Should The State Get Out of the Marriage Business?

Wednesday, March 18, AD 2009

As people wait for the results of the California Supreme Court’s review of Prop 8, Douglas Kmiec and one of his Pepperdine Law collegues have put out a proposal that the government get out of the marriage business entirely, and instead bestow “civil union” certificates on households of any configuration or persuasion.

Instead, give gay and straight couples alike the same license, a certificate confirming them as a family, and call it a civil union — anything, really, other than marriage. For people who feel the word marriage is important, the next stop after the courthouse could be the church, where they could bless their union with all the religious ceremony they wanted. Religions would lose nothing of their role in sanctioning the kinds of unions that they find in keeping with their tenets. And for nonbelievers and those who find the word marriage less important, the civil-union license issued by the state would be all they needed to unlock the benefits reserved in most states and in federal law for married couples.

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27 Responses to Should The State Get Out of the Marriage Business?

  • Just to be clear, you’re advocating that the government recognize what we call “natural marriage” because that is the only path that respects both marital dignity and does not allow — on a widescale — activity and arrangements sanctioned by the state as permissible when it contradicts our basic human nature? Yes? If so, I agree.

  • Yes.

    I suppose to be really precise: I’m saying that we as Catholics should advocate that the state define marriage as what we recognize as “natural marriage”.

    We shouldn’t just cede the point and say, “It doesn’t matter what the state calls marriage or if there even is a civil marriage, because we as Catholics define marriage in our own sacramental way which isn’t the same as civil marriage.”

    Because we as Catholics see natural marriage as a moral good and potential channel of grace, we should exert all possible efforts to keep marriage as it is recognized by the boarder society in keeping with our understanding of natural marriage.

  • How would the civil acknowledgement of permanent, gay unions actually do harm natural marriages?

  • is that a real question?

  • Yes. Based on DCs explicit reasoning, the question is still not answered.

    This says nothing one way or the other about my own beliefs on the matter.

  • How would the civil acknowledgement of permanent, gay unions actually do harm natural marriages?

    I’m not sure that’s exactly the right question. My claim isn’t that “gay marriage” would hurt natural marriages (as in, couples with natural marriages) but rather that from a Catholic point of view we should seek to maintain in the wider society a cultural understanding of marriage which is as close as possible to the Catholic understanding of natural marriage.

    Natural marriage is just that: Natural. A pair of human mates. And so as such it’s necessarily between a man and a woman.

    So my reason why it would be problematic to acknowledge gay unions as if they were marriages is that it sends the wrong cultural message as to what marriage is. And when people have a wrong understanding of what a fundamental social institution is, it will end up hurting them and society as a whole.

  • Mark,

    If the state sanctions something, it is considered to be a right, or a good. We would, in effect, be recognizing all couples as equal, when in a sense a same-sex union is not equal to a heterosexual union, though all people are equal in dignity. It is a false anthropological and ontological presumption.

    It is the epitome of relativism in that everyone vows to kill the debate rather than find the moral virtue to debate toward the truth in a civil manner. The sense of peace is a false one, based entirely on a false premise — that all unions are equal and that the state should make no sort of moral presumptions.

    Additionally, these unions are what creates families and it will open the wrong door in the debate over gay adoption. If the state treats all couples equally, then there is no reason why gays should be prevented from adopting; at best, religious and private institutions wouldn’t have to participate. In essence, the common good is entirely undermined. Revelation set aside, it occurs to me as a homosexual, that the psychological and sociological evidence have not confirmed (nor as a Catholic trusting in the truths of my faith do I suspect they will) that children being raised by same-sex parents will grow up no differently than children raised by parents of the opposite sex — which reflects the natural design in which children are biologically created. In some sense, children are reaffirmed as commodities that people have a “right” to and not as precious gifts. The reason that our culture is suffering right now is particularly founded in our misunderstanding of marriage and family — from the intrinsic feature of bearing and rearing children as a part of married life. Our contraceptive mentality has opened the door to see marriage just as a personal fulfillment with no intrinsic obligations as MM suggested and the result is, there should be no reason to exclude anyone from it.

    The point is this: if we were to have the state adopt a marriage neutral stance, we would be at the point of America over a generation ago when contraception was introduced as a moral-neutral choice for couples, which has done nothing but spiral into an out of control erosion of the family and marital dignity.

    The solution to our cultural struggle doesn’t strike me as a compromise more interested in “peace,” in the sense that no one argues or debates about it, but rather to seek by just means, a recognition of this basic natural institution of marriage that is knowable to some extent by reason. For if we continue to allow our culture to ignore and deny the existence of fundamental truths, we further obscure our sense of God and human nature and are only failing ourselves in trying to save as many souls as possible by relativizing the truth for the sake of not arguing about it.

    Such relativism is already expressed in the terrible misconceptions of American legal positivism. In the Supreme Court case, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, it was stated in the ruling that: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” This may in fact be the moment where relativism was in itself enshrined into law, where the autonomous man now is convinced that we have the right to define — not discover — the truths, moral or otherwise, of the universe. Unless we are willing to admit that there are moral truths written onto the very fabric of our human nature and live according to them, there will be no true human flourishing and we only damn ourselves, if not by God’s mercy in the next life, certainly with more problems and moral qualms in this one.

  • Although I agree that the state OUGHT to affirm only natural, opposite-sex marriage as “marriage,” I also believe that given the state of current legal precedent, legal recognition of same-sex marriage is probably inevitable, barring some kind of miracle.

    In fact, civil marriage as we know it today already has lost all of the elements Catholic teaching says are essential to marriage — permanency, fidelity, and openness to children. No-fault divorce killed the first two elements, and abortion/contraception killed the third.

    Personally I think it was no-fault divorce (which freed couples of having to prove some kind of justifying serious reason to divorce, and allowed them to dissolve marriages by mutual consent, or simply at the whim of whichever spouse wanted out), rather than contraception (which, let’s face it, a lot of couples probably practiced on the sly anyway), that really started marriage on a downhill slide. No-fault divorce makes marriage one of the few, if perhaps the only, legal contract that CANNOT be enforced against the party that wants to break it.

    DC, you argue that recognizing gay unions “sends the wrong cultural message” regarding what marriage is. I say, no-fault divorce already did that. The horse is, in essence, already out the barn door.

    With that in mind, I could accept some kind of arrangement under which everyone — gay, straight, platonic or whatever — can legally enter a civil union or partnership that makes the participants each other’s next of kin, and is not called “marriage”, as a lesser evil to simply being forced to recognize same-sex unions as legal “marriage.”

    A complete separation between religious and civil marriage — such as exists in other countries where religiously observant couples go through two ceremonies and clergy do not sign off on marriage licenses or certificates — may end up being necessary if only to protect religious marriage from the encroachment of the state, which will, I am sure, eventually demand that anyone who performs legal, state-sanctioned marriages must not “discriminate” against gay couples.

  • Heck, if the state is going to get out of the marriage business, why go half way? Really get out of it–no civil marriage, no civil unions, no joint tax filing, no marriage penalty, no civil divorce, no guaranteed inheritance. Require everybody not related by blood who wants to form a partnership of any kind to go through the trouble of enshrining it in legal conracts and powers of attorney. Leave “marriage” to the churches, where it might actually mean something. Fewer people will marry–but chances are fewer will divorce.

  • Elaine’s right about no-fault–that’s what started this on the slide to hell. The real battle needs to be a gradual rollback of no-fault.

    I somewhat sympathize with cminor’s idea, but I’d like to try something else first–a two-tiered marriage system, like that which exists in at least one State (which one escapes me). Namely, you have (1) the old, broken no-fault system and (2) “covenant” (IIRC) marriage, which is fault oriented, and much more rigorous and difficult to end, especially where there are children. I also believe that there are more benefits for couples who choose the old route. You could call the latter marriage and leave the rotted-out no-fault system for “civil union” status.

    [As an aside, the no-fault system has always been why the so-called “conservative case for gay marriage” has been a flight of fantasy–it’s domestication powers are clapped out, let alone trying to transform a subculture.]

    The state still has an interest in marital bonds for reasons wholly independent of marriage, starting with those “new citizens” we call children, property, inheritance and the like. It’s grown organically for a reason. If you go to a pure partnership/contract system, you are ultimately proposing another social revolution, more sweeping than no fault divorce, with unforeseeable consequences. “What can it hurt?” is one of the more horrifying phrases in history.

  • Don’t mind me, Dale–I had my snark on. Is it Arkansas that has covenant marriage?

  • cminor:

    Yes, I think it is Arkansas.

    Oh, and don’t sweat the snark. It’s not like I never use it. 🙂

  • DP- don’t forget corollary to “what could it hurt,” as postulated by M. Shea:

    ‘How were we supposed to know?”

  • DC, you argue that recognizing gay unions “sends the wrong cultural message” regarding what marriage is. I say, no-fault divorce already did that. The horse is, in essence, already out the barn door.

    Elaine, I recognize the point that no fault divorce and contraception have already hollowed out civil marriage and left it with little resemblance to natural marraige, but I think it probably goes too far. Allow me to indulge in thinking out loud a bit here:

    It strikes me that the idea of natural marriage boils down to saying: mating matters. When a human person forms a mating bond (to sound all nature special-ish, if you don’t mind — it’s the Darwin coming out in me) the Church says that that person incurs certain moral and social obligations to fidelity and openness to life whether that person realizes it or not. (And indeed, whether that person is “married” in any formal sense or not. It strikes me this even applies to common law marriage type situations.)

    Now, since the Church holds that when you start a mate relationship with someone, you incur the moral obligations of natural marriage, it would seem logical from a Catholic that it would be good for both individuals and society if society sends the message that entering such a relationship comes with those obligations.

    However, a great many societies throughout world history (and virtually all non-Christian) have allowed some sort of divorce — though in some societies it has been very much frowned upon. How much does that undermine the nature of marraige?

    I’m sure it undermines it, but I’m not sure how much. Marriage remains a relationship which is permanent unless some intervening force (a divorce) comes into play. It’s “natural” end point is death, though divorce than intervene and cut it off early. Thus the “happy ending” for marriage continues to be a “till death do us part” idea, even if half the actual marriages end in divorce instead.

    Similarly, while I think it seriously weakens marriage that the use of contraception (and the idea that people only have children when the intend to) is so widespread, so long as marriages consist of a man and a woman, kids tend to happen. (This is anecdote, not data, but over the years I’ve seen a great number of female coworkers get married, proclaim that they won’t have children “till they’re ready” and then get pregnant as a “surprise” within the next 24 months. Yeah, well, “Surprise!” but if you have sex regularly, even attempting to use contraception, you often end up pregnant.)

    So while I agree there are a great many assaults on marriage in our current culture, I don’t think that natural marriage is such a lost cause as it is. However, I think that abolishing civil marriage entirely and replacing it with a generic “civil union” which was equally available to opposite sex and same sex couples, as well as anyone who happens to share living space and wants some tax breaks, would serve to break down the awareness of natural marriage a good deal more in our society than it already is. Calling it a “civil union” and making it equal opportunity would, I think, tend to strip out a lot of the long standing cultural baggage which currently adheres to the “marriage” term. And that would be to the detriment of society.

    Similarly, although it’s true that no fault divorce makes marriage impermanent (and thus violates its meaning) it would be a lot _more_ destructive if civil marriage were set up to expire and need to be renewed every year. Sure, you can divorce any time with no reason, but there is at least the built in assumption that it will last till death _unless_ something goes wrong.

    It seems to me that going to a civil union only system (open to other configurations than one man/woman mate pair) would be more on the destructiveness level of having an annual contract version of marriage than on the no fault divorce level.

  • A fault in these discussions is, I believe, an implicit sense that the government in the U.S. [the State] is a moral government; that somehow the U.S. is the New Jerusalem, the City On the Hill.

    Now the U.S. government, or its elected representatives, may have done some good things. It has also done some horrible things. Slavery comes to mind, and that continuation of slavery which were the Jim Crow laws. Now we have child murder and killing off the elderly, and the disabled.

    As Catholics, we tend to think that we have a place in this State, this Society. But it is a place on disdainful sufferance: whether from the Protestant denominations or their cast offs, the liberal progressives. Many Catholics look for, and believe they have gained, acceptance from these groups. It is rather like the sufferance gained by Jews under Gladstone – “as long as they know their place”.

    Look around and you will find that the Catholics who have gained some acceptance have done so at sacrifice of their principles. One has but to read the articles in COMMONWEAL, The NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER, AMERICA [“THE” Catholic weekly – ah, the Jebbies].One has but to pay heed to the excuses by “catholic” college and university presidents that they wish to keep up with their academic colleagues.

    I believe it will be clearer if one remembers the treatment of the Church under the Roman emperors. At the moment, the Church in America has not yet been inflicted with open oppression. But it is blind to believe that it could not happen. And especially if so many Catholics act like the bishops under Henry VIII. “What can it matter?”,

    To the question at issue – marriage by two males or two females – state marriage in this country was the product of Protestant theology, itself a degenerative derivative of Catholic theology. Then divorce became easier; then the use of contraceptives [“what can it matter?”]. Now the prevalence of baby murder. And now the growth of pregnancies without “benefit of the banns”.

    It is difficult to keep human nature within bounds. Because it is difficult, it is said to be impossible. That is a cop-out.

