Pro-Life Lessons for the Defense of Marriage

pro-marriage poster 2

I’ve never been to the March for Life. It’s on my bucket list. I love looking at the pictures, because it inspires me to see all those well-bundled people, cold but smiling, feeling good despite the grimness of the occasion they have gathered to commemorate. They ought to feel good. They stand as representatives of one of the most remarkable political and social movements of the last century.

In legislative terms, the pro-life movement has of course been less successful than we might wish. Abortion is still very obtainable in this country, though there can also be little doubt that the movement has saved millions of lives. And in other ways, the achievements of the pro-life movement are enormous. Working with young people, I am regularly impressed by the number whose moral sensibilities have been formed in very large measure by the pro-life movement. Where the world too often showed them selfishness, indulgence and a callous disregard for the interests of the weak and innocent, the pro-life movement has taught our youth about self-sacrifice, honor and the immense value of a human being. The courts, the media and the academy have tried again and again to declare the movement dead. It isn’t.

That is the first lesson we can learn from the pro-life movement as we turn our attention towards the much-younger fight for marriage. It’s never over until one side decides to give up. The second lesson is that fighting the good fight isn’t necessarily futile even if the objective is achieved incompletely or not at all. Social movements have the power to change and shape whole societies. There’s a reason why they tend to be remembered long after the economic squabbles have been forgotten. They change the way we see the world. They alter us on the level of character. Social movements have the power to shine a bright light on our greatest social failings, helping to grow the conscience of a nation.

The good news is that, with respect to marriage, there is a lot of darkness left to illuminate. The pro-life movement made significant progress just by making people more aware of the biological realities of fetal development. When it comes to understanding marriage, Americans still have a lot of ground to cover. In considering the trajectory of marriage we should never lose sight of this critical fact. Some battles have been lost, but this fight is still young, and there are any number of factors that could tilt the balance in a new direction.

One of the biggest question marks relates to the progression of Millennials. Increasingly referred to as “the lost generation,” young people today have very little idea even what they suppose marriage to be. As I recently argued at Public Discourse, they themselves are surprisingly aware of their own ignorance on this topic. That they are more supportive of same-sex marriage than any previous generation is a legitimate cause for concern. Still it would be foolish to see their passion on this subject as evidence that they have reached a stable, considered position. More plausibly, they are floundering about looking for some point of apparent moral clarity that might help to illuminate the murky mystery of committed love. Unfortunately, for many, marriage equality has become that point.

The silver lining to this debacle is that social change built on such a weak foundation can hardly be irreversible. One way or another, social attitudes towards marriage will continue to evolve. It is emphatically worth our while to try to push them in a healthier direction, which of course encompasses not just sexual complimentarity but also fidelity, permanence and of course openness to life. Looking once again to the pro-life movement, we should realize that temporary defeats (like the passage of Roe v Wade) not infrequently open a space in which to articulate those truths that society most needs to hear.

The lessons of the pro-life movement are not all encouraging, however. It differs from the marriage movement in some critical respects, most importantly in its success in finding a core moral message around which to rally. The educated and the simple alike can understand why it is wrong to kill children. Advocates for legal abortion have tried time and again to smear pro-lifers by imputing unsavory motives to them, but these efforts have been, at best, only partially successful. They have never really managed to divert the public’s attention from the good of the child within. It is far more difficult to find a single fundamental message that can tie together the many moral and social concerns surrounding marriage.

A certain amount of progress was made with the message that “marriage unites one woman and one man.” Increasingly, though, this has become a way of preaching to the converted. Precisely because they don’t know what marriage is, it isn’t obvious to young Americans why marriage must be heterosexual. Marriage advocates must find something more fundamental on which to hang our central appeal.

The most promising of the currently available alternatives relate to the welfare of children. The French marriage movement succeeded in moving public opinion substantially through a campaign focused on why children need mothers and fathers. This, too, will require some defense, but more than the “man and woman” line, it does tap into something very fundamental to human psychology. If you had a mother and father, you probably have some intuitive understanding of how critical this was to your own moral development. If you lacked one or both of your parents, you probably yearned for them at some point in your childhood. Talking about maternity and paternity is a way of exploring the heterosexual nature of marriage without obviously seeming anti-LGBT.

Human society is an ever-changing beast, and although it can seem in the short term that good arguments fall on deaf ears, important truths have a way of coming back to us again in another form. Fighting culture wars requires patience and resourcefulness. A willingness to march through the cold, year in and year out and despite the jeers and contemptuous dismissals, may just be what it takes to win.

Rachel Lu

By

Rachel Lu, a Catholic convert, teaches philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota where she lives with her husband and three boys. Dr. Lu earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at rclu.

  • scoobydoosmj

    Just like abortion boils down to one simple question. Is the unborn baby a human being or not? Gay marriage also comes down to one question. Do gay peoples relationships deserve respect or not? Everything about this debate comes from the answer to that question.

    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

      The central question in gay marriage for me is “Do children deserve to know and be loved by their biological parents?” Marriage is only about relationships because of the children.

      • scoobydoosmj

        Gay people make up about 3% of the population. Maybe 1/4 of that will raise children. If a child does not know and loved by both parents it is a straight persons fault 99.99999999999999% of the time. Gay people who have children will continue to form families weather gay marriage is approved or not.

        • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

          I answered this here:
          http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-new-homophiles-and-three-sigma-rule.html

          The push for gay marriage is to raise that percentage from 3% to 39%. That is, to make homosexuality NORMAL.

          If this argument has done anything, it’s made me wonder why DINK heterosexuals deserve civil marriage- or for that matter, anybody else, given the sorry state civil marriage is in.

