Friday, November 7, 2008

What do you hold Sacred?

With the elections and many different state proposals this year, I have had to ask myself "What is sacred?". What are the gifts that have been given to us by God and I am willing to fight for and defend?

I am a Catholic Christian, not a Democrat or a Republican. I accept the responsibility that Christ gave me to be salt of the Earth. Salt was meant to preserve, and that is what followers of Christ are called to do. I accept the challenge that Jesus gives us to to be the light of the world. We are to expose those things that may be hidden. We are to share truth and reflect God in all that we do - even in the voting booth.

During this election and State proposals, there are two things that I saw as being sacred, and under attack.

God gives us all life. This is something that God gives to everyone regardless if we believe in Him or not. I believe that the gift of life, from conception to natural death, is sacred and should be protected at all time.

Marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman. Anything that is contrary to this, is not a marriage. Marriage is an institution that was given to us by God, and it is also a reflection of Christ's love for His Church(Ephesians 5:22-32).

What about you? What do you believe is sacred? Did this election give you pause to think about what you believe to be sacred?


Kyle Adams said...

I've sent Carlus links to two other places were I've mentioned this, but it bears repeating. C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:

"My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognize that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not."

Carlus Henry said...


I am curious as to what it is that you are suggesting?

Kyle Adams said...

Not to be to obscure, but I'll answer that with another question: do you agree with C.S. Lewis' view that "there ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage"?

Carlus Henry said...

Okay Kyle, if you must be difficult.... :)

I don't believe that there is a such thing as types of marriages. I believe that a marriage is between one man and one woman.

In light of what C.S. Lewis is suggesting, it sounds more like the idea of civil unions. I am in favor of civil unions between same sex couples, but to go as far as to call it a type of marriage is a stretch. will you answer my question?


Kyle Adams said...

Ah, now we've arrived at an interesting place. The State was handling unions as a legal affair long before Christianity came along (though I would trace the Christian sacrament of marriage back to the Hebrew deuteronomic laws and even all the way back to the Creation story). I have no idea what terms were used for these unions in the Roman empire and if the term was shared with the Christian word for marriage. Regardless, at some point, both unions began to share the same word: "marriage".

In order to regain the "sharp disctinction" that Lewis describes, I think we need to begin using two different terms to separate out what the State does, something that is absolute and applies across the board, from something that is relative and changes depending on whether the participants are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Athiest, Pagan, etc.

That is, we should more properly call what the State does a "civil union", and that joining is a legal function, affecting the participants' taxes, ability to get health coverage, etc. A civil union does not discriminate between religions; that is, in the eyes of the State, a union between two Hindus is no less valid than between two Christians who have been joined in the holy sacrament.

If we begin to realize that there is a distinction between what the State does and what the Church does with regards to joining a couple... particularly if we formalize that distinction in language, than I think, I hope, this debate becomes less muddled. Furthermore, once that distinction is firmly in place, I believe it becomes apparent that the holy sacrament is much more threatened by the spread of divorce in the Church than by any State laws regarding the joining of homosexuals. How would things be different if we spent as much time, money, and passion on defending marriage against divorce as we currently spend on the homosexual issue?

One final note: I have no problems with the State recognizing homosexual marriages (or civil unions, more properly). I do have a problem with churches doing the same.

Carlus Henry said...


This is definitely an interesting topic. I am still curious what exactly is trying to be accomplished through promoters of homosexual marriage. I don't really understand it. If there is currently already a governmental recognized institution in a civil union, what exactly are they trying to accomplish and why?

I did just recently come across a great blog post that you may be interested in reading. I just read it today:

The thing about marriage is just one thing

Kyle Adams said...

Great blog post? Come on... the guy strikes out almost as soon as he starts to make his so-called secular argument against gay marriage.

"We'll start with a brief recitation of why marriage was recognized by the government to begin with. It wasn't about love and it wasn't about religion. It was about controlling how baby-making activity takes place."

Wrong. Now then, I'm not going to go to the effort of figuring out the first government to recognize marriage or why they did it. With that said, I do know that marriages were all about creating alliances in the Roman empire. They were about power, politics, and wealth (both money and property). I've NEVER seen anything anywhere that said the Romans were concerned about single moms or fatherless kids.

That ridiculousness aside, let's get back to your core question. What are the promoters trying to accomplish? I can't answer for them, but I think we can look at the legal stuff (i.e., the proposals on the ballots) for some clue.

First, a bit of definition: what I'm going to call "civil unions" in the sentences that follow is what the State (and most people) calls a marriage. I'm using "civil union" to distinguish the legal stuff (i.e. the marriage license everyone has to sign) from the cultural/religious stuff. And vice versa, I'm using "marriage" to refer to the cultural/religious stuff that varies from person to person.

