How can we fight back on marriage?

John Zmirak has come up with the only good, creative idea I’ve seen:

Having crawled back into the sacristy and won the reluctant toleration that is all we dared to ask for, is there anything Catholics can do to preserve at least among our own flock the real understanding of marriage?

Oh yes. There is plenty, all of it long overdue. I recall that in the 1990s some Evangelical activists proposed laws (one passed in Louisiana and two other states) allowing couples the option of contracting “covenant marriage.” This amounts in essence to marriage as it had been defined before the onslaught of lax divorce laws — with few conditions permitting divorce (abandonment, abuse, and adultery), with custody preferences for mothers and guarantees of alimony for wives and children. Once it was enacted in Louisiana, bishops lauded it — but issued a statement assuring Catholic couples that it was merely optional.

It is time for us to revive this idea and encode still stricter provisions that mirror Canon Law, eschewing divorce and remarriage, in a standard prenuptial covenant that must be signed by Roman Catholics if they wish to be married in the Church. No pastor should be allowed to witness the Catholic marriage of any couple who will not sign such a pact — since, by refusing to do so, they would be in essence confessing that they intend not a sacrament but a charade. Rogue marriages conducted without this agreement should be, in the Church’s eyes, null and void. Catholics who still wanted elaborate ceremonies in Gothic environs could go off and rent some empty Episcopalian building.

These covenants, in their intent, should be legally enforceable — though, of course, American courts might throw them out. (The freedom of contract is only applied when it furthers leftist goals.) Still, even if judges invalidate our prenups, the Church should still demand them — and use their existence as prima facie evidence blocking future attempts at annulment. If we could make of marriage an obligation as solemn as, say, one’s credit card debt, we’d go a long way toward making it seem almost…sacred. The day that divorce is tougher and rarer than bankruptcy is the day that our values are rightly aligned.

Alongside these prenuptial covenants, American dioceses must make training in natural family planning a non-negotiable part of every pre-Cana course — since the routine use of contraception by Catholics is one of the key factors undermining lasting marriage. In fact, the way many churchmen respond with dissent or neglect to Humanae Vitae is one of the reasons that no one else takes us seriously. How dare we tell same-sex couples that they have no right to wed, when we barely trouble to teach our own congregations which kinds of sex it’s a sin to have? We wonder why no one listens to us. It could be because we are winking.

6 Responses

  1. bonald, I’ve been beating this drum for a while. These are called private marriage contracts, here is my essay on the topic, if you would be interested in reading it:

    http://religionnewsblog.blogspot.com/2008/05/saving-marriage-and-family-private.html

    The real problem is that states do not recognize their validity, outside a very small area of pre-marital asset protection (what we typically think of as prenups). They do NOT recognize the validity of any premarital agreements concerning valid divorce grounds, division of marital assets, spousal support, or child custody. In other words, the courts reserve full tyranny over these decisions.

    Thus, the single point of positive activism lies here: passing laws at the state level mandating that courts recognize the authority of private marriage contracts.

  2. There are 2 distinct ideas here. A prenuptial agreement is an agreement preceding marriage. If such an agreement precedes a standard marriage, then you have still turned over the rules of your marriage to the liberal state and most likely a judge will invalidate any meaningful terms in your prenup making it useless. The second idea here is covenant marriage. While this idea sounds good in theory, it has been screwed up in practice because the movement is dominated by Christians who seem to screw up everything these days. The word “covenant” means an agreement or contract. This word is often used in the Bible to refer to agreements made with God. In the context of marriage, the covenant/agreement should be between the couple getting married. In other words, it should be a private contract whose terms are determined by the couple. Unfortunately, instead, the covenant marriage movement has pushed for standard terms based on Christian values. What would make sense would be to allow couples to marry on any mutually agreed upon terms, but to only have the Church accept/sanctify marriages whose terms meet Christian guidelines. This system would work for everyone regardless of religion. But such a system makes too much sense to expect it to be implemented in our moronic times.

  3. I’m still unclear as to why the Church doesn’t simply excommunicate those politicians who support, vote for, or sign into law gay “marriage” bills. If sexual immorality constitutes a grave offense, than scandalizing the public by endorsing it with taxpayer dollars by all accounts only magnifies the sin.

  4. That’s a great idea.

  5. I can’t resist pouring cold water on this . . .

    is there anything Catholics can do to preserve at least among our own flock the real understanding of marriage?

    Preserve? Is he claiming that the real understanding of marriage is widespread among Catholics? Seriously?

    bishops lauded it — but issued a statement assuring Catholic couples that it was merely optional.

    Here is the problem, or at least a key manifestation of the problem. The Bishops give off the strong smell of people who don’t believe their own bullshit. Here is one of my favorite liturgy porn videos featuring Bishop Todd Brown.

    I don’t pretend to know what is going on behind the scenes. But, from the outside, the American Bishops (all, or essentially all of them) look like they are uninterested in shepherding. It seems clear to me that, until the Bishops return to clear teaching, there is little point in worrying about the details of the secular contract falsely known as “marriage” and the various regulatory details surrounding it.

    I mean, come on, the Churchmen now permit mixed marriages and (de facto) divorce. What is the point of quibbling about some dopey civil contract and associated procedures? Lay people are going to somehow teach, via legislation, good doctrine in the face of the Churchmen’s apparent indifference?

    What we can do is pray. And live our lives as if we believe authentic Church teaching. And support organizations which act as if they believe in authentic Church teaching. And hope that the Holy Father really is working behind the scenes to clean the Augean Stables.

  6. It would be better if Christians had this understanding:

    Caucasian Liberals enabling and supporting Black mobs and Latino crime = Liberal Heterosexuals enabling and supporting Gays and Transgenders

    While I like Zmirak’s advice I disagree on some other level since CrisisMagazine has gone libertarian and neoconservative and I’m in doubt. Obligation to marriage is nothing like a credit card debt.

    allowing couples the option of contracting “covenant marriage.” This amounts in essence to marriage as it had been defined before the onslaught of lax divorce laws — with few conditions permitting divorce (abandonment, abuse, and adultery), with custody preferences for mothers and guarantees of alimony for wives and children.

    Agreed with first part (few conditions permitting divorce), disagree with second and third features. I believe that custody should either go to the father or 50/50, not to the mother which is de-facto in Western liberal society today. Alimony for wives and children should be guaranteed but not at the rate or size of today where feminism rules and certainly not to unworthy women (e.g. if a woman has been found to be of low character).

    In my opinion since legal marriage is such a catastrophe and liberalism rules in law traditional conservatives should end their support for legal marriages.

    We should ex-communicate “Cafeteria Catholics” or liberal Christians like Cuomo, Lady Gaga and cleanse the Church while disdaining and in all rejecting legal marriages. Christians should only wed at a Biblical Church at the uttermost instant in the sight of God, get a certificate of their marriage and participte in a ceremony.

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