With all the hutzpah about marriage these days surrounding the debate between traditional marriage defenders vs. those who would like to allow same-sex marriages, I am finally going to stick my own neck out here with a few observations. And to be sure about things here, I have people quite close and quite dear to me, who are of the homosexual persuasion. So, let me make this clear up front; that this is in no way a judgement upon them. Instead, I would hope and pray that they, as well as heterosexuals, better understand a few things here. This is a study of what marriage is, and is not, for both sides.
First and foremost, I would like to ask a question: "Is Marriage A Right?" For this seems to be the crux of the argument for same-sex partners, who believe that they are being denied a certain "right" to marry ... sounds plausible enough. We do not want to believe that our society denies anyone any of their rights. But what is this right to marry really all about? And is it a right?
To begin answering these questions, let's first take a real good look at what "marriage" actually is ... what is the nature of marriage ... who originally came up with the idea ... and what is it's purpose? For I personally believe, that all of our modern society has lost the true meaning and definition of marriage ... and I don't think it just happened overnight. For a long time now, our society has seemed to hold a rather sophomoric view of marriage; one which is not all that different from two kids going steady in school. Then, of course, with the onset of the 60's and the "free love" philosophies, marriage and its' purpose became a complete blur. But, I would say, that the true meaning of marriage had already been being slowly eroded long before the 60's.
The threat to marriage began a while back, with the commonplace acceptance of divorce. To cite a bit of history here, for Christians, divorce became acceptable with Martin Luther's reformation. Luther believed that marriage was not something between a man and woman and God, ie. a sacrament as the Church had long held, but a mere contract between a man and woman, who could make or break that contract at will. Henry the XVIII soon took advantage of this new approach, to rid himself of one wife, and replace her with another.
But we know that divorce was not something new with Martin Luther or Henry XVIII, nevertheless, the Christian world had long accepted Christ's words that "whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery" - Luke 16:18. Martin Luther and all who followed his lead, no longer heeded this particular scripture.
But, even among Protestant reformers and their followers, divorce was still an ugly word which continued to carry a stigma. The monarchs of England, though they were heads of the Church of England, were nevertheless forbidden to divorce and remarry.
So, back to the original question: "Is Marriage a Right"? To answer that question, let's start at the beginning, and bear with me to take a quick look at a bit of scripture here. In Genesis Chapter 1:27, we read: "God created man in his image. In the Image of God He created them. Male and Female He created them." Verse 28 goes on to report, "Then God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." Finally, in Gen. Ch. 2 verse 24 we read: "For this reason a man leaves his father and mother, and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh."
Ok, that's pretty clear to me. Marriage is not a Right! In fact ... it sounds more to me like a "Directive"! And what was the "directive" all about? Seems to me it had something to do with the engendering of life. Sounds like God was giving male and female human beings a job to do; one which He had not even given the angels and Archangels! Wow! God was directing we mere mortals to "assist" Him in His great Act of Creation! Wow ... Really! We mere mortals, less than the angels and Archangels, were given the job of helping God create life? Whoa! I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty heavy to me. It also sounds like our ability to create life, had nothing to do with a "choice" on our parts.
So, how does this affect the question of those who believe that same-sex partners should have the "right" to marry? Someone very close to me, recently expressed their great sorrow over a homosexual sibling, not being given the same right to marry, as heterosexuals. Watching her brother struggle with his own homosexuality, she naturally desired for him to have all the same fulfillment of love as anyone. She could not understand how heterosexuals could deny her brother the "right" to happiness in love as they themselves enjoyed. Her heartache was genuine, understandable and deeply touching. And this, I believe, is at the heart of the entire question. For none of us wants to see anyone suffer; especially someone dear to us. As a result, many of us are stumped as to how to help our same-sex attracted friends and loved ones, without sounding judgmental and self-righteous, or worse yet, cause them more pain.
