Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Marriage Proposal

With all the talk about same-sex marriage (SSM) in recent days, I’d like to make a marriage proposal. I’d like to propose that the rational basis for secular marriage in every culture, from China to Chattanooga, is not love, or sexual attraction, or property rights, or civil rights. It is procreation; procreation within a unique framework. Defining marriage as one man and one woman, and the way humans reproduce, isn’t just some weird coincidence.

Any definition requires limits to make one thing distinct from another. Procreation within a certain context is what makes marriage distinguishable from any other type of human relationship. If this seems ludicrous to you, let’s take a closer look.
2 become 1

What about “rights”?
If marriage was about property rights or civil rights, why discriminate (for centuries) against people NOT sexually attracted to each other? Why sex? For example, why is it prohibited for close relatives to marry? The reason is because the rationale for secular marriage is procreation (inbreeding tends toward genetic defects).

If it were about rights, why bother with any specific number? Why can’t 3 or more people agree to marry and share rights? The reason is because only one male and one female are needed for procreation, so there is no reason for the government to give incentive for more than this; it only complicates things.

What about “love”?
If it were about “love” (or sexual attraction) would pre-arranged marriages be legal? What about marrying for immigration reasons or financial reasons? Would a 25-year-old super model need to prove her “love” before marrying an 80-year-old billionaire?

Aside from all this, if the rational basis was indeed love, it begs a question. Why would any government care about who or how their citizens "love" and see some need to issue a license for it and grant privileges? How would the government define love? Must it be only sexual love? Why mutually exclusive? How could they distinguish between love and lust?

The government should be about the business of the common good, so secular marriage must be for something more than the gratification and happiness of only two individuals, more than just accommodating a “special interest”, more than government acknowledgment for the sake of government acknowledgment.

Give 'em the ring finger.
Last, but certainly not least, why procreation?
The nature of permanent male/female unions leads directly to the very building blocks of a nation just like the cells of a body. Strong families and a productive future citizenry are the result if done right. This clearly relates to not only the common good, but the very survival of a population. It explains why any nation-state would give incentive & recognize a permanent male/female union as UNIQUE among all other types of human relationships.
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.

What about infertile couples or couples who do not want children?
This question brings a new question. Should marriage be defined as any man and any woman or only those willing & able to have children? This new debate would bring much discussion, but the question itself does not logically justify SSM.
Heterosexual couples are fertile by nature with some exceptions, so exceptions can be debated. Homosexual couples are infertile by nature with NO exceptions. The former could change their mind or seek fertility treatments, the latter cannot. Even in the case of certain infertility, the former is still properly orientated to that unique type of union that can build an entire nation, the latter is not.

Other things that do not explain the existence of secular marriage:
Ø  Adoption:
Adoption is not procreation; it is about how to deal with children that are already here and have no one to care for them. If adoption is the same as procreation and justifies marriage, then why not let a father and his adult son get married?  Why not a group of celibate nuns? Who’s to say they could not raise adopted children just as well as anyone else?

What about the gay couple that has already adopted a child? Could not a legal arrangement be made between two adults and a child without redefining marriage into something unintelligible for an entire society?
What gives?
Ø  Surrogate Mothers:
This IS procreation, but NOT in the framework that secular marriage intended. If surrogate motherhood equates a true procreative union, and therefore justifies marriage, why not let any group of people, like a softball team for example, pay women to have babies and then allow the entire group to marry? Additionally, surrogate motherhood does not occur naturally as part of a human union (neither does adoption). Could not a single individual effectively adopt or employ a surrogate? Why involve marriage?

Ø  Impregnation:
This does not require two women, but women in a lesbian partnership could always find a way to get pregnant with help from a man. This is also procreation, but again, not in the context that secular marriage proposes. If impregnation equates a true procreative union, and therefore justifies marriage, why not let a mother and her adult daughter get married?

