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The term oxymoron is derived for a Greek phrase meaning “pointedly foolish.” And that is exactly what the talk about same-sex “marriage” amounts to, for it contains within itself a contradiction as great, say, as the idea would be for motionless football or batless baseball [ed. note: or baseball card packs without bubble gum]. Were some paralyzed individual to demand the “right” to play football, the American Civil Liberties Union might support him on the grounds of non-discrimination. But the nature of football is a game in which players must run, pass the ball, kick it, advance it over the goal line – all of these making the demands listed above for inclusion beyond reason. And if some batter allergic to wood would claim the “right” to use something stained or painted to appear to be wood, that too would be oxymoronic, since in its conception by its inventor, baseball demands a wooden bat.
There are essentials to all realities, whether creations of God, as is marriage, or arrangements of humans such as the interrelationships making up society. It is essential for realities that they not be reduced to superficialities or mere practicalities. That would loosen our grip on reality itself. Honoring lust rather than the act of love put to God’s service is inevitable in the recognition of “same-sex marriage,” since that concept’s purpose is to protect the dignity of those abusing their sexual faculties by deliberate surrender to passion. Sexual pleasure in the marital act of love, on the other hand, is God’s gift rewarding and encouraging the use of sexuality to further His purposes, not man’s.
When we intrude our own will in the matter, we are challenging Him, in effect, to use miracles to continue the human race as we arrogate sexuality to our own use, preferring to have the passion but destroy or prevent its consequence. That consequence is new life, the possibility of which ennobles sex, whereas lust defiles it.
A person who might use a beautiful diamond to do evil – let us say to lure a weak person into some sort of violence – would be guilty of defiling the gem’s beauty, and the tribute that beauty stirs in appreciation of its creation. So, too, does lust work to the defilement of the beauty of sex when it (sex) is not used in conformity to the full nature of man, which includes rationality and the obedience to God rationality enjoins. Lust, which contraceptive sex, sodomistic sex, impure hedonistic sex serves, works the same sort of defilement of the beauty of the intimacy of man and woman that God made possible by sexual difference. Lust calls for privacy in order for those given to it to escape shame. Sex within the sanctity of marriage calls for the sort of privacy we give to our highest moments of worship.
We do not cast pearls before swine, nor should we insult sex by robbing it of purpose. Husband and wife in their sexual intimacy are practicing a sort of piety – the piety of married men and women obeying God in sexual union compatible with His creative desire. Scripture refers to it as becoming “one flesh.” And that term can in one meaning be taken as referring to the result of sexual intercourse both immediately in husband and wife becoming one by the marital act, but also as a result of the act in the ongoing unity achieved by male and female procreative elements combining as a new, unique human person – the conceived child.
None of this can be achieved genuinely and naturally by those of the same sex. Homosexual acts are simulations of sexual intercourse, for these acts cannot involve the complementarity of male/female sexual union. And these simulated acts are thus infertile, with true union of the generative elements rendered impossible by such activities within the same gender. Some simulation of married life may be possible, including enlarging cohabitation to include other men’s and women’s children; but if cohabitation alone supplied the essence of marriage, mankind long ago would have called that sociological condition a marriage. Instead, mankind universally has seen as essential to marriage the willingness and capacity of man and woman to give themselves fully, completely, and in the ideal, exclusively, to one another, that giving being fulfilled in the profound intimacy of sexual union. Today’s society should ask itself if it wishes to demean that understanding of marriage by giving equal recognition to those demanding it, but who cannot achieve this complete union by their own natures and the nature of their “arrangements.”
The very word “marriage” argues against doing so. Its root etymologically is the word for man, i.e., male, and therefore by connotation one caring for property. The word for woman can include her capacity to be a wife, that is “womb-man” to a husband. In keeping with this, the 17th century clergyman, Samuel Purchas, describes woman as “a house builded for generation and gestation, whence our [English] language calls her woman, womb-man.” John A. Ryan, writing on the history of marriage for the original Catholic Encyclopedia, explains, “…the phrase ‘husband and wife’ implies mutual rights of sexual intercourse.”
So vital is such a right in its exercise, the Supreme Pontiff may dissolve a valid marriage that is not consummated by that intercourse, whereas the contract validly made and consummated is dissolved only by death, and no human has authority to do so. Fr. Augustus Lemhkulh, S.J., writing in the same work on the Moral and Canonical Aspects of Marriage, seems to attribute the authority of the Church to dissolve marriages ratum non consummatum (valid but not consummated) to the interpretation that this does not contradict the pronunciation, “What God hath joined, let no made put asunder….” This suggests that the joining intended for husband and wife in the state of marriage is by virtue of the marital act, the proper and complementary union of their sexual organs.
In this view, which is certainly the accepted one of Catholic understanding and doctrine, it follows that two or more men cannot marry nor can two or more women. They are physiologically incapable of fulfilling part of the marriage contract that is of its essence. Whatever equality of rights may be considered by civil authority as demanded in law (such as in Massachusetts where “legality” of homosexual “marriage” has been enacted) the superior authority of God in His purpose of creating mankind female and male prevails, and should do so in the consciences of all persons recognizing the reigning force of God’s will, even if revealed merely in nature, as is certainly the case with the physiological distinctions of male and female.
Add to this the judgment of the Church against sexual acts deliberately done in such a way as to prevent the possibility of conception, and at variance with the natural possibility of conception, it then follows all such same-sex acts are unchaste for they cannot be performed in true union or for children but only given to lust. Such acts insult both the personhood of humans which involves conformity to human nature and not defiance of it, and the majesty of God’s purpose.
