Why Homosexual Unions Are Not Marriages.
From our colleagues at Catholic Answers.
Table of Contents
- Fantasy as. Reality
- What Marriage Is
- Why Two Men or Two Women Can't Marry Each Other
- Why Societies Recognize Marriages
- Why Society Shouldn't Pretend Homosexual Unions Are Marriages
- Delusional Thinking Harms Society
- Goodbye, Freedoms of Speech and Religion
- What Is Driving All This?
- How Can We Show True Compassion for Those with Same-Sex Attraction?
- This Is Not a "Religious Issue"
- Scripture on Marriage and Homosexuality
- The Church on Homosexuality
- What You Must Do
- Where to Learn More
Why Homosexual Unions Are Not Marriage
from our colleagues at Catholic Answers Press
San Diego 2012
Today homosexual activists are demanding the legalization of same-sex "marriage." In some places they have even achieved this goal.
They assert that this is a matter of equality. If heterosexuals can marry people of the opposite sex, they argue, then equality demands that homosexuals be allowed to marry people of the same sex. Many have found this argument compelling. Others have no objection to the idea of homosexual marriage. Both of these are grave signs. They reveal just how much damage the institution of marriage has already suffered.
Opponents of homosexual marriage argue that if marriage were redefined to include same-sex couples, then both marriage and families would suffer great damage. That is quite true, but marriage has already been greatly damaged or else the idea that two people of the same sex could marry each other wouldn't even be under discussion.
The fact that it is shows that a large segment of the public does not understand the basics of marriage. They have forgotten-or never knew-what marriage is.
Fantasy as. Reality
In recent years, several movements have been successful framing their causes in terms of equality. The civil rights movement involved the idea of racial equality. The women's liberation movement involved the idea of sexual equality.
Now homosexual activists are using a similar strategy, claiming that equality requires that homosexuals be allowed to marry each other.
For that to be true there would have to be real equality between homosexuality and heterosexuality-the way there is real equality between persons of different races and between men and women.
But there is no equality between a marriage and a union involving two persons of the same sex. They are fundamentally different things, and pretending that they are the same is indulging in fantasy.
It's time to face reality.
What Marriage Is
Marriage is a union of a man and a woman that is oriented toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring.
No other kind of union is a marriage. Marriage is unique.
Since before recorded history, men and women have united to care for each other and to bring up children. That happens in every culture, no matter where in the world. In fact, a culture would die without those unions of men and women. Marriage is thus a human universal, an institution that is built into human nature and that manifests itself in all societies.
This has important implications. As we will see, society is not denying marriage to homosexuals. Instead, homosexual activists are asking society to redefine marriage so that the term applies to things that are not, in fact, marriages.
Why Two Men or Two Women Can't Marry Each Other
People of the same sex cannot marry each other because any union between them would not have the reality that marriage possesses.
This is particularly obvious when it comes to procreation. Two men or two women cannot procreate. For new children to be brought into the world, biology requires the union of a man and a woman.
But procreation is not the only issue. Men and women are different in ways that go beyond reproduction. Both physically and psychologically, they complement and complete each other in a manner that two people of the same sex do not.
These differences play an important role in raising children. By setting examples of true fatherhood and motherhood, a husband and wife provide the kind of environment that helps children grow and develop properly.
Even apart from procreation and raising children — as in the case of marriages which do not result in children due to infertility — the physical and psychological differences between men and women enable them to unite and thrive in a way two people of the same sex cannot.
In all of these cases, and especially in the case of procreation, it is clear from nature that men and women are designed to be united with each other. Two men or two women are not.
For this reason same-sex unions do not possess the reality of marriage, and it is simply a fiction to call them marriages.
Why Societies Recognize Marriages
Some ask why society should sanction marriage at all. Isn't it the couple's business and nobody else's?
In fact, it is in society's interest to recognize marriage, and that is why societies all over the world, throughout history, have done so. The reason why is obvious: In order to survive and prosper, societies need new members.
They constantly lose members whether through:
- crime, or
- simply old age.
One way or another, at some point, every single member of a society will die, and if these deaths are not offset by births, then the society itself will die.
Marriage, by its very nature, is the institution that brings new human beings into the world and raises them to be productive members of society. If a society wants to survive and prosper, then, it is in its interest to recognize and help marriage in a special way.
Where marriages and families are threatened, society is threatened, and where marriages and families are strong, society is strong.
