More on Marriage

There has been further comment on my post about Love and Marriage.

I defined marriage as being essentially between a man and a woman, and that other alternative unions were not marriages.

I was taken to task by one commentator who suggested that other people disagree and believe that the marital act between a man and a woman is not the defining action of a marriage, nor the defining characteristic of a marriage. Instead it is suggested that marriage is all about ‘two people living together in love to mutually support one another.’

It calls to mind a case in England a year or so ago just after homosexual unions were legitimized and made legal. Two elderly sisters who had lived together their entire lives and shared a home together applied to marry each other. They claimed that if two lesbians could marry and gain the financial and legal benefits of being legally married they should be allowed to as well. They wanted inheritance and property rights of married people.

Well why not? If marriage is defined as ‘a loving relationship between two people who come together for mutual support’ then why should I not marry my mother, my brother, my daughter or my sister? All the criteria for this ‘alternative’ marriage is in place. We love each other. We want to establish a union of mutual caring and support. Why shouldn’t we marry and enjoy all the legal benefits of marriage?

At that point those who are in favor of ‘alternative’ marriages (by which they mean homosexual ‘marriage’) splutter and fuss and don’t have an answer, and finally they say, “But what you are suggesting is nonsense!”

Or course it is nonsense. So is homosexual ‘marriage’. 

Marriage has to do with sex and procreation. It’s built into the definition from the ground up. Sodomy and whatever lesbians do is not the same thing, and I’m embarrassed to hear people who call themselves Catholics arguing otherwise.

This is not simply a social or moral question. When I’m not so tired I’ll post on the mystery of the sacrament of marriage and just why homosexual ‘marriage’ is actually a form of blasphemy.
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  • Quite so, Father.As a point of information–though his perspective may not be that widely shared–a gay Anglican friend of mine does argue for de-emphasizing the rights associated with marriage and allowing pretty much anyone to designate, for tax and other official purposes, what one might call a significant other. I think his proposal neglects the special role that parents play in the lives of their children–and to insist on the unique role of parents is not in any way to devalue the care that people give to those who are not their children. Our very language of who is a “relative” recognizes the special importance of biological ties–that is to say, ones based upon procreation.

  • I am new to reading about the Catholic faith due to the Pope visit to the US. I do find your blog helpful in understanding. Thank you.

  • Yes! And that’s exactly why divorce is not only so commonplace but no longer shocking. Because if your “supportive” relationship takes an inconvenient turn, well, then why wouldn’t you divorce? A marriage that isn’t built on any more than that can easy come apart. (And probably should.)

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  • I think you are seriously missing the point to compare the two elderly sisters to homosexuals and you deeply miss the point to try to compare that situation to marriage.I assume that you have been filing taxes in the USA for the past several years. You may have noticed that Uncle Sam only allows about $3600 in automated deductions per kid. That’s about $13,000 for a family of four, and way below the poverty line. It doesn’t go far in Greenville and I can surely tell you that it doesn’t go far in a place like Boston or LA where day care is about $100 per day.In every other aspect of American life but marriage we have separated the state from sacraments. This separation of church and state allows us to get along. What you fail to see about the elderly sisters is that the state could fulfill a human need and allow them a civil corporation or LLC that would meet their needs without any need for the society to pronounce judgment one way or another.That’s why I brought up the tax situation. It is unfair that Joe’s carpentry LLC can deduct every expense it has, from trucks, to ladders, to nails, but Dwight Longenecker Domestic LLC has to be granted a ‘credit’ in order to deduct an expense.This enterprise we call parenting, or elder care, or mutual care under a roof has all been declared fair game by the IRS while corporations and LLCs have a tax free field day.You social conservative types are sitting about blathering on and on about men, women, and marriage, while your blind fans shout Amen! Well, I say that you are missing the forest through the trees!State: Birth Certificate; Church: BaptismState: Death Certificate; Church: Last RitesState: Domestic LLC; Church: MarriageI fail to see how a thinking man like yourself cannot look at the list I just made and understand that society’s meddling in marriage in the 1930s by issuing state marriage certificates and ‘licenses’ has opened up and caused the homosexual marriage debate. It is our fault as social conservatives that this happened. We went against the grain of separation of church and state and dabbled in state sanctioned marriage; and by extension state sanctioned sexual congress – matters that should have been left in the church. Now activists of all stripes can use this as a tool to legitamize various activities that you have so helpfully illustrated.The fact that you then list these two sisters further underscores the lack of depth of thought that you have undertaken in this matter. Yes, two elderly people should be able to pool their resources in a domestic corporate entity of some sort, just like you and I could start a publishing company if we were so inclined.Beyond that I still think the church’s natural law argument is strongly challenged by twilight marriages. If all sexual unions must be procreative then the church’s allowance of twilight marriages is illogical. I respect your orthodoxy in this matter but the illogical flaw stands nevertheless.