          If I had my way- heterosexual sex *by itself* would be considered a prenuptial contract to never get divorced, never have an affair, and to raise the resulting children. In other words, the NORMAL distribution should be heterosexual lifelong monogamy- each heterosexual couple committing to only having sex with ONE person in their entire lives, and all sex should be oriented towards creating new human beings.

          • Adam__Baum

            The proliferation of deviance often takes a familiar path:

            Opprobrium
            Oddity
            Option
            Obligation

            We are now beyond Stage 3, and probably entering Stage 4.

        • Adam__Baum

          Gee we’re constantly told it’s 10-15%.

          Homosexuals are incapable of “having” children and your math is wrong.

        • ForChristAlone

          Can you give us directions to La-La land?

    • Steve Frank

      Marriage is not supposed to be about “granting respect” to certain human relationships. The state should have no interest at all in relationships that do not produce offspring. There are all kinds of adult human relationships that deserve “respect” yet no legal recognition of them is granted by the state. For example, why doesn’t the state legally recognize who everyone’s best friend is? Aren’t those relationships worthy of “respect” too? The fact is that the only reason the state has ever had an interest in marriage between men and women is because that’s where new human beings come from. The state does have an interest in making sure children are brought up by their biological parents because in as much as that does not happen, such children become a burden to the state.

      The problem today is that our narcissistic hedonistic culture has decided that marriage is all about validating the “feelings” of adults rather than being about creating the optimal environment for the upbringing of children.

      • scoobydoosmj

        The support from straight people comes from believing gay relationships deserve to be treated with respect. It people on the conservative side showed gays the same respect straight couples receive straight support from straight people would not be strong enough for gays to get marriage rights. But fighting gays tooth & nail on issues like gays in the military they pushed a lot of straight people into the pro gay column

        • Adam__Baum

          The “support” comes from cultural and legal browbeating and a lack of logical thinking.

      • Kogia

        “The state should have no interest at all in relationships that do not produce offspring.”

        If that’s the case, then why is the pro-family movement so strongly in favor of defining marriage as between a man and a woman regardless of whether they are able to procreate? What I find hypocritical about this entire debate (speaking as a millennial, by the way), is that the centerpiece of the pro-family argument centers around this notion that parenthood of natural-born children is important as a social good and should be endorsed by the state. Fine.

        But what loses me and I suspect many my age is that the pro-family argument then says, “but for those couples who can’t procreate, the state should endorse their relationship, as long as the relationship is between a male and female.” Why is it important if it’s between a male and a female? If they can’t procreate, then it shouldn’t matter to the state, right? The argument is that the state should privilege and endorse some non-procreative relationships but not others seems illogical and discriminatory, and I posit that is a major reason why people my age support same-sex marriage.

        • Adam__Baum

          Right, and there’s a certain age when people believe they are original and enlightened and rigorous thinkers as long as they their opinion conforms to some prevailing opinion of others in your age cohort.

          The problem with people “your age” is that you’ve grown up watching Hollyweird celebrities change spouses more often than they change underwear, and in many cases you’ve grown up in fractured homes. Marriage to you carries no more significance than an at-will employment contract.

          Exactly how do you propose to give this fertility test?

        • ForChristAlone

          The reason people your age support same sex “marriage” is that they have no flippin idea who the human person is and what the human person was created for. They have an inadequate anthropology, let alone an inadequate theological-anthropology.

        • Steve Frank

          First of all, it would be an impossible task for the state to regulate which male/female couples are “not able to procreate”. There have been many heterosexual couples who have been declared infertile by doctors and then after years of childlessness there is a surprise pregnancy. I know a woman who had her tubes tied and ten years later she got pregnant because the procedure naturally reversed itself (that’s rare but it does happen). Women go through menopause at all different ages. Not to mention the fact that there are always new breakthroughs in medical science that cure infertility problems in ways that were unimaginable years before. How could the state possibly regulate the “fertility status” of each individual couple without prying into everybody’s private medical information? It would be impossible. The fact is men and women have babies. Men with men don’t. Women with women don’t. It is no undue burden on the state to keep track of everyone’s gender. It already does that. It WOULD be an undue burden to keep track of every couple’s fertility status. It’s that simple.

          I also find it interesting same sex marriage supporters are constantly trying to tell us that there is no difference between gay couples and infertile heterosexual couples. But if a heterosexual couple is infertile, it’s considered a medical disorder. So if gay couples want to put themselves in the same category as infertile heterosexuals, I guess that makes homosexuality a health disorder too. Same sex marriage supporters won’t admit this of course, because they always refuse to follow the logic of their own arguments if it leads to places they don’t want to go.

          • Kogia

            If you really believe
            that the state should only recognize relationships that result in
            procreation, then offer marriage licenses to couples conditional on being able
            to procreate. If a heterosexual couple gets married, the state would give them
            say three years to procreate and produce a birth certificate. If they didn’t,
            then the license would be revoked. A couple could of course stay together,
            without state recognition, and if they were able to bear children later in
            their marriage, they could get a license. That at least would be an
            intellectually consistent way to do it, because only couples that bore children
            would benefit from state recognition.

            Saying that it would be too difficult to
            do this doesn’t make sense to me. The government already keeps track of
            dependents (via the IRS, Census Bureau, etc.) in addition to one’s sex. Since
            the financial/tax benefits that couples get from the state are substantial, it
            would almost certainly save the state money to put a small layer of bureaucracy
            in between couples seeking a marriage license. But until such a system is put
            into place, then the state is continuing to practice favoritism by allowing
            heterosexual couples to marry but not homosexual couples with no apparent social
            benefit.

