Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pope Announces that Gay Marriage "Penalizes" Traditional Marriage

And the attack on same-sex marriage (and on gay and lesbian human beings) continues, with top members of the Catholic hierarchy: a Catholic News Service article picked up by National Catholic Reporter today states that Pope Benedict announced yesterday that same-sex unions "penalize" traditional marriage.

Precisely how this "penalizing" takes place, it doesn't seem Benedict specified.  As I've noted in several recent postings here (and here), Catholic pastoral officials and their apologists keep wanting to argue that permitting same-sex couples to marry will be catastrophic for traditional marriage, because it will threaten the procreative ethic on which traditional marriage is based.  But this argument never engages the fact that the Catholic church has never objected to marrying a heterosexual couple incapable of procreation either because the spouses are too old to have children, or one or both have a physical problem that prevents having children.  And no one has ever argued that marrying these non-procreative couples undermines or threatens the procreativity of married couples in general.

Just as no one has been able to advance any credible argument that marrying same-sex couples will somehow stop traditional heterosexual couples from having children or wanting to procreate.  In fact, every bit of evidence we have from any society that now permits same-sex couples to marry or enter legal unions suggests that the procreation of heterosexual couples goes on apace, thank you very much, with no connection at all to the decision of the surrounding culture to accept same-sex unions.

As the postings to which I link above also note, one of the strangest arguments for the catastrophic effects of same-sex marriage on traditional marriage is the argument of Catholic centrists that permitting gay couples to marry will undermine the procreative ethic of Catholic sexual teaching, though traditional heterosexual couples ought to be permitted to ignore that ethic by using contraception when and as they deem appropriate.  Not only is this argument clearly unjust (since it asks for an exception to a rule for me and my kind, while imposing that rule on those different from myself with no rational basis for the discrimination), it overlooks the fact that heterosexual Catholic couples have already decided--long before same-sex marriage was ever on the cultural horizon--to curb their procreation.  

The decision of a huge majority of Catholic married couples in the developed nations to limit their procreation predates the arrival of gay marriage on the scene, and is in no way genetically related to gay marriage.  Permitting same-sex couples to marry will have no curbing effect on the procreation of married couples.  Since, throughout the developed parts of the world, married couples have already chosen to control their procreativity through artificial contraception, many years before same-sex marriage came on the scene . . . .

There is a fundamental dishonesty (and troubling injustice) about the way in which Catholic pastoral officials and their apologists continue to try to blame gay and lesbian persons and gay marriage for the demonstrable ills of traditional marriage today.  Opening marriage to same-sex couples who value marriage and have fought for this right would, on the face of it, strengthen this faltering social and religious institution, not undermine it.

If the Catholic church truly cares about strengthening marriage, it needs to focus on what divorce is doing to undermine traditional marriage--not the bogus threat of same-sex marriage.  And if it cares about the erosion of a procreative ethic in traditional marriage, it needs to speak as loudly and persistently about the evil of contraception as it does about the evil of homosexuality--and to direct its attempts to control civil laws to the outlawing of divorce and contraception, at the same time that it tries to outlaw gay marriage.

(It goes without saying that I don't regard contraception as evil, any more than I regard homosexuality as evil.  In speaking of it as evil, I'm simply echoing Catholic teaching--and noting that it's curious, and hardly just, for Catholic church officials right now to spend all of their time and loads of money trying to outlaw the evil of gay marriage, with the claim that gay marriage threatens heterosexual procreativity, when they don't try at the same time to outlaw contraception, which is the far greater and more obvious threat to heterosexual procreativity.  And which is, in the mind of official Catholic teaching, evil for precisely the same reason homosexual acts are evil--because it threatens the procreative goal of sexual activity.) 

On any given day, the news is full of stories that make me wonder about the wisdom of the Catholic position which holds that a man and a woman are, by nature and divine fiat, obviously better equipped to raise a child than a same-sex couple.  These are only two stories (and here) that are on the Huffington Post site today, which give me reason to stop and think about the current Catholic position that every "traditional" heterosexual marriage is, of course, clearly preferable to every same-sex marriage, because the union of a man and a woman is God-given and natural, whereas the union of two parents of the same-sex is immoral and unnatural.

I'll agree with Catholic church officials and their apologists that marriage and the family are in trouble today.  Where I part company with this analysis is in its entirely bogus, irrational, prejudice-driven and deeply discriminatory attempt to blame loving gay and lesbian couples and their families for the problem--to which they are obviously part of the solution, instead. 

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