You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

Friday, November 6, AD 2009

Okay, that’s a heckuva long title for a blog post, but it also happens to be almost perfect for the subject of this particular entry at The American Catholic.

On Tuesday, the voters of the state of Maine — surprisingly — rejected same sex marriage (SSM) and reaffirmed that marriage in Maine is between a man and a woman. Naturally, SSM supporters were shocked and outraged (the Catholic Church appears to be the early target), while supporters of traditional marriage were overjoyed with the results; Maine, after all, isn’t exactly in the Bible Belt.

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), was typical of the latter: “Every time Americans vote on marriage, traditional marriage wins.” And she’s right: when it comes to ballot initiatives, SSM is 0-31.

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19 Responses to You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Oleson makes a lot of sense, and my own feelings of despair over the current same-sex marriage debate (despite its repeated losses at the ballot box) have a lot to do with the uncomfortable notion that we’re fighting over the hollow shell of something. If we’re fighting for what everyone else calls “marriage” but is actually the personalist-emotivist vestige of that institution, then we’re doomed to lose the debate. That ship sailed long ago, and it had contraception, divorce, and the sexual revolution stoking its boilers!

    Oleson misses a few points, however, that can be employed in a rational argument for traditional marriage. In addition to the indissoluble and procreative nature of marriage, there are other social/cultural reasons for giving heterosexual marriage preferential treatment. I quite liked the analysis by Canadian professors Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson (neither Christian, one gay) seen here:

    http://catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/ho0064.html

    Based on their cross-cultural/historical analysis of marriage, they conclude that the culture surrounding marriage must accomplish several things:
    (1) the bonding between men and women to ensure cooperation for the common good
    (2) the procreative aspect (plus child-rearing at least until adulthood)
    (3) bonding between men and children
    (4) a healthy form of masculine identity apart from “provider” and “protector” which have been joined gradually by women
    (5) the transformation of adolescents into sexually responsible adults.

    One of the most important things a culture can do is socialize its males; marriage (traditionally understood, with all the duties it entails) is one of the best ways to do that. If the culture fails to support heterosexual marriage by taking away the unique, ritualistic way that it encourages men to “settle down” and “grow up”, we’re in for a lot more trouble than we realize. Yet again we see that marriage has a public/social character that is poorly understood by most Americans today.

  • I have long recognized that the word marriage as it is now being debated does not mean what it has traditionally meant. It certainly does not mean what the Catholic Church means when it says the word marriage. I have somethimes wondered if the suggestions to use the word marriage for heterosexual unions and the phrase “civil union” for homosexual unions might be better replaced among Catholics by a suggestion to abandon the word marriage altogether. It has already been hijacked by the broader culture and there really isn’t much we can do about that. Let the broader culture have the word marriage and let that word refer to heterosexual “marriages” and homosexual civil unions. We on the other hand would use the prhase “sacramental unions” and its meaning would be restricted only to what has traditionally been meant by marriage. I know this isn’t the best option – but in the end it might be the most we can salvage from the wreckage that seems to be coming upon us.

  • It seems to me, however, that the grassroots resistance towards same-sex marriage might stem from the recognition of what marriage really ought to be. Though the failure rate is so high for the real, most people still cling to and hope for the the ideal. That’s not a bad thing, when one considers the alternative is a mercenary cynicism.

  • I’d love to think that you are right, cminor, but I tend to think that the resistance is from a (correct) recognition of what marriage ought *not* be, rather than what it *ought* to be… I guess it’s good that they have that, but it’s still pretty paltry.

  • Stephen Leacock summed up the matter concisely: what was once a sacrament has become a contract.

    Which incidentally reduces all children to bastards, having no claim on the progenitors.

  • I think it is true that we are not in a fight to avoid the redefinition of marriage, but that we are in a fight about whether or not to include homosexual couples in an already redefined marriage. As you point out, that is a battle that can’t be won. I do not see how one can support artificial contraception and reject same-sex marriage without at least some hint of bigotry.

    One interesting question follows: will this logic have any purchase on the large number of Christians (Catholic and Protestant) that oppose same-sex marriage but have been using contraception for at least two generations?

  • What about a faithful Catholic couple who entered into marriage with the full knowledge of sterility? Should we not consider that marriage?

  • RR: “at a fundamental level, marriage is oriented and structured towards childbearing, even if pro-creation never in fact occurs” (emphasis added).

    The same thing applies to a couple that marries beyond the age of fertility… while they will never bear children, their relationship remains fundamentally ordered towards them.

  • Can you spell that out further for me? How is a marriage where procreation is a biological impossibility, fundamentally ordered towards childbearing? And where does that leave people like Caster Semenya who have genetic or hormonal abnormalities which make their gender ambiguous?

  • Because the factors which render the act of sexual love sterile are “outside” of the action itself, as well as outside the intentions of the couple (i.e. all things being equal, they wish they *could* bear children).

    I don’t see that the infinitesimal number of people with indeterminate sexuality have any bearing on this debate.

    What’s your larger objection, RR?

  • Thanks. I don’t have a larger objection, just had questions.

  • Gotcha. Just wanted to see if there was another question “lurking” behind these or not… feel free to follow-up or ask another.

  • RestrainedRadical,

    Excellent questions!

