Below is a reflection, “‘Gay Marriage’ is Not Marriage. Here’s Why”, that
originally appeared in the “New Oxford Review.”
The author, Monica Migliorino Miller, concludes here thoughtful and extensive
piece by noting, “We must speak the truth in love, recognizing that homosexual
persons have God-given dignity and basic human rights that must never be denied.
But they simply do not have the right to marry…”
During this profound cultural shift we are experiencing, a cogent treatment of the
topic is welcome.
Peace and good will,
“Gay Marriage” Is Not Marriage.
–Monica Migliorino Miller
On May 9, 2012, President Barack Obama sat before Robin Roberts on ABC’s Good Morning America and announced that he is in favor of giving homosexuals the legal right to marry once another. “I’ve been going through an evolution on this issue,” the President explained in this nationally televised interview. He told Roberts that he initially hesitated to support gay marriage: “I thought civil unions would be sufficient…that it would give people hospital visitation rights and other elements we take for granted. And I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word ‘marriage’ was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth.” He ended by saying, “At a certain point I’ve just concludes that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
Obama’s statement came only three days after Vice President Joe Biden revealed on Meet the Press that he was “absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all of the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And, quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.” Biden, who identifies himself as a Catholic, is also “absolutely comfortable” with the legalized killing of the unborn. Thus, no one should be too shocked that he would also have a distorted view of marriage.
Many political commentators believe that it was Biden’s disclosure that made it imperative that Obama follow suit. According to he online magazine Politico, for example, “Biden’s statement of personal support for same-sex marriage….did indeed force the hand of the administration to let the cat out of the bag early. The Obama administration initially tried to tamp down Biden’s remarks, but the distancing angered gay rights activist groups that are a key constituency for the Democratic party. Thus, Obama went ahead and pulled the trigger on his epiphany.”
Obama placed his support for gay marriage within the context of a personal evolution. This evolution, however, has taken an odd path, with twists, turns, and retracing of steps, such that one could easily conclude that Obama ahs always believed that he law should sanction gay marriage., but that he held his tongue when it was politically expedient to do so. He was pro-gay marriage back in 1996 when he ran for the Illinois State Senate, but he claimed to be against it during his 2008 bid for the presidency. Apparently, Obama’s views on gay marriage, up until now, depended on what political office he hoped to secure. We can safely conclude, therefore, that his thinking has not undergone any real evolution, that his 1996 and 2012 views have been his real views all along.
It is one thing to believe something privately, but quite another to make one’s views known to an entire nation. In this case, Obama’s support for gay marriage carries enormous moral and social weight, and such advocacy will serve to further the gay-rights movement’s mission to legally redefine the meaning of marriage. Newsweek, for example, celebrated the moment by featuring on the cover of its May 21 issue an image of Obama crowned by a rainbow halo, with the caption, “The First Gay President.” The cover story, written by gay pundit Andrew Sullivan, is titled “The President of the United States Shifted the Mainstream in One Interview.”
Imagine if President Jimmy Carter had sat down with a reporter in 1976 and declared his support for the right to life of the unborn—and his opposition to the then only three-year old Roe v. Wade decision. We would be dealing with a vastly different Democratic Party today. Instead, his successor has solidified their party’s embrace of moral and social chaos.
By legally recognizing homosexual couplings as marital bonds, we as a society would ultimately be saying that gender, human sexuality, being a husband or a wife, a mother or a father, have no objective moral meaning. We would be saying that the family itself has no objective moral meaning. The moral law rooted in nature would be, for us, completely dissolved. There would no longer be any natural familial bonds and thus no longer any natural moral ties or innate moral responsibilities arising form the very nature of the family (emphasis added).