            • Steve Frank

              Your continued references to “fairness” make it clear that you think marriage is first and foremost about the state helping adults “feel equal” rather than about the state fostering the best environments for the rearing of children. Creating the best environment for children means binding the biological parents via marriage BEFORE offspring are produced not afterward (which your “lose your license after 3 years of childlessness” idea would entail). One of the purposes of binding couples before they produce offspring is to make it a lot more difficult for Dad to walk away from the relationship once the responsibilities of a child enter the picture.

              As far as the government keeping track of everyone’s fertility status, you honestly think that would only add a “small” layer of bureaucracy? What do you propose…that women be forced to undergo government mandated tests each year to see if they have entered menopause? Government confiscation of our medical records and the subsequent releasing of our private health information to the marriage license clerk at city hall? None of these things could even withstand constitutional scrutiny in the United States. Not to mention what I already told you…there is no way to declare every person fertile or infertile in an absolute sense. The technical definition of infertility is inability to conceive after a year of trying. But as we all now there are many cases of couples who were labeled “infertile” having “surprise” pregnancies.

              I find it incredible that you would approve of the state spending millions of more dollars that it doesn’t have and invading everyone’s medical privacy for the sole purpose of making sure gay couples feel like they are being treated “equal” to infertile heterosexuals. Guess what, when it comes to sexuality and gender God (or Mother Nature if you prefer) has determined that everything is NOT equal. All humans are of equal value, but functionally we are not all equal. Women do not have EQUAL physical strength to men. Men do not have EQUAL natural nurturing capabilities to women. I’m a man. I don’t have breasts and I can’t nurse a child. I can kick and scream and say it’s not fair but it’s biological reality. And the law should reflect biological reality, which includes the fact that homosexual relationships are 100% sterile…all the time, no exceptions, no gray area. Unlike heterosexual infertility where there is lots of gray area.

              When it comes to marriage, sexuality and gender it’s not the state’s job to make sure everyone thinks they got a fair deal in life. It’s to ensure as much as possible that biological parents are kept together for the benefit of the next generation.

              • Kogia

                I agree with you that the proposal I’m making would be quite difficult to implement, though not impossible (after all, the government does have records of successful fertility–they’re called birth certificates), but establishing paternity would be tougher. But the point I’m making is not advocating for a system where the government is monitoring fertility in marriage, rather, it’s pointing out intellectual inconsistency in your argument. Again, let’s look at what you said at the beginning:

                “The state should have no interest at all in relationships that do not produce offspring.”

                If that’s what you believe, then it follows the state needs to not sponsor any relationship that doesn’t produce offspring, regardless of whether it’s a man and a woman or two people of the same sex. The system described above is just a logical means of enforcing the beliefs that you claimed to profess.

                For the purposes of the state, it doesn’t matter whether children don’t exist because a partner in a heterosexual marriage is sterile or because the couple is naturally sterile because it’s same-sex. The kids aren’t there either way. And so why is the state then saying, “we’ll endorse your relationship if you’re sterile, so long as there is a male and female in the relationship, but we won’t endorse this other relationship, which is also sterile, because there are two men involved.” What benefit to society is the state getting from endorsing the sterile heterosexual couple that it isn’t getting from the homosexual one?

                If the argument is that heterosexual couples would make better adoptive parents, then why not restrict marriage to just those couples who become parents? But that’s not the system we have now, nor does that seem to be the system that you’re advocating. That’s the problem that I was expressing in my first post–you’re treating sterile couples inconsistently even though the benefits they provide to the state don’t seem to differ.

                • Steve Frank

                  I’m treating homosexual couples and “infertile” heterosexual couples differently because THEY ARE DIFFERENT. As I’ve already said, many heterosexual couples are told they are infertile but then they experience a “surprise” pregnancy. Either the doctor was proved wrong, or the infertility problem corrected itself. How many “surprise pregnancies” do same sex couples experience? The answer is zero. That alone shows that comparing homosexual couples to infertile heterosexual couples is apples to oranges. That’s because the sterility of the homosexual couple is inherent in the arrangement itself. Two people of the same gender do not have complementary reproductive systems. On the other hand, infertility in affected heterosexual couples is NOT inherent in the arrangement itself. Usually it’s due to some disorder or dysfunction that can sometimes be corrected. In many cases it can be misdiagnosed…people who think they are sterile just have very low fertility. Infertility in heterosexuals is NOT a precise category. It is a precise category for those who are exclusively homosexual. That’s why the state can’t and shouldn’t be in the business of gauging fertility for heterosexuals…there’s no way to get it 100% right. But we can get it 100% right when we say a “married” homosexual couple are not going to have a child together.

                  You seem to think the fact that some infertile heterosexuals will be married for a lifetime and never have children presents some problem for my statement that “The state should have no interest at all in relationships that do not produce offspring.” It doesn’t. My point is that the state does and should have an interest any TYPE of relationship where there are POTENTIAL biological offspring. As a type, same sex relationships can not produce biological offspring so there is no state interest. As a TYPE of relationship, Male/female pairings do involve potential biology offspring. Even when it comes to heterosexuals that have been declared infertile, there is still very often the potential for conception as I’ve pointed out numerous times and you keep ignoring. There is simply no reasonable way for the state to gauge whether a heterosexual’s infertility is absolute or not. That being the case, the state must take an interest in all male/female pairings since the potential for new human beings is there.

                  • Kogia

                    “The state should have no interest at all in relationships that do not produce offspring.”

                    “My point is that the state does and should have an interest any TYPE of relationship where there are POTENTIAL biological offspring”

                    Do you see my problem here? These are two very different statements. On the one hand, you say that the state shouldn’t have an interest in relationships that don’t produce offspring, which would include infertile heterosexual couples as well as heterosexual couples that choose not to have children.

