For folks who wonder where the Church’s teaching on marriage
and related issues comes from,
today’s readings answer the question.
But there’s something to clarify.
When we insist that marriage is a man and woman,
we aren’t basing that primarily on the Bible.
Instead, we refer to “Natural Law.” What’s that?
That’s what we can see written into nature itself,
simply with the power of observation and the use of reason.
Just as we know that the eye is for seeing and the ear for hearing.
We see that sex and marriage, sex and family,
family and marriage, all go together.
Even without the Bible we can see the harm of breaking it all apart.
So let’s apply all this.
The Church has always taught that marital acts
must respect God’s design and remain open to the gift of life.
When Pope Paul VI wrote his letter in 1968,
he simply restated that teaching,
as it applied to birth control pills.
It’s true this involves sacrifice.
At the heart of Natural Family Planning is a discipline
that requires husband and wife to work together.
It expresses reverence for how God designed our bodies.
And, for those who have a need to space the birth of their children,
it involves sacrifice.
But you who are married taught me this:
no marriage can be successful without sacrifice and dying to self.
NFP is built on this truth;
Which may be why couples who practice NFP
are much less likely to divorce.
Now, the rest of our society may not follow this;
even many Catholics do not follow this.
But when the government seeks to prevent us from living this teaching,
then the government has violated our religious freedom.
That’s the issue with the mandate that would force us
to pay for contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs,
as part of health care.
That mandate is already coercing Catholics who own businesses;
Unless it’s overturned, it takes full effect
for our Catholic hospitals, schools and charities next summer.
Let me say something about the current debate
over what the law says about marriage.
Marriage isn’t merely a religious institution, but a basic unit of society.
When government redefines marriage, it redefines family.
In fact, it seeks to redefine what is right and wrong.
The truth is, we as Catholics should have spoken up, decades ago,
As divorce laws made a hash of marriage. But we didn’t.
Now we must speak up, not to be “anti” anyone,
but to insist that a family is a mother and a father,
and that’s what marriage is.
We may feel alone speaking these truths.
But we as Catholics have seen a lot of societies come and go.
The dustbin of history is filled with every “latest thing” that proved,
through bitter experience, to be a false promise.
Christ promised to be with us until the end of time.
We believe him.