The strenuous and multiple efforts by many of us to protect the family has taken a new turn: protecting the definition of marriage as a permanent union of one man with one woman. The Minnesota Catholic bishops are stepping forward in this effort and catechizing all of us regarding the natural and sacramental natures of marriage. They are feeling the need to do so because of the political pressure to alter basic social structures on which the common good is established.
I began by saying that many of us have been strenuosly working to protect the family. This certainly is the case of those in my profession as a social worker and a marriage and family therapist. While I clearly disagree with some of the positions my professional credentialing organizations have taken in this area, I also am aware of the amount of time, energy and money that is being spent on trying to keep families and marriages functioning in our contemporary society.
We reap what we have sown. I believe the seeds of the assault on the definition of marriage were planted back in the 1960s, when we began to see a loosening of the fabric of the nuclear family, an acceptance of divorce as being a rather natural and expected outcome of marriage, and the rise of the contraceptive/abortion mentality among so many. We began to devalue children, and more and more misread their needs, in our effort to free ourselves from responsibilities and obligations. We rather quickly, in the broad scope of human history, moved to a disavowal of the natural law embedded in our human nature, and an acceptance of the tyranny of indifference, succinctly defined as I and my personal experience are the author of what is good and right and I am indifferent to any other authority that may draw me out of myself and toward an objective common good for all.
To destroy marriage as uniquely a relationship between one man and one woman is in effect to destroy what is good for our children and what is fundamentally and naturally good for all of us.
Many will want to make this out to be an issue of civil rights. It is not. Marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities and thus demand different legal recognitions. Civilly and morally, society must recognize this difference. The married conjugal union of a man and a woman is essentally different from the relationship of two men or two women.
Society has a vital interest recognizing and supporting marriage as a union of one man with one woman. It has a vital interest in supporting what is necessary for healthy human development in our children — the presence of a father and a mother. For too long, we have seen the results of absent fathers and mothers in the lives of children.