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Same-sex marriage is the logical conclusion to decades of divorce and infidelity

We have taken this institution for granted for too long. Now the Coalition is showing how vital and precious it is

By on Thursday, 1 March 2012

It cannot have escaped readers’ attention that the Coalition plans to start a consultation process in March with a view to bringing in legislation by 2015 that will redefine marriage to enable those in same-sex partnerships to marry. Lynne Featherstone MP, the Lib Dem Equalities Minister, has announced this in a speech last month in which she stated that “marriage is a rite of passage for couples who want to show they are in a committed relationship” and that the intended legislation is about “the underlying principles of family, society and personal freedoms”. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has made it clear that he regards this proposed legislation as a key part of his future legacy as premier.

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has responded to Ms Featherstone’s announcement with a call for the public to support a “Coalition for Marriage” (C4M). As I write this it has so far attracted 60,862 signatures. Since there are 24 million married people in the UK, it is to be hoped that many more will do so. The Archbishops of Westminster and Southwark, Vincent Nichols and Peter Smith, are encouraging Catholics to also support C4M’s campaign, while Rowan Williams, current Archbishop of Canterbury, has also come out in support of the status quo.

Mercatornet, an on-line magazine, has begun a new blog called “Conjugality” in order to defend traditional marriage. Edited by Michael Kirke, an Irish journalist writing from Dublin, the blog plans to be constructive in its criticism and to highlight “the dignity and joy of genuine marriage between one man and one woman”. Kirke comments: “There are many reasons why same-sex marriage has captured the imagination…but one is that respect for the traditional variety has been eroded by decades of divorce, infidelity and contraception.” There is much truth in this: if marriage can so easily be ended by divorce it ceases to be a seen as a permanent relationship; and if contraception is habitually practised, openness to new life ceases to be seen as an intrinsic part of the relationship.

On my desk is the current edition of The Flock; this is the newsletter of “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” in support of the teachings of the Church, edited by that doughty and courageous Catholic and former head teacher, Daphne Mcleod. On the subject of the proposed consultation document she writes: “This is due to be debated in March and we need to let our representatives understand why [same-sex marriage] is a contradiction in terms. Marriage is defined in every dictionary I have seen as the lasting union of a man and a woman. Anyway, the Church also adds the stipulation that marriage must be open to new life. A couple who decide from the start never to have children are not married in the eyes of the Church even when they are male and female. “

Daphne adds: “Every society from time immemorial has reserved the term ‘marriage’ for the union of a man and a woman – even the ancient Greeks and Romans who had no problem with homosexuality… Once we start altering the meaning of such important words we are entering dangerous waters.”

One thing is clear: Ms Featherstone’s announcement means that supporters of marriage will never again be able to take this most ancient and fundamental of institutions for granted. Perhaps it takes this attack on marriage to show how vital and precious the institution is?

  • Anonymous

    Most of the 24 million people experiencing the benefits of marriage will be happy if homosexual couples are also able to receive the sacrament of God’s blessing on their lifelong partnerships.

    Historically homosexuals have not had the benefit of sacramental grace to help them keep a commitment to fidelity in their relationships, but in time, like many other mistakes in the teaching of the Church, this will be put right.

  • Charles Martel

    Mr Hadley,
    I know you are not a Catholic, but I’d like to address the Catholic readers of your comment.
    Just because the government may name homosexual unions ‘marriages’, it most certainly will not mean that they are marriages. It will be make-believe, like children playing at mummies and daddies (and, unlike these normal fantasy games, extremely creepy). These unnatural unions will not receive any kind of sacramental graces or blessings; on the contrary, these homosexuals will be making it harder for themselves to enter heaven. Remember that sodomy is one of the sins ‘crying to heaven for vengeance’, and the Catholic Church condemns all homosexual unions as abominations.

  • guest

    You can’t have sacramental grace if what you’re doing is not in line with moral truth- this is why people and not only same sex couples lack the commitment to fidelity. You recieve God’s blessing when you live your life in accordance with His laws not because the Government decrees it.
    The Church with her teachings of truth about relationships and the need for openness to procreation has given us 2000 years of marriage with growing birth rates and societal values which helped develop Western culture as well as the living standards we have. Due to the disregard for the Church’s teachings we now have falling birth rates with the associated issues and the inevitable dissolution of society and culture as we have known it. When we address the demographic decline issue now we must realise that the Church is right- it’s about procreation.

  • Adam Thomson

    Mr Hadley, 
    How do you go about determining what are the mistakes in the teaching of the Church? 

  • Anonymous

    When current teaching is totally different to previous teaching, then as a loyal Catholic layman I believe that the Church has listened to the Holy Spirit to correct the mistakes of the past.

