Thursday, July 12, 2012
A look at same-sex unions -- part 4
“For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’”
The devil has always hated women. By means of sterile marriage he has succeeded in turning women into men. The consequence of same-sex attraction unlimited by moral sense is same-sex and that sex is male. It does not celebrate women, it does not acknowledge the sacredness of women. Same-sex marriage among men excludes women and, in my limited experience, same-sex marriage among women masculinizes, at least, some women. One sees the glowing pictures of same-sex couples happily leaving some city hall or some marriage chapel. The newly-wed men are both dressed in suits, and the women usually are too. In the same-sex marriage of two women whom I know well one wore the tux and one wore the bridal gown and veil. One was the groom and one the bride in a parody of “normal marriage.” You may howl that I would say such things, but stop howling and ask yourself if there is any truth to my crackpot remarks? Could it be that same-sex relationships exalt men, diminish women and their unique humanizing role?
I am not saying that same-sex attraction and marriage are unnatural. They are quite natural. So are death, the common cold and the crutch. It is not that they are unnatural as most people understand nature. Catholics believe that since the fall of Adam and Eve, nature as we experience it is a wounded approximation of nature as it was meant to be. It is Christ’s purpose not simply to help humanity, but to bring humanity back to the garden for which she was made. His goal is to restore paradise.
When asked about the legitimacy of divorce Jesus answered, “It was not this way in the beginning.” (Matthew 19:8) Christians do not marry because it is natural. They marry because it is supernatural. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great, but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” (Eph 5:31-32)
A mystery is a secret by which the invisible realities of the kingdom of God are made visible. In other words, a man and woman don’t marry in the Christian sense, in order to satisfy desire, or to avoid loneliness or even to have a family, though we believe that the possibility of family is integral to marriage. They marry to incarnate, to make visible the love that Jesus has for His bride the Church. People should look at a man and woman and be able to say, “Now that’s how people should treat one another! That must be how Christ loves the Church!” Our purpose for marriage is supernatural so when you say “same-sex marriage” to believing Christians, they just scratch their heads.
Marriage is the indissoluble coming together of that which is not the same, that which is different. Men and women are not the same no matter how much twaddle the current age rams down our throats. Same-sex attraction is a fact, but not the defining fact that our culture wants to believe it is. Human attractions are very malleable and may even be learned behavior. Our culture’s tendency to define a person by things peripheral provides an argument against the movement for same-sex relationships.
We have been a puritan culture ever since Barak Obama’s ancestors sailed from England for the Plymouth colony aboard the good ship Arabella. We like to believe that there are the elect and the damned, the good and the bad, the right and the wrong. We don’t like areas of grey. People are gay or straight. This is nonsense. To define a person by his or her sexual preference implying that change is both impossible and unnecessary is de-humanizing.
A human being cannot be reduced to his preferences, ordered or disordered. I am a human being made in the image of God. The same-sex movement falls into the puritan trap of you are or you aren’t. Sexual attraction is a real but quite variable part of the human condition. Same-sex marriage, however is an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp, or military intelligence or, dare I say, organized religion. The opposite sexes are actually opposite, which is the great requirement for marriage.
Let us remember what G.K. Chesterton said “Marriage is a duel to the death that no man of honor should decline.” Marriage is the coming together of people who are different and even contrary for one another’s good. “Same” and “Marriage” really don’t work together grammatically. For instance we speak of a “marriage of flavors, in which the delicate aromatics of tarragon and sage blend subtlety with the hearty, fruity boldness of an old Beaujolais or perhaps a Cotes-du-Rhone. (When I read this in a menu I begin to think that I should be in a restaurant where “...the subtle aroma of chili blends in a perfect marriage with onion and hot sauce to bring out the delicate nuances of the foot-long hot dog....)
For a Catholic marriage is not a preference. It is a vocation. The purpose of marriage is the sanctification of the spouses, not simply their gratification or worse, their recreation. We believe that even their intimate coming together is a source of grace. It’s a sacrament, a covenant sacrifice, not a diversion. What we mean by marriage is not what the state means by marriage. Our definition of marriage is at odds with the state’s definition.
For the state marriage is a contract. For us, though marriage includes a contract, it is a covenant. A contract says “you give to me, so that I give to you.” A covenant says, “I give you myself so that you may give me your self.” It is not an exchange of goods and services. It is an exchange of selves. Having given one’s self, there is nothing more to give. The covenant is ended only by the death of one of the contracting parties. Prostitution is a contractual arrangement. Marriage is a covenant. Thus it is, that divorce lawyers have made wh..., um.... contractors of us all.
I think the legal case can be made that the state has no business involving itself in marriage. It is a violation of the establishment clause of the constitution. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That means that the US government may not establish a state religion. Though the congress of the US is mentioned, the rights of the citizen of the US cannot be abrogated by the several states. The states as well as the Federal Government may not legally establish a religion. One would also imagine that they may not establish a sacrament or religious ritual and what is a marriage ceremony if not a ritual? In addition, In my ministerial capacity, I am prohibited from my religious duty of marrying people if they cannot or may not obtain a state license. For me to witness a marriage without a state’s permission is a felony for which I may be fined or jailed or both. My ministry is restricted by the state and now the state is establishing a sacrament of the New National Religion.
