It might be good to put aside any religious teaching and any state laws and start from scratch, from nature itself, when talking about marriage. Marriage existed before Christ called together his first disciples two thousand years ago and well before the United States of America was formed two hundred and thirty six years ago. Neither Church nor state invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.Read it all here at the Catholic Chicago Blog.
Marriage exists because human nature comes in two complementary sexes: male and female. The sexual union of a man and woman is called the marital act because the two become physically one in a way that is impossible between two men or two women. Whatever a homosexual union might be or represent, it is not physically marital. Gender is inextricably bound up with physical sexual identity; and “gender-free marriage” is a contradiction in terms, like a square circle.
Both Church and state do, however, have an interest in regulating marriage. It is not that religious marriage is private and civil marriage public; rather, marriage is a public institution in both Church and state. The state regulates marriage to assure stability in society and for the proper protection and raising of the next generation of citizens. The state has a vested interest in knowing who is married and who is not and in fostering good marriages and strong families for the sake of society....
People who are not Christian or religious at all take for granted that marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the sake of family and, of its nature, for life. The laws of civilizations much older than ours assume this understanding of marriage. This is also what religious leaders of almost all faiths have taught throughout the ages. Jesus affirmed this understanding of marriage when he spoke of “two becoming one flesh” (Mt. 19: 4-6). Was Jesus a bigot? Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan? Would Jesus be more “enlightened” if he had the privilege of living in our society? One is welcome to believe that, of course; but it should not become the official state religion, at least not in a land that still fancies itself free. Surely there must be a way to properly respect people who are gay or lesbian without using civil law to undermine the nature of marriage....
Leroy Huizenga used this on Thursday over at First Things' "On the Square" to offer a cautionary word to both those of us who desire to conserve marriage in our culture and those who desire to re-cast it into something new:
Because of the harmony of faith and reason, thoughtful Christians can speak of marriage in terms of both categories. And we sometimes confuse categories, and that proves confusing to the general public. But make no mistake: Our defense of marriage is no act of legerdemain, in which we try to force what we know solely by revelation on the public. (Observe no one is pushing laws forcing participation in the sacraments or forbidding participation in a particular faith.) Rather, we are concerned for the common good, a rational concern motivated by our very faith. Convinced that reason and nature teach us the truth about marriage, we will continue to make arguments in the public square about the public goods of marriage, for no society or person can long thrive kicking against the goads of reason and nature.Read it all here in Huizenga's post, "Opposing Gay Marriage Is Rational, Not Religious." And note that I've linked a definition for "legerdemain" in that quote.
Hat tip to Joe Carter at "Mere Comments," the Touchstone blog.