                    Yet you just said that what you actually meant was that the state shouldn’t have an interest where there is a potential for biological offspring, which would include heterosexual couples that are having problems with conception, but also relationships like child marriage or polygamous marriage (after all, you said “any type of relationship where there are potential biological offspring”) ,but would not include heterosexual couples that are completely sterile (ie. couples where one partner has chosen to get a vasectomy or tubal ligation), which can be verified through medical records. These couples, under your statement, shouldn’t receive state recognition, even though I don’t think that’s what you’re intending to say.

                    My problem is simply that you’ve been inconsistent in your arguments–you’ve made two contradictory statements about what relationships the state should recognize–and are asking me to assume things about what you may mean or are trying to say. Yes, homosexual couples are sterile 100% of the time, but there are also heterosexual couples that are sterile, and what you seem to say is that it’s harder to determine that, so the state shouldn’t bother. Yet if the state’s interest is in the children produced by a marriage, then clearly they should bother, since children are why they’re in the marriage business in the first place, according to you.

                    • Steve Frank

                      “but would not include heterosexual couples that are completely sterile (ie. couples where one partner has chosen to get a vasectomy or tubal ligation), which can be verified through medical records. These couples, under your statement, shouldn’t receive state recognition, even though I don’t think that’s what you’re intending to say.”

                      You evidently rush through my posts without reading everything I say. Vastectomies and tubal ligations are NOT 100% effective. In very rare instances they can reverse themselves naturally. Not to mention they can sometimes be reversed with elective surgery. I told you that already.

                      “Yet if the state’s interest is in the children produced by a marriage, then clearly they should bother, since children are why they’re in the marriage business in the first place, according to you”.

                      Please explain how any child’s best interest is compromised if the state recognizes a marriage that ends up not producing any offspring?

                    • Kogia

                      “Please explain how any child’s best interest is compromised if the state recognizes a marriage that ends up not producing any offspring?”

                      It’s not–so what’s the harm in the state recognizing a (same-sex) marriage that won’t produce any offspring, if you seem to agree that children’s best interests aren’t compromised by state recognition of sterile couples? The only interest that is being harmed is the state’s financial interest, since one of the key ideas behind subsidizing marriage in the tax code is to promote the bearing of children.

                    • Steve Frank

                      “It’s not–so what’s the harm in the state recognizing a (same-sex) marriage that won’t produce any offspring”

                      Ask the photographers and bakers who have been sued and/or harassed out of business because they refused to compromise their religious beliefs and participate in same sex marriage ceremonies.

                    • Kogia

                      Right…I thought the discussion was about harms to children, though I suppose if these business owners have children, they by extension would be hurt. (Though conversely, those business owners that do participate in same-sex marriages may be helped, and by extension their children, which may outweigh or at least counterbalance the former harms). As a society, we’ve agreed that business owners can have to treat people equally. If a business owner can discriminate against same-sex couples, then what’s to say that a business owner can’t discriminate against blacks, Jews, or any other class of individuals just because of their supposed religious beliefs?

                      So again, if children’s best interests are not compromised by the state recognizing heterosexual marriages that don’t have offspring, then what’s the harm to children (not their parents) in the state recognizing same-sex marriages?

                    • Steve Frank

                      “If a business owner can discriminate against same-sex couples, then what’s to say that a business owner can’t discriminate against blacks, Jews, or any other class of individuals just because of their supposed religious beliefs?”

                      None of these business owners that have been in the news lately have refused to serve gays. They have refused to participate in gay weddings. Big difference. If gays asked for birthday cakes or graduation pictures these business owners had no problem serving them. In other words, they were protesting an event, not a group of people. You can’t compare them to businesses with the sign “No Jews allowed” on the door where people were being denied service altogether for who they were.

                      Also, you are wrong when you say that WE as a society believe these business owners should be treated this way:

                      http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/general_business/july_2013/85_think_christian_photographer_has_right_to_turn_down_same_sex_wedding_job

                      I don’t think 15% of the population qualifies as “WE as a society”.

                      “So again, if children’s best interests are not compromised by the state recognizing heterosexual marriages that don’t have offspring, then what’s the harm to children (not their parents) in the state recognizing same-sex marriages?”

                      Children’s best interests ARE compromised when two gay men try to play Mommy and Daddy. Even a secular nation like France gets this where millions showed up to protest gay marriage, not for religious reasons (the percentage of churchgoers in France is in the single digits), but because of the common sense principle that every child deserves a mother and a father. Sorry, but a gay man with imitation foam boobs filled with store bought formula is not equivalent to a mother nursing her baby with natural breast milk. That’s just the beginning of a long list of things I could present to you to illustrate that nature did not intend two people of the same gender to play Mommy and Daddy.

                    • Kogia

                      We as a society (through our elected representatives) have agreed upon nondiscrimination laws, which apply in the cases you’re citing. If a business owner didn’t want to make a wedding cake for an interracial couple or a Jewish couple because that goes against their religious beliefs, they would be discriminating against those classes of individuals.

                      So recognizing heterosexual couples that don’t have kids is fine, despite the fact that the government’s interest in subsidizing marriage is helping to ensure the safety and well-being of a future generation, but recognizing homosexual couples that don’t have kids isn’t? Where’s the logic in that? What is the government’s interest in the sex of a childless couple?

