Letters to the Catholic Right Asks “What is Marriage? “

“Letters to the Catholic Right” has a post considering a dispute between Robert George and friends on one side, and Law Professor Charles Reid on the other, over what they did or did not say in a recent debate about marriage at Notre Dame. For a synopsis of the dispute see the full post, and follow the links for summary of the debate.

But here’s the key point made by LCR, which needs to be better appreciated by the “Catholic Right” he is addressing, who are convinced that the only valid marriage are of the penis – in – vagina sexual kind: that’s not the model displayed by the Holy Family, and nor has it always been the preferred model in Church history.

Here is the conclusion of the essay:

What is Marriage? Let’s Think a Little Harder.

No, what’s really astonishing to me is that this group of Catholics made this argument at a Catholic university during a debate on Catholicism and public policy and then defended it in writing at the start of Advent season.

Reid gets the irony. He writes, “In that paradigm of marriage for Catholics, the union of Mary and Joseph, it could only have been love that held the Holy Family together, not sex, since Catholics believe that Mary was ‘ever virgin.’”

But it’s not just Mary and Joseph; Catholic teaching is very respectful of a tradition known as the Josephite marriage, which is a legitimate marriage, based on spiritual union, in which the spouses don’t have sex. In Fulton Sheen’s words, “among some Jews and among some great Christian Saints, the vow of virginity was sometimes taken along with espousals. Marriage then became the frame into which the picture of virginity was placed. Marriage was like a sea on which the bark of carnal union never sailed, but one from which one fished the sustenance for life.”

So if we’re putting Reid’s view (“love makes a marriage”) up against George’s (“marriage requires penis-in-vagina sex”) then the weight of Catholic thinking ought to come down on Reid’s side.

– full post at  Letters to the Catholic Right.

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