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whatever happened to marriage? Patrick Treacy SC

All booklets are published thanks to the generosity of the supporters of the Catholic Truth Society

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Summary Speaking in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 1st October 2016, Pope Francis said that “today, there is a global war trying to destroy marriage....[T]hey don’t destroy it with weapons, but with ideas.” This booklet explores the ideas that are destroying marriage. In the first part, the true nature of marriage is set out, as understood by the Catholic Church, based upon biblical revelation and the objective nature of the human person. The second part of the booklet then explores a precise description of the problem defined by Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation On Love in the Family, Amoris Laetitia (2016), in which he says: “Many countries are witnessing a legal deconstruction of the family, tending to adopt models based almost exclusively on the autonomy of the individual will.” The third and final part of the booklet then explains the five ideas of excarnation, gender theory, equalism, dehumanised rights and adolescent progressivism that have facilitated a false understanding of marriage to gain currency in Western societies.

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Contents Introduction: An overview of what has happened to marriage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Part One: The true nature of marriage . . . . . . . . . . 12 1. The understanding of marriage of the Catholic Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 2. The human ecology of marriage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

Part Two: The denial of the objective truth of marriage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 1. The autonomy of the individual will . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 2. The legal deconstruction of the family . . . . . . . . . . . 26 3. The adoption of models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Part Three: The five ideas that destroy marriage . . 30 1. Excarnation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 2. Gender theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 3. Equalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 4. Dehumanised rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 5. Adolescent progressivism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Conclusion: The age of sin against the Creator . . . . 55 Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

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“Today, there is a global war trying to destroy marriage….[T]hey don’t destroy it with weapons, but with ideas. “It’s certain ideological ways of thinking that are destroying it.”

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Pope Francis, Tbilisi, Georgia 1st October 2016

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Introduction: An overview of what has happened to marriage

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In the book of Genesis, the very first attack of the serpent is upon the intimacy of man and woman. Initially, “the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed” (Gn 2:24). The serpent attacks their nakedness, the essence of their intimacy and their bodies, which form their marital union. Once the serpent succeeds with this first attack, which is upon marriage, “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loin clothes for themselves” (Gn 3:7). The purpose of this booklet is to explain the most recent attack upon marriage between a man and woman. It explores how the true and unchanging meaning of marriage has been manipulated by false ideas which have led to the distortion of the truth of what marriage is. The pontificate of Pope Francis has been unfailing in highlighting how serious this confusion about the true nature of marriage is. Pope Francis gave clear expression to this concern during his first visit to the United States of America in September 2015. On 23rd September 2015, Pope Francis gave his first address of his visit at the White House. He said: “I will

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also travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilisation.” On the following day, in the course of his address to the Joint Session of the United States Congress, Pope Francis said: “I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.” In his speech to the American Bishops at St Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia on the morning of 27th September 2015, being the final day of his visit to the United States, he said: “Until recently, we lived in a social context where the similarities between the civil institution of marriage and the Christian sacrament were considerable and shared. The two were interrelated and mutually supportive. This is no longer the case.” From the outset, it should be stated that one does not need to regard marriage as a sacrament and a vow before God in order to adhere to the view that it is based on the distinction as to sex between man and woman. In every society of which records exist, marriage is seen as a bond between man and woman, in which the whole of society has an interest, for the bearing of children and the preparation for family life lie at the heart of the marital tie. This understanding of marriage is also anchored in the very beginning of the Old Testament and explicitly affirmed

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in the New Testament. In the first book of the Old Testament, the Book of Genesis, we read: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gn 1:27). In the second chapter of the Book of Genesis, it is written: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gn 2:24). In Chapter 19 of the Gospel of St Matthew, Jesus is recorded as having an encounter with the Pharisees which is described in this way: Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mt 19:3-6) Furthermore, this booklet does not consider the effect of divorce upon our understanding of marriage. It is concerned with the seismic change which has taken place to our understanding of marriage since the beginning of this millennium. The existence of divorce does not fundamentally change the nature of marriage in the manner that has only occurred since the beginning of the twenty-first century.