Today’s attitudes and even language tend to make these natural purposes of sexual union, particularly conception of new life, as something to “protect” against, rather than welcome and embrace. American children in shockingly early education, are taught how to “protect” themselves via certain contraceptive devices. Such is called “safe sex.” Sex educationists will quickly insist by that is meant protection against sexually transmitted disease. But the effect of chemical contraceptives empties that argument of any truthfulness. Thus, contraceptionists have won a victory in gaining legal approval for purchasing the “morning after” pill to “protect” from the effects of “unprotected” surrender to sexual passion the night before. It isn’t disease that the “morning after” pill protects against, it is the poor baby conceived in the passion given way to, often in fornication, that is the “disease” that is eradicated.
All of these unchaste behaviors and the prevalence thereof are contributing toward diminishing marriage to a temporary situation, to a cultural or societal arrangement without any substantial perfection that makes of a man a husband and of a woman a wife.
Divorce does similar damage to the truth of marriage by making the contract, or vows, establishing a married state temporary, and no-fault divorce makes it so temporary that the very decision of a couple will end it. But the fiction of “same-sex marriage” strikes far deeper and more fatally at marriage by jettisoning from it the necessity for a cohabitating couple’s being able to unite in a way that works the change to husband and wife. The availability for sexual intercourse has been from the beginning an essential for marriage. The idea of marriage of two persons lacking that capability makes “same-sex marriage” a fiction, a sham in being called one thing when in fact it is something lacking a very essential element of the genuine thing.
You can call what paralyzed persons might do football or call what someone allergic to wood might do with a rubber bat baseball — but don’t expect any TV contracts. The only persons watching would be those like themselves in their disabilities. No matter how equal as humans they might be, the difference that prevents their performance on field or diamond renders them incapable of the genuine reality.
These analogies may seem farfetched and even irrational. But they are no more so than the demand of those arguing homosexuals be considered “married,” without the capacity of fulfilling what is in the common – no, the unanimous – agreement of all recorded and remembered history that a marriage is the union of man and woman joining them intimately as their differences in gender makes possible primarily (though not only) for the conceiving of offspring. The right to marry has been seen as resulting from their being man and woman, not from their being two separate human beings. Remove from the reality that distinction, as some are demanding, and some jurisdictions granting, and the door is open to any arrangement for cohabitation being considered “marriage.”
The traditions concerning marriage’s relationship being that of husband and wife is not an arbitrary or accidental conclusion of human history. It is a natural disposal of what God proposes in His configuration of mankind as two sexes – man and woman – capable of so close an intimacy that God’s revelation refers to it as becoming “one flesh.” And that term in one very vital and necessary understanding refers to full, complete sexual intercourse, an immediate act, but also one ongoing when the donation of both parties unite in new human life – the conceived child. None of these unities is possible for those of identical gender, at least naturally. Technology might bring about a union of male and female elements artificially. But no technology imaginable can replace the intimacy of intercourse itself. Short of that, whatever emotion that might be exchanged by homosexuals cannot be a basis for marriage.
The full, complete giving of self to one another by man and woman is the love that Christ blessed at Cana, and the kind He meant when He compared His kingdom to a wedding feast at which all wear the proper dress or sanctity. Those things should come to our minds when we are offered the argument, “Why should those of homosexual appetites be denied what is granted to those of heterosexual ones?” The answer, of course, is that even heterosexual desires can be shameful when they are fulfilled in intentional contradiction of God’s will and purposes.
If it is true that unnatural sexual appetite is in fact “natural” to some persons, then we must only conclude there is no indication from either God or nature that such desires should be succumbed to. All of us are called to a chaste life, whatever our station is. Fulfillment of lustful desires has no place in this picture. The fate of Sodom and Gomorrah would surely suggest that to surrender to such desires is a path to destruction both literally and figuratively. (There is a contrived theological speculation that sodomy didn’t get its name from how sex was employed in those cities, and that their fate really came upon them because they didn’t welcome strangers. If they in fact didn’t welcome them, it would also imply those strangers weren’t “strange” enough for the locals.)
The lack of chastity was one of the major problems that confronted St. Paul in his demands that his converts put on a new life from which the lusts of the pagans were excluded. It is becoming more and more evident that the same problems of unchastity are challenging followers of Christ in this time in history. More and more Christians seem to be surrendering to lust rather than defeating it by conformity to what Christ taught. Yet that is one sin about which Christ gave explicit directives. He told the unchaste: “Go and sin no more.” It is only when we bring ourselves into conformity with these words of Christ that we will be back on the path of holiness and splendor will return to marriage as intended by Him.
Frank Morriss has been an active journalist and author since 1950. A graduate of Regis College, he holds a doctorate of a law from Georgetown Univerity. Morriss taught college and founded a private Catholic school in Denver. He wrote and produced the Divine Epic for Catholic radio and published the material in book form. He has authored historical fiction for children as well as several books including The Conservative Imperative, A Little Life of Our Lord, Saints in Verse, and Two Chapels on John Henry Newman. A former news editor for the Denver Catholic Register and National Catholic Register, Morriss has also written for The Wanderer newspaper as well as served as editor of the Forum Focus for the Wanderer Forum Foundation.
This article, Same Sex Marriage: When Two Can Never Be One is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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