  • Gabriel, I seem to remember reading an old Catholic marriage instruction book that my parents picked up (back in the 1950s) which quoted various papal encyclicals as saying, in effect, that since marriage was a divine institution the state really had no right to regulate it in the first place.

    I realize that what the popes in question were referring to were, most likely, civil laws allowing divorce and remarriage. Still, it sounds kind of ironic in light of the Church fighting so hard to MAINTAIN state regulation of marriage today.

    Also, didn’t Martin Luther insist that marriage was NOT a sacrament, but purely a civil matter? If that is the case, perhaps we can indeed thank the Protestant Reformers for our current situation.

    I thought it was Louisiana that proposed or tried “covenant” marriage; I don’t know whether they still have it or not.

    If I were queen I would launch a massive public education campaign aimed at reminding people of the benefits to society of as many children as possible having BOTH a mother and a father. I would also remind same-sex couples that there is nothing preventing them from drawing up private contracts with the aid of an attorney, or even acting as their own attorneys, to confer upon each other all the legal benefits of marriage, such as inheritance, health care decision making, insurance benefits, etc. Therefore their civil rights are not being violated by marriage being reserved for opposite sex couples.

  • While a debate on purely intellectual grounds is of great value, let’s try and approach this with the mind of the CHURCH:

    The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.

  • Elaine,
    I can’t speak for all Protestants, but my dh, who was raised Methodist, says that in that church marriage is not a sacrament.

  • Elaine,

    I concur with your opinion of no-fault divorces, but I’d also like to add that contraception played a major role as well. As the procreative act had been torn asunder from the unitive act, a mental divorce between the two seeped into the mainstream where the act of getting married has become ultimately meaningless.

  • Elaine,
    I believe our problem stems from the short time [and it was short] in which the Church was heeded about such matters. The point I am trying to make is that the laws of the Church come first, the state laws second.
    Whether or not the State gets involved in marriage speaks to the morality of the State, not of the Church. For all that we are U.S. citizens, we are Catholics first. Fortunately we have [unlike other denominations, and even unlike Judaism] a central authority which speaks slowly and carefully and clearly on moral matters.

    Just as we are meant to rely on doctors when we have a medical problem, so we rely on the Holy Father when there is a moral problem. We Catholics are extremely blessed in this. This blessing we may have to pay for with the scorn of the mediums and the semi-catholic.

  • Gabriel,

    Assuming that we eventually have same-sex marriage in the future, it would certainly accelerate the decline in the sanctity of marriage as being another ‘option’ to go through the motions. Something along the lines of where Norway and Sweden have regressed to.

    That being said, we as Catholics (and I agree wholeheartedly that we are Catholics first and Americans second) can be shining examples of what a healthy and fruitful marriage is. We can be very counter-cultural and further raise our profile within secular society. We can certainly be winning more converts over to our faith and side in the long run.

    Besides, we procreate in more proficient numbers than contraceptive marriages do.

    Yes, I have a rosy view of the future, but I like it!

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  • Tito,

    Much of the problem with the changes is linguistic. Perhaps [if anatomical language is permissible] marriage should be defined as including the possibility of a man putting his engorged penis into a woman’s vagina. It does not include putting the penis into an anus, or sucking the penis, or licking the anus. The proponents of gay “marriage” use the respectability of marriage to distract from these common homoerotic actions.

    [Before anyone gets to annoyed by the words, I refer to 1 Kings 25:22 where David threatens “any that pisseth against the wall”. Which is to say, any male].

  • I should add to my comment that the Church does not recognize a marriage when the man is incapable of “putting…”. Or the woman of receiving.

  • I just love how everyone assures me that I agree with homosexual marriage.

    Gee, it’s so nice that there are mind readers willing to throw away MY beliefs in order to get in touch with what “younger people” think these days– gleefully ignoring that we don’t, in fact, all believe whatever they’ve decided to hobble us with.

    The only reason the gov’t really needs to be involved in marriage is because the union of a man and woman tends to result in new little citizens, and it’s in the gov’ts interest to make sure those little citizens grow into law-abiding, stable, productive big citizens.
    A stable mother-and-father type home is the most effective way to do this.

    I really wouldn’t mind some kind of a contract to fix the most common complaint of homosexual activists– I really don’t think you should *have* to be married to someone in order to visit them at the hospital. Sexual activity has nothing to do with that– the older widows and widowers that I’ve known who are cared for by non-relatives who have to jump through a dozen hoops to get the folks who are acting as family…. oops, I’m digressing…..

    When two men can accidentally find themselves pregnant, then I’ll consider if homosexual marriage might be a civil rights issue.

  • Also, please bear in mind that these are the best legal minds of the law school that produced a nationally known expert in (breaking) federal corruption law — none other than former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who liked to boast about having gotten a C in his constitutional law course.

  • But what happens when one questions the functions of marriage based on public versus private interests? A good intro is here:

Cardinal Egan's Inability To Raise Vocations

Thursday, March 12, AD 2009


Outgoing Archbishop of New York Cardinal Egan demonstrates why he is a complete failure in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.  In comments made to a radio program in Albany two days ago Cardinal Egan [may have] insinuated that because priests aren’t allowed to marry was the cause of his inability to raise the number of vocations.  Cardinal Egan openly admitted it was his “greatest” failure in bringing in more seminarians.

[I am using the Cardinal’s own words in describing the issue of raising the number of vocations]

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23 Responses to Cardinal Egan's Inability To Raise Vocations

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  • As a NY Catholic I have my own opinions on Cardinal Egan, but in all fairness if you actually listen to the interview, he DID NOT “that because priests aren’t allowed to marry was the cause of his inability to raise the number of vocations.”

    First, he was asked about diminishing vocations across the nation (concurrent with the general decline of religion) and he noted that, while the visit of Benedict XVI did indeed provoke a rise within the diocese, overall the number is down.

    Secondly, he was asked about the matter of priestly celibacy and he stated that it was a perfectly legitimate discussion (it is) — since there are other rites which permit married priests he did not think an ‘across the board’ determination in one direction or the other was desirable. This is a perfectly legitimate point.

    He did NOT, however, tie his second opinion with the first, and I think you go too far in accusing him of such.

    (However, I’m more sympathetic to your basic point about catechesis and doctrinal orthodoxy).

  • Christopher,

    That is why I used the word ‘insinuated’ in reference to connecting the lack of vocations to the discipline of celibacy in the priesthood.

    I sensed an escape valve that Cardinal Egan was trying to paint as a possible cause to his lack of success in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.

  • “Insinuated” implies intent. My point is that I don’t think intent can be substantiated by listening to the interview.

    One question followed the other from the interviewer and Egan responded to both in succession. But in addressing the second question, he did not refer back to the first.

  • The definition of “insinuated” is to suggest indirectly by allusion, hints, or innuendo.

    Why would Cardinal Egan bring up his inability to raise the number of vocations after the question of celibacy came up. So clearly the lack of vocations was on his mind when answering the celibacy question.

    Hence why I used the word “insinuated”.

  • Probably it would have been better to use “may have intended” or “may have insinuated” instead of just “insinuated”.

    You have a point.

  • Tito,

    If I were you (and I am not), I would out of charity to Archbishop Egan simply erase this post. I see your concerns, but think you may have made a mistake here and read into his words.

    As Pope Benedict said yesterday, the Church is in too much danger of devouring itself within, in its hypercritical mode.

  • Mark,

    Thanks for the advice.

    It stands because he represents what many bishops around the country do and that is nothing when it comes to enforcing Catholic teaching.

  • Egan? Please consider if you are being a tad bit harsh here. Again, I understand your alarm over the “vocations-crisis” and your desire for good shepherds to tend to the flock. But matters may be a bit more complex than you are leading on here.

    Remember, this is a brother in Christ who sacrificed his life in service to the Church, and is generally seen as pretty solid.

  • Mark,

    I understand where you are coming from.

    I was careful to criticize is lack of success in raising the number of vocations, not the man himself. He does a very difficult and time consuming job that most men would fold deep into this process.

    He is solid, but I wanted to make the point that there are many orthodox bishops that practice their faith very well, but don’t take the necessary steps to enforce Catholic teaching.

  • Tito,


    We’ll just agee to disagree about the post.

  • The best we heard about him was- he balanced the books. And brought New York’s Hispanic community into full prominence within the diocese. Nice. My own problem with His Nibs was in the weeks following 9/11. When he spent quality time at the Vatican, no doubt enjoyin those lovely trattorias with his old buddies. While Rudy Giuliani- who His Nibs accurately called out for the multiple matrimonies- was hustling to two to three Funeral Masses daily for police officers and firefighters killed at WTC. In all fairness, most of the old skool sees have trouble bringing in young men to the seminaries. I quote the most faithful Father Shane Tharp in Oklahoma, schooled at our own St. Charles Seminary. That the local lads turned up noses as in ew you hayseed hick residing in our mansion. Sharp from Father Tharp- yeah and without guys like me your little mansion would be bulldozed and the property sold to build a shopping complex. Or something like that. In any event we pray new Archbishop Dolan makes the molding of Melchizideks a higher priority than outgoing His Nibs.

    (Oh, the Catholic Channel on Sirius/XM- largely sponsored by NY Diocese- is pretty spiffy.)

  • I like many of the successes of Cardinal Egan, the Catholic Channel being one of my favorites!

  • I agree with Mark. It is certain that many of the Bishops may not enforce Catholic teaching as well as they could; we certainly don’t know the extent in which they try — all we see is end results and we look back in retrospect with criticism.

    I’m not sure of the criticism offered here is constructive.

    Why does Bishop Bruskewitz have an (over) abundance of priests in his little diocese? Probably because he actively leads by example and enforces Catholic teaching. I know many good bishops who are as orthodox as they come, where they fail is in their utter disregard to bring in line dissident priests, parishes, and laymen. Bishop Bruskewitz is the only bishop in the United States that still doesn’t allow female altar servers, has most of the tabernacles behind the altar (where they belong), keeps his priests in line in following the correct rubrics of the liturgy, crushes dissident when they rear their ugly head, and has strict guidelines for teaching catechesis. Are there armies of mini-skirted extraordinary ministers giving Communion during Mass anywhere in his diocese? I doubt it, rare if any.

    St. Paul himself wrote to several churches admonishing theological and ecclesial error. But the existence of errors doesn’t necessarily insinuate that Paul was not demanding orthodoxy to the Tradition or that there were no people of good faith in the communities trying to maintain that Tradition. I think it’s too simple to criticize someone and to the level of comparison to another Bishop as if the only factor influencing the difference in the two dioceses are the Bishops. I’m sure there’s a myriad of other factors and perhaps a lot of bad in the diocese that seemingly has less problems because we’re so far removed from the problems, cannot possibly know the ins and outs of every aspect of each parish in a diocese.

    This seems like a gloss over the principle of subsidiarity. It’s like saying the whole of economic prosperity during the Clinton years was solely the result of good leadership on behalf of President Clinton. Perhaps, God has graced the diocese with well-catechized, faithful priests who promote orthodoxy not just in their preaching, but by living good lives and many of the problems don’t reach the Bishop as one would think. I’d suppose from your reasoning that the Bishop is almost Superman, going everywhere in the diocese quelling the slightest problems. I know that’s hyperbolic, but that’s how, from my view, your wording presents itself.

    If Cardinal Egan would have even bothered to visit many of his parishes would he have put his foot down on these many abuses? Would he have disciplined priests who wash women’s feet on Holy Thursday and allow women to lead the homilies? Would he have cleaned up his seminaries of limp-handed, left-wing professors who dissent from Catholic teaching? No, no, and hell no.

    This comes across almost as an ad hominem attack. It is not so much the point that the Bishop should exert more effort in living out his vocation — and we all can heed that message — but it is the wording and the tone of it that seems very judgmental and presumptuous, as if this little bit would yield the almost perfect diocese described previously.

    In good charity, I’ve found lately that rather than expounding blatant criticism of someone else’s failures and shortcoming, not that they should never be expressed in good and charitable ways, but I took the opportunity to render some of my judgment on myself and observe my shortcomings and how they influence the Church and those outside of it and whether or not they are shown the light of the Gospel as preached by the Church through me. Now there is a clear role of a Shepherd, but I think in emotional frustration — especially given the widespread theological dissent in the Church right now — can easily lead us to blame much of the Church’s problems on a particular person, especially a Bishop. Not that I’m saying he does not have a pivotal role and a responsibility to promote and teach the faith; but I think your case here does not present itself well.

  • ‘Would he have cleaned up his seminaries of limp-handed, left-wing professors who dissent from Catholic teaching? No, no, and hell no.’

    Why the gratuitous homosexual slur?

  • “I would out of charity to Archbishop Egan simply erase this post. ”

    I absolutely agree. And the above comments are pertinent. Personally speaking, if this is the tone that American Catholic is going to take w/ regard to bishops, I will reconsider following this blog.

  • Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.

  • demonstrates why he is a complete failure in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.

    I think this is unfair to Cardinal Egan, as are the comparisons with other bishops. New York is a uniquely challenging diocese, and the population of Catholics in the Northeast as a whole has been shrinking. While there may be valid criticisms of the Cardinal, I think they should be offered in a gentler tone, and without the assumption that everything is his fault. Cardinal Egan comes in for a lot of criticism; but he was in a difficult diocese, and we should applaud him for being willing to serve as the bishop of New York even if we disagree with some of his decisions. There are Cardinals who are far more deserving of criticism than Cardinal Egan who, from all appearances, is a faithful bishop who was doing his best.