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This change is to say that whether the two parties to the marriage are a man and a woman or not is a matter of indifference. The purpose of this booklet is to understand why this has occurred and why it is based upon a false understanding of marriage and of the human person. In 2000 the Netherlands was the first country to enact legislation providing for civil marriage between two persons of the same sex, and it came into force in 2001. By the end of 2017, civil marriage between two people of the same sex was legally recognised (nationwide or in some parts) in twenty-two countries, namely Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay. The Republic of Ireland is the only country to introduce same-sex marriage into its civil law by means of a popular referendum which directly amended its Constitution to provide for it. This led to the insertion of an article into the Irish Constitution (Article 41.4) which provides: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.� This simple wording encapsulates the essence of the change which has taken place in the understanding of marriage in the laws of these countries. In their civil laws, marriage no longer has anything to do with the distinction as to sex

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between man and woman. It has been decoupled from the fixed, unchanging biological differences between both. This change in the legal understanding of marriage is, therefore, rooted in an even more fundamental change, which is that the distinction as to sex between a man and a woman does not deserve separate legal recognition in these societies. Even though it is only through a man and a woman that another human being can be procreated and even though the cells of our bodies are comprised from the genetic material from both our mothers and our fathers, marriage is no longer given a separate status based on the distinction as to sex between a man and a woman. Accordingly, this booklet approaches this problem in three parts. In its first part, the true nature of marriage is set out, as understood by the Catholic Church, based upon biblical revelation and the objective biological nature of the human person. The second part of the booklet then explores a precise description of the problem defined by Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation On Love in the Family, Amoris Laetitia (2016), in which he says: “Many countries are witnessing a legal deconstruction of the family, tending to adopt models based almost exclusively on the autonomy of the individual will� (AL 53). The third and final part of the booklet then explains the five ideas of excarnation, gender theory, equalism, dehumanised rights and adolescent progressivism that have facilitated a false understanding of marriage to gain currency in Western societies.

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Part One: The true nature of marriage 1. The understanding of marriage of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church’s understanding of marriage is expressed in Canons 1055 and 1056 of the Code of Canon Law,1 as it is in a central document of the Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes.2 Taken together, these authorities express the Church’s understanding of marriage as an intimate, exclusive and indissoluble communion of man and woman, designed by God, the Creator, for their good and the procreation and education of children. As a covenant between two baptised persons, it has been raised by Jesus Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. The Church itself can be understood as a love story between God and humanity that is urged by the Holy Spirit towards unity. The heart of this story is the Gospels as they pierce the human heart with the truth that all of humanity and creation are drawn together as one through Jesus Christ. As the time for his sacrifice drew near, the Gospel of St John tells us that Jesus prays to our Father in a way which expresses the heart of their shared plan with the Holy Spirit for each one of us:

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The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (Jn 17:22-23)

The plan of love of the three persons of God is, therefore, to gather each of us, as scattered children, into one body with them and with one another. We are gathered to God, through knowing that we are each loved by him and called, from this knowledge, to be his love to one another. We facilitate this gathering by God of us to him and to each other once our own lives are rooted in relationships that are faithful, permanent and infused with love to the end. This divine plan that all may be one finds its most essential expression in the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, who by their lifelong, indissoluble, conjugal love become the most fundamental and beautiful anchor for the divine plan to gather all into one. Gaudium et Spes, a central document of the Second Vatican Council, expresses the importance of marriage in this way:

Through this union they experience the meaning of their oneness and attain to it with growing perfection day by day. As a mutual gift of two persons, this intimate union and the good of the children impose total fidelity on the spouses and argue for an unbreakable oneness between them.3

