The Rain in Spain
By Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
I awakened to the news of the unraveling of one of the final vestiges of Christian influence in the public order of Spain, the decision to end the recognition of marriage through a legislative redefinition of the word. This was not accomplished by the will of the people but by an act of a legislature that has lost its way. The number of Nations falling to this delusion continues to increase. It seems that more and more governmental officials throughout the western world have begun to see themselves as some kind of new alchemists.
Spain's Congress of Deputies enacted legislation that gives homosexual paramours the same legal rights as married heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt children. The law is similar to statutes in force in Belgium, the Netherlands, and, barring some unforeseen opposition, it will soon become the law in Canada.
The alchemists of old maintained they could change one metal into another. Their claim was a lie. So too, those who, under the authority of the State, purport to make homosexual relationships a "marriage" through passing "laws" that violate the Natural law, are engaged in a delusion, a new kind of alchemy.
Theologians and Philosophers speak of ontology as the science or philosophy of being. For example, a rock is a rock and not a cabbage; a man is a man and a woman is a woman. Marriage is ontologically between a man and a woman, ordered toward the loving, monogamous union of the spouses, open to procreation and forms the foundation of family. Monogamous Marriage between a man and a woman is the first cell of civil society and forms the healthiest framework for the rearing of children.
This fact was once widely accepted by the overwhelming majority of sane people. It was not seen simply as a "religious" idea but accepted as a foundation for the basis of civil society. Marriage and the institution of family founded upon it, were believed to promote the common good of society. Stable, monogamous marriage between a man and a woman was rightly viewed as a "good" that promoted personal human flourishing. It was promoted and protected by the civil government because it formed the foundation of family, which is the first society. The notion that we would have to define marriage by law would have been considered to be absurd!
Yet, now the efforts to redefine it out of existence are multiplying, almost daily.
The Catholic Bishops in Spain appealed to all citizens to oppose this measure "legalizing" homosexual "marriage" stating: "Today the words 'husband' and 'wife' have been systematically eliminated from the Code, in such a way that marriage, insofar as union of a man and a woman, is no longer contemplated by our laws....In this way, the Spanish laws that regulate marriage have become radically unjust... They do not recognize the anthropological and social reality of the union of a man and a woman in its specificity and in its irreplaceable value for the common good, concretely, for the personal fulfillment of the spouses and for the procreation and education of the children... It is necessary to oppose these unjust laws through all the legitimate means that the state of law places at the disposition of the citizens."
Authentic marriage is the preeminent human social institution. It is a relationship defined by nature and protected by the natural law that binds all men and women. It finds its foundation in the order of creation. Civil institutions did not create marriage nor can they give anyone a "right" to marry. When acting properly, the institutions of government should defend marriage against those who would redefine it or undermine its role in Civil Society. Yet, they are increasingly being misused by cultural revolutionaries to undermine authentic marriage and family.
On July 31, 2003 the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released "Considerations regarding Proposals to Give Legal recognition To Unions between Homosexual persons." Along with millions of Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and good will, I welcomed this clear articulation of the truth about marriage and family. I also welcomed the manner in which the document was written.
It presented nothing new. It simply restated the unbroken tradition of the Catholic Christian Church for two thousand years, giving a framework for the challenge we face in this age of anti-marriage:
"The present Considerations do not contain new doctrinal elements; they seek rather to reiterate the essential points on this question and provide arguments drawn from reason which could be used by Bishops in preparing more specific interventions, appropriate to the different situations throughout the world, aimed at protecting and promoting the dignity of marriage, the foundation of the family, and the stability of society, of which this institution is a constitutive element. The present Considerations are also intended to give direction to Catholic politicians by indicating the approaches to proposed legislation in this area which would be consistent with Christian conscience"
Now the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which promulgated and distributed this excellent document, occupies the Chair of St. Peter. Pope Benedict XVI is speaking out courageously in defense of true marriage and family. He is calling all Catholics, other Christians and all people of faith and good will to do the same. His prophetic leadership demands our loyal response.