Why Society Shouldn't Pretend Homosexual Unions Are Marriages
Society should not treat homosexual unions as marriages because they are not marriages.
Such unions are incapable, by their very nature, of producing children. The parties do not complement each other the way that a man and a woman do. A homosexual union is a fundamentally different thing than a marriage. It isn't a question of whether society should allow homosexual marriage. It can't. No one can.
The question is whether society will pretend that homosexual marriage exists. Will the state engage in a society-wide fantasy that ignores the basic facts about men and women?
It should not — it must not — because to indulge in delusional thinking about the basic realities of human life can only damage society in profound and permanent ways.
Delusional Thinking Harms Society
When a country bases its policies on false premises, society suffers. It does not matter what the policy is.
- If its army misjudges the enemy's position, it may suffer a crushing defeat.
- If its economic policy is out of touch with reality, hard times will result.
- And if a state becomes delusional about the nature of men and women, disaster is bound to follow.
People have a tendency to think that if something is legal, it must be right, and so the mere fact that a state's laws pretend that homosexual unions are marriages would mislead the public on a vast scale, causing millions of people to become deluded about the nature of marriage.
This would be a further blow to marriage — beyond those it has already suffered from easy divorce, out-of-wedlock births, abortion, and contraception.
Any children being brought up by homosexual "parents" would also be harmed. Whether the children were acquired by adoption, surrogacy, or through a previous, heterosexual union, they would be raised with a false view of human sexuality and a defective set of moral values, as well as being denied the example of proper fatherhood and motherhood.
The friends and relatives of those in such unions would be harmed as pressure is put on them to play along with the fantasy. Many would even buy into the delusion.
Those involved in these unions would be harmed in the most direct way. For society to pretend that they are married would confirm them in a fantasy, as well as in a dangerous lifestyle that jeopardizes their health and well-being through a host of medical and moral problems.
Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would lead to even further distortions of marriage. If two people of the same sex can be married then there is no logical reason why other unions are not possible as well. Polygamous unions with multiple spouses, of any combination of sexes, could follow. Adult-child unions would be up for discussion.
There is the related question of nonsexual unions: elderly friends, college roommates, etc. If two people of the same sex can marry to obtain the legal benefits of marriage, then on what grounds would these people be denied them?
Applying the term "marriage" to unions other than those of a man and a woman ends up robbing marriage of meaning. The logical end point of marriage redefinition would have to be recognizing unions of infinitely variable combinations of persons as marriages — otherwise you would be discriminating against some combinations. When that happens, marriage — having become whatever you want it to be — has lost all meaning.
With divorce rampant, marriage and birth rates dropping, and single parenthood on the rise, adding the level of delusional thinking needed to pretend that homosexual unions are marriages would only harm marriage, the family, and society even further.
Goodbye, Freedoms of Speech and Religion
If the idea of homosexual marriage were enshrined in law, people across the land would be forced to play a game of pretend. This would damage their civil rights — particularly their freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
The mandatory game of pretend would begin with government workers forced to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies, to handle the marriage records, and to process the government benefits.
The game would extend to every industry that does business with families:
- entertainment, and
Workers in each of these fields would be required to play the game.
Education, in particular, would come under even more pressure to support the homosexual agenda, with schools requiring teachers across the country — regardless of their personal beliefs — to portray homosexual behavior in a positive light to schoolchildren and to portray homosexual unions as real marriages.
The rights of parents to protect their children from this would be curtailed, and many would feel helpless as their children were being indoctrinated with a false understanding of human sexuality.
Ultimately, everyone in society would be affected, and any public disapproval or disagreement with homosexuality and homosexual marriage would be treated as "hate speech."
From there it would be a small step to treating opposition to homosexuality as a "hate crime." In fact, we already are far down this road. Homosexual activists throughout the United States and in other countries are aggressively using the courts to crush any disagreement with or dissent from their agenda. Business owners who have refused to provide services to homosexual couples have been sued.
When the machinery of the law isn't available, homosexual activists have sought to crush disagreement through people's employers, convincing corporations to adopt policies that prevent employees from expressing any contrary opinions or altering their behavior in any way around homosexuals. Employees who fail to comply with these policies can be sent for mandatory "sensitivity training," can be denied advancement, can be subject to discipline, or even can be fired.
The homosexual agenda ultimately wishes to crush all opposition and disagreement, and that includes muzzling the Church and religious ministries. Already in Europe and Canada, Catholic priests and Protestant ministers have been brought to trial for simply expressing their faith's teaching regarding homosexuality and marriage.
