There’s that awkward moment when you’re ‘discussing’ the hot topic of marriage with a gay ‘marriage’ proponent and you realize that he has no idea what you’re talking about and it dawns on you that except for divine intervention there’s no hope of you ever coming to an understanding of each other.
The other day I was eating dinner with my family and found myself making air-quotes while talking to my six year old son. He didn’t even respond or ask what I was doing with my fingers. It meant absolutely nothing to him, so much so that it didn’t even register. To him, I was just ‘talking with my hands’. Because of him not understanding the air-quotes everything I said was misunderstood by him.
This, in a nutshell, is why I believe most people today, including many Christians don’t understand the Church’s teaching on a whole range of issues that are troubling our world such as gay ‘marriage’, contraception, abortion, the permanence of the family, education, parents’ rights, etc. Ultimately, a majority of those who promote these family /society destroying things like gay ‘marriage’ or abortion have lost an understanding of what marriage is meant to be, or rather, they no longer have the capacity to comprehend the true purpose of marriage and family; they are much like my six year old who simply lacks the ability to comprehend air quotes. (1)
What is it they can’t understand? Simply this: the purpose of marriage is babies. Why can’t they understand this? Because many years ago the Anglican church accepted contraception as morally acceptable and a super-sonic slide into the destruction of the family took place where babies were divorced from marriage. Marriage is now seen as an agreement between two persons to spend time together and share their lives as long as it is mutually beneficial. There is no deeper purpose to marriage. And if this is true, that marriage was meant to be a mere emotional, financial or spiritual bond between two persons then who could justly prevent gay ‘marriage’?
But fortunately for us and our world, God has a much deeper meaning and purpose for marriage and the family. At its core marriage is the greatest experience a person can have of God. It is the only apt analogy of the Trinitarian life: two distinct persons are united as one in love and that love expresses itself as a 3rd distinct and equal person, fully united to the other two. The bonding between husband and wife is not the goal but rather, the only proper means of achieving the goal… the sharing of life-giving love.
Unfortunately, our society no longer has the capacity for this life-giving truth. We live in a culture of leisure (2), of the rugged-individualist’s pursuit of self-satisfaction – which is not the same as self-fulfillment. (3) Our culture is all about the individual “sucking the marrow out of life” for his own satisfaction. Pornography is prime example of this, where one uses and abuses another, sucking the life and dignity out of him/her for one’s own satisfaction.
Even when one steeped in our culture does manage to find an altruistic, self-giving spirit, it most often ends up trying to help others find the same self-satisfaction. But if we truly love others, we need to learn to look beyond their immediate self-satisfaction, towards their deeper fulfillment. And as experience and married life have taught me, true fulfillment can only be achieved in the giving of one’s life for another… self-sacrificial love… babies.
If people truly loved Bruce Jenner they would not encourage him to get a sex change (which is impossible because he still has XY chromosomes) but they would seek to help him find healing and wholeness as God created him to be. If a person truly loves her homosexual cousin they wouldn’t encourage him to pursue a life of mere self-satisfaction. If a friend truly loves a young woman with an unexpected pregnancy, he wouldn’t encourage an abortion out of fear of a ruined life, of never being able to achieve that self-satisfaction, but rather, would care for her body and soul and for the body and soul of her child.
But as I said earlier, this deeper understanding of the person, of marriage and of love is beyond most people in our culture and so dialogue most often fails. The answer is not to argue louder but to love better; to witness to the Truth with our lives and marriages; to have babies and raise them with the understanding of this Truth. Then one day society will re-develop the ability to understand, much like my six year old will eventually develop the ability to understand air quotes.
Finally, remember that no matter how far our society falls, the family and the Church are divine institutions. They will never fail, they will never be undone. The family and the Church will always survive and march towards ultimate victory through the grace of God.
- The gay ‘marriage’ lobby, media and others are intentionally skewing the argument, but most ordinary, well-meaning people are well-intentioned but lack the ability to understand.
- My major in college was “Recreation and Leisure Services and Studies”.
- In the sense used here, “self-satisfaction” is a transitory, satisfied feeling, much like when a person feels full from eating. Self-fulfillment on the other hand means the experience of the fullness of life, completeness.