Stemming the Gay Marriage Tide

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

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz, Emeritus Professor at Marquette University, is the author of twenty-five books on German philosophy, ethics, political philosophy, and religion, and over a hundred articles in scholarly journals, print magazines, online magazines, and op-eds. He was a recipient of an NEH fellowship for 1977-8, and Fulbright fellowships in Germany for 1980-1 and 1987-8. His website is at Marquette University.

  • Gian

    The third argument does not follow at all. Politics is not reducible to syllogisms.

    True, the contracepting heterosexuals are engaged in non-procreatory sex but still the homosex is altogether different sort of non-procreatory sex.

    Problem is that intellectual sorts of conservatives have forbidden the Argument from Disgust.
    It is NOT an intellectual debate but a spiritual and political war.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    No one seems seriously to have addressed the public or legal purpose of marriage.

    The civil codes of most countries contain no formal definition of marriage, but jurists have found a functional definition in the rule, common to all of them, that the child conceived or born in marriage has the husband for father. This led the leading 20th century commentator on the French Civil Code, le doyen Carbonnier, to remark, “the heart of marriage is not the couple, it is the presumption of paternity.” Indeed, it is the only thing that distinguishes marriage from a civil union (which, in France is open to same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike).

    No-one will deny that the state has a clear interest in the filiation of children being clear, certain and incontestable. It is central to its concern for the upbringing and welfare of the child, for protecting rights and enforcing obligations between family members and to the orderly succession to property. To date, no better, simpler, less intrusive means than marriage have been found for ensuring, as far as possible, that the legal, biological and social realities of paternity coincide.

    This led the French courts in the Bègles case to say of the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples that its “specific and non-discriminatory character was the result of the fact that nature had limited potential fertility to couples of different sexes… Clearly, same-sex couples whom nature had not made potentially fertile were consequently not concerned by the institution of marriage. This was differential legal treatment because their situation was not analogous”

    To summarise: (1) Mandatory civil marriage, makes the institution a pillar of the secular Republic, standing clear of the religious sacrament.(2) The institution of republican marriage is inconceivable, absent the idea of filiation, enshrined, not in Church dogma, but in the Civil Code (3) The sex difference is central to filiation.

  • Manfred

    Thank you for a well laid out article, Prof. Kainz. Why don’t writers on this subject actually describe in some detail what homosexual men do with each other during a homosexual “marital” act? I think it would be extremely helpful to the reader rather than just discussing “marriage”. My next point concerns Divine punishment. God Himself has consistently condemned homosexual activity through the Old and New Testaments as an ABOMINATION. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire from the sky. Does anyone believe that we, as a nation, will be spared the same fate? It does not matter that we live in a post-Catholic world. Most people will not be saved as it is. Look around. Isn’t God punishing us now?

  • Frank

    Hmmm…I’ve always understood the strict definition of sex as an act, with definable biological application among mammals (some insects and plants) that was directed toward the ACTUAL outcome of progeny. So is homosexual “sex” really sex is it just consensual masturbation? So perhaps we’ve been co-opted into the semantics as well when we really ought to be calling homosexual “sex” something else. Oh well, onward through the fog!

  • DS

    The brusque dismissal of Professor Spitzer’s recent announcement because of age/health, and your public armchair diagnosis of emotional devasation, is nothing but a cheap shot. Should we have discounted Blessed John Paul’s final years, when he was “in his eighties and suffering from Parkinson’s”?

    I have read nothing to suggest that Professor Spitzer is non compos mentis. He deserves to be heard.

  • Howard Kainz

    @Gian: The third argument was not political but ethical. It has to do with ethical consistency.

  • John Anderson

    I think that point 3 is a crucial one in terms of Catholics’ being willing to stand up against gay marriage, as for many of them, sexual activity need not always be simultaneously unitive and ordered toward procreation.

  • Maggie Louise

    ” So perhaps we’ve been co-opted into the semantics as well when we really ought to be calling homosexual “sex” something else. ”

    I have held my finger in the dike for a good long time now by suggesting that we not concede the field by accepting the language and terms of the debate. As Frank said, we have been co-opted by using the language of the homosexual agenda. Being a language person, I often fear that, very soon, words will have no meaning at all and we will all end up saying “whatever” or, as some of you may remember, “gross”.

