Still figuring out your resolutions for the new year?
If you are, consider this: Make understanding the Church’s teaching on marriage, and the non-magisterial articulations of that teaching, a priority in 2014.
Why is 2014 a timely time for such an undertaking? Well, consider this:
In the past year, the legalization of same-sex marriage has gone into effect in nine US states.
Nearly forty percent of the American population lives in states in which “marriage” denotes nothing other than “the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults,” as one federal judge put it in 2011.
In June, the Supreme Court invalidated Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, denouncing it as “unconstitutional.” That Section read,
In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
On the same day, the court also ruled adversely in a case concerning California’s state constitutional amendment, known as Proposition 8, opening the door to future assaults on the meaning of marriage.
Polls indicate that the majority of Americans—3 in 4—see same-sex marriage in America as an “inevitable” reality.
Despite these troubling indications, the fight for the sanctity of marriage is a very live one, especially in Notre Dame’s own backyard: Indiana is currently considering a state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. I write about this development, and Notre Dame’s vocational imperative to vocally support this amendment, in 7 November’s issue of the Rover. The Catholic bishops of Indiana earlier this month have also released a statement in defense of marriage; you can view that statement in PDF form here.
There are more resources than ever available to those who wish to understand what the Church teaches about marriage, why the Church teaches what it does about marriage, and how to respond to the arguments of revisionists.
Public Discourse is a hub of outstanding articles on marriage, some of which have been written by Notre Dame professors and Rover faculty advisors.
Notre Dame’s own Diocese of Fort-Wayne/South Bend has posted excellent resources for Christians seeking to understand the Catholic teaching on marriage vis–à–vis contemporary revisionist challenges.
Additionally, the Blessed John Paul II Seminary in Washington DC recently produced an accessible, scholastic-style same-sex marriage apologetics sheet, which raises and answers objections to the Catholic position. You can view that PDF here.
Other meritorious books and articles abound. For the members of Our Lady’s University who uphold the Church’s teachings personally, marriage is too important an issue to neglect in the public square, for any reason.
The new year brings new opportunities, as well as new challenges, for all of us. Consider some of the aforementioned resources as good places to start in your (continuing) education in the contemporary marriage debate. The Church and the nation—and even Notre Dame—are in need of your service.