Friday, May 02, 2008

"Gay Marriage": Is it "natural"?

"Gay Marriage" is a topic in our papers and other media here in Oz at the moment, as the Federal government looks at making quite a few changes to the law to enable a greater degree of protection and privilege for same sex partnerships in this country. But while the proposed changes go a long way, they do not include either legal "marriage" or the right to adopt children or have access to IVF.

This has caused quite a furore amongst the chattering classes and the charge of "homophobia" is once again being wheeled out. On ABC radio the other day, in which the announcer was openly calling for the new legislation to give same sex partnerships all the privileges of true marriage, a caller rang in to point out a discrepancy in his logic. The previous subject debated on this talk back program had been farming practices, where the talk-back host had decried farmers who used methods that were "not respecting nature". The caller pointed out that he was applying one standard to farming practices (ie. that it be "natural") and another to the issue of homosexuality.

"Are you saying homsexuality isn't natural?", the host asked, "I'm not sure about that, are you?"

Well, it all depends on what you mean by "natural". Human nature being what it is, it is in fact entirely "natural" (for one given meaning of the word) for human beings to feel the urge to do what is not "natural" (for another given meaning of the word). Strange, really, that the animal world is not given to such "natural" urges to do what is against "nature". It is we human beings who have created the current environmental problems, not the animal world.

It is worth noting too that Pope Benedict, whenever he speaks on environmental issues, speaks of our obligations to nature in terms of the natural law (surprise, surprise), and often goes on in the same breath to speak about marriage and the family (also in terms of the natural law). In fact a google search for "marriage environment benedict natural law" turned up more than 33,000 entries. Others have pointed out that the Pope never loses an opportunity to talk about marriage (111 times since becoming pope according to this survey). He is no more "obsessed" with this issue (as Cathnews infamously suggested) than Patriarch Bartholomew is obsessed with environmental issues (actually, a case could be made for the latter...)

Let it be known that Sentire Cum Ecclesia's editorial policy (unlike that of The Age) is opposed to extending "rights" to gay partnerships (including "marriage", adoption, IVF etc), but all in favour of the Government chosing to protect people's personal relationships by legal means. At the same time, we wish to point out that the reason government protect and privilege marriage is because marriage is itself a fundamental good for society, in fact, together with the family which grows from marriage, marriage is the fundamental foundation of society. At least in this sense (although in others as well, of course) marriage is "natural" in a way that homosexual partnerships are not.

This is what Pope Benedict is getting at. This is why marriage (real marriage) has particular rights to which other relationships can have no access.


At Friday, May 02, 2008 1:13:00 pm , Blogger Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

Whenever the argument is raised that Sodomy occurs in Nature - my response is "Cancer occurs in Nature too, it doesn't make it good or desirable".

At Friday, May 02, 2008 10:00:00 pm , Blogger Charlotte said...

Marriage is a basic civil right that should be attainable by all citizens if they choose. For the truth about gay marriage check out our trailer. Produced to educate & defuse the controversy it has a way of opening closed minds & provides some sanity on the issue:)

At Friday, May 02, 2008 10:31:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Okay, thanks for that Charlotte. Classy piece of work, the video. But the point is that there are many different types of relationship on the face of the earth, and marriage is just one of them. It is a specific type of relationship. I don't wish to deny to other relationships the protections that should be due to them--at the very least, the ninth commandment commands me to protect all other relationships and not to drive a wedge between any bond of friendship or loyalty. But marriage is in its own category, and what we object to is this redefinition of that specific relationship to carry a meaning it has never had. Those arguing for "gay marriage" are playing silly buggers (and I use that great expression advisedly) with the word "marriage". I mean, can a man decide to adopt his 80 year old mother as his daughter? No. Is this an infringement of his rights? No. Its just that you can't redefine the "mother/son" relationship to be a "father/daughter" relationship. Or can we have three people wanting to hitch up in a legal way and call it marriage? No. Marriage is about two people (some polygamist cultures not withstanding). Or for that matter, perhaps you would argue in favour of polygamy? Why not? Shouldn't a man (or a woman for that matter) be entitled to as many legally sanctioned privileges with as many "significant others" as he (or she) likes?

I mean, I know it is a cheap shot, but I still must say that the Monty Python crowd expressed it very well in the phrase "It's symbolic of his struggle against reality".

At Friday, May 02, 2008 11:16:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marriage is a basic civil right

Sorry, Charlotte, but it's just not.

"Claim 17: Almost everyone believes in equality. How can we have that if gay citizens are denied the same rights as other citizens?

This is the most sophisticated argument of all, because no one can dispute either the value of equality or the fact that gay people are denied it in connection with marriage.

For equality to be more than a pious pipedream or a utopian ideal, at least some allowance must be made for the fact that nature itself knows nothing of equality. Equality is a laudable human ideal, to be sure, but no ideal can ever be completely or perfectly attained. Every moral and legal code, in fact, must be based partly on the universal need to live with ambiguity and paradox. Or, putting it another way, these codes must balance the conflicting needs of individuals and communities with those of society as a whole..."

"Marriage is a complex institution. Fostering the emotional gratification of two adults is only one of its functions — and not the most important one from a cross-cultural or historical perspective. (It might not be accidental that this exclusive focus on emotional gratification coincides with a high divorce rate.) The question is not whether gay people should have relationships. The only question is whether this should be done in the specific context of marriage."

At Friday, May 02, 2008 11:18:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, that link

At Friday, May 02, 2008 11:29:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Thanks for that terrific link, Louise. Excellent stuff!

At Saturday, May 03, 2008 12:37:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No worries. It's one of my faves!

At Saturday, May 03, 2008 2:46:00 am , Anonymous M. M. Regan said...

David, could you explain what you mean by being "all in favour of the Government chosing to protect people's personal relationships by legal means"?

At Saturday, May 03, 2008 4:52:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Whenever the argument is raised that Sodomy occurs in Nature - my response is 'Cancer occurs in Nature too, it doesn't make it good or desirable'."

So I take it, then, that it's your argument that no claim that gay sex is "against nature" or the like is a valid argument against same-sex marriage?

"But marriage is in its own category, and what we object to is this redefinition of that specific relationship to carry a meaning it has never had."

Poppycock! YOU may see things this way, but many (most?) others do not. There was a time not so long ago that the "category" of "marriage" -- all on its own -- did NOT include inter-racial couples. That's just one example of how you're wrong ...

"Marriage is a basic civil right

Sorry, Charlotte, but it's just not."

See, when you go cite the Ctaholic Church as an authority CIVIL rights, well, you just blew it right there. Who gives a flying f*** what the Church has to say?! This is a CIVIL matter -- as in, "secular" -- and has ZERO to do with religion, much less a specific religion.

And the US Supreme Court thinks marriage IS a civil right (I know, Australia is not the US, but there ya go).

At Saturday, May 03, 2008 10:50:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

My oh my, someone's a little upset I think and needs to go to their room and when they calm down they can come out and we'll talk about this...

Okay now? Right.

1) Human beings, like almost all animal life, exist in two forms, male and female. It is a part of natural biology that these males and females hook up for the purpose of reproduction. From here you can argue several ways, the usual way is to take the view that marriage--the social protection of the union of a male and female in the social structure--exists for the sake of the family, especially with a view to the care and nurture of children that result from such unions. There are other considerations, of course. But the upshot of this is that marriage is an institution that works in harmony with natural biology. (Note that I haven't mentioned religion anywhere in this argument). Same sex relationships, while they have certainly existed in human society for as long as human society has existed, do not have the same essential and naturally necessary role in human affairs that male-female relationships have. Therefore same sex relationships cannot be accorded the same "natural" privileges that marriage has.

3) Regarding the meaning of the relationship known as marriage, you are attempting to do a "Mad Hatter" on the word, making it mean what you want. Although many societies have had taboos in relation to the contraction of marriage unions with people "outside the tribe", when such unions have been contracted they have of course been recognised as marriages.

3) I point out too that although the link that Louise provided was to a Catholic website, the material itself was not from a religious point of view (you will note the caveat at the top of the page). None of the arguments employed in that material are religious.

Nor have I at any point in this discussion tried to argue a religious reason for opposing gay "marriage". Such arguments are possible, but I believe them to unnecessary, as the natural law arguments are quite sufficient.

At Saturday, May 03, 2008 10:57:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

I should add that I find it hard to get my head around the idea of marriage as a "right", civil or otherwise. Every valid marriage has the absolute right to expect complete protection from the law. That's fair enough.

When a man and a woman desire to marry and are not contracted in marriage to anyone else, and meet all the legal requirements for marriage, then they have a right to marry too.

But the "right to marry" of any particular individual is heavily qualified by all sorts of things: including age, willingness to marry, freedom to marry, readiness to marry, and not the least the availability of a partner of the opposite sex who wants to enter into the marriage.

I don't quite know how you can make marriage an absolute civil right.

At Saturday, May 03, 2008 11:14:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankyou, David.

Anonymous, you need a Bex and a lie down.

