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Gay Marriages - Aquinas Style
WHETHER THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSSETTS SHOULD RECOGNIZE GAY MARRIAGES?
We proceed thus to the First Article:-
Objection 1. It seems that the Bible, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, the majority of Protestants, and most major cultures are opposed to gay marriages. Marriage, as defined by the Code of Canon Law, “is the matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring…(CCC*, 1601)” Marriage is a bond between a man and a woman; therefore, gay marriage, the union of two individuals of the same sex, is intrinsically sacrilegious and should not be recognized by the church. Furthermore, men and women were created in God’s image and by virtue of their different genitalia they fit together as would a puzzle. “That is why man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and they become one flesh (Gen 2:24).” Moreover, the vocation of a married couple and of humankind is to “be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28);” thus, homosexual relationships are an affront to the Creator’s plan with regards to marriage, family, and the survival of humankind.
Obj. 2. Moreover, Sigmund Freud, a renowned psychoanalyst, says homosexuality is wrong. He maintains that every person has libidinal impulses, basic instincts, which are kept in check by the ego and superego. However, the anomaly of homosexuality can only be described as an inverted libido, a turning in of the libido on to an object like itself. Freud does not look upon homosexuality kindly; he sees it more as a defect in sexual development.
Obj. 3. Further, when God wills something, it is willed for eternity. According to St. Augustine, God lacks nothing and through his ‘generative love’ he created mankind; there is no way to repay God; one may only give praise and worship to show one’s appreciation of God. Marriage is one of the sacraments instituted by God, by which humans make apparent to God their inward grace and their love for Him. God made no mistake in His delineation of marriage and its purpose. Matrimony cannot be fulfilled by homosexuals.
On the contrary, Elizabeth Birch, director of the gay rights organization Human Rights Campaign, "If not for courts, African-Americans would not have had the right to vote, women would not have the right to vote…The purpose of a constitution is to protect a minority group from the wrath of the majority."
I answer that, by legalizing gay marriages, a new precedent will be set. Moral standards will be obscured and “younger generations’ views on forms of behavior” will be tainted.1 Homosexuality is unnatural and should not be endorsed by the state. Homosexual couples should have basic civil rights but marriage is a special institution that should be reserved for a man and a woman. Homosexual unions are without the biological and anthropological elements of marriage.1 Also, the legalization of homosexual unions would no longer make marriage analogous with heterosexuality.1
According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the law should reflect the common good; the law helps sculpt one’s lifestyle. There are three types of law: eternal, natural, and human. Eternal law is an exemplar of divine reason as it directs actions and movements. Natural law is the participation of the creature in the eternal law; it is the natural inclination to the proper end. Natural law and eternal law are interlocked. They could almost be considered derivations of each other. Human law is the application of natural (universal) law, which is not conventional or arbitrary, but agreed upon by different communities. When civic law (the legalization of same-sex marriages) is at odds with the natural law than the former takes primacy.
The natural law may be changed by addition. Divine and civic laws add to it but nothing can ever be effaced from the natural law for that forever holds true. Human law train people to be virtuous. Homosexual marriage departs from the law of nature therefore it is a perversion of the law and should not be recognized by the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Natural law is in us like a habit is in us. We do not reflect on natural law, we just act according to it. “Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices (CCC, 2396).” God spelled out his stance on homosexual acts by his punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis. Homosexuality is a “disorder;” it is wrong.1 The most basic principle of natural law is good is to be sought whilst evil is to be avoided. Angelo Amato, Titular Archbishop of Sila Secretary who is in accordance with Aquinas’s methodology of thought, explicitly communicated that “the approval or legalization of evil (homosexual couples) is something far different from the toleration of evil.1” I agree.
There are three levels to natural law. The first is to preserve one’s being, which means suicide is sacrilegious. The second is sexual intercourse and the education and protection of offspring. The last is distinctive to humans and that is to know the truth of God. These are constant and do not vary from culture to culture. At a glimpse, the aforementioned may appear individualistic, but they are all for the common good. Our actions affect the rest of the world. Under that assumption, what does marriage affect? It affects the state. Marriage is for sex and reproduction, hence homosexual marriage is contradictory to the goals of the state.
State and religion are separate; yet, the two unquestionably influence each other. The church is free to voice its opinion on gay marriages and the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) can listen. However, the state is not obliged to act upon the beliefs of the church.
The Scripture (the Bible) was created before the Constitution. The constitution derived its definition of marriage from the Scripture therefore it is only logical that it looks to the Bible or the church once more as a form of reference with regards to the issue of gay marriages.
Further, the Bible is not like the Constitution. The Constitution was created by the imperfect intellect of man which means it is inherently subject to revisions, whereas, the Bible is the canon of the Scripture, the basis of Christian beliefs. It was created by the boundless knowledge of God and revelation; therefore it is void of error. “In God We Trust (American Dollar).”
Reply Obj. 1. It is unacceptable and unlawful to discriminate based on age, religion, race, national origin, sex, color, or handicap according to the Constitution; yet, the majority of people still find it difficult digest that homosexual couples would like to have civil marriages with all the benefits.
Marriage is recognized throughout the entire country. But, civil unions are different. Since only one state and almost another (Vermont and soon to be Massachusetts) thus far have recognized the civil union of gay couples, they are exempt from federal benefits such as tax relief, insurance from spouse to spouse, inheritance from spouse to spouse, full child custody rights in some respects, etc. Until the federal court makes a decision on the matter, same-sex marriages will only be recognized in individual states. This means a divorce can only take place in the state where the marriage took place. Therefore it is essential that the Constitution be amended to afford gay couples the same rights as married couples. With all of the debating, many believe the difference between civil union and marriage is simply a matter of “semantics.” However that is not the case, the word marriage is pregnant with meaning. Marriage is inculcated with tradition; it carries much greater weight than the term civil union which seems to have a more impartial and colder feel to it.
Reply Obj. 2. Following the Nov. 18 court ruling to allow civil unions for gay couples, the state Senate now feels that it is inadequate because that would establish “an unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples.”3 Therefore, Massachusetts seems to be on the path to becoming the first state in the nation to permit homosexual marriages. The Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said: “The SJC has clearly spoken. Same sex couples have the constitutional right to marry under Massachusetts law.” 3 The question is no longer whether the commonwealth of Massachusetts should recognize gay marriages; but rather, whether the commonwealth of Massachusetts will tolerate the decision?
Reply Obj.3. Both the President and the pope define marriage in religious terms. Under the Constitution, church is clearly separated from state, and thus marriage is a civic institution not in any way requiring the participation of religious organizations. For a religious leader, to oppose gay marriage based on the theology that homosexual acts are unnatural is justified. But the President of the United States, as the highest official in the United States secular government, is contravening his powers when sermonizes "sin" and "the sanctity of marriage.” 2
Reply Obj. 4. In Canada, Germany, France, and Vermont steps have been taken to afford gay couples in union the same rights and legal status as traditional married couples. Marriage is a bond between two people in love and God is love. Through artificial insemination and adoption that love can nurture a child.
1 Amato, Angelo. “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons.” June 3, 2003. N/A. Feb. 8, 2004. .
2 “Massachusetts court rules ban on gay marriages unconstitutional.” Feb. 4, 2004. Copyright 2004 CNN. Feb. 8, 2004. .
3 Lewis, Ralph. “SJC affirms Gay Marriage: Court deems Civil Union Insufficient.” Feb. 5,2004. Globe Newspaper Company. Feb. 8, 2004. .
*CCC means Catechism of the Catholic Church