From Matt Warner at Fallible Blogma.
There were a few brights spots in the recent election cycle in regard to the issues of Life and Family. Although we elected a very socially liberal president in Barack Obama, this does not at all seem to indicate any kind of major social shift in actual American values.
In other words, he was not elected for his social policy. He was elected despite it. All of the exits polls are indicating people voted overwhelmingly on economic issues. And some of the other votes around the country should give us great hope that a large majority of Americans (even in California) have not abandoned traditional morality. Here – I am talking about Proposition 8 in California. This is a state amendment that would codify marriage as being between a man and a woman. And it passed overwhelmingly. This is a great win for America.
But now we have thousands of people in an uproar against the passing of Prop 8 and are protesting in numerous places in California – mostly outside of churches.
I totally respect the right of anyone to peacefully protest in America, so I am not objecting to that. What I am objecting to is a continued assault on the institution of Marriage in the name of “equality.” I wanted to examine it further and get everyone’s thoughts on the matter.
First, let’s talk about what this protest is not about.
This is not about a “right” being taken away. Many, including much of the news media, are framing this entire episode in California as the taking away of an existing right. This is false. First, Marriage is not a constitutional right – it’s a privilege. Second, marriage has always been defined as between a man and a woman. Just because a few individuals who happen to be sitting on a supreme court in California decided they can just change the definition of a word it does not make it so.
This is not about substantive benefits, fairness, or anything practical like that. In California, same-sex couples are afforded all of the same benefits as married couples. And their relationship is legally recognized as a civil union. And of course we must work vehemently against any unjust discrimination or hatred shown towards a person because they are homosexual. That kind of abuse is unacceptable and must be stopped. And we should be proud of the progress our society has made in this regard. But this is not about that either.
This is not about happiness. I keep hearing ridiculous statements like, “Don’t homosexuals deserve to be happy just like heterosexuals do?” Of course they do. But this is a straw-man argument that has nothing to do with the definition of marriage. It just injects an unprovoked emotion into the debate and confuses the issue. Again, Prop 8 simply protects the definition of Marriage. It does not keep homosexuals from being happy together in any way. It’s a bogus argument and intellectually dishonest to suggest that someone’s happiness in this world hangs on the definition of a word – especially a word which they believe can just change definitions whenever they want it to.
So what is this about then? The only thing left would seem to be semantics. Could all of this protest really be about semantics? That a minority of people in this country think it should say one thing in the dictionary next to marriage and the rest of us think it should say something else?
I always get the argument when talking about this redefinition of marriage of, “How will it affect you if we let others redefine our definition of marriage? You can still get married all the same and hold your personal beliefs. It would just let homosexuals do the same.”
And it’s because of that argument right there that I believe many have shifted to a position that believes same-sex couples should be able to get married. They don’t know how to defend it. I suppose it sounds convincing. And it just makes you look like a big meany if you would oppose it. That’s the trap. Nobody wants to be a meany. I certainly don’t.
There are a number of problems with this statement, though. As we’ve shown, this is not about substantive benefits, the taking away of rights, or the pursuit of happiness. It’s about changing the definition of a word. So let me get this straight…we all should adopt an entirely different definition of the word because a small minority of people want to change it? Oh, but don’t worry, I can still believe it’s something different on my own if I want? That makes no sense. Why not keep the same definition it’s had for thousands of years and if you want to have a different definition on your own you go right ahead? That makes far more sense to me. Doesn’t that make you just as mean if you want to change my definition of marriage?
I’m tired of being portrayed as a bigoted, mindless, homophobe just because I support a very logical, natural, and theological form of marriage that has been the foundation of every human society for thousands of years.
And there seems to be this belief that all opposition to so-called same-sex “marriage” is based on people blindly following some religious dogma or scripture passage that happens to say that homosexuality is wrong. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Unfortunately, we do in fact have many Christians in our country that do not understand the principles that traditional Christian teaching is built upon. I believe that is exactly what contributes most to 1) the many insufficient and inconsistent explanations put forth to support traditional marriage and 2) the way many proponents of same-sex “marriage” disregard any opposition to their belief as ignorant, hateful and fearful. But that is ignorance on both sides.
The Catholic Church has always based its understanding of human sexuality, marriage, and procreation on reason and Natural Law. It has consistently held this understanding since the beginning. And it is continually called upon to apply these same principles to new advances in science and culture.
We need to remember the reason for marriage in the first place. It is not because humans happen to enjoy sticking together in groups of two that marriage is considered such an important part of society. Marriage is an important part of our society – any society – because it is the vehicle within which new life is brought into this world.
And maybe that doesn’t seem like that big of a deal anymore because our culture is so bent on separating procreation, marriage, and sex in so many different ways. But if we view this scientifically and naturally, it’s the most fundamental building block of our existence. And it is there in its natural form – the way things were meant to be – that we find procreation, sex, and marriage all coexisting together in their proper place.
Whether you agree with that or not is another discussion entirely (here’s some additional reading explaining the basic theology of marriage). But let’s be clear: Marriage is unique in that it is this particular bond of relationship that creates the means of bringing about new life into this world. And it is the foundation of the family. At the most basic of all levels, this is our means of survival. So it involves procreation and therefore sexual complementarity.
This is absolutely and fundamentally different from anything a so-called same-sex “marriage” could ever be. In fact that’s why marriage can not actually exist between two people of the same sex. It’s impossible.
This is what the word marriage means. To redefine it to include same-sex unions is not to simply broaden the definition to include more people, be nice, or not discriminate. It is to fundamentally change the meaning of the word. It makes no sense to do that.
On one hand we have a union that is necessary to our existence as a species – it brings about new life. On the other hand we have two people of the same sex that love each other and want to be in a relationship. Should these two totally different things not be referred to as two separate, distinct words? Why would we want one word to refer to both of these things?
Language has to mean something. When it stops meaning something then it has stopped being language. If we are supposed to allow the definition of every word to continue to expand to include every single person’s own personal feelings of what a word shall mean – then language will eventually mean nothing.
We’ve already allowed our society to try and redefine marriage in this way too much already. That is much of our problem. Many people are inconsistent in their beliefs – Christians included. Our society says marriage is no longer a life-long commitment, it’s til whenever you break up. Sex is OK with anyone at anytime, instead of saved for marriage. And we can artificially create life in ourselves, in other people, in laboratories or wherever it is most convenient.
Marriage, sex, and procreation are all tied together by their very nature – not by religious dogma. Any time we separate any one of the three from the others we run into problems. And thank goodness we’ve had the Catholic Church around to keep them straight for us for so long. It is the one consistent voice that has not allowed the culture of the present day to sway what it proclaims as truth.
But no matter what you believe, why can’t people respect a word that has a very special and unique meaning to a large majority of people in this country? Why would they insist on changing it? After all, each person is free to ultimately believe what they want about it anyway?
The answer is that it is not only about semantics. It is about intolerance. There are some that simply do not respect and are not tolerant of others’ views with whom they disagree. They already protested the government, and the government gave them equal treatment under the law. So now they are protesting outside of churches. They are protesting anyone with which they disagree. And even more dangerously, they want to use the courts to change the meaning of a word that has been defined for thousands of years in order to try and shove their own ideology down the throats of those that hold a different definition.
All in the name of tolerance and love.