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There has been no debate on gay marriage – that’s why people are so angry about it

The Government has handled this issue extraordinarily badly

By on Monday, 10 December 2012

Opinion poll

When news broke last week that, according to Christian Concern, the Government was expected “to announce legislation for “Equal Civil Marriage” this week, I thought the timing quite deliberate. The run-up to Christmas would seem a good time, not exactly to “bury bad news” from the Government’s perspective, but to push this highly controversial piece of legislation past the public consciousness when most people’s minds are on the coming festivities.

Surely any debate on an “Equal Civil Marriage” Bill is too important to attempt to slide under the radar in this way? A cartoon by Adams in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday, 9th December, summed up the mood surrounding it in graphic fashion: on the left was a caricature of David Cameron in the House of Commons intoning the words, “If any of you here know of cause or just impediment…”.On the right was a series of bubbles deafening him with their adversarial fury.

In the same newspaper came news that some senior Conservatives, including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Alastair Burt and Patrick McLoughlin (a Catholic), have set up a group, called “Freedom to Marry”, “to campaign for same-sex couples to be allowed to get married in church.” This runs counter to what David Cameron originally proposed. I have before me a letter from my MP, John Bercow of 1 May 2012, in response to a letter I had sent him on the subject, which states “I strongly support the Government’s intention to legalise gay marriage, believing it to be right in principle and in practice.” He enclosed a letter sent to him by David Cameron, dated 26th March 2012, in which Cameron had written, “As you are aware, the proposal the Government is consulting on, which I personally support, is to lift the ban on same-sex couples marrying in a civil ceremony.” There is no mention or suggestion here of a church wedding.

But the issue runs much deeper than disputes as to where same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. The argument is not about venues (though the Churches have a legitimate concern that their authority to ban such events will be compromised); it is about the very nature of marriage. Former minister Nick Herbert, who is organising “Freedom to Marry”, shows some acknowledgment of this in his article in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, when he writes, “I appreciate that there are some who take a different view, including many who are not homophobic but have a profound religious conviction about the nature of marriage. We must conduct this debate in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding, and with regard to the special value for religious institutions.”

Those who oppose the proposed new legislation would say that there has been no real “debate” on the subject at all and that the Government is determined (with the tacitly approved help of a Labour and Lib Dem three-line whip) to get a majority vote in the Commons when the issue is raised early in the new year. They seem not to realise the gravity of what is likely to be forced on the country. Anne Widdecombe has pointed out, in her very courageous speech at the last Conservative Party Conference, that the word “marriage” “appears over 3,000 times in UK legislation, the word “husband” 1,000 times, “wife” about 900 times and the phrase “husband and wife” 350 times. “ She comments, “So any change is unlikely to be a simple matter.” She also points out that legislation will not give “a single extra right to anybody.”

Charles Moore, in an article in the Telegraph on Saturday, 8th December which discusses the Prime Minister’s determination to be “modern”, reinforces Anne Widdecombe’s speech with his own argument: “Gay marriage may sound like an extension of general modern niceness, but roughly 98% of the population are straight: how, in hard times, does the Government support their marriages? How does gay marriage sound to the ethnic groups?…Indeed, is “modernity” a sort of code-word for being quite southern, quite posh and quite little affected by recession?” He adds, “Being modern is essentially a matter of style rather than content, so it does not provide detailed answers to difficult questions. The latest, on gay marriage, are “What counts as consummation in gay relationships?” (This has to be established in order to make it the grounds for gay divorce, as it is for straight) and “Should gay people be allowed to marry in church?”…Yesterday he decreed that churches should, indeed, go gay.”

Today’s Telegraph reports that former premier Sir John Major is also “modern”; he has told Conservative critics and Church leaders that “they must move on” because “we live in the 21st century.”

Would it be possible to organise mass rallies in this country as occurred in France on November 17th? Sandro Magister of, describes what happened in France as a result of their government’s similar proposed legislation: “In Paris and in a dozen other cities, hundreds of thousands of people marched through the streets.” The demonstrations were organised by Frigide Barjot, pseudonym for the spokeswoman of the “Collectif pour l’humanite durable”, the socialist Laurence Tcheng of the association “La gauche pour le marriage republicaine” and Xavier Bongibault, an atheist and homosexual founder of “Plus gay sans marriage.” Only Barjot is a Catholic and “no Church association hoisted its banners.” This was a civil and secular demonstration in defence of an ancient and natural institution.

Is it possible to mobilise the same kind of peaceful protest over here?

  • Rizzo The Bear

    Like the US doctor who used his own sperm to treat infertile couples leading to many half-brothers and half-sisters? 5 years in jail and struck off the medical register!

    Who says it can’t or won’t happen here? Eh?For the love of All That Is Holy! Wake up!!!A petri-dish isn’t LOVE. It’s making what should be precious and with pure love a mere comodity… and the lives that are destroyed in the process on this petri-dish?You are something else!

