Thursday, May 24, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage – What's it to you anyway?

Questions that come up in the same-sex marriage (SSM) debate are, “What’s it to you anyway? Why not let them marry? How does it affect opposite-sex marriage (OSM)?” I think the questions themselves show a misunderstanding of the concern. Some troubleshooting logic we use at work may help us to understand better.
When taking some action on an issue, we must try to ascertain if we are taking action on the cause of a problem or an effect of a problem.

Ø Action on the cause is called corrective action; it intends to eliminate the cause
Ø Action on the effect is called interim or adaptive action; it intends to limit the effect.
Example 1:

Ø Problem: I have a cold
Ø Cause: a virus
Ø Effect: runny nose (among other things)
v Corrective Acton: kill virus
v Interim or Adaptive Action: blow your nose

We have a problem of sexual sin in our world. The cause of this problem is sexual confusion; by “confusion” I mean not understanding, not knowing, or ignoring the true purpose of sex. A sexual relationship is meant to be something unitive, procreative, mutually exclusive and permanent and none of these aspects can be intentionally separated. It only makes sense in the context of OSM. The Effects of sexual sin are:
Ø  Unwanted pregnancies
Ø  Abortion
Ø  Divorce
Ø  Increased poverty
Ø  Sex addiction
Ø  Child molestation
Ø  Disease (STD’s)
Ø  An unknowable amount of emotional pain
Ø  Probably others I’m forgetting.
This list affects all of us. We do not live in a vacuum. As JP2 has said, there are no private sins.

Example 2:
Ø  Problem: sexual sin
Ø  Cause: sexual confusion
Ø  Effect: STD’s (among other things)
v  Corrective Acton: educate/evangelize
v  Interim or Adaptive Action: medicine/vaccination

I suggest that legalizing SSM is just another effect of the problem, not a cause. Political action defending true marriage is good, but we should be aware that this is addressing more an effect than the cause.
So back to the questions of, “What’s it to you? Why not let them marry? How does it affect OSM?” The government is a kind of teacher with great influence. Public institutions shape our ideas and ideas have consequences. In legalizing SSM, governments are “teaching” society that marriage and procreation are not inexorably linked. This further extends the cause of the problem and thus accentuates its effects. Removing the rational basis for a norm will erode adherence to that norm.
Additionally, if SSM becomes the law-of-the-land, those that defend true marriage (like the Catholic Church) would be seen more and more as a “bigots” that make groundless distinctions. This would logically bring more persecution.
No fault divorce, artificial contraception and legalizing abortion were supposed to make things better for society, make people happier, build stronger marriages, and reduce poverty & STD’s. The data shows the exact opposite. As we s-l-o-w-l-y accept the changes, we are like frogs in water being s-l-o-w-l-y boiled to death, just a few degrees at a time. Legalizing SSM is the next temperature increment we face.
Hey Frog, what's it to ya?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Professor Ratzinger's Law of Disguise

Continuing a tribute to B16 seven years on, here is another insight inspired by Professor Ratzinger in his book Introduction to Christianity, Part II, Excursus: Christian Structures.

The law of disguise relates to the idea of Christian paradox expressed in an interesting way. The Alpha of the universe appears as the Omega; the last letter in the alphabet of creation.

Ø  First there is the Earth, a mere nothing in the cosmos, which was to be the point of divine activity.
The Earth
Ø  Then comes Israel, a cipher among the powers of the world which was to be the point of His appearance in the world.
Ancient Israel

Ø  Then Nazareth, again a cipher within Israel, which was to be the point of His definitive arrival.
Ø  Then the Cross on which a man was to hang whose life had been a failure. A sure sign someone was NOT the messiah was if his enemies were to hang him on a tree; it only makes sense in light of the resurrection. God has come so near to us that we can kill Him and thereby, so it seems, ceases to be God for us.

The Cross
Ø  Finally there is the Church with its questionable history and the claim to be the abiding site of His revelation. Precisely when the Church believed, in all the glory of the Renaissance princedom, that she could cast off this hiddenness and be directly the “gate of heaven”, the “house of God”, she became God’s disguise, with God scarcely to be found behind it.
The Church
Like a clever warrior, God slips behind enemy lines in disguise; a divine camouflage so good that the secular eye sees nothing special. The spiritual eye can see only if it is awake and unhindered.

