Defending True Marriage

Dr. Jennifer Morse – whose acquaintance I renewed during Acton University last week –  has been doing good work at the Ruth Institute to defend true marriage.  Not too long ago, I visited a parish which had their pamphlet listing 77 non-religious reasons for defending true marriage between one man and one woman.  Useful!  Perhaps pastors of parishes could get some and put them on those tables by the doors.

I also saw at Ruth Institute an article called De Facto Parents: Now children can have multiple legal parents without biology, adoption, or marriage, by William C. Duncan director of the Marriage Law Foundation.

If we are going to work to defend true marriage against those who would distort it, it is sadly not enough simply to argue in biblical terms.  We also have to point out that there are already legal options available and, therefore, it is not necessary fundamentally to distort the very concept of marriage and we have to be able to argue with natural law or non-religious points.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Choirmaster says:

    I went to the site and downloaded and read the pamphlet.

    It is free to download. I highly recommend it. I already had two people ask me to email a copy. I assume, since it’s free to download, that they would not have a problem with me (digitally) distributing it to a few friends.

  2. acardnal says:

    @Choirmaster: please post the link to free download of the pamphlet. I have been unable to locate. Thanks.

  3. Choirmaster says:

    @acardnal and others with the same problem:

    Unfortunately it’s not that easy :(

    You have to “purchase” the free download. It asks for some personal information which I kind of… fudged a little bit. They don’t ask for any payment information, and they accepted the valid-if-not-licit personal information. At “checkout” they provide a link to download the PDF.

    Maybe I failed morally here, and probably should send them a bit of a donation to try to mitigate my culpability for not giving them my true name and address.

  4. Choirmaster says:

    @acardnal: If you use the link provided in the post, there is a link on that page to purchasing information.

  5. acardnal says:

    Thanks. I was able to figure it out while you were writing your response. It’s a READ-ONLY document one is not able to print it but I did save it as a PDF doc.

  6. Patrick L. says:

    Dr. Morse gave a nice talk at Steubenville last year on this topic that is available on youtube.

  7. Charles E Flynn says:


    I do not think you should feel bad about the information you “fudged”. It is my impression that the Ruth Institute intends you to be able to download the pdf file at no charge, and that they are doing so using the only means at their disposal that would not require more of their time, money, and effort, namely, an online store (which has already consumed some of their time, money, and effort) in which they are free to set the price to zero.

  8. Peter in Canberra says:

    Meanwhile in Australia, the parliament is accelerating its consideration of changing the definition of marriage.
    Some good work going on, including by individual bishops, but the proponents are VERY motivated and lots of ‘friendly’ fire:

  9. NancyJ says:

    Here is a link to a PDF version of the “77 non religious reasons…”

  10. Mrs. O says:

    I am so thankful for her work! I watch all videos and read all I can. The way the judge ruled in CA alone was unnerving. He ultimately said what she says – it only takes two people living together and have a dependent to be their “parents”. Do you know how disastrous that could be?

  11. Johnno says:

    Here’s a better idea. Instead of abandoning the Bible, how about actually defending the Bible?!

    Defend its inerrancy! Defend the history of Genesis. Expose evolution for the empty vessel that it is and demonstrate that 6-day creation can be defended scientifically. Use Apologetics and the wealth of material out there to defend and uphold the Bible! Prove to them that God did indeed create us, that atheistic nonsense pretending to be science is intellectually, philosophically and scientifically bankrupt! Show how the Bible was preserved. Who wrote which books. That Luke knew what he was talking about! Etc. Etc. Etc.! Otherwise there is no reason to take anything else you say seriously!

    You know why marriage is between a man and a woman and important and why what the Catholic Church teaches about it is factually true and why it’s important to take it at face value? Read Genesis! Teach Genesis! That’s what Jesus Christ did! “Have you not read that in the beginning God made them man and woman???” That’s our entire foundation!!! And you want to ignore it??? Well, we’ve been doing that a good long while, and how’s that been working out???

    This is one thing the Protestants get that Catholics are woefully inefficient at!

    Sorry, non-biblical reasons are inadequate when you’re dealing with a bunch of people who define reality however they want to and are selfish at heart, and figure they can just engineer their way out of such ‘problems’…

    For example: STDs? Let’s just wear more condoms, wear gloves, take pills, use these sprays, or heck just wrap our entire bodies in cellophane wrap to be safe while engaging in all manner of insane degenerate sexual behavior! There, problem solved!