  • Rizzo The Bear

    Didn’t the Nazis experiment with children, especially twins etc. in the concentration camps?

    It is no less evil today than 70 years ago.

    The thought of this sort of thing makes my spine chill!

  • Lazarus

    Sorry to push you on this, Paul, but since you seem to be regularly arguing that it is wrong to argue against same sex ‘marriage’ on the basis of the procreative end of marriage (“Marriage is about Love – so please do not argue ‘no its not about love – it’s about having and raising kids’”) I would like to clear this up -not least to make sure that I’m not making an error.

    1) To repeat my earlier questions: ‘ Do you consider an argument against same sex ‘marriage’ based on the procreative end of marriage to be illegitimate? If so why, in view of the clear use of this line of argument by Thomists?’ (See my citation of Tanquerey and Zigliara above.)

    2) I suspect that part of the problem here is we’re talking about two different things. You’re talking about the act of marrying (hence your focus on ‘aim’ and ‘intention’) whilst Aquinas, the manualists and Rerum novarum are talking about the institution of marriage as a quasi-substance (Zigliara talks about ‘una persona moralis’ arising from the union) with the consequent attribution to it of a nature based on its end (finis). As Aristotle puts it (Politics I 1252b30ff):

    “…the nature of a thing is its end. For what each thing is when fully developed, we call its nature, whether we are speaking of a man, a horse, or a family.”

    That end of marriage exists whatever the intention of those entering into it may be.

    So, looking back at Rerum Novarum (and on the assumption that the Latin is ‘finis’ (anyone have the Latin original? I can’t find it online!)), the end (ie nature) of marriage is the ‘procreatio atque educatio prolis’, whatever the aim or intention of those entering into it. It is that institution as a moral person that governments should respect by not (eg) confusing it with other types of relationship.

    (For those others who are reading this and who aren’t familiar with Aristotelian metaphysics, don’t assume that for something to have a goal or end (finis in Latin, telos in Greek) it has to be conscious:’Aristotle rejects the idea that intentions are a mark of goal-directed processes. For Aristotle, every regular natural process, whether intentional or not, aims at some end.’ (Vella: Aristotle a Guide for the Perplexed, p78).)

  • mark startin

    As in Mark 12:30-31.

    Should we not measure our reaction to same-sex marriage by these words?

    Many of the pronouncemnets in Paul’s Epistles require complex exegesis to determine the precise meaning, and even then there is doubt.  Jesus’s words are a clear message.

  • Sweetjae

    Agreed, however, the unitive aspect of marriage (sexual pleasure) is also as equally important end that is part of natural law. The point is without one (unitive and procreative) is against the natural law thus against the Will of God. This is the reason why I put the blame on Lambeth Conference in 1930 that opened the floodgates.

  • Sweetjae

    The Church, the Pope and the people have no power to change the Rule, so sorry, its non-negotiable. We are not the ones making the Rules, they were just laid out openly, either we take it as is or just leave. We have chosen the former.

  • Sweetjae

    Mark 12:30 is not even related to gay-marraiage but our attitude towards loving God with all our heart. Jesus Christ also taught that the second greatest commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself. The Catholic Church and her faithful people through the ages always follow those 2 great commandments, in fact, the Catholic Church is the largest charitable institution in the world, second to none!

    However, if you imply that one can be in good standing with God even if he continously and deliberately commit sin, then, you are gravely mistaken Mark. Jesus Christ is very tolerant and forgiving to sinners but He also said to that sinner ….DO NOT SIN NO MORE! Or else Fires of Gahenna! Hopefully you also read that part.

  • Sweetjae

    There is always a choice. There is no science of DNA, Physiology, Biology nor Anatomy to prove homosexuality. If you point to behavioral physchology, a lot were tainted with agendas not really science.

  • Sweetjae

    But Mark what is natural about negative and negative? Even in the science of Mathematics (the algorithm of natural law) says it’s no-no.

  • karlf

    Why on earth would anyone choose to be homosexual? How could one change their sexual nature?

  • Sweetjae

    We call it, giving in to one’s inclination to sin that, in this case deviant sexual behaviour. We all have it (appetite and inclination) whether gay or straight, the concupiscence to sin. Pleasure overrides our conscience of right and wrong.

  • Sweetjae

    There is a fallacy here, nature can not be changed, it’s either a plug or a socket, you are refering probably to the freewill of that nature.

  • Sweetjae

    Thanks, so ypu would like to know the Truth? Not just “truth” from somebody who claims he got it that actually might be false, including us Catholics, right? I truly understand you for I was in the same predicament before until…

    We know the truth about the Earth, the Biology of Organic Life and the Universe (though still limited) through Science, so by this reality we know there is Truth and that it is real and this Truth can not just exist by itself or cause itself to exist, for something can not come from nothing. Logical, right?

    So there must be a Supreme Creator, a Cause that is Uncaused, that caused things to exist. You are there as you say you are Agnostic.