Why not just change the rationale?
Public institutions shape our ideas and ideas have consequences. As mentioned, any definition requires limits, and limits require a rationale. This is what makes a circle a circle and a square a square. They are both shapes, but they are not the same. If marriage means whatever you want, then it can mean anything, which makes it mean nothing. Removing the rational basis for a norm will erode adherence to that norm.

Think about it!
Thinking means connecting things and any kind of rational thinking involves asking coherent questions and finding intelligible answers. Why sex? Why exclusive? Why two? Why permanent? Why property? Why government? Why rights? Why bother? Procreation links all these ideas.

Our society is getting very proficient at making assertions & demands, but not so skilled at asking & answering “why”.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Winning the Culture War

The last post on this blog reflected on a talk by Dr.Peter Kreeft about why Catholics are losing the culture war. In light of all the same-sex marriage talk lately, it seems more than appropriate to share some insights from the second half of the talk entitled  “Winning the Culture War”, available on CD from Lighthouse Catholic Media.

Political or judicial action to keep marriage defined in civil law as it is in natural law is fine, but this kind of action is geared more toward the effect of the problem than toward the cause. Almost all dissent from Catholic teaching today involves something sexual and I think the problem of sexual sin in our culture can be framed as follows:
Here is the gist of a seven-point plan on how to take corrective action on the problem of sexual sin and win the culture war from the root of the battle:
    1. Give to Caesar what is Caeser’s: It’s not about politics. Fight Christ’s war using Christ’s weapons of truth and love. In the end politics must be based on force (soldiers, police and lawyers). This is not The Way Jesus spoke of.
    2. Stop the Happy-Talk: You are in a war, so shut-up and fight! But be a happy warrior because it is a glorious war. Losing your hope is like losing your faith because we know God always wins in the end.

    3. Stop the busyness: Be Mary instead of Martha or do the works of Martha in the spirit of Mary (see Luke 10:38-42). Seek a contemplative presence with God. When Jesus comes to your house, stop cleaning the house and clean your mind instead.

    4. Forget what is fashionable: …and all the time and energy it absorbs. Give Christ the loaves and fishes of your life and He will multiply them. Start spending time in Eucharistic adoration (even if you don’t feel like it) and He will change you. Do it as an act of the will.

    5. Conquer the sexual revolution: As mentioned above, almost all dissent in the Church has to do with sexuality. Abortion, homosexuality, contraception, women’s ordination, inclusive language, fornication, divorce & remarriage all have an aspect of sexuality to them.
Anything between consenting adults is now justified and often glorified, even murder. We demand sex without babies. Since unrestricted sex is so indispensable we dispose of the babies instead, and the killing must remain just as unrestricted as the sex. What other examples of killing innocent life is tolerated like this? Not even the killing of animals. Even some trees have more rights.

The answer is JP2’s Theology of the Body. It’s like reading St. Augustine in the 5th century or St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century.  It’s the big picture. It’s the plug in the dam of our cracked society.
    6. Be a saint:  Saints understand one thing very well; God is God and we are not. Saints give God EVERYTHING. This is easier said than done. I like to equate it to weight loss. What’s so difficult about weight loss? If you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight; VERY simple. What could be simpler? But how difficult it is to lose weight with our natural tendency towards fatty food, our bad habits, hunger pains and the culture of food we live in? So it is with the culture of death and we need God’s Grace to overcome it.
Whether it’s something sinful or saintly, it all starts with thoughts. “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
    7. Be saintly, not spiritual: Do not seek only the subject of God; seek the object of God. Do not seek subjective truth, but objective truth. Reject the motto “I feel, therefore I believe”. Reject the axiom that says the only sin is upsetting someone. Seek repentance instead of self-esteem. Love holiness, not niceness. Replace the fear of man with the fear of God.
Fighting the culture war involves fighting some BIG lies and the bigger the lies the bigger the suckers. Some lies are so big that they become hard to see unless you step back from the fray to see the big picture. The earth always looks flat until you break-free of worldly gravitation and start seeking the heavens. The message to all Catholics is clear. Seek first the Kingdom of God and the rest of the victory will be given to you.