Noted Theologians Lawler and Salzmann, on Marriage.

“Fortunate Families” Newsletter reports the welcome news that the Catholic lay theologians Todd Salzmann and Michael Lawler (together with theologian Ellen Burke – Sullivan) have just published a new book, “The Church in the Modern World: Gaudium et Spes – Then and Now”, with a notable chapter dealing specifically with marriage.

This is important news. Their previous book, “The Sexual Person”, provided a superb, penetrating analysis of Catholic sexual theology in all its aspects. and included abundant examples of just why the allegedly “traditional” teaching is not all it is said to be, why it must change – and  how it is in fact constantly changing. For LGBT Catholics with a serious interest in the subject, “The Sexual Person” should be required reading.

With the Family Synod now bringing marriage, divorce and same – sex relationships so much more  into mainstream Catholic discussion, it is likely that this book, with its chapter on marriage, will be equally valuable for LGBT Catholics.

Gaudium et Spes … and Marriage

Theologians Michael Lawler and Todd Salzman, authors of the highly acclaimed 2012 volume Sexual Ethics: A Theological Introduction, have now released their latest book, in collaboration with theologian Eileen Burke-Sullivan, The Church in the Modern World: Gaudiam et Spes – Then and Now.

In their review of the history and meaning of this remarkable Vatican II document, the authors include a chapter on Gaudium et Spes’ teaching on arriage. They preface their presentation of the document’s theology of marriage with, first a brief look at the pre-Christian history “that helped to shape a Western understanding of sexuality and marriage,” and secondly, a consideration of this understanding in Catholic history. It’s a relevant and very helpful discussion for LBGT parents, especially those involved in support ministry.

The authors go on to discuss significant actions taken by the council fathers on the topic of marriage — including their explicit rejection (“despite insistent voices to the contrary”) of the teaching codified in Catholic law in the 1917 Code of Canon Law (Canon  1013) specifying the primary end/secondary end of marriage.

In this regard, the authors write: “To make sure that its rejection was understood, the preparatory commission was careful to explain that the text just cited ‘does not suggest [a hierarchy of ends] in any way.’ Marriage and sexual love ‘are by their very nature ordained to the generation and education of children,’ but that ‘does not make the other ends of marriage of less account’ and marriage ‘is not instituted solely for procreation.’ (GS 50)

While some at the Council argued that the avoidance of primary-secondary language was just an oversight, the authors offer evidence the change “was the result of deliberated, intentional, and explicit choice of the Catholic Church meeting in council.”   Any lingering doubt was definitively removed in 1983 by confirmation in the revised Code of Canon Law.

The Church in the Modern World: Gaudiam et Spes — Then and Now is published by Liturgical Press.
ISBN978-0-8146-8270-8 (ebook: 978-0-8146-8295-1)

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