Reciprocal Responsibilities of Society and Marriage

So much clamor nowadays is heard from various sectors about having the “right” to marry.  

It is true that men and women have a natural right to marry as long as there are no impediments to it. Such impediments include, but are not limited to, consanguinity (close blood relationships), existing marriage to another person, not of sufficient age, psychological immaturity, lack of freedom, impotency, or unwillingness to accept children naturally born from the conjugal act between the marital couple. If one is free from impediments and have the proper intention and preparation, one has a right to marry.

As mentioned in a previous post, society has the responsibility to support and safeguard this right and in doing so, protect marriage and family as it is the natural foundation of society. Married couples have a right to expect such safeguards and social support.

But have we ever thought about the responsibilities married men and women have to society? Do we consider that there is a reciprocal responsibility between society and married couples?

We who are married have the responsibility to maintain and secure a stable relationship with our husbands or wives for several reasons. Certainly to provide an enriching environment for our children so they may mature and develop into healthy individuals capable of adding to the common good of society as a whole, but also, to provide stability and continuity to the communities and societies in which we live. We not only enjoy the benefits of social recognition and protection, but we have the responsibility to add to the common good of our brothers and sisters. 

The recognition of marriage as a union of one man with one woman is not only about a personal commitment, but also about the social commitment that the husband and wife make to the well-being of society.

These questions then arise: “What contribution can and ought a union of man with woman make to the common good of society? What contribution can and ought a committed relationship between same-sex persons make to the common good?” 

I would argue that they essentially differ, for they are essentially different relationships. Because of this essential difference, they do not share a common definition, nor should they enjoy a common recognition.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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