What's wrong with Same-Sex Marriage?
This year, June's wedding bells had a discordant tone, as they ushered in a raft of same-sex marriages. I hereby invoke a panel of experts -- Fr. Thomas Vandenberg, G. K. Chesterton, and Kurt Vonnegut -- to explain why such marriages are a dangerous debasement of the concept of marriage.
Fr. Vandenberg's new book, Rediscovering a Pearl of Great Price , is an inspired exposition of the full meaning of Christian marriage, It should be required reading for couples planning to marry, although some of the passages may come as a surprise:
The greatest gift a husband can give his children is to love their mother, and the greatest gift a mother can give her children is to love their father. That is what will keep the proper balance in the family and make their home environment secure. That is what will free the children from their primary fear, which is to be abandoned by one of their parents. Why do they fear that? Because that is what has happened to so many of their friends at school.
Marriage is supposed to have the ambitious goal of providing children with a nurturing and reassuring base from which to learn to face the world. Therefore, parents must not only be good persons, not only a man and a woman (so as to provide the dual role models psychologists say they need), but also so unshakably devoted to each other that their mutual love can withstand all the temptations and shocks that life will hurl at them, as well as the abrasion of living with each other.
To this end, sexual passion and the bewildering differences between the sexes jointly play a vital role. As Chesterton put it:
The differences between a man and a woman are at the best so obstinate and exasperating that they practically cannot be got over unless there is an atmosphere of exaggerated tenderness and mutual interest. To put the matter in one metaphor, the sexes are two stubborn pieces of iron; if they are to be welded together, it must be while they are red-hot...
Therefore, as Fr. Vandenberg goes on to emphasize, sexual intercourse is not merely a permitted "perk" or a reluctantly tolerated means of procreation but rather a vital and holy part of marriage -- a divinely sanctioned means of demonstrating and intensifying conjugal love to make it withstand the rigors attendant upon raising children.*
Fortunately, as with all animals, men and women have the proper equipment for such activities. The corresponding parts of the male and female body interact quite neatly for both mutual pleasure and procreation.
Not so for homosexual men and women. Whether or not there is anything wrong with their desires, they simply don't have the proper apparatus to fulfill them. They must resort to clumsy makeshifts, like cargo cult devotees trying to make airplanes out of straw. Alternatively, they submit to grotesque operations, trying to alter their bodies to suit their desires. The artificiality of these attempts to mimic normal sexuality will inevitably distort the emotions that arise from them and will tend to adversely affect any children living with them.
Homosexuals who engage in such desperate expedients shouldn't be condemned for wanting to do so. As the psychoanalyst in Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You Mr. Rosewater explained:
Let's assume that a healthy young man is supposed to be sexually aroused by an attractive woman not his mother or sister. if he's aroused by other things, another man, say, or an umbrella, or the ostrich boa of the Empress Josephine or a sheep or a corpse or his mother or a stolen garter belt, he is what we call a pervert. Let us hasten on to the admission that every case of perversion is essentially a case of crossed wires...
In fact, there is neurological evidence that at least some homosexuals are wired differently and cannot help their proclivities. Others contend that homosexuality may be one of the aftereffects of sexual abuse during childhood. In recognition of such factors, the Catechism of the Catholic Church proposes the apparent paradox of condemning homosexual acts while urging that people afflicted with homosexuality be treated with sympathy.
But we cannot debase the whole concept of sex and marriage merely to oblige them. The objective of what a gay activist has called the ""war we've already won" is to reduce marriage to a lowest-common-denominator status that will inevitably include polygamy, which is already being touted on ABC-TV as "normal" and being campaigned for in Canada. That's too high a price to pay for making homosexuals feel better about themselves.
As Fr. Vandenberg points out in his appendix on same-sex marriage:
Society, for centuries, has had a stake in marriage....It set certain standards for marriage because it needed marriage to be strong for the well-being of the community; it wanted to help strengthen and support it in order to foster good social order, especially around the generation of new life and the raising of children so they would grow up to be responsible members of that community...This extended relationship of the couple to the larger community is evidenced by the civil requirements for a valid marriage...An obvious example would be laws forbidding marriage between couples who were first cousins.
Unfortunately, the institution of marriage is currently being attacked by several forces that, deliberately or inadvertently, are destroying it and thereby undermining our society:
- The current fad of cohabitation. Single mothers usually do not assume this role voluntarily but are forced to do so by the perfidy and selfishness of men who desert them when they become pregnant. In consequence, the children suffer from the absence of a father and seek a male role model and mentor, often by joining gangs.
- Ultrafeminists, who regard men as "the enemy". They encourage the idea that men are unnecessary for raising children and regard lesbian couples as the new "normal". To this end, they cite psychological studies that fall apart when examined.
- Our protosocialist state, which seeks to diminish the concept of family in order to make the state the primary "parent". This may be one reason why liberals are so enthusiastic about same-sex marriage -- because it weakens the status and importance of families.
But whatever the causes, the debasement of the concepts of marriage and family will destroy us. Lycurgus achieved it in ancient Sparta and produced a nation of racist brutes. The USSR tried it, with partial success, in the last century and begat a dysfunctional society that is now painfully groping its way back to normality. These are hardly encouraging precedents. The legalization of same-sex marriage is a decisive step down that slippery slope.
* This is why pre-Reformation Christians gave matrimony, including the sexual act, the status of a sacrament. But then Luther and Calvin denied this sacredness and the later Protestant trend was to regard sex as shameful. By way of reaction to Victorian prudery, modernists have gone out of their way to emphasize the ugly and distorted aspects of sexuality, which we call obscenity and which usually debase women into victims or instruments of male gratification. This contrast between the Christian and modern views of sexuality may explain the surprising survey result (which puzzled the investigating psychologists) that religious women enjoy sex more than non-religious women.