What Is Driving All This?
For years, homosexual activists claimed they were merely seeking "tolerance." But now their true aims — and their own intolerance — have been revealed.
They cannot tolerate any disagreement with or disapproval of their lifestyle. That is why they are using government and corporate policies as weapons to crush their critics.
What they are interested in is not tolerance but gaining society's approval for their behavior. That is why achieving legal recognition of their unions as marriages is so important.
It is not because the law provides certain benefits to married couples, such as inheritance rights or the ability to make medical decisions when a member of the household is incapacitated. The law already has provisions that would allow homosexuals to achieve those things, and in some places there are "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships" that provide the same legal benefits as marriage, but without the name.
But even that is not enough. Homosexual activists insist on legal recognition of their unions as marriage itself.
It is not about the legal benefits of marriage. It is about approval.
The reason is that the activists know deep down that their behavior is disordered. Two men or two women are not designed to go together the way a man and a woman are.
To compensate for this innate awareness that homosexual behavior is disordered, homosexual activists seek the approval of others — to reassure themselves that their own behavior is morally right.
That's why obtaining legal recognitions of their unions as marriages is so important to them and why nothing else will do.
Even if they were to obtain this goal, the problem would remain, because the reality remains the same. Homosexual behavior is still disordered, homosexual unions are still not marriages, and it would only be playing games with words to pretend otherwise.
Thus the nagging sense that their behavior is wrong would still be there, which raises an important question.
How Can We Show True Compassion for Those with Same-Sex Attraction?
Sometimes homosexual activists accuse those who disagree with them of "hate". Or they may accuse others of irrational fear — of being "homophobic". While some individuals may hate or fear homosexuals, these allegations are a dodge. Merely disagreeing with homosexuality or promoting the truth about men and women does not involve either hate or fear.
The charges are still out there, though, and it is important to counter them by showing compassion for those with same-sex attraction. This means more than being warm and understanding. It means being honest with them and helping them see through the fantasies that homosexual activists encourage.
They need to recognize that homosexual marriage cannot exist because of the very nature of marriage and that there are no substitutes for marriage. "Civil unions" or "domestic partnerships" are not legitimate solutions. Such unions create the same problems and confusion in society, just to a somewhat lesser degree, and they are not intended as stopping points but as stepping stones toward the fantasy of homosexual marriage.
Finally, homosexual behavior must be recognized for what it is: a distortion of the way human sexuality is meant to work. In this, it is not alone. There are many other distortions, including pornography, prostitution, and adultery.
People with same-sex attraction are suffering a particular form of temptation, but everyone suffers temptation. We are all tempted to do things we should not do, and we must all be clear-eyed about this and resist temptation.
People who have same-sex attraction have the same inherent dignity as other human beings, and they must be treated with respect — so much respect that we are honest with them and do not encourage the fantasies promoted by homosexual activists.
Contrary to the activists' claims, it is not unfair to deny homosexual unions legal recognition as marriages. On the contrary: It would be unfair to create the legal fiction of them being marriages. That would only mislead people, including the very ones involved in such unions.
True love and compassion would encourage people with same-sex attraction to seek healing and growth, not to confirm them in a dangerous and disordered lifestyle.
This Is Not a "Religious Issue".
Sometimes homosexual activists claim that recognizing marriage as the union of man and woman amounts to "imposing your religion" on them.
This is not true.
Nothing in our argument to this point has been based on religion. We've mentioned that giving legal recognition to homosexual unions would diminish religious freedom, but that's not a religious claim. It's a legal and political fact.
Our case against redefining marriage is not based on religious claims but on human nature. The union of man and woman is simply different than the union of two men or two women. This is something that has been obvious to all people in all times and cultures.
Even in cultures such as ancient Greece, where homosexuality was widely practiced, it was always recognized that the union of man and woman is different. Consequently, these societies did not pretend that two people of the same sex could be married. In particular, the connection between marriage and procreation was universally recognized.
Marriage thus predates Christianity.
- It predates Judaism.
- It predates all of the historical religions.
- It has been with mankind for its entire history.
The "imposing your religion" argument is just a dodge. It doesn't impose anyone's religion to continue to recognize a basic fact of human nature.
This is also why proposals to divide marriage into civil and religious unions — or to get the government out of the business of recognizing marriage altogether — don't work. Human nature is still the same. The union of a man and a woman is still different than any other union, and completely apart from any religious considerations, it is in society's interest to recognize, promote, and protect marriages.
