2/23/2013 10:50:00 AM On marriage, nature should be our guide
Catholic News Service
Jim Malatak and Rick Sturgill, who have been a couple for 35 years, pose for a photograph shortly after getting their marriage license in Seattle Dec. 6. A law legalizing same-sex matrimony took effect in Washington that day.
We sympathize, of course, with Oregonians who want equal rights for people with same-sex attraction. No one should face discrimination because of sexual orientation in hiring, housing, schooling or any number of situations. We Catholics must fight bigotry wherever it appears.
Seeking to redefine marriage is something else entirely.
It's not that we of the church are having trouble with something new; it's that activists are having trouble with something defined by nature.
Male and female bodies and minds, and couples' marvelous role in bringing forth life on earth, is not something a vote will change. Marriage is marriage precisely because men and women, at least by design, can have children and build up society in the best way possible.
Never mind that 57 percent of Oregonians rejected marriage for people with same sex attraction eight years ago. Voting trends flutter. But the truth encoded in our bodies and psyches remains constant. As we've found with greenhouse gases, to counter natural law is perilous folly.
Blessed Pope John Paul II expressed truths about marriage with clarity and beauty. At the heart of married love, he said in the 1982 apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio," is the total gift of self that husband and wife freely offer to each other.
Because of their sexual difference, he explained, husband and wife can give to each other “the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love.” It's on that foundation of creative love that couples shape society according to nature's wise design.
The Catholic Church cares about marriage because it is a fundamental good and also because it's the basis of human flourishing. Today, people all over the world are suffering because of the breakdown of the family. Social science has shown a link, for example, between fatherless families and young men in jail. If we don't defend marriage and keep improving it, we are doing society a grave injustice.
We believe this in a religious context, but it's true even for agnostics and atheists — anyone honest enough to abide wisely by what nature has given us.