by Matthew Buckley
Introduction Increasingly around the entire Western world today more and more governments are gradually recognising, or rather creating, a right to persons of the same sex to join together in such a way that they appear to enjoy the same legal status and privileges belonging to traditional matrimony. Many see the matter as one of fundamental human rights, long suppressed, at last being given their due in our more enlightened age. Not infrequently is the issue compared to the removal of apartheid or some other form of discrimination.
But while our modern societies plunge headlong into their pursuit to grant a liberty supposedly long denied, there are several questions that any discerning person should ask themselves. Why did civilization ever concern itself with this pact made between men and women? Of all the ways for human beings to unite with another and be together in association, why did this take such a prominent position? How come this could never remain a purely private affair or contract?
Once an answer is found to these questions, we must ask ourselves, do these same reasons apply to a union of individuals of the same sex? In this paper I will endeavour to explain why the answer to this question is based principally on observations that should be attainable to anyone. That is, the rasion d’être, or the reason of marriage’s very being, will be brought out in order to show why a difference of sex is intrinsically part of what marriage is and is not an accidental feature. This reason for marriage’s being will further be related to society’s obligations with respect to this union.
In the second part of this article I will examine the answer that Catholic teaching gives to the question of marriage’s primary end. This teaching has been the subject of new dispute in the period following the Second Vatican Council. The claim that Church teaching has been changed in this regard calls for a critical examination. It is my belief that this question has received an inadequate response to date.
Part I: The Case for Marriage as the Union of a Man and Woman: the argument against “homosexual marriage”
What’s in a word? My defense of marriage will consist of two main points. The first is one regarding language and word use in order to clear the path for the second point, which is a discussion of what the issue of “homosexual marriage” really hinges upon.
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