Friday, March 29, 2013

On Marriage

Marriage comes to us from nature.  In Catholic teaching Jesus sanctifies marriage as a sacrament for the baptized, giving it significance beyond its natural reality. Traditionally the state has safeguarded marriage because it is indispensable to family and thus to the common good of society.  But neither Church nor State instituted marriage, and neither can change its nature.
God created two mutually complementary sexes, able to transmit life through marital union.  Consummated sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is ideally based on mutual love and must always be based on mutual consent, if they are genuinely human actions.  No matter how strong a friendship or deep a love between persons of the same sex might be, it is physically impossible for two men, or two women, to consummate a marital union.  (In civil law, non-consummation of a marriage constitutes grounds for annulment).
It is easy to see that sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is naturally and necessarily different from sexual relations between same-sex partners.  This was true before the existence of either Church or state, and will be true should, heaven forbid, the United States of America cease to exist.  Any scheme to change this truth about marriage in civil law is nothing less than an insult to reason andthe common good of society.  It would mean that we are all to pretend to accept something we know is physically impossible, much like saying that a legislature could pass a law saying that God should not be God.
What is also at risk in the recent hullabaloo over whether or not two humans of the same gender should be permitted to “marry” is the natural relationship between parents and children.  Children, even if they are loved and raised by people who have not procreated them, desire to know who their parents are.  All data to date has demonstrated what we all know” stable marriage between a husband and wife safeguards their children, enveloping them with familial love and fashioning the secure foundation for healthy humans.  To cut to the gist of the discussion, if the nature of marriage is destroyed in civil law, then the natural family goes with it. Should religious teaching based on natural truths be considered evidence of bigotry and punishable by law, when majority opinion embraces disordered causes? The media have conducted a tremendous propaganda effort to propagate this view.  Isn’t it true that since all of the firmly legal consequences of natural marriage are already given to same-sex partners in civil unions, what is really at issue in the debate is whether or not civil society will grant self-respect and full societal acceptance of their intrinsically disordered sexual activities?  It is often heard that since Christians must not be bigots, “same-sex marriage” is the only appropriate Christian response to help those with homosexual orientations pursue happiness. Those who feel this way offer approval of “homosexual marriage” as an illustration of compassion, justice and inclusion.  History has shown that such sentiments have been used to excuse everything from eugenics to euthanasia.  Revealed religion is more than mere sentiment! It rests on the firmament of the truths of what human reason understands and God has revealed. Can anyone deny that so-called “same-sex marriage” is incompatible with the teaching that has kept the Catholic Church united to Our Lord for two thousand years? Because of what we celebrate this week, the Passion death, and Resurrection of Our Lord, the Church throughout time offers the grace to live chastely in all circumstances, as the love of God both obliges and makes possible. Let’s remember that traditional marriage is a public commitment with a obligations entailing more than mere “happiness,” and that creating “civil rights” (more accurately, “civil wants”) that reverse natural rights will not lead to societal happiness. As a student of the thought of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, I take to heart his recent statements on all of this: “The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned.  From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be.  Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed.  But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and women in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation.  Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him.  Rabbi Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of right, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain.  When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being.  The defense of the family is about man himself.  And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears.  Whoever defends God is defending man.” As I wrote in The Smokeof Satan in the Temple of God, quoting John Paul II, “Without the Creator, the creature vanishes.”