    Now, this Creator who obviously loved His own creation including human beings (Life and rational thinking) and have given the physical world for human sustenance and keeping thus LOGICALLY FOLLOWS that this Creator wouldn’t let them be lost forever in uncertain, insecure, unsure and vague position.

    So here comes Jesus Christ, either you consider Him:

    1. A liar
    2. A lunatic
    3. He is what He claims to be, a saving God.
    4. Just a good philosopher and teacher.

    The fourth is non-essential because Jesus didn’t leave much room for that but before you choose, remember He backed-up all His claims with proof. Google them, samples Miracle at Lanciano, Lourdes etc.

  • Sweetjae

    Jesus didn’t mention gay lifestyle or marriage itself but it doesn’t mean He tolerated this behaviour no more than serial killing which He didn’t mention too.

  • mark startin

    I did say Mark 12:30-31.

    I was suggesting that we should approach the issue with the the thought of loving our neighbour at the forefront of our hearts.

    BTW – it is spelt ‘Gehenna’.

  • Lazarus

    Thanks for digging the Latin out, Jabba. The ‘caussa praecipua’ refererred to is clearly the final cause (finis) specified by (eg) Tanquerey in the quote given above: ‘Matrimonii finis primarius est procreatio atque educatio prolis…’

    To take the quote from Aquinas (STh IIIa q29 a2 resp) that Paul brought in above:

     ‘Now perfection of anything is twofold; first, and second. 
    The first perfection of a thing consists in its very form, from which it
    receives its species; while the second perfection of a thing consists 
    in its operation, by which in some way a thing attains its end. Now the 
    form of matrimony consists in a certain inseparable union of souls, by 
    which husband and wife are pledged by a bond of mutual affection that 
    cannot be sundered. And the end of matrimony is the begetting and 
    upbringing of children…’

    So I read that as stating that the form (the first entelechy or operatio) of marriage is (a particular type) of union, and the end (the second entelechy/operatio) is the procreatio and educatio prolis. Given that (particularly when dealing with living substances) the nature of a thing is given by its end (see the quote from Aristotle’s Politics above but it’s really a commonplace of Aristotelian metaphysics) it’s clear that Aquinas here is being completely consistent with the manualists and Rerum Novarum: the telos/finis of marriage is procreation and the education of children.

    I appreciate to others looking in this might appear as a rather abstruse debate, but at stake is a practical question: is the defence of natural marriage on the basis of its procreative and educative end consistent with Catholic doctrine and the natural law? Thank you, Jabba, for reinforcing my understanding that it is.

  • Lazarus

    I agree completely on Lambeth!

    On the unitive end, you’re right to point it out as important, although (as you’ll see from my other comments on this thread) I think it’s also important to remember that (certainly from the Thomist perspective) procreation and upbringing are the primary end.

    Another thing to consider here is that sexual union itself is inherently oriented towards procreation: roughly, the idea of sex doesn’t make sense unless it is understood as having procreation as its end. (Which isn’t the same as saying that it has to be consciously willed as an end: merely that the biology of sex is inherently directed at procreation.)

  • paulpriest

     Dig away!
    You don’t seem to be understanding what I’m saying as it is anyway.

    It’s quite simple – the ratio esse of marriage is the unifying bond of love – the aim [telos] of marriage is to fulfil that love to its utmost and being open to God’s procreative grace and becoming a family mirroring the relationship within the Blessed Trinity.
    Those who are unable to be graced with their own children [although having the opportunity to achieve the aim through personally adopting or extending care to children through corporal and spirutal works of mercy] still fulfil the nature of marriage – they are simply through natural moral disorder unable to fulfil the ultimate aim of marriage.

    This is a solid argument to confront the intrinsic grave moral disorder of same-sex unions.

    You must have by now witnessed the present media farce where we have had Catholic Voices arguing that the nature/purpose of marriage is the bearing and raising of children… which the opponent responds “But you let infertile and menopausal couples marry – so what’s the difference between them and same-sex couples?”

    To which they are left speechless & stumped and have to avoid answering the question by appealing to the  cultural/traditional habit of marriage being solely between a man and a woman and it not belonging to the state or any religion etc…they screw up the doctrinal and moral position and are left in the void – appearing hypocritical and irrationally institutionally homophobic.

    If you answer the question correctly and speak of the nature/purpose of marriage being unifying bonds of love which are directly axiomatically linked towards the end of bearing and raising children you can then authentically confront the opposition by arguing that same-sex couples are inherently unable to fulfil that complementary unifying love and the absolute impossibility of them to consummate their attraction physically – even before one addresses the notion of children they are automatically negated from the whole marriage paradigm – even the law recognises that!

