"Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam. And wove, twue wove, wiww fowwow you fowevah…So tweasuwe youw wove,…" – The Impressive Clergyman

Today I watched a beautiful Ukrainian Catholic Divine Liturgy in which my friend, and occasional cohort in blogging crime, Jerry Nora, entered into the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. I wish him and his wife, Krystia, all the happiness in the world. May God bless them with a marriage that sanctifies them, unifies them, and provides them with many children.

Due to in part to this blessed event, I have a mildly polemical point to make.

I think it's high time Christians take responsibility for how they have directly or indirectly damaged the institution of marriage. I think the high rates of the practice or tacit approval of divorce, premarital sex, abortion, and homosexuality have the same root cause.

Marriage is being redefined. Holy Matrimony was once a permanent, exclusive, and sacramental union of one man and one woman for the sanctification of two people in one flesh and for begetting, raising, and catechising children.

The first blow against the institution was struck by rejecting marriage as a sacrament. Sacraments are conduits for sanctifying grace which, if confected properly, cannot be revoked, removed, or repeated on the same elements. The Reformation demoted marriage to merely an outward sign of an inward covenant. This opened Pandora's box, so to speak.

The second attack was the acceptance of no-fault divorce by Christians. Christ said, "every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Matthew 5:32, 19:9). Why has this Scripture lost power in the Church? Divorce among Christians, though considered undesirable, is often not treated as sin. Furthermore, remarriage is not discouraged. The result? A lifetime commitment is treated like a leased car.

Marriage was damaged a third time by attack was the acceptance of artificial contraception. No longer was child-rearing a necessary component of marriage. The focus shifted to the couple in exclusivity. With permanence and fruitfulness negated, marriage became an institution many people entered into because they were in love and for no other reason. Furthermore, a wedge was driven between spousehood and parenthood. One need not enter one to experience the other. Sex, once intimately linked with the command to "go forth and multiply", could be enjoyed without procreation. When pregnancy is treated like an undesirable side effect, rather than a natural and appropriate outcome, abortion is soon to follow. Sure enough, within a generation, abortion began to be accepted by Christian laity and clergy alike.

Today many nominal Christians enjoy pre/extra-marital sexual relationships without fear of consequences. Marriage has become an optional state-sponsored institution that only the most old-fashioned or anti-progressive insist upon. There isn't any real Scriptural support for this practice, but too few people declare it to be sinful and condemn it, so it continues unabated. Many Christians, who are to be the salt of the earth and a light to the nations, have actively participated in or impotently witnessed the deconstruction of marriage to merely a weak binding of a man and a woman who claim they are in love and ready to spend their lives together. They may or may not have children and raise them to love God. They may or may not stay together. If the marriage "just doesn't work out", they'll end it and the Church will accept them without chastising them. If you don't condemn wrong behavior, you might as well be condoning it. You're not part of the solution, so you're part of the problem.

Conservative Christians are scared about the prospect of homosexual marriage. They are quick to blame secular culture for the downfall of society. However, I think the bulk of the blame lies with the Church. The Church has idly watched marriage be redefined, abused, degraded, and discarded. If Christians want to stop the current threat of homosexual perversion of marriage and the future possibility of state-sanctioned polygamy, they need to return to the full sacramental and procreative view of matrimony. To demand any less is to sin against God's created order.

This entry was posted in essays, editorials, fisks, and rants, humanities and social sciences, philosophy and religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , on by .

About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

21 thoughts on “Mawwage

  1. Funky Dung

    “the states with the highest divorce rates (not including Nevada) are all in the bible belt.”

    And the Bible Belt is by far majority Protestant. Protestants deny sacramental status to marriage, accept artificial contraception, and no-fault divorce. Divorce, premaritial sex, extramarital cohabitation, and unwanted pregancies have become far more common among Catholics since the decade of Vatican II. Since that council, the Catholic Church seems to be attempting to repeat 400 years of Protestant error in 40. The high divorce rate among Christians helps my point rather than hurting it.

    “the lowest divorce rates are in Massachusetts and Connecticut”

    Well, when people don’t even bother to get married, or at least try out several roommate lovers before doing so, the divorce rate is bound to be affected. In reality, though, they’ve been effectively married numerous times.

    “Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, `I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly.” John 4:16-18 (RSV)

  2. Funky Dung

    The number of times I have seen pro life and anti gay marriage messages delivered together in one package has made me seriously consider whether I want to be associated with the pro life movement considering everything else which is now associated with the words “pro life”.

    For the record, I’m more than willing to work with pro-gay pro-lifers. I’ll do any ethical thing to save lives.

  3. John Thompson

    First off, I’ll state the obvious that you have no grounds to make the accusations against Masschusetts that you do.

    Also, you’ve switched your set of standards. Earlier you made a point of saying that when you said “The Church” you meant all Christians, not just Catholics. And now you’ve gone to decrying Protestants for ruining marriage. {insert witty joke about flip-flopping}.

