Sunday, August 19, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Throwing Out 2000 Years of Catholic Teaching
Michael J. Lawler and Gail S. Risch writing in U.S. Catholic Magazine, a publication of the Claretian Missionaries, propose that living together (and being sexually active) before marriage is not living in sin. I don't think so.
The authors begin their discussion by citing some of their research. First, they conducted focus groups:
Recent focus groups of young Catholic adults on “problematic aspects of church teaching” found that they disagreed with church teaching on premarital sex and cohabitation and do not see a fundamental difference in a loving relationship before and after a wedding.
Young Catholics disagree with the Church? I suppose it is time to change 2000 years of tradition to accommodate the desires of the young and poorly catechized.
But wait, there is also a recent study that pre-marital co-habitation may not be as destructive to marriage as was once thought:
The most recent and respected marriage research identifies two kinds of cohabitors: those who are not committed to marriage, whom we name “non-nuptial cohabitors,” and those already committed to marriage, perhaps even engaged, whom we name “nuptial cohabitors.”
Although only non-nuptial cohabitation is linked to an increased likelihood of divorce after marriage, the fact that many Catholics believe otherwise leaves current pastoral responses to cohabiting couples both uninformed and outdated.
Even if this most recent research is true, why should it affect Christ's teaching on marriage? The belief that the practical consequences of pre-marital cohabitation may not be as dramatic as we once thought does not change the spiritual consequences of sin. It also has no bearing on the multitude of other good reasons to save sex for marriage.
On this shaky ground, the authors propose reinstating a 12th century catholic betrothal ritual:
Our pastoral proposal is straightforward: a return to the marital sequence of betrothal (with appropriate ritual to ensure community involvement), sexual intercourse, possible fertility, then ritual wedding to acknowledge and mark the consummation of both valid marriage and sacrament.
The authors claim this is acceptable because the couple gives their consent to marry. The only difference between this and traditional marriage is that the couple is giving their consent in the future tense. Nice wordplay. "No really sweetie, we'll make this official soon. Now let's have sex."
In their view this is not a sin:
Since these couples will have already initiated their marriage through betrothal, their intercourse would not be premarital but marital, as it was in the pre-Tridentine Catholic Church.
Let's grant them that point for now. The authors further claim their proposal is well grounded in 12th century theology and Canon Law:
In the 12th century, Gratian, the master of the school of law at the Catholic University of Bologna, introduced a compromise in the debate between the Romans and the northern Europeans over what brought about marriage. That compromise, still embodied in the Code of Canon Law (canon 1061), is that mutual consent makes a marriage ratified and valid, and sexual intercourse makes it ratified and consummated and, therefore, indissoluble. [emphasis mine]
So let me get this straight. Couples declare their consent to marry (in the future) which makes their marriage valid. Then they have sex which makes their marriage indissoluble. It sounds like normal marriage to me. Why not just get married?
The answer is sneaked in after a long stretch of rationalizations. Betrothal is different because it is dissoluble:
For those nuptial cohabitors who do not proceed to a wedding, their martial relationship begun at betrothal would not be consummated and would therefore be dissoluble according to Canon 1142.
There lies the authors' fundamental contradiction. According to Gratian, the authors' 12th century theologian hero, consummation of a marriage happens during sexual intercourse, not during a wedding ceremony. Sex within marriage makes the marriage indissoluble.
Either a betrothed couple's sexual relations are martial or non marital. I believe the latter, but let's assume the former for the sake of argument. If two betrothed couples have marital sexual relations, then their intercourse consummates the marriage (even a future marriage) and makes it indissoluble at that point. To claim otherwise would be to admit that their sexual relations were non marital and therefore a sin.
The authors cannot have it both ways. Either sex makes the betrothal indissoluble, or sex makes the betrothal sinful. The former sounds a lot like traditional marriage. The latter is living in sin.
Despite their rationalization to the contrary, the authors' proposal is far from modest. They seek to take a sacred act of sexual intercourse outside the indissoluble bond of life-long marriage. The good news is that this immodest proposal is not likely to gain traction within the Catholic Church.
It should not come as a shock that the authors "are researchers at the Center for Marriage and Family at Creighton University, Nebraska, where they also teach theology." Creighton University is a school "in the Jesuit tradition."
Monday, August 06, 2007
I'll post something more serious soon...
But for now, this comes to us from Father Chad:
One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex standing in the foyer of the church staring up at a large plaque. It was covered with names with small American flags mounted on either side of it.
