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Last week, I wrote in favor of the Marriage Pledge and suggested that signing a government-provided document designating Spouse A and Spouse B is contrary to conscience. Ed Peters has rightly criticized me.

There is nothing intrinsically evil about politically correct euphemisms in government documents, including ones pertaining to marriage. And thus there’s no complicity with evil when a pastor, priest, or laymen sign such documents. 

The problem is that such documents dramatize to us how far government marriage has strayed from the institution of marriage. The pledge assumes (rightly, I think) that their use in close proximity to the rites of marriage cannot help but convey the impression that what the Church teaches and what those documents now represent are in accord with each other rather than at odds. 

Perhaps, therefore, the right technical term here is scandal and our obligation to avoid scandal.

I’m grateful to Peters for pressing me on my misuse of conscience.

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