    So it was a mistake when the Church taught that it was gravely sinful even to argue that charging interest on a loan could ever be acceptable. 

    It was a mistake when the Church said that it was a grave heresy to deny that the sun went round the earth.

    It was a mistake when the Church burnt people at the stake for witchcraft, or apostasy or heresy; or tortured people during the inquisition.

    It was a mistake when the Church taught that slavery was moral, and when Popes authorised the capture and cruel confinement of hundreds of slaves to work the galleys of the Papal fleet. 

    It was a mistake when the Church said that it was gravely sinful for a Catholic to join in with hymns or prayers when attending a service in a non-Catholic church.

    There are many other examples I could give. All Catholics should rejoice at the way in which the Holy Spirit has, in response to prayer, continued to renew the Church. Nobody alive a few hundred years ago would have ever believed that the Church could change: to allow the charging of interest;  to ban the keeping of slaves; to foster freedom of religion; and to encourage inter-denominational prayer. 

  • theroadmaster

    To paraphrase the famous quote of  Humpty Dumpty stated in ” Through The Looking Glass” , words are used by those who dissemble to mean exactly what they want them to mean, no more or no less.  This is applicable to the term “same-sex” marriage, which has been alluded to by Daphne McLeod as the two words are mutually exclusive and this reality cannot be bridged through any form of legislation.  This is not to discriminate against anyone but to iterate an sociological and religious fact which global societies across the span of 2 Millennia have recognized in the Natural order of things.

  • theroadmaster

    The current attempt by western legislatures to normalize the term”same-sex” marriages through legislation, is nothing short of social engineering to twist and distort the true nature of this timeless Institution .  It’s truth is ingrained in the Natural Order and has been written in the hearts of men and women for over 2 Millennia.  But we have seen the intensification of the campaign of certain lobbies with deep financial pockets and highly placed political allies, to push through the legalization of these type of unions as “marriage” in Western countries over the last 20 years or more. The Bible is consistent in it’s celebration of marriage as being the sanctification of the special unity achieved by the mutual love of one man for one woman and open to new life.  Thus it is very doubtful that the influence of the Holy Spirit is encouraging those who support this move but rather the spirit of the age.
    The examples that you give of the Church doing  U-turns in relation to certain beliefs that were held to be true are not of the same order as the attempts by secular legislatures to alter the truth of marriage.  The example that you cite regarding the Church’s former mistaken belief that the Sun was a satellite of the Earth instead of vice-versa, was never a subject which impinged on any serious theological discussion but rather was the purview of astronomers.  The Church down to Galileo’s time took the ancient Ptolemaic view of our solar system as Her favorite model.   This irascible astronomer contested this view but we must remember that it was only a theory which had not been conclusively proved. From hindsight we know that the Heliocentric school of thought won out eventually through the empirical evidence provided by the technology of the telescope.
    The burning of witches or unrepentant “heretics” at different stages in history through Europe bring to mind stereotypical images of fanatical witchfinder generals and zealous monks.  There is no doubt that such outbreaks of indiscriminate slaughter are dark blots on the reputation of religions but it was usually the secular authorities which carried out this form of retributive justice. Witch-hunting was much more common in protestant Britain and Germany during the 16th-18th centuries than it was in Catholic lands.   During the period of the Inquisition, the vast majority of executions were carried out in Catholic countries like Spain or Italy by the civic courts.  The ecclesial courts of the Catholic Church were often much more lenient than their secular counterparts and went to great lengths to encourage dissenters to repent before they would consider dispensing punishment.  Although any Church complicity in the putting to death of those who in conscience expressed a different Faith/belief to the traditional norm has to be regretted very much
    Slavery in fact was condemned at various stages by different popes. For example Pope Eugene IV in 1435 issued from Florence the bull Sicut Dudum, which contained the following exhortation to the Spanish captors of African slaves on the colonial territory of Lanzarote ..”Therefore We … exhort, through the sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus Christ shed for their sins, one and all, temporal princes, lords, captains, armed men, barons, soldiers, nobles, communities and all others of every kind among the Christian faithful of whatever state, grade or condition, that they themselves desist from the aforementioned deeds(slavery), cause those subject to them to desist from them, and restrain them rigorously.  Pope Paul 111 in his superb work Sublimis Deus of1537, which was drawn up in response to the brutalities committed by Spanish colonists to the indigenous people within their control, boldly stated-
    …By our Apostolic Authority decree and declare by these present letters that the same Indians and all other peoples-even though they are outside the faith-who shall hereafter come to the knowledge of Christians have not been deprived or should not be deprived of their liberty or of their possessions..”  These are two prime examples of the Church’s teaching authority being used to clarify the offense of slavery against the dignity of human beings and thus at odds with the teachings of Christ.  I apologize for the length of my reply but decided to write an expansive one to illustrate my points. 