  • Marcus, the women themselves said they wanted to have the same sort of civil union that homosexual were allowed in order to have the same civil advantages.I didn’t make the comparison. They did.All your talk about separation of church and state, taxes etc is a red herring.We’re talking about the definition of marriage. Twilight marriage are not procreative simply because of age. If the marriage is still consummated they are doing what is natural.Homosexual people are not.

  • Science would argue that homosexuals are indeed products of nature, either by genetics, developmental biology, or both. Article 6 of the catechism recognizes this and stipulates that we should afford homosexuals respect in accordance with the cross they bear, but it calls them to chastity.From the state’s perspective, they should be afforded equal rights just like atheists and jews. They need not share your religious views in order to form an LLC, a corporation, or indeed, rent or an electric bill.Your comparison made it sound as if the elderly sisters intended to have sexual congress. They obviously do not. The comparison as you framed it suggests you are too narrow minded to envision a domestic partnership that does not involve sex; and that the role of the state is to monitor and sanctify sexual activity. I argue that it is not the role of the state, and that you make a grave error in assuming that should be the role of a nanny state, rather than our church. You’re obviously welcome to your opinion that it is a red herring. To me, whether or not homosexuality is right or wrong is a red herring with regard to taxes and the concerns of state. You diminish your authority, and the moral authority of the church by attempting to delegate it to Caeser.Your red herring is turning a church sacrament into a political playground, unlike baptism, and unlike last rites.If you truly believe in article 6 of the catechism, and that procreative outcome is necessary for sexual union to be good, then you should refrain form all sexual activity after menopause. Otherwise you are engaging in disordered activity that would make you a hypocrit. And obviously heterosexual oral sex, erotic massage, and whatever else is equally disordered as is homosexual activity. Does your state issued marriage license condone heterosexual anal sex? No, it does not speak to the matter at all. The church condemns it. If I had my way, the state would not license a church sacrament any more than it would, say, license the appointment of a bishop or the reincarnation of the dalai lama. Obviously China has attempted to regulate reincarnation as an invasion of state into religious matters. I do not want to live in China.

  • Marcus Aurelius:“Beyond that I still think the church’s natural law argument is strongly challenged by twilight marriages. If all sexual unions must be procreative then the church’s allowance of twilight marriages is illogical.”Abraham & Sarah might beg to differ.

  • Marcus, a blog comment box is too limited for such a far ranging activity.In fact I don’t mind who makes a business deal with whom. What I mind is the state validating homosexuality with a contract that approximates marriage.Argue all the details you like about oral sex, anal sex, twilight marriages etc.The core purpose of sexual union is procreation. That’s what the organs are for. Are there other effects of sexual union? Yes, are there other forms of sexual contact that are no procreative? Perhaps, but none of this gets around the essential purpose of sex: babies.Use food as an analogy. Food is for nourishment. That’s the essential definition of food. Do we eat for enjoyment? Yes. Do we share fellowship as we eat? Yes. Does food have symbolic and even sacred meanings? Yes. Do we sometimes eat for other purposes than nourishment? Yes. Do we overeat and does food lead to the sin of gluttony? That too.But none of these other aspects to food negate or lessen the essential definition and use of food: nourishment. Rather they add to that essential definition.Likewise with sex. The essential use of the sexual act is procreation. All the other aspects add to and complement the essential definition–they do not negate it, in fact it is only the essential definition that gives all the others meaning. Take away the essential definition and the other aspects are empty.

  • You invoke gluttony but do not propose that we should shun fat people. You underscore procreation but do not expound upon the evils of non-procreative sex between heterosexuals. And that is where, I fear, the temptation towards the evil of bigotry lies in wait for us when we spend all this time worrying about how we are to interact gay neighbors and the children of lesbians.I do agree with Cardinal Sean, however, that gays will use legal marriage to oppress catholics by demanding sensitivity training in public schools. That is already happening in Massachusetts.So as an effort to obedience I’ll shut up now. But I do think we should do unto gays at least as we do unto fat people, which is to say, be kind and charitable first, recognize our call to obedience and preaching second.

  • Well now, if you read back through the posts on this matter you will see that I never condoned shunning anybody, nor did I condone bigotry or discrimination against homosexual people.

  • Sure marriage has to do with sex & procreation but not always..illness requiring prolonged & indefinite abstinence too is part of marriage..

  • If you want another perspective on homosexuality, I used sex as a means to obtain genuine love. It was like pounding a nail with a screwdriver. There was every sign that what I was doing was wrong because there is nothing romantic about the impeding doom of an HIV clinic. Nothing more disappointing than learning the hot sex I had was only just sex. It was an epiphany after such vigorous sin that what I truly wanted was a person. Something very hard to see in the muddy waters of desire. Of course, now I embrace a chaste celibate life I still desire the loving relationship of a father. The irony is more are afraid what I want from that relationship is sex. It motivates a desire to reach out for another illusion. And strangely, I am not alone.

  • I don’t know about all the Pharisee’s and Sadducee’s questions about tax codes and government issued marriage certificates and such……all that I know is that I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and he said,”In the beginning it was not so.”Bereshit. In the beginning. He’s pointing to Genesis and the original pair. When God speaks, that’s good enough for me.