                      Now of course, when it comes to same-sex parenting, the vast majority of social science claims there’s no difference between heterosexual and homosexual parents:

                      http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/parenting-full.pdf

                      But even if you don’t believe that, I ask, is it really worse for a child to have two parents of the same sex than to be in the foster care system or a dysfunctional household? I understand that sex can matter when parenting, perhaps even more than the social scientists give it credit for. But I have no doubt that character and judgment matters far more as a parent than one’s sex, and there are plenty of bad (heterosexual and homosexual) parents out there who have put their kids in difficult situations. Having same-sex couples provide homes for children who’ve been in dysfunctional households of all kinds doesn’t seem so scary to me, provided that the parents are loving and care for their adoptive children.

                    • Steve Frank

                      “We as a society (through our elected representatives) have agreed upon nondiscrimination laws”

                      We as a society may have agree that there should be nondiscrimination laws. But when 85% of the population believes photographers have the right to refuse to photograph gay weddings, obviously that same “we” doesn’t believe such refusals fall under the heading “discrimination”. Unfortunately, all it takes is one activist judge that’s part of the 8% who disagree, and you’ve got a poor baker or photographer put out of business. So much for the promises of the gay community that granting them marriage wouldn’t affect anyone else.

                      “Now of course, when it comes to same-sex parenting, the vast majority of social science claims there’s no difference between heterosexual and homosexual parents”

                      Of course, because that’s what the APA says, right? The same organization that created a firestorm in 1998 when it published a study saying that the negative effects of pedophelia on children were exaggerated.

                      Did you read the other article here on Crisis that talks about what a sham these studies on gay parenting are? These social “scientists” can’t even keep their stories straight. For decades they have been publishing studies telling us about the negative effects of boys who group up without fathers. Obviously, lesbian parented families have no father. So how do these “scientists” square that circle? Gay rights groups now try to spin those fatherlessness studies by saying the issue was actually single parenthood, not fatherlessness. But if you actually read many of the studies on fatherlessness you’ll see the problems were specifically tied to the absence of a male role model. The same problems with fatherless boys found in those studies were not found in boys without mothers. Clearly, either the studies on fatherlessness were wrong or the “studies” on gay parenting are wrong because the findings contradict themselves.

                      “But even if you don’t believe that, I ask, is it really worse for a child to have two parents of the same sex than to be in the foster care system or a dysfunctional household?”

                      I wouldn’t say it’s worse. But that’s not the point. The point is that a traditional mother/father family is BETTER for a child then any other arrangement, whether that’s a gay couple or a single parent. The state should be recognizing with the word “marriage” the arrangement that is preferable for a child, which is a family led by a father and a mother.

                    • Kogia

                      I think we may just have to agree to disagree at this point–I don’t see this going anywhere. I think the social science is rather more credible than you take it for, but I would agree that it’s imperfect–it’s a research tool and when done well, allows for better judgments, but not perfect ones.

                      I think I’ve made my point that you’ve shifted the terms of your argument from the state not supporting couples who don’t produce offspring to couples who could potentially produce offspring–a big leap. Additionally, you’ve failed to provide evidence that it’s in the state’s interest to keep subsidizing heterosexual couples who don’t have children or who are unable to have children but not childless homosexual ones (the objections you raised were mostly on privacy or feasibility grounds, but not on whether it’s in the best interest of the state).

                      And that gets back to the heart of the matter, and I think where we simply just disagree. What I said at the beginning is that it seems inconsistent to me that the pro-family movement supports the continued subsidization of childless couples, but not homosexual ones–an argument you articulated in your first post.

                      What this has boiled down to is that 1). It’s potentially inconvenient, complicated, and messy to only subsidize those couples that really meet the state’s interest of childbearing, so it’s just easier to subsidize all heterosexual couples which may be able to procreate as opposed to homosexual ones and that 2). A mother and a father is preferable than two parents of the same sex, so therefore the state should only recognize heterosexual marriages.

                      Reason 1 doesn’t meet legal muster, as we’re seeing in court rulings across the country, because the inconvenience of only filtering out couples with children is not an acceptable reason not to treat couples equally. Under the 14th Amendment, the state is obligated to treat people equally under the law, unless there is some compelling reason for not doing so, and inconvenience is not compelling. And reason 2 is widely in dispute, with the bulk of the evidence coming in favor of no difference between same-sex and opposite-sex parents. But regardless of whether you accept that or not, if the state’s interest is in helping families to raise their children, then not recognizing and subsidizing homosexual couples with children doesn’t further the state’s goal if the assumption (as is the case today) is that there are an insufficient number of heterosexual couples willing and able to take on children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

        • DD

          You fundamental problem is a category error. Infertile heterosexual couples having nothing in common with homosexuals. You may as well compare infertile couples with trees. Only in a world informed by relativism, worship of false equality, and sloppy emotionalism would any sane person even think of two men as anything resembling a normal married couple. Words hardly express the insanity.

    • Adam__Baum

      You are very confused.

      Marriage is the assignment of responsibility between two individuals who are dissimilarly situated in their relationship. It’s not a state impramatur or indicia of “respect”.

      In any case SSM advocates don’t want “respect”, they want submission, which is why they enlist the courts to impose their view on dissenting confectioners.

      • scoobydoosmj

        I’m sorry it is you who is confused the idea that marriage exist only to raise children was never true. For most of history marriage was a vehicle transfer power between families. Women & children were considered property. The child centric idea of marriage is a modern invention.

        • Adam__Baum

          The only thing that’s sorry is that you elevate peripheral attributes (chattel ownership) of that were the form (not the purpose) of SOME archaic legal doctrines to the central part of marriage.

          However, if you reject child-centricity as some deformative novelty, then you must reject the idea of SSM for the same reason.

        • ForChristAlone

          You might try signing up for an education at one of the orthodox catholic colleges so that you might return to the discussion here fully armed with not only historical truths but moral ones as well.