  • “Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.”

    I found this post to be more of a spewing rant than an honest and thorough critique. But you are a blogger here, so it’s your prerogative what you choose to post. Peace be with you!

  • Eric,

    Very eloquently put.

    Part of my post, or rant as Alan put it, was to explain the difference between an orthodox bishop who leads by example and an orthodox bishop who leads as well as takes action.

    Yes, I am personally frustrated by the rampant disregard to liturgy and catechesis. That is why I saw in Cardinal Egan’s comments an excellent example of someone choosing a straw man, priestly celibacy, as part of the problem to a lack of vocations, rather than the obvious solution so well exhibited by Bishop Bruskewitz of Nebraska.


    Again, where are the St. Ambrose’s of this country?

    I admit that I was a bit over the top on my criticism and I’ll rectify the situation on this particular column because hey, I don’t want Alan to be bored during his lunch break while boycotting AC ;~) .

    Thank you all for the constructive criticism.

  • It is Lent, after all – but my contribution to all of this will be to buy you a beer.

  • [Egan] is solid, but I wanted to make the point that there are many orthodox bishops that practice their faith very well, but don’t take the necessary steps to enforce Catholic teaching.


    Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.

    Seeing as you have sought to amend the content of the post, I would amend the title as well, which repeats the charge. IMHO.

  • For this New Yorker who was originally happy to see Cardinal Egan come to here:

    Come on tax day!

California Legislature Calls for Prop 8 to be Thrown Out

Tuesday, March 3, AD 2009

According to an email update just out from Bill May of Catholics For The Common Good (not to be confused with “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good”), the California State Senate passed on Monday resolution SR7, a non-binding resolution calling on the State Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, the amendment to the state constitution which passed back in November, defining marriage in California as between a man and a woman.

Anti-Prop 8 Resolution Passed the California Senate Today

Referring to the sovereign power of the voters as “mob rule”, San Francisco Senator Mark Leno asked the State Senate to adopt SR7, a resolution calling on the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8. The measure, that has no force of law, passed 18-14 this afternoon (Monday, March 2).

A similar measure, HR 5, is on the Assembly floor and could come to a vote at any time. Please call your Assembly member and ask him or her to vote “NO”. Details can be found here:

Perhaps our lawyers can enlighten me, but it seems to me that should the State Supreme Court follow the legislature’s request and overturn the amendment, then the democratic process would have fundamentally broken down.

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19 Responses to California Legislature Calls for Prop 8 to be Thrown Out

  • “Perhaps our lawyers can enlighten me, but it seems to me that should the State Supreme Court follow the legislature’s request and overturn the amendment, then the democratic process would have fundamentally broken down.”

    In a word yes. The idea that an amendment to a constitution can be declared unconstitutional by a court removes the last fig leaf that we are governed by constitutions rather than by the courts that construe what the constitutions mean. If the California Supreme Court follows this advice from the California legislature, this will have ramifications far beyond the issue of gay marriage and far beyond California. It will be a naked and obvious attempt by the Court to substitute its policy preference for a part of the California Constitution. It will be then up to the People to determine whether they rule themselves, or whether they surrender that right to lawyers in black robes.

  • It’s certainly an usurpation of the democratic process. However, many legal scholars believe that courts should perform a counter-majoritarian function, and step in to protect discrete and insular minorities likely to be disadvantaged by the democratic process.

    From a cynical point of view, I suppose it’s not surprising that legal scholars and judges to talk themselves into believing their wisdom is necessary to protect the country from the unwashed masses. But sometimes this intervention is something I would support (e.g. Brown). Other times, not so much. It’s troubling that the court would step in so quickly to overturn a state referendum. Why have referendums at all?

  • Since when are gays a minority group?

    If they can be a minority group then bald white hispanics should be recognized as a minority group as well (me).

  • If a law is unconstitutional, then the Court should overturn it, no matter how it was passed. Democratic majorities possess no claim to greater sanctity just by being democratic majorities.

    However, Prop 8 is an amendment to the Constitution of California. By their very nature amendments cannot be unconstitutional. Moreover, even if this were a mere statute, I don’t think this would be unconstitutional.

  • “By their very nature amendments cannot be unconstitutional.”

    Precisely. I can envisage a court needing to resolve disputes between portions of a constitution that appear to conflict, but obviously any conflict between a portion of a constitution and an amendment to the constitution would have to be resolved in favor of the later amendment.

  • California is not a pure democracy, nor is the United States as a whole. Rather both institutions are representational constitutional democracies, meaning the constitution can trump the will of the people should the will of the people wish to ignore the basic rights afforded to all the citizens. In urging the State Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, the California State Senate — who were elected by the people — are not breaking down the California democratic process but rather upholding it, ensuring that the constitution is maintained. The constitution is, in fact, what maintains peace and order and prevents mob rule.

    But I feel I must respond to your assertion that since the California Constitution nowhere else speaks to the definition of marriage, the only argument the court could use would be some sort of universal outside knowledge that marriage is open to all of any combination of sexes. Unlike the Catholic Church which seeks to be informed by faith — a universal outside source of knowledge — The California Supreme Court has no such mandate. It uses the constitution itself. The means by which it does is published and available in public archives and on the internet. To sum it up, the court made the following reasons for the original decision to uphold the right for same sex couples to marry:

    1- In the case of Perez, the Court recognized that it was not constitutionally permissible to continue to treat racial or ethnic minorities as inferior.

    2- In the case of Sail’er Inn, the Court recognized that it was not constitutionally acceptable to continue to treat women as less capable than and unequal to men.

    3- The court now similarly recognizes that an individual’s homosexual orientation is not a constitutionally legitimate basis for withholding or restricting the individual’s legal rights.

    4- The right of marriage is not directly afforded within the constitution. Rather it is derived from article 1 section 1: the right to privacy, and article 1 section 7: the right to liberty. That is, a man and woman, because of their right to liberty and privacy, can freely enter into the marriage contract.

    5- As the court acknowledges that it is illegal to withhold either the right to privacy or the right to liberty to homosexual people, it would therefore also be illegal to withhold any rights that are derived from these – one being the right to marry. Therefore a man and man or woman and woman could also enter into the marriage contract.

    Currently, because of Proposition 8, the constitution contradicts itself. It allows homosexuals the right to privacy and liberty and then withholds a right derived from these: marriage. Both cannot be upheld by the same document. Trying to determine how to reconcile this is not an exercise in appealing for some secret and esoteric outside knowledge, but basic logic. The options are that homosexuals have the right to liberty and privacy, or they do not.

    Remember, this discussion does not affect the sacramental nature of Catholic Marriage. This is about entering into a contract. The two have been conflated in the media to the detriment of the church and the state. Furthermore, this does not lead to the great fear that anyone can now marry a child or a tree or a goat. The latter two do not have the protection under the constitution and the former cannot freely enter into contracts without the authorization of an adult. This isn’t a slippery slope. This is human rights.

  • Refusal to grant a public recognition of a marriage does not constitute a breach of the right to privacy.

  • Again, I’ll defer to our lawyers on here, but the claim that civil marriage derives from the rights to privacy and liberty and cannot possibly include any definition as to the sex of the parties involved seems like a massive reach to me — though I don’t question that the California Supreme Court did indeed make that reach in throwing out the previous state proposition (which wasn’t a constitutional ammendment as Prop 8 is).

    Again, you’re assuming your conclusion. You’re assuming that marriage is a sex-agnostic arrangment, and then claiming that because marriage does not necessarily have to be between people of the opposite sex that therefore it would be a violation of the constitution to restrict people from entering into it “because they’re gay”.

    As it stands, people who are gay are not restricted from entering into marriage contracts — so long as they do so with someone of the opposite sex. They just can’t do so with someone of the same sex. (Just as people who are natually polygamous are not restricted from entering into marriage contracts, so long as they only do so with one person.)

    Why does this violate democratic and constitutional principles? Because it means that you can no longer define what the constitution means by writing or ammending the constitution. I don’t understand how we can claim to still have a constitutional republic if we don’t take the text of the constitution as written and ammended to have meaning. By that logic, judges could go throwing out any ammendment simply by asserting that it violated their interpretation of some other part of the constitution.

    If we’re to have a constitutional republic, then it would seem to me that judges must accept the text of the constitution as written to be correct and come up with an interpretive framework that fits that. Otherwise, we’re simply being ruled by judges — not by a constitution which we write.

  • I can envisage a court needing to resolve disputes between portions of a constitution that appear to conflict, but obviously any conflict between a portion of a constitution and an amendment to the constitution would have to be resolved in favor of the later amendment.

    I would agree as a theoretical matter, but according to the California AG’s response to the amicus briefs, initiative amendments are subject to judicial review for compliance with the Constitution, and several have been struck down previously. I am not really familiar with the CA state law, but it appears that the CA Supreme Court has previously struck down initiative amendments.

  • What’s interesting to me here is the question: Is the claim in regards to same sex marriage falsifiable. In other words, given the interpretation which judges have come up with is there any way in which the constitution could be written or ammended that _would_ be able to define marriage as being only between two people of the opposite sex — or is this a claim in which once the Judge’s have decided that liberty and privacy demand gay marriage, there’s absolutely no way the constitution could be written that would not be thrown out.

    If the latter, then it’s clearly whatever’s in the judges’ heads that rules the state, not the constitution. One might as well go without the document entirely, since it doesn’t matter what it says.

  • California is not a pure democracy, nor is the United States as a whole. Rather both institutions are representational constitutional democracies, meaning the constitution can trump the will of the people should the will of the people wish to ignore the basic rights afforded to all the citizens.

    Nice try, but you’re missing some important details. The constitutions offer means of amendment. Difficult means, for sure, but nevertheless. The reason for amending the constitution is because particular portions of the constitutions have been deemed insufficient in dealing with particular matters. Once the amendment has been added to the constitution, it is part of the constitution. Thus, in the circumstance of amendments, the will of the people can trump the constitution.

    Let me repeat: it is not unconstitutional to change the constitution, under the guidelines laid out for changing the constitution. Now, you can try to make an argument that, if there is a portion of the constitution with says “A” and you make an amendment that specifically states “not A”, then there is reason for concern. However, this is not the case in the slightest. This “derived” human right you speak of is nowhere enumerated: the derivation of it is questionable at best, a strain of reason to be charitable, and utter doggerel in reality. We’ll get to that in a moment.

    In urging the State Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, the California State Senate — who were elected by the people — are not breaking down the California democratic process but rather upholding it, ensuring that the constitution is maintained. The constitution is, in fact, what maintains peace and order and prevents mob rule.

    In two breaths you contradict yourself. You assert on one hand that the constitution is what maintains peace and order and prevents unruly mobs from issuing whatever order comes around, and on the other hand you state that the constitution can be thrown down by mob rule. If you don’t see this, let me clarify.

    First, the amendment was added to the California constitution through constitutional processes. There’s nothing about it that explicitly conflicts with the constitution (only the court’s interpretations thereof, which is the whole point), and thus the amendment is now part of the constitution.

    Second, the protest against the amendment, as opposed to being quelled by the new law of the land (or more precisely, the newly clarified law of the land), is being railed at.

    Third, the Senate seeking the courts to overturn this amendment is not using the constitutional means to change the constitution. Rather, they are seeking to bypass the constitutional means and are resorting to the “we’re loud enough and we say so” means of overruling the amendment. If that isn’t being ruled by mob mentality, I don’t know what is.

    Now let’s look at the Supreme Court’s decisions:

    1- In the case of Perez, the Court recognized that it was not constitutionally permissible to continue to treat racial or ethnic minorities as inferior.

    While I have no problems with this statement, per se, I would point out that homosexuality is neither a racial trait nor an ethnic background.

    2- In the case of Sail’er Inn, the Court recognized that it was not constitutionally acceptable to continue to treat women as less capable than and unequal to men.

    I could also quibble with the “less capable” part, but just because I think you should state “no one should be deemed less capable simply by their sex (save in those instances where sex matters, such as insemination and pregnancy), but other attributes such as physical strength, health, stamina, etc.” And the reason for stating this is because it seems this statement is geared towards a “women are no less capable than men in marrying women” type of statement, which is immediately dispensed by the “save in those instances where sex matters” clause I think is necessary.

    3- The court now similarly recognizes that an individual’s homosexual orientation is not a constitutionally legitimate basis for withholding or restricting the individual’s legal rights.

    No argument here. However, one should pay close attention to the words “orientation” and “legal rights”. Orientation does not immediately imply action, and legal rights are not so universal that no conditions can be put on them. For example, you have a legal right to own a gun provided you are not a felon or domestic abuser, have filled out the paper work, and have jumped through all the other hoops. Furthermore, just because people want something does mean there is a legal right to it. A person recognized as having a sexual attraction to little children–but does not act on it–doesn’t have a legal right to work in a day care, no matter how much he wants to, simply because it isn’t prudent (and in fact could be quite dangerous, given the temptation).

    4- The right of marriage is not directly afforded within the constitution. Rather it is derived from article 1 section 1: the right to privacy, and article 1 section 7: the right to liberty. That is, a man and woman, because of their right to liberty and privacy, can freely enter into the marriage contract.

    This argument is by far too simplistic and ignores a lot of problems. For example, the right to privacy is not absolute, and the right to liberty hardly means the ability to engage in anything. If a behavior is illegal, for example, it doesn’t matter if it happens in private. It is still illegal. Furthermore, for a behavior that is wrong, but not necessarily illegal, it is not necessarily protected, either, since it does not require the state to put a rubber stamp of approval on it.

