Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My answers to questions about gay "marriage"

Have a seat, this is a long one. Here is a list of the questions I come across most often, with my brief answers:


"Why are you against gay marriage?"

It's not that I am against gay "marriage" per se, it's that gay "marriage" is an ontological impossibility. It's like asking why I am against square circles. Marriage has an essence, a meaning. It has always been a certain kind of union of persons, specifically a conjugal union rooted in biology itself; it is complementary and heterosexual by its very nature. The particulars of marriage contracts have varied over time and cultures, but the essence of male/female has not. Brides have always presupposed grooms.

The fact that marriage is a "universal" throughout human history indicates something huge, namely the recognition that this one particular type of personal relationship is unique among all others: It is naturally ordered toward procreation. That children result from the union of man and woman (now mother and father) is the foundational reason that human societies have had an interest in protecting, elevating, and/or providing benefits for this type of union. 

Without this sexual complementarity, and without the ability to consummate a marriage, there can be no marriage. With bodies of the same sex, the marital act cannot be completed and consummation is not possible. A bride implies a groom in the same way that a lock implies a key. Two locks make no sense together. Two keys make no sense together. The union of husband and wife, like the integration of lock and key, is a relationship different from any other. 


"But what about heterosexual couples who are infertile? 
They are allowed to marry even though they can't procreate!"

The completed sexual union of male and female is always ordered toward procreation, even if the couple does not actually conceive a child. Age or illness or a defect in the reproductive system may make individual unions infertile, but that doesn't change the nature of the act, which is ordered toward generation. Producing children is not the basis of a valid marriage, the conjugal union is. Whether or not children are conceived is beyond human control. It's not the conception of children that makes a marriage, it's the total, one-flesh union of husband and wife. The conjugal union itself, not the fruit of the union, is the seal of the marriage. 

And as we've all known infertile couples who've eventually conceived years or even decades after their weddings, we can never say with certainty who will or will not be childless. God and nature have ways of surprising us. However, we can say with complete certainty that two men will never conceive a child from their sexual acts, nor will two women. The sexual "union" of two men or two women is always barren, as nature and right order would have it. It's the way it's supposed to be.


"What about men and women who are handicapped and 
not able to consummate? Are you saying that they cannot be married?"

This is a very delicate subject to discuss precisely because we have forgotten that marriage is a conjugal union. If there is no possibility of a conjugal union, not even one time, then the essence of marriage is missing. A relationship between two people without the ability to have sexual intercourse (i.e., to become "one flesh") is called a friendship. That sounds cold to the modern ear, since we want everyone to feel good and "be happy". But feeling good at the expense of what is true can never satisfy, not ultimately.

Impotence or the inability to consummate is an impediment to the Sacrament of Matrimony for sure, but even the secular state will annul a civil marriage on the basis of non-consummation.

Now, with today's technology, thank God, there are many ways to cure impotence and allow for marital relations, and that is a blessing.


"So you think marriage is all about sex! 
Can't you see it's about love?"

No, marriage is not "all about sex", of course, but sex is an intrinsic part of marriage. As mentioned above, a close and intimate relationship without sex is called a friendship, and neither church nor state would have reason to validate or elevate or give special status to that, as wonderful as friendship is.

Also, while romantic feelings (what people usually mean these days when they talk about "love") are ideal and desired between spouses, they've never, ever been a prerequisite for valid marriage. To say so would be to deny that many of our own ancestors (and even some of our parents and grandparents!) were actually married. My grandparents, for example, did not know each other well when they became husband and wife. Yet they were married for over fifty years and had many children and grandchildren (and great-grandchildren, and now great-great-grandchildren). A romantic feeling at the time of their wedding was not a requirement for a valid marriage.

Heck, if you ask Golde and Tevye (you all are huge Fiddler on the Roof fans like me, right??), they'd say their marriage turned out just fine, even though they met on their wedding day:

(Yes, I know they are fictional, but they are also representative. And you might notice that their understanding of love is closer to what authentic love actually is: A choice, and a willing of the other's good, not a "feeling".)