        • me

          Let’s suppose you’re right. If marriage was all about property and power, why then Henry VIII was so disgusted Catherine couldn’t bear him a male heir? Huh? Can you imagine Henry VIII getting married to a male who couldn’t bear him no heirs at all, not even a female heir? Huh?

          • Adam__Baum

            Failure to disclose a known condition of infertility is grounds for annulment.

            • me

              Catherine was not infertile.

              • Adam__Baum

                I didn’t say she was-I’m contesting the idea that marriage is/was merely about political alliances and property. I should have answered scoobydunce, rather than you.

                • me

                  Exactly, it was pretty much about heirs, specially male heirs. For the peasantry, since they had no possessions, kids were another set of working hands in the family. This contrasts to the Roman times, specially in the noble families – they weren’t so crazy about blood relations. They could adopt an adult who would then change the surname and continue on with the family name, and titles, and possessions.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    Are you trying to make a point here?

                    • me

                      Not really, I was digressing…

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    Traditional marriage advocates will start winning, when we start fighting our battles in order. Contraception and divorce are far bigger battles that still need to be fought, and if we can win them, the central lie of gay marriage (that marriage is based in temporary feelings rather than permanent reality and child rearing) will fall apart.

  • tamsin

    Culturally, our youth have been catechized to believe marriage is a right, rather than a responsibility. The right to a fabulous wedding with all the trimmings.
    We can keep pointing out, cheerfully, that marriage was supposed to be the way we logically assigned responsibility for the care of the child produced by a complementary sexual union… to the one man and one woman who effected that union, because we reproduce sexually, not asexually, etc.
    While we’re arguing over “marriage equality”, babies keep being born. Who should feed the baby? Marriage answers the question: who feeds the baby? Better the mom and the dad, rather than the State.

  • Arriero

    «Traditional marriage» is a pleonasm. Marriage is a self-descriptive word which doesn’t need any adjective behind. Moslty, because there is only one kind of real marriage: that between a man and a woman. That’s not only intrinsically true, it is institutionally, historically, economically and socially confirmed and uphold. Futhermore, there is only one marriage complete in all its meaning (i.e. divinely instituted and historically afirmed): Catholic Marriage – which deserves being written in capital letters -.

    Catholic Marriage is not a mere «social construction». Some maybe could attack, from that perspective, plain marriage – not in capital letters – between a man a woman, but never Catholic Marriage, which has intrinsic value per se (in itself). That’s why Catholics don’t have to defend marriage between a man and woman, Catholic Marriage is what has to be defended.

    The views about marriage being merely a social construction that can be changed by the pass of time come from a very protestant understanding of the world. I.e. made in the image and likeness of the humans. Relativist at best, with a little dose of cynicism. The only way these views may ever arrive to be right is knowing that God doesn’t exist, and that, unluckily for them, is something already rationally and succesfully explained by the same Catholic Church; the most rational of all religions.

    The other way to undermine marriage and the other «Truths» is marginalizing the Church. That has been possible in some way during the last 200 years thanks to liberalism first – and now too – and marxism – which in fact deepens its roots in an utopic socialist protestant understanding of the world -.

    • Adam__Baum

      The marginalization of marriage didn’t start in the last 200 hundred years, it started with two men in the Sixteenth century. Henry Tudor and Martin Luther, both for different reasons debased marriage by subordinating it to the state.

      • Arriero

        Marriage, and that’s true, has no relation with the State. That’s why I don’t care about civil unions, for which I have no esteem, even less consideration.

        But there was a time when Church and State were synonyms. Were, in fact, the times when the Church had real power to placate heretics and punish blasphemers. Now the Church has lost this power. It’s clear when you see people like Cuomo, or Pelosi, or whatever no-Catholic you want (I feel somewhat disturbed and upset that such people come from the Latin tradition. No doubt, america corrupted them. Their grandfathers were from another kind, I guess).

        It’s worth noticing that Henry Tudor and Luther were in fact people who attacked the Institutional power of the Church, the power of the Church to made and order. Hence, they attacked two things at the same time: 1) The Church’s teaching and 2) The State, which was Catholic and confessional. These two points have gone in hand since Theodosius and until the French Revolution, the most anti-Catholic revolution ever. This means that marriage was undermined only once Tudor and Luther undermined the Church’s earthly power. Nothing of this would have ever happened if Philip II – the great defender of the Faith – would have succesfully invaded England and had forced to kneel down the heretics.

        • Adam__Baum

          “No doubt, america corrupted them.”

          What got to you?

          • Arriero

            Actually, America was the place that gathered all the corrupted sons of Martin. Many of them, only after being expelled from their own countries, gathered in a new land and they, in fact, built the whole country. Catholics were always marginalized and ill-considered. Flannery O’Connor has good descriptions about the rage against anything Catholic in the South, the most archaically Protestant part of the country (badly called «the Bible belt». The real and true Bible Belt is that one formed by Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italia, Bayern, Croatia, Slovakia and Poland). Chesterton also has a very good book about America written in his stays there throughout the twenties. Evelyn Waugh also wrote some interesting notes from his 1947 stay.

            Chávez and Castro has been corrupted by the other pseudo-protestant wing, marxism. They’ve followed the path showed by Thomas Muntzer, Nicolás Storch or Mark Stubner. But let me to say one thing: the rise of marxism («Liberation theology», which was a thousand more times protestant than Catholic) in South-America can be explained – from a sheer political point of view – as an opposition to America. It’s worth noting that Mussolini started being a staunch liberal (libertarian for americans) after doing a radical change and founding fascism, with the help and support from the most prominent italian industrialists.