Scripture on Marriage and Homosexuality
Though human nature alone makes the issue clear, religion does have something to say on the subject. The Bible displays the same understanding of the nature of marriage as part of God's plan for mankind.
In the Old Testament, for example, it is clear that God made man and woman to be together:
"Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).
When Jesus was questioned about marriage and divorce, he reiterated the divine institution of marriage:
"Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
Scripture not only lays out God's plan for marriage between a man and a woman, it also rejects homosexual behavior as a deviation from that plan:
"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." (Leviticus 18:22)
This is one of a number of Old Testament passages that reject homosexual behavior, but one cannot dismiss this as just an "Old Testament" attitude.
The New Testament also recognizes the disordered nature of homosexuality and links it to the rejection of God and his plan:
"For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error."
Both the Old and New Testaments thus recognize homosexual acts as grave departures from God's design for human sexuality.
The Church on Homosexuality
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
While homosexual acts are immoral, same-sex attraction is just one form of temptation among many. All people suffer temptation, and all people need compassion and support in their struggle against it. The Catechism continues:
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
(CCC 2358 - 2359)
The compassion that must be shown to those who suffer homosexual temptations does not mean misleading them into thinking that the union of two men or two women is a marriage.
The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote, and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.
(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 11.)
What You Must Do
The debate over same-sex marriage is raging everywhere today. In some places there are ballot initiatives that the public can vote on. In other places the issue comes up before state legislatures.
It also comes up at the national level and in the courts. Defenders of marriage work for laws, amendments, and court decisions to prevent or reverse the redefinition of marriage, while homosexual activists and their allies press the battle from the other side.
Because the fight to preserve marriage happens on so many levels, responsible citizens must be vigilant and use their votes and their voices to stand up for marriage in every instance, in every way possible.
Among other things, this means you must:
- Vote to preserve the true understanding of marriage in ballot initiatives.
- Learn candidates' positions on marriage and on homosexual unions. Check their web sites.
Call their offices. Write them letters. Do your research well ahead of election day.
- Vote for politicians who support marriage and who oppose giving legal recognition to any form of homosexual unions.
- Vote against politicians who support same-sex unions of any form.
- Remember the role of the courts. In recent years they have been used to force things on the public that voters would never have approved. In many places where marriage has been redefined, this has been imposed by the courts. Therefore, in judicial elections, use your vote wisely. Also, when voting for candidates who may appoint or confirm judges, make sure you vote for ones who will back judges who will not try to redefine marriage.
- Apply these principles to officials on every level. It does not matter if these individuals are running for small, local offices. If they win lesser offices then they will have the opportunity to move up to more powerful ones. It is important to stop bad candidates at the lowest levels.
- Educate yourself, your friends, and your acquaintances about this issue. Too many people are unaware of this issue and its importance. Hand this booklet out to others, and see the section below for more resources.
The responsibility to defend marriage also falls on Catholic politicians, who cannot let themselves off the hook-or be let off the hook by voters. According to the Church:
If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians ....
When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.
When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth.
(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 10.)
Pretending that homosexual unions are marriages stands to harm society in grave and fundamental ways. It is important for everyone, including those who undergo same-sex attraction, that we avoid this dangerous delusion and protect true marriage.
It is time that we all take a stand. When it comes to the nature of marriage, to the nature of men and women, we must reject fantasy and acknowledge reality.
Where to Learn More
For more information about homosexuality:
See the Catholic Answers book:
For more information about using your vote responsibly, see the Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics.
There are also resources on these topics available at the web site catholic.com.
Why Homosexual Unions Are Not Marriage from our colleagues at Catholic Answers Press
San Diego 2012
Tara Evans replied:
This article seems to suggest that the ability to procreate is ultimately what makes a marriage real.
I guess my question is two-fold.
- One, should marriage be defined as a union that produces children? and
- Two, if we say that a man cannot marry another man because of their inability to procreate, can we also say that a heterosexual man or woman should not be allowed to marry if he or she is sterile or infertile?
- Or what about a heterosexual couple who simply don't wish to have children?
Thanks in advance for your time and attention.
Your premise is wrong because you misinterpreted that thread. The Church does not teach that infertility is an impediment to a valid marriage, but does teach that impotence is.
In other words, a couple must be able to become one flesh as Scripture speaks of it. This is what consummates a marriage. Two people of the same sex could never experience a one-flesh union and hence could never be married. Marriage is the fusion of two persons through their bodies and