    Another problem: Oh? Are high abortion rates and lack of children creating a problem for the pension system of an entire nation? No problemo! Let’s just euthanize the elderly!


    I’m not saying it’s not good to have non-religious plain face value facts as to why these things are bad; but these must play a supporting role to get people back to acknowledging the FACTS that God created them! That God created them in a specific way with specific purposes for specific reasons! And that ignoring God’s WORD, like the Snake suggested to Eve, was what kicked off the Fall and lead us to this cursed world that we live in today, and the entrance of death!

    You’d be surprised at the impact Creationism and Biblical inerrancy can have in getting people to begin taking Christian morality more seriously. Otherwise all you’ve got are like just ‘opinions’ man!

  12. Johnno says:

    Sorry if I sounded a bit harsh there… I know nobody is actually suggesting completely abandoning the Bible. But it’s not something that should be glossed over.

    The main issue is that people either…
    a) Don’t believe in God
    b) Believe the Bible is flawed and unreliable and just allegory.

    It is somewhat useless to then confront such people with moral issues. As I said, even if you convince them of the real-life non-religious issues that result from it, they’re more likely to hope for some practical man-made solution that lets them keep being immoral while avoiding the dangers resulting from their actions. Most are also of the mindset that, they’re going to be dead soon anyway, so who cares what happens to future generations? Life ends when it ends, so they think…

    This is why it is a better approach to first get down to demonstrating to these people that
    1) God exists
    2) God is the Creator
    3) The Bible is reliable
    4) Christianity, properly Catholicism, is the true religion.
    5) The Last Things.

    And this ought to be done before getting into the topics of morality, it makes the grounds fertile in their mind to understand that it is serious and there are consequences beyond what they imagined.

  13. Stu says:

    Subscribe to her podcasts and listen to them regularly.

    Do it.

    She is an outstanding example of both style and substance in matters of debate. If I actually lived near her location, I would be banging on her door for a job, that’s how much I believe in her organization and methods.

  14. Jack Regan says:

    One argument against legalising “gay marriage” which seems to have a little more traction with society at large than most is the “once you redefine something ancient it’s a slippery slope” argument. I have even tried this with a few friends who are pro “gay marriage” and they can’t answer it.

    My reasoning is to get them thinking about things like polygamy and incest. Things which (mis-quoters take note…) I am not equating with homosexuality, but which share with it the desire by at least some to see it incorporated into the legitimate definition of marriage.

    My argument is that at present the gay rights lobby are suggesting that we should allow them to “marry” because they want equality and because they have meaningful loving relationships etc etc…

    So, my point is to ask what we do five years down the line with the “legalise polygamy” and “I want to marry my sister” campaigns turn up making exactly the same arguments.

    Once you start to redefine something and thereby admit that it can be redefined, where does it stop? Can you stop it? Probably not. And eventually you are left in a situation where marriage is just some sort of vague relationship with some sort of sexual component.

    It’s an argument I haven’t yet found a good answer for. Though I suspect that soon somebody will point out that marriage has already been redefined to include divorce!! But then divorce has at least some biblical precedent I suppose.

    Still, it’s generally a robust argument :)

  15. PostCatholic says:

    So, my point is to ask what we do five years down the line with the “legalise polygamy” and “I want to marry my sister” campaigns turn up making exactly the same arguments.

    Canada is almost eight years “down the line,” with parts of the country approaching ten. The Netherlands, 12 years. Belgium, 11 years. None of these countries have legalized polygamy nor incest. Perhaps your question has been answered?

    Though I suspect that soon somebody will point out that marriage has already been redefined to include divorce!!

    At some point in biblical history, marriage was redefined not to include concubinage, and one can no longer trade his daughter for a herd of goats.

  16. Johnno says:


    Concubinage was polygamous marriage. Just that concubines were of lower status and didn’t get the position and authority of wives of higher status. Also dowries are still a practice in many places, and is not immoral, rather it was beneficial back then in in some cultures because living conditions demanded it as giving up a daughter/son meant that was a loss of an extra set of hands needed to work and earn food and water and this needed to be compensated for. Besides which, though the Bible records such ‘marriages’, it does not mean the Bible or God endorses such ideals of marriage, but rather that given the times and circumstances God tolerated such things as He did many other things the ancients did.