    If homosexual so-called sex is a sin, in what possible way can it be said to be “gay”? So, time and again (ad nauseum you are probably saying), I stuck my finger in the dike and said, “Please, call it by its name.” To use an adjective that is so glaringly opposed to reality is nothing but a lie. (Remember that word?) So totally have we been co-opted that, when I was making this argument with a young woman probably in her late 30s or early 40s, she had no idea that the word “gay” had any other meaning than “homosexual”. We’ve lost.

    Would anyone like to join me at the dike?

    Since another Louise has joined our company, I will give myself a new name. (“the earlier Louise” is a mouthful.) So I’ll be Maggie Louise from now on.

  • Athanasius

    Regarding the polls that say most Catholic couples use artificial contraception, I think that we in the Church, including the lay faithful, need to engage in a mobilization to really teach the Theology of the Body to the Catholic populace of the country. I may be naive, but having studied the TOB myself, and seen its beauty, I believe that we can change the behavior of a great many people. Of course there are some who won’t care, but it could be a life changer for those who will listen, if only someone would tell them the truth. I firmly believe that the TOB leads directly to God’s ultimate gift of sending us Jesus through the incarnation, and that our sexuality is God’s way of writing his invitation to love Him directly into our bodies.

  • Sue

    5) Homosexual couples are “solving” the poverty problem in India by contracting surrogate pregnancies. There will soon be a sizeable test-tube voting bloc.

    Hopefully we can do better than the protagonist of “Brave New World” in witnessing to the truth. (For those who cite the “ick” factor, remember BNW managed to cast the heteros as the grotesques).

  • Mack Hall

    Even in the, oh, giddiest of ancient pagan states homosexual activity appears — emphasize appears; I barely graduated from high school and am no authority — to have been tolerated as, at best, a wink-wink / nudge-nudge thing, and not sanctioned by the state or by the state religion. Indeed, despite many very real errors, successful ancient states defended and protected marriage and the family as the foundation of society.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Mack Hall

    It speaks volumes about the sexual practices of the Ancient world that an Egyptian Jew of the 2nd century BC should write The Jews “are mindful of holy wedlock, and they do not engage in impious intercourse with male children, as do Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Romans, specious Greece and many nations of others, Persians and Galatians and all Asia.”

    Bear in mind, too, that the sages in the Talmud forbid a Jew to sell boy slaves or sheep to gentiles!

  • Howard Kainz

    @DS: Gerard van den Aardweg, a Dutch psychologist who has also worked extensively on homosexuality, said that Spitzer’s apology was issued under duress. “He had nearly broken down emotionally after terrible personal attacks from militant gays and their supporters,” he said. “There was an outpouring of hatred.” According to Van den Aardweg, the journal which originally published Spitzer’s work on reparative therapy, Archives of Sexual Behavior, has not withdrawn the work, because the study was scientifically sound. “His retraction does not change his results and his results are the only thing that counts.”

  • Manfred

    I just remembered that this site is The CATHOLIC Thing so I went to para. 2357 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It states…”Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered'”…. “Under no circumstances can they be approved.” I would assume that would slam the lid on “marriage”, n’est-ce pas?

  • DS

    I looked up van den Aardweg’s statement on the web. His opinion is apparently based on a single phone call with Spitzer nearly 10 years ago. There is nothing more than this opinion (and yours) to suggest that lingering emotional turmoil interacted with his age and current physical condition to produce the apology. I contrast that with Dr. Spitzer’s actual letter, which strikes me as rational and straightforward, and has no hint of bein written under duress. I don’t endorse his position, but I pay him the respect of taking it at face value.

    Implying causality when none exists undermines the credibility of your argument.

  • jason taylor

    If in fact marriage is a sacrament then it needs to be explained why non-catholic marriage is not fornication. Or why there is a Christian sacrament that is regularly participated in by unbelievers.

    As for “contract”, that word implies a commercial agreement and marriage, while it has commercial aspects and may be enacted primarily for such reasons, is simply not the same thing.

    Furthermore when done for political instead of commercial reasons, it would properly be referred to as a “treaty” not a contract.

    In other words rethink your wording.

  • Dan

    The root cause of the pervasive acceptance of homosexuality and so called “gay marriage” is No. 3, contraception (and the ideologies that endorse or tolerate contraception). Heterosexual sex with contraception is, in principle, indistinguishable from homosexual sex acts.

  • Achilles

    Dan, indistinguishable? you must be joking, arghhh.

  • Thomas C. Colmean, Jr.