"But the state says that gay people can marry, 
so that means they can!"

There are many things the state has said that are legal fictions, i.e., that are not true or based in reality. For only a small example, governments have declared at various times that certain human beings are less human than others (slaves, Jews, the unborn), or that women are men and men are women (transgender laws). None of those laws can change reality. The law is not magic, and it cannot make black people less human, it cannot make women turn into men, and it cannot make marriage between two men (or two women) possible. The state can play with words, but it cannot change essences. The playing with words is a problem unto itself, and we should be very wary when any political agenda bursts forth in a frenzy, redefining a word to mean something foreign to anything it has meant before.

So, when someone says to me, "Look, if the state says two men are married, then they're married!" this is what I hear:

"Look, if the state says that a woman is now a man, then the woman is now a man!"
"Look, if the state says that all chairs are now clocks, then they are!"
"Look, if the state says that Jews are not human, then they aren't human!"
"Look, if the state says that black people can be the property of others, then they can be!"
"Look, if the state says that the unborn are not human beings, then they aren't!"

(Four out of five of those "truths" have happened, by the way.)

I teach my children not to lie. I will not go along with a lie. I will not teach my children to go along with a lie.

Marriage is pre-political -- no state invented it, nor can any state redefine it. Heck, even the etymology of the words "marry" and "matrimony" (derived from the word "mother") excludes the very concept of a homosexual "marriage".

Of course, the government can give out specific benefits and services to whomever it wishes (that's within its legitimate authority), but what it cannot do is redefine an institution that it did not create in the first place.

We may not legitimately demand the change of a thing's essence, simply because we have strong "feelings" about what we want. The truth about marriage is what Hillary Clinton so eloquently stated just a few years ago, before her "evolution"* on the issue. She believed:

"...the fundamental bedrock principle that [marriage] exists between a man and a woman going back into the mists of history, as one of the founding foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization, and that its primary, principle role during those millennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society in which they are to become adults.”
“Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman.” 

Politicians cannot suddenly pass a law or judges sign some papers and change the truth of it.


"Why not support civil unions if you can't support gay marriage?"

That was tried and it didn't work well, to say the least. Clearly, gay rights advocates were not satisfied with that accommodation, as they barreled right past that and now demand that the word "marriage" apply to gay unions. Gay unions must be seen as on par with and equal to true marriage. Nothing less will be tolerated.

But even before the demands for full "marriage" recognition came, the problems with civil union laws were evident, as they effectively forced the closure of Catholic ministries, including foster care and adoption agencies, some of which had been serving the needy in their communities for a century. This happened despite the fraudulent assurances by the civil union supporters that the law would have no effect on faith-based services [which only begins to answer another common question, "How does gay 'marriage' affect you, anyway?"]

Ultimately, the concept of civil unions was always just a stepping stone to the bigger prize, and it never protected religious liberty or traditional marriage anyway.


"You should be concerned about all the ways that heterosexuals have weakened marriage!"

Oh, I am incredibly concerned about that! Divorce (especially the pernicious "no-fault" divorce), adultery, polygamy, swinging, pre-marital sex, contraception and abortion, etc.... All of that has harmed the institution of marriage and, of course, children. However, just because we've severely damaged marriage, that's no argument for demolishing it completely! The proper response to the sad state of marriage today is to strengthen it, not un-define it into oblivion. 

Besides, every marriage that is weak, irregular, or even broken has at least the potential to be strengthened, regularized and restored. But with two men (or two women), there is no potential for marriage in the first place (see #1). 


"The Church cannot impose her views of marriage on society!"

There are a couple of things wrong with this argument. First, no one is saying that all Americans should be married in a Catholic Church and have a sacramental marriage. In fact, the Church herself recognizes the valid marriages of billions who are not Catholic or even Christian. Valid marriages do not have to be sacramental. 

Second, the idea of the Church "imposing" the heterosexual nature of marriage is silly. One cannot impose something that has always been there. One cannot impose the status quo. The imposition, as I have written about before, is coming only from one side, and it's not coming from the Church. 

