Of soccer and marriage
Marriage is the union of man and woman aiming to form a family. That’s its essence—its minimum requirements—and we have a fundamental rule that goes with that essence—we can only recognize marriages between a man and woman.
As a society we could change that rule.
We could also change the rules of soccer to allow players to use their hands to control the ball.
But then the game would no longer be soccer. I don’t know what you’d call it (rugboccer?), but the essence of soccer would be lost and, most fans would agree, the game would be ruined.
The same goes for marriage and the family: change the essence, and they no longer exist. They would be ruined.
That assumes, of course, that the family hasn’t already been ruined.
The family in America is diseased. I think its sickness is the underlying engine that’s driving the push for gay marriage. With so many unstable marriages, dysfunctional families, and purposefully childless marriages out there, why shouldn’t gays be allowed to marry? How could gay marriages hurt anything?
I sympathize with that sentiment. But the thing is, you don’t cure a sick person by adding more disease.
And that’s all gay marriage is: a furtherance of the family breakdown that has been cresting for the past thirty years.
In a culture with a stable portrait of the family regularly presented to it, gay marriage would look as odd as a decked-out punk rocker at a formal. But in a culture used to seeing single parents, eight grandparents, step-children, three fathers, and other forms of familial freakishness, it doesn’t look so odd. The punk looks fine in urban subways.
The diseased sacrament
Truth be known, what’s really going on here is the rejection of a sacrament. In a culture where marriage is no longer viewed as sacred, all sorts of replacements rise to take its place.
It can be no other way. The family, after all, is the fundamental reality and building block of society. The family comes from marriage. The Church understands the natural holiness of marriage and sanctifies it in hopes of furthering it.
When this fundamental reality is ignored, replacements rise up to fill the void: blended families and surrogate parenthood and contract pregnancies and (some day in that joyous Huxleyan future) cloning.
But they won’t work. The first replacements, single parenthood and blended family systems, have been failures, even though our culture, pursuing the secular equivalent of sanctification, has celebrated and tried to normalize the arrangements. Any other replacement outside the sacrament will also fail because it rejects the basic fundamentals of marriage and family.
And it’s not gay
This brings me back to the original point: gay marriage is neither. It’s not marriage, and it’s not gay—in the original sense of the word.
The disintegration of the family in America has consistently been accompanied by misery and poverty. Single mothers struggle to make ends meet as the State sends out squadrons to shake down deadbeat dads. Being raised outside the traditional family is increasingly flagged as a “risk factor” in children. Evidence that live-in boyfriends molest their partners’ children is on the rise. Blended families are twice as likely to end in divorce as traditional families.
The ersatz families simply aren’t working. The result hasn’t been gay.
It’s foolish to think adding another ersatz marriage to the mix is going to be.
Soccer photo from White House photographer Tina Hager.
Editor’s Note: Church teaching on gay marriage
According to Catholic teaching, marriage is an intimate lifelong partnership between a man and a woman, a sign of God’s love that mirrors the covenant between Christ and his Church. Because of this and because the Church believes the purpose of marriage (and sex) by the laws of nature and divine purpose (see Genesis 1:27-28 and Genesis 2:18-24 ) to be always for both the mutual good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children, it does not believe that a same-sex relationship can be sacramental or marital, nor that it is in society’s common interest to recognize it as such ( Catechism, 1601-1605 ). However, the Church never sees insult or “unjust discrimination” of gay people as legitimate ( Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recogniation to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 4).