    As a note, also realize that the amendment directly targets this argument. The amendment, in defining marriage as between a man and woman, states that allowing “marriage” between two people of the same sex is beyond the scope of liberty.

    5- As the court acknowledges that it is illegal to withhold either the right to privacy or the right to liberty to homosexual people, it would therefore also be illegal to withhold any rights that are derived from these – one being the right to marry. Therefore a man and man or woman and woman could also enter into the marriage contract.

    Accepting the flawed arguments, this conclusion seems inevitable. But the “right” to marriage is not simply a derivation of the rights to privacy and liberty. First of all, the marriage of a man to a woman is a necessary aspect for the protection and continuation of society, being geared around family (both the procreation thereof and the solidarity formed when two families intersect in the marriage vows). Based on this, talking about the “right” to marriage is misleading, because there is a weak obligation (weak meaning that not everyone is obliged to do so, but most should and will) attached to it.

    Second, because of the importance of marriage to the function of society, certain prohibitions have be put up around it, and the above arguments (as stated in your reply) do not address these concerns. In fact, you’ll see why this is a slippery slope argument in a moment. But we see such prohibitions as immediate family members (siblings, parents, children, cousins) cannot marry. A person who is currently married cannot marry again without divorcing first (or waiting for the spouse to die). A person under a particular age (depending on place) cannot marry. There are reasons these limitations have been put into place, reasons beyond rights to privacy and liberty, and reasons that have everything to do with the “right” and necessity of marriage to begin with.

    Now, if marriage is only about “privacy” and “liberty”, what argument is there against incestuous marriages? Plural marriages? Even marriage with little children (assuming the child’s parent co-signs the marriage contract)? Heck, if more than two people can sign a marriage license, why not just one? Who says that “marriage” should just be between humans? After all, this is a matter of privacy and liberty, right?

    So, no, the argument does not hold. The conclusion the courts came to was fallacious because their reasoning was first too simple and second already presupposed the conclusion. Thus this “right” for homosexuals to marry has not even honestly been established as a right to begin with. And thus the amendment is not unconstitutional, and the seeking to overturn the amendment through the courts is in fact a gross violation of the constitution.

  • Here is the brief of the intervenors, the people who support upholding Proposition 8, in response to the amicus briefs and the response brief of the California Attorney General.

    For those with a lot of time on their hands, here are all of the amicus briefs.

  • Last note. Sometimes writing a long reply means others beat me to the punch. If amendments are up for judicial review even after having been voted into law, then that weakens my argument a little. However, the general protest remains in that amendments are meant to refine how the constitution is interpreted, and thus if the amendment contradicts some interpretations, but not what the constitution says otherwise, then throwing the amendment out because of the interpretation remains a mob rule mentality as opposed to a constitutional mentality.

  • I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t even play one on TV, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express recently, but the whole idea that an amendment to a constitution could possibly be “unconstitutional” is completely incoherent. In order to be unconstitutional, a statute must require or forbid something that is either permitted or forbidden by some constitutional document. But this definition cannot possibly apply to the contents of that constitutional document itself. If it did, then the United States Constitution already contains unconstitutional amendments (18 & 21).

    In other words, if Proposition 8 contradicts anything else in the California constitution, all that means is that the other stuff is repealed by virtue of the inclusion of Proposition 8.

    Someone might make the argument that, in the case of the US Constitution, the 21st amendment specifically refers to the 18th amendment and actually uses the expression “is hereby repealed” and, hence, is a different sort of case. On this view, the text of Proposition 8 stands in a different sort of relationship to the rest of the California constitution than the relationship between the 21st Amendment and the rest of the US Constitution. But this merely raises the question of what we are to do when a constitutional document contains clauses that are logically contradictory–who is the arbiter of such cases?

    The courts are the arbiters of how to interpret constitutional laws and how to apply them in ways that are most consistent with the intentions of lawmakers. Hence, since Proposition 8 is more recent than anything else in the document, it must take precedence in two senses: first, because it reflects more accurately the present intentions of the people of California, and second, because it was passed by referendum and not the legislature, it more accurately reflects the intentions of the people as a whole, who are the statutory “lawmakers” in this particular case.

    In any event, it has never been in the power of the courts to either include or exclude any constitutional texts, their powers are restricted to matters of interpretation only.

  • My argument isn’t on how the court should rule on the constitutionality of proposition 8. I do not and would not deny that I have strong opinions on the matter, nor that I would prefer one ruling over another. My comments, however, were meant to respond to DarwinCatholic’s original post. He worries that when the senate petitions the court to overturn proposition 8’s amendment the stability of California’s democracy is itself at risk. It is not. It is the court that protects our democracy. It is what the founding fathers of the nation used to put the legislative and executive branches of the government in check. And though it may sound counter-intuitive, it is what keeps the majority of the population in check. It keeps any majority from oppressing any minority. It is the reason why women can own property, why black children can attend any school, why you can’t fire a lesbian from her job simply because she is a lesbian.

    On DarwinCatholic’s second post he wrote: “If we’re to have a constitutional republic, then it would seem to me that judges must accept the text of the constitution as written to be correct and come up with an interpretive framework that fits that.”

    I agree with exactly that. The constitution, as written, now has an internal contradiction. Either the amendment negates the original interpretation of the constitution, or the original interpretation of the constitution prohibits an amendment voted in by the people. I have no idea how the court would rule. Perhaps it is true that a later amendment has priority over an earlier interpretation. Perhaps, as John Henry points out, the very fact that previous amendments have been over-turned is because the constitution explicitly gives this power to the judges. But the mere fact that the court can interpret the law–that it is mandated to do so–does not imply that the court is legislating, harming the rights of the people, hurting democracy, or that they have “some sort of universal outside knowledge.”

    It is this power that distinguishes California from Syria and Myanmar.

  • Alex,

    See, the problem as I see it is when you say “The constitution, as written, now has an internal contradiction.” and then continue “Either the amendment negates the original interpretation of the constitution, or the original interpretation of the constitution prohibits an amendment voted in by the people.”

    The constitution (including the Prop 8 ammendment to it) as written has no contradition. The contradiction is between the interpretation previously offered by the court (what they interpreted the existing text to mean) and what the ammendment says. The ammendment contradicts something which the court previously held to have been implicit in the broad rights outlined in the constitution.

    Now, why should the claim that in this case the court’s previous interpretation should have precedence?

    Well, imagine that around 1890 a heavily racist series of administrations had been voted into power, and a succession of presidents appointed racist supreme court justices to the US Supreme Court, who then proceeded to rule in a landmark case that the 13th, 14th, and 15th ammendments to the US Constitution were in contradiction to the Dred Scott v. Sandford verdict, and therefore invalid. The justices throw those three ammendments out.

    Not only would that be a huge setback for civil rights, but it would be something which it was fundamentally impossible for people to resolve at some later date. If elements of the text of the constitution can be thrown out based on how judges interpret other parts of the constitution, then we cease to have a constitutional republic.

    You’re right that our nation’s founders envisioned the courts of checking the power of the executive and legislative branches, and that for a long time this has in part been done by considering the constitutionality of laws. But the whole system falls apart if the court can reject parts of the constitution (including duly passed ammendments) based on their interpretation of other parts of the constitution. The whole point of ammending the constitution is to change what it means. And the whole point of a constitution more generally is that it means what it says and that the only way of changing that is to ammend the constitution.

    We’ve been in tension over that for the last 40-50 years as the national and state supreme courts have increasingly read implicit rights into the existing text and used those implicit rights to overturn legislation. But up until this innovation it was always at least theoretically possible to resolve such disputes by ammending the text of the constitution. However, when we reach the point where courts can reject an ammendment on that basis that it does not conform to the court’s prior opinions (unless as John Henry notes CA has its own process peculiar to the state in which a new ammendment must first pass court scrutiny) it stikes me that we’ve ceased to have a constitutional republic and lapsed into a judicial/oligarchic republic.

    In that sense, there will be a lot less distinction between California and Syria or Myanmar if the state supreme court throws out this ammendment than there was before.

  • It is the court that protects our democracy.

    Alex, here you are missing the point. It isn’t the courts that protect democracy. They have the duty of trying to judge cases and verify constitutionality of things, so they do play a role, but they’re far from the only thing. What you are implying is that the judiciary is the highest order, which it is not. Nationally speaking, it is one of three branches, each of which checks the others. There are checks on the judiciary to keep it from going out of control, which it can do and arguably (though I don’t see there’s much argument against) have done so in the past.

    No, what really protects democracies is a moral and educated populace.

    The constitution, as written, now has an internal contradiction.

    See, you’re still not getting the point of the problem. As written, the constitution has no internal contradictions. The only “contradiction” is between what is now written into the constitution, and what the judiciary attempted to read into it. The fact that the public has the opportunity to add amendments into the constitution that nullify bad interpretations is one of the checks that exists on the judiciary. If the judiciary can then arbitrarily toss those amendments out of the window (as opposed to actually pointing to what everyone can agree is a contradiction), then it has unfettered control over what is, or is not, constitutional. That essentially makes the de facto power of the land, which in turn breaks the whole notion of a constitutional republic.

    It keeps any majority from oppressing any minority.

    The fact that this is at all being construed as oppression is ridiculous. As I mentioned before, this supposed “right” for homosexuals to marry is fabricated out of infantile reasoning. Why can women own property? Because a person’s sex is not an intrinsic part of owning property. Why can black children attend any school? Because skin color is not intrinsic to intelligence, diligence, location, social interaction, etc. How then is marriage different? Precisely because the sex of the parties involved is an intrinsic part of marriage. To make an amendment that makes this explicit no more denies liberty to someone than would, say, making an amendment saying that only woman (or at least people with the functioning organs) can become pregnant.

  • What is so deeply disappointing is that the courts, which are supposed to be so enlightened, don’t understand why these fabricated “rights” are derived from “infantile reasoning,” as Ryan so nicely put it. The courts haven’t been able to reason their way out of a paper bag for years. They exalt their own position and power, and the entire concept of judicial review, above and beyond basic reasoning. Ryan should file an amicus brief; he pretty well demolishes this faulty reasoning in a few paragraphs.

    It boggles the mind that anyone could even think that there is a natural right being violated by the amendment. How can these judges not see that the state’s interest in marriage is not in making individual privacy and liberty sovereign, but in fostering the good of society through the transmission of culture via the family unit? Same-sex marriage is just another chisel blow to an already weakened institution. I would argue that in itself it might not be totally disastrous for society to allow it, but why do we keep drip-dripping poison into our own drink? Divorce, contraception, abortion, and the shifting mores brought on by the sexual revolution… Yes, let’s just add gay marriage to the roster, shall we? Since none of those other things could’ve possibly been detrimental to marriage and family… How can we allow the drastic social experiment we’re undertaking without even a hint of trepidation at where it might lead us? It seems the argument goes, “Well, we’ve already screwed it up, so what’s one more nail in the coffin?”

    Marriage as romantic relationship and private contract above all else? God help us all.

  • Heck, if more than two people can sign a marriage license, why not just one?

    Exactly!!! Who says marriage has to be between *two* people? I’m single and I’m being oppressed! I want the full rights, benefits, and privileges of marriage, too!


Inequality and the New Aristocracy

Tuesday, February 17, AD 2009

Running into this article the other day, I was startled to find how many of my own intellectual hobby horses it touched upon. Arnold Kling and Nich Schulz are economists, and their topic is in equality in the modern economy. They cite Google co-founder (and billionaire) Sergey Brin as an example of many of the forces they believe are driving inequality and list the following major forces:

Technology: Brin’s wealth comes from the famous search engine he pioneered with cofounder Larry Page. Their company is a mere ten years old. And yet in the blink of an eye, he has become one of the richest men in the world.

Winners-take-most markets: Certain mass-market fields tend to simulate tournaments in that they produce just a few big winners along with many losers. These include technology/software, as in the case of Google, but also entertainment (CĂ©line Dion), book publishing (Stephen King), athletics (Tiger Woods), and even some parts of academia, finance, law, and politics (as the impressive post-presidential earnings of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton demonstrate).

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14 Responses to Inequality and the New Aristocracy

  • So really bright people from egghead families tend to succeed. Maybe not on Sergey Brin’s level, but still likely for success. Say this is something the Church could emphasize in defense of the families. As I work each day in one of America’s toughest neighborhoods, I see sad evidence of this fact. In fact, much of this data would look remarkably similar two hundred or so years ago in transition from agrarian to industrial-based economies. Meaning- the other information and commentary tends toward boo hoo hoo we don’t like change. Deal with it. Coming atcha faster and harder than before. You can thank Brin and his fellow Internet innovators for that fact. Will even surpass what our all wise and loving congresspersons have cooked up for us in the Porkapalooza bill. A major gift we can provide for our younguns is to train for change. It is impossible to imagine what their world will be like two decades hence. Just as our current stuff was impossible to thunk up twenty five years ago. But some factors never change. The role of the family. The need to nurture and train youngsters in a stable, loving home environment- with hugs and boundaries in equal measure. Sweat not this stuff. The Church has seen worse. The world will eventually catch up to us. Even bright people on the Sergey Brin level.

