I love the history of ideas. When something this momentous occurs it is useful, I think, to step back and take a look at what has transpired in recent history to bring about such a tragic breakdown of societal morals and traditions. These are my own speculations along those lines.
The initial “intellectual opening” to the notion of a so-called “gay marriage” came about, I believe, in a two-step process, 30 years apart: the acceptance of contraception (in “hard cases” of course) for the first time among any Christian group, by the Anglicans in 1930, and the widespread introduction of the birth control pill around 1960. Thus, the current revolution in thinking has occurred over an 85- or 55-year period, depending on where one wishes to start in the causal chain. The longer period is within the lifetime of my parents; the shorter span, within my own lifetime. The sexual revolution might also be said to have started around 1960 (especially after 1967: the “summer of love”), as the large baby boomer generation came of age.
Now, how is this related to same-sex “marriage” and homosexual acts? It has to do with the fundamental purposes of things, and what is natural as opposed to unnatural. The primary, essential purpose of marriage is procreation: producing of children as the fruit of the sexual oneness of a married couple. That’s not to deny the unitive / pleasurable function of marriage, but it is the most important purpose. Obviously, this can only occur between a man and a woman. Thus, in order to prepare a population for the notion that, somehow, two men or two women can “marry”; first it is necessary to break this immemorial and instinctive connection between sexuality / marriage and procreation.
Once this heretofore casually assumed link was questioned, then we had the related notion of sex merely for fun; for the relinquishing of desires and biological needs only, rather than for the purpose of having children; or, more specifically, being open to conception when and if it occurs.
That was the first necessary break in the ongoing moral tradition of western civilization. It broke the intrinsic connection between [heterosexual] sexuality and procreation. Sex could now be utilized for pleasure purposes only (and without “consequence”); utterly disconnected from its deepest purpose. This leads, of course, to a breakdown in marriages, due to a much easier promiscuity and widespread premarital sex, which runs contrary to both procreation within marriage and the idea of being committed solely to one person, sexually and exclusively within [heterosexual] marriage. It was the triumph of the “playboy” lifestyle.
Women had at last given up the fight for traditional sexuality and surrendered to those who wished to reduce them to mere objects of pleasure. And so we have seen those fruits, in the alarming rise of illegitimate births and now cohabitation. Families are breaking down (usually meaning that fathers aren’t present). This in turn leads to massive, debilitating poverty, crime, and hopelessness (those direct connections all being massively confirmed by secular social science). If you want to see the way that things are progressing, look at the inner cities. That is the fruit of secular liberalism and it’s so-called “progressive” economic and sexual viewpoints and policies. That’s our future. A wonderful sight and prospect, isn’t it?
Legal childkilling [aka abortion] came along in the US in 1973: by judicial fiat, just as this ruling was. At that point, we could no longer in any way, shape, or form, be considered a “Christian” country, or guided (even vaguely) by Christian principles. Just as contraception had separated moral married sexuality from children, in an abstract (theoretical) way, so abortion literally separated the children from life and the womb and from their place in the scheme of things, by depriving preborn children of their very lives, solely based on the will of the mother. This was the decisive Step Two in separating both marriage and [heterosexual] sexuality from children.
Once that was accomplished, then homosexual acts and homosexual “marriage” became far more thinkable. As we have seen, the entire process took 55 years (since the Pill) or 42 years (since Roe v. Wade). After all, if sex need not have any intrinsic connection to children, then, homosexual sex is just as supposedly “natural” or defensible as heterosexual sex. It simply took a while for society to get used to the inexorable logical reduction involved.
Active homosexuality was so counter-intuitive (and so clearly condemned in the Bible), that it took a massive 40-year propaganda campaign to break down cultural resistance to it. Here is where a relentless, ferociously motivated secularism allied with libertarianism took over. The Big Stupid Idea of the sexual revolution was “do your own thing” or “do whatever feels good.” In strictly legal terms, the notion that government could no longer say anything about sexuality or what goes on behind closed doors, came about with Griswold in 1965 (contraception), which was a direct legal precursor or precedent to Roe in 1973 (the so-called “right to privacy” nonsense).
Libertarianism, in its purest secular or popular form (a half-sister of the beloved liberalism), dictated that it was no one’s business (last of all, the government’s) to interfere with people’s “personal lives.” Thus, we see that not only in sexual matters but in things like physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, and drug use. The related myth is that none of these things affect anyone else. This ties into active homosexuality. It’s thought that it does no harm to anyone else, even though we know for a fact that homosexual sex (whatever one thinks of it, morally) has dire health consequences (that go far beyond the conquered AIDS virus).
