Saturday, 25 May 2013

Same-Sex Marriages with St Thomas Aquinas

I answer that, It was necessary for woman to be made, as the Scripture says, as a "helper" to man; not, indeed, as a helpmate in other works, as some say, since man can be more efficiently helped by another man in other works; but as a helper in the work of generation. This can be made clear if we observe the mode of generation carried out in various living things. Some living things do not possess in themselves the power of generation, but are generated by some other specific agent, such as some plants and animals by the influence of the heavenly bodies, from some fitting matter and not from seed: others possess the active and passive generative power together; as we see in plants which are generated from seed; for the noblest vital function in plants is generation.
Wherefore we observe that in these the active power of generation invariably accompanies the passive power. Among perfect animals the active power of generation belongs to the male sex, and the passive power to the female. And as among animals there is a vital operation nobler than generation, to which their life is principally directed; therefore the male sex is not found in continual union with the female in perfect animals, but only at the time of coition; so that we may consider that by this means the male and female are one, as in plants they are always united; although in some cases one of them preponderates, and in some the other. But man is yet further ordered to a still nobler vital action, and that is intellectual operation. Therefore there was greater reason for the distinction of these two forces in man; so that the female should be produced separately from the male; although they are carnally united for generation. Therefore directly after the formation of woman, it was said: "And they shall be two in one flesh" (Gn. 2:24).

~ St Thomas Aquinas

Until now, marriage had a public purpose. What is the purpose of  'same-sex unions' which are to be known as 'marriage'? What is a 'union'? Is a union of two persons to signify a purpose? If so, what is that purpose without the 'generative' potential?

Does a 'same-sex marriage' have any purpose at all save for a political purpose? This is new. Marriage, of itself, as an institution, has never had an explicitly political purpose despite what feminists would posit. Freely entered into by two parties, male and female, its purpose has been clear.

Does a union make any sense without any reference to a purpose that effects the society beneficially? In what way do same-sex marriages benefit society? Surely these benefit 'individuals inside the society' rather than society itself. In sacramental terms, a union of two persons involves the mystery of Christ's love for His Church. God is 'in' a marriage in the Church as the two become 'one flesh'. Marriage is a 'type' or 'shadow' of the eternal union with God, but is not that union. Some have achieved this union with God in this life. These we call Saints.

St Catherine of Siena: Achieved union with God in this life
Obviously, wider society cares very little for what St Thomas Aquinas (or any Catholic) has to say on the subject of marriage, but philosophically we have entered uncharted water. No philosophers, no, not a single one - has advanced a philosophical case for 'same-sex unions', as far as I know.

There are plenty of 'natural law' arguments against 'same-sex marriage' but I think we can now concede that natural law is not respected any longer. The idea of sexual union in marriage being a 'type' or foretaste of the Heavenly union of Christ with His Bride - union with God - is not going to make sense to many people in an atheistic age, yet, I fear, we have entered into such a breach with the natural law that only the renewed discovery of the Divine law will restore it or recover it, since definitions and understanding of marriage are to be confused, blurred and destroyed.

We are always told we should question things. Will this new bill, when or if it becomes the law of the land, be questionable from a philosophical point of view? Will it be questioned in the academic sphere? Or will it now be something that is intellectually, academically, philosophically 'off-limits' simply because it is a re-definition established by Parliament itself. The consequences are huge everywhere in every sphere. Aside from the promoted desire to raise the autonomy of the individual above our responsibility to wider society, the arguments for 'same-sex marriage' have had convincing (even if you and I are not convinced) emotional power. It is emotional power and the power of emotive words and rhetorical spin alone that has gained for 'same-sex marriage' a global stage and the registers of town halls (and some churches) across the World. Without the power of the banal media age, this could never have worked. Never.

Perhaps someone can remind me of another age in which philosophers took human marriage and dismantled it, advancing the case for men to be married to men and women to be married to women. Marriage has hitherto had a fixed purpose recognised by the beggar and the philosopher alike - even philosophers who rejected much of Divine Revelation, like Kant. Kant was always talking about his 'duty' from what I remember of political philosophy. Other political philosophers talked of individual liberty, but nothing quite like this. Everything has consequences for everyone else in the minds of the philosophers. Such a thing never entered into the minds of the philosophers. 'Same-sex love', if it was mentioned, was something like a pursuit outside of marriage, even if someone was married, motivated by the pleasure principle for the explicit purpose of pleasure. Still, however, marriage was left untouched because of the esteem in which it was held for its unique purpose.

David Cameron: Just what is he up to?
So, we are in uncharted waters. 'Same-sex marriage' is deeply flawed because it is illogical. It can only be made logical if marriage has now no human purpose, no societal purpose, no natural purpose, no biological purpose, no Divine purpose or redemptive purpose. All these have been stripped away with the promotion of the desire for individual autonomy raised above the interests of all others, excluding the interests of all others.

The only political philosophers who would want to see 'same-sex marriage' are those who considered marriage itself a 'bad thing', something to be destroyed in furthering a future goal, such as the followers of Karl Marx, like Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno and the Frankfurt School. They're the only philosophers I can think of who would want to attack marriage as an institution and shape it according to a new paradigm that disregarded its purpose entirely. It is not just the meaning, or definition of marriage that is at stake. It is the purpose of marriage. Intellectually, David Cameron is being very dishonest from the very outset. He says he wishes to extend marriage to people of the same gender, yet it cannot be extended without being diluted, worse, have its original purpose and intention destroyed in the process.

You may very well disagree with my view on 'same-sex marriage', since you hold the opposite view, but I would posit you would find it hard to disagree with what I have written on it here, since these are merely observations and questions. You cannot extend marriage to people of the same-sex without destroying its meaning and its purpose. For the benefits won under new legal recognition, is it really worth it? Would you feel great about getting married to someone of the same gender if you understood that what you were doing was breaking no human law, nor the law of God that you have disregarded, but wilfully destroying the purpose of marriage by contracting a counterfeit one? Do you really believe that what you do has no impact on society? Is there anyone who really believes our actions have no impact on anybody else?

The problem is this: while different couples of opposite genders marry for some different reasons, the reasons why couples of the opposite sex will desire to marry will always be different to the reasons why couples of the same-sex desire to marry, because these two marriages are entirely different, therefore they can never be 'equal marriage'. They cannot ever, ever have the same outcome from their 'union'. Many couples today contracept, and while we know what the Church teaches on the matter, a same-sex couple can never contracept. Therefore these two relationships are entirely different in order. They are not equal. Marriage cannot be 'equalised'.

It astonishes me that I know someone in prison for walking on the wrong street in Brighton since he is barred from so many streets for being 'anti-social', but the Prime Minister can destroy the meaning and purpose of human marriage and walk about like nothing anti-social has happened.


pelerin said...

Very well said Laurence. Another big demo will take place in Paris today in favour of true marriage although I believe the organiser will not be taking part as she has received threats and is under police protection according to some reports.

There will have to be heightened security for everyone, especially as a soldier was stabbed there last night. The French are not giving up on this in spite of the vote in parliament.

pelerin said...

Reports today say that at least six French Bishops took part in the Paris march yesterday and not just from the surrounding area. One of these was the Bishop of Tarbes et Lourdes. I have no idea how many Bishops there are in France but this must be a very small proportion of the total. Where were the others?

Unfortunately the evening ended with clashes with the CRS, tear gas etc.

pelerin said...

Just learnt that a seventh Bishop was spotted on the march. And found out that there are over 90 in France not counting the auxillaries or emerituses. I wonder how this number compares with Britain?

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