  • I think a major problem in our world today is our near worship of “productivity” and “growth”. We have made man a slave to our machines, which increase productivity at the expense of making workers redundant. The ability to produce more widgets, faster is not a gain to society if it increases unemployment or makes men into mere “machine minders”.

    E.F. Schumacher said it best when he said “If that which has been shaped by technology, and continues to be so shaped, looks sick, it might be wise to have a look at technology itself. If technology is felt to be becoming more and more inhuman, we might do well to consider whether it is possible to have something better – a technology with a human face.” What he called “intermediate technology”.

    We fail in living our faith when we allow and encourage the growth of huge companies and complex technology that creates few “winners” and many “losers”. I think you are wrong in thinking that the barriers to economic “success” can be overcome with determination. Those who don’t read by fourth grade are never fluent. And you really can’t pass on what you have never had. Those who feel they cannot succeed will rarely redouble their efforts. Most will rightly perceive that the deck is stacked against them and instead rage against the injustice that has made them useless. Which is exactly what our economy has done to those who are not inclined to the work of the mind.

    Cheaper goods in ever more quantities is not a solution but rather a problem as it has made millions of honest hard working people redundant and useless without hope for good employment. Those in the bottom tier of work are treated worse than children, looked down on, treated with suspicion. Their work is soul deadening and mind numbingly repetitive. Their bodies are destroyed and to top it all off, they have to listen to their economic “betters” tell them that their failure is their own fault. If they only had enough “determination” they could succeed.
    Sorry for the rant, I’ll stop now.

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  • Jessie,

    I’m sympathetic to what you’re saying in broad terms, since as a traditionalist sort of conservative I’m strongly disposed to look fondly on the ways of the past and be suspicious of that which is “modern”. At the same time, though, I think it’s important to be realistic about the sorts of realities that we get past by increasing productivity and becoming “slaves to machines”.

    What I’d question, though, is whether increased productivity necessarily means being enslaved by machines, or rather being freed from servile work. In the American folk tale of John Henry and the steam driver, John Henry is a symbol of humanity striving against having a machine take his job — yet in the long run isn’t driving a steam driver generally an occupation more contributing to human thriving than swinging a sledge hammer by hand?

    Automating a factory further can result in eliminating jobs, but in a deeper sense: is standing in a factory all day where those people should really be in the first place?

    So while I don’t think that ever cheaper and ever more goods in and of themselves are a “solution” in life, I’d tend to see increased productivity as a good thing nearly all of the time, since it frees us up to engage in increasingly skilled work rather than servile work.

    The challenge, as I would see it, is in trying to make sure that people are able to thrive in that increasingly complex environment. As you say, people who don’t learn to read and learn well early in life can find themselves trailing permanently. That’s an area in which I see few easy answers, as all the research I’ve seen suggests that the most key time is very, very early in development: often birth to four years old. I see little ability for larger social institutions than the family to influence that period, and that increases the danger of people whose parents were not educated not being educated themselves either.

  • Why should the choice be between standing in a factory all day or being left behind in the “complex” environment. If we eliminated the outlandish automation, then we could have men employed in a factory doing real work in producing real things and not just repetitive machine minding. The choice is not between machines and men, the choice is between using machines to replace men and using them to enhance man’s creative abilities.

    I would further argue that a steam driver would be not be a positive contributor to humanity if it meant that one person now had a nicer job at the expense of the dignity of many men now left hopeless with no employment prospects and thus little left to offer their families. First, such men are not likely to step up and BE family men. Men humiliated by an inhumane economic environment are not going to be good family men and will thus most likely contribute to a poor social environment. And in fact, we see this played out in economically “blighted” areas.

  • I’ve long thought that the reason winner-take-all occupations would be increasing inequality (compared to the past) is at least in part just because our country is bigger and richer. Being the best basketball player in 1950 is very different from being the best basketball player today, simply because today there are more people who have more money to spend on you. Whereas janitors don’t have the same opportunity to sell their services to more and richer people.

  • Jessie,

    What you’re describing is often called the “lump of labor” fallacy. Man vs. machine is a false opposition, as is the idea that there are only so many jobs to go around. The mistake is in thinking that no new jobs are created by productivity gains. The problem is the education differential, as Darwin points out. People who don’t have enough education or job skills, especially when they lose their career field in middle age, are in a difficult position to switch careers.

  • j. chrisitian, I wasn’t pitting man against machine. I was pointing out that when we stop using tools to enhance the work that men do and start using machines to replace the men themselves, than we have begun moving down a path that leads us to start treating men as machines. Indeed, we are no longer called citizens but our leaders now call us consumers.

    Saying we will re-educate those now redundant men to flip burgers, make lattes, and sell more stuff is not really a solution. And it further dehumanizes those real people who are really unemployable due to ever increasing worship of technology and gigantism. They are not just numbers and we can’t just wave an educational wand at them and, voila, they are now skilled in another career they did not choose but we are sure is just as rewarding.

    Those graphs show that the people needed to actually produce real items is decreasing. So what are all those people doing now? They are pushing wealth around in the health and education fields. But those fields don’t actually produce wealth, they merely facilitate its transfer. How many CNAs do we need (and they have crappy jobs for lousy pay) How many underpaid “para educationist” do we need?

    I don’t think it is a good for us to ever forcefully reduce the number of people who are allowed to work in actually making things and growing food. Its especially wrong to not debate the appropriate level of technology and just assume that more must be better because it has gotten us to where we are. Because where we are is not necessarily good. Machines are tools and they should serve our greater good, we should never be sacrificed to the machines.

  • Jessie,

    “[U]sing tools to enhance the work that men do” and “using machines to replace the men themselves” are just two different ways to describe the same phenomenon. When I type these words into a keyboard instead of having them written down by scribes and carried to you by messengers, I am using tools to enhance the work I do, but I am also using machines as a replacement for men who would otherwise have to do those tasks (if they were to be done at all).

  • Blackadderiv,

    Yes that is true, but you missed the main thrust of my comment. There is a difference between the evolution of tools making certain jobs unnecessary and the goal of eliminating workers in order to decrease “labor costs”. I am glad for my modern household tools and they eliminate the need for servants, but they have merely made the homemakers job easier, not redundant. Likewise, we have technology that has made your writing easier, but you are still needed to do the writing. But that said, you cannot ignore that many jobs have not been made easier but eliminated or made soul deadening by machines. Machinist have been replaced, weavers have been replaced, farmers have been replaced, craftsmen of all stripes have been replaced and our society is less for it.

    And of course, my main point has not been addressed, and it is simply this; that we need to have a debate about the appropriateness of different levels of technology and how they affect us.

  • From the article quoted above: “Given the other forces driving inequality, there may be less that government can do than one might hope. Research from Heckman suggests that education is a relatively feeble remedy for the effects of family background (although Heckman believes that early intervention, in preschool or even before, shows promise).

    In order to make a dramatic impact on inequality, government would have to do something about the fundamental causes: technology and marriage patterns. However, putting a brake on technological progress seems hardly feasible or desirable. And forcing people to select mates at random rather than on the basis of similar backgrounds and tastes seems similarly unlikely. As much as inequality may be a problem, no real solution is in sight.”

  • There is a difference between the evolution of tools making certain jobs unnecessary and the goal of eliminating workers in order to decrease “labor costs”. I am glad for my modern household tools and they eliminate the need for servants, but they have merely made the homemakers job easier, not redundant.

    There might be a difference in one’s personal intent, I guess I’m unclear, though, whether there’s necessarily a difference in the visible action or process.

    I would hope that people weren’t thinking, “We’ll buy that modern washing machine and dryer and dish washer, and then we’ll fire old Mrs. Smith who always did our housekeeping for us. Good thing that’ll save us 5% a year.” Indeed, perhaps many household which bought “conveniences” did so in order to make the lives of the “the help” easier. But somewhere along the way the vast numbers of people who were “in service” in 1900 dwindled away. I suspect part of it is that people came to expect more out of their livelihoods than being “in service” could provide. And also as a new generation of people moved out on their own, they found that they could afford the conveniences that allowed them to do their own housework much more easily than hiring help, and so young families never hired servants.

    Whatever the millions of individual motivations that added up to the trend: the career of being “in service” is pretty much no longer available, and while I enjoy watching Upstairs Downstairs as much as the next bloke, I’d tend to think that’s a good thing.

    Similarly, the forklift allows a company to move things around a warehouse much faster than they could have with teamsters carrying things by hand. And it allows people to work later in life at their warehouse jobs without suffering the disabling injuries that would put most hard laborers out of work by 40. But at the same time, it allows a company to ship much larger volume with fewer people. Which at some point means less jobs for hard laborers.

    So while I do agree that we have a human and moral duty to those who work with us and for us to, I think the tendency towards productivity is not only overall a good thing, but probably also pretty much an inevitable factor that we need to work with rather than against.

  • Jessie,

    In order to make a dramatic impact on inequality, government would have to do something about the fundamental causes: technology and marriage patterns. However, putting a brake on technological progress seems hardly feasible or desirable. And forcing people to select mates at random rather than on the basis of similar backgrounds and tastes seems similarly unlikely. As much as inequality may be a problem, no real solution is in sight.”

    The inequality is not based on marriage patterns or technology. Every study shows that it is almost entirely based on moral choices – principally out of wedlock births. The only thing that government could do to help resolve this is to get out of the business of enabling it.

    I notice that in providing examples of how technology has eliminated the need for menial work (scribes and servants) the posters suggested that they would not need these workers… I submit that most of us unless to the manor born would actually be doing these jobs if it weren’t for technology, not hiring others to do so….

    There are so many issues with our society that are at the root cause of injustice. With the proliferation of double income families, we nearly double the workforce. This drives down wages making it difficult for a single wage earner to support his family.

  • I think the tendency towards productivity is not only overall a good thing, but probably also pretty much an inevitable factor that we need to work with rather than against.

    I don’t think the argument is that productivity is a bad thing, just that we don’t have a lot of thought about when there is to much. At some point, the increase in productivity fails to bring any real help, and actually may cause harm. Much of the negative environmental conditions can be directly attributed to the side effects of productivity gains.

    A good analogy would be medicine. Medical advances have been staggering and wonderful. Medical advances are not wonderful when the violate the Hippocratic oath. Medical advances are not wonderful when they break people rather than heal them. Medical advances are not wonderful when they are used in the service of eugenics to create a race of ‘super-men’. Could society benefit in some ways if we lifted these restrictions – yes. Would society as a whole benefit – no.

    A good tool is a good tool, and productivity does help humanity. However, tools scaled to monstrous proportions with the intent that people be molded to fit the machine, rather than the machine to the people should be as abhorrent as eugenics.

Saturday, January 24, AD 2009

A new website: This is their mission statement:

In the course of the 2008 presidential campaign, a small group of Catholic and Evangelical Protestant intellectuals and activists, while saying that they personally support legal protection for the unborn and oppose the redefinition of marriage, promoted the candidacy of Barack Obama, who made no secret of his intention to wipe out the entire range of laws restricting or discouraging abortion and embryo-destructive research, or of his opposition to all state and federal initiatives (such as California Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act) to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman. These men and women assured their fellow Christians and other social conservatives that Obama’s economic policies would reduce the incidence of abortion, and they promised that Obama was being honest when he said that he was opposed to “same-sex marriage.”

Despite these assurances, we fear that the Obama administration will swiftly begin an assault on pro-life laws and pro-marriage policies.

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5 Responses to I'll Take Her on a Test Drive

  • Love “consists of a choice to devote oneself to another.” That is one of the truths that the vast majority of Americans don’t know about or cannot come to grips to. Love is a choice, it is not a “feeling”. Yes, you can have feelings of love, but the greater and correct definition of love is “the commitment of oneself to another”.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


  • I’m paraphrasing it badly, having seen it only once somewhere, but didn’t Bishop Fulton Sheen say something to the effect that to like is biology, to love is an act of the will?

    Ryan, this is probably your best post in this series so far. There’s a lot here to think about. Just for the sake of counterargument, one might say that you’re arguing by assertion that all premarital sex is not self-giving. I’m sure there are a lot of people who think that they’re very giving of themselves in this regard. How do you convince them that they’re holding back from that full union?

    I think your point about the “must have sex” mentality is a very good one, one that’s completely lost on our society. However, I’m sure that someone would counter that it might not be an imperative to have sex, but that it’s darn close enough. I’m not sure how to change that understanding.

  • I agree with J. Christian, an excellent post as well.

    How does one engage with secularists who live together and claim they are willing participants and thusly not “using” each other so to speak. Citing statistics that cohabitating couples have the highest propensity of divorce certainly shoots down their theory of “preventive divorce” by “living together”.

  • I would argue that any premarital sex is not self-giving, but there’s a lot of qualifications to be made about that. I’d be willing to concede, for example, that there are indeed self-giving aspects to some of the premarital relations out there, but that perhaps the selfish aspects outweigh the self-giving. That’s a very hard thing to judge for either the individuals involved, much less for someone looking on. It takes a vast amount of self-honesty to look at our sexual behavior and see it for what it is. (Of course, we can go overboard the other direction and feel any sexual behavior is reprehensible, so keep that in mind.)

    One of the questions I found myself asking a number of years ago when I was obsessed with one girl or another was, “If I can’t have her as my girlfriend, do I even want to hang out with her?” Implicit behind this is the selfish mentality. If we’re not going to have sex, do we even have a relation? I think a lot of people would be surprised at their answers if they were actually confronted with that reaction. We’ve become so inculcated with the notion that to be a couple is to have sex that we’ve grown to the point where a relationship is practically only about having sex, and then, sex for pleasure, not sex in its fullness.

