Like it or not, that whole “the politics of the personal” means that _everything_ is political. Thanks a lot. It’s not my most favorite of the new articles of faith that society clings to. It also, conveniently enough means that the whole “separation of church and state” can be used to simply remove all traces of religion everywhere. Sure, I’m being paranoid. You keep saying that.
But, the whole marriage thing… is both about sex, and not about sex. Because when Catholics talk about sex, they mean something different than the world at large. Big shock, I know.
Because there is but one act that the Catholic Church calls sex. You know the one. It causes babies and everybody loves it so much they’ve given it all the dignity of sharing needles in a back alley. Hell, a hand shake has more dignity than today’s sex it seems like. So now, everybody calls just about any act sex, because it’s unfair to distinguish between acts of intimacy and levels of intimacy. (unless you are really talking about baseball. But I digress.) In case you were wondering, that’s probably why middle schoolers are giving each other blow jobs in parking lots.
So, let’s answer the big one. That is, why breeders (LOL) have been keeping today’s marriage away from gay people. Well, now you know. No, not because people were being oppressed. I won’t say that it didn’t happen, or that throwing people in prison for sodomy was a good idea. It was because most gay people had the sense to stay the hell away from marriage. After all, they might get bored, or that all consuming, euphoric feeling of love might just fade. That awesome tingle just might go away. Then what?
In those days it wasn’t just as simple as asking the justice of the peace for a repeal. Besides, family in those days might take offense for leaving your beloved bereft, and come after you with… anything from a shot gun to a personal army. Time was, the story of Helen of Troy was a cautionary tale, not an instruction manual. And hey, that was long before Christ, so don’t get started with me.
Because we get all teary eyed and star struck– and caught up with the frankly medieval idea that marriage is all about love and flowers and a deep personal commitment to what was going on in your pants on that crazy day you proposed. It’s not. It’s about family. And not necessarily the kind you can choose. It’s about taking care of that person who will bear/earn bacon for your children.
It is about your heritage your life long commitment to contributing to civilization and the world around you. See that word? Children. There’s another one hiding in the wings that we love so much to hate.. Responsibility. It is your promise, not only before God, but for the Future, for your society, for your bloodline, your family, and all those things we think we are so freaking enlightened that we threw away without thinking. The last time it was done in such great numbers was the fall of Rome.
That should get some people to wondering as to whether or not it is such a great idea. It took mankind thousands of years to recover, from living in desperate poverty and being a slave to the belly just to survive. You think being a slave to your body in the form of children is bad? Whoa, girl, you have no idea.
Frankly, I can only dimly imagine, this based on things that were a faint bare whisper of a relationship that miserable state. I only know about it as much as I do by talking to recent immigrants to this country. Folks who had to run for their lives to make it here, jumped through hoops, ran through hell and back only to find out that we are in some serious decline. Who knows, maybe Canada can save us. On the other hand, their government seems more determined to stamp out religion than Obama is. Sigh.
At any rate, it is about the ultimate goal of humanity on earth. It is not about signing a contract or getting health care or even about having someone who helps make decisions about what happens to you at the end of life. Those things are already available to whatever arrangements any two people under the sun want to make. If it really is about taxes, I know some people who deliberately do not get their marriage acknowledged by the state because they can’t afford it. Even if they have children already. You can already have a party to celebrate and just about any venue. You can live together indefinitely and no one will raise an eyelash or even think to ask you what’s going on between you.
What more is there? What mysterious thing is there that married hetero couples can do that gay people can’t? Well, we can get our marriages blessed, but you can too in most churches. Just not in the Catholic one.
And keep in mind, if you ever are, that church is not Catholic. It is not that we don’t like you, but what you are doing is not Marriage. That thing society calls marriage is a a parody of a contract. A Marriage is a covenant. And while some people think that a covenant is the same thing as a contract– well, let’s just say that you are wrong. No cell phone on earth is worth a covenant. Ask the Jews some time about how flexible Covenants are. They are permanent. They are written in your flesh, imprinted on your soul. And most of the fruits of this covenant are your responsibility to other people. That’s why you have to invite your parents and the rest of your awful family to “celebrate”. Does this still sound like fun? If so, I’m not doing my job.
It is entirely invalid if at the time you marry, you are willing to break it off after a fight or– even made the decision because of mere love. In fact, the only thing that can break up a Marriage, is that you did not mean those words in the first place. That means, you can’t have a failed Marriage, only an invalid one. That is what an annulment is about. IT is a mere acknowledgement that a marriage that everyone thought happened was not, in fact a real marriage, so no one is bound to act in accordance with it. Handy, but it is not divorce.