    [hence the necessity for them to abolish marriage, remove the very notion of consummation and instead universalise civil partnerships and rename it marriage]

    We can’t fight against same-sex unions by rewriting Catholic teaching so it looks like more of a weapon against the argument…
    Because when it’s used like this it falls apart and leaves us weaponless….
    Humanae Vitae teaches the inseparability of the unifying and procreative nature of lovemaking
    - I’m getting somewhat peeved that many especially of the traditionalist ilk are equivocating the unifying love with the secondary exigents of companionship and sexual continency – they are NOT the same things and accentuating the procreative aspect to the detriment of the unifying is lethal and erroneous.

    If we use the actual teaching we can then argue about real complementary marital physical love versus destructive abusive narcissistic mutual masturbation [an argument which doesn't merely specifically target same-sex couples but also attacks any who engage in the contrraceptive mentality]
    …but Catholic Voices won’t argue the whole ‘mutual masturbatory/contraceptive’ nature of that which isn’t the fullness of marital love….
    ..and one has to wonder whether it’s on grounds of either ‘media-taste’ or antagonism to the doctrine itself? [we can hardly forget the repeated media-gaffes re contraception and condoms or their appeal to Rhonheimer's 'prophylactic intention' or their misinterpretation of His Holiness's words re condoms in 'Light of the World']

  • Lazarus

    Completely agree about starting with ‘loving your neighbour’. But it is precisely that care for others that motivates the Church’s teaching: it believes that homosexual activity is bad for the person concerned and that same sex ‘marriage’ is bad for society.

    You, of course, will reject the Church’s conclusions. But the motivation is indeed love, so simply quoting Mark doesn’t help. You have to show why the Church is wrong in its understanding of human flourishing. (And it’s reasonably clear that your case has to amount to something more than: ‘people want to do this’. Generally, but particularly in matters sexual, our desires are not always a good guide to flourishing.)

  • Lazarus

    Agreed. As soon as you start treating people like lego bricks to be made and remade in whatever way your whim takes you, we’re in trouble.

  • Nesbyth

    The Rev George Pitcher (a former advisor to Rowan Williams) when asked by Ed Stourton on Radio4′s Sunday Programme (9th Dec) whether he agreed with Cameron’s latest idea for Gay Marriage  replied

    “NO, it’s a fatuous piece of legislation from a lightweight Prime Minister. It’s a bone thrown to Nick Clegg who’s lost on everything else; not really very intelligent at all….David Cameron has not concentrated nor thought it through.”

    Forthright words with which I, for one,agree

  • Nesbyth

    I think that it’ll a more profound change to the legal system than you realise.
    It’s not simply a cause for those with”fundamentalist religious axes to grind”
    as you reckon.

  • Nesbyth

    Some Gay people are NOT pro marriage. I know two quite prominent Gays who do NOT support it, but who have been made to feel like traitors to the cause by fellow gays and even by non-gays who are in the liberal/cuddly camp.

  • paulpriest

     No Sorry Lazarus that’s the exact diammetric opposite of what I’m arguing…
    and the END is not the Nature even though it is intrinsically inseparable from it and yes as Aristotle attests is a natural function of it – the END is the aim towards the nature’s perfection and those naturally limited from achieving that perfection still fulfil the nature of that state of being. The marriage of the infertile is limited by a natural moral disorder – it is NOT inherently morally disordered.

    I am arguing that we MUST use the real Catholic teaching against same-sex marriage
    [Unitive Nature- Procreative end]
    ..otherwise we fall into their trap!

    If we falsely argue ‘procreative nature’ this automatically negates infertile and menopausal couples – even Our Lady & St Joseph cease to be truly married.

    If we argue a procreative end from a unitive nature
    - even though it SEEMS to concede some quasi-agreement with the argument of same-sex couples that they are seeking a unifying bond  in love and naturally prevented from procreating….
    - we can then maintain an authentic fully cogent, coherent and sound argument that it is the very impossible nature of same-sex couples being unable to actuate a complementary physical and spiritual consummating love which proscribes them from marriage.

    They can’t marry because they can’t make love – they’re not designed to make love.
    They can abuse each other to pleasure themselves but any unifying other than by emotion or individual destructively compromising onanist orgasm is impossible.

    Irrespective of their inability to procreate – it’s already intrinsically impossible for them to unify

    Therefore in order for the law to be changed they don’t merely have to remove the procreative nature of marriage – they have to remove the unifying nature of marriage too!!!
    It’s no longer a legal consummated marriage.
    It’s a universalised companionship contract of civil partnership.
    Marriage in its totality is being abolished – not merely redefined [which is why I'm pulling out my hair every time our side keep whining on about marriage redefinition!]

    Which is why the Church MUST come out more strongly and has no other choice than to utterly remove itself from the Civil Marriage process – because Civil Marriages will no longer exist and a Catholic Marriage will have to create that very nature for itself…and automatically bring itself to an absolute impasse with the state itself.
    It will become like a volte-face – the Church will be at war with the state over who is and who isn’t married and who can or cannot marry.

    What happens when the Church finds no grounds to prevent a couple from marrying on principle that a previous marriage was annulled due to non-consummation – yet the State turns round and declares “Whoah you can’t because that person is already in a “new marriage/civil partnership” “?