  • Anonymous

    Galileo was declared a heretic because his findings contradicted the literal truth of the bible which at that time (and for about 17 centuries) was the only way that Catholics could interpret the bible. 

    The only reason Pope Eugene IV condemned the capturing of slaves on Lanzarote was because they were baptised Catholics.  It is simply ridiculous to quote out of context a decree which nobody at the time would have thought to be against slavery in general.

    As for Sublimis Deus I wish that it were an accurate description of Catholic teaching and practice on slavery at that time. It was formally withdrawn the next year, and in 1545 Pope Paul III reaffirmed the rights of Roman citizens to buy and sell slaves. In 1547 he ordered the capture of slaves who were pagan or Muslim for the Papal states, a practice that went on for centuries.

  • buckley

    Mr  Hadley, Galileo was declared a heretic not as you say because his findings contradicted Chruch’s techings but moreover because he left his area of expertise i.e. science and astronomy and ventured to give a false interpretation in the realm of theology. While, for example, a doctor of medicine might have an opinion on the law- only a lawyer or a court with the specific knowlege of the dicipline can give a relevant opinion in a case. He was convicted because he applied his sceintific findings to theology and claimed his interpretation to be true.
    Since Copernicus the Church already knew of the heliocentric theories. Its stance was correctly that this theory was not scientifically provable with the means disposable at that time and hence the Aristotelian model had not been disproven.

  • Isaac

    A cursory knowledge of the writings of the Fathers of the Church is enough to show how blatantly false it is to say that “for about 17 centuries” “Catholics could interpret the Bible” only literally. Could it be that you’re unaware of Augustine’s non-literal reading of Genesis 1 in his Confessions? Gregory of Nyssa’s The life of Moses? I give just two examples, in fact this is widespread among Patristic and Scholastic authors. If you withdrew this remark the rest of your post would be more credible.

  • theroadmaster

    But the heliocentric v geocentric controversy did not involve any major theological issues and was essentially a matter of one theory which was not fully tested at the time going against the preferred model supported by the Church.   It all ended in the  house detention of Galileo and his silence which in itself is regrettable.  But at the end of the day, it was an argument over the place of the earth in the physical heavens without challenging any biblical truths.  As the famous astronomer put it- 
     “The intention of the Holy Spirit is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how the heavens go.”
    The teaching of Pope Eugene IV is still clear and is a forthright condemnation of the concept of slavery.  It cannot be perceived any other way.  
    Pastorale Officium  in terms of it’s brief was annulled by Pope Paul 111 but not the actual bull  Sublimus Deus, which consequent popes like pope Gregory XV1 continued to recognize.  

  • Inis Magrath

    The “definition” of marriage has not remained unchanged throughout 2 millenia, no matter how many times folks like you iterate that mantra.

    Look up “coverture” which was part of the “definition” of marriage well into the 20th century. It isn’t any more because society changes what words mean over time.

    Coverture is but one facet of the definition of marriage that has changed over 2 millenia. There are dozens more. Today marriage is no longer defined strictly by the sex of the couple.

    I’m sorry if that makes you uncomfortable, but I am not sorry for the evolving nature of our world or of the mother tongue.

  • theroadmaster

    Sorry to disappoint you, but variations here and there do not contradict the basic truth that societies( of all religious beliefs and none) over 2 Millennia did regard marriage as essentially being between one man and one man and open to procreation.   Many traditional societies around the world still celebrate the martial act with fertility rites which have changed very little from the earliest times.
    Truths are expand upon as time goes go but their real essential core remains unchanged.  Modern legislatures cannot arbitrarily contradict the definition of marriage as properly understood over time by seeking to change it into something that it never was mean’t to be.
    I know that the term Coverture is a legal term  which describes the once commonly accepted subordination of married women to their husbands in terms of their rights and thus they became were rendered effectively non-persons.  This dehumanizing regard in law for women has thankfully been rolled back over the last two centuries by enlightened legislation but there is no linkage between this type of legal injustice and the age-old definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

  • Anonymous

    The text of Galileo’s condemnation for heresy is available online, this is an extract:
    “The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures. The proposition that the earth is not the center of the world, nor immovable, but that it moves, and also with a diurnal action, is also absurd, philosophically false, and, theologically considered, at least erroneous in faith.”

  • guest

    Mr Hadley, you need to continue your quotation …wherein you developed the same doctrine as true….
    This was the issue- Galileo claimed his theory to be true although it couldn’t be scientifically proven at the time. The Church rightly upheld that his claim was not true in adhering to standards that apply today.  

  • Brian

    God bless same-sex couple who want the joy of marriage!

  • Charles Martel

    For the benefit of the non-Catholics posting here, I repeat: God won’t bless them. See my post above. Same-sex ‘marriages’ are a sick fantasy and an abomination.

