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The marriage debate has made for some unlikely bedfellows

It is not just ‘bible-thumping Christians’ who oppose the change

By on Friday, 8 June 2012

Conjugality, the blog on the future of marriage that comes from MercatorNet, reports that “Preserve Marriage Washington” has filed a petition against the state’s new law allowing same-sex marriage (SSM) after collecting more than twice the number of signatures to block the law. The issue now goes to a state referendum later this year. It seems that if Washington follows the pattern in 30 other states, opponents of the new law will win.

In addition to Washington, three other states will vote on same-sex marriage this autumn. Maryland voters will decide whether to uphold SSM legislation passed earlier this year; Maine will revisit a marriage equality bill overturned by voters in 2009; and Minnesota is considering a constitutional amendment to ban SSM, similar to one adopted by North Carolina in May this year.

Conjugality comments that advocates of SSM have “so far been unable to post a victory” in a voter referendum on the subject. Voters have gone to the polls more than 30 times since 1998 to have their say. Those supporting a redefinition of marriage have lost every time. In the Church, when the body of the faithful, inspired by the Holy Spirit, upholds magisterial truth we call it the “Sensus fidelium”. It seems that the American public have their own common sense version of this: a sturdy wish to defend the status quo on marriage because instinctively they know it is the right thing to do.

That’s the American scene. Colin Hart, the campaign director of the Coalition for Marriage in the UK, reminds us that next Thursday, June 14, the Coalition’s public consultation on rewriting the meaning of marriage will close. He writes, “We know that public opinion is on our side. Our petition has been signed by almost 550,000 people”. He points out that seven out of ten people want to keep marriage as it is and asks, “What will marriage mean when your children or grandchildren walk down the aisle? Will it mean what it does today, or will it mean something different?” Do contact if you need advice on answering the Government’s consultation document. The SPUC also provides a briefing booklet with its own guidelines which is very helpful.

When this subject is raised on a Catholic blog site such as the Herald’s, it always provokes many (predictably) angry posts accusing us of “homophobia” and prejudice among other insults. Thus I was glad to discover that Spiked, “the independent online phenomenon dedicated to raising the horizons of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism” is also challenging the Government’s proposals to redefine marriage. Spiked, I hasten to emphasise, has no religious affiliations of any kind; indeed, its contributors take pride in their combatively secular approach to all moral questions. They are not pro-life. They are also republicans rather than royalists. Yet on this emotive issue they can recognise illiberalism (and misanthropy; you have to be misanthropic not to want to privilege the natural setting for the begetting of future members of the human race) from 100 paces.

Editor of Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, wrote an article earlier this year that argues “The gay-marriage juggernaut has nothing to do with liberty and everything to do with providing the elite with a new moral mission.” It is well worth reading for its hard-hitting deconstruction of the London metropolitariat. He is supported more recently by Sean Collins, a New York writer, who again from a secular perspective, has declared in a robust article “Why I’m coming out against gay marriage”. To summarise Collins’ arguments: he states (like O’Neill) that “the gay marriage campaign is elitist and believes its opponents are “bigots”; that “same-sex marriage is not a civil right”; that “traditional marriage and the family are worth defending from state intrusion”; and that “the question of gay marriage has yet to be fully decided.” In his conclusion he declares, “Well, count me out. I will not join the cultural elite’s bandwagon, a bandwagon that runs on self-flattery and the demonization of ‘backward’ voters. Critics of the same-sex marriage campaign are here and we’re not all bible-thumping Christians – get used to it.”

I should add that at the Herald we would not describe ourselves as “Bible-thumping Christians” either (no offence intended against our Evangelical brethren); we would argue from Scripture, tradition, the natural law and the “sensus fidelium” to keep marriage as it is. Sometimes worthy causes find unlikely bedfellows: thanks Spiked, for your ability to cut through the humbug and hypocrisy of the media elite’s current “crusade”.

  • JByrne24

    Please don’t quote (with quotation marks) that which I didn’t actually say.

  • jdhummerstone

     “Gay marriage will require changes in the law.
    It will require redefinition of “marriage” or “consummation”. Do you not agree?

  • jdhummerstone

     “A great deal of silliness and name-calling has been observed.
    That reminds me of somebody in a PG Wodehouse book who broke a glass and said, “This glass has become broken”.

  • jdhummerstone

    “…you may be unaware of the laughing-stock in which “the loony religious right” in the US is viewed in Europe by educated people.”
    Ooh, hark at him!

  • JByrne24

    I said I had I was leaving this thread after 2 days plus,but I feel that I must respond to you question.
    It’s really only a matter of reading this part of the Bible.

    I quote from Bible websites:
    Question: “Why did God allow polygamy / bigamy in the Bible?”

    Answer: The question of polygamy is an interesting one in that most people today view polygamy as immoral while the Bible nowhere explicitly condemns it. The first instance of polygamy/bigamy in the Bible was that of Lamech in Genesis 4:19: “Lamech married two women.” Several prominent men in the Old Testament were polygamists. Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, and others all had multiple wives. In 2 Samuel 12:8, God, speaking through the prophet Nathan, said that if David’s wives and concubines were not enough, He would have given David even more. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (essentially wives of a lower status), according to 1 Kings 11:3 

  • JByrne24

    “you have satisfied certain conditions under various EU Directives”

    No haven’t. It’s nothing to do with the EU. I could have a UK passport if I wanted one. But I can reside in the UK – as I have done from year zero – (without any passport if I wanted) with only a total of a few years in France.