  • I think there is some misunderstanding about the question of procreation in a marriage. The text is in Genesis: “Increase and multiply”. As the footnote in my [old] Bible comments “This is not a precept. God addressed the same words to the birds and animals who cannot receive a precept. It is a blessing”.

    Further, we use the word “procreation”. In a sense husband and wife are responsible for the body of the child [confirmed by DNA]. But it is God who creates the soul.

    For the matter of couples beyond child bearing age, consider Abraham and Sarah.

    The point is not to interfere with the conjugal act.

    Contraception [most of which methods are abortifacient] is properly defined as mutual masturbation. It is degrading to both parties, but particularly to offensive to the woman.

  • Pingback: Round Up – November 10, 2009 « Restrained Radical
  • It is ironic that the net result is that couples who do not, and never will have children, can get married – but couples who do have children, or who want to have children, will be denied marriage.

    Very directly, the argument that same-sex couples can’t get married because marriage is all about having children, means that hundreds of thousands of children across the US are being denied married parents by people who claim that marriage ought to be all about protecting children.

    Hm.

  • Jesurgislac, if marriage means an institution which is intrinsically about sexual love leading to childbirth & childrearing, and which is intrinsically indissoluble, are you interested in said institution?

  • Jesurgislac, if marriage means an institution which is intrinsically about sexual love leading to childbirth & childrearing, and which is intrinsically indissoluble, are you interested in said institution?

    When I meet the right woman. 😉

    Same-sex couples are as likely to have that kind of marriage as mixed-sex couples.

    It would be possible to deny marriage to any couple who physically/biologically couldn’t have children together – but that would mean no woman past the menopause could be allowed to marry, no man with a vasectomy, no woman with a tubal ligation.

    It’s a question of whether you really believe married parents are beneficial to children. If so, there’s no excuse for denying the children of same-sex couples married parents – but that’s what opponents of same-sex marriage do – usually justifying it by claiming that as they believe the children of same-sex couples are already in sub-standard families, those children should be further discriminated against by being denied the benefits of married parents.

  • Jesurgislac:
    Maggie Gallagher, National Organization for Marriage has done a great job of outlining the custody issues if same-same unions take place. Also, tax disadvantages of marriage now. Interesting to note her stats on how few same-sex attracted pairs actually “marry.” In other words, she completely blows you ideas about how beneficial same-sex unions are just because they call them selves married.
    You might want to consider the marriage question from the civil rights perspective. In this country our rights are alienable because we are endowed with them by a Creator. Highly doubtful the Judaeo-Christian Creator our Founding Fathers had in mind is okay with a contractual arrangment between two adults of the same gender as marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman is first and foremost a covenantual relationship -the first unit of civilization. Family, cland, tribe, nation – follw OT history and you’ll see what I mean.

Following the 2009 Election Results which way is the tide turning toward truth or relativism?

Wednesday, November 4, AD 2009

Under the surface, and largely unbeknownst to the mainstream media, the tide has been turning to Catholicism for some time. The pontificates of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI along with events such as an increase in orthodox minded seminarians, young priests and young women religious, a return to devotions and a reform of the reform of liturgy have shown us that indeed the tide is turning. However, for some time now western culture has been moving in the opposite direction, where any, whim or opinion that holds that orthodox minded religious thought is antiquated and even harmful is held in high regard. How could this jibe with the turning tide within the Church? Who would win? Didn’t Jesus promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church after He gave Peter the keys (and the 265 subsequent popes) to lead it? The answer is the same answer that has always been, the Church eventually always wins and it will this time as well.

Following the Election of 2008 when liberalism was on the ascendancy, many in the mainstream media joyfully proclaimed a new era, where one could read between the lines and see that traditional views of society, family and religion were on their way out and big government was in. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the revolution, many Americans refused to go to the Bastille with pitchfork in hand. Americans view of revolution was almost always in line with George Washington’s view of limited government and not Maximilien Robespierre’s view of war against society, family and religion. Perhaps the Election of 2008 was a pox on both their big spending houses that was wrongly construed as a vote for Big Government.

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7 Responses to Following the 2009 Election Results which way is the tide turning toward truth or relativism?

  • Thank You Dave for constantly reminding us of our faith and our needed prayers and continued efforts to overcome those who pick and choose in the Church whether laity or heirarchy. These young priests and current seminarians are a godsend for the Church and we are fornunate to have one sheparding our parish by hs example, homilies, and teaching.

  • Bravo Dave. History is not a straight line progression to a progressive paradise no matter how many of our friends on the Left believe it to be.

  • I’m still going to thumb my nose at the elites.

  • Thanks again Dave! I wish you the best on your journey. God Bless you and your family…

    Robert from Michigan

  • Indeed the elections, as Catholic League’s Bill Donohue put it, made for a “big night for Catholic values.” The gay marriage proponents must be seething that our Tortoise of Truth passed by their Hare of Relativism in Maine like it did in my state of California last year!

  • I don’t know how much we can say the election results foreshadow a turning of the tide. The two new republican governors both ran campaigns that did not stress their stance on moral issues – they won by not splitting the social conservatives from the moderates. Let’s be honest, the people who vote solely on morals (at least until a race with two moral candidates comes along) are in the minority. I worry that the lesson the Republican party will learn from this election is to shy away from moral issues. Of course, if the Democrats learn the same lesson and stop shoving abortion down everyone’s throats, maybe we’ll actually see more social conservatives in both parties.

  • Thanks again, Dave!