    The canonical repercussions for annulments and the very nature of marriage become earth-shattering.
    What happens to Pauline & Petrine privileges?

    What happens to the determination of whether non-Catholic baptised couples entering into the ‘New Marriage’ universalised Civil Partnership are truly married or not?
    They won’t be – because marriage with its intrinsically consummating nature – WON’T EXIST!
    They won’t be making the fundamental crucial intrinsic promises to marry and fulfil its obligations – they’ll be becoming asexualised civil partners!!!

    Church legislation and teaching is going to have to be totally rewritten in regard to this nature – because civil marriages reflecting the contractual bonds and commitments of real marriage will cease to exist!

    Despite Archbishop Nichols and Smith’s statement yesterday I’m afraid it’s they who have not seriously considered the repercussions of what’s happening
    [which is hardly surprising considering their almighty misunderstanding, screw-up and defiant misrepresentation of the Church's teaching on Civil partnerships [until the Vatican intervened]

    In summation: Same-Sex couples can’t merely not procreate – they can’t unify either.
    Hence once this same-sex legislation is implemented marriage will cease to exist.

    ..and the Church will have to institute it for themselves with absolutely no adherence to English Law.

  • Popadopulous

    I suppose the next thing will be a plea for the government to shift multi-billions into research laboratories to enable men to have babies.

  • Nesbyth

    And the Rev George Pitcher was rather good on Cameron when interviewed by Ed Stourton on the Sunday Programme (Radio4 Dec 9th). When asked by Stourton if he agreed with Cameron’s latest foray into the Gay Marriage legislation, Pitcher replied,

    “No, it’s a fatuous piece of legislation from a lightweight Prime Minister. It’s a bone thrown to Nick Clegg who’s lost on everything else; not really very intelligent at all…David Cameron’s not concentrating nor thought it through” 

    I agree.

  • Lazarus

    1) ‘You must have by now witnessed the present media farce where we have had Catholic Voices arguing that the nature/purpose of marriage is the bearing and raising of children…’

    I have no particular axe to grind in favour of Catholic Voices. But they are correct in principle arguing that the nature/finis/telos/second perfection/ratio essendi  (all of which are synonymous here) is the procreation and raising of children. Frankly, that’s clear from Aquinas, the manualists and Leo XIII.

    (Whether prudentially they should try and widen the debate to add in revelation (‘mirroring the relationship within the Blessed Trinity’) I would doubt, but there can clearly be diverging views on this.)

    2) ‘to which the opponent responds “But you let infertile and menopausal couples marry – so what’s the difference between them and same-sex couples?” To which they are left speechless & stumped’

    Well, if they are left speechless and stumped, they shouldn’t be. The end of marriage is procreation and the raising of children: that is the end of the institution. Why people enter into it and who is let into it are a different issue. (Rather like the distinction between the end of a library (reading) and why some people go into it (to keep warm).) It’s quite clear that homosexual couples can’t have children (putting aside Meena’s dream of growing children in the lab) and shouldn’t be allowed to marry. Other cases have to be explained on their merits. (For example, are people really going to advocate state intrusion into people’s fertility?)

    3) You are of course absolutely right in saying that homosexuals do not engage in sexual union in the sense that they do not engage in physical activity which has the objective end of procreation: hence even the (secondary) unitive purpose of marriage is impaired by its lack of procreative function. But to think of this  as an effective argument in the public space is implausible: there is some chance (within a TV spot) of convincing an audience that marriage is for procreation. The chances of reversing at least forty years of misinformation about sex and getting them to believe that sex objectively is about procreation is almost nil. (Although I’d agree that the Church has to start working harder on a long run campaign to get this message over, at least to Catholics.) In any case, to argue that the secondary (unitive) end of marriage should be brought into a public argument as well as the primary (procreative) end is again a matter of prudence: all media arguments are going to be incomplete and it’s always going to be a difficult matter to decide where to stop.

    4) ‘I’m getting somewhat peeved that many especially of the traditionalist ilk…’

    Can’t speak for Jabba, but I’m simply trying to clarify the position in natural law, particularly from a Thomist standpoint which I think you’ve misunderstood. There has undoubtedly been a change in emphasis (particularly by the Blessed John Paul) on the relationship between the unitive and procreative ends of marriage. It is entirely possible to understand this under a hermeneutic of rupture, regarding the Church’s position as having changed to reverse the Thomist emphasis on procreation as the primary end. (Indeed, it’s quite clear that it is this emphasis on the unitive aspect that has led many Tabletistas to support same sex ‘marriage’ (quite mistakenly as you point out). I would prefer to follow the Holy Father in adopting a hermeneutic of continuity, where we do not dump clear scholastic and earlier Papal teaching that marriage’s primary end is the procreation and education of children.