    One revelation I had recently, probably back in February or so (so about 3 months before our wedding), I had to seriously stop and ask what it meant for my relationship with my wife if we could never have sex (for health reasons, for example, or simple accident in following NFP and not being in the mood during the infertile areas of the cycle). It was astounding when I realized how personally painful the thought of never having sex was, and eventually making the commitment to give up sex altogether, if our marriage warranted it, was something that has greatly strengthened our relationship.

    So how do we talk to people about whether or not their sexual relationship is selfish or self-giving? That’s hard, because sex tends to be so intimate an act you have a difficult time getting anyone to talk seriously about it. Trying to suggest to someone who is not seeking advice that, say, cohabitation is harmful is bound to turn them away in anger. The problem, of course, is the cognitive dissonance. I’m willing to bet that most people feel there’s something not quite right with premarital sex, but they dismiss it with any number of excuses. It doesn’t feel quite right because of the linger social expectation that sex should be within wedlock, or because of fear of pregnancy, or something like that. Eventually, we become so acclimated to bringing out those excuses to the fore that, for most intents and purposes, we rarely feel that discomfort.

    Perhaps the best we can do is try to, subtly, force people back into thinking about why the discomfort exists in the first place. Trying to get them to answer seriously the questions “Could you go without sex?” or “if you couldn’t have sex with her, would you still want to be with her?” could at last replant the seeds of doubt. Something else we could try is just to explain our Catholic position. Instead of trying to denounce any of their actions, simply explain why we Catholics view premarital sex with disdain. If we can get them to hear us out, and perhaps even get them to ask questions just so they know better the reasons why Catholics seem such prudes, that might also plant seeds.

    The biggest problem with secularists, especially materialists, is that trying to suggest there’s something wrong with using another as an object, or even demeaning oneself as an object for someone else’s pleasure tends not to work. They’ve convinced themselves that there’s no inherent dignity in the human person, and that’s where, I think, we have to start. It is sometimes horrifying in conversation to realize that the person you’re talking to really has no respect for the human person, believing we’re just chunks of meat with a “take what you can, when you can” mentality. To be honest, I have no idea how to uproot that, other than through prayer that God might move this person to faith.

  • Recognizing the dignity in each person is one of the basic concepts of Christianity that seems to have been fallen on the wayside in society. Part of this problem may lie in the public school system as well as parents, both of which have stopped in teaching Christianity at all (which could be an entire post in itself).

    Not recognizing the dignity in each other tends to make us more course in our engagement with others. Thus it’s easier to demean other whether physically, verbally, or any other manner.

Sex, the Fall, and the Resurrection

Wednesday, December 10, AD 2008

My inspiration for starting this post and continue the topic through several other posts is the “Day without a Gay” protest, which is supposed to inspire homosexuals and those in support of homosexual marriage to take the day off and perhaps commit to volunteer work (to take a little bit of the sting out of the strike).  Whenever issues like this come up (as they do at least annually here at the University of Wyoming with the Matthew Shepard Symposium), I find myself reflecting on human sexuality, the importance it plays in our lives, and the great detriment its misuse has caused, both to the nation and to myself personally.

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20 Responses to Sex, the Fall, and the Resurrection

  • Good post.

    I’d actually be interesting in talking about pornography and masturbation. I once read a statistic that said that roughly 12% of the ENTIRE internet is pornography and that the porn industry made more money than all major sport franchises and major television networks combined. It’s mind-blowing to even think about.

    I think sexuality would make a good chain of posts because it’s the clearest way to present the Catholic vision of the human person and how can we do that, if we ourselves are not equipped and ready to do it?

    I think I’d like to join you on this endeavor. Finals are almost over. I have SO much to talk about.

  • Ryan, your courage is astounding. What we need to do is accelerate efforts to educate the faithful on JP’s Theology Of The Body lectures. The esteemed George Weigel has commented that if these lectures received widespread circulation, this ol planet would turn upside down. Worth a try.

  • Ryan, Eric, et al.: I welcome this discussion, because it’s pretty clear that much of the objection to Catholic teaching (in the West, at least) is over sexual morality. I don’t need to say it to this crowd, but the debate over abortion, gay marriage, and many other issues really hinges on our concept of human sexuality, its forms and its ends. The debate might seem “over” and “lost” in many respects, but opinion can change quickly.

    I wonder, though, if the “Theology of the Body” is a tractable argument to someone who has no theology. How much can we push arguments from reason? Certainly there is solid scientific evidence to support much of the traditional view of sexuality, but is it persuasive and comprehensive enough to the person who rejects Catholic sexual morality not because he is advancing hedonism, but because he thinks “all things in moderation?”

    What I’m trying to say is, few of us know true hedonists. Most of the people we interact with on a daily basis espouse some form of sexual libertarianism — “What consenting adults do in their bedrooms is none of my business.” This is the majority in the middle that is skeptical of what they see as absolutist morality coming from Christianity. This is also the majority that sees no contradiction in telling their teenaged daughter to abstain from premarital sex, but then happily let her tart herself up for the prom. Mixed messages abound.

    As a practical matter, how do we speak to this group?

  • j. christian,

    We use words only when necessary. Some of these folks are lost, no matter what we do or say.

    And I think over 400 years of watching arguments from Natural Law become increasingly unpersuasive would give us a healthy scepticism about attempting to argue metaphysics and anthropology apart from Divine Revelation. Both are needed to make the most cogent argument.

  • Great post, and I admire your working through those struggles.

  • Eric,

    I’d love to have your collaboration on this issue. It is a huge matter to talk about, with plenty enough to for everyone to have their say and still have leftovers. My plan was to post about masturbation on Monday, pre-marital and extramarital sex on Wednesday, and homosexuality and other topics on Friday, but all that is open to adjustment. What do you have in mind?

    j. christian,

    Indeed, the argument that the misuse of human sexuality pits body against soul means nothing to a materialist (or someone from other groups that see the flesh as only temporary). About the only way to proceed with someone like that is in a Socratic line of inquiry, hoping to get him to admit that there’s dignity behind the human person, and that even with just the material to work with, the human person is more than just a body.

    But then, perhaps only a crisis situation will bring such a person about. One of things that drew me back to the Church was, essentially, that the Church’s teachings, as a hypothesis, perfectly explained the evidence I’d encountered, and that brilliant flash of insight, once kindled, burned for more. Before that, I would have argued to the death that masturbation is not only good but necessary; that pornography was perfectly legitimate; and that artificial birth control was a viable means of avoiding pregnancy.

    So to an extent, I think that one of the best things we can do is clearly state, in entirety, what Catholic thought is on the matter of sexuality. People might completely disagree with the Church, but maybe if they have the full picture, something will click. (But then, if it happened with me, it should happen with everyone, right?)

  • Following on J. Christian’s question — I think most people would, given the name, not consider “theology of the body” an attractrive term, since they’re too used to thinking of sex as being a necessary condiment to be sprinkled freely and generously on one’s life.

    And yet, for all that it’s often taken rather casually, most people (women probably more than men) seem to have a sort of Platonic first-knowledge that sex does mean something and more to the point ought to mean something.

    So I think there’s a hunger of sorts for explanations of what sex means and how it can give life meaning — though the challenge is to present this in a way that sounds like a “holistic lifestyle” (to use the new-agey parlance) rather than “a bunch of rules”.


    BTW, here is AJ Ayer’s account – to his surprise – of experiencing brain function after the body stops.

  • OK guys. This is my first post and I see a little too much inbred back slapping going on. So here is some Ultra Kudos from outside the gene pool. Great post.

    I am not Catholic. I wish I could be a member of this community, but I have two stupid divorces that I refuse to annul because I will not let my decisions when I was younger and dumber be washed away. I am very proud to be in a happy, loving marriage now because of the hard lessons I hung on myself in years gone by. I shall always see myself as an example of never give up on life’s true treasures (and let your parents fix you up when all seems lost).

    That being said, the teaching of the Church and rational for our existence on this earth, as you alluded to, are indespensible to the future of mankind and we (if I may be so bold) should never give up on the truth and meaning of our life now.

    Keep me informed. I will pass the word. Bless you all.

  • Texas Tom,

    We’re very happy to hear from you and appreciate your blessing (and passing on the word). I wonder, though: could you clarify on what you mean by “I will not let my decisions when I was younger and dumber be washed away”? Or how you perceive annulments as accomplishing this? There might be a misunderstanding here that, once clarified, might just open the path for you into the Church. (No pressure, though–if you don’t wish to discuss it, that’s fine. This can be an intensely private matter that maybe shouldn’t be just posted on the internet for anybody to see.)

  • Ryan, a strained construction of a personal trait.
    I accept full responsibility for my actions and as far as I am, in investigating my options with regard to requesting entry into the Catholic faith, I see and annulment of my two previous marriages as the only way to be a full participant in all the Church has to offer. Annulment sounds like finding a technicality to invalidate the now “inconvenient” moral bonds. (CCC 2384-2387)
    So I can’t, as yet, see a way clear for me to accept that what I did of my own free will and in an informed state can be nullified and my conscience remain clear.
    I had no faith based training as and adult and was not aware of the ramifications of these actions. Heck, my folk dragged me to an Episcopalian church when I was 4-6 for Right and Wrong training and the free Polio vaccines at the health center that was open on Sunday to catch all the little boys and girls.

    As far as privacy… I am a great example of walking, talking oops. I learn from my errors an I always hope someone will look and note that life’s lessons are only lessons when they are known. So, I share and I feel real nice anybody takes an interest in what I have to say.

    I’ll go on a pun rampage later. For now I will curb my inner comedian. (Smile)

  • Texas Tom,

    God is merciful.

    If you accept your past transgressions, but more importantly, ask for forgiveness, then you’re good (to enter the Church).

    What you are doing to yourself sounds like purgatory on Earth. God is the sole judge to determine what cleansing you need to go through, hence why we have Purgatory.

    I’ll let the others help explain better than I can. But if you need more information here is a good starting point –>

    See defintion of Purgatory with all the Bible passages and Church teaching:

  • Hey, Tito. I am a happy and grateful man with a wonderful life and an iquisitive nature. Darn tootin’ God is merciful! Heck, He has this blessed life gig down pat and I’ll back his play any day. I do not punish myself or feel deprived in any way and I love being a stand up guy who can give some practical advice to someone who won’t take God’s word for it. (Ha, ha. Almost a pun)
    I will talk to a priest soon to get more first hand low down. I was in a bit of funk about having a Catholic rug pulled out from under me because of my past, but I am still very uninformed about the nuts and bolts of where I may be headed.
    Quick lesson: If you are in the dark over the answer to a question … Maybe it’s a good time to take a nap. When you wake up, ask someone who might know the answer. Then get some hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream. Chocolate is one of God’s blessing too, ain’t it?

  • Texas Tom,

    First, sorry this is so late in coming. I typical am not around a computer with access to the internet on the weekends.

    Second, annulments are not simply trying to find technicalities. They really aren’t the Catholic answer to divorce. There’s a fair amount of theology behind it, especially in how the married couple image the Trinity, but the quick and dirty is this.

    A marriage between two baptized Christians is sacramental and in no way can be broken. The question remains whether a marriage truly existed in the first place. Normally, what looks like a marriage is treated as thus, but closer examination could reveal that one or both of the couple went into the marriage with discernible reservations. A valid marriage must be free, full, faithful, and fruitful.

    A violation of the first would be if you discovered you were closely related to your intended, such as brother-sister, step siblings, in line of descent, and so on. That doesn’t happen often, but given how fractured our society is becoming, I’d be surprised if it didn’t creep up now and then. Another example would be if one of two was already married (such as divorced without an annulment, or even engaged in polygamy).

    A violation of full is best described as “I married him because I was worried he was my last chance.” Full entails full devotion, full giving of the self to the other. This is why women who marry when they discover they’re pregnant tend to be found in an invalid marriage–they married because they were scared of having to raise a kid alone, or were trying to do the respectful thing and marry the father, and either of this conditions could very easily get in the way of the full giving of self. Another, darker example, would be to get married simply because then you’re guaranteed sex with your spouse. Anytime one of the couple goes into the marriage with more of an intent to use the other (be the intent benign or malevolent), the full condition is violated.

    The faithful condition should be fairly obvious. The simplest way to describe a violation is if one or both of the couple doesn’t mean “till death do we part”, but rather “until it becomes inconvenient”. But it can also be violated by wandering eyes (even if they only wander to underwear ads in the magazine), which entail a desire for more physical arousal than what the marriage provides.

    The fruitful condition doesn’t mean that kids have to be present, but it does mean that the couple needs to be open to children in the conjugal act. A couple that marries fully intent on contracepted sex, fully intent on preventing any children in their union, is a couple that violates the fruitful condition.

    Moreover, you’ll find that most violations do not simply fall into one category or another, but span several. Sometimes the problems are obvious; other times obscure.

    The point, though, is not get out of a marriage, but to understand whether or not the marriage was valid to begin with. Getting it right is important, more so than personal pride. To top that, an annulment is a difficult thing for the couple to handle even after it is granted. Consider what happens if nullity is declared, you happen to be at fault. That means you have to do some–undoubtedly painful–soul-searching, praying, and rebuilding of your moral life before you can move beyond that declaration. Some people have received a declaration of nullity, but have been prohibited from marrying again until they show proper signs of repentance and maturation.