It could be from a misunderstanding of what Marriage is (not uncommon, even among Catholics), or because you were deliberately holding back those things from your spouse that a Marriage requires. Those things include– an openness to Life (that is, want to have kids, and want the kids you generate– every single one), a desire to be exclusive (that is, don’t sleep around), and a willingness to sacrifice: your love, your autonomy, and your dignity, and your life for your beloved’s sake. Nothing can get you out of it. Not sickness, not ill fortune, not suffering, nor infamy, just rank deception a long time ago or an actual death, not the mere threat of one.
Now, we all fail at fulfilling our promises from time to time, and when you do, that doesn’t mean the Covenant is broken. The whole point of a Covenant is that you can’t break it. It’s bigger than you. And that is only the first half of my explanation of what is oh, so wrong with the argument, “all you need is love,” in the context of Marriage!
Catholics are supposed to love all of mankind, and especially the poorest and most desperate, so Marriage is not (exclusively) about that. It’s also not about sex, or what you call sex. If it does not –in the natural state– make babies, it’s not sex. Ask any biologist. Babies are not fashion accessories. They are people, and that is why we have marriage. It is a permanent arrangement so there are some parties responsible for their feeding and care. Anybody else remember when people used to say, “children are our future,”?
While this may sound horribly oppressive– have you seen society without it? If there is no importance to taking care of the little ones– they either get slaughtered by the thousands every day, or handed off to poor houses (if you are lucky), or live in sad clouds on the street in a state of Hobbesian Nature. And that has very little to do with cats and bacon. Or, even this.
Or worse, handed off to some impersonal State to be taken care of by people paid to do the job– and usually do it for the wrong reasons, or do it poorly. I’m not saying this is always the case, but you will find that it is too frequently true. Adoption– even homelessness, has a statistically better outcome than our benighted foster-care system.
So when we Catholics rave about Marriage being about more than just religion, that is what we mean. If you can find a wildly successful society that’s based on something else, let us know, fast. We are going to need it STAT.
Well, even my husband seems to think that technology will save us from the worst of the Dark Ages. I will address this at a later time, because I still haven’t quite given the full dimensions to the word Marriage yet. Suffice to say, I am not quite so optimistic.
Ok, if I’m still not making my point yet, let’s take a different tactic. What would marriage look like if it were a contract?
Sad to say, it would be more rigidly enforced in this day and age than what society calls marriage is today. See, contracts matter. People wouldn’t stay together for the children, they’d stay together so they wouldn’t break their word. You know, so people wouldn’t accuse them of being liars, or maybe so that other people might trust them in the future. Society might get dicey if you break a contract. Suddenly all the people you owe obligations start wondering about your decision making. Nope. Getting out of a modern ‘marriage’ is less of a big deal than getting out of a fitness club contract.
Because, creating a contract between two persons requires some special requirements. Things, like, oh, I don’t know, being able to follow through on the deal. Having a track record of keeping your word, in whatever form is appropriate. Ultimately, that’s what your credit rating is supposed to reflect. Also, people besides the two parties who are responsible for certain facts would also have to agree, just like two people can’t suddenly decide to have a mortgage. A bank has to get involved, too.
On top of all this, if marriage were a contract, we’d know why the rules are the way they are, and what it all means. On the other hand, in my day children were singing nursery rhymes to describe outcomes that today’s average adult person seems entirely unaware. For example, we’d know that a male person and a female person having sex has a high likelihood in creating more people.
We might acknowledge that that needs some kind of special societal recognition. We might recognize that it involves a division of labor– any acknowledgement thereof is objectively evil, no? Well, however you define it, somebody’s got to take care and take responsibility if children are in the offing. In the bad old days it was usually women, because we are sort of wired for that thing– being as we have to carry them in our bodies for 9 months. Of course, this is why the courts overwhelmingly give children to their mothers. Yep, even true today, where it also apparently gives us power over life and death– as well as to anyone who can push us around. That’s so totally fair.
Also, outside of rather new genetic testing, the mom has a certain physical association with her child. I mean, how much of a bond does a test score generate, really? Being a dad takes work. Not just work in a “go out to earn a living” type work, you can do that merely to feed your sorry face. And it’s not just love in that luke-warm Buddhist type compassion that is so easy to ape in public.
You have to give things up. Such as, fun time with a hot sexy girlfriend, in exchange for a perpetually exhausted, cranky frumpy woman in crappy jeans who’s forgotten she’s got baby food smeared on her shirt. Who probably doesn’t even want to have sex. Or how about those sticky screaming rug rats who are always wanting to hear a story– when you are tired? That can get real old night after night… until you realize that they are surly teen-agers and you have no idea who’s been living in your house for the past few years.