That New Religion is Secular Humanism with a dash of Christian Sentiment. As I write, Madam First Lady is urging African American congregations to form committees to get out the vote for the First African American president in history. The state religion rolls on apace with separate rules for its favored congregations, penalties for the unfavored who will not pay for abortion and sterilization medicine, and finally, a new definition of the sacrament of Unholy Matrimony.
I believe in the Establishment Clause. It is a matter of disagreement whether or not the Catholic position is exactly the separation of Church and State, but personally I believe in the separation of Church and State, especially the State that these United States have become. “Wherefore, Go out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.” (2Cor 6:17)
This formerly great nation has become the unclean thing with its unending wars, its avarice, its political correctness and strange marriage of puritanism and atheism whose high priests and priestesses are pseudo-intellectuals of politics and entertainment. And yes it has become unclean because of its “erotomania.”
This government, if it is true to its own constitution has no right to marry same-sex couples, nor anyone else for that matter. Marriage was a religious institution at all times and in all places protected by the gods of field and farm, by the furies and the household deities. Christ more than protected it. He elevated it to a symbolic description of His relationship to humanity.
Marriage was a holy thing until the Franco/American revolution threw off its Christian yoke and invented new gods to seat on Christ’s throne. The altar of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was torn down and an altar to Liberty was installed, the words “To Philosophy” were carved over the doors, and there they worshiped the Goddess of Reason. The one great god thence forth would be “the people.” The American half of the Revolution did not go quite that far, but the seeds of a state religion that was mildly Protestant, strongly anti-Catholic and very democratic were planted in American soil too.
Now that state religion and the exaltation of “the people” is blossoming and the freedom of Christians is endangered. If the state and the media say something is good and moral, then the Church dare not say otherwise, or like in Canada she is accused of hate-speech. The statue of Lady Liberty perched atop the Capitol Dome is once again the enlightenment goddess called freedom by which is meant lack of restraint.
So I protest! The government shall make NO rule establishing a state religion nor limiting religion’s free exercise! The government may oversee legal contracts If two or more people want to make a contractual agreement regarding their sexual behavior, it is a free country. Go see a lawyer. However, to call it marriage is simply a joke.
I have appealed to natural law, the idea that things have a nature, a purpose for which they must be used if life is to survive. Man can defy nature. It seems to be part his nature to do so, but he does so at his own peril. The problem is not that modern erotomania is unnatural, with its same-sex marriage, its eunuchs pretending that nature intended them to be women, its sterility calling itself a reproductive right. The modern erotomania that seeks to dress itself in sacraments is not unnatural. A crutch is unnatural. A piece of wood meant to bear fruit may become an instrument that allows a weak man to walk. Crutches are unnatural just as the malady to whose relief they come. Erotomania is not unnatural. It is far more than that. It is against nature.
I imagine that my arguments secular and religious will convince no one who is not already convinced, so let me return to the original concern. In the Catholic understanding, will homosexuals go to hell. Yes. And some will go to heaven. And many remarkably heterosexual persons will go to hell just as some of them will go to heaven. All of us no matter our preferences will go to one or the other.
The question then is how can a good and loving God ever damn any one just for loving someone else? Well it depends much on what you mean by love. Jesus whom I believe to be God, defined it very clearly “Greater love hath no man but to lay down his life.” and “he who hates his world in this life will gain it for life everlasting.” Contrast that with the half-hour quest for happiness on which the sitcom culture of modern America is based.
The purpose of life for the modern American and all his imitators in the world is to be happy. For the follower of Christ the purpose of life is to know, love and serve God. Happiness is not guaranteed in this world, only in heaven, somehow the culture has convinced people that temporary happiness is preferable to eternal happiness. The ability to postpone or deny rewards for the sake of the greater and common good is maturity. We are a nation of children who wear our baseball caps backwards and dye our hair thinking that somehow we are still young. We are not young, we are childish.
We don’t want to have children because we are children. So if you define love as Christ defines it, you will not go to hell for loving. If you define love as the world, the flesh and the devil define it you will still not go to hell; you are already there. In 1778 as he lay dying, Voltaire, who provided the match for the bonfire of the Franco/American revolution, joked when flames flared up from a nearby oil lamp. “What? The flames already?” The flames lick at our feet unfelt and unseen if we live for ourselves alone, all the more when we convince ourselves that our narcissism is noble, that my will is God’s will.
In C.S.Lewis' masterpiece, The Great Divorce, someone asks a spirit, “How is it that a loving and merciful God can damn a person eternally?” The spirit explains that God damns no one. They damn themselves. And more amazingly, he claims that they can leave hell the moment they choose to, but they never do. It is as Milton said in Paradise Lost, “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.” In the end there will only be two groups. Those to who say to God “Thy will be done.” and those to whom God will say, “Thy will be done.”
Ask yourself no matter what your preferences, are you doing what God wants? or should God just mind His own business and let you do what you please? If you want Him to leave you alone, believe me, He will.
the Rev. Know-it-all.