As David pointed out the article (posted at a Catholic website) was not written by Catholics. One was a Jew, the other a gentile. They struck me as your average secularists, in terms of world-view, but more inclined to think for themselves than have the TV do it for them.

At Saturday, May 03, 2008 11:18:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And by the way, Anonymous, Catholics are more than a little tired of secularists telling us to shut up, because religion has no place in politics blah blah blah.

If secularism is true, or at least reasonable, then it can bloody-well argue its own case and contend with other world-views in the public sphere.

Catholics are not second class citizens and you'd do very well to remember it.

Your attitude smacks of totalitarianism.

At Saturday, May 03, 2008 11:19:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

But the "right to marry" of any particular individual is heavily qualified by all sorts of things

Exactly so, David.

At Saturday, May 03, 2008 11:23:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

all in favour of the Government chosing to protect people's personal relationships by legal means

MM Regan, presumably David is speaking of such things as hospital visiting rights and distributive justice issues (inheritance, superannuation etc).

I'm in agreement provided such laws do not make traditional marriage meaningless.

At Saturday, May 03, 2008 8:29:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Yes, that's the sort of thing I meant, Louise.

At Saturday, May 03, 2008 11:57:00 pm , Blogger Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

Anonymous at 4.50 made the following comment in reaction to a comment I made:

"Whenever the argument is raised that Sodomy occurs in Nature - my response is 'Cancer occurs in Nature too, it doesn't make it good or desirable'."

So I take it, then, that it's your argument that no claim that gay sex is "against nature" or the like is a valid argument against same-sex marriage?"

Anonymous you have completely misread my statement. I was obviously comparing Sodomitical pseudo-marriages to Cancer (and generally speaking when people use the word "sodomy" they are generally not "gay rights" supporters.)

Homosexual behaviour does occur among animals - however it is usually due to reasons of asserting dominance or lack of available females.

My original statement is one that I make when I'm told that an Inverts behaviour is a part of their nature or that they were born like this etc.

I'm strongly opposed to making any concessions to professional Homosexualist demands about so-called "rights" including marriage. To explain in any more detail would require a web journal entry of my own.

At Sunday, May 04, 2008 12:26:00 am , Blogger Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

ust to clarify my position a bit more for Anonymous - I am saying that Sodomy is like Cancer. Cancer is a bad thing - cells stop doing what they're suppose to and start functioning abnormally and sometimes lethally. Homosexuality is like Cancer because for whatever reason the normal biological impulse of sexual attraction between the sexes has gone haywire. Is this sufficiently simple for you to understand Anonymous?

Also marriage is a custom of a Society not a "right". Furthermore regardless of religion in every Society in the world throughout history (up until the 1960-1970 Cultural Revolution) marriage was between a man and a woman.

Marriage is a product of the functioning of normal human biology and psychology.

Homosexualist and their fellow travellers are using an empty rhetoric of "rights" to disguise the fact that a small minority of sexual degenerates (2-5% of the population) is demanding that the rest of Society change its time-honoured customs and treat their peverse and transitory unions as if they were actually worth something.

Why? This group can not perform any of the social functions that marriage does - so why should Society honour them the same way?

For Homosexualists the "right to marry" is the unreasonable demand to redefine a millenia old custom and to claim that dysfunctional sexual behaviour is the equal of normal marriage. It's like demanding the right to be famous - you can't tell Society what to value.

At Monday, May 05, 2008 12:59:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

I’m late in coming to this but, David, could you elaborate on some of the aspects of the (civil, legal) status of marriage that you would not extend to “civil unions” (or whatever term is adopted for a legal structure which will be available for the protection of same-sex relationships)?

Obviously you don’t want the label “marriage” to be applied to this structure, but do you have more in mind besides that?

At Thursday, May 08, 2008 10:12:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Simple enough. We might be able to extend laws that currently relate to the personal and financial aspects of marriage (including compassionate leave and inheritance and superannuation etc) to other relationships. There is not even any need for mentioning sex in this connection--two friends of either sex or of vastly differing ages might wish to have access to such legal protection even where there is no sexual relationship. (In fact, for that matter, why could not three or more people enter into such a legally protected relationship? Why just two?)

It is really in the area of legal access to adoption or any so-called "fertility" treatment that I would draw the line. In otherwords, such relationships should not be given legal access to forming a family unit, as marriage alone remains the basis for the family.

Plus, the laws of marriage would need to override any laws relating to such a legally protect non-marital relationship (ie. if one partner in such a relationship was to get married, the marriage contract would make the previous relationship contract null and void--otherwise we start talking about the need for a legal "divorce" from the legally protected relationship that is not a marriage).


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