    Also the Netherlands, Belgium and other progressive nations in Europe etc. are coming dangerously close to or are already tolerating pedophilia, rampant sex amongst underage children, and even polygamous relations, which while not ‘legally endorsed’ by government are none the less occurring in full swing with much of a blind eye turned towards it. The Dutch even had a row over a pro-pedophile political party that rose to power. And even in Canada, homosexual organizations are known for supporting lowering the age of consent and promoting in the UN propositions for ‘inter generational romance’ and fighting against ‘age discrimination.’ If you continue to support these people, you are playing your part in progressing those agendas slowly but surely.

    Anyway, to everyone else, PostCatholic demonstrates the problem with using merely non-religious arguments to defend marriage. As I explained before, either people like PostCatholic will look for solutions out of difficult issues raised by homosexual/polygamous/incestuous/child-adult marriages, drawing comparisons to arguing that such things existed in Biblical times and ‘changed’ as if that were an argument, and also typically suffer from cognitive dissonance that such things like legalized incest and polygamy and pedophilia and bestiality will “never happen”, much like people only around 50-60 years ago thought rampant divorce, widespread sexual deviancy, rampant sex outside of marriage, governments making money from porn taxes and strip clubs and prostitution, and recognition of homosexuals would “never happen.” For people like these it will never be enough.

    The real root of the problem of why protecting marriage is important is because God created the concept of marriage, gender, procreation etc. in the Creation as a method of communicating to us who He is, His nature, and the relationship He wishes to share with us. By ignoring all this, we risk misunderstanding God, we risk rejecting reality and thus rejecting God for our own distorted desires, and thus we choose to go to Hell when we die. The more we fall into error, the more the outcome of our eternal destinies is at stake, but realize that those who are in hell, are there precisely because that is where they wanted to be, and their wants were shaped by their life and desires and beliefs while on Earth.

  17. Brad says:

    All the religious reasons, that a God fearing man would harken to, as well as the 77 non-religious reasons, that the intellectual man, the rational man, the pagan man, the common sense man, the Natural Law man would harken to, do not matter to the man who will not be moved. He wants what he wants. Namely, below the belt issues must become not only tolerated but accepted but codified but promoted, so the seared conscience is assuaged, the still, small voice is drowned out. But the soul writhes in supreme discomfort because sin is so very heavy and it eats us like a worm, even if we have called it good and not sin, and every heart knows that to Him all flesh must come. The still, small voice can be drowned out, but not the Hound of heaven, who is so big and so beautiful.

  18. SKAY says:

    “So, my point is to ask what we do five years down the line with the “legalise polygamy”

    That is what the TV show–“Sister Wives” is doing–promoting polygamy. This “family” is invited on other shows to promote what they are about. It is also allowed by Islam although they are silent about it at the moment.
    No surprise–this President and his AG will not enforce DOMA–so–the drumbeat has already started

  19. MisterH says:

    There is a newly published, must-read book takes a look at the legacy of the sexual revolution and contraception:

    “Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution” by Mary Eberstadt

    Book summary (taken from Our Sunday Visitor):

    [Fifty years after the Pill, many are gravely concerned about its effects. Are women better off in our “post-liberation” world? Are families stronger, dignity more protected, and relationships healthier now that contraception is widely available?

    Stanford researcher Mary Eberstadt provides a firm “no” in this important book. Her groundbreaking text draws on secular research from sociology, philosophy and culture to show how the Pill has been one of the most disastrous inventions in history. According to Eberstadt, “no single event since Eve first took the apple has been as consequential for relations between the sexes as the arrival of modern contraception.”

    Eberstadt demonstrates that the increase in divorce, pornography and unhappiness, and the prevalence of abortion, date rapes, hookups and binge drinking all flow directly from the sexual revolution. She also shows how Pope Paul VI’s groundbreaking encyclical, Humanae Vitae(“Of Human Life”), has proved prophetic in its dark vision of a contraceptive culture.]

    A short video preview of her book can be found here:

    An insightful review of the book can be found here:

    Eberstadt’s much discussed Wall Street Journal essay — “Has the Sexual Revolution Been Good for Women? No.” — can be found here:

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