If the bond between two men or two women can be considered the equivalent of the one-flesh marital unity between a man and woman, a bond that gives rise to children and the family, then we are saying that all human ties are strictly a matter of the will: Only when persons choose to be connected to one another—by emotional, legal, or artificial contrivance—are they then connected. If the fundamental building block of society—namely, the family—is essentially a matter of choice, those choices can also be undone by mere personal volition. The family is simply a fragile arrangement of the will, and no on is in essence a mother, a father, a husband, or a wife. Indeed, being a husband or wife, mother or father, is nominal, not real. The family is no longer a unit cemented by innate natural bonds that cause persons to be mother and child, brother and sister—essential identities imbedded in nature itself that produce inherent responsibilities to which persons who have such identities must be held accountable.
Nothing here should be interpreted to mean that infertile couples who adopt children are not parents. Their heterosexual marital unity, unlike homosexual pairings, participates in the truth of marriage and is a public sign of that truth. Married couples who, due to some pathology, are incapable of procreating children, are nonetheless still capable of honoring the life-giving meaning of their sexual intimacy. Their bonds still contribute to the public support of the cultural, social, and moral meaning of marriage. Their sexual unity is orientated toward life and the family in a way that gay sexual activity can never be.
It is simply a lie that homosexual acts are equivalent to sexual activity between a wedded man and a woman. Any attempt to equate them is an insult to the very meaning of marriage and the family. Gay sex is self-enclosed, sterile, and a societal dead end. Since a family cannot arise from such sex, the government does not have a compelling interest in protecting those bonds.
Why must the law protect marriage—meaning, of course, the lifelong bond between a man and a woman, upon which the family is built? Sex between a married man and woman is categorically different from gay sex. It is sex that confirms the meaning of masculinity and femininity; it is sex that confers responsibilities that rise from the commitment of husbands and wives, especially when, from such sexual acts, new human beings are conceived. Society—indeed, the entire future of the world—depends on these kinds of stable sexual unions, which provide the necessary innate security for children. For this reason alone, the government has an interest in protecting marriage.
If someone needs a cogent argument as to why theh government must make a distinction between homosexual bonds and marriage, it is this: When a man and a woman commit themselves to life long unity of their persons, their unity leads to the begetting of children. The state has an interest in recognizing and protecting the unity of spouses and the natural blood relationships that are created by marital sexual activity. We need to take very seriously the importance of blood ties in the building of society and culture. Societies depend on these innate blood ties for moral order and structure—beginning with the bond between a man and a woman that creates the natural bonds of blood within the family itself. There is simply no substitution for this kind of cultural/societal building block. The state must support and protect marriage because it creates the dynamic of the family unit, the unit that gives society to most sure, built-in, stable set of human identities and responsibilities.
Society is not the consequence of arbitrary self-willed human relationships. Yes, engaged couples do “choose” each other, but they do not “decide for themselves” what it is they are about to enter. The meaning of marriage precedes them. As stated above, marriage, as it relates to the building of the family, not only produces identities and responsibilities within the “limited” nuclear family, but it gives rise to future marriages that produce cousins, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, grandfathers, grandmothers, great-grandfathers and mothers, as well as great-uncles and aunts, and so on. Laws do not create these worlds—worlds that of themselves cause human identities and human responsibilities. Absolutely nothing can replace such natural world-building! The law cannot create the moral responsibilities that come from such bonds—it can only call persons to live up to them. For these reasons, government has an interest in protecting marriage.
How did we come to the point that homosexual bonds should be considered the equivalent of marriage? Truth be told, it is the heterosexual community that is to blame, not homosexuals. Heterosexuals have given up on the meaning of human sexuality Heterosexuals are the ones who no longer believe in marriage (emphasis added). We have said so with fifty years of contraception, routine sexual activity outside of marriage, living together without marriage, rampant divorce (including no-fault divorce), epidemic out-of-wedlock pregnancy rates, artificial reproduction—and, on top of all this, forty years of legalized abortion. Heterosexuals have already said that sex, marriage, and the family have no meaning. These have become what we subjectively, privately, by a sheer matter of the will, say they are, and nothing more. We simply have no moral, cultural ground on which to stand and say that homosexuals can’t call what they do “marriage.” After all, most heterosexual sex isn’t marriage either. It too is dead-end sex that cannot carry the world into the future (emphasis added). We would do well to consider the words of the late British philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe who, way back in 1972, already saw where sex made deliberately sterile would lead:
If you can turn intercourse into something other than the repro-
ductive type of act, then why, if you can change it, should it be
restricted to the married? Restricted, that is, to partners bound
in a formal, legal, union whose fundamental purpose is the bring-
ing up of children? For if that is not its fundamental purpose
there is no reason why for example “marriage” should have to be
between people of opposite sexes. But then, of course, it becomes
unclear why you should have a ceremony, why you should have a
formality at all. And so we must grant that children are in this
general way the main point of the existence of such an arrange-
ment. But if sexual union can be deliberately and totally divorced
from fertility, then we may wonder why sexual union has got to be
married union. If the expression of love between the partners is
the point, then it shouldn’t be so narrowly confined
(Contraception and Chastity).