    Just an anecdote illustrative of the extend that even some priests will go in front of a congregation to rationalize thier support for evil. I heard a reitiring Naval chaplalin, on the occasion of his last Mass on active duty, claim the the Council of Jeruselm released Christians from Hebrew dietary laws and “laws regaring sexual purity.” I cannot believe that any priest who just accdently misconstrue the injunction to (varous translation) avoid unlawful marriage or avoid unchastity to mean what he claimed. I also know parents who have foudn consolation ina priest’s advice to accept their son or saugher’s so-called preference since the Church no longer holds to the old superstitions. Many Catholics sincerely think that God is perfectly okay with anything anything that doesn’t pollute the environment or promote white or heterosexual privilege. This is the Winter of our Diabolical Disorientation!

  • Gian

    Michael Paterson-Seymour,
    The concept of filation is now rendered problematic owing to widespread use and acceptance the artificial techniques.

  • Gian

    Howard Kainz,
    Non-procreative coitus is physically and socially a different act than homosex.

    Then how is it ethical and consistent that both of them be regarded equally?

  • Howard Kainz

    @Gian: My point is that ethically both acts are nonprocreative and it would be inconsistent of heterosexual contraceptors to castigate a slightly different form of nonprocreative sex.

  • Thomas C. Coleman, Jr.

    Dr. Kainz, I find your logic unassailable, but my expereince tells me that it will fall on deaf ears when presented to a Catholic of a contraceptive mind-set. When I was a young man I knew a hihgly educated Catholic who spoke with equal scorn of both Church’s teaching on contraception and on homosexuality, imagining that the latter had freely chosen their siituation, even though I told him of men I knew who wanted nothing more than to live normal lives. At that time I broke off a relationship with a Catholic woman because she was deteremind to never have children and when I told her that no priest could marry us if he knew that she said she would just lie. The same elderly chap said I some kind of cad for not wanting to marry a woman under false pretenses. Bad catechesis all around!

  • Louise

    Harold, thank you for stepping out on this issue which is so important to the future of civilization.
    I’ve often reflected that it matters little whether or not there is a genetic predisposition to same sex attraction, say through a personality type the formation of which may be a combination of nature and nurture. Anyone who would base their life merely on their feelings is not basing it on a very firm foundation. We all have inclinations that are not consistent with our human nature, i.e. we all have temptations to sin in various ways. Are we as a society really willing to say that the only way to judge the rightness of a person’s particular behavior is because they feel an attraction to engage in it? If so, we have reached the end of law and we will soon see how we like chaos.
    Sometimes I wonder if we are suffering from a new form of Gnosticism & Manicheaism in that there is simply little consideration given to the importance of the body. JPII was farseeing in this way.
    I think I am a little of Gian’s perspective re point #3. While I think contraception deforms the marriage act, I don’t think it totally obliterates it, as nature sometimes finds a way. Also, according to the literature at least, what is happening in some forms in a certain percentage of cases is not contraceptive but abortifative. So the marriage act is preserved but the unborn child is killed. I would agree with the “grace” point; it certainly makes less grace available to the world to have so many married couples sinning in this way.
    But from a political perspective, I don’t think it is a barrier to opposition to redefining marriage. People instinctively see that marriage is a fundamental pillar of society and are not willing to fool with it.
    (Maggie Louise, you do know that our shared name means “female warrior”? We are twins in more than name…I totally agree about the lexicon we need to employ)

  • TomD

    Perhaps, just perhaps, this is an opportunity to make a sharper distinction within society between the sacramental nature of marriage and the civil (contract) nature of marriage. If not within the broader society, certainly it can provide clarity within the Church.

    Civil marriage has increasingly become a non-binding legal contract that has more to do with what is legally required when the marriage fails rather than any kind of contract related to preservation of the marriage. Perhaps this controversy will lead to a new primacy in the importance of the sacrament of marriage and civil marriage will be seen for what it has become, a non-binding “contract” that can be broken by either party, for any reason, at any time. What is happening now is the further degradation of the institution of civil marriage and it’s status within society.

  • Maggie Louise

    Dear Louise,

    Thank you, Louise. No, I did not know that. It certainly explains a lot, though, doesn’t it. 🙂 My husband has probably already guessed.

    Female warrior . . . .hmmnnn.

  • jason taylor

    “Civil marriage has increasingly become a non-binding legal contract that has more to do with what is legally required when the marriage fails rather than any kind of contract related to preservation of the marriage.”

    By definition there cannot be a non-binding contract. If it is non-binding it is a “statement of intentions.”