I love reading obscure parts of the Old Testament. I love when various Old Testament figures lift up their prayers in lamentation to God. They consist of at least three things. They praise God's faithfulness in the Covenant, and how often they fall short. Finally, they ask for God's healing of themselves, and of all.
I'm reminded of that today as the Supreme Court ruled on gay marriage. I'm reminded first of the beauty of marriage, which through the grace of God I am blessed to partake in. I'm reminded of the (thankfully) small (so far!) transgressions in which I haven't lived up to my marital vows. That remembrance inspires me to ask God for the healing of those transgressions, so I can get back to what really matters: living my vocation as a husband faithfully. I think we as Catholics need to adopt this approach when considering gay marriage:
1.) Marriage has been the building block of our society for millenia, and even in spite of all of the horrid things this society is capable of, it has served us well.
2.) Yet with such a great gift, we have squandered it. Don't blame the gay lobby or the media for the destruction of marriage. That's a cheap copout, as cheap as the charge that it was the Romans or Jews who destroyed Christ, or as Jagger said, denying the truth of who really killed Kennedy. We did a pretty good job of destroying marriage.
Oh, we talk a good game about how marriage is for children, a holy sacrament, a lifelong bond, yada yada yada. Yet how many Catholics actually follow that. Our divorce rate is just like everyone else's. The American Bishops still haven't come to terms with the fact that they helped enable the contraceptive culture within America. You think our Church is open to couples with big families? Go to your average parish and watch a crying kid get the stink eye or told to get segregated off to the cry room. The amount of sins we've committed in this area over the past 5 decades has been numerous, and we add to them day in day out.
Why should we be surprised that homosexuals and others don't view children or lifelong fidelity as important to marriage when we don't? So they instead emphasize love, the only thing in marriage we somehow haven't mentioned to wreck. I'm not letting a secular culture off the hook. Yet there's absolutely nothing we can do about that, at least right now. So how about we focus on what we can? The church really needs to strengthen marriage within her own walls, and then outside of it.
By God's grace, we have been given time. The Supremes could have very easily legalized gay marriage in all 50 states through raw judicial will. Indeed, by the reasoning that struck down DOMA, it is a surprise they didn't. Why is for the legal scholars to decide. The issue is back to being a state issue, for the time being. The courts could decide later to instead grant it to all, or all 50 states could legalize it through the ballot box. Until that time arrives, we can continue strengthening our own individual marriages (and providing the environment for those we love which promotes marriage) and continue educating whoever listens about the benefits of the institution of marriage as it has existed.
While doing this, we also need to be realistic. In the short term, gay marriage will expand throughout this country, and those pushing it will be more aggressive. Catholics need to prepare on how the Church is going to reconcile religious liberty with an increasingly hostile culture. This will require creative thinking. It will also require heroic resistance. If the past 50 years have taught us anything, we can't rely on the powers that be within the Church to provide that leadership. God has given us all the tools we need. The Deposit of Faith, the Sacraments, a couple thousand faithful, a few hundred priests, and a few good bishops. 11 constant failures built a Church which changed world history forever.
We could do those things. Or we could sit and whine about the culture and our helplessness.