  • JByrne24

    If anyone creates a definition now (in contrast with an understanding etc), then that would change on legal Gay marriage (together with the understanding of the word), I think, but I’m not a lawyer.

     It seems probable that “consummation” (in practice)  relies on the word of an individual at the moment – but again I’m not a lawyer. There is a Canon Law definition: “spouses have performed between themselves in a human fashion a conjugal act which is suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring, to which marriage is ordered by its nature and by which the spouses become one flesh.”
    This definition naturally would not apply to all marriages, when the law is changed. But I don’t think, at present, the Church would bother with a new definition.
    In the future, at some point, I think that this would happen however.

  • Simonhcm

    No they cannot. Either one of the partner can be the biological parent, but the other cannot, since both can only contribute either sperms or ova, but not both.

    But more fundamentally, a gay couple can never conceive naturally without some intervention. Not a single healthy gay couple will be able to beget children. Their love is naturally sterile and uncreative, and to try to steal the noble name of marriage for such the counterfeit denies heterosexual couples their fundamental right to such a noble and singularly creative relationship.

  • Isabel Wood

    Something that comes up every time in this debate is that gay couples can’t produce children together and therefore their attraction is inherently wrong. I genuinely want to understand because I don’t get it – why is being able to produce children so important? The world is so overpopulated already and there are so many children looking for homes, what is wrong with adoption? I think family life is one of the most important things, but why does it have to be biological family?
    If a heterosexual couple can never have children together, does it make their relationship intrinsically disordered?

  • JabbaPapa

    As if people cannot see with their own eyes that you have in fact used such words as I have quoted in reference to Catholic teachings and pseudo- “teachings” on more than one occasion.

  • JabbaPapa

    Good Catholics are not in a state of open rebellion and heterodoxy.

  • Lazarus

    Delighted to help out.

  • Lazarus

    ‘I believe that that is a summary of your own view. ‘
    It is indeed a summary of my view: that is why it is in my post rather than yours. 

    I have been told several times in combox debates that the only arguments against SSM are religious ones (by which the poster usually means ‘blind faith’ ones. I am also regularly told (and this is a characteristic feature of the Scottish debate) that this is an opportunity to demonstrate that ‘we’ (by which the poster means ‘not you Catholics’) are creating a new, modern nation free from the religious shadow of the past.

    You rather irrelevantly point out that very many supporters of SSM have said no such thing. Very possibly. Very many have. 

  • Lazarus

    ‘Heterosexual civil marriage is NOT now the prime way of producing and raising children.’
    This is quite indicative of your general inability to note the difference between a normative and descriptive claim. My claim was clearly a normative one: that we have an interest in promoting traditional marriage as the prime way…etc. But you’ve taken it as a descriptive one: that most people in fact raise children through traditional marriage.

    It’s a similar misunderstanding to the one you keep making about law: you seem to assume that any change in law is just a good thing. (Hand waving about evolving to meet ‘needs and challenges’ won’t do. There is a clear social purpose in keeping traditional marriage. Absolutely none in changing it.)

    You seem to have swapped your belief in God for a belief in the the blind force of ‘progress’.

  • Lazarus

    It combines accuracy and brevity: what’s not to like?

  • Mr Grumpy

    I set the report in the wider context of legislation designed to coerce Christians and others into acting against their consciences. If we keep looking at one tree at a time we might never notice that a wood is springing up – and that might suit some people very nicely.

  • JByrne24

    Another comment to which I can’t resist replying.

    I think you “don’t get it”, Isabel, because there is really nothing “to get”.

    As for making the marriage between a man and a woman intrinsically disordered if they choose not to, or cannot, have children – YES, that is exactly what most people in the Church actually DO say.
    I believe that the Church actually teaches that a marriage must be open to procreation to make it a valid marriage (in the eyes of the Church).

    This nonsense, of course, is not accepted by the state, and is only one of many consequences of the Church tying itself up in knots as a result of ancient beliefs that it seems reluctant (“frightened” is a better word) to discard.

  • JByrne24

    Its totally vacuous non-content and so Its total lack or any analysis.
    And the fact that it is not “a reply”.

  • Recusant

    You show your ignorance. In the UK, there is an established Church, hence the legal status of marriage is the same whether it is ministered by a registrar or by Anglican clergy. Hence whatever you mean by civil marriage and religious marriage has no meaning. 

    You post a lot on this site, and most of it is riddled with errors. I think a bit more reflection and a little less mouthing off would be beneficial for you and us.

  • JabbaPapa

    One continues to be unsurprised when the heterodox JB24 describes Catholic doctrine as “nonsense”.

  • hunhsa700

  • Leonnov

    This is interesting:
    “ALL incestuous marriage is forbidden, and there are good biological
    reasons for this. The State can forbid them because it is always a party
    in the marriage contract.”

    So, If SSM is permited, there should be no moral objection on marrying brothers, or sisters, or father and son, or mother and daughter, as they won’t be able to conceive…

  • Lexicographer

    There is an old verb “to wive”, which has fallen out of use long ago.  Perhaps we will have to revive it to describe traditional marriage. 

  • Doubter

    By the way, is there a Law against same-sex marriage.  Isn’t it merely a sham?