Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Juan R. Vélez

12/24/2008 (7 years ago)

MercatorNet (www.mercatornet.com/)

Defenders of true marriage often have trouble defending the obvious precisely because it is self-evident and defies sound bites.

The 'crowning' ceremony is an ancient and beautiful part of the Eastern Christian (Orthodox and Catholic) Marriage Liturgy. It underscores the extraordinary significance of the Sacrament of Marriage as a participation by the spouses in the ongoing redemptive mission of Jesus Christ through His Church. the 'Domestic Church' of the family is the smallest cell of the Church, the Body of Christ.

The "crowning" ceremony is an ancient and beautiful part of the Eastern Christian (Orthodox and Catholic) Marriage Liturgy. It underscores the extraordinary significance of the Sacrament of Marriage as a participation by the spouses in the ongoing redemptive mission of Jesus Christ through His Church. the "Domestic Church" of the family is the smallest cell of the Church, the Body of Christ.

Highlights

By Fr. Juan R. Vélez

MercatorNet (www.mercatornet.com/)

12/24/2008 (7 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


LOS ANGELES, California (MercatorNet) - The people of California, Arizona and Florida recently voted to amend their state constitutions to defend the age-old truth that marriage is the life-long union of a man and a woman with the object of mutual love and the raising of a family. Ever since, those in favor of recognition of same-sex marriage have complained that they have been deprived of their civil rights and denied equality. The recognition of same-sex partnerships with legal and financial benefits akin to marriage is not enough for them. They repeatedly lament the supposed loss of their civil rights and compare themselves to oppressed slaves.

Is there any truth in these claims?

None. In fact proponents of same-sex marriage are usurping the natural and civil right to marriage between a man and a woman. Unfortunately defenders of traditional marriage often have trouble defending the obvious precisely because it is self-evident and defies sound bites. Here I'd like to present a few simple reasons why defending the uniqueness and dignity of traditional marriage is not discriminatory and unfair.

Biblical revelation about God's creation of man and woman and his plan for marriage is abundant, but arguments for traditional marriage and against same-sex marriage are not exclusively religious. Far from it. The most convincing ones are based on universally recognised natural rights which exist prior to the state and are not created by government fiat or popular consent. Civil rights are the legal recognition of rights which derive from natural rights.

All one needs to do is reflect upon the human experience. It is easy to grasp that each human faculty, including the generative faculty, has its proper functions and ends. We can also discern basic human goods that are necessary for existence and social life, such as procreation, health, safety, freedom, friendship and religion.

Throughout the centuries people have come to recognize different rights -- such as the right to just trials, the right to practice a religion, and the right of universal suffrage. Civil rights are important mainly because they safeguard these basic human rights. Governments protect natural rights, but they do not create them.

Marriage is one of these basic human rights, one which is based on complementary sexual differences between men and women and the good of procreation. Marriage joins a male and a female in a way the involves the total person: soul, body and affections. Usually this union brings forth offspring and the children are raised in a stable environment where the children learn about manhood and womanhood. Children need both a father and a mother because each parent is different and as male and female provide for different needs.

For example, boys need a father to teach them how to respect women, to develop masculine traits and to learn discipline. A Nobel Prize laureate in economics, George Akerlof, has shown how the breakdown of marriage (1) and the absence of a father in the family or some good father figure is related to the sharp rise of delinquency in the US. This alone is nearly conclusive evidence that there is no natural right to same-sex marriage.

What about the mutual affection of homosexuals? Isn't that enough for marriage?

Not really. Homosexual persons can be united by an emotional union, but never by a biological union. Their sexual activity does not lead to procreation. Heterosexual marriage, on the other hand, involves more than this. "The same sexual act that unites the spouses is also the act that creates new life."(2) Heterosexual marriage provides offspring for society and a home where children are raised with the love of a father and a mother and the corresponding masculine and feminine role models.