There is a social revolutionary movement underway. It is part of what he warned of as the "dictatorship of relativism." It is led by some who want to force legal recognition to homosexual relationships and make those unions equivalent to marriage by the operation of unjust laws. The movement not only undermines marriage and family, it threatens the civil order and the common good.
The Catholic Church is not simply speaking to Catholics, other Christians or other people of faith in its ringing and uncompromising defense of marriage and its bold opposition to all efforts to equalize or legitimize homosexual practice or unions. It is speaking to all people of good will who cherish freedom and hunger for human fulfillment and social harmony. The truths concerning the nature and purpose of marriage are the path to human flourishing for all men and women. The document stated clearly: "Since this question (concerning marriage) relates to the natural moral law, the arguments that follow are addressed not only to those who believe in Christ, but to all persons committed to promoting and defending the common good of society."
The document presents a lucid, solid, powerful defense of the truth concerning marriage and family. Yes, it presents that truth from biblical revelation, but it also presents it from the order of right reason, the natural law, the biological and anthropological order, the social order and the legal order. That is because truth is truth. Things are not true simply because they are Catholic; they are Catholic because they are true. There is a rational basis for protecting marriage from those who seek to redefine it. We who are Christians in a neo-pagan world need to learn how to present this fact.
I believe that that anyone who is concerned about authentic marriage should study, read, re-read and imitate the manner of presentation used in this extraordinary document. It lays the groundwork of our "apologetic" work in a culture that is under the assault of a Cultural Revolution. I hear well intended Christians try to make their arguments against homosexual unions by simply quoting from the Bible. They are too often being marginalized ("Oh that is just your "religious" position) or effectively decimated by the sophistry of activist opponents who back their opponents into a corner by rejecting the authority of the Bible.
The greatness of this document is that it presents the truth about marriage as just that, truth, and not simply a "religious" position. Catholic thinking presents a wonderful asymmetry between faith and reason, not an opposition. It presents a consistent unity of the truth, found in the natural law, and confirmed by Revelation. It thereby provides a coherent, philosophically rich framework for the work that will be required in this new missionary age. We are living in a revitalized neo-pagan world.
It is ironic that this news from Spain came on the day when Catholics in America honor Father Junípero Serra, the "Apostle of California", a great missionary from Spain who helped to evangelize America. He is the patron of more than 15,000 Catholic laymen in Serra International who still work tirelessly to encourage vocations to the priesthood. I am sure that this great Spanish Missionary, who is now numbered among the communion of Saints, is praying in earnest for his homeland, Spain, as well as for the whole Christian Church in this new missionary age.
The Christian understanding of marriage and family is not some outdated notion of a past era but the framework for the future of true human freedom. This document is a masterful model of cultural apologetics. It reaffirms that there should be no unjust discrimination against any persons, including persons with homosexual orientation, but minces no words: "The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself."
It absolutely rejects the convoluted notion that homosexual unions are in any way analogous to marriage and asserts that legislation attempting to give any form of legal equivalency to these unions is always unjust and evil: "The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives."
The news out of Spain should come as no surprise. We have our work cut out for us. However, as Christians, we have been here before. This is not the first time that we have been sent by the Lord who fashioned marriage into pagan cultures to proclaim by word and deed His plan of love. Let's get on with our missionary work through prayer and action, trusting that the Lord is with us.
If we do, the rain in Spain will simply be a passing storm.
Be Not Afraid.
Deacon Keith Fournier is a Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia who has been married for thirty years. A graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University and the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law, He served as a human rights and constitutional lawyer for twenty five years. He currently serves as the Senior Editor for Catholic Online and is a Contributing Editor of Traditional catholic Reflections and Reports.
Third Millennium, LLC
https://www.catholic.org VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Deacon, 757 546-9580
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