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Kate Whittaker Cousino

Marriage and Freedom

Mar. 22 at 10:28pm

A few days ago, a young engaged woman, Emma Smith wrote a piece on Catholic exchange called Marriage is Work. The take-away, as it came across to me and, apparently, others, was that failed marriages indicate a failure of the spouses to work, and that the primary advantage of a Catholic marriage is that Catholics do a lot of marriage prep, and that the sacramental nature of marriage gives you a sort of supernatural guarantee that, as long as you work on it, you'll have the kind of loving, faithful, happy marriage that we all want. 

I read it. I shrugged my shoulders and kept going. How could I say anything without sounding like sour grapes trying to pop the bubble of a sweet and joyful

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Katie van Schaijik

Separating sex and love

Jul. 20, 2013, at 11:09am

Just now I was listening for a second time to the talk Jules gave yesterday morning in Steubenville on von Hildebrand's distinction between the primary "meaning of marriage", i.e. love, and the primary "end of marriage", i.e. children.  (I can't think of anything I'd rather do than listen to my beloved talk about marriage.)

Specifically, he tries to show that not only does this distinction not (as some critics charge) undercut the Church's teaching on the inseparability of sex and pro-creation, it deepens and enriches our grasp of that teaching, by drawing out and emphasizing the personal structure of conjugal relations.  

Spouses don't use each other to produce children. God doesn't use

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Katie van Schaijik

8 Reminders for fathers of marriageable daughters

Jun. 25, 2013, at 7:36am

Contra a recent National Catholic Register blog post by Pat Archbold, titled “8 Rules for Marrying my Daughter”:

1)   Unless your daughter is a minor, you don’t get to have requirements for her prospective spouse. Not only do you not get to choose him for her, you have no veto power over her choices at all. None. You don’t get to lay down criteria. You don’t get to say, “He has to be Catholic,” much less, “He has to have a prayer life.” However reasonable the demand may seem to you, and however objectively advantageous to your daughter, you have no right to insist that the man seeking her hand in marriage be gainfully employed, or have no debt, or come from an intact family. All of that is

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Devra Torres

Some Arguments Against Gay Marriage, and Why They Won’t Work

Dec. 22, 2012, at 10:11am

What is it about our understanding of matrimony that makes the arguments for "marriage equality" seem so plausible to so many?

If we, as a society, still believed marriage was essentially about lifelong fidelity and children, and somebody proposed that a same-sex relationship be regarded as one sort of marriage, it would seem implausible, even unthinkable.  After all, such unions are inevitably infertile and notoriously impermanent and non-exclusive.

But we've already downgraded "traditional" marriage to a (usually) long-term relationship between two people who “have feelings for each other.” 

Children are an optional accessory which may be acquired the old-fashioned way or by any number

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Jules van Schaijik

Why gender matters

Dec. 2, 2012, at 2:07pm

Ideally, Christians are always ready to give an answer for their hope and faith to anyone who asks. In practice, however, we usually don't have a convincing answer until someone asks for it. That's when we first begin to reflect on our own views.

This explains the situation many of us find ourselves in today, concerning our views on marriage. We firmly believe that it is a life-long commitment between a man and a woman. But when challenged, we can't think of any persuasive arguments, and our view appears to be no more than a blind, unjust prejudice.

For those, who, like me, want to better understand their own views on this all-important subject, and be able to give a reason for it, I

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Katie van Schaijik

The metaphysics of marriage

Nov. 15, 2012, at 11:15am

Over at Public Discourse, Michael Hannon has a clarifying article on the debate over "same sex marriage".  (Hat tip facebook friend Patrick Langrell.)

Hannon shows convincingly that the common case for SSM rests on some basic confusions—or obfuscations (my word, not his)—about the nature of marriage.  

Olson and Boies [the super-lawyers making an apparently sincere case in favor of the legalization of SSM]—and the movement in general—claim that preserving marriage as a union of man and woman is unjust discrimination. For no good reason, they assert, the “right to marry” is being denied to same-sex couples, who are just as capable of loving and committing to each other as opposite-sex

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Katie van Schaijik

Do husbands have authority over their wives?

Aug. 29, 2012, at 4:39pm

Here are three things we all agree on about marriage:

1) Men and women are different, and importantly so.  The sexes are not interchangeable.  The "genius" of masculiinity and feminity shape the roles of husband and wife.  Wives want their husbands to be men; men want their wives to be women.

2) Authority is not bad.  It does not imply metaphysical or moral superiority.  (The modernist rejection of all authority is the cause of much misery and moral confusion in the world.)

3) It's never okay to "Lord it over" another person, or to be domineering.  Whatever authority a person has should be exercised in a virtuous, Christilke way, viz., in service of others.

Here is what is in dispute:

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Michael Healy

Equality and Leadership in Marriage: the Example of Van and Davy

Aug. 26, 2012, at 11:12pm

I read with interest the post “Are wives supposed to submit to their husbands?” and the ensuing and intelligent comments.  I couldn’t jump in at the time, as I was out of the country, but considering especially that today’s readings at mass included this passage, I thought I would comment now with a new post.