  • Charles Martel

     I see you haven’t attempted to reply to my post above, Mr Hadley

  • Adam Thomson

     Mr Hadley,

    Perhaps I didn’t make my question clear enough. I asked how YOU determine the mistakes of the Church. In answer you have given examples of the Church determining its own mistakes, but that isn’t really what I was asking. It is one thing for the Church to determine that certain things in its past were erroneous, and to correct them. It is quite another for you to state dogmatically that the Church is wrong in a particular matter, and that the Church will sooner of later come round to your view. 

    Moreover, the issue on which you have pronounced is in quite unlike some of the examples you have given. At one particular point in history, the Church condemned Galileo. At a rather late stage in its history, the church burned and tortured people. (The early church certainly didn’t do that.) And one part of the Christian Church (the Roman Catholic part) at a certain stage decided it was sinful to attend a non Roman Catholic service. But the issue on which you pronounce the Church to be wrong is on a matter that the entire Christian Church has agreed about from the very beginning until now.

    So I repeat my question. What makes you sure that the entire Christian Church until now has been wrong on this particular matter, while you are certainly right? What is the basis for your pronouncement?

  • Sean McCarney

    Mr Hadley, I suggest you listen to episode 38 of the excellent ‘Catholic Laboratory’ podcast by Ian Maxfield which will correct your somewhat ‘swiss cheese’ understanding of the Galileo episode.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for making you question clearer. Having established that the Church has made many bad mistakes in the past in both its formal teaching and official practice when it comes to moral issues one then has to ask the question how did this happen. Why did Popes, cardinals, bishops and theologians not know that slavery and torture were grave sins? Why did they think that charging interest on a loan or praying in ecumenical services were grave sins? Clearly they were not listening to the Holy Spirit. Fortunately God did not give up on us and when the Church was not listening, he enlightened the minds of the philosophers and thinkers so that first slavery and torture were considered abhorrent by society and eventually the Church followed suit. When society changed its business practices and began to allow political liberty the Church followed by allowing interest to be charged, and eventually religious liberty. 

    How would a Catholic in the past have known that the Church was wrong over slavery, torture, usury or religious liberty? Firstly by prayer, and being open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Secondly by reason, understanding the issues deeply. Once you accept that the Church can be wrong on moral issues your conscience should not allow you to follow blindly teachings that do not make sense.

  • Anonymous

    A same-sex Christian couple getting married in a church would not be playing at make-believe because they actually would believe that they are exchanging vows before God, whereas in make-believe activities, such as children playing at mummies and daddies, the participants are aware that the scenario is just a fantasy. As an atheist I regard the religious aspect of all wedding ceremonies as fantastic, irrespective of what type of couple is enjoying it, but I cannot see why same-sex couples shouldn’t have an equal opportunity for self-delusion, as long as all participation is voluntary. That such ceremonies would seem “extremely creepy” to you does not justify denying them to people for whom they might hold sacred meaning, given that you are not obliged to attend. To you transubstantiation is probably a sacred article of faith, whereas to me it seems an extremely creepy fantasy indeed, but since I literally don’t have to swallow it, I don’t care if other people do. “Live and let live” should have been the first commandment.

  • Charles Martel

    Mr badjumbly,
    What would you say to 3 men who wanted to marry each other, or 3 men and their dog? It’s very hard to debate these things with atheist libertarians, but seriously, where would you draw the line? And why?

  • Nik

    This is incorrect. The theory had been around for a while but Galileo proved it with telescopic observations.

  • Adam Thomson

     Thank you for attempting to answer the question I was attempting to ask. You do not, however, deal with my distinction between certain deviations at specific times in history, and the concensus of the entire Christian Church in all ages until now. Are you saying that you, by prayer and openness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, have received divine guidance which has eluded the whole Christian church until now? Granted that you believe that the church may make mistakes, and has in fact been wrong at particular times on particual issues, what leads you to believe that the whole church (including the writers of Sacred Scripture) has been wrong on this particular issue?

    Moreover, are you seriously proposing that because our godless society has decided that homosexual practice is a wonderful thing, the Christian Church should blindly follow?

    You believe the church may be wrong. Presumably you believe that human society is even more likely to be wrong. So why do you propose that the church’s conscience should blindly follow that of society? Heterosexuality makes sense. Men and women are physically complementary, designed for a sexual relationship. The same is clearly not the case with two men or two women. Homosexual marriage is a good example of a teaching which does not make sense. Why do you believe in it?

  • Anonymous

    To the three men who wanted to marry each other I’d say “Good luck with the legal fight, guys, but it might take you some time”. To the three men who wanted their dog to be included in the vow-swapping I’d say “Unless there’s some other way he can clearly signify his consent, you’ll need to find one hell of a language teacher”.