Homosexual sex is essentially different from heterosexual sex within marriage. The conjugal act has an inherent language of self-giving expressed by the man's giving of his progenitor cells to his wife. Their love is always linked to procreation even though procreation does not always follow the conjugal act. Widespread contraception and co-habitation have separated procreation from sexuality in such a way so that sexual acts between two persons of the same sex are now considered normal by many. But the sexual union of a man and a woman is objectively different.

Are we just quibbling about words here? Partnerships are more or less like marriage, people often argue. Why be so defensive about a few syllables?

But this approach is completely unrealistic. Marriage is more than a word. Words are subject to development, but they mean something. Words are conventional, but they represent fixed realities. No change in language or law can alter reality. Sodomy by any other name is still sodomy. Sexual intercourse between persons of the same-sex is not procreative. A meal is not a snack; work is not play; adultery mere consented sexual behavior among adults. Language both describes reality and defines moral standards. By changing accepted language about marriage, new moral standards regarding marriage and procreation gradually emerge.

If traditional marriage is natural, why does it need to be fenced around with laws? Can't it fend for itself?

Yes and no. Traditional marriage will survive, but it needs the support and protection of society to flourish. Laws not only recognize existing natural rights; they create and solidify social habits and standards. A bad law creates social standards that others gradually come to accept as good and true. Abortion is an instructive example. What began as a rare concession has become a "right" to take the life of an innocent human being.

So the consequences of legal recognition of same-sex marriage are serious. The first will be moral damage to our understanding of human beings and marriage. By elevating human choices to the status of human rights, governments undermine the very idea of natural rights, which is the recognition of what corresponds to our human make-up and the basic goods necessary to flourish as human beings.

Legal recognition of same-sex marriage also threatens freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Those who disagree with same-sex unions, including educators, doctors and adoption agencies, are already being treated with contempt and intolerance by proponents of same-sex marriage. The next target is surely the tax-exempt status which churches enjoy because of their important service to society.

Furthermore, although proponents of same-sex marriage contend that they only want equality of rights for their own personal choices, they also want equality of esteem. The normality of same-sex marriage will be taught to school children, beginning with those in public schools and eventually reaching schools with religious affiliations.

Already in Massachusetts an adverse judicial ruling was passed against a parent who did not wish his children attending public school to be taught that two fathers can constitute a family. In San Francisco, young children have been obliged to witness a same-sex "marriage" ceremony. Forcing children to accept same-sex marriage as normal constitutes a grave abuse to children and their parents.

To be sure, every person deserves equal respect before the law; but equality is not sameness, and there can be no true respect for human rights apart from a clear understanding of human nature with the sexual and psychological differences between male and female, and the needs that children have for a father and a mother.

_____________

Fr. Juan R. VĂ©lez is a Los Angeles Catholic Priest. Before becoming a priest, he worked as a physician.This article frist appeared in MercatorNet. The journal has dedicated itself to "..plac(ing) the person at the centre of media debates about popular culture, the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion and law." This article is used with the kind permission of the Editor.

****
Notes

(1) Akerlof, GA, et al. "An Analysis of out-of-wedlock childbearing in the United States". Q J Econ. 1996 May; 111(2): 277-317.
(2) Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles, The Witherspoon Institute, Princeton, June 2006, p. 47.

---

This article was originally published on MercatorNet.com under a Creative Commons Licence. If you enjoyed this article, visit MercatorNet.com for more.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Deal with the Devil or practical politics? Is there a pro-life case for Bernie Sanders? Watch

Image of Would a pro-life strategy that involves Bernie Sanders be a deal with the devil, or a practical strategy?

