One of the most important “dogmas” seared into the secularized mind is the Dogma of Consent. For example, whatever two adults want to do with each other is morally acceptable as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others.
Seems fair, right? But the dogma doesn’t hold up, even in the secular mind, when placed under close scrutiny. What if black slaves in America consented after the Civil War? Imagine house slaves working in a beautiful mansion for a very wealthy and kind plantation owner. What if they preferred their life as slaves as opposed to the prospect of being left to fend for themselves? They could have willfully signed a contract with the plantation owner to forfeit their freedom and remain his legal property. Under the “Dogma of Consent”, couldn’t slavery be reinstituted as legal in the U.S.?
Consent is at least one of the premises used by some when trying to justify same sex “marriage” (SSM). Who are you to say who can legally marry and who cannot? If secular marriage is about the gratification of two individuals and granting “rights”, what does the number two really have to do with anything? Additionally, who are we to say anything about marriage at all? Why can’t a parent marry their adult child? Here’s a recent article about a man arrested because his wife also happens to be his 20 year old daughter…but what’s the problem???
Why do we discriminate against people with Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA)? Is it because we find incest repulsive? Then we must be a society of bigots making groundless distinctions based on someone’s sexual preference; maybe they were born that way and can’t help it. Is it because incest tends towards birth defects? We don’t exclude other couples from marriage if they have a high risk for children with birth defects. Shouldn’t there be equal treatment under the law? What if a parent and adult child were perfectly platonic, but wish to benefit from state-offered marriage rights? Can we deny marriage to people that choose to be non-sexual?
Once a society accepts the base premises of SSM, the above paragraph contains the kind of disjointed thinking we will potentially need to face. The degree to which marriage means anything we want it to mean is the degree to which it means nothing. Why government involvement then? If two people wish to be best friends forever do they seek a government issued BFF license? How about business partners? Is there a government business partner license to apply for?
Although there is much confusion today, the official Church teaching is just as clear on incest as it is on other matters of human sexuality and marriage. “Incest designates intimate relations between relatives or in-laws within a degree that prohibits marriage between them…Incest corrupts family relationships and marks a regression toward animality” (CCC #2388). Of course, if humans are only smart animals, we must then ask the question…What is wrong with “animality”? Does this mean we can now open the discussion to bestiality in the context of marriage?
Without diving into the Catechism or a lot of theology, we should take pause and think about what rationally links all the things a lot of people still associate with marriage, including people in non-Judeo Christian cultures? Why only two people? Why opposite gender? Why no incest? Why no animals? Why exclusive? Why permanent? Why sex? Why bother?
Aligning the definition of marriage in accordance with the way humans procreate—and the best way to continue the human race—isn’t just some weird coincidence. People are very bold when making assertions about marriage, but not so skilled at asking and answering “why”.
Now it’s time for one of my favorite quotes…
“It is not a pleasant task to call attention to the obvious. To make others appear to be shortsighted, let alone blind, may easily evoke resentment.” 1
– Fr. Stanley Jaki
- Stanley L. Jaki, A Mind’s Matter (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002), p .52.