    Here’s where I draw the line. People who want to get married should be (a) adults; (b) consenting; (c) able to understand what marriage entails; (d)prepared to recognise martital responsibilities as well as rights. Legal polygamy in Britain would not be a problem for me and doesn’t seem to be a big issue in those countries where it’s practised, but it’s for those who want it to devote their time to pursuing it. The ability of an engaged couple to procreate together should not be an issue, since if marriage were only a suitable context for procreation, elderly and infertile couples would be barred.

    Here’s why. I believe in reasonable equality between citizens. If the law denies a right to one person that it permits another, there should be a practical reason for the difference. Children are banned from driving for reasons obvious to all, whereas I can think of no good reason why a same-sex couple should not be able to marry in a church if they have the blessing and the co-operation of the church’s governors.

  • guest

    Galileo didn’t prove it he just made an observation. Copernicus had made this observation already.The telescope he developed helped him observe a phomenon. However, observations are not scientific proof.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry but you just do not have any right to claim ‘moral truth’. You have a list of rules that governs your life. Those rules were derived from an era which is unrecognisable in terms of today’s society. Those rules get modified as previous posters have shown.

    To claim that your religion had anything to do with rising birth rates is also incorrect. Increases in knowledge of farming allowed a higher food economy and guess what humans do, just like any other living organism, they take advantage of food supplies to increase population. Incidentally, religion takes advantage of the increase in economy in a parasitical fashion. Unfortunately, there are too many humans to support the food/energy/material economy without severe changes. If those changes in consumption do not take place then nature will prevail. We have the intelligence and ability to control our population and to restrain our consumption. 

    The living standards have improved as church attendance has fallen, again, religion has little to do with it.

    There is nothing inevitable about a dissolution in society, just in those parts that are too inflexible to change.

    Society has changed a lot in 2000 years. Slavery, punishment of non-believers, women as second class if not non-citizens, persecution of homosexuals have all left us as we have improved way beyond the narrow viewpoint of a single document. In most of those, religion, especially the christian ones, have changed in line with society although always in a belated fashion. 

    But don’t worry, as society changes even further in response to the greater freedoms away from the constraints of religion we will cajole and encourage you to join us and no doubt many of you will.

  • Dr P J McFall

    Why would he bother? If Christ came down from heaven and wrote an avadavat in triplicate with his precious blood that The Catholic Church was a complete fraud and had nothing whatsoever to do with him, you would still argue concocted belligerent nonsense.

  • Dave Corrigan

    Look, all marriage is a sick fantasy and who the hell need the permission of a Deity to engage in coitus. Marriage is a load of old hat. It is now legal in some countries to marry a horse or a dog. This is because the dumb animal would not know what they were getting into, a bit like some married couples I know. Imagine going through life living with one partner. Not on your life.

  • Nik

    Well “proof” doesn’t exist in any field outside of mathematics, I only use the word because you did. He provided evidence that the heliocentric model was correct by making observations that conclusively showed that the geocentric model could not be true. (e.g. he showed conclusively that all celestial objects do not revolve around earth by directly observing moons orbiting jupiter).

  • Adam Thomson

     You say, “I believe in reasonable equality between citizens.” But this is not an equality issue. Marriage is open equally to all who wish to avail themselves of it. The problem is that homosexuals do not wish to avail themselves of it. They want to do something very different, but then call it marriage. That has nothing to do with equality.
         An analogy : Celibacy is a state of life open to all who wish to pursue it. So what would you think of a man who said, ‘Because I have strong sexual urges, it is impossible for me to pursue celibacy. Therefore I am being discriminated against, and to prevent this you must re-define celibacy so as to include married people!’
         I think you would regard such a man as completely off his head. And I think you would be right.

  • Jane Brady

    The nuns taught us that Jesus instituted marriage at Cana. This being the case, then everybody prior to then were living in sin, because they could not have been married. That means that Mary and Joseph were not married and were sinners. I raise this item because I was publicly thrashed by the nuns in front of the whole school (like a scene from Mutiny on the Bounty) for raising his philosophical point. On reflection, I then thought if the church had make this blatant faux pas, how many other such incidents could there be. I discovered that there are hundreds of other illogical errors of dogma. Unlike fifty years you, information is instant and abundant, and the Catholic Church has no power to control what Catholics see and hear. The idea of being a Roman Catholic being excommunicated (ostracised and socially excluded) would be thought of as a joke and would be like a “badge of honour” to some and would be treated a bit like “ASBO”. The point I make is that the Catholic Church’s once powerful authority to dictate dogma is now redundant because no one takes much notice of doctrinal illogicality. If the Pope made it an article of faith that Catholics must not visit non-catholic websites on the internet, he would not be able to control his edict .. Much to the chagrin of the Catholic Church it’s power is gone forever and for good.