            • Adam__Baum

              Oh Wormwood, you’ll never earn your pointed tail.

              • Arriero

                «The third angel blew his trumphet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. [Revelation 8:10]»

                Some have deemed this «great star» to be one of several important figures in political or ecclesiastical history.

                I take it as a compliment, can I?

                I would add: «Mas él da mayor gracia. Por esto él dice: Dios resiste a los soberbios, y da la gracia a los humildes (But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ’God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.’) [Santiago 4:6]»

                • Adam__Baum

                  I take it as a compliment, can I?

                  Take it any way you wish, Wormwood.

                  • Arriero

                    I enjoy your acerbic humor.

                    Would be incredibly important and great if America – the biggest world super-power – could become much more Catholic, following the historical and the only true path of the Church. Less anti-government-per-se rhetorics and more action to help the Church regaining the power she should never had lost.

                    Put a cross in every public place. Re-christianize government within the True Faith. Never feed the nihilists, never play their game.

                    Pope Benedict is an institution in the re-ccatholinization of Europe. Something similar is need in the US.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      I enjoy your acerbic humor.

                      Your pathetic attempt at condescension and general intellectual disorder noted, Wormwood.

  • publiusnj

    The best place to start is with the words of the Author of marriage:

    “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law. But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate…..” Mark 10: 5-9.

    Importantly, the “reason” a heterosexual couple leave the heterosexual couples out of which they came and become one flesh (and most of the time they literally become one flesh in the issue that is the union of their genetic material) is because “at the beginning of creation God made them male and female….”

    Heterosexual unions beget issue, btw, in a way hmosexual unions never can. God had something to do with that too.

  • hombre111

    Joining a right to life march is only on your bucket list? It gets cold in Minnesota. Next time, put on your warm coat, and go. And as you defend child and family, do some research on the subject and ponder the impact of poverty on family life.

    • Adam__Baum

      You are detestable, judgmental refuse. She’s working and raising kids and no doubt paying taxes. She can’t just pick up and fly to Washington.

      • hombre111

        Shows how much you know. March for Life take place in almost every community on this Sunday, not just Washington. I have marched every year from our cathedral to the state capital. The news report she watched was probably about her local march. She could have been out there in the cold with people who are as busy as she is.

        • Adam__Baum

          Good for you, how many children are you taking care of? Do you cook your own meals, clean your own dwelling?

          You still questioned her motivation without due cause and slipped in one of your insipid and extraneous little political commentaries.

          You are a petty little man. Leave the lady alone. You could have offered some encouragement, but know your wrote this: “Next time, put on your warm coat, and go.”.

          • hombre111

            And on top of all that, I have to drive 25 miles, this year through a dense fog.

            • Adam__Baum

              You should be used to a dense fog. You still have nothing to stop you from going about as you please, unlike the author.

        • Art Deco

          . I have marched every year from our cathedral to the state capital.

          Non ci credo.

          • hombre111

            Eho,pro quo me habes? Pro stulto?
            Langue facis, doctus fucosus
            Lingua Latina non scribes.

    • Mike Smith

      Based on a few of your comments, I suspect you believe a number of myths about poverty in America. I respectfully offer the following information for your own research.

      Myth #1: Escaping poverty is difficult.

      Truth: It’s not. Graduate high school, don’t have a child out of wedlock, and get any fulltime job and hold onto it for at least one year. Any person who does these things, regardless of race or social background, has a 74 percent chance of reaching the middle class and only a 2 percent chance of falling into poverty. In other words, people get stuck in poverty mainly because they fail to exercise a very basic level of personal responsibility—not because they face insurmountable obstacles to social mobility.

      Myth #2: “Poor Americans are destitute. The rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.”

      Truth: Thanks to improvements in technology and productivity, overall living standards have increased across the board over the last 100 years almost everywhere in the world. Most people alive today will enjoy a longer life and more “stuff” than their parents and grandparents did—including the poor. The poorest Americans today live a better life than all but the richest persons a hundred years ago. The typical poor household, as defined by the government, has a car, air conditioning, two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, a gaming system, a refrigerator, an oven and stove, a microwave, washer and dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker. The home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. In fact, poor Americans have more living space than middle-class Europeans. By its own report, the typical poor family was not hungry, was able to obtain medical care when needed, and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

      Myth #3: “America neglects its poor.”

      Truth: Americans are the most generous people on Earth. The U.S. government at all levels has spent $15 trillion in the War on Poverty since 1964. The federal government alone operates 126 separate anti-poverty programs. A typical child from a poor family enjoys income and housing support for their family, health care, preschool education, public school education, college loans or scholarships, and employment and training programs. Social spending has increased under Republican and Democratic administrations and congressional majorities. On top of all the government assistance, Americans donate another $316 billion to more than 1 million charities every year. Almost half of Americans participate actively in civic,
      religious, and school groups. Poor neighborhoods are overrun with volunteers
      and social workers. Throw a rock in inner-city Baltimore, and you’ll hit a
      non-profit. In San Francisco, the average homeless person makes $30K a year for doing nothing. Only in America! Interestingly, people who identify as conservatives donate more to charity and volunteer more often than people who identify as liberals.

      Myth #4: “People don’t work because good jobs have disappeared.”

      The inflation-adjusted annual pay for working-class occupations was $3,000 higher in 2010 than in 1960. Furthermore, increasing numbers of people were dropping out of the labor force from 1995 to 2007, a period of low unemployment when high-paying, working-class jobs were plentiful. This suggests the problem of joblessness is cultural, not economic.