    But silliness aside, it brings us to a critical point. When we ask the question of whether “we” take marriage seriously enough, it is of critical importance that we define “we”. If we define “we” as members of the Church, then it’s a valid discussion to have; but we must only look at members of the church. If we talk about people in general, youi get into problems.

    I believe we have dedicated ourselves at least somewhat to tolerating other people’s faiths. It seems to me that decrying a Baptist for not considering marriage a sacrament makes little more sense than denouncing a Jew for not crossing himself before he prays.

    We are also running fast and loose with the deffinition of “marriage”. There are two deffinitions, but we’re using them interchangably. Marriage is a Catholic Sacrament. It is also a special kind of contract issued by the state. You create a situation where you’re saying “a contract issued by the state is not the same as a Catholic sacrament”, which I’m prepared to call a truistic statement. But that is not a valid source of indignation. A duck is not a cat either.

    If you want to discuss whether marriage is being treated as it ought be, you have to limit your discourse to Catholics whom are entering into Catholic marriage. Otherwise you’re applying a set of standards that is not relevant.

  4. Funky Dung

    I fear I’ve not made myself clear. My original intention was to not sound like a anti-Protestant Catholic. That’d be ludicrous since I was one and reunification is a cause dear to my heart.

    I honestly believe the first major blow to marriage was dealt by the Reformation. The next real tragedy was the unchecked “spirit of Vatican II”, which has been “progressing” the “Catholic” out of “Catholic Church”. Protestant marriage was, I believe, in worse shape than Catholic marriage until the council and the Sexual revolution” that coincided with it.

    My point is that since marriage, if not officially defined the same way, is effectively treated the same by Protestants and Catholics, the problems created by redefinition of marriage must be solved by the entire body of Christians.

    Re: Massachusetts, I wasn’t condemning the state or its people in particular. I only meant that extra-marital cohabitation is significantly less tolerated in Bible Belt states. When living together outside marriage vows is an acceptable option, marriage statistics are likely to be skewed.

  5. Funky Dung

    I find it hard to believe that what you described was the “norm” for pre-modern Christian marriage. While I don’t think there was some “historical state of perfection”, I believe that once upon a time real marriages more closely modelled the Chuch’s ideals, more of the time. Yes, there’s always been a disparity. However, I think it has grown very much worse in the last century or so.

  6. Sean

    I hate religion. It makes people write mean spirited logs like the one above and allows them think they are doing something good. The number of times I have seen pro life and anti gay marriage messages delivered together in one package has made me seriously consider whether I want to be associated with the pro life movement considering everything else which is now associated with the words “pro life”. (On a side note I think the only feasible option is for pro life and pro choice people to work together to try to reduce the number of abortions and unplanned pregnancies, but it seems to me people are so wrapped up in emotion and ideologies that they would rather continue shouting. There could be some common ground there – reducing the number of abortions, but too much energy is diverted away from working on what should be a common goal to less productive endeavors).

    Back to the main point you seem to be referring to some ideal time in the past where people acted differently about marriage, but there has always been affairs, illegitimate children, homosexuality and so on. Gay marriage would only demean marriage for you in your own head, and that is very selfish.

    I donÂ’t think a gay marriage is an ideal situation for a child to be raised in, but how many children are raised in ideal conditions? If the constitution is amended to ban gay marriage (however it is worded) should also ban marriage between other people less fit to be parents? I honestly believe that being raised by alcoholic parents is a far less ideal situation than being raised gay parents, yet almost no one else would dare suggest limiting marriage in that way, in part because that has been a problem that always has existed. Basically what IÂ’m saying is that just because something is traditional, it isnÂ’t necessarily good.

    All religions have been made up by men, man was not made in godÂ’s image, god was made in manÂ’s image (personification) because we were unable to conceive of something more creative. Taking something made up by men and pretending it is sacred is dangerous, and has had disastrous results as we have seen though out history. Anyone who tries to figure out what their god wants them to do needs to watch more star trek TNG.

    Now I know I just said nothing is sacred, but if I thought anything was IÂ’d put marriage at the top of the list. Which is why my blood curls whenever I hear married people talk about sex. The whole reason you have sex before marriage is so you can talk about it (IÂ’m being factious), but after you are married things should be kept between the couple, at least for about ten years.

    Hope some of that made sense and I didn’t ramble in too many different directions. In the future Ales, I humbly suggest trying to avoid phrases which sound like something GWB would say. The phrase “Sacraments are conduits for sanctifying grace which” reminds me to much of GWB arguments for a constitutional amendment, which is probably half the reason I got so

  7. h2

    I have to question the statement that up until the “advent of widely available birth control, the majority of brides were pregnant.”

