Reproduction rendered unproductive Sexuality as individual expression of identity Same-sex 'marriage'
Acyclone of great confusion has enveloped us. Despite tremendous advancements in science and technology, and an abundance of communications media and information, confusion, not clarity, reigns supreme. Once caught up in the whirl of this vortex, all can seem equally valid and extrication from this trap can seem impossible and perhaps undesirable.
Perhaps this confusion is most readily present in the understanding of marriage, friendship and sexuality. The recent efforts for so-called marriage equality has heightened this confusion. Although a very clever slogan appealing to the best in us to be fair, the argument for marriage equality ignores concrete facts regarding human nature: We are created male and female by design and that sexual differentiation is oriented toward reproduction. Gender differentiation and procreation form constitutive elements of marriage. Absent these, it is friendship, not marriage.
And friendship is not a consolation prize for those with same-sex attraction. Deep friendship animated by caritas, which is the highest and fullest form of love, is what Jesus means when he commands his disciples to love one another as he has loved us.
For Catholics and all other Christians, defense of marriage is about upholding the Creator's blueprint of human existence. " 'The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator. ... God himself is the author of marriage.'
"The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution. ... 'The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.' "(Catholic Church's catechism).
Archbishop Charles Chaput notes the challenge for Christians. "Persons with same-sex attraction have the same basic dignity as other people and the same right to be free from fear and intimidation,'' the archbishop notes. "But a right to redefine the nature of marriage does not follow. In fact, the marriage debate has now morphed into emotionally streamlined theater, with same-sex couples cast as victims unjustly denied their rights, and supporters of traditional marriage cast as misguided fearmongers and bigots."
How have we arrived at this point?
Biology explains to us the purposes of each bodily system. The purpose of the circulatory system -- heart, lungs, and associated vessels -- is to transport the necessary nutrients to the cells of the body and carry waste products away. The purpose of the nervous system -- brain, spinal cord and nerves -- is to communicate and coordinate the movement of the body and function of individual organs. And the purpose of the reproductive system is to reproduce new human beings. In other words, sexual intercourse, the functioning of the reproductive system, is for creating babies.
Yet, somehow we have arrived at a point wherein the normal functioning of the reproductive system, sex, has been severed from its natural purpose -- reproduction. After several decades of promotion, marketing and widespread use of contraception, the intimate, essential link between sexual intercourse and procreation has been obscured for many. Thus, for many, the sterility, or hoped for sterility, of sex has become the norm. No longer is the reproductive system for reproduction.
Further adding to the confusion, new theories on sexuality have arisen that attack the other traditional ends of marriage -- mutual support of spouses. Dr. Helen Alvar' calls one such philosophy "sexual expressionism,'' defining it as the idea "that sex should not only be free of the slightest reflection on its link with procreation, but also free of commitment, or even the real possibility of a relationship between the man and the woman involved.'' One popular expression for this is "friends with benefits.'' According to Alvar', sexual expressionism asserts the priority of the individual and the individual expressing one's own identity, with whomever that might be, instead of sexual relations demonstrating a committed love and union of spouses.
In December, Pope Benedict identified a new threat to our understanding of the human person in the emerging theory that denies the nature of gender. Despite physical, bodily differences between male and female, some argue that their gender or sex is irrelevant to the nature of their person. "The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious,'' the pope warned. "People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.
"According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: 'male and female' he created them (Genesis 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: It was not God who created them male and female -- hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves.''
Yet marriage has always been about men and women, and for a reason. "Physical, moral and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out'' (catechism).
Although marriage equality argues for justice or equality, it is built on the false premise of purposely sterile reproduction and denial of gender. Yet, justice can only be justice if it is grounded in what is true, not simply in what is desired. Political correctness or compassion might seek to support persons with same-sex attractions. But that can in no way justify redefining marriage, which remains the strongest foundation for family life and children.
Where does that leave persons with same-sex attractions? Cardinal Timothy Dolan expressed well the attitude of the church. "The first thing I'd say to them is, 'I love you, too, and God loves you, and we want your happiness.' '' With God's grace and the support of the church, deep, holy friendships are their path to true happiness.
The Rev. Allan Wolfe is pastor of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church in Lancaster. He is also a correspondent for Lancaster Newspapers Inc. Email him at email@example.com.