The Innocence of Common Sense and the Deconstruction of Marriage | John S. Hamlon | Catholic World Report
The world needs to hear the deep, life-giving, theological resonance of God’s plan for marriage and family
Recently, Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, gave an address at the March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. He focused on the common sense argument that all children deserve mothers and fathers. First, though, he effused peace and well-being: “We love you (the opposition)… and want you to be happy… we don’t hate you… we want to be your friends… try to understand our position, as we will try to do the same for you.” Those disarming, unfeigned words reminded me of Herman Melville’s classic tale of innocence, Billy Budd. Melville describes British-frigate sailor Budd as “Adam presumably might have been ere the urbane Serpent wriggled himself in his company.” In other words, Adam before the fall.
Billy Budd sees everything through a perfectly smooth lens, neither convex nor concave. For him, reality has no laminated layers, therefore, no distortions. He wishes everyone well. He cannot recognize evil, even at nose-length. To his shipmates, he is, at once, astonishing and endearing. Such uprightness and transparency, as we know, attracts subterfuge and darkness. Therein lies the story.
Archbishop Cordileone has a depth and charism that the character Budd does not have. And the archbishop understands, far better than most, the Catholic vision of marriage and family. In his talk, I craned to hear something of that depth, something beyond the natural premises (as important as they are) that connect marriage to children, and children to marriage. I wanted to hear a couple of lines designed for those who believe in God, lines that had a memorable ring and some theological content. For instance: “Man becomes an image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion [marriage]” (TOB, 9.3). But the talk was woven, beginning to end, with a natural warp and woof.
Marriage has an inner truth with two parts: first, in terms of self-gift, marriage reflects the internal life of the Trinity; second, married love is procreative precisely because it images creative love.