    I don’t know if this helps any, and it will probably be a small portion of what a priest will tell you. But the main point is this: a declaration of nullity is not a cakewalk, and it doesn’t simply give you a free pass on mistakes or broken commitments in the past. I would definitely encourage talking with a priest, and I hope that goes well.

  • As a former Catholic who formally defected from the Catholic Church over
    fake annulments, this quote, I assert with experience, is false and dangerous:

    “Second, annulments are not simply trying to find technicalities. They really aren’t the Catholic answer to divorce. There’s a fair amount of theology behind it, especially in how the married couple image the Trinity, but the quick and dirty is this.”

    Our marriage was intentionally undermined by catholic priests and the annulment process and it remain under attack, with the full knowledge of the local ordinaries and the Pope as well as the new head of the Papal Signatura, Raymond Burke.

    The Catholic Church has sold its soul to the Devil regarding marriages. I do not care what statistics you cite or the canonists or priests you have who can defend your position. I know what I continue to experience and the Catholic Church can act but WILL NOT ACT to work towards healing a valid marriage that its own Roman Courts found valid after the corrupt American Tribunals and many priests and laity have aided and abetted open and permanent adultery!

    If the Pope gave a darn he would send me a ticket with an open eneded audience to inform him of what I have seen in person. HE DOES NOT CARE! He listens to his bishops and priests who are corrupted thoroughly.

    He fiddles while Rome burns.

  • Karl, I will pray for your healing. As regards the terrible experience you have met with the clergy, I can only offer sympathies. They are as human as the rest of us, but they have a greater duty to uphold the dignity of their office. That they failed for you is a grave tragedy. Please, if you will, pray for these men who you believe have betrayed your trust, that they might see the error in their ways.

  • “but WILL NOT ACT to work towards healing a valid marriage”

    Karl the Catholic Church was not responsible for the fact that you and your wife had a marriage that fell apart. The idea that but for the Catholic Church you would have gotten your wife back is unlikely in the extreme based upon the facts that you have disclosed in the past in numerous postings on other Catholic websites. Your wife ran off with someone else and got pregnant by him. The idea that anything done by the Church would have gotten her to return to you may give you comfort, but simply does not comport with reality. When someone is willing to commit adultery the idea that not granting them an anullment will cause them to return to their spouse is risible. I think you probably know this deep down but for some reason you have decided to make the Church the target of your bitterness and grief over the fact that your wife did not want to continue to live with you.

  • Mr. Harkins,

    I will continue to pray for the Church and those clerics and the vast majority of laypeople who really do support adultery and whose support encourages unending abuses by the clergy including the bishops and the Popes.

    These clerics are hard-hearted men unwilling to listen to those of us who have seen their corruption first hand. The Pope knows well of the corruption and encourages it through his failure to address these issues with those of us who raise them and his unwillingness to provide a simple recourse against corruption. His failure to help us root out those who have done us wrong means he has joined in their wrongs and he should resign the papacy, forthwith. He coddles priests who openly encourage adultery and all types of crimes against innocent spouses. He knows his fellow bishops are corrupted and care little about truth and the damage their practice does.

    They did not fail me or our marriage. They deliberately chose to do all they could to destroy it and they still do. The evil is incredible in the Catholic clergy. To me failure means there was a desire to to good. I am certain, otherwise, about the efforts of the Catholic Church in these regards.

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Sexual Selection and Modern Dating

Wednesday, November 19, AD 2008

The other day my beautiful wife emailed me a link to this City Journal article entitled “Love in the Time of Darwinism” by Kay S. Hymowitz about the selective pressures which the modern dating environment places on the mating pool. It seems the same author had written another article earlier this year entitled “Child-Man in the Promised Land” about the phenomenon of single men in their twenties and even thirties who, rather than shouldering the “grown up” interests of their forefathers a generation or two before, linger in an extended adolescence of playing video games, watching cartoons and gross-out comedies, and seeking only uncommitted sex rather than marriage on the dating scene. In response to this first article, the author had received numerous emails from young men informing her that the reason that they behaved that way was essentially that the actions of the women on the dating scene left them little other choice. Hymowitz sums up their reaction this way:

Their argument, in effect, was that the SYM [single young male] is putting off traditional markers of adulthood—one wife, two kids, three bathrooms—not because he’s immature but because he’s angry. He’s angry because he thinks that young women are dishonest, self-involved, slutty, manipulative, shallow, controlling, and gold-digging. He’s angry because he thinks that the culture disses all things male. He’s angry because he thinks that marriage these days is a raw deal for men.

And so this article is basically an investigation into how accurate this complaint is.

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16 Responses to Sexual Selection and Modern Dating

  • I can only say that this article describes perfectly the dating/hookup culture of my junior high, high school, college (at a Catholic college), and grad school years.

    It also conforms with my first decade of life in the workforce. While I was married and settling down, I was surrounded by coworkers a decade older than myself for whom life revolved around puerile humor, the quest for physical gratification, and ever more exotic diversions from the essential emptiness of existence.

    I realize that anecdotal evidence isn’t dispositive. But my observations for the last 15-20 years are accurately summarized in this article.

  • This culture is not a subculture, but the norm as far as I have ever seen it for those in their 20’s and 30’s. As a 29 year old male, this is the sort of thing that I am bombarded with on TV, in ads, in magazines and more importantly at the workplace and in the classrooms.

    Even for those who seemingly reject it and get married, unless they understand the evil of it, they will still live it out as far as they are able in their conversations and probably their fantasies.

    You make a lot of good points about the problems with this approach and I completely agree with you except to say that the roots of the problem are deep. If you doubt this I would challenge you to page through any issue of Maxim Magazine or Cosmopolitan.

    The traditional understanding of men and women, their roles, and how they should interact is completely forgotten and young men and women have to rediscover it. This can only be done with great effort because of the scars we all have, and the poison we are being fed.

  • It seems to me there are two different things going on here. For some men, this type of activity is a transitional phase that lasts anywhere from their mid 20’s to their late 30’s. Others, however, simply give up on the idea of marriage altogether (Hymowitz cites a study indicating 22% of those interviewed show a strong aversion to marriage). If observation of class-mates and siblings is any guide, there is a lot of chaos in terms of dating expectations, and people develop different strategies to manage it.

    I had a conversation with a 40 year-old co-worker several years ago who assured me that ‘when he did get married, it would last,’ although that was not going to anytime soon. I thought, but did not say, that the vow ‘until death do you part’ would probably keep getting easier to keep with every passing year. In any case, I think the article inevitably over-dramatizes the situation, but touches on some important aspects of the current dating culture.

  • Good post, Darwin.

    As you noted, it’s hardly Darwinian–the drive remains but the effect frequently falls short of reproductive success. Not much of a survival strategy, is it?

    I often wonder what happened –while young adult promiscuity was common enough during my salad days, I think that ol’ Darwinian bonding impulse still had a strong pull on the culture–including (if to a lesser degree) the male of the species. Most of the gals (and many of the guys) I knew then didn’t bedhop purely as a form of recreation; if they weren’t all practicing continence until marriage there was at least the recognition of sex as bond and engaging in it triflingly wasn’t thought of very highly.

    While “women don’t know what they want, so we act like animals” is a sorry excuse, I think there is a grain of truth to it. Young people today have as a group been underexposed to self-restraint and fidelity and overexposed (at increasingly young ages) to sex divorced from its moral or emotional aspects and to sex as a means of exploiting others (and the girls, having more maturity and emotional control, can be as much or more the offenders in that regard.) In other words, my generation and the one just previous have done a poor job of setting the example (high divorce rates, serial “monogamy,”) and pop culture promotes the tomcat lifestyle as normal. I’ve encountered young teens who whiled away their idle time with Mom’s porn video collection or the soaps or whatever filth was on HBO while parents were off chasing their latest flame–with that background, we can hardly expect a healthy and holistic view of sexuality.

    As a feminist, I’m troubled by the view (not merely a perception of my own as I’ve read plenty of remarks made by young women that confirm it) that equates immodesty, promiscuity, and consequence-free sex with female power. All this time I thought the struggle was for fair pay, respectful treatment, equality before the law, and educational access: to be more than sex objects. Then along come these kids who never had to do without those claiming the right to be nothing more than sex objects in the name of liberation. It’s a concept that can only harm them as persons and will ultimately undo any good that feminism has ever done.

  • The summary of this essay is- There Are No Rules. I want what’s mine. Whatever Mine may be on any given evening. Remember, many of those in the Hook Up Culture are children of divorce. Used to having Weekends With Daddy, if that much. Or horrible screaming fights leading to protracted divorce cases. Seven years ago, I was in a Chinese restaurant with mutual acquaintances. Each person had multiple personal stories about divorce, abandonment, disjointed families with multiple half-siblings. To which I went- gulp. Mom and Dad married happily for 45 years until Dad shed this mortal veil. Three younger sisters who married three terrific guys- actually four, but poor Tom succumbed to effects of Agent Orange while serving in ‘Nam. Six terrific nieces and nephews. Oh that’s right I lived in a comfortable Catholic bubble until time for the humongous urban circus that was Temple University in the mid 70s. Boy was I fortunate. Boy was I the oddball in the bunch.

  • This analysis described my college experience perfectly.

    I was too timid to date, not sure what was expected of me at all. It’s not just the men though, but the women too. My wife pursued a relationship with me because she knew what my values were and that there wouldn’t be expectations of sexual activity.

    If young adults with family values are the majority, they are indeed a silent majority. Most of them are shying away from relationships and dating because the loud, promiscuous, substance abusing crowd causes so much confusion. The “good” kids have a lot of friends but rarely date.

    Sadly, my brother (23) has fallen into the video games and garage bands cess pool. I’m not blaming women entirely, but I think that the behavior described in this article is definitely a contributing factor.

  • I’m 29, so I certainly saw the hookup culture at some of the colleges I looked at, and heard about it from friends who went the secular college route.

    With the exception of some of the middle-aged salesmen who frequented parties at the Playboy Mansion at the company I worked for in LA, I haven’t run into it so much in the working world. Among people my own age it seems like I’d mostly run into:

    a) Women who had been living with the same guy for some time and couldn’t seem to understand why he had no interest in getting married. (Or on the flip side, guys living with their girlfriends who claimed to be perplexed as to why their girlfriends were so obsessed with marriage.)

    b) Nice guys who were unmarried and complained they could never find any sane single women.

    c) Young married professionals who were waiting till their mid thirties to have those one or two kids — or who insisted that they were so overwhelmed taking care of their dogs they couldn’t imagine having kids.

    d) Other people with what I think of as “normal” married lives with several kids — who invariably turn out to be very involved in their churches, often Evangelical but sometimes Catholic.

    The big problem for our culture in the modern US, though, is that all media outlets seems totally focused around the have-sex-with-anyone-you-date-for-more-than-five-minutes culture, and the commonly portrayed alternative is the family made up of a smart alec wife, a overweight and stupid husband, two bratty kids and some interfering in-laws. Regardless of how frequent these two alternatives are, the fact that they’re portrayed as normal by all our cultural outlets has got to be causing a lot of damage to people who are not already getting a strong positive example through some other means.

  • Two statements. The first is that I have seen quite a bit of the happy-go-lucky sex culture myself, both here at college, and when I worked a summer at construction. By no means did a majority look for rampant promiscuity, but a visible minority had no problem discussing girls they picked up one night, only to discard them the next day.

    The second is in reply to one of the concluding statements:

    I don’t see how it could be sustainable. It’s a culture which one can only bring new people into the world by leaving, and as such it seems like something that would naturally burn itself out fairly quickly.

    The answer here, I think, is virus. By themselves, viruses cannot reproduce, but once they latch onto a host and convert a particular cell into a factory, they can make many more of themselves (which in turn cannot reproduce without invading some other host).

    Whenever I think that that the culture of promiscuity is going to die out after a couple more generations, I remember the virus thing. The promiscuity culture waits for the non-promiscuous to reproduce, and then it infects some of the offspring, thus guaranteeing its propagation through yet another generation, and another, and another.

    Now, how to make a vaccine…

  • Eh. I say it sounds like immature young men enjoying every minute of their freedom and conveniently blaming women for their “confusion”. I dated my wife for 5 years (because we met in high school and I didn’t want to be married until I had a degree and a job.) If I hadn’t met her until we were 25, it would have taken me all of three months to propose. That’s not to say there wouldn’t have been other women to date and discern. But when a confident young Catholic knows what he’s looking for, and uses a little common sense and knows where to look for it (NOT at a bar), it should be pretty easy to discover pretty quickly whether she would be a good wife. Shacking up for two years because you’re “just not sure” is total BS.

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  • will ultimately undo any good that feminism has ever done.

    that horse left the barn long ago with abortion and free love.

  • I can tell you from first hand experience that the culture is definitely real and exists for pretty much all singles in their twenties that have not already entered into a long term relationship. You say that the culture is unsustainable because it’s a culture which one can only bring new people into the world by leaving. First of all, it is not a true anthropological “culture” of persons so your existential math is not applicable to it. The culture of “Children” is also not capable of creating new members but the population of children has not declined now has it? The culture is really more a sub-culture. I believe your real question is whether or not this is a lasting sub-culture for it’s individual members and whether or not this sub-culture will go extinct due to darwinian forces because so many of it’s members have a low reproductive rate. Answer #1: no. Members of this subculture will leave it eventually because they lack sexual currency. Answer #2: maybe. Some parts of this subculture will very slowly go extinct because of it’s low reproductive rate but other parts of it have a higher than replacement rate reproductive rate due to the prevalence of single mothers.

