Stumbling Down the Logical Aisle
Ray Hodges’ ruminations on the morality of same-sex marriage are reasonable and presented with an even temper. Just so must be the tone of any dialogue on controversial matters. Unfortunately, his argument is a wholly erroneous construct, collapsing under the weight of misapprehensions, categorical non sequiturs, and an a priori conclusion.
The flaws emerge right at the beginning, when Hodges notes that his “question about gay marriage is not why [he, as a Catholic,] should be concerned about legalizing an immoral activity.” Of course, the sexual acts to which he refers are already legal. The dispute, in the civic sphere, is whether those sexual acts are sufficiently indistinguishable from those associated with traditional marriage to negate all legal methods of treating the latter as unique. By the end of his letter, having determined to his own satisfaction that homosexual behavior is not immoral, Hodges admits no additional considerations prior to the leap to marital equivalence.
To take up that further argument, however, would rush past the fact that Hodges errs in hinging his reasoning on the false synonymity of “natural” and “moral.” Indeed, immorality — sinfulness — comes so naturally to humankind that, we Christians believe, God offered a law to His chosen people (who had a terrible record of obeying it, thereafter) and ultimately went to the length of sacrificing His own Son to free us from the inevitability of sin and death. Natural law, in the Catholic Catechism, is not related to the popular notion of appearing in nature, but to “the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie.”
Even in secular terms, one need only trace the effects of humanity’s foibles on civilization to see that morality seems most often to be a denial of “natural” tendencies. Marriage, itself, is meant to regulate the natural urge, especially among men, to stray from the families whom heterosexual activities tend to create. It is a foundational institution in our civilization’s progress away from raw nature.
Mr. Hodges is free to brush aside core teachings of his Church, such as the critical importance of tradition, but the rejection of a theological worldview does not constitute a case for the innovation of same-sex marriage. We all want to be compassionate, and most of us wish to increase the world’s sum of happiness, but radically altering the meaning of marriage is not a path toward either end.