Thinking through a couple items on marriage, things I've written about before but am trying to assemble again:
First, a post on the Volokh Conspiracy site at the Washington Post, about the question of whether you can oppose gay marriage and keep your job. Or, rather, the comments to that post. Maybe it's just a few people, but there was an argument running through the comments that went like this (paraphrased):
The science is settled. Judges have ruled that marriage is a civil right having nothing to do with the sex of the two parties involved, nor is there any connection (or any conceivable reason for a connection) to children. It's only due to the lack of court cases elsewhere that gay marriage isn't the law of the land throughout the whole country, because it's an indisputable fact that gay marriage is a civil right.
Since it is a civil right, anyone who votes to deny this civil right is a bigot who has forfeited all of their civil rights. They deserve, among other things, to lose their jobs, because of their "right-less" status.So what do you think -- a small minority not worth worrying about? Or a rising wave of intolerance?
At the same time, there's a report in CNN about a call the pope made to an Argentine woman who had written about her situation, married to a divorced (without annullment) man and hence unable to receive communion. And I start to wonder:
Catholics take a lot of heat for the concept of an annullment; it's treated as simply a bunch of unnecessary hoops to jump through and people point to it as being an overly-legalistic "Catholic divorce." But the idea behind it is this: in order for a marriage to be valid and "sacramental," it requires that the parties be able to make a sound judgement (being sufficiently mature, not being pressured), and have a proper intention: to be open to children, to be faithful, and to commit to each other until death. (See this "Catholic Update" for a lot of background.) The presumption is that a marriage is valid; hence, an annullment is a finding that these requirements were not met.
But it's increasingly clear that in secular society, we can't make this presumption any longer. We're told repeatedly: "marriage has nothing to do with children" -- with the latest variant being, "marriage has nothing to do with children, and you have no right to say that it does." We're told that marriage is, instead, a legal contract intended to confer government benefits and societal recognition on its participants. We not only have widespread acceptance of divorce but have proposals for such things as a 5 or 10-year marriage contract, and warm human interest stories of women rediscovering themselves after a late-in-life divorce. In this environment, is it really the firm intention of married couples to, in fact, remain faithful to each other until death? It would seem as if, more and more, the "default" assumption has to be that a couple entering into a marriage, at least a secular marriage, does not have such an intention. And even marriage in a Catholic church, with its emphasis on Pre-Cana marriage preparation -- it would require quite a firm resolve to believe marriage to be something other than what the prevailing cultures says it is.
But I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with this. What do you think?