Marriage, the Family and Society

Marriage, the Foundation of Society
By William B. May

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Marriage is the very foundation of society. It is the institution that provides for procreation, a mother and a father and a stable family structure, which are so important to the development of children. The family with a mother and father is where the next generation is nurtured and formed. Without these conditions it simply cannot be marriage. A legal relationship that is not life giving and excludes the possibility of a mother or a father can never be marriage.

Marriage, which undergirds the institution of the family, is constituted by the covenant whereby "a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life", and which "of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children".

Only such a union can be recognized and ratified as a "marriage" in society. Other interpersonal unions which do not fulfill the above conditions cannot be recognized, despite certain growing trends which represent a serious threat to the future of the family and of society itself.

Pope John Paul II
Letter to Families

History has shown that there cannot be a strong nation without marriage and strong families. This is a significant reason that societies have laws to encourage and protect marriage.

Through reason alone, there is nothing that can be made equivalent to marriage. If the law were to sanction relationships that are not marriage and falsely call them marriage, it would be necessary to redefine and diminish what marriage really is. Marriage would simply become one of several life-style choices for adults. To advocate for �same-sex marriage� is to pursue the special interest of a small group of adults at the expense of children, families and our future.

Through the Eyes of Children
To understand the seriousness of the threat, one must approach the issue through the eyes of children who are forming opinions and attitudes for their future regarding commitment, marriage and family.

In countries that have adopted "same-sex marriage", there seems to be disconnection with the true meaning marriage has in relationship to children, parenting and families, and the institution has become purely adult-centric. This has resulted in a rapid deterioration in the understanding and appreciation of what marriage offers to young people, leading to a documented decline in the number of marriages and an increase in births outside of stable families with a mother and father. In Norway and Sweden, the majority of births are to non-married parents. In Denmark, over sixty percent of firstborns are to unmarried parents. Since "same-sex marriage" was adopted in the Netherlands in 1997, the number of births outside of marriage has tripled.

The public schools, in deference to homosexual interest groups, are already teaching our children that alternative families with two fathers or two mothers are equivalent to families with a mother and a father committed in marriage. They no longer teach that there is any unique value for individuals, much less the common good, from a commitment between a man and a woman to a life giving relationship and the raising of children. Recent laws in California demand children be exposed to the ideas of equivalency to "alternative families." A chilling remark on the website of the National Center for Lesbian Rights reads, "The interests of the school and student in education outweigh parents' interests in preventing their children from being exposed to ideas that conflict with religious traditions."

Marriage is a basic human and social institution. Though it is regulated by civil laws and church laws, it did not originate from either the church or state, but from God. Therefore, neither church nor state can alter the basic meaning and structure of marriage.

Marriage, whose nature and purposes are established by God, can only be the union of a man and a woman and must remain such in law. In a manner unlike any other relationship, marriage makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the common good of society, especially through the procreation and education of children.

The union of husband and wife becomes, over a lifetime, a great good for themselves, their family, communities, and society. Marriage is a gift to be cherished and protected.

US Bishops (USCCB)
Between a Man and a Woman

No Right to Reorder Marriage and the Family
It is difficult for people to see the direct effect that legalizing "same-sex marriage" will have on them and their children. Many are complacent and think, "let people do what they want." While the Church teaches sex outside of the marriage commitment is wrong, God gave people a free will to make good or bad choices for themselves. No matter what their choices, no group or individual has the right to attempt to reorder the basic and natural foundation of society in order to conform to their narrow special interests.

William B. May is Chairman of Catholics for the Common Good.

RELATED CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHINGS
Considerations on Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons Vatican
Letter to Families from Pope John Paul II
Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions USCCB
A Theological Reflection on the Human Body Archbishop Myers
Instruction on Pastoral Care for Homosexual Persons Vatican
Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers USCCB



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