Stemming the Gay Marriage Tide Print
By Howard Kainz   
Thursday, 19 July 2012

The well-known story of the Dutch boy who put his finger in a dyke to prevent flood waters from surging into his town was a piece of fiction devised by the American author, Mary Mapes Dodge (in her 1865 novel, Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates), and has no relationship to any identifiable Dutch legend. But like Aesop’s fables, it has lasting value for the moral message it imparts: namely, even if you are a little guy, if you see a problem emerging, and you act quickly, you can prevent the disaster that would take place if the problem got out of hand.

Some states now, trying to counter the massive support from the media, politicos, and Hollywood for implementing countrywide gay marriage, like the little Dutch boy, are taking steps to stem the floods. One of the most significant steps has been the enactment of amendments in thirty states, defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Significantly, only six states and the District of Columbia grant licenses to same-sex couples.

But those who wish to keep the gay agenda from flooding over us should be aware of some formidable obstacles that may lead to defeats along the road, or to victories that turn out to be pyrrhic victories. I am referring not just to the attempts to normalize the gay lifestyle through public-school indoctrination, Hollywood films, TV sitcoms, etc., but to four deeper factors embedded in contemporary culture:                                                          

1) The propaganda has been successful: There is a general belief now, even among those opposed to gay marriage, that homosexuals are “born” that way. There is no scientific basis for this belief. Many scientists have tried in the last three decades to prove that there are hormonal causes for homosexuality, or a “gay gene,” or genetic tendencies in identical twins. All these studies, subjected to peer criticism, have turned out to be flawed or inconclusive. Still, many people have come to believe in biological determination. And if indeed homosexuality is something you are born with, then it seems to belong in the same category as race or ethnicity. If it is discriminatory to prohibit marriage, for example, between whites and blacks, it seems similarly discriminatory to prohibit marriage between two persons who can’t control that they were born with same-sex attraction.

2) As determined in the decision of the American Psychiatric Association in 1973, homosexuality is no longer considered a pathology. No homosexual need undergo treatment, unless he or she is for some reason “uncomfortable” with the same-sex attraction, in spite of the fact that it is generally recognized to be quite normal. Dr. Robert Spitzer, who originally spearheaded the movement to normalize homosexuality, later decided that the move was precipitous, and that homosexuals can often be cured of exclusive same-sex orientation. Spitzer published positive results of “reparative therapy” in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. But Spitzer, now in his eighties and suffering from Parkinson’s disease – and emotionally devastated by an outpouring of hatred from militant gays – has recently announced that his interpretation of the data was flawed, and reversed his earlier reversal. So the clinical normality of homosexuality is no longer threatened by Spitzer’s indecision. In fact, the State of California has just passed a bill prohibiting the use of reparative therapy by psychotherapists.


        Marriage is a Sacrament

3) Almost every couple is now using contraceptives, the purpose of which is to completely separate sex from procreation. But sex without procreation is exactly what gay liaisons are about. Heterosexual and homosexual marriages have become just two types of non-procreative sexual experience. It would be patently inconsistent for contracepting heterosexuals to complain about gay marriage, just because they are engaged in a different version of non-procreative sex.

4) Outside of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, marriage is not considered a Sacrament, but a contract. Luther and other Protestant Reformers removed marriage from the category of sacraments (which, like baptism, confer special graces) and relegated it to a civil contract, often officiated over by ministers. Marriage as a Sacrament is considered a spiritual participation in the mystery of Christ’s eternal espousal of the Church, and thus is so essentially connected with a male-female model (Genesis 1, Ephesians 5:31-33) that any application to gay marriage would be forced and spiritually repugnant. However, the fact that the majority of Catholic married couples, if we may believe the opinion polls, are using contraceptives, and in doing so are missing the grace-giving, sacramental aspect of their marriage, leaves us with only a minority witnessing to sacramental marriage – a weak counter-attack indeed. If marriage is just a civil contract, civil authorities, with a little legerdemain, can make it applicable to homosexuals.

Of course, if any of the four above-mentioned factors changes substantially, the outlook will improve. Hopeful signs at present include the psychotherapists who continue to offer reparative therapy for same-sex attraction; the growing awareness of Catholics regarding the Church’s position on contraception, triggered by reaction to aggressive “mandates” of the Obama administration; and the ongoing reconsideration by some evangelicals of the Protestant position on contraception, as they join with Catholics in opposition to the current HHS mandate to religious institutions.

So the current situation looks desperate, but we should not give up on any – even seemingly small – efforts. We may fail to stop this flood, but then again, in God’s good Providence, who knows?

 
Howard Kainz is emeritus professor of philosophy at Marquette University. His most recent publications include Natural Law: an Introduction and Reexamination (2004), The Philosophy of Human Nature (2008), and The Existence of God and the Faith-Instinct (2010).
 
 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

 

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