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A lot of Catholics like Bernie Sanders. Recently, we saw an outpouring of support of the candidate in the comments under an excellent article written by Deacon Keith Fournier. Many Catholics appreciate Sander's stance on some social issues - after all, he is a ... continue reading


Bernie Sanders surprises many with sudden surge in New Hampshire Watch

Image of Maintaining a low profile for presidential candidate Bernie sanders is more difficult now, as he comes to the forefront. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Seen by many as a humble Senator with big ideas, the relatively unknown, until recently, Bernie Sanders seemed at first to pose no threat to Hilary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential race. That has changed noticeably - Sanders is ... continue reading


What's going on with the New Hampshire primary? Watch

Image of New Hampshire kicked off the primaries this year and so far Bernie Sanders is in the lead (iStock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The first votes have been cast in the New Hampshire primary. In keeping with tradition, the voting began at midnight, as it has for every primary since 1960.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Today marks the beginning of an exciting political shift in the ... continue reading


CURTAIN CALLED: GOP debate starts hilariously as candidates fail to appear on cue Watch

Image of When candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush's names were announced, the two men were still blocking their way. Sneaking past, Jeb grinned and bumped Donald Trump. Photo courtesy of ABC News.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

It is a bit trivial to say about such an important event - but the GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire this weekend could have done with a bit more rehearsal. Candidate Ben Carson came out too early, Donald Trump stood with Carson, and candidates Marco ... continue reading


'Faith is the great cure for fear': Obama speaks at annual National Prayer Breakfast in WA Watch

Image of At the annual National Prayer Breakfast, Obama spoke against Muslim stereotypes and hatred (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

During the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, President Barack Obama spoke of God, fear and love. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - At the breakfast, both Democrats and republicans set aside their differences to build relationships based on their ... continue reading


After Iowa fail, Donald Trump vows to 'beat the ____ out of ISIS' Watch

Image of Many noted that Donald Trump seemed unusually subdued in New Hampshire. He claimed that he remained optimistic after his second place finish in the Iowa primary. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

While he faced defeat in the Iowa caucuses, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump was full of his usual bluster in New Hampshire. Never one to mince words, he vowed to "beat the ___ out of ISIS" if he was elected president. LOS ANGELS, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


'Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it': Trump furiously rants on Twitter about Cruz's win demanding a new Iowa 'election' Watch

Image of Donald Trump calls for a new election or to nullify Cruz's results (Reuters).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

When news of the Cruz campaign "mistake" concerning Ben Carson at the Iowa caucus reached Donald Trump, he was furious. The business tycoon took to Twitter to call for a new election or to nullify Cruz's results. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Despite his initial ... continue reading


Republican Candidate Drops Out of Presidential Race: But who was it? Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Following a disappointing show in the Iowa caucus, with only 4.5 percent of the votes, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has officially dropped out of the 2016 presidential race. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "It's been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign ... continue reading


Political sabotage: Ted Cruz pleads GUILTY to wronging Ben Carson at Iowa caucus Watch

Image of Ted Cruz admitted his campaign started the lie that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race prior to the Iowa caucus (NY Times).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In a shocking admission, Ted Cruz admits his staff spread rumors of Ben Carson dropping out of the runnings just before the Iowa caucus voting began. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As previously reported, the Iowa caucus was filled with surprises that included ... continue reading


A Night of Surprises: What went down during the Iowa caucuses? Watch

Image of Iowa caucus surprises with historical neck-and-neck race and Trump in second place.

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Iowa caucus results are in after a high-energy night fueled by rumors of foul-play, coin tosses and the waning smile of a smug Trump. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Before the Iowa caucus, polls showed presidential hopeful Donald Trump as the leading ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, February 10, 2016
  • Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?
  • St. Scholastica: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, February 10, 2016
  • Palm Sunday HD Video
  • Take this thought provoking Stations of the Cross survey
  • 10 important things to consider during Lent
  • Stations of the Cross - Fourth Station: Jesus meets his mother HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Joel 2:12-18
12 'But now -- declares Yahweh- come back to me with all your heart, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17
3 For I am well aware of my offences, my sin is constantly in ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
1 'Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract ... Read More

Reading 2, Second Corinthians 5:20--6:2
20 So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were urging you ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 10th, 2016 Image

St. Scholastica
February 10: St. Scholastica, sister of St. Benedict, ... Read More