    Also, let me say that I disagree with the author in his contention that men are becoming a sort of overgrown adolescent as a form of protest to the wrongs committed to them by women. I do not find that this is the case. I come from a conservative background and had many 1950’s style ideas about dating in my head when I was younger. I have found that being a more responsible, mature, and committal man to women makes oneself extremely unattractive to them. The reason men have become grown adolescents is because that is what women have come to expect and desire. More mature men are considered boring and “lame” by the modern single girl/woman. A man that follows old school dating protocol seems like a prehistoric relic and a completely socially inept person to the modern woman. Also, the women themselves do NOT want to commit until they are damn well ready. And when such a time comes, she will try to turn one of her immature male peers into a more steadfast person. If she succeeds, she will be glad but also secretly disappointed that she was able to cow her man. The adaptation of men to this modern reality is darwinian in the sense that it is something that has evolved randomly in order to gain more success. And also, there’s actually less sex going on than you would think. Hookups happen but since neither party is committed, there are long time spans between hookups. Serial monogamers probably have more sex but fewer partners.

  • “The culture of “Children” is also not capable of creating new members but the population of children has not declined now has it?”

    Actually it has as many industrialized nations are now below replacement rates in the number of births.

  • Also, let me point something out to those of you that haven’t already heard about it in the news.

    Japanese bithrates and plunging and relations between young men and young women are disintegrating. What’s happening there is a more extreme version of what’s happening here.

    I think that a lot of what’s happening is due several factors:
    Less social pressure to get marry.
    It’s easier to financially survive on your own with the rising GDP/capita of the modern world.
    Men are less attractive to women.

    The last one is interesting and exemplified in Japan. I would say that there are very few men that the average japanese women finds attractive and the reason has nothing to do with looks. Japanese men are too nice and unagressive for even the polite and unagressive japanese girls.

    The truth is, women do not like equality when it comes their mate choices. They want men who have higher social positions and are more personally socially powerful than themselves. I believe that the liberation of women was a good thing for moral reasons but women have failed to pay their due and adjust their preferences in men now that they are much more the equal of men.

  • One of my co-workers is a 27 year old evangelical Christian. She went to college on both an athletic and an academic scholarship. She also happens to be extremely pretty. And yet, she sits at home most Saturday nights.

    She told me quite a while ago that she wants to be a virgin when she marries. That accounts for the solo Saturday nights. She has many first dates (some with men who claim to be Christians), but somehow they never call again. Of course, not all first dates work out. (Actually, I could write the book about horrible first dates). I doubt her moral values (which would have been expected 50 years ago) are helping her popularity in the dating scene circa 2009.

    I admire her steadfastness. I hope she soon meets a young man who admires and values her beliefs instead of thinking “Why should I waste money on a chick who won’t put out?”

  • I’ve read a lot of articles and blog posts and it seems the issue is an imbalance between the number of eligible men and eligible women.

    Note: the following is mainly applicable if there is an absence of traditional norms.

    Between high school and the 30s, there are more eligible women than men, with 80% of women in the market and 20% of men in the market. This 20% of men are known as the “alpha males” and women direct all of their attention to attracting these men. The other 80% of guys can play video games since they don’t have any value in the dating market and would lose even if they tried.

    The general tendency is a polygamy if these alpha men play the field and monogamy if these alpha men settle down.

Marriage Looks to Win in California

Wednesday, November 5, AD 2008

While there is generally little to rejoice at in the results of yesterdays elections, there is a glimmer of light on the West Coast for those who believe in Christianity and Western Culture: As of this morning California Proposition 8, which would amend the California state constitution with the words “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” looks to be winning out after a hard fought campaign. The LA Times refuses to call it yet, but with 91% of precincts reporting, Prop 8 leads by 350,000 votes, 51.9% to 48.1%.

President Elect Obama had opposed the measure calling it “divisive”, but although Obama won California by 2,400,000 votes, Californians refused to allow to stand to a court ruling earlier this year in which 2000’s Proposition 22 defined traditional marriage by statute.

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13 Responses to Marriage Looks to Win in California

  • Hope for the future. I assume culturally conservative Hispanic votes made up the margin of victory.

  • Yes, not to underestimate the impact of Prop 8, but CA Proposition 4, the “parental notification” law for minors seeking abortion, has been knocked down, yet again. I left California in 2006, but the pro-life movement has worked very hard for notification. Parental Consent would be the next hurdle. This is the most common sense restriction you could have. A child needs permission to be given an aspirin at school, but she can get an abortion, no questions asked. It boggles my mind to see how Prop 8 could pass, yet Prop 4 fail. It is a severe blow to the pro-life movement in California.

  • Traditional marriage passed with something like 61% of the vote last time in CA; now it’s a much thinner margin. I don’t see this as much of a victory anymore, when it’s stood next to the failure of parental notification (Prop 4) and all the other abortion and euthanasia measures in other states. Add to this the possibility of something happening at the federal level on these matters….?

    Really, what hope is there for America if parents think it’s okay for their daughters to get an abortion without their knowledge?

  • It’s becoming my mantra… politics is downstream from culture, politics is downstream from culture. Things like the failure of 4 and the smaller margin of victory for 8 in CA confirm the view that we need to be focusing *as much* on cultural transformation as on political transformation… I generally accept the view that elections merely hold up a mirror to the electorate, and that we get the politicians we vote for, in the obvious *and* more subtle senses.

    I live in South Dakota, where two years ago a comprehensive ban on abortion failed by 10% at the ballot box. Pro-lifers came back with a ban that included exceptions, just to get *something* passed, and guess what? It failed last night, again by double digits. And this is South Dakota, for goodness sake, which hasn’t voted for a Dem president since hometown boy McGovern!

    The law is a great teacher, and there is a feedback loop in the culture-politics relationship (politics can amplify cultural trends), but I think the electoral trends call for a greater focus on cultural transformation, *while maintaining* efforts wrt political transformation.

    But all of that requires evangelization & catechesis, so I’d better get back to work. 🙂

  • Whoopee. Only slightly less than half of Californians think men and women are interchangeable…

    Sorry to be so grumpy. This victory really is worth celebrating. But I don’t see the end in sight for this issue.

  • but I think the electoral trends call for a greater focus on cultural transformation, *while maintaining* efforts wrt political transformation.

    Completely agreed, Chris.

  • And please don’t take down the Obama-Messiah blog!

  • It’s going to get worse before it gets better. We need to realize that internet pornography is the greatest propaganda machine for the sexual revolution. For the dedicated pornography customer, sexuality really is just a consumer choice.

  • Wow, what’s the weather like in the land of the out of touch? I assume quite gloomy. Why don’t you people relax and let people live their lives without you always trying to impose your will on them…

  • Hey Obamabot,

    That was you imposing your will on us… I never tried to redefine marriage. Get the facts straight.

  • Wait till Obama’s Supreme Court choices invalidate Prop 8.

  • Hey jack christian,
    Me simply asking why you do cannot just leave folks alone and let them live their lives is me “imposing my will on you”? Wow, what a weird way to twist that—let me understand your logic, you impose your will on others, someone requests that you stop, you then feel like someone is imposing their will on you for asking you to not impose your will? Yikes.

  • How did I impose my will on others? I didn’t. But then you said….

    Why don’t you people relax and let people live their lives

    …Huh, that certainly sounds like someone trying to impose his will on another…

    And my name isn’t jack, Obamabot.

Defend Marriage. Defend Life. Protect the Future.

Monday, November 3, AD 2008

Readers in California, please don’t forget that as you attempt to chose a pro-Life candidate for President of the US you are also being called to defend marriage by voting Yes on Proposition 8. Whether they are beloved friends, co-workers or relatives, we all probably all know gays and lesbians that we love and care deeply about; many of them may be in long-term loving relationships. But let’s not fool ourselves, a “marriage” between two people of the same sex is not a marriage in Christ. It is not love in the way Christ called us to love one another and the more we head down this path of destroying the institution of marriage, the further we move down the road to our own destruction as a society.

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11 Responses to Defend Marriage. Defend Life. Protect the Future.

  • The only problem I foresee with an affirmative vote on Proposition 8 is that it warrants the marriage of a transgender male and a transgender female. Under Prop 8, such a “marriage” would be “valid” and “recognized” in California.

    We must be wary of accepting transgender marriages because transgender people are disgusting and morally reprehensible. Voting “Yes” on Prop 8 will promote transgender marriages and a disgusting and messy alternative lifestyle. So, an affirmative vote on Prop 8 will encourage transgender marriages.

  • Made recent trip to Southern California. Turned on local teevee news soon as the bags were dumped in hotel room closet. Assaulted by blasts of Prop 6 this and Prop 10 that and stuff from Mexico will poison children. Turned off tube, went to dinner. But glad to see the Prop 8 forces spending oodles of coin on those commercials. Did I see rumor that His Eminence Cardinal Mahony wrote check for 1 million for Pro-Prop 8 effort. A stopped clock is right 2x daily.

  • Actually, no, I’m not a “troll” (and I’m not a plumber or Joe “six-pack” either) but I am very concerned with recent Catholic support for fringe legislation, such as Prop 8 in CA and Amend 48 in CO. It seems fewer and fewer Catholics — especially bishops and cardinals — are thinking about the obvious implications of legislating morality.

    But if “Joe is a troll” has something more useful and substantive to say than just toss slanders toward fellow Catholics concerned with highly questionable legislation, then I’d be happy to hear it! The problem is that you’ve not thought about such implications; have you? Let me pose the question again: What should be done about marriage between two people who are transgender?

    Since you probably won’t be able to fill out the argument, let me. You might think that Prop 8 should be replaced with stronger language: marriage should be between a natural man and a natural woman. Of course the problem is in defining “natural,” because so many people engage in cosmetic surgery over the course of their lifetime. It would be hard to say that a person who has “whitened” their teeth is natural, because natural seems to imply something about not having engaged in some form of cosmetic enhancement. We all have done something to improve ourselves, so it seems like we cannot conceive of natural in this way.

    One might think that natural implies something about being able to bear children. Of course we’d have to extend legislation to legitimize those couples who can no longer bear children, i.e., the elderly. Also, we’d have to accommodate those couples where one or more of the spouses have health problems preventing them from bearing children. Given the way that the Catholic Church has been going recently, you may think that these folks shouldn’t marry _because_ they cannot bear children. Basically, the gist of the Catholic Church’s message has been if you can’t procreate, don’t marry. So, the view that natural implies something about being able to bear children might have greater merit among Catholics.

    The problem I tried to raise in my original post had nothing to do with accepting, endorsing, or condoning same-sex marriage (read it again if you think it does). In fact, I don’t think the state should legislate marriage. I suspect, however, that is how “Joe is a troll” took it.

    I do think there are significant problems with the Prop 8 legislation when we set aside our views of same-sex marriage. Anyone who can think for themselves (rather than relying on what they read in propaganda flyers and the liberal media) would be able to comprehend this with some careful thought.

    I’d like to hear some alternatives to Prop 8 before permitting the state to dictate what is morally acceptable and morally unacceptable.

  • Joe,

    Don’t you think the state overturning the people’s will and declaring what is moral and immoral not imposing their will on the people?

  • Tito,

    I was going to say the same thing. Isn’t the judiciary legislating morality in this instance by forcing us to accept gay marriage as a right? And besides: of course the state can legislate morality! What do you think it’s doing with all those laws against murder?

    Prop. 8 is actually pretty modest in that it makes no claim on the morality of homosexual unions or relationships. It just reinforces the definition of marriage that we already understood and didn’t need redefined by the judiciary.

    In that sense, I agree wholeheartedly with Joe — we shouldn’t even have to be voting on this kind of thing! It’s only because we’ve been put in this position by a rights-inventing judiciary that we have to do it.

  • Tito, did I rule that out somewhere along the line? I don’t think I did. I grant that activist judges brought on the current situation. But the situation has arisen and we have contend with it. To not contend with it is to give in to those commie liberal yellow-bellies.

    j. christian, I don’t think that “reinforcing a definition of marriage” has nothing to do with morality. Also, what’s the definition of marriage? I think people have a hard time accepting the definition as it is outlined in Prop. 8. Polygamists certainly will have a hard time with it, though they seem to be upholding a form of marriage consistent with Prop. 8 (you just have to add a few more women to the mix). Defining marriage in any way is legislating morality.

    And, of course you’re right that we shouldn’t be voting on this kind of measure. It doesn’t belong in a state or country’s constitution at all.

  • One can argue that the state should not be in the business of defining marriage, but since the state deals with marriages already (property rights, divorces, tax implications, etc.) and the courts in CA have not imposed a definition of marriage which is patently false, I can only see it as making it better to pass an initiative defining it more in keeping with what marriage actually is.

  • “the courts in CA have not imposed a definition of marriage which is patently false,”

    Not to nitpick, but did you mean ‘now’ rather than ‘not’.

  • Joe & J. Christian,

    I understand and appreciate your responses.

    I still think that the judicial branch, being forced by liberal activists, brought this upon themselves by trying to impose their (im)morality on the state.