God seems to keep disappearing more and more and, precisely in this way, becomes more and more manifest as Himself.
The Law of Disguise

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Unintelligibility of Same-Sex Marriage

God is the author of marriage, but this does not convince same-sex marriage activists. The “Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve” argument doesn’t go very far. The reflex rebuttals are, “You have no right to impose your religion on others” and the familiar “Separation of Church and State.”

At this point the dialog shuts down, but I find that secular arguments tend to re-boot the discussion. I occasionally debate proponents on other forums. To be honest, they have quite a bit of difficulty breaking down the logic in the following post:

Few things represent a lack-of-thinking more than the idea of same-sex marriage. We need to turn down the noise on this issue and look at the facts.

Why is the government in the marriage business?
Does the government care who you “love”?
Would marriage exist if humans reproduced asexually?

The nature of male/female marriage leads directly to the building blocks of a nation just like the cells of a body. Strong families and a productive future citizenry result from a permanent and loving union between one male and one female. If we don’t see this clear connection to our society, we’re just not looking. The very idea that The State should NOT give incentive & recognize a procreative union as unique from other types of human unions boggles the mind.

You will ask; what about infertile couples or couples who do not want children? This question brings a new debate. The debate becomes, should marriage be defined as any man and any woman or only a man and woman willing & able to have children. The question in no way logically justifies same-sex marriage.

You will ask; what about equal rights for all? Many relationships, other than marriages, have tremendous personal significance to those involved. The fact that we do not call them marriages is not evidence of bigotry, but recognition of reality.

Proponents of same-sex marriage insist that marriage has nothing whatsoever to do with reproduction; why children? I like to counter with a question of my own; why sex? Suppose two sisters share a household and love each other very much. Why should they not be married if they want?  Why discriminate against people because they are not sexually attracted to each other? It’s not fair.

Another question; why the number “two”? Why can’t marriage be any 3 people or any 30 people? I’ve been told this is a slippery slope argument and slippery slope arguments are automatically invalid. So if my kids are playing with matches, and I project that there will be a fire and someone will get hurt, this would be another automatically invalid slippery slope argument.

Then there is the discussion about “What’s it to you?” Let them marry. It does not affect heterosexual marriage in any way. This would be a separate post I think. For the purposes of this post, I’ll say that I prefer my government do things that are intelligible as oppose to unintelligible. What say you?
Marriage should be reinforced, not redefined.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Professor Ratzinger on “Meaning”

Behold, I am scary-smart.
Continuing a tribute to B16 seven years on, here is another insight inspired by Professor Ratzinger.

Science tells us a lot about how something works, what it does or what physical attributes it has. The scientific method is frustrated, however, by questions related to “meaning”. Galileo hinted at this when he said, "Religion tells us how to go to heaven; science tells us how the heavens go." As a result, a secular answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” might be, “We make our own meaning.”

If you think about it, we really don’t understand what something is unless we know its purpose. Imagine you were to stumble upon a razor, but didn’t know what it was for. You will notice that it is very sharp. Let’s say YOU decide the purpose of the razor is to cut wood; what will happen? You will not cut wood very well and you will destroy the razor. Why? Because you did not know what the razor was really for. You did not know the intended purpose of its existence.
Professor Ratzinger addresses the question of “meaning” in the first chapter of his book, Introduction to Christianity. Here are some highlights paraphrased a bit:

Ø  Meaning is the bread on which man subsists. Everyone knows the situation of “not being able to go on” in the midst of outward abundance. How many have plenty in terms of health, food, clothing and shelter, but live quiet (or not so quiet) lives of desperation. It’s a problem related to “meaning”.

Ø  He goes on about two kinds of thought. Calculating thought is concerned with “make-ability”; reflective thought is concerned with “meaning”. We need both. In an age in which calculating thought is celebrating amazing triumphs, we are all threatened by thoughtlessness, a flight from reflective thought.

Ø  Meaning is not manufactured from knowledge. We can study the physical attributes of a razor for an eternity and never grasp its true meaning. Meaning, that is, the ground on which our existence as a totality can stand and live, cannot be made, but only received. Meaning that is self-made is in the last analysis no meaning.

Ø  The good professor also gives a clever analogy to self-made meaning; imagine a man trying to pull himself out of a bog by his own hair. This is the absurdity of the statement, “We make our own meaning.”
Why am I not being uplifted?!?!

A very simple, but very good answer to life’s meaning can still be found in the Baltimore Catechism. Why did God make us? God made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven. Theologian Frank J. Sheed said it in a simple way too; why did God make us?.......because we should like it.

“Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9)