  • Jane Brady

    Roman Catholics use terms like: proof, truth, evidence and morals, in the same context that a rational person would use terms like; fish, chips salt and vinegar. It’s just piffle.

  • Anonymous

    When someone says “This is not an equality issue” you can fairly safely bet that that person does not belong to the section of society being denied the right in question. If you enjoy a right that others don’t, and wish to maintain that situation, you have to claim that the difference in rights is justified by a difference in the abilities of the haves and the have-nots to exercise those rights responsibly. In the case of children not being allowed to drive or vote, there is clearly such a justification, but I don’t see any difference between the abilities of Christian heterosexual couples and Christian homosexual couples to take vows to love each other, care for each other etc. or to keep faith with those vows in the course of married life.
    You write “Marriage is open equally to all who wish to avail themselves of it. The problem is that homosexuals do not wish to avail themselves of it”. How would you feel if the practice of the Catholic religion were still banned and the Archbishop of Canterbury justified the prohibition by saying “The Protestant churches are open equally to all who wish to avail themselves of membership. The problem is that Catholics do not wish to avail themselves of it”? You might reasonably reply “But YOUR church doesn’t suit US. We want an equal right to enjoy our own religion as you do yours”. The problem is not simply that homosexuals don’t WISH to marry people of the opposite sex. It’s that they know such a step is far more likely to lead to frustration than fulfilment for both themselves and their partners. If this were God’s plan, the advertising slogan might read “Gay? Why be miserable alone? Ruin a heterosexual’s life for company”.
    On to your analogy. Celibacy, as you write, “is a state of life” and not a ceremony or a legally defined condition. A person qualifies as celibate simply by not having sex, and he or she does not need to book a church, hire a minister or sign a contract in order not to have sex. Your hypothetical strongly sexed man who wished to be considered celibate would be struggling against a physical contradiction: that sexual activity and celibacy are factually incompatible. If the word “celibate” were to be redifined according to his wishes to include the sexually active, it would lose all the meaning that he presumably wished to made applicable to himself along with the form of the word. “Celibate” would mean “human being”, which he is already, so there would be no point.
    By contrast, the word “married”, considered firstly as a legal term, CAN be expanded to exclude same-sex couples, since there is no physical contradiction between being the same sex and having the set of legal rights and responsibilities that characterise marriage. Moreover this expansion does not cause a total loss of the term’s original meaning. The bit that has been removed is “between a man and a woman”, but why should this be considered essential? Married heterosexual couples are still  just as legally married as they were before civil unions arrived and would still be just as married if civil unions were to be renamed “marriages”. They have lost nothing except a privelege over homosexuals, and I doubt many marriages are founded on that.
    If we then consider “marriage” as a religious term, it seems to me that, like many religious terms, it doesn’t belong to any one religion and each church can define it for itself without threatening the definitions of others. If you were married in a Catholic church and therefore consider yourselves married before God, nothing can change that. A homosexual couple walking up the aisle of a non-Catholic church are not a threat to you and take nothing from you. You are not obliged to agree that they are married before God any more than you are obliged to agree that an atheist couple standing in a registry office are being married in any religious sense.
    Therefore, while I agree that your (extremely) hypothetical celibate would be off his head, I do not think your analogy a fitting or persuasive one.

  • Adam Thomson

     Your analogy about the banning of the Catholic religion fails. All the Catholic would be asking would be “an equal right to enjoy our own religion as you do yours”. Exactly. But in terms of the analogy, that is what the homosexual couple already have. They have complete freedom to do their own thing, complete with legal recognition. But they are not satisfied with that. They want to have that quite different relationship AND CALL IT MARRIAGE. That would be analogous with the Catholic demanding the right to practise his own religion AND CALL IT PROTESTANTISM! Why on earth would he want to do that?

  • Anonymous

    My analogy does not fail. “Catholic” and “Protestant” are mutually exclusive terms, like “sexually active” and “celibate”. Both cannot meaningfully be applied to the same person at the same time, and I’ve never heard of anyone who desires them to be. “Married” and “same-sex”, when applied to couples, do not have to be mutually exclusive terms, unless the only definition of marriage allowed is yours and the Catholic Church’s, and there ARE same-sex couples who desire to effect an alternative definition with the help of a compliant minister. 
    Gay Christian couples do not at present have “complete freedom to do their own thing” if “their own thing” includes having a ceremony in a gay-friendly church, which seems to me a harmless request. Again it is your analogy which fails. The equivalent of a Catholic who wishes to call his religion Protestantism would be a homosexual who wishes to call his same-sex relationship a heterosexual one.

