If you recall, last week I began a new reflection on Marriage in light of the decision rendered by the Supreme Court on June 26. Since that decision was handed down, there have been further claims made that continue to distort what Marriage truly is. Being surrounded by the dictatorship of relativism, Catholics are responsible to speak the Truth revealed by God, and are to proclaim that Truth to a world steeped in error. In this context, there is a Truth revealed by God with regard to Marriage, and Catholics must speak that Truth. Any claims contrary to this Truth must be corrected. Among the recent claims made by the secular forces in their redefinition of Marriage is that through this decision, in using a social media hashtag, “#lovewins”. Implicit in this hashtag is that Marriage, by including unions of same sex couples who “love” each other, is where the love two people have for one another is ultimately lived out.
The connection of Love and Marriage as exclusive to one another has been growing in recent decades, mostly through popular media. As a way of example, Frank Sinatra directly linked the two in a song by that name in 1955. The opening line of the song was, “Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.” Yes, I do hope and pray that all who choose to marry love one another, but Love itself transcends the married state. Recall also that during this same period of history, many popular songs began connecting love with the sex act. In this regard, there are a couple of important things to note. First, recall that Love is not one of the three “goods” of marriage, because, if a couple loves one another, it preceded the marriage. Second, while it is important that a couple love one another if they choose to marry, it is not a canonical prerequisite for the couple to be married in church. Third, married couples do not “make love” but do engage in an act reserved to married couples that could lead to the procreation of children. Fourth, and most importantly, Love is not exclusive to marriage.
Anyone who pauses for a moment and considers what is meant by Love will quickly come to the conclusion that Love is a part of all human relationships, not just marital relationships. In fact, it was Jesus Who exhorted us to even Love our enemies. There are many people in our lives that we Love, and each love relationship is unique. It is only in married Love that we find a connection to the Love shared and procreation. In terms of the variety of Love relationships in our world, parents love their children, brothers and sisters love each other, friends love their friends, believers love Jesus Christ, etc. And, we hope, husbands love their wives and wives love their husbands. Although we use the same word for each of these love relationships, the Love in which two become one is lived out very differently than the Love between parents and children or between brothers and sisters. So to claim that the ruling is a triumph of love falls far short of the Truth about Love.
Throughout Christian history, there has been a distinct understanding of the specific form of Love between a husband and a wife, a Love that is described as a communion of persons. This understanding was summarized at the Second Vatican Council in the document Gaudium et Spes. In section 50 of the document, the bishops state, “Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of the parents.” Pope Paul VI builds on this quote in the section on married love in the encyclical Humanae Vitae. In section 9 of the document, Pope Paul quotes this line and affirms that martial love must always be free, total, faithful, and ordered toward fruitfulness. At the very heart of “marital” Love, that is, in the communion of the persons of the husband and wife, is the good of procreation. In other words, the two united by the sacrament and who, in their human complementarity of masculinity and femininity, engage in the marital embrace, must have the potential to procreate new life. Remember, this does not mean the act will always result in a new life, just that the potential for such be part of the embrace. Such potential can only exist between a man and a woman. Marital Love, uniquely expressed in the marital act, is thus ordered to the good of procreation.