Certainly, I agree with JPII that a mutual submission in Christ (Eph 5:21 “Being subject to one another, in the fear of Christ” [Douay-Rheims] or “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ” [NAB])—the passage preceding the ones about the relative roles of husband and wife (Eph 5 22-32)—is the key to interpreting the subsequent passages.  Only this interpretation can do

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Katie van Schaijik

Are wives supposed to submit to their husbands?

Aug. 8, 2012, at 12:04pm

Over at First Thingsin an article on "obedient wives," Margaret Fox touches a flashpoint of mine.  She refers to an association called the "Obedient Wives Club" formed last year in Malaysia.

The group argues that social problems like divorce, adultery, prostitution, and even domestic abuse could be solved if wives obeyed their husbands and exhibited the sexual prowess of a high class prostitute. In other words, men wouldn’t be unfaithful, hire prostitutes, or beat their wives if they were kept happy in bed. 

Of course, as a woman and a Christian, Margaret Fox is appalled.  But, she finds that just because she's a Christian, she's often thought to endorse the same idea.

Many of my

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Michael Healy

The World of Work and the World of Leisure

Mar. 26, 2012, at 7:29pm

“We work in order to have leisure,” says Aristotle.  By this statement, he does not wish to undermine the importance of the workplace and of accomplishing great things there.  All the practical necessities of our lives depend upon responsible people working hard to satisfy the basic needs of society: food, shelter, clothing, etc.  Christianity confirms the moral relevance of such concerns by labeling them the corporal works of mercy and says that to help the widow, feed the orphan, etc., is Christianity pure and undefiled. 

However, what Aristotle is insisting on—and it is good to be aware of it in today’s world with its tendency to view all things, even people, in a merely utilitarian

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Katie van Schaijik

To restore marriage, teach truth

Mar. 18, 2012, at 9:31am

Over at Public Discourse, David and Amber Lapp have a thought-provoking article about the decline of marriage among working class Americans.

They conducted interviews of young adults in southwestern Ohio and found reasons to be both concerned and hopeful.

Hopeful, because in spite of the “new normal,” most of the young adults who spoke to us do aspire to marriage, or at least to what marriage stands for in their minds—mainly love, fidelity, permanence, and happiness...

But sobering, because even as working class young adults dream of love, commitment, permanence, and family, they inherit a cultural story about love and marriage that frustrates those longings.

Then they put their finger
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Michael Healy

Patience is a Virtue

Jan. 13, 2012, at 11:24pm

Further Reflections after 35th Wedding Anniversary.  When I first read Von Hildebrand’s Transformation in Christ at age 21, I was immediately struck by the title of Chapter 12: “Holy Patience.”  The beauty and appropriateness of the conjunction of those two words have stayed with me ever since.  Von Hildebrand unfolds in the chapter that impatience is a form of self-indulgence and is rooted in an illegitimate claim to sovereignty of the self.  Patience, on the other hand, is opposed to all petulance and quarrelsomeness; it is also opposed to fickleness and inconstancy—e.g., if a task or goal seems to require commitment over a long period of time.  True patience recognizes the sovereignty

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Michael Healy

After 35th Wedding Anniversary: Reflections on Fidelity

Jan. 8, 2012, at 7:13pm

Fidelity, faithfulness, constancy—these words imply an entire worldview or personal orientation toward reality.  In classical times, such words also implied strength and virtue, something to be celebrated.  In modern times, unfortunately, fidelity is sometimes ridiculed, as if fruitlessly binding me to a reality which is no more, e.g., in Engelbert Humperdinck’s ‘60’s pop hit Release Me, wherein the crooner, pining for a divorce, sings “to waste our lives would be a sin, so release me and let me love again.”

However, Gabriel Marcel, in his chapter on “Obedience and Fidelity” in Homo Viator, as well is in a separate article on “Creative Fidelity” from the book of the same name, points out

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Jules van Schaijik

Bonhoeffer II: on the objectivity of marriage

Jan. 5, 2012, at 2:09pm

A few weeks ago, before the Christmas break, Katie put up a post about the personalist emphases in Dietrich Bonhoeffer's famous wedding sermon. Now that the break is over and some peace has returned to our home, I would like to draw attention to another great thought in that sermon, which has to do with the liberating and strengthening objectivity of marriage.

Nowadays marriage is frequently thought of simply as a mutual promise between two persons, a promise made in public (often before God) and confirmed in law. As such it is the outgrowth and natural fulfillment of a deep I-Thou relation between a man and a woman. It is the deliberate ratification, one might say, of that relation. And

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Katie van Schaijik

Bonhoeffer stresses the role of human will in conjugal love

Dec. 17, 2011, at 5:04pm

Jules is currently reading a magisterial biography of the great German Lutheran pastor, theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Knowing that I'm ever on the lookout for illuminating quotations about love and marriage, this morning he sent me a link to Bonhoeffer's Wedding Sermon, written for a young couple from a prison cell in 1943.

Its personalist emphases are striking and powerful. Note how the following passage identifies freedom, responsibility and self-determination (lived out in a dynamic moral sphere of possibilities and risks) as hallmarks of human dignity:

With the ‘Yes’ that they have said to each other, they have by their free choice given a new direction to their lives;

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