Phil Lawler responds to Jody Bottum

Best response I’ve seen yet.  BTW, do go read Bottum’s essay.

Look at Bottum at his best, then. In Commonweal he argues persuasively that today’s Americans—young Americans especially—do not find the Catholic case against same-sex marriage persuasive because they do not accept the fundamental premises on which those arguments are based. Most of our contemporaries have come to look upon the world in purely material terms, he says, and the most important goal of the Catholic Church must be to direct attention toward the supernatural. As he puts it, “The goal of the church today must primarily be the re-enchantment of reality.”

There you have it: the artist’s desire to introduce his audience to some striking new perspective on the world. But here I found myself, more than ever, at odds with Bottum. The Church is not an artist, the world is not an audience, and there is no need to “enchant” reality. Here I think Bottum slips into the error of thinking that faith is a sort of “value-added” service that can enrich reality, by superimposing a layer of charm on everyday life. That is not how I understand the Catholic faith.

Faith is not a matter of adding something on to reality; it is a matter of plunging deeper into reality, of aligning oneself with the truth about the human condition. Reality is alreadyenchanted, if you will. As Catholics, as apostolic witnesses, we are not trying to convince our neighbors to recognize something different from everyday reality; we are trying to help them recognize what is true, good, and beautiful in the reality that we all perceive.

The truth about marriage is beautiful, it is good, and it is something that everyone can understand. Ten years ago, in Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithstated at the outset : “The Church’s teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world.”

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5 Responses to Phil Lawler responds to Jody Bottum

  1. EPMS says:

    If one iterates a truth based on religious dogma, or a mathematical theorem, it is the result of right reason, but not of empirical observation, and certainly not the result of cultural consensus. Islam, for example, explicitly rejects the Church’s teaching that marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman. Virtually all cultures, religious and secular, reject the Church’s teaching that it is Indissoluble. It is one thing to say “This is what the Church teaches; live with it” and another to suggest that with a little more thought its rightness will be obvious. This sounds too much like the passage in Brideshead Revisited where Papal Infallibility is explained as meaning that if the Pope said it was going to rain, but it didn’t, it would “be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.”

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: Islam, for example, explicitly rejects the Church’s teaching that marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman.

      No, that is not accurate. In Islam and in all other polygamous cultures, each marriage is a union of one man and one woman.

      What Islam, Mormonism, and other polygamous cultures reject is the principle that a marriage must be exclusive. Rather, they permit a person to enter two or more marriages concurrently, though this is one-sided in both Islam and Mormonism: a man may have multiple wives, but a woman may have only one husband. In Islam, this seems to be rooted in the concept of ownership: a man can own more than one wife just has he can own more than one automobile, but neither a wife nor an automobile can have more than one owner.

      Of course, this concept of ownership is completely contrary to the radical equality of male and female in classical European philosophy (Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were Athenians…) and in Christian faith.

      Norm.

  2. Even cultures/religions that allow polygamy, such as Islam, hold that marriage is a covenant/contract between one man and one woman. A Muslim man with 4 wives has 4 marriages. The 5 are not all married to each other (polyamory). Where Islam, and ancient Judaism, differed from the Church is that marriage should be an exclusive contract/covenant between one man and one woman. And in Western society, this exclusivity is still the norm and the indissolubility is still the ideal.

  3. EPMS says:

    Why have two people written back to say that the Islamic idea of marriage is just like the Christions one–oh, except for the part that is completely and radically different? Does this undermine my point? I think not.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: Why have two people written back to say that the Islamic idea of marriage is just like the Christions one–oh, except for the part that is completely and radically different?

      Rather, two people wrote that the differences are not what you asserted them to be.

      You wrote: Does this undermine my point? I think not.

      The point in your earlier post seemed to follow from the nature of the differences, and not simply from the fact that there are differences. If the nature of the differences is germane to your point, then yes, the fact that the nature of the differences is not what you asserted it to be clearly undermines your point.

      Norm.

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