Remember that peace and quiet you used to get after a hard day at work? Never again. Or, by the time you get it back, you will miss the wacky chaos that defined your life, and often was a trial every day before.
Yep, even in my day the little children would sneer at the words baby carriage. (Those are the words that classically came after “Love, and then Marriage”.) You are better off without commitment, to fuck whom ever you choose, to live fast and loose, never have make a single decision that has to affect another person. This is all fine and dandy until you get old, but then, why not shack up with some friends in a farmhouse somewhere? No troubles there, right?
Yeah, right. Good luck keeping friends that long. As soon as they think you are too needy, too damaged, too incompetent, too inconvenient, they will find a way to get rid of you. One way or another, I promise you, it will come to that.
Because, honestly, it isn’t just marriage that has rotted to the core in this day and age. Even friendship has been relegated to facebook friends. Don’t get me wrong, facebook is the only way I can keep track of my ragtag mob of friends. But I hate it. I hate facebook with the flame of a thousand suns. I keep if for their sakes, because they seem to need it to operate as functioning Catholics. And, it’s pretty much true.
Jesus said, that the highest act of Love is “to give up your life for your friends.” Now, would you really do that for your spouse, let alone your friends? Would you do for your spouse more than you would do for your job?
The sad and hilarious part is that I think that changing dirty diapers for 5 years per child is more heroic virtue than standing in front of a speeding train to save my beloved, or even stepping into the lion’s den for the entertainment of plebes drunk on bread and circuses. Those things I feel like I know I could do.
For what it’s worth, I have risked my life for another human being– one I barely knew. But, let’s face it, it’s not quite the same as facing certain death.
That baby changing part is only one small part of raising a kid. I would do my best to do it out of love, but more often than not, I think I’d do it because not doing it would be worse. And what kind of commitment is that, really? I’m just as much a spoiled rack and ruin of today’s Spirit of the Age. Any resemblance to the Holy Spirit is purely coincidental, I assure you.
But… as weak as I am, and as many mistakes as my parents made– they made one heroic choice that most people scorned them for– well, most people outside of my immediate family, that is. That is, they stayed together.
It was not an easy choice, let me tell you. My mom, has had some problems. My father, worked all the time, and we didn’t see him for months at a stretch sometimes. He was out of the country, flying around the world, while my mom stayed home and did the real work. But he consistently brought home the bacon, and mysteriously stayed faithful to her the entire time. My mom stayed home and took care of us kids and the household. She did the best she could. He did the best he could, and that is all God can ask of us.
SO many people kept saying that my folks should have divorced. NO one asked me. No one asked my father– or my mother and siblings for that matter. She may have threatened it now and then, but… she didn’t do it. And thank God she didn’t when my father got cancer at 53. He would not have lived until his 56th birthday had she not said “yes”. So sure, you signed on to change your sons and daughter’s diapers. But your spouses? Can you do that too? Or what about your spouses’ parent’s diapers?
What with the advance of modern technology, that is entirely possible– and your spouse could be dead, to boot. Would you do that? Even if they hated you all your life? That, my friends, is what we call family ties, and heroic virtue– by today’s standards, at least.
But, ladies and gentlemen, that is what marriage means. It means someone you can trust when your back is to the wall, when they come for you, he or she will stand for you, too, to the Death, and even to the Pain. That are what those vows are really for. They MEAN something. Not just now and then or when you feel like it, they mean it for “as long as we both shall live”. It used to mean that you stayed celibate even after your spouse died, because hey, you were still alive, and you were a living part of that covenant. (in this case, living does not mean changeable– but who’s counting?) But that’s largely been relegated to the dustbin of history.
In other words, that old oppressive marriage that people disparage, was in fact, more like a contract, than our covenant today.
Since I’m not God, I don’t know how big of factor that is, fidelity after death thing is. Is that really where marriage first went wrong? I have no idea. Perhaps someday I’ll get up the nerve to ask some deep thinker like Fr. Barron or Francis Cardinal George. Maybe Il Papa would have something to say on that score.
So most of the people –gay or straight– when they ask for marriage, they have no idea what they are asking for. Hey, what’s wrong with spreading around the ignorance a little further, give people yet another means of screwing up their lives? Sure, why not? The state sponsors it, so it’s legal, that must mean it’s okay, right?
God help you, you might discover you are actually married. And your spouse might not agree. Sucks to be you. We care as long as we can find ways to make money or get entertainment off your pain. THAT is how much our culture cares about marriage, and the human person.