  • Charles Martel

     Is this a kind of therapy for you, Jane? A way to get back at the Church? I really don’t think it’s doing you any good.

  • theroadmaster

    You are confusing the liberal definition of rights in relation to subjective wishes on the part of people with objective truths which are not neutral in terms of their application.  Marriage has been defined consistently by global societies over 2 Millennia as the celebration of the union between one man and one woman and open to procreation.  This is the essential criteria which constitutes the true nature of this Institution and which for obvious reasons “same-sex” couples cannot provide.
    Marriage is more than a “legal term” and is based rather on a covenantal understanding of the mutual love and obligations in a relationship between a woman and a man.   The “civil”definition of marriage does not seem to have incorporated the profundity of these concepts. 

     Marriage, as properly understood, is the sanctification of the complementariness of one man and one woman in terms of their love, sexual attraction and potential for procreation.  This is part of the Natural Order.
    The “religious” definition of marriage has been summarized in my foregoing comments and has been consistent among the 3 great Monotheistic religions as well as in other important world Faiths like Hinduism and Buddhism.  Your attempt s to elastically stretch that definition defies these well established realities.  
    Your contention that modern attempts to reconstitute marriage will do no harm to the religious concept of marriage does not hold water.  This broadening out of the meaning of this Institute will undermine it’s true value in religious and social terms in the minds of many.

  • theroadmaster

    The terms “Catholic” and “protestant” fail as analogies in your strained attempt to somehow stretch the well-defined concept of marriage to include couplings which do not fit the criteria.
    Catholics and protestants have historically defined marriage in the same way i.e a sacramental bonding of a man and a woman open to procreation.
    In otherwords, catholics and protestants are members of the global Christian faith whose central beliefs overlap in so many ways, whereas your modernist concept of marriage is completely at odds with the global societal understanding of it for well nigh on 2 Millennia.

  • theroadmaster

    Sometimes the truth of certain concepts do not keep pace with the so-called progressive evolution of society and thus once this happens certain ramifications happen which reflect on the negative consequences of these loss of values.  The selfish pursuits of many in terms of the false utopia of value-free sex aided by contraceptive practices and abortion, record numbers of divorces, abortions and STDs, are hardly positive signs of western societies going in a positive direction.  The splintering of families through absent fathers and divorces have bad knock-on effects for the overall future well-being of the siblings.   So, Mr Acleron these are just some of the “improvements ” which have arisen as a result of the “freedoms” which you laud.  The improvements I praise are the emancipation of women from second-class citizenship and the legal prohibitions against hatred for anybody for their ethnic/racial, religious or gender origins.

  • Mark Castilano

    You have written a lot about truth and facts so I would like to read something coherent from you rather than flippant, facile, defensive and insulting rhetoric. Jane Brady has presented some very logical and sophisticated reasoning, so I would like to read something logical and reasoned from you. Accusing other people of impropriety does not advance the discussion, so if Jesus instituted marriage at Cana, then what Jane Brady purports is correct. I was taught the very same at school about marriage. I have just checked in my school catechism of 60 years ago and also with up to date teaching and lo and behold the Catholic Church still claims that Jesus instituted marriage at Cana which means that his parents were not married. It would appear that everyone before them were living in sin according to the teachings of The Roman Catholic Church. I do not require therapy because I practice as a clinical psychotherapist, and I have no wish to get back at the church. Please explain clearly and concisely how this teaching has come about without resorting to waffle and hostility. Please present an account based on reason rather than some obsolete biblical quotations.

  • Anonymous

    You have misread my argument, since I did not claim that Catholics and Protestants had historically 
    defined marriage in different ways. The sole point of my Catholic-Protestant analogy was that, for Catholics, the freedom to worship only in the Protestant style is no freedom at all, and in the same way, the freedom of homosexuals to undergo heterosexual marriages in church, which Adam Thomson first raised, is no compensation for lacking the freedom they want. I’ll take the opportunity here to clarify that in my last post the reference to the Catholic Church’s heterosexual definition of marriage should not be taken to imply that no other church shares that definition.

    Yes, my modernist conception of marriage IS at odds with almost two millenia’s worth of understanding, but we do not have to bow down to history. If no-one ever challenged received ideas, we would still believe slavery to be acceptable and deny women a vote. The anti-slavery campaigners and suffragettes challenged historical understanding and won.

  • guest

    Acleron, you make judgments and assumptions about moral truth, life and society based on your core belief reflected in your claim: Unfortunately, there are too many humans to support the food/energy/material economy without severe changes. If those changes in consumption do not take place then nature will prevail. We have the intelligence and ability to control our population and to restrain our consumption. ……

    Your claim that there are too many humans presupposes that there can be too many or in other words overpopulation. If this were so you should be able to say when there are ‘too many’ 7 billion, 8 billion 9??? and also what should happen to the 7 billion plus first. This is illogical becaues who should say how that one too many should be disposed of. You also assume that you are not going to be that person and that humankind will not evolve to feed and accomodate you or that 1 billion ‘too many’.