      Conclusion:

      Poor people are victims of their own choices and subcultures—not
      racism, capitalism, or the Republican Party. Material poverty stems from a
      cultural and moral poverty—the widespread rejection of traditional, middle-class American values like industriousness, personal responsibility, marriage, honesty, religiosity, thrift, temperance, community spirit, and civic responsibility. After throwing trillions of dollars at poverty over the last 60 years, America has nothing to show for it. The poverty rate has barely changed, while the antisocial and self-destructive pathologies of the underclass—aversion to work, neglect of education, conspicuous consumption, family disintegration, irresponsible procreation, gang violence, substance abuse, hatred for society, the culture of victimhood and entitlement—have worsened. Moreover, there is overwhelming evidence that liberal policies adopted in the 1960s jump-started the deterioration by making it made it economically more feasible to have a child without having a husband if you were a woman or to get along without a job if you were a man; safer to commit crimes without suffering consequences; and easier to let the government deal with problems in your community that you and your neighbors formerly had to take care of.

      So rather the demonize conservatives for neglecting the poor—an
      utterly false accusation that serves mainly to fuel a false sense self-righteousness and moral superiority—liberals should acknowledge the harsh realities about the underclass and their own responsibility for making the problem worse.

      • hombre111

        I’ve seen all those bromides before and, as usual, without a source. Doesn’t change the fact that we had two jobless recoveries in a row, the first Bush recession and then this recession. One out of seven Americans on food stamps. Two or three people looking for every job until they finally give up. All this from the NYT, via Krugman, who didn’t get his prize for economics by repeating conservative crap. The simple fact is, this is as far as unregulated capitalism is going to get us. This is the new normal.

        • Art Deco

          He got his prize for work in trade theory that is irrelevant to his excursions in pop market polemics since 2001. Here is Dr. Scott Sumner on some of Krugman’s recent commentaries for general audiences.

          http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2014/01/keynesian_confi.html

          And you are too ignorant of the subject matter to be making use of terms like ‘conservative crap’.

        • Adam__Baum

          “All this from the NYT, via Krugman, who didn’t get his prize for economics by repeating conservative crap.”

          No, he got the prize for resolving a paradox of international trade, something that was apolitical.

          Now that he’s become the the Court Astrologer for the left, the excrement he so freely disperses is so shameless that it is riddle with inconsistencies.

          You like to occasionally tell us you are a priest. Why don’t you try to conduct yourself as one. I have literally known hundreds of priests and never heard any that as bitter and petty as you are.

          • Art Deco

            Obama does not = ‘Bush on steriods’ and hombre111 is posing as a priest (or a testament to a really wretched formation program).

            • Adam__Baum

              Bush gave us Medicare Part D, Obama gave us Obamacare. Bush era deficits were 400B, Obama doubled and tripled them….

              Would you prefer a metaphor that Bush was to Obama, what Hoover was to FDR?

          • hombre111

            Oh, all right. Conservative skubala. Consult your nearest Greek dictionary.

        • Art Deco

          While we are at it, there is no such thing as ‘unregulated capitalism’, there was no such thing as the ‘Bush recession’ (there will always be business cycles, the recession in question commenced just as Bush was entering office, consisted of economic expansion and contraction in syncopation for less than a year, and was triggered by an implosion in securities markets which began 10 months before Bush took office), and there was no ‘jobless recovery’ prior to 2009 (the labor market recovery was delayed by about a year and a half and began in June of 2003).

          • Adam__Baum

            ‘unregulated capitalism’
            Hombre has apparently never seen the U.S. Code or the Federal Register.

          • hombre111

            With apologies, Art, I cannot reply to such a message. It stuns me to realize how you could have lost track of history in little more than ten years. Do some more reading about the Bush recession, how deep it went, and how many jobs were recovered. As one economist noted during a debate in the NYT, the current situation we are in is the result of both recessions and the inability of the economy to respond as it had in the past.

            • Art Deco

              It stuns me how opinionated you are on subjects for which you have no knowledge base nor any natural aptitude. Any post I make is informed by readily available statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Census Bureau. You are just wrong, you do not know what you are talking about, and you should pick another subject.

              • hombre111

                As my hero says on “Dragnet,” just give me the facts. The facts are there. A sixteen once glass holds eight ounces of water. The glass is…either half empty, or half full. Epistemology and philosophical view use those facts to fit a perspective. I simply disagree with your perspective.

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  • Michael Aiello

    The association between the successful pro life movement and the potential success of the sanctity of Marriage movement is tenuous. Abortion wasn’t preached by the clergy but the laity was able to educate themselves and be very successful inspite of the clergy. Even today no one preaches about abortion and according to the USCCB, 95% of adult Catholics receive all their education concerning Catholocism from the Sunday homily. Few if any clergy preach about abortion.

    When it comes to the defence of marriage, sadly, many if not most of the pro life people think gay marriage is OK. We don’t have any effective preaching on the issue so it is unlikely we will have an upsurging of popular support for traditional marriage, like there was for abortion.

    And even more sadly, most in the pro life movement think contraception is OK. The clergy really dropped tha ball on these issues.

    • Art Deco

      And even more sadly, most in the pro life movement think contraception is OK.

      Tends to happen when evangelical protestants are carrying the water.

      • Adam__Baum

        I know a lot of Evangelical Protestants who wouldn’t dream of using contraception. They are scandalized by “Catholics” who do, especially the ones in those traditionally Catholic but now spiritually dead “latin” countries.

      • Michael Aiello

        I hae heard that the majority of prolifers are Catholic but I am not, in any way, denigrating the committment of people of other religious denominations.

        I do not fault the laity. This is, instead, a scathing inditement of the clergy, who has woefully allowed people to wallow in sinful behavior, for over 40 years, by their silence and worse, an acceptance of contraception

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