  • paulpriest

     You’re still not getting this – The CVs were not arguing the AIM or Primary end – they were arguing that procreation is the very purpose/reason/ratio esse of marriage existing.- in other words it’s a breeding programme and the unifying aspect is merely secondary rather than its fundamental nature.

    Why do you keep repeating primary end as if that’s a contradiction of what I’m arguing? There is a crucial difference between what marriage is and what it is for.

  • paulpriest

     ..and this in no way contradicts what I said in the first place!!! [bangs head]

  • paulpriest

     Yep – from what you’re saying it looks like you’ve completely misunderstood what I’ve said and what the ‘media representatives’ are saying and in the process utterly misrepresenting and distorting Catholic teaching. I am in NO WAY attempting to reframe Catholic teaching in the light of JPII or theology of the Body or emphasise some contr-catholic ‘liberal’ reinterpretation of marriage…
    My position which I have permanently stated on here IS authentic Catholic teaching that Marriage is a Loving Union  directed by its very being to be procreative.
    What the CVeebies are saying is like some pseudo-form of Darwinism, Stalinism, Brave New World-ism and Eastern arranged marriage – that Marriage is for the propagation of the species and all other concerns are secondary. Loving Union is what marriage is – and that love is intrinsically  directed by its very nature to overflow in love into receiving the gift of new life – but we’re verging on Dawkinsian selfish gene aberrations if we deny the crucial loving union at the very heart of it.

  • Lazarus

    ‘There is a crucial difference between what marriage is and what it is for.’

    No. That’s where you’re mistaken. The end (as the actualization (operatio) of the form) defines marriage, just as it defines any substance (particularly living ones).

    a) To repeat the earlier quote from Aristotle: (Politics I 1252b30ff):

    “…the nature of a thing is its end. For what each thing is when fully developed, we call its nature, whether we are speaking of a man, a horse, or a family.”
    b) To quote from the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy on Aristotle’s understanding of causes:

    ‘This [ie Phys. 198 a 23–26] is one of the several times where Aristotle offers the slogan “it takes a man to generate a man” (for example, Phys. 194 b 13; Metaph. 1032 a 25, 1033 b 32, 1049 b 25, 1070 a 8, 1092 a 16). This slogan is designed to point at the fundamental fact that the generation of a man can be understood only in the light of the end of the process; that is to say, the fully developed man. What a fully developed man is is specified in terms of the form of a man, and this form is realized in its full development at the end of the generation.’

  • Lazarus

    ‘No Sorry Lazarus that’s the exact diammetric opposite of what I’m arguing’

    Yes, I know, and I think you’re mistaken in your argument. You’re again confusing the act of getting married (which may have all sorts of motivations, good or bad) with the nature of the institution of marriage as a quasi-substance.

    Any talk of ‘aim/goal/purpose/intention’ which draws distinctions between these words in the case of an action is irrelevant to the nature of marriage as an institution. There you have the only four aitiai (causes) of Aristotelian explanation to choose from: ie, material, efficient, formal and final causes. I assume we can agree that the material and efficient causes are irrelevant here?

    That leaves us with the formal and final causes which. in living things, are taken together as the final cause which is primary explanation of any substance:

    ‘Another meaning of cause is found in other causes, i.e., insofar as the end or the good has the nature [ratio] of a cause. And this species of cause is the most powerful of all the causes, for the final cause is the cause of the other causes… And to this extent the end is called the cause of causes.’

    (Aquinas’ commentary on the Physics,  Lecture 5, s. 186 

    This is what Aquinas is talking about when he talks (in STh IIIa q29 a2 resp) about the second perfection -procreation and education- of marriage: the end (final cause) of marriage is the actualization (operatio) of the form (ie a specific type of sexual union oriented towards procreation and education of children).

    I’m sorry to keep hammering at this, but you’re using a misunderstanding of Thomism to suggest that some lines of argument used by fellow Catholics (including myself) are not ‘real Catholic teaching’. They are certainly incomplete Catholic teaching, but a) that’s inevitable and b) they are based on the natural law as understood by Thomists and there is a strong Catholic tradition of using this in separation from revealed divine law.

    I pursue some more of the metaphysical detail in a comment below. But to take up something which I suspect you are (rightly) particularly worried about:

    ‘The marriage of the infertile is limited by a natural moral disorder – it is NOT inherently morally disordered.’

    Again, there is no question of moral disorder being at stake here: that would be a question about the reasons people undertake the act of marrying rather than of the nature of the institution itself. An infertile marriage is still a marriage because its is oriented towards procreation: the fact that the end (ie the actualization of the form) is frustrated is no more a reason for saying that it is not a marriage than it is for saying that a child was not a child simply because it died before adulthood. (But it would still be the end of the child (ie its nature) that it was ‘for the sake of’ the adult human being.)  

  • paulpriest

     No – you’re implying that just because the aspects within something are inextricably linked with a divine mysterious inseparability there’s no difference between the aspects of esse and existens – it’s a virtual monophysitism.