6. PROPAGANDA AND RE-EDUCATION
So how was same-sex “marriage” able to be pushed upon a society greatly opposed to it as recently as twenty, even five or ten years ago? This was accomplished by good ol’ propaganda and re-education in the public schools, combined with an increasing cultural moral relativism. If you want to advocate something, then what you do is simply proclaim (not argue) it, over and over. If you repeat something often enough, people start to believe it, wholly separately from rational argument and fact and previous tradition. Also, admonitions to be kind and loving to all people become mixed-up with accepting immoral acts that the same people were involved in. This is our society today. No one can disagree with what anyone else does (in many areas, including this one) without being accused of being “hateful” and “intolerant.” To disagree is to be a bigot and a hater: a bad, wicked person. That is the fruit of moral relativism and sexual libertinism.
This was really all it took: years of that: drumming into everyone’s head that homosexual sex is not a whit different from heterosexual sex, and that homosexuals have been treated so badly. This was our failure, too: those of us traditionalists who did not exercise charity, and separate the sin from the sinner. The secular world, as always, took that ball and ran with it; milked it for all it was worth. It was the equivalent of the “back alley abortionists / coat hangers” card of the pro-aborts that was exaggerated a thousand times over: far more than the actual case numbers and facts would suggest. These tactics work.
After years of that, sympathy developed for the “underdog.” We also see the “argument” that homosexuality is “genetic” and therefore, cannot be resisted. The problem is that there is no compelling scientific evidence for a genetic inevitability. Studies of separated twins have confirmed it. We also know that homosexual sex can be a learned or environmental thing (prisons being a prime example). There is a lot of evidence that disruption of proper relationship with one’s father has a direct causal relationship to later active homosexuality. But we’re not allowed to even bring up such things anymore.
The second problem is that the Bible casually assumes that the sin of homosexual sex can be resisted, since it is assumed that it is serious sin, and God doesn’t forbid what is impossible for human beings to avoid. It would be like God condemning the drinking of water.
But since our society as a whole couldn’t care less anymore what the Bible teaches (it’s regarded as an outdated, outmoded, irrelevancy from ancient times), it doesn’t have any societal effect on the discussion.
Young people are polling some 80% in favor of same-sex “marriage.” This is why society changed so rapidly. Politicians (and Supreme Court Justices) saw the trend, and started jumping on the bandwagon. Liberal Democrats love anti-traditionalism in morals, and so they were entirely predictable (with Obama and the Clintons flipping on a dime, just as Bill Clinton (like Gore and Jesse Jackson; even Teddy Kennedy) had done regarding abortion.
Less predictable was the Republican or conservative espousal of these sins. But since much of conservatism or Republican “thinking” these days is dominated by a secular libertarianism, it started breaking down, too. Pretty soon it was a fashion, and no one wants to be out of fashion or unpopular, or regarded as a bigot, and all of a sudden a New Norm was here and people jumped on the bandwagon, not having the spine or principle to disagree and be unpopular.
Politically, our beloved independents, swing voters, third party types, and libertarians, widespread among conservatives (in the “Stupid” Republican Party), have directly helped bring about same-sex “marriage” just as they have prolonged abortion. We had a golden opportunity to overthrow the latter and prevent the former. It only came about by the vote of one man, after all (Justice Kennedy, supposedly a “Catholic”). The third-party types became disenchanted with Republicans because they weren’t perfect, or canonized saints (as if they ever were or could be), and either voted for an irrelevant third party candidate or sat home on their hands on election day. The irrational, mindless fanaticism for the pro-abort Ross Perot in 1992 literally (undeniably) cost the elder President Bush the election.
We shot ourselves in the foot, as so often, and have now reaped what we have sown. This led to four terms since 1992 of liberal Democrat Presidents, who in turn appointed morally radical Supreme Court Justices. Had Clinton and Obama at least not been re-elected, the Court would likely look different and we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in. But because the myth among libertarians is that both parties are exactly the same, they enable Democrats to get elected, and the Supreme Court is able to make an atrocious ruling like this.
It’s true that Justice Kennedy was appointed by Reagan, but as a result of the Democrat travesty against Robert Bork. Bork died in 2012, so had he been on the court, Obama would have replaced him with another radical, even if he had been defeated in 2012, because he would still be in office. In any event, presidential elections have huge repercussions. Because conservatives have failed in their in-fighting and compromises, and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, secularism now reigns supreme, and increasingly intolerant.
