Recently the daughter of former Vice-president Cheney was “wed” to her girlfriend in Washington, DC, where same-sex marriage licenses are issued. The Vice President and his wife were quoted in the media as “expressing great joy on the occasion”.
This really epitomizes the dilemma that so many of you face when confronted with the issue of same-sex marriage: these are often your children, grandchildren, siblings and closest loved ones that are entering into same-sex unions. The dilemma then is how to express love for your loved ones without approving wrong behavior? First it must be said that rejecting same-sex marriage is not the same as rejecting same-sex behavior as part of our culture. In other words opposing same-sex marriage is not rejecting your children and loved ones who are same-sex attracted. Though it is often presented as “if you don’t accept same-sex marriage you don’t love me” in order to guilt you into submission. After all what parents want to be at odds with their child?
Supporting a codification of a catastrophic redefinition of marriage as the law of the land is not the same as loving your gay children and friends. One does not require the other.
There are some permanent truths that the supporters of same-sex marriage do not want us to consider. First contrary to assertions, traditional marriage is not just a Christian or religious thing but something all societies have recognized as a union between opposite sexes. The reason for this is that the primary purpose of marriage is procreation and the nurturing of future members of society. Even in cases where polygamy was permitted, it was permitted for the increased propagation of offspring. And in societies that openly practiced same-sex behavior it was never considered as an alternative to marriage.
Historically marriage has not been solely about finding fulfillment or pleasure as it is now, but about survival and thriving for individuals and communities. So it is not only natural but also logical that members of the opposite sex come together since this is how offspring are generated. Additionally, nurturing offspring is greatly enhanced by the perspective members of each sex bring to the family unit. Simply put marriage keeps children connected to both mother and father. Had all societies promoted non-procreative marriage or mere emotional unions there would be no societies left to debate this issue.
In spite of what you may have been led to believe, same-sex marriage is not a cut and dry question of rights as the right to marriage has restrictions for all members of society. The fact is that all laws regarding marriage are going to restrict someone’s happiness: none of us can marry another man’s wife or vice-versa, polygamy is prohibited, no one can marry within certain degrees of bloodlines, no one can marry someone below the age of consent, nor can anyone marry a non-human. Positively all of us have the right to marry a member of the opposite sex.
The move to promote same-sex marriage is part of the massive rejection of the true meaning and purpose of sex in our culture. The sanctioning and promotion of non-procreative sex amounts to a society signing on to its own demise. It’s a form of national suicide.
In order to deal with this issue as it affects your families and impacts your relationships with loved ones, it is important to have your thinking straight on marriage. Which means you need to be clear about what marriage is and is not, the true nature and purposes of sex, and you also need to reject being labeled as hateful or homophobic for affirming the traditional definition of marriage. This issue is not about loving your same-sex attracted family members but about the consequences of a redefinition of marriage for our society and its future.
These are secular arguments that support traditional marriage which also point out the consequences of a redefinition of marriage. One need not argue from a religious tradition to have a logical and rational defense of traditional marriage. Obviously as Catholics who live by biblical morality we have additional religious understandings of marriage and sexuality, which restricts sexual expression only to monogamous man-woman marriage.
Opposing same-sex marriage is not anti-gay, nor is it a trampling of anyone’s civil rights, nor is it invidious discrimination as traditional marriage has a solid rational basis, nor is it a rejection of same-sex attracted people nor even a rejection of homosexuality in society. It is simply an affirmation that the state has no authority to redefine what nature has already defined and human experience has refined over the centuries.
Those who support traditional marriage have a wall of hatred directed at them and often from their children and friends. But sacrificing the truth about something as important as marriage cannot be the price we pay to live with one another. I pray that all of us can absorb the hatred, as Christ absorbed it on the Cross, and that by grace we can return it as redemptive love.
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Fr. John Bonavitacola