The ethical foundations of Gay marriage begin with the foundation of the Church of England. Henry the VIII’s decision to break with the Catholic Church over its refusal to recognize his subsequent marriages laid the foundation for the current mess. In the West at least till “modern” times, marriage was conceived as a sacrament. In other words the union with man and woman involved a religious dimension which bound the parties together. The joining of the flesh was both physical and metaphysical. The Christian marriage was a Threesome, and God always stuck around. It followed then that the emotional condition of the parties or the social circumstances were irrelevant to the validity of marriage. If both parties fell out of “love” well then, tough. No matter how good the pressing imperative the union remained valid till one of them died. Marriage was not “just a piece of paper”.
With the acceptance of divorce by the Church of England the line of reasoning changed. Now a marriage could be broken if a reason was good enough, and good enough was the product of social consensus. The illusion of Divine blessing was acted out in the ceremony but the logical imperative of Gods participation was sophisted away. As one old wag said “Adultery may be bad morals but divorce was bad metaphysics”. What the King wanted is what the King got. “What God has joined let no man set asunder” was set asunder by the King and his compliant clergy. Marriage was changed from a sacrament to a governmentally recognized living arrangement. It was secularized.
Now clearly under the cultural momentum of The Medieval Church the old definition of a man and woman making up a marriage was not going to change, however as the Church lost its influence on society and other sophistries exerted their effect it was only a matter of time till even this concept was challenged. The Mormons tried by justifying polygamy till it was stamped out by sanction. But the men who challenged the Mormons were governed by the memory of ancient Christian Metaphysics. Secular Metaphysics hold sway now and were the Mormons to revert to the life of the harem I wonder if they could be stopped now.
Herein lays the whole problem of marriage, its theoretical conception. To a secularist marriage is a governmentally sanctioned living arrangement. It is irrelevant whether it is between two people of the opposite or the same sex or even different species. In fact whole communities could be “married” provided they satisfied the requirements of the State. There is no limit on whom or what could be “married”. In a representative democracy the limits will be set on social custom. If polygamy becomes the custom then the demand for it to be recognized as a legal marriage will be demanded.
The Christian response to this state of affairs was that marriage was a metaphysical union under certain conditions. One man, one woman till death do us part. Hence the objection is a metaphysical one. Two men or two women don’t satisfy the criteria. Just as calling your foot a hand does not make it a hand; to Christians legalizing gay marriage does not a marriage make. It doesn’t satisfy the metaphysical criteria.
As usual the social pathology of today is rooted in the metaphysical errors of yesterday. The demand for Gay marriage is really the result of secularization of our society. If we want to get tough with Gay marriage we have got to get tough with divorce and restore the original idea of marriage.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
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