Thursday, August 04, 2005

Foolable or Reasonable? You Decide!

Richard Griffin gives a muddled and fence-sitting "defense" of civil and sacramental marriage. Hat tip to Wired Catholic for this story.

First, he pays Reasonable homage to the great nobility of homosexual activity, that unique expression of the One Thing That Matters. After commenting on the importance of recognizing "love" wherever we find it, he then examines what the Church may or may not do about the recognition of same-sex unions, and what it should do:
My appraisal of the case my friend makes is, in many ways, positive. I believe the Catholic Church, along with other religious communities, ought to recognize spiritual values in the love that gay and lesbian couples have for one another. And discrimination against homosexual people should be held abhorrent by people of all faiths.
However, I have three main difficulties with the suggestion that the Catholic Church could and should embrace same-sex unions as its own.
First, there is the multinational character of the Catholic Church. This church cannot limit its attention to the United States. It must also respect the many diverse cultures, ideologies, traditions and attitudes of the people who belong to it in other nations. People in many parts of the world remain far from acceptance of homosexuality.
It would take thoroughgoing changes in mentality on the part of these people before they would support same-gender marriage. I don't think the church could possibly move toward an embrace of such marriage while large sections of its people opposed it.
Secondly, I am convinced that the Catholic Church would first need to change its official position on sexual activity in general before it can move to a different appraisal of gay and lesbian unions. Currently, all sexual activity on the part of unmarried people of any stripe is regarded as immoral. Though not many would seem to think this position still reasonable, the official church continues to hold to it adamantly.
Thirdly, I consider same-gender and male-female marriages as two different realities. I do not deny their similarities, but I continue to regard them as distinct. To me, words are vitally important because they signify reality. The word "marriage" signifies a sexual union between male and female persons that differs from the union of male and male, along with female and female. That is the way a well-established tradition has delivered it to us.
He elaborates on this last point:
For me as a man, a sexual relationship with a woman is unique. Women differ from me in their physical being, in their emotional life and in spiritual life. I am not saying that no elements from these spheres of women's life are present in males, or in some males, but I still find women unique. I value the difference.
And I believe that, for me as a male, entering into a sexual relationship with a woman inevitably differs from what entering into a sexual relationship with someone of my same gender would be.
This is the most Foolish statement Mr. Griffin makes. Unfortunately, it's not enough; the rest of his argument is the same old Reasonable yawn-fodder. Here's where the muddle comes in: He recognizes and "values" the difference between men and women. He values it enough to preserve marriage for a union between man and woman. Yet he doesn't value the complementarity of gender enough to see the ontological fallacy in a same-sex "unions"? There can be no fundamental complementarity in a homosexual relationship that encompasses the entire person: mind, heart, spirit and body. Anything less than such a whole relationship of mutual self-giving robs both people of their integrity. Matrimony, however, is the sacrament that images Christ's love for his Church. Christ represents the fullness of integrity. Thus, if a relationship disintegrates the people involved, it can't image Christ's love for his Church. Therefore, it can't be a sacramental marriage.

The civil law that posits it's own power through law-making, in violation of the Natural order, becomes no law at all. Homosexually active relationships of "union" do not represent the fullness of self-giving that defines the reality of marriage. Therefore, they are not marriages according to Natural Law. Civil Law that recognizes gay "marriage" recognizes only the illusion that humanity determines reality. I can claim I'm Ghengis Khan until they lock me away in Bellview; my ranting does not make it so. People of the same gender can claim to "marry" one another; this does not change the reality that their relationship is not a marriage. This is not hatred. This is not an absence of compassion. This is fact.

Which is more compassionate? To claim that two people have a relationship that is ontologically impossible? To encourage behavior that disintegrates them over time, in both mind, heart, spirit and body? Or to stand fast to the truth that marriage is possible only for those that can complement one another in mutual and holistic self-giving? All while offering to those suffering from this truth empathy, and helping them live the best moral lives they can?

Think about it.