    Yes something is crucially imperatively inseparably determined by its end but it doesn’t negate what it is in itself towards that end – nor is it inexistent by being unable to achieve that end.

    Are infertile couples married?
    If they are – why are they?

    The answer’s already inherent – and for some reason you’re trying to imply that I’m saying the absolute reverse of what I’m saying – I repeat I am not making any namby-pamby attempt to intensify the unitive nature in line with modern theology of the body sentiments or diminish in any way the intrinsic procreative end of marriage – I’m not making any attempt to ‘positively reframe’ nor emphasise in any way that which is not Traditional Catholic teaching on the issue.

    Marriage is indeed for the bearing and rearing of children but that is NOT solely what it is and if the bearing and rearing of children is not possible it does not introduce any moral disorder upon the marriage itself. I repeat a natural moral disorder limits the marriage but the marriage is not morally disordered.

    Why do you think I went absolutely ballistic at Fr Dylan James when he attempted to call NFP a ‘limited minor good’ rather than a moral disorder mitigated within the double effect which can never be determined as a ‘good-in-itself’ rather must be at most considered critical right action?
    Because it repudiates the nature of marriage itself – imposing a moral disorderliness on those unable to achieve ts aim [but still fulfil its nature] and scandalises those unable to conceive children by implication of their being ‘less good’.

    Why do you think I was livid at Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith when he came out with the most banal and thoughtlessly inadvertently callous statement  about ‘the awkwardness of marrying infertile couples’ as if there was some axiomatic moral disorder within the very thing itself rather than in external providential natural moral disorder?

    Marriage IS a unifying bond of love – a love which is inextricably determined in its aim to intensify and overflow and receive the gift of new life…
    But if that love is unable to fulfil that end of new life?
    It’s fine to say the nature is in the aim – but it is wrong to say the nature IS the aim because if the aim is unachievable it denies the nature itself!!!!

  • Lazarus

    To quote you: 
    “Marriage is about Love – so please do not argue ‘no its not about love – it’s about having and raising kids’”

    To quote Zigliara:

    Nam matrimonium ordinatur ad generationem prolis, quae nonnisi per diversi sexus personarum commixtionem potest haberi. Unde inter personas ejusdem sexus variae conjunctionis species esse possunt, non autem unio quae sit matrimonium.

    [For matrimony is ordered to the generation of offspring which can only occur through the combining of persons of different sexes. Therefore, although there may be various sorts of relationship between persons of the same sex, there may not be the union which is marriage.]

    I can’t imagine anyone arguing that marriage doesn’t involve love, but many relationships do realize love without being marriage. (Have a look at Aristotle’s discussion of philia in Books VIII and IX of the Nicomachean Ethics.) But the reason why same sex love cannot be marriage is not the lack of love, but, as Cardinal Zigliara states, because of their lack of procreative potentia.

    Or did he get it wrong as well…?

    [Sits back wearily.]

  • paulpriest

     For the last time – I am NOT SAYING that you or anyone on here is misrepresenting Catholic teaching about marriage.

    BUT I REPEAT – Those allegedly representing us – by going on TV and the radio and saying the purpose of marriage is not about love rather it is bearing and raising children – NOTE – purpose i.e. reason for being/nature/ratio esse are consequently arguing…

    “You can’t get married because you can’t have kids”

    [do you need me to provide the media links?  They're repeatedly saying this - together with such inanities about it being a natural evolutionary cultural by-product and not in the remit of state or religion to touch...]

    Marriage is a supernatural gift conferred by God where two become one flesh and share in one nature. [Three to make a marriage' as Fulton Sheen reminds us]

    Now yes – mentioning homosexual acts might be awkwardly tasteless or indecorous or counterproductive in a realm of ‘positive reframing via thought triangles and providing less heat and more light to win hearts rather than arguments’….

    But it’s the truth – homosexuals can’t merely not procreate – they can’t unify – they cannot manifest their love physically…

    So when they throw back the the question
    “What’s the difference between homosexual couples and infertile couples?”
    We can respond “Everything – they can unify – something which is impossible for homosexuals”

    …it might not be as media-effective or utilitarianistically efficacious but it’s the truth! might lead to all manner of accusations of being homophobic – but that is better than arguing something which is not true and being interpreted as being institutionally homophobic on the grounds of prejudicially allowing infertile to marry on the identical grounds which we prohibit same-sex couples!!!???

    The Truth can’t hurt us.
    Denying the truth because it’s non-media-savvy and leads to awkwardly intimate issues is no justification….

  • Lazarus

    1) “BUT I REPEAT – Those allegedly representing us – by going on TV and the radio and saying the purpose of marriage is not about love rather it is bearing and raising children – NOTE – purpose i.e. reason for being/nature/ratio esse are consequently arguing…”
    With the proviso that they are not excluding love as an element within marriage (and I’d be amazed if anyone was) if they are doing that, they are correct: the purpose/ ratio essendi/ reason for being etc (ie the final cause or telos) is indeed procreation and education of children. That’s precisely the point at issue between us.

