Wednesday, October 18, 2006

C.S. Lewis Makes Sense on Marriage

Andrew Sullivan quotes the chronicler of Narnia:
"My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, and the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought be to quite sharp, so that a man know which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not."
This is indeed the crux of the matter, as I've argued here, and it has direct relevance to the gay marriage debate. Remember, though, that Lewis was an Anglican. For him, marriage was not even a sacrament. Think about how much more resonance this should have among Catholics, as marriage assumes a whole new supernatural dimension. But there is so much muddy thinking out there, reflecting the inability to separate the sacrament--the permanent union of one man and one woman in mutual self-giving ordered toward the bearing and rearing of children-- from civil marriage, which is a legal arrangement bestowing certain rights and responsibilities. Of course, most of what passes for marriage in the secular world comes nowhere close to the sacramental ideal. And that's fine. We should not try impose Catholic conceptions of marriage on non-Catholics. We don't bat an eyelid when the secular authorities "bless" Britney Spears's 24-hour drunken Las Vegas marriage, so why do we care so much about gay marriage? Would accepting gay marriage not merely clarify the difference between the sacrament and the legal arrangement?

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