The case for marriage

December 5, 2011
Filed under Bioethics

Edward Furton writes that same-sex ‘marriage’ is not a right to be earned . . .

Dr. Edward Furton

by Edward Furton

Contrary to what you’ve heard, homosexuals have not won the right to marriage in the state of New York. There will be no wedding bells as homosexuals walk down the scented aisles of churches and exchange vows. There will be no cutting of cake, dancing to music or opening of wedding gifts after homosexual unions in the Empire State.

That might sound tongue-in-check, but none of these things will happen because none of them can happen. Marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Those of the same sex cannot enjoy this good. All of the outward trappings that have recently surrounded these events in New York are nothing more than appearances. They are designed to convince others — and even the participants themselves — that a true marriage has taken place.

The “right” awarded to homosexuals by New York does indeed confer certain legal benefits and financial advantages on these couples. But New York lawmakers cannot change the nature of marriage — they might as well try to repeal the law of gravity. The legislature can only award an empty title, and even that stands in open contradiction to the true nature of this sacred institution.

When people wonder why the Catholic Church opposes homosexual “marriage,” they might think it’s because of some authoritarian edict or a literal interpretation of the Bible. Rather, opposition comes from the rational insight that only men and women are fitted by nature for sexual union and procreation. They alone have the potential to produce offspring through their sexual activity.

Yes, homosexuals can now purchase what is necessary for a round of in vitro fertilization, but this is not sexual intercourse or natural procreation. Artificial reproduction depends on sexual materials that are purchased or “donated” by others and a technological effort in a lab.

Some married couples are infertile, just as homosexuals are, but this does not change the fact that without the difference between the sexes there would be no children. Nature clearly intends that members of the opposite sex should seek each other out for the purpose of procreation. And the natural needs of children tell us that they must have the lifelong commitment of two parents — male and female — if they are to grow into psychologically grounded and well-balanced adults.

The argument against homosexuality, therefore, follows from reflection on the laws of nature. Those who favor homosexual “marriage” typically dismiss this argument as insufficient and demand better proofs. But none exist. This is the argument — and it’s a good one. Indeed, it’s the only one that we need to show that homosexual acts are fundamentally wrong.

Though it has, from time to time, been tolerated (for example, among the wealthy in ancient Greece), homosexual activity has been generally condemned throughout history. The media likes to present the debate as a struggle between civil rights and an outdated code of morality, but perhaps we’re not seeing the relentless march of human progress, but a repeating pattern. Sex of this type is repressed because it leads to such rank excesses.

Massachusetts, which was the first to go down this path, has seen its school system used to advance graphic programs that teach the young how to engage in oral and anal sex in a vain attempt to avoid disease. Many parents are shocked to discover these materials not only distributed in the local schools, but often authorized and funded by the state.

We do an injustice to our young when we suggest that homosexual unions are the moral equivalent of the heterosexual. The young are subject to many passions, conflicting feelings and confused opinions. We should tell them, frankly, that whatever their disposition may happen to be, their own best interests are not to be found in actions that are contrary to nature.

The homosexual movement has allied itself with other sexual agendas of clearly questionable character. The letters LGBT indicate an expanding list which now embraces bisexuals and transsexuals. This latter group includes those who undergo mutilating procedures designed to transform their gender, crossdressers who want to be listed as their preferred sexual identity on their drivers’ licenses, and those characters who simply want to be free to enter restrooms designated for members of the opposite sex.

More recently, proponents of sex between men and boys have been trying to break into this not-so-exclusive club. Unsurprisingly, there has been some hesitation on the part of the homosexual community to advance the cause of pederasty. And yet, what grounds could there be for objection? Once the standard given in nature is rejected, and procreation is no longer recognized as a central purpose of sexual relations, there can be no objective standard by which to distinguish one sexual act from another.

As the homosexual community continues to advance its agenda, incorporate its doctrines into public schools, and join with other groups in demanding “liberation” from sexual standards rooted in nature, public opposition will inevitably grow. What homosexuals appear to want, above all, is approval for their way of life. Yet the one type of marriage that truly is marriage will always be denied to them. That is not the Catholic Church’s decision, but a decision written in the law of nature.

Edward J. Furton, Ph.D., is the director of publications for the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

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