My Dear Friends in Christ,
Recent discussions in the media and President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage prompt me to repeat for all the church’s teaching on marriage. This teaching on marriage is one that is shared by many Christian denominations and millions of people who do not belong to a Christian or any religion.
The discussion of marriage and, in particular, same-sex marriage in the United States is being framed in terms of human civil rights. There is no question that all of us are endowed by our creator with human rights and dignity. But marriage cannot be defined only in terms of civil rights. It is much more.
The church as always taught that God is the author of marriage. In the words of the Second Vatican Council, “the intimate partnership of life and the love which constitutes the married state has been established by the creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws.”
It’s important in the midst of the emotional discussion on marriage to remember that marriage is more than just being loyal to the person that you love. A man and woman united as husband and wife are a symbol of life and love to which no other human relationship can compare.
Marriage has two purposes: the good of the spouses and procreation of children. The church teaches that marriage is both unitive and procreative and that it is inseparably both. The two purposes are aspects of self-giving, the bringing together of a husband and wife in a unique communion with one another, means that the husband and wife participate in God’s own self-giving love. The marriage bond between a man and a woman is an intimate two-in-one-flesh communion of persons.
The procreative purpose of marriage recognizes that married love is, by its nature, life-giving and children are the supreme gift of marriage. Male and female complementarity is essential to marriage. It makes possible the authentic union and the generation of new life.
Attempts to make same-sex unions the equivalent of marriage disregard the true nature and purpose of marriage. Since marriage and same-sex unions are different realities, it is not appropriate to assign the definition of marriage to same-sex couple unions.
Marriage is not merely a private institution. It is the foundation of the family where children are brought into the world and nurtured by a mother and father and where they learn the values and virtues of life.
God’s gift of spousal and family love, including the right of children to be born to a mother and father, make marriage a vocation, a divine calling and a fundamental foundation in the well-being of society.
Sincerely in Our Lord,
Most Rev. W. Francis Malooly
Bishop of Wilmington