And of course there is the question of atheist regimes, which do not recognize gay "marriage". How can that be explained? Certainly, no one is going to try to blame the Catholic Church for that, right? After all, atheistic regimes are all about condemning and persecuting the Church, not acquiescing to her.

Clearly, marriage as conjugal union is a natural law issue and not a "Catholic" issue.


"Why do you talk about gay marriage so much?"

I wish you could see my face right now. How I wish and even fervently pray that I would never have to speak or write on this topic ever again. It's a cultural obsession (not too strong a word!), with the elites' only aim to beat us down into silence and/or submission on this topic. We are not to utter a peep against gay "marriage", or we will pay a price, whether that price is simply ridicule, mocking, and harassment, or a more serious penalty such as loss of friends, family, job opportunities, or livelihood. Perhaps jail one day? I wouldn't bet against it. 

I long for the days where gay "marriage" was not integrated into every news story, every college course, every television show, every court case, every sports event, every holiday, every legislative session, small school children's textbooks, car commercials, hamburger wrappers, etc., etc., etc.

I have gay "marriage" fatigue  (like everyone else I know), and yet there is no option but to speak for what is True, because that's who we are as Catholics. It's what we are called to do, in season and out. We won't hurt you or hate you or ask the government to fine you or ruin you if you disagree with us, but we will speak the Truth in love, because lies are no good for anyone. It is always better to understand what a thing is, and then to use that thing according to its nature. That is how human beings and human societies flourish, after all.

This is a blog about ideas and about truth. We dialogue here as mature adults (I hope), striving to draw closer to what is True, Good, and Beautiful. I assume that my readers are Truth-seekers on some level. None of what I have said above should be construed as "hateful" or "bigoted" or "mean". It is neither mean nor hateful to say that a dog is not a cat, or that a man is not a woman, or that a chair is not a clock.

Love is not a feeling. Marriage is not a construct. Society's very foundation may not be un-defined on a whim of "But I want it!" Happiness cannot be found by going against our human nature and dignity. Truth does not change. All of this must be talked about. And as much as I don't want to, I will continue to talk about it, because marriage is just that important.

*Can "evolution", by its nature, be something abrupt? A quick, 180-degree turn on a dime? I guess for politicians it can....

Related posts:   Should the Children Sit Down and Shut Up?
                           Was Jesus Really Silent on Same-Sex "Marriage"?


Monday, July 21, 2014

Please read, and act.

This tears at my heart, as my own ancestors hailed from Mosul, in what is now Iraq.

The Christian community there is ancient -- nearly 2,000 years old, almost as old as Christianity itself. But this cradle of Christianity may soon be eliminated, as the terrorists of ISIS are now driving out or executing the last Christians still living in the region. Very few people in the western media are watching or reporting, but we need to be aware of what is happening to our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are on the cross and it is agony.

From The Anchoress:

If you want news on this impending genocide, thank God for the Near-Eastern press because the Western leadership hasn’t much to say about it, and the press coverage is rather thin. Nothing like the saturation coverage of the World Cup, or the launch of a Beyonce album.

This is the latest piece I could find from Western media: The last Christians in northern Iraq are fleeing from places where their communities have lived for almost 2,000 years, as a deadline passed for them to either convert to Islam, pay a special tax or be killed.

One of Christendom’s oldest and deepest roots is being ripped from an ancient garden, and many in positions of power, even among so-called “Christian” nations, seem content to let it go unremarked upon and unchallenged.

Perhaps they feel inadequate to the task of pleading on these Christians' behalf.

Perhaps they believe that any engagement in their defense would embroil them in a larger conflict they are unwilling to face — as though mad tyranny will simply burn itself out if left uncontested.

Perhaps they think there is nothing to be done but fling hands to heaven, in which case they expose not only a lack of imagination, but a distinct misunderstanding of time and space, which they want to accept as linear.

Read it all, and five things you can do to help, here:

Pray for the Body of Christ. We are one, and we are suffering.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Quick Takes: More life updates....