What, then, is the answer? If we really want to fight a battle against “gay marriage,” the heterosexual community needs to get its act together. We can’t carry on the way we have—we cannot privatize our sexual ethical behavior and then claim that the government needs to protect publicly what is left of the institution of marriage, which we’ve virtually demolished. The needed healing of our sexual ethic is primarily the work of the Church—a Church that greatly contributed to the moral degeneration of the culture by remaining silent on contraception and by allowing Catholic politicians to support legalized abortion with impunity (emphasis added).Is it any wonder that the likes of Nancy Pelosi, another self-proclaimed Catholic who supports legalized killing of the unborn, lauds Obama’s support of gay marriage, both of which are contrary to the teachings of the Church, and, who, like Obama, has the audacity to say that this is the Christian thing to do.
In some ways, this is the most odious and insulting aspect of the entire Obama “gay marriage” debacle. Obama justified his position that gay marriage should be legally recognized by wrapping it in the mantle of the Christian religion (emphasis added). He said that the so-called evolution of his thinking on the subject was the consequence of his Christian faith. As he said on Good Morning America, “It’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.” So, with such deep critical thinking, how can we deny homosexuals access to a right that heterosexuals enjoy? It just doesn’t seem fair.
Unfortunately, Obama failed to quote Christ’s own doctrine on marriage: “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and declared: ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become one.’ Thus they are no longer two, but one flesh. ‘Therefore, let no man separate what God as joined” (Mt 19:4-6).
If the President is going to credit Christianity in an attempt to dismantle the God-given meaning of marriage, it would be truly fair and honest of him to acknowledge Christ’s specific view on the subject. But for Obama, the Golden Rule is the real doctrine and Christ’s view on marriage merely an opinion that may be set aside.
If society seriously accepted Obama’s invocation of the Golden Rule, then we would have to advocate all sorts of irrationalities. Saying that gays have the right to marry would require an end to all rational distinctions. For example, we would have to believe that not only those who excel at running the 100 meters but even poor runners have just as much right to compete in the Olympics, since all that matters is that the poor runners love the sport and wish to participate in it as much as the good runners. We would likewise have to say that those who are tone deaf should be allowed to sing at major concert halls, since such persons may actually love and have an appreciation for music, perhaps even more than those who have the ability to sing well. Obama’s Golden Rule has nothing to do with love and acceptance; rather, it’s a means by which to distort the truth. Obama’s gospel is not the wisdom of Christ but an invitation to insanity.
We are in a war for the truth. This is not the time to be afraid to speak out on behalf of the truth. But we must speak the truth in love, recognizing that homosexual have God-given dignity and basic human rights that must never be denied. But they simply do not have the right to marry—nor do they have the rights to the privileges of marriage. Those who publicly defend marriage are going to be misunderstood, called names, mocked, belittled, and derided. Nonetheless, those who understand what is at stake cannot hold back. The truth must be defended and marriage fought for. Civilization itself depends upon this sacred institution
Monica Migliorino Miller is Associate Professor of Theology at Madonna University in Michigan, founded of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, and author of Sexuality and Authority in the Catholic Church and Abandoned: The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars, to be published soon by St. Benedict Press.
This article originally appeared in the New Oxford Review (1069 Kains Ave., Berkeley, CA 94706-2260).