Let's be clear: the US Constitution leaves the power to define civil unions to the state. The US federal government has little part in defining marriage. The most relevant federal law is the Defense of Marriage Act, which does two things (and I'm going to quote from Wikipedia here because they do a nice job of wording it):

1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage [i.e., a "civil union" in my terms], even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state.

2. The Federal Government may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages [i.e., a "civil union" in my terms] for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.

So we can see that there isn't, at least at the federal level, any sort of recognition of a monogamous relationship between same-sex couples. They don't get to file joint returns, any tax breaks or penalties applied to heterosexual couples don't apply to them, federal employees don't get their partners covered as spouses for health insurance, etc. The key thing to recognize here is that these are all civil, secular functions! They have nothing to do with the holy sacrament of marriage!

The same problems (taxes, health insurance, property ownership, etc.) also apply at the state level if the state does not recognize same-sex civil unions. Putting homosexual couples on the same legal footing as heterosexual couples is a civil rights anti-discrimination secular issue, not a debate about the sanctity or sacredness of marriage.

That's what the majority of these propositions have been about: whether or not homosexual couples get the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.

Kyle Adams said...

OK, this guy just royally cheeses me off...

"We've seen what it is in heterosexual marriage - making sure procreatively ordered sex happens in a responsible way."

If you follow his logic, social security benefits, tax breaks, health care benefits, etc. should only go to heterosexual unions that procreate. Childless heterosexual couples are in the same boat as homosexual couples.

As for his second, positive argument... well, at least he's more consistent in his view than most opponents of gay marriage. Most folks don't bother recognizing that their moral qualms about sin in the union also apply to divorcees. That is, if you're against same sex couples marrying in the eyes of the state (i.e., a civil union) for moral reasons (i.e., that it degrades marriage because of the sin involved) then you also need to be against divorcees remarrying.

I don't think most Christians are willing to go to that extreme, because they would agree to C.S. Lewis' arguments on the government and divorce. They just don't realize that those same arguments also apply to same-sex civil unions.

Carlus Henry said...

That's what the majority of these propositions have been about: whether or not homosexual couples get the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.

This is not true. In California, for example, same-sex couples did enjoy the same benefits / rights that is provided through marriage, according to Debating gay marriage and Proposal 8. No one is trampling on anyone's rights in this instance. So why the push for the term marriage?

Now, regarding the website that I pointed to: the National Catholic Reporter. I can honestly say, that I don't agree with most of the information on this website, and I also don't think that it gives an accurate reflection of what Catholics believe. It is only helpful to leverage this site, to show that this is not about civil rights at all.

Now then, I'm not going to go to the effort of figuring out the first government to recognize marriage or why they did it. With that said, I do know that marriages were all about creating alliances in the Roman empire.

What came first, the Roman empire, or the institution of marriage. I think marriage did. Therefore, why base how one society viewed marriage in light of what it has always been defined as?

Kyle Adams said...

I'll dig into your other point later, but on the Roman empire: as I stated before, I wasn't going to go through the effort of researching the first recorded instance of government recognizing marriage. On the flip side, unless Sonitus Sanctus is willing to do that research, I'm not buying his assertion that the government's interest in marriage is about procreation.

I went with the Roman empire because it was the major government at the start of Christianity.

My point still stands: his assertion that the government's interest in marriage is all about procreation is hooey.

Carlus Henry said...

My point still stands: his assertion that the government's interest in marriage is all about procreation is hooey.

While I don't necessarily agree that this is the only reason why the government is involved in the marriage business, I don't see anything wrong with the conclusion that Sonitus Sanctus has drawn.

The argument that Sonitus Sanctus is making is that committed marital relationships will benefit the society as a whole, because it is healthier for everyone involved. I don't think that is too far fetched. In fact, I think that it makes a lot of sense.

How many people are damaged, due to marriages that end in divorce? I would say both the ex-husband and ex-wife, not to mention if there are children involved. Then how many people are damaged when it comes to children out of wedlock. I would argue everyone, the man, woman and child. Truly the best circumstance, the optimal environment for a family would be in a life long committed relationship. Sonitus Sanctus is just drawing that natural conclusion that not only does society recognize it, but governments do as well.

I don't think Sonitus Sanctus conclusions are hooey. I think that it actually makes a lot of sense. I don't think that it is the only reason but it is definitely far from hooey.

I think that the conclusion that you came to regarding the Roman Empire and building alliances through marriage is not hooey either. I don't agree that it is the main point of marriages by any means, but hooey would be too strong of a word.


Kyle Adams said...

OK, so let's find some common grounds we can agree on: civil marriage (i.e., marriage in the eyes of the state) is about providing a stable way for humans to interact.

That's a bit generic, but it encompasses everything from the growth and development of those in the relationship (both partners and any children) to equitable division of the tax burden.

Another question: I love you. I love my wife. Same word, but does it mean the same thing?

Carlus Henry said...

I think that we have reached common ground regarding the civil union discussion.

Another question: I love you. I love my wife. Same word, but does it mean the same thing?

Let's hope not. :)