So many life changes lately (you're going to want to read #4), but one that has left me heartbroken is the closing of my younger kids' little Catholic school. We were like family, and now we will all be scattered. I can't even really talk about it.

Surveying all my options, I've decided that beginning next month I will be doing what I said I'd never do again...homeschooling! And you know what? I'm actually getting pretty excited about it! I always say, I can do anything for a year. So, one year at a time, and we'll see what God has in store as we go along.

I will be using Catholic Heritage Curricula, if anyone wants to know. It is clean and simple, which is just my style.


This fall was to be the first time in 23 years that I would have had no one in the house during the day. I'm not gonna lie; I was looking forward to those many hours alone. Instead, I will have more people in the house than I did last year, and right as I am starting a masters degree program! I dreamed of a quiet, empty house to get my work done and papers written (instead of typing away at night, like I'm doing now, and never getting quite enough sleep). I even dreamed I'd have tons more time for blogging. Ha ha, I am just laughing at God's funny ways. Okay, God, I am sure you know what you are doing! Jesus, I trust in you.


About five months ago now, my daughter's fiancé (now husband) injured his back. It's been a terrible ordeal, which brought with it a change in his Navy orders among other things. He was able to get through the wedding last month with grit and grace and a transcendent joy, but soon he will be undergoing back surgery to relieve his pain, as months of physical therapy has not done the trick. Would you wonderful people offer a quick prayer for him, his surgeons, and his new bride? We would be most appreciative!


Aaaaaaaand, since it's already Facebook official, I am ecstatic to announce that the newlyweds are... drum roll, drum roll, can you guess?? ...expecting a baby!!!!!!

YES, I am over the moon, and so are they! And yes it was very quick, just like her older sister, who also conceived a honeymoon baby! I guess it's a tag team thing? Older daughter gets married; nine months later, younger daughter gets married. Older daughter has a baby; nine months later younger daughter has a baby. Thank you for prayers, and for sharing in our joy! It's been a whirlwind of emotions and I am still trying to catch my breath! Thanks be to God for all of it. Including...



Here's what I said on Facebook:
The girls' room now stands stripped and mostly empty. Soon to be transformed into a guestroom. My feelings alternate between melancholy and anticipation. It occurs to me that that is the state of every soul as we work our way through this world to the next, no?
In the end, everything really is theological. And it all has meaning at the level of our souls. I am going to miss my daughters terribly. Neither one will be living within driving distance. But there can be found great joy in suffering. It's what we know as Catholics, it's what the saints have taught us, and it makes everything okay.


Johanne requested more pictures of my adorable and perfect granddaughter Felicity, so here are a few....

She was still pretty skinny and new here, Little Miss Frog Legs, 
being held by one of her many proud uncles!

"Back off, paparazzi!" 
(She was actually sleeping in this suspended animation. Or else she is a mime.)

Hey, what's wrong with a cardigan in July in Phoenix? 
She'll outgrow it by fall, and it's just too cute not to wear.

Wait... you wanted a photo with her eyes open? 
It's tough to get, but here you go. 
She's at her first girls' lunch! 

Isn't she a sweetie pie and the best baby in the world??????? Grandma thinks so!!!


As many of you know, I reserve Quick Take #7 for the promotion of adoption, mostly special needs and international adoption. Today I want to share with you an amazing series of blog posts by a huge friend of the Bubble (and now a personal friend), Annie, who is in China adopting two precious babies. 

She writes beautifully, her descriptions of the regions are riveting, and her photographs are so good that I will be using them with my children for homeschooling. Check it out, and praise God! Infertility is a heartbreak beyond words, and yet look at what the Lord has done for this beautiful family of (now) seven:

(You didn't miss the centipedes on a stick, did you??)


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my first on-time Friday Quick Takes in I don't know how long! Have a great weekend, and thanks to Jen for hosting! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Just Curious: What are YOU up to?

So, you guys have heard a lot about my life lately, and it's been really fun sharing the big events with my wonderful blog family.

But now it's time to hear about you!

I'm just curious...