We are barraged everyday with tragic stories of bias against homosexuals and how this has even led to suicides on the part of some homosexual young people. Hollywood and the entertainment industry, has championed the cause of homosexuals, Lady Ga Ga, being the latest heroine in defense of their cause.
Needless to say, this is not an easy subject to blog on, one which I have evaded for quite some time now. That is, until this young girl, who I have known since childhood, spoke to me of her brother, who I have also known since childhood. I would rather have my teeth scraped, than cause them any pain. And in fact, I have written this blog especially in their honor, and to try and touch their lives with some little bit of love and appreciation, while still holding true to God's design for marriage.
I tried to tell my young friend, that it is the view of marriage that is at heart here ... to try and understand that it is not about denying anyone a "right" to happiness and fulfillment, as she felt her brother was being denied. If one understands the nature of something ... they will then understand if it is truly meant for them or not. Anything in life needs to be approached from this attitude. We do not all have the "right" to become rocket scientists ... only those whom God gave this aptitude. There are many vocations and avocations in life, that we may or may not be called to, or cut out for, and this does not mean that we are being deliberately denied a "right" to such.
Each of us has our own unique personality and character and gifts. My dear little friend herself, expressed to me that her brother was much more than his sexual orientation .... and I agree wholeheartedly! As to the question of finding fulfillment in love ... there are many souls in this world ... who for whatever reason, will never find this fulfillment. Homosexuals are not unique from the rest of us, in their human desire to love and be loved. But, there are many kinds of love ... and each love has its' own nature, meaning and purpose.
This being said, is homosexuality the kind of love that God had in mind, when He 1st instituted the marital union? We must each find the shoe that fits our foot, that's all. When one truly seeks to understand the true nature of something, they can then honestly answer themselves, as to whether or not it is what they are really called to.
We all know, that this is the age of "entitlement", where no one believes that he or she should suffer any kind of loss or lack of something. Today's age believes that we can have whatever we want, and do whatever we want to have it. When we hurt because we can't have something, or are denied something that others seem to have, today's age tells us that everything and anything we want, is our "right". But common sense should tell us, that just because we want something, that does not mean we have an automatic "right" to it.
The human heart was made for love ... this is true of everyone, no matter your sexual orientation. But what is the first love that the human heart was intended for? "And you shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and your whole soul, this is the 1st commandment." Mark 12:30. I would suggest, that if we followed this directive first and foremost, we would know the answers to all our other questions regarding our wants, needs and or "rights".
Lady Ga Ga sings: "Born that Way", a rallying cry for homosexuals to justify their orientation, suggesting this is how God made them. I have known people who were same-sex attracted from little on .. yes ... they must have been born with this proclivity, as Lady Ga Ga sings. But, does that truly mean that God made them that way, or that when God first created the world and people, that this was part of His intended design?
Once again, in Genesis we read, "And God saw all that He had made, and He pronounced it good". Here is my question ... Did God create homosexuality? Was homosexuality truly part of God's design? And if one believes that it was not God's design, does that mean they are homophobic? More importantly, if homosexuality was not God's design, does that mean that homosexuals are evil? We know that this is not true. They are not evil. And my little friend's description regarding her brother, was, "that his sexual orientation did not define who he was." I agree wholeheartedly with this assessment. And I am not condemning anyone who has this proclivity. I am simply trying to help them understand that no one is deliberately trying to deny them a "right". Marriage is not a "right". It is a directive from Almighty God Himself, with a specific purpose that He Himself had in mind. And I simply suggest, that those of same-sex attraction honestly ask themselves, if their situation truly fits that design?
And I suggest to them, and to all of us, that first and foremost we should love God, and seek His will in all things. He will fill any and all voids in our hearts, and make our burdens light. God loves us all ... and we need to love Him in return ... then and only then, will we have the answers to all our questions, needs and wants.
Wherein Fr. Z assigns some worthwhile reading - At First Things there are two outstanding pieces to which I direct your attention. Firstly, run, don’t walk, to read Martin Mosebach’s beautiful essay abou...
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