Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Accusations of being Utilitarian & Not Christian

Someone has just contacted me in exultant glee that they've discovered a massive flaw in my argumentation regarding marriage; and in almost paroxysms of ecstasy has cited another blogger who has accused those of holding my oft-cited position regarding the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage...

i.e. That the Purpose/Nature/Essence of Marriage is a Loving Union: The Aim/End/Telos is Procreation

...of being Utilitarian and Not-Christian!!!!

In denunciation of my position [and some belief that they've found the highest authority to disprove my case] they've decided to cite Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum on marriage where it says

In choosing a state of life, it is indisputable that all are at full liberty to follow the counsel of Jesus Christ as to observing virginity, or to bind themselves by the marriage tie. No human law can abolish the natural and original right of marriage, nor in any way limit the chief and principal purpose of marriage ordained by God’s authority from the beginning: “Increase and multiply.”(Genesis 1:28) Hence we have the family, the “society” of a man’s house – a society very small, one must admit, but none the less a true society, and one older than any State. Consequently, it has rights and duties peculiar to itself which are quite independent of the State.

Now I'm sorry to go all 'technical and get bogged down with theology and semantics but this is SO important and I'll explain why:

The problem is the English [mis]Translation of Rerum Novarum - which says 'principal purpose'
Therefore some readers will misinterpret this to mean 'the purpose of marriage' [i.e. what it is- what it does-what it can't be without]

Principal Purpose refers not to the 1st Perfection of Marriage - Loving Unification ; but to the 2nd Perfection of Marriage - i.e. for that Love to Overflow and be open to God's Gift of Life in the bearing and raising of Children to form a single-nature family reflecting/emulating the Nature of Love in the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity.

Rather His Holiness was saying that's the AIM OF MARRIAGE.
To confirm this we need only appeal to other translations of Rerum Novarum

The Italian uses Scopo [Target/Aim],
French 'Fin principale' [End],
Portuguese 'Fim'[End],
Spanish 'Finalidad'[End]

In other words what 'Principal Purpose' is really referring to is the AIM - the intention towards the end - not purpose in its 'ratio esse' - in other words what it can't be without.
Aquinas explains the purpose as a 1st perfection in its form [i.e. a loving union] and the 2nd perfection in its operation towards its end [having and rearing children]

Because if we don't get purpose and aim in the right perspective and category we can inadvertently define Our Lady and St Joseph as not married - and proscribe the infertile/menopausal from ever marrying as they fail to meet the criteria of the purpose/nature/very meaning in its essence!!!

Let's refer to the Angelic Doctor:-

Summa Theologica III,29,2
I answer that, Marriage or wedlock is said to be true by reason of its attaining its perfection. 
Now perfection of anything is twofold; first, and second. 
The first perfection of a thing consists in its very form, from which it receives its species; 
while the second perfection of a thing consists in its operation, by which in some way a thing attains its end. 
Now the form of matrimony consists in a certain inseparable union of souls, by which husband and wife are pledged by a bond of mutual affection that cannot be sundered. 
And the end of matrimony is the begetting and upbringing of children: the first of which is attained by conjugal intercourse; the second by the other duties of husband and wife, by which they help one another in rearing their offspring.

Thus we may say, as to the first perfection, that the marriage of the Virgin Mother of God and Joseph was absolutely true: because both consented to the nuptial bond, but not expressly to the bond of the flesh, save on the condition that it was pleasing to God. 
For this reason the angel calls Mary the wife of Joseph, saying to him (Matthew 1:20): "Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife": on which words Augustine says (De Nup. et Concup. i): "She is called his wife from the first promise of her espousals, whom he had not known nor ever was to know by carnal intercourse."
But as to the second perfection which is attained by the marriage act, if this be referred to carnal intercourse, by which children are begotten; thus this marriage was not consummated. 
Wherefore Ambrose says on Luke 1:26-27: "Be not surprised that Scripture calls Mary a wife. The fact of her marriage is declared, not to insinuate the loss of virginity, but to witness to the reality of the union." 
Nevertheless, this marriage had the second perfection, as to upbringing of the child. Thus Augustine says (De Nup. et Concup. i): "All the nuptial blessings are fulfilled in the marriage of Christ's parents, offspring, faith and sacrament. 
The offspring we know to have been the Lord Jesus; faith, for there was no adultery: sacrament, since there was no divorce. Carnal intercourse alone there was none." 

Therefore in response to the wild accusations thrown in my direction I have to reply that Leo XIII and the entire Magisterial Teaching is very clear regarding the essence/nature/purpose of marriage and its aim/telos/end. One need only refer to Humanae Vitae & Casti Connubii to confirm this...

If one mistakes or substitutes the second perfection for the first...

[and regrettably many Catholic commentators and media representatives have committed this error]

....one inadvertently becomes utilitarian and in the process declares Our Lady & St Joseph as unmarried and prohibits any infertile or menopausal couples from marrying....

...which is very far from Christian teaching.

So in response to the false indictments against myself and others I am very far from sorry that the accuser is very much mistaken - and would reply that they sincerely need to stop throwing wild accusations around about people not following, advocating or promoting Catholic teaching - or of being Utilitarian - when it sadly a fault of the accuser - NOT the accused.

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