    2) ‘…such inanities about it being a natural evolutionary cultural by-product and not in the remit of state or religion to touch’ 

    Again, subject only to the proviso that details are not being added by the speakers which materially affect what’s said here, they are correct in this. a) Church and state are bound both bound to respect the natural law and the procreative nature of marriage. b) Evolution and culture are the material/efficient causes of marriage: they do not affect the question of the final cause. (So, more broadly, the  fact that (eg) our sexual instincts may be explicable historically as having arisen from a process of natural selection  does not undermine their teleology.)

    Paul, I’m going to call pax on this discussion! I think you’ve misunderstood the Thomist background to the issue, but I’ve made that background as clear as I can within the space of a combox. I certainly haven’t come on here to engage in prolonged arguments with someone whose attachment to orthodox Catholicism I share. If your argument is that the Catholic case could be better put by referring more to the unitive purpose of marriage, then perhaps. (Personally I’m not convinced, but it’s a tricky one to call.)

    If your argument is that CV and others are wrong in principle to focus on procreation as the primary end of marriage, well, there we disagree and I’ve given the references to back up my argument.

    Anyway, God bless you! (And if you think I’m still in error, I’d ask for your prayers that I’m enlightened.)

  • paulpriest

     Oh for crying out loud that quote was in response to what’s been said in the media – as you fully know from what’s been said in the media and what I have said at least a dozen times elsewhere on these threads…

    Why do you persistently infer things I would never say?

    Now you can say ‘I can’t imagine anyone arguing…”
    Well you need to imagine a little further because that’s exactly what the argument has been distorted into – with ‘loving union’ being thrown in as a merely secondary exigent…
    …and all because they don’t want to awkwardly address the non-unifying nature of homosexual acts!!!

  • paulpriest

     God bless you too but you’re still not getting it – this has nothing to do with CV arguing for procreation as the primary end – but the primary perfection – which it isn’t!!!

  • la catholic state

    One may or may not choose to be gay…..but one certainly choose to indulge or not in homosexual activity which is sinful.  No marriage can be based on that which is sinful..

    And actually… is easier to change from being gay than to change from being a believing Catholic.  To do that is to ask a Catholic to go against their conscience.  Not possible.

  • karlf

    I don’t know what you mean. If someone is born gay, that must be part of nature. Is a child with Downs Syndrome against nature or part of nature?

  • karlf

    How would you change from being gay? I can’t see how I would ever find a man sexually attractive however hard I tried.

  • Sweetjae

    As what I have posted previously, there is no one born gay per se, because it cannot be proven by any Scientific medium whether Physiological, Anatomical and Biological means. None. It is therefore based on behavioral realm after a person is born. Anyways, your example is again ambiguous, because the illness should not be considered a part of the nature of the child rather, it is an anomaly or abnormality happened during the normal development of the child (whether due to malfunctioned DNA or mother’s smoking). Even if we consider this anomaly (down syndrome) as part of the child’s nature (due to inherited DNA) still it can be both proven by all of the above Scientific means, meaning tangible proofs, whereas the “nature” of being gay can not.

  • Sweetjae

    Agreed, i posted it somewhere that the end must be always open to life.

  • karlf

    That cannot be proven does not mean homosexuality is not a purely natural phenomenom. As I asked before, why and how would someone transform themselves to be gay?
    “It is therefore based on behavioral realm after a person is born” you don’t know this, so why are you stating it?
    “it is an anomaly or abnormality happened during the normal development of the child” – perhaps with homosexuality, and other psycological anomalies and hare lips, blindness, deafness etc.
    It seems you are being selective about what you want to see as being natural, and it hardly sounds very scientific.

  • JabbaPapa

    The issue is whether to indulge yourself in sexual intercourse or not.

  • Sweetjae

    Loving your neighbor is precisely what the Catholic Church is doing towards the poor, marginalized and gays. Would you like your own child to smoke even if he tells you it gives him pleasure? Look at Lazarus’ reply below it’s much clearer.

    Anyways, sorry for the double dip (negative), Math is my primary language, English is just third.

  • Sweetjae

    Nice….right on the red Mark!

  • NewMeena

    You may go and have a fight if you wish – and if you can find someone who wants to fight with you. 

    I don’t want to fight Catholics. Catholics are free (and should be free) to do what they want, among themselves and with others who share their opinions, as regards marriage (and numerous other things). 

    What I DO strongly object to are their attempts (and that of some others) to impose their opinions on others who do not share them, and who genuinely hold their different opinions as strongly as Catholics hold theirs.

    This is a very simple idea. 

  • NewMeena

    Can you not find some windmills?

  • NewMeena

    Gay people wish to have the right of marriage which is recognised by the state.

    Although I am not gay, and enjoy a heterosexual marriage, I am 100% certain that there is no pretense in gay love.

    As regards “disgusting” matters: your final sentence disgusts me.