I’m spending a few days on the blog talking about marriage, sex, the Church’s teachings, and the whole difficult issue of same-sex marriage (ssm) and its civil recognition. My effort here is to establish a dialogue that is respectful and charitable, and to present the anti-ssm argument and the Church’s teachings on the moral meaning of human sexuality in a clear respectful manner. A commenter yesterday asked (rather rudely) why I was bothering to do this. I am doing this because I wish to persuade my readers that I’m right, of course! Because I believe I (and my Church) are right, and I believe it is important for human happiness and flourishing to strive to be right in our heads about the crucial matters of life.
Today I want to provide an argument against the civil recognition of ssm. Now, I fully realize that ssm has been the law of the land in Canada for over ten years now, and that it is the law of the land in twelve states of the USA, and realistically is likely to become the law of the land in many of the remaining ones over the next decade. Nor is there any reasonable chance for anything I just wrote to be changed, any time soon. I hold these laws to be bad and harmful, and that is why I am continuing to contest them.
As an aside, I have noticed a most strange attitude in some, that once the matter is ‘settled’ by the courts, the debate is supposed to end. Isn’t that an odd, quasi-fascist notion? A close relative of mine, who cast off the shackles of Roman Catholicism at an early age, told me in tones of utter finality that ‘the Ontario supreme court has declared that marriage includes gay people.’ And that was the end of the conversation. In old-school Catholicism there is the saying ‘Roma locuta est, causa finita est’ (Rome has spoken, the matter is closed.) Whatever one thinks of that saying, it is the height of absurdity to reject Rome in this equation and immediately substitute in the Supreme Court, or Parliament, or Congress, and think one has scored a major goal for liberty of thought and action.
Every court, every legislature in the world may establish ssm as the law of their land, or any other law, and I will maintain to my dying breath that any of us has a right to say ‘And that’s a bad law, and here’s why!’ So here’s why I believe ssm is a bad law.
As far as I can understand, the only reason the State has for sticking its nose into the marriage business is to encourage stability in pro-creative sexual relationships. There is an essential and irreducible difference between same-sex couple and opposite-sex couples that no one can deny, regardless of one’s moral beliefs about this difference.
Namely, a man and a woman can (and often do!) make a baby. Two men, two women, cannot make a baby. It is a social good that babies be made, as much as is possible in this messy old world of ours, in conditions that are conducive to their thriving. And there is no question that human babies are best served by being born into a stable family system where both parents have affective bonds to them and are bound in law (insofar as that is possible) and in custom (that quaint notion) to create a stable nurturing environment in which to raise their children.
That environment is called ‘the family.’ And I can see no other reason possible why the State and its coercive powers should enter the realm of human domestic arrangements to express its preferences. The only reason why the State should privilege certain benefits around taxation and access to social welfare systems to the family is to foster and encourage stability in sexual relations that are likely to produce children, as children born into stable social situations are more apt to grow into adults who are themselves stable and able to form that wonderful unit of a stable thriving society, the family.
Otherwise I would kindly ask the State to butt out of our personal lives. I find it alarming in the extreme that ssm advocates believe they are benefitted by having ‘society’, by which we now apparently mean ‘the government’, approve their relationships. I guess this is a sign of incipient mid-life libertarianism coming out, but I really do believe we are in big trouble when we seek government approval of human domestic relationships. I don’t much care if the Canadian government (or, for that matter, any of youse guys) ‘approves’ of my living in religious community with 200 men and women here in Madonna House, you know!
Now I realize there are a host of objections people raise. What about infertile couples, then? Or same sex couples who have children? Or abusive parents? Seeing my word count for this post, though, I think I had better stop with my basic argument; tomorrow I will address those objections, and then move on to more specifically religious arguments.