On My Bookshelf: Theology of Christian Marriage IV

Theology of Christian MarriageSynod15 is now in full session, and I’ve been trying to keep up with the “loyal opposition,” Cardinal Kasper’s “controversial” views on marriage.

As I’ve been reading and reading again and reflecting on his book Theology of Christian Marriage, I haven’t found anything seriously out of bounds with tradition. In looking at the “Human Values of Marriage” he addresses the possibility of a “new understanding” of marriage in the third part of Chapter 1. Before jumping up and down, remember, we are talking about human values, those aspects which we bring as God-created mortal beings within the framework of a human culture.

One point I found striking is the notion that a human marriage has certain requirements for it to be successful: physical, social, and economic. On that last point, consider two people who are unable to provide for themselves, let alone a family. Suppose a husband must emigrate to another country for work. Suppose a wife must submit to sexual slavery to another. Maybe the best intentions for a marriage, even a sacramental marriage are present. But can a couple make a grave error in this regard? Could a couple just be too poor, too innocent, too unprepared? If the human aspect of marriage is absent, is a sacrament even possible?

Those last questions are my own. It seems to me a basic level of justice must be accounted for in the cultural milieu in which marriages find themselves.

Cardinal Kasper also surfaces the issue FrMichael often has difficulty with: the need to recognize a broader fruitfulness in marriage, not just providing breeding pairs for the preservation of the species.

In addition to being higher than animals, the way God made us as sexual beings is far different from other creatures’ seasonal receptivity to sex and reproduction.

(H)uman fruitfulness can never be exclusively dependent on a biological or natural rhythm. It must above all be subordinated to (a human) sense of moral responsibility.

These responsibilities are as one might expect: respect for the dignity of the spouse, responsibility for present and future children, responsibility for the greater society, respect for the way God has made us as human beings.

The author devotes four pages at the end of this chapter to the theme of “faithfulness in love.” And since that touches upon the notion of permanence in marriage, I’d like to peel that off for the next post in this series.

Meanwhile, any comments?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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