July 20, 2010

On the Impossibility of Homosexual "Marriage"

The human reproductive system is the one system that is never individual. It is a system — an impulse, appetite, longing, and physical and personal reality — that can be completed only by going “outside” of one’s own body — by joining with the body of another.

Think for a minute about the body. By their sexual acts a man and woman become a single procreative unity. The two become “one flesh.” Only in marriage does this physical act constitute a true joining of persons, one where, in a human fashion, husband and wife commit not just physical organs but heart, mind, body, and soul to one another. This is why sex is intrinsically ordered to be a conjugal act, which is to say an act of true union.

Children are the “ultimate crown” of marriage, one that the husband and wife promise to be open to, and, as mother and father, to care for and educate together. Marriage is deeply and intrinsically oriented towards the good of children — the good that is the creation of new life and also the care and connection of those children to their mothers and fathers. But marriage is good in itself even if the gift of a child is not granted to the husband and wife. In both cases, openness to the child, openness to “the other,” is intrinsic to what marriage and conjugal love are about, and this depends on sexual difference.

Sexual difference is the way to life-giving love and union. In discussions of marriage today, love and commitment are often emphasized as the most important qualities. There’s something true to this, but a vital key is to help people understand what lies at the basis of this love and commitment. What makes the love and commitment of marriage possible? Love and commitment are ingredients to many relationships that we have with family and friends.

Marriage involves a unique love and commitment, however, that only a man and a woman can make to each other — a commitment of exclusive, permanent, and total union. This union finds its consummation and renewal in the total sharing of the spouses’ bodily selves in the conjugal act. Only a husband and a wife can make such a personal gift of themselves to the other. This gift of self in marriage is not an isolated act but is part and parcel of the whole of married life, which itself calls for a love that is total and unique — the love between husband and wife. This gift of self in marriage has distinctive consequences and responsibilities which the state has rightly promoted and protected for millennia.

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