The seven year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, "Good morning Alex."
"Good morning Pastor Dave, what is this?" he asked the pastor.
The pastor said, "Well, son, it's a memorial plaque to all the young men and women who died in the Service."
Soberly, they just stood together, staring at the large plaque. Finally, little Alex's voice, barely audible and trembling with fear, asked, "Which service, the 8:30 or the 10:45?"
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Thank God for small blessings......
There was common Catholic blog theme a couple of weeks back, in which each blogger listed the "Five Things I Love About Jesus". I thought about joining in here on Tom and Jerry, but I really couldn't come up with anything that wasn't already said, and said better, somewhere else. Mostly, I love that He puts up with me. Other than that, I'm not sure where to go next.
However, being the media culture maven that I am, a thought did cross my mind as I was foraging through the magazine racks at the local Gas-N-Sip: I love that He came 2000 years ago and not today. In our age of media frenzy, I can only imagine how the life of Christ would play out in 21st century media and culture:
Unwed Virgin Teen Miraculously Conceives: Is She On Steriods?
Unwed Virgin Teen Miraculously Conceives
Inspired, HBO Plans Mini-Series “Sex In Judea”
Miraculous Conception Proof Of Global Warming Says Al Gore
Patriarchal Savior Born After Teen Fails To Exercise Her Right To Choose
Three Kings Bring Child Gifts Of Gold, Frankencense, And Myrrh
Millions Wonder “What The Hell Are Frankencense And Myrrh?”
Jesus, Missing For 3 Days, Found by Parents In Temple
Child Services Notified
ACLU Sues To Prevent Jesus From Attending Public Schools
Jesus Tempted To Turn Stones To Bread
Lack Of Bread In Desert Proof Of Global Warming Says Al Gore
‘Temptation In Desert’ Accounts “Too Biased Against Devil” Say Modern Moralists
“Jesus And Satan Just Have Different Truths”
Jesus Forgives Prostitute
Inspired, HBO Plans Mini-Series “Hookers In Jerusalem”
Jesus Walks On Water: Is He On Steriods?
No Scientific Explanation For Jesus Walking On Water
“We’ll make one up” vow Skeptics
Entire World Watches Sermon On The Mount Webcast
Report: Only People On Earth Not Watching Were On Notre Dame Football Message Board Arguing About Future Football Schedules
Jesus’ Friend Lazarus Dies
Bush To Blame
Jesus Brings Lazarus Back To Life
Bush Deserves Credit
Jesus Names Fisherman As 'Rock' Of New Church
PETA, Greenpeace Outraged
Tonight at 8:30pm Eastern -
Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame Judas For Betraying Jesus
Jesus Stripped And Beaten
Inspired, HBO Plans Mini-Series “G-String Divas In Bondage”
Vote: Who’s “Now”? ____ Jesus ____Barabbas
Johnnie Cochran Represents Caiaphas At Jesus’ Trial
Tells Pilate “Jesus Ain’t Our Guy, So You Must Crucify”
Coverage On ABC:
Voiceover: “This crucifixion brought to you by Ace Hardware.....”
New York Times:
Women And Minorities Affected Most
Darkness, Earthquakes Accompanying Jesus’ Death Proof Of Global Warming Says Al Gore
Jesus Rises From Dead: Is He The Best Savior Ever?
Real Explanation For Jesus’ Resurrection Appearances
“500 People All Had Identical Hallucinations At Same Time. No, really.” claim Skeptics
Coverage On ABC:
Voiceover: "This resurrection from the dead brought to you by Viagra....."
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Heaven's Special Child
A meeting was held quite far from earth,
It’s time again for another birth.
Said the angels to the Lord above;
This special child will need much love
His progress may be very slow,
Accomplishments he may not show.
And he’ll require extra care,
From the folks he meets down there,
He may not run or laugh or play,
His thoughts may seem quite far away.
In many ways he won’t adapt, and he’ll
Be known as handicapped.
So let’s be careful where he is sent, we want
His life to be content.
Please, Lord, find the good friends who, will
Do a special job for you.
They will not realize it right away, the leading
Role they’re asked to play.
But with this child sent from above, comes
Stronger faith and richer love.
And soon they will know the privileges given,
In caring for their gift from Heaven.
Their precious charge, so meek and mild, in
Heaven’s very special child.
God bless you who raise kids with special needs.