It is more difficult to describe the public significance of marriage. What do we really know about the role of marriage in society and why should we care? Isn’t marriage just a private relationship between two people who love each other and therefore, none of our business?
The Bishops of Pennsylvania developed a series of parish bulletin inserts and other materials to shed light on the role of marriage in our civil society from the perspective of Catholic teaching.
For example, you might wonder, why can marriage exist only between a man and a woman? See Marriage and Society for the answer: “Only the union of a male and female can express the full sexual complementarity willed by God for marriage. In knowing what God has created, we know His will. Man and woman are to give to each other their entire being in their masculinity and femininity. They are equal as human beings but different as man and woman, fulfilling each other through this difference. This makes possible the conjugal bond, which is the core of marriage.”
Marriage and Children discusses how important marriage is to the well-being of our families, “Without children, cultures die, nations die, the human species dies. Nothing is more fundamental to the common good than children. And nothing matters more for the well-being of children than the health of marriage and family life. Social justice requires above all that we safeguard and strengthen marriage and family life.”
To understand marriage more completely, there must be a discussion about sexuality. Respecting Sexuality answers the question, how does the Church view homosexual inclination? “While the Church teaches that homosexual acts are immoral, just as all sexual acts outside of marriage are immoral, she does distinguish between engaging in homosexual acts and having a homosexual inclination. While the former is always objectively sinful, the latter is not. To the extent that a homosexual tendency or inclination is not subject to one’s free will, one is not morally culpable for that tendency. Although one would be morally culpable if one were voluntarily to entertain homosexual temptations or to choose to act on them, simply having the tendency is not a sin. Consequently, the Church does not teach that the experience of homosexual attraction is in itself sinful.”
Marriage holds a special and unique role in our community as a whole. Protecting and safeguarding marriage is about the common good. As concerned citizens, we should learn all we can about the public significance of this important institution and work to preserve and encourage the ideal whenever possible.
To read more about marriage and Church teaching on sexuality, log on to pacatholic.org/current_issues/marriage.
PCC Column October 2009 by A.B. Hill, Communications Director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference – the public affairs arm of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania.