The First Society, The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order

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By Scott Hahn

Everyone seems to agree that Western Civilization is in trouble. The problem is that no one agrees on what has gone wrong or what to do about it. Some think we have too much government, some not enough; some think we have too much capitalism, some not enough; some think we have too much sexual freedom, some not enough.

But what if the problem is much more fundamental? What if the problem goes to the very foundations of who we are as human beings in relationship with God?

In The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order, Scott Hahn makes the startling claim that our society’s ills and its cures are rooted in whether we reject or accept the divine graces made available through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

Man, he argues, is social in his very nature. We were created for community. As it was in the beginning, so it remains today. The family, formed through the Sacrament of Matrimony, is the most basic building block of every society—whether we like it or not. We’ve corrupted marriage, and so we have a corrupt society. If we get marriage right, our society, through God’s grace, will flourish.

This is so because Matrimony, like all the sacraments, heals and elevates human nature. Without marriage, our ambitions toward a just social order will remain forever foolhardy. With it, the seemingly impossible, a truly peaceful and humane civilization, becomes possible.

“Western society is deeply affected, indeed wounded, by sin, by rebellion against God and His plan for our eternal happiness. The most deadly wound has been inflicted by the ferocious attack on the fundamental truth of marriage, which seeks to obscure and sully the sublime beauty of the married state as God intended it from the Creation. Today we must be ready to suffer, as Christians have suffered down the ages, to honor and foster Holy Matrimony. Indeed, as Scott Hahn shows in his inspiring and challenging work, only a society radically obedient, through cooperation with sacramental grace, to the reign of Our Lord, Christ the King, can truly flourish. A society, formed and animated by sacramental grace, is established and flourishes in the very first society, the family. Such a society, in fact, becomes a reality in Christian families who, by their heroic example, witness to the splendor of the truth about marriage.”
—Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
Member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

Hardcover, 2018

Family Life