Last week the Maryland State Senate passed legislation that would legalize gay “marriage”; shortly after the vote, I received an email from my state senator defending her vote in support of the legislation. Her email read in part:
This year I have signed on as a co-sponsor of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act and last night I voted in favor of this bill. This decision did not come lightly, but this is why I support the legislation: As parents, the thing we hope most for our children is that they are healthy and happy. And when our children are grown, as mine are, we hope that if they choose to share their lives with another, that they choose someone who will love them, share the ups and downs with them, protect them and care for them when we are no longer here.
These are the hopes and dreams I have for my children. These are the hopes and dreams all parents have for their children. I believe as a representative of all Maryland citizens, I cannot deny another parent the same hopes and dreams that I have for my children. And that is why I voted for this legislation.
The civil institution of marriage bestows on couples rights, benefits and responsibilities. These rights and responsibilities financially, morally and socially protect each person in the union. Those are the protections that my married children have and those are the protections I want for all who choose to share their adult lives with another.
Notice my senator’s definition of marriage: sharing life with “someone who will love them, share the ups and downs with them, protect them and care for them when we are no longer here.” Notice also what is NOT included: the “one flesh” of man and woman, and the possibility of having or raising children. By her definition, marriage boils down to living together and caring for each other. By this standard, a man could be “married” to a woman, a man, his sister, or five different people at the same time. As many commentators have already noted, this obliterates marriage as every culture has defined it since the beginning of man’s history.
Unfortunately, my state senator is not unique in her redefining of marriage; in fact, her outlook is all too common today. The fight against gay “marriage” is, in many ways, much more difficult than the fight against legalized abortion. With abortion, you have a very clear grave act: the killing of an innocent child. Even if people deny it outwardly, everyone instinctively knows that this is wrong. This is why even radical pro-abortionists claim that abortion should be “rare” – they know it is a failure on some level.
But with gay “marriage” we have a more fundamental problem. Most people – including most Christians – define marriage in a very similar fashion to my state senator, even if they explicitly limit it only to a man and a woman. They see marriage as an institution in which two people support and love each other – and that’s it. The importance of male-female sexual union in marriage – both its unitive and procreative aspects – is largely ignored or denied by people today, even by Christians. And why is this fundamental component of marriage denied today?
The advent of modern contraceptive methods has completely redefined marriage in the hearts and minds of most people today. The procreative aspect of sexuality – being open to children – is seen as something superfluous to a good marriage. The unitive aspect of sexuality – a man and a woman becoming “one flesh” – is also minimized, as sexual pleasure is exalted as the only good in the sexual act. But the Church has always taught that a marriage requires that a couple have this proper understanding, at least implicitly, of sexual intercourse for the union to be valid.
By accepting the divorce between marriage and authentic human sexuality more than 50 years ago, we have laid the foundations for today’s gay “marriage” push. For if procreation and male/female sexual union is irrelevant to marriage, why shouldn’t homosexuals be allowed to marry?
A final note: I realize that my title is provocative – some would argue that the battle against gay “marriage” is not yet lost. But I am not talking about the battle in legislatures and courts – I am talking about the battle for hearts and minds. And there, our conception of what marriage is already accepts the validity of “marriage” between a man and a man or a woman and a woman.