President Clinton blessed us with the liberal Justices Ginsburg (1993) and Breyer (1994). If the third-party / swing voters, etc. hadn’t handed him the election in 1992 by absurdly voting for Perot, those would have been likely conservative appointees and this vote would have been different. President Obama has appointed Justices Sotomayor (2009) and Kagan (2010). All four, of course, voted for “gay marriage” (liberal appointees always remain liberal / leftist / secularist). Again, presidential voting has great consequences. We could have easily won this cultural / political battle. But the myth and fairy tale that the two political parties are exactly the same has been a large part of the cause of our downfall. Thanks, secular libertarians and RINOs!
As recently as 1986 (Bowers v. Hardwick), the Supreme Court upheld anti-sodomy laws. According to the article on this case in Wikipedia:
The majority opinion, written by Justice Byron White, argued that the Constitution did not confer ‘a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy.’ A concurring opinion by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger cited the ‘ancient roots’ of prohibitions against homosexual sex, . . . Burger concluded: ‘To hold that the act of homosexual sodomy is somehow protected as a fundamental right would be to cast aside millennia of moral teaching.’ . . .
The opinion . . . [stated] ‘to claim that a right to engage in such conduct is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” or “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” is, at best, facetious.’ White was joined by Justices William Rehnquist, Sandra Day O’Connor, Warren E. Burger, and Lewis F. Powell in upholding the anti-sodomy law, while Justices Harry Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and John P. Stevens dissented, viewing the law as unconstitutional.
Yet in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas), this ruling was reversed (as conservative rulings can be, but hardly ever leftist / secularist rulings), and anti-sodomy laws in 14 states were struck down. The so-called “right” to sodomy was now sanctioned, and it took only 12 additional years to create out of whole cloth a supposed right to “same-sex ‘marriage”. Justice Kennedy wrote this ruling, too, joined by three liberal Justices, renegade elder Bush appointee Souter, and Sandra Day O’Connor. The three dissenters were all Republican appointees: Justices Scalia, Rehnquist, and Thomas.
It’s true, as we see, that sometimes Republican appointees (e.g., Souter, O’Connor, Kennedy) “go liberal,” but on the other hand, virtually the only Justices that can be counted on to uphold legal and moral traditionalism, are Republican appointees.
Yet we are told that the two parties are Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. Don’t believe it! Go by the facts, not fanciful rhetoric.
On the flip side, we Christians have failed to explain why contraception is wrong; how it led to abortion and now same-sex marriage; and have failed in our task to convey a full, vigorous proactive case for abstinence until marriage and the wrongness of sex outside of heterosexual marriage (a subset of apologetics). Thus, children were left open to being “persuaded” by societal propaganda, with few Christian alternatives being visible or available or even thought of. Why, then, would we expect anything different of our children? They have taken in what society and their schools offer them (with their mother’s milk), and no one wants to go against the grain. The sad irony is that Pope St. John Paul II has given us the gift of his magnificent teaching on the Theology of the Body. But our society (and even many compromised Catholics) no longer cares enough to even read, let alone accept it.
All of this is why I think legal same-sex marriage is here at this time. It was an inevitable development, and diabolical progression of false ideas, one leading to the next; just as it is also quite arguably inevitable now that traditionally moral Christians will be persecuted in the not-too-distant future, and will be pariahs and outcasts in our wonderfully fulfilling and happy secular society.
All we have to do is to live and share our faith to counter this, and above all, to have lots of children, to alter demographics, and with it, society. It’s not complicated at all. But since Christians now have no more children than anyone else (having bought the secular anti-child mentality), that option is off the table until we see a massive revolution of serious Christians, deciding to have lots of children and to raise them as disciples of Jesus Christ, who accept all that the Bible (and the Church) teaches. That would transform our society.
It’s a long way off, but it could, and I believe will happen. The immediate [human] cause of it will be the persecution which now will inevitably come; indeed, has already begun in several ways.
My mentor, Servant of God Fr. John Hardon often noted that “the worst centuries were always followed by the best.” We’re only 15 years into this new century. Revival (based on past history) could very well come. But we’re so far gone now that it will take incredible suffering to wake us up, precisely as was required again and again for ancient Israel. Let’s pray for revival, and in the meantime, continue to live out and boldly, charitably defend traditional moral teaching.