clueless about this, I know there are some tax benefits but are they really that significant? It really does appear to me that civil marriage and the sacrament are two different things, so why the need to conflate them?

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