What is going on in your life? Have you had any milestones lately? Are you celebrating any special blessings? Are you doing anything adventurous this summer? Have you lost a loved one that you would like us to pray for, or have you been struggling with something lately?

Fill us in! I'd love to share in your joy and also pray with you through your sorrows, and I know the rest of the readers would, too. Life is not meant to be walked alone, and I love getting to know you all better.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Quick Takes: The Groom sees his Bride!


I don't normally post personal videos on the blog, but the groom wanted me to make this one public. 

There is that magical moment at every wedding when the bridegroom sees his bride for the very first time. The video below captures that moment, and the groom's reaction has actually made people (who don't even know the couple) cry. Not kidding. The pure love and elation that breaks on his face at the moment he sees my daughter cannot adequately be described in words, but my new son-in-law attempted it anyway: 
It was like an ocean of happiness poured down upon me all at once, and I was filled with a crushing joy....
If you can't wait, go to the 3:50 mark and enjoy! 

(And yes, my son the ring bearer's pants were apparently falling off, so kudos to Matthew for holding on tight and doing his duty valiantly anyway.)


So, I watched that magical moment on video about a hundred times, and then as Divine Providence would have it, someone posted a four-year-old article on Facebook that speaks directly to the heart of what was being established at the nuptial mass and also explains the look on the bridegroom's face, both in the video and below.

The truth about woman as bride

An excerpt:
“The Bridegroom is the one who loves. The Bride is loved: it is she who receives love, in order to love in return.” (Dignity and Vocation of Women, 29, St. John Paul II) 
That is, that the essence of marriage reveals the nature of man and woman: the man gives the gift of himself to the woman, who receives it in order to return it – and this relationship also forms an image of the spousal meaning of Christ’s union with the Church. The Bridegroom is the man, and also Christ. The Bride is the woman, and also the Church. 
And furthermore, if in His image God made him, male and female He made them, and God’s reality is Trinitarian, then the image is Trinitarian also. Not identity – equal plus equal, congruent, the same – but giving, receiving in order to return the gift, and the gift. Equal but different. 
You see?

Yes, I think I do.


Sometimes with transcendent joy comes acute sadness. As full to bursting as my heart was at the wedding and reception, it was also aching -- because we knew that this beginning would end with a good-bye on the same day. After the reception (and after many tears from her parents and siblings), our daughter and her new husband left immediately for their home in Charleston where the groom is stationed in the Navy. Charleston is not around the corner from Phoenix.

Mommies' hearts do funny and unexpected things when their babies finally fly away. I wasn't expecting it to hurt this much, but how can I be sad? Everyone said they have never seen a happier bride, and I must agree. These two are without guile, she a walking smile and he a walking heart. I am so very grateful to Our Lord and Our Lady that they found one another. I miss them. But they have something to do in the world, namely, to radiate God's love and goodness to everyone they meet. I wish you all knew them. 


Now, as you may know, there is a little something that has kept me from dwelling on my younger daughter's absence, and that little something is named Felicity Virginia: 

Grandma loves you!!

I will not think on the fact that she and her mommy and daddy will themselves be moving away in mere weeks.... Pray for me to not be such a wimp about saying good-bye again. I am incredibly blessed, and I know it. And it will be great being the only female in a house full of males... correct??

By the way, a shout out to my amazing older daughter who served as Matron of Honor at three days postpartum. She is a better woman than I! 


I think we all need to tattoo this on our inner arms:

Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life; rather look to them with full hope that as they arise God, Whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms. Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cared for you today will take care of you then and every day.    -- St. Francis de Sales


I just had to post this meme 1) because I find it hilarious and 2) because it cuts through all the nonsense of the Hobby Lobby decision hysteria:

C'mon, you know it's funny.


There are bigger problems in this world than (chronologically) adult women in America who can't get people to pay for their contraception. For example, two-year-old Frankie needs a family!

Frankie loves to dance, and his favorite toys are cars! Who can resist him?? Please click here for more information, and let's pray that his family finds him soon!

God bless you all and thanks to Jen for hosting!

PS: I will post professional pics of the wedding when we get them! :)