Since the recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I have been using this column to discuss the error our culture has promoted in its ongoing attempt to redefine Marriage, which is not limited to so called gay marriage alone. In last week’s column, I was refuting the claim that in the decision rendered, #lovewins. In fact, the truth be told, the correct hashtag would be, #lustwins. As I pointed out, marital love is one distinct form of the many types of Love relationships every person might experience throughout his or her life. Unfortunately, so many today believe that love and sex are synonymous terms, and now attribute these adapted qualities to marriage. This does not make sense when considering the many different people one person loves.
Marital love, and thus the reason we speak of a sexual encounter as the marital act, is ordered toward the procreation and education of children, a good that is bestowed upon that particular love when a man and a woman are joined in marriage. It is not that every embrace of a husband and wife, or even any embrace, result in the procreation of a child. Marriage bestows a good on the complementary substance of man and woman who become husband and wife, that is, the good of procreation, a good bestowed on their inherent potential for procreation even if it is not actualized. So many today have forgotten that sexual activity should always be ordered to procreation, and is reserved for marriage alone. Since Catholics have abandoned this Truth in large numbers, it is no surprise that a large percentage do not understand the problem with so-called gay marriage, and have even come to support it.
For the record, no one in the Church has ever said that two people of the same sex cannot love one another. In fact, there are numerous examples of such love down through history, beautiful same-sex love relationships that did not involve or require sexual activity for its expression. In many languages other than English, there are multiple words used that translate to the English word love. For instance, the ancient Greeks had a different word to speak of chaste sexual love (Eros), which is ordered to procreation, as opposed to the deep affection shared in a friendship (Philia). In addition to these words, they also used a term for an absolute and pure Love as found in God, which we are to image as believers (Agape). English is limited because we use the same word to speak of these different dimensions of love.
In this context, the love between two people of the same sex can never be marital because when two people of the same sex engage in a sex act it can never result in procreation. In the natural law, the way we understand the morality of an act is whether it is properly ordered toward its end. The nature of the sexual faculty created by God is ordered to its end, procreation. To take it one step further, God also reserved the use of this faculty to Marriage. While two people of the same sex can give each other sexual pleasure, the end of such an act is ordered only toward pleasure, and can never result in procreation. It is thus not capable of being a “marital act” but rather an act of lust, which is not to be confused with Eros.
At this point we need to be very careful in speaking of the conjugal love of a husband and wife, in contrast to the love any man or woman may have for one another. Lust occurs in this realm as well, even between a husband and wife. Because we live in a culture that has reduced human relationships to a “hook up” mentality, and love is now overshadowed by and often confused with lust, there are many people committing sexual sin and calling it love, not just those with homosexual tendencies. The Church upholds God’s plan with regard to all sexual sins that violate or betray what Marriage is, that is, a lifelong bond between a man and a woman that is both procreative and unitive. So in addition to homosexual acts, yes, there are many people committing fornication; yes, there are many married people committing adultery; yes, there are many people consuming pornography; yes, there are many people committing other sexual sins, even in marriage. None of these sexual sins are ever good and all of them distract us from truly appreciating what Marriage and the marital act is. In the obfuscation of the marital act we find the current obfuscation of Marriage itself. The Church remains the guardian of Truth with regard to all these sinful acts, and calls everyone to live the virtue of Chastity, especially in the Sacrament of Marriage. The reason so many Catholics approve of so called gay marriage is because they have come to approve of these other sins as well. Again, if one believes any of these sexual sins are good, normal, and should be promoted yet still calls himself or herself a Catholic, that person is being hypocritical.
This reflection will be continued next week.