    The moral truth is based in fact that every fertilized human egg has the potential to become a human being i.e. not a dog, not a flower not a stone. Furthermore moral truth is based on the belief that every human has dignity i.e. personal worth because of the mere fact that they are human.This moral truth as taught for two centuries now by the Church has shaped peoples’ attitudes to generally accept and respect human life. The exceptions you mention above prove the rule. This life affirming attitude has lead to positive demographics and to us in the West finding solutions while embracing large families at least till the 1960′s.  Each human being too many can contribute to solving the issue you raised about food/energy/ economy etc..

    Your belief system leads to odd solutions and outcomes- i.e. preventing life through contraception abortion to limit life when there are not enough people to pay for the babyboomer generation- another solution is to just euthanise the older people in order to control population growth. Who gets to decide when it’s your turn to die because you are that one too many?

    Moral truth is based on the fact that we are humans and as such are valuable.

  • Anonymous

    As I mentioned in my second post on this page, if procreative ability were an essential criterion then elderly and infertile couples would be barred from marrying. 
     The rest of your argument is based on tradition, ie. “This is the way it’s always been so this is the way it should stay.” If individual churches, such as the Catholic Church want to keep it that way for themselves, they can, but more sympathetic and modernistic churches should not be legally barred from marrying same-sex couples if they have no objection. If by doing so they harm your own religious concept of marriage, I will wonder why the massive authority of tradition behind it didn’t prove a more effective protection. 

  • guest

    Jane,  we know since the Hubble telescope that the sun is in fact not the center of the universe but moreover numerous stars are and now the theory is that dark matter is at the center. Galileo had a theory which has since been refined through more observations and mathematical models and is still being refined. His claim to truth was in fact premature.

  • Nik

    Your knowledge of astronomy is extremely sketchy. We have known the sun is not the centre of the universe for MUCH longer than the hubble space telescope has been around. Dark matter is not at the center of the universe either. There is no “center”. 

  • theroadmaster

    I still do not think your analogy is appropriate as  “Catholic” and “Protestant” are not completely contradictory in terms of their beliefs.  They resemble eachother a lot more than the apparently non-compatibility of the concept “same-sex” marriage with the properly-understood version which has been celebrated since time immemorial.
    Your linkage of the push for same-sex couples to be given the chance to legally “marry” cannot be seen on the same level as famous past campaigns fought by abolitionists or the suffragettes.  Enslaved people and  disenfranchised women suffered grave injustices that societies put right after concerted pressure.  The current discussions over the definition of marriage presents is speciously being presented by some as a fight for “rights”.  But marriage by it’s nature involves the union of one man and one woman and open to procreation.  If one of these necessary conditions are deviated from, in some form of redefinition, it then ceases to be called marriage. To take another analogy, should men campaign for the right to get pregnant, even though Nature has not endowed them with a womb?

  • theroadmaster

    Elderly couples and infertile couples have been rendered sterile by circumstances beyond their control.  The former because they are at an advanced stage in life which is beyond child-bearing for women and the latter due to one or the other being effected by a medical condition.  This is somewhat different from the situation of same-sex couples who do not have the obvious complementary productive parts to produce children.  
    It is false to say that my arguments are based on “tradition”.  Traditions are essentially human but Nature is derived from a higher source, namely our Divine Creator.  Anthropologically as well as religiously, societies instinctively viewed the ceremonial celebration between a man and woman as being in the accepted order of life and an investment in the future well-being of society as in the propagation of the species.   Thus marriage is more profound than tradition as it is the cementing of the complementary union of man and woman who are open to a family.

  • Anonymous

    I have no need of mere beliefs to show that you have no moral truth. Your morals, or more correctly, the list of rules you have been told to obey are not absolute and therefore are not a truth. 

    If you firmly believe that Africans dying of starvation because of a lack of food and Africans and Bangladeshis dying because of lack of uncontaminated water is not over-population we have nothing further to discuss. So I’ll assume, conditional on further evidence, that you don’t believe it is correct that people should die because of lack of resources.

    Your general tone is quite parochial and only applies to Western society. You are right, religion has contributed to the shape of Western society. But it hasn’t contributed much to valuing human life and still doesn’t. Speak to Africans dying of HIV infection and tell them that condoms that would have reduced the incidence AIDS should not be used because of the unevidenced beliefs of a cult. Tell people that are dying from starvation that they should breed more so that more can starve to death for the appreciation of a Western belief. I’m sure they will appreciate it.

    You have a strange way of valuing human life.