Most of this book has been specifically addressed to members of the Protestant Church of Christ. This chapter’s subject—Marriage (capitalized as a sacrament)—however, is understood by other types of Protestants the same way. And for me to best illustrate how the Catholic understanding is more reasonable, I will compare it to Fundamentalism, which overlaps the Protestant Church of Christ’s beliefs almost perfectly. And therefore, within this chapter, I will often refer to both groups—Restorationist and Fundamentalist—with the same overlapping (and more prominent) descriptor: Fundamentalist.
Fundamentalism is a wing, so to speak, of Evangelicalism, which is a wing of Protestantism. Fundamentalism began as a response to liberal theology within early twentieth century American Protestantism. Fundamentalists wished to outline and mind the “fundamentals” of Christianity—fundamentals of Christianity as they understood Christianity.
Today’s Fundamentalists may not hold to every tenet outlined in The Fundamentals,1 which provides the name of the movement, but the spirit of the movement is maintained by many English-speaking Evangelical and Restorationist communities. Fundamentalism is not only a reaction to Protestant liberal theology; it maintained the already-present anti-Catholic bias that is intrinsic to Protestantism’s foundation and identity. The last portion of The Fundamentals includes a section titled with one of Fundamentalism’s preferred disparaging labels for Catholicism: “Romanism: Is it Christian?” Catholic Christianity, to most Fundamentalists, is an oxymoron.
There are several distinctions that separate the Protestant Church of Christ with the remainder of Protestantism, but one that unites it with many other Protestant groups—with Fundamentalists—is its beliefs about Marriage and its enthusiasm to attack misrepresentations of the Catholic Church’s beliefs. The Protestant Church of Christ pre-dates The Fundamentals by about half of a century, but it is, nonetheless, Fundamentalist.
But this chapter is not about Fundamentalism vs. Catholicism in general; it is about Fundamentalism’s (and Restorationism’s) attack on Catholic Christian Marriage. “Fundamentalism” is a wide brush, and the word “attack” might seem unfair to many Fundamentalists; but people who are steeped in Comparative Religion and Apologetics are routinely exposed to what can only be called “attacks”.
My intent is not to provide a thorough explanation of the Catholic Church’s beliefs about Marriage and sex: its “Theology of the Body”; my intent is to fairly present Fundamentalism’s common attacks on Catholic Marriage and sex, and show how its attacks are not always malicious in nature, but misapplied zeal and an unwillingness to learn about the subject. By exposing Fundamentalism’s confusion, I will present a more plausible—a more Christian—alternative.
Restorationist and Fundamentalist orthodoxy (doctrine) is a fluid, elusive, dominant collection of ideas held within the minds of persuasive leaders; it is matter-of-factly impossible for any person to reference an authoritative Restorationist or Fundamentalist statement of faith because Protestantism has no authoritative voice other than every individual’s private interpretation of the Scriptures (which, as proved by the Protestant experiment, means “anything” is “true”). All any person can do is detect common, popular, indicative examples of an articulated belief—to find some sort of dominant consensus. Regarding Restorationism’s and Fundamentalism’s beliefs about Marriage and sex, I will utilize what seems to me a popular and influential Restorationist website which is often used as source material for other websites, provides material for sermons, and is accepted as “orthodox”; because as best as I can determine its material regarding Marriage and sex has not been condemned in any detectable way by other Restorationist or Fundamentalist groups. The site is called bible.ca, authored by Protestant Church of Christ minister Steve Rudd.2
Rudd’s essay (outline) format is difficult to follow because it is poorly written. I did not choose his essay to ridicule his and Fundamentalism’s online efforts; his style and sophistication are indicative of most of Fundamentalism’s public presence. Rudd’s essay is ideal for my Comparative Religion purposes, because, as a later-formed theology, he presents his apologia as a comparison to what existed before it: the Catholic Church’s theology of Marriage and sex. Rudd’s apologia is not a statement of orthodoxy; it is a statement of belief that the Catholic Church is wrong, is “satanic”.
His essay is titled “The Roman Catholic view of Marriage is flawed, incomplete and destructive” [sic]. He lightly addressed several subjects Protestant groups often gravitate towards when they are eager to prove that the Catholic Church is not Christian, but what is beautiful about these subjects is they are often the catalysts which draw people out of Protestant sects and into the Catholic Church. In other words, when Christians study these subjects—not use them as misunderstood reasons to protest—they discover the richness of Catholic theology, they come to love God with more of their hearts and minds. I will present Rudd’s indicative apologia with interruptions to highlight Fundamentalism’s faulty reasoning and to present, in a comparative way, how the Catholic Church understands Marriage and sex.
1 The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth is a collection of ninety essays published in the early twentieth century by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, edited by A.C. Dixon and Reuben Archer Torrey. The Fundamentals were designed to affirm the “fundamentals” of Protestant Christian orthodoxy.
2 The portion of Rudd’s website I will utilize comprises a tiny percentage of this book’s material, and I will quote it as it is written. In addition to freely quoting his outline as per copyright Fair Use allowances, I have written permission from Rudd to publish as long as I provide a link to his website; available at http://www.bible.ca/catholic-marriage-birth-control-celibacy.htm as of December 24, 2018. It is important to note that other kinds of Protestants do in fact argue against the Protestant Church of Christ’s beliefs in general, but its positions regarding Marriage and sex are mostly unchallenged by the larger Fundamentalist world.