From the editor: April 4, 2014

Couple
Man, Woman, and Child

What God Has Enjoined

A correspondent suggested that my statement last Friday that "gay marriage" is not real was wrong. Two men might form a loving couple, which, so the argument goes, is not nothing, but surely something. Well, the couple does exist, certainly, but it is impossible for them to form what we have historically called a "marriage."

To see why, consider Jesus's statement that the man and the woman, the husband and wife, become "one flesh." Does he mean this purely figuratively, or that the man and wife are a new thing? Their conjugal union is a new place within the living chain of human existence from which a new human being may arise. It is more than just the man plus the woman; their coitus is the biological reality within which a human being comes into being.

It is more than that, too. For the new human being is also connected to the new married union, a fruitful product of it. His needs require that the marital love of his parents be broadened into maternal and paternal love for his continued growth and development into a fully mature human being. Thus is born a family.

According to quantum physics, cosmic space is not really empty, even when there is no matter there. Empty space is still part of the physical cosmos, and it bristles with material potentiality. While I have surely oversimplified this (perhaps to the point of error), it is useful for my point. The marital union is a new thing, with creative potential. Two men cannot replicate this. Or two women.

When the state pronounces two women (or two men) to be "married," what exactly is the new thing that has supposedly been created? It is by nature lacking any potential for bearing life. It is the proximity of two people, with emotional feelings, expressed as they will. Further, it is not truly sexual, as R. V. Young noted:

Latin provides the root (sexus or secus, probably from "cut" or "sever," but more pertinently to "divide" or "halve") for the English word "sex" and for its Romance language equivalents.

Sexual intercourse brings together the two halves or two sexes of humanity. ("Homosexual" is an oxymoron.) When the two halves come together they form a one flesh (sexual) union. This union is a real thing. Ambrose of Milan (c. 333-397) stated:

A man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and they will be two in one flesh. Therefore, he who puts away his wife, cuts his own flesh in two, he divides his own body. [Expositio Evangelii Secundum Lucam, VIII, 5]

Similarly, in Homily 62 on Matthew, John Chrysostom (347-407) states:

The man and the woman form only one body; therefore they are no longer two but only one flesh. As therefore it is a crime for man to mutilate his body, so also is it against the law for a man to separate from the wife united to him.

Respect for the reality of marriage must be recovered. Too often marriage has been reduced to a contractual arrangement made by individuals "for as long as both shall love." If that is all marriage is, then "gay marriage" will be only one of many future variations on "marriage," which will become just a word, or just a piece of paper, not in any sense a real thing.

Christians must follow the teaching of Christ, who reveals to us that God himself is the one who joins man and woman together in marriage. When God joins them together, that union is not a fiction, since it is divinely made. There are no other marital unions that have been revealed. And we cannot tell a lie about this.

—James M. Kushiner


© The Fellowship of St. James. 2014

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