Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
December 20, 2004
Protect marriage as a man-woman union
The Supreme Court opinion on same-sex marriage proves one thing about Canada - that the federal government can move quickly when it so desires. Justice Minister Irwin Cotler hoped to have the Dec. 9 permission for Ottawa to allow gay marriages enacted into law by Christmas. The prime minister slowed him down a might. It won't happen until early next year.
The government's haste on same-sex marriage is no doubt political in nature. It doesn't want discussion of such an "emotional issue" interfering with an election campaign that might come at any time. Better to do the right thing quickly before the people get stirred up.
But is it the right thing?
As the Alberta bishops note in their brief statement on the court decision, "The family is a more fundamental social institution than the state." If the family is more important to society than is government, does the state have the right to redefine marriage?
No, it doesn't.
The state also has no right to legislate the role or nature of religion - a fact which has not stopped numerous autocrats over the millennia from trying to do just that. But when the governing authorities tinker with things over which they have no authority, human dignity inevitably is diminished.
So it will be in this case. The basic question, which neither the courts nor governments are asking, is why did God create humans as male and female?
The answer to this comes in the first chapter of Genesis: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply.'"
Invoking Scripture, of course, may raise the canard that one is trying to impose one's religious view on a pluralistic society. But what this Scripture says is that marriage is a natural institution. For many people of faith, it is religious too. But marriage must be the basis for any society, religious or not.
Now, marriage in Canada is in the process of being changed from an institution aimed at supporting the creation and nurturing of children to a ceremony that solemnizes sexual commitment between two adults. This, to state the obvious, is a radical change.
Marriage has always been about building the future through love; now, it will be about you and me. This is a much narrower view. It is narcissistic.
And when a basic social institution is based on the narrower view, society suffers.
Same-sex marriage is far from being the only narcissistic phenomenon in the contemporary Western world. But when the state gives the same approval and protection to homosexual relationships as it gives to marriage, it is playing fast and loose with the future of society.
One crucial issue is morality. As the Canadian bishops said in their presentation to the Supreme Court in May: "All individuals, because of their inherent dignity, are entitled to respect, but it does not follow that all their consensual sexual acts are entitled to respect and moral approval. At the heart of the demand for same-sex marriage is a demand for respect and moral approval of the underlying sexual relationship …".
The culture of a society rests on the willingness to forbid - the belief that some things are inviolable. When nothing is forbidden and everything is tolerated, the culture dies. The people - as a people - die. A culture which respects human dignity must of necessity place limits on what is morally acceptable.
It is only right that the state protect the complementarity of husbands and wives in marriage. It is only right that the state look to society's future by limiting marriage to the union of woman and man.
This is not the time for a hasty revision of a basic societal institution. It is the time for legislators … and all Canadians to reflect deeply on marriage and the gift it offers to the future of society.
We trust that if this reflection is guided by the right use of reason, legislators will act decisively to protect the institution of marriage as a partnership between a man and a woman.
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