The argument for an unbreakable oneness between man

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and woman, as the centrepiece of this divine plan, is both theological and anthropological. The theological foundation is expressed in what Amoris Laetitia describes as the “majestic early chapters of Genesis” which “present the human couple in its deepest reality”.4 Genesis states that “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (1:27). Pope Francis remarks in Amoris Laetitia that it is striking that the “image of God” here refers to couples – male and female.5 In the marriage ceremony, the man and woman enter into a heightened sense of the otherness of the other sex and of marriage as a threshold into the territory of the other sex. From an anthropological standpoint, the human person is created as man or woman and with a natural, physical and sexual complementarity through which human life is procreated and children are ideally nurtured and educated. This human ecology is intrinsic in the very cells of our bodies, which are comprised of the genetic material of our biological mother and father and of their male and female ancestors before them. Our bodies are themselves a natural, permanent, irrevocable union of man and woman. Neither man, nor woman, fully captures what it is to be human but in their union, including sexual union, man and woman capture something about the wholeness and integrity of human nature. In 129 short talks delivered between September of 1979 and November of 1984, Pope St John Paul II gave the first major teaching project of his pontificate, which he also gave

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the working title of “Theology of the Body”. In this teaching, he bridged the theological and the anthropological dimensions of how our oneness is realised through our creation as man and woman. He speaks of the “spousal meaning” of our bodies, which are created as a gift for each other, as we are called to unity with each other in love. To live ‘spousally’, as man and woman, is to offer our lives as a complete gift to one another and thereby be drawn into the unbreakable oneness of the divine plan. In Amoris Laetitia Pope Francis refers to Jesus quoting from Genesis that “[t]he man shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one” (Mt 19:5; cf. Gn 2:24). Pope Francis states:

The very word “to be joined” or “to cleave”, in the original Hebrew, bespeaks a profound harmony, a closeness both physical and interior, to such an extent that the word is used to describe our union with God: “My soul clings to you” (Ps 63:8). The marital union is thus evoked not only in its sexual and corporal dimension, but also in its voluntary self-giving in love.6

This early observation by Pope Francis in his recent Apostolic Exhortation opens us to the redemptive reality of the marital union of man and woman. In its deepest and most truthful essence, it is a covenant with God, realised in the relationship of the couple in Jesus Christ. Man and woman are called to be truly one by becoming conformed to Christ, by being

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reclaimed by him, redeemed by his incomparable love through the opening of his arms upon the cross and the exposure of his heart to the utmost extent. The oneness of marriage between a man and a woman is not a private relationship but rather one which, in its interior dimensions, is infinite, because, in being anchored in the incomparable love of Jesus Christ that is expressed in his death and resurrection, the humanity of the couple are joined to the infinity of God’s love for them and for all of his creation. The couple in marriage become redeemed, not by sacrificing their lives to each other but to their shared relationship, for the deepest identity of their relationship rests in God’s eternal love. By jointly sacrificing to their shared relationship in God, the couple become rooted in an eternal covenant while becoming ever more gradually conformed to the person of Jesus Christ. As the couple become one with each other in love, they become one with God also and this “threefold cord cannot be easily broken” (Qo 4:12). Hans Urs von Balthasar describes this redemptive grounding of the union of man and woman in God in this way:

As persons the spouses entrust themselves not only to the beloved “thou” and to the biological laws of fertility and family; they entrust themselves foremost to a form with which they can wholly identify themselves even in the deepest aspects of their personality because this form extends through all the levels of life – from its biological

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roots up to the very heights of grace and of life in the Holy Spirit.7

As a man and woman grow in an interior knowledge of being loved together by God and in their love for each other, this love is called forth to join in oneness to others. Through realising their shared identity in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit opens their hearts to extend love to others whom they encounter. By drawing others into the hospitality of the home of their own relationship, they gather them to the home of the Father’s love. In this way, they make the body of Christ a reality through their love and incarnate the union between Christ and his Church. As they become one body in Christ, they enable the greater realisation of the oneness of the body of Christ in the larger world, which is realised in mutually supportive acts of loving kindness and of hospitality to others. Pope Francis states that the sacrament of marriage makes visible the grace granted to them “to become a domestic church and a leaven of new life for society”.8 In so doing, man and woman, as one and as one with God’s incarnate love, draw all of us to each other and to God, which is the heart of the divine plan to be fulfilled in eternity.

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