Months ago, I watched as some Christians took to the internet opposing R. R. Reno’s position in “A Time to Rend,” in which he calls for a separation of sacramental marriage from civil marriage. Much of the criticism made accusations of disengagement with, and abandonment of, the culture. One Protestant even went so far as to say, “church weddings detached from the civil sphere are worthless.”
Leo XIII’s encyclical, Arcanum, lays out a solid argument for why the Church is the guardian of marriage, and what happens when that authority of hers is usurped. In light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Obergefell, we need a reminder of Pope Leo XIII’s reasoning. We also need to seriously consider Reno’s suggestion; Untethering sacramental marriage from civil marriage may be one of our best options, we should take it now before it is taken out of our hands.
Using Scripture, Pope Leo XIII shows God’s creation of the marriage covenant, how it degenerated among the heathen and even among the Israelites. Due to their hardened hearts, “Moses indulgently permitted them to put away their wives, the way was open to divorce.” Again, using Scripture, Pope Leo XIII lays out how Christ restores our human dignity, renews marriage and raises it to the level of sacrament. After spending a few paragraphs discussing Christian marriage, relying on Scripture, he makes it clear that Christ gave the Church the guardianship of marriage. She is to protect and preserve the sanctity of marriage.
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