    I’m sure this was the case for some, but I’ve yet to see any clear indication that it was the case for a majority.

    I think it’s pretty clear, on balance, that we take marriage (whether viewed as a spiritual or a secular institution) much less seriously than we ought. There’s many ideas that have been permeated by this doctrine of disposability — where we simply give up on something because it ceases to be convenient. Marriage just happens to be one of the saddest examples. And it’s often born of a lack of respect for the institution.

  8. John Thompson

    I think you are very right in assessing that there are many differences between marriage as it currently exists and marriage as the Church says it ought to exist.

    Your means of framing the argument created some severe innacuracies though. In framing it as a decline from an historical state of perfection, you have concocted a history that isn’t based in the past. Historically, getting married is something that people have done when their premarital sex yielded a pregnancy. Up through the advent of widely available birth control, the majority of brides were pregnant.

    It is very easy to create a history in our heads that serves our ends. But it is very dangerous.

  9. Funky Dung


    Why are you so quick to assume the worst possible motives for someone’s words or actions? You’ve done it countless times to your political rivals and now you’re doing it to me. Conservatives aren’t just wrong to you. They’re fascists and the country should be in riots. I’m not just a neo-tradiationalist Catholic. I’m a crusader on a mission of ecclesiastic conquest. Why must everyone be an extremist in your eyes?

    Yes, I do believe the fullness of the truth is to be found in the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t have converted. However, I also believe there is a lot of truth to be found in Protestant faiths. IMHO, the Holy Spirit has has been more active amongst Protestants to make up for the loss of the sacraments.

    The Reformation redefined marriage. There’s no getting around that. It ceased to be a sacrament. The sacramental nature of marriage is the “model” that I think Protestants should adopt. Why do I believe they would do such a thing? I don’t know that they will. I can only hope that as marriage continues to maligned, they’ll see the need for change.

  10. h2

    Maybe this will encourage you a bit, as a little bit of informal theology from the land of the Baptists (even though we’re not technically part of the protestant movement):

    In my church, a divorced person cannot be married, and our leadership has long preached the necessity of seeing marriage not as a two-way, but as a three-way contract (the third party being God). And any contract that purports to include God should be taken with the utmost seriousness.

    Blog on my Funky brother!

  11. edey


    you may want to check out “the new faithful: why young adults are embracing Christian orthodoxy” by colleen carroll. there are statistics to back up your optimistic attitude. 🙂

  12. Funky Dung


    I gather from your comment that you’ve moved from agnosticism to atheism. I’d be interested to hear why. Perhaps next time we wall climb?

    “Sacraments are conduits for sanctifying grace” is almost a quote from the traditional definition of sacrament. It predates Dubya by at least a millenium.

  13. John Thompson

    Well, the period that I have read studies about is seventeenth century Massachusetts. Which was probably the most socially conservative society that the world has ever known. I do know that most women were pregnant at the time of their marriage in that period in Massachusetts. I don’t have firm numbers throughout history, but human nature has always been the same, so it’s reasonable to presume that things have not changed all that much.

    Surveys taken in the 1950s showed that a strong majority of married people had been with someone other than their spouse before being married.

    If you go back to the middle ages you’ll see women bought and sold in exchange for land or political advantage. Any Midieval love story you ever read will always entail wanton adultery (as will any history). Likewise the sheer number of bastard children you’ll find in the middle ages means that a lot of funny stuff had to have been going on.

    Also, if you look at statistics now, you’ll see that the states with the highest divorce rates (not including Nevada) are all in the bible belt. And the lowest divorce rates are in Massachusetts and Connecticut. So it does not seem that defending the righteousness of marriage is really a cause disproportionately rallied to by the religious people of our country. Those people who would throw me in jail for discussing Darwin are the same ones who are getting the most divorces, and the people arguing for a complete separation of church and state are the same people whom are being the most faithful to their vows.

    Lastly, I would like someone to show me verifiable numbers that divorce rates have actually risen in the past fifty years or so. I have not seen firm evidence that there has been a trend towards more divorces since the divorce laws were made more equitable to women.

  14. Jim McCarville

    While I think it would bwe a great study to correlate first-born birthdates and parent marriage dates for any given time in history, the point John Thompson makes is that it is common throughout history for weddings to serve both a sacramental purpose as well as a very common practical purpose of the time.

    While I sigh at what I also see as a societal decline in general, I am also pleased by what I see many people of this generation making a committment that is more focused than what I saw as commonplace even 30 years ago.

    It is not so much that there too many people in the world that troubles me. It is that there needs to be more good people in the world.

    I wish your friends a blessed future.

  15. John Thompson

    Why is there reason to believe that the Protestants, who you say have redefined marriage, would decide to return to a Catholic model?

    For all your efforts you do seem to be coming across as an anti-Protestant Catholic. Your notion of reunification sounds to be closer to a ecclesiatic conquest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *