Marriage is neither religious nor civil. You cannot have a 'religious' marriage, nor a 'civil' marriage; the marriage itself may be instituted in a religious or civil context, of course. Marriage, as an institution, does not belong to the Church, nor does it belong to the state.
As we heard in Mass this weekend, marriage is a "matrimonial covenant, but which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole life, by its nature is ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation of and education of offspring; this covenant between baptised persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament." (ccc 1601)
So, marriage exists outside of our religion; it is not a religious institution. It is a human institution, created for the good of the whole of mankind.
One of the reasons why the state exists is to protect the institution of marriage. The Church exists to sanctify it.
If one of these parties (in this case, the state), attempt to re-define what this institution actually means, then the function of the other party is necessarily affected.
The Church is not worried about her 'religious ceremonies'; she is not worried that the state will make her witness the 'marriages' of gay couples. It's not about what the Church can do in its own churches. Even if the state did require this to take place, the Church would rather be negatively affected rather than permit it. It is beyond the jurisdiction of the state to do this. Remember, a hundred years ago, the Church in France gave up most of its property to the state, rather than give in to error. Similarly, it is beyond the jurisdiction of the state to re-define something which is greater than itself. The Church - that's you and me, not just the bishops - is bothered about it, because the state thinks it can change what God has ordained for our own good. The state has put itself in God's shoes. The Church will fight, tooth and claw, to eradicate this idolatry and error, not for her own good, but because the whole of mankind will suffer.
If you're not bothered by this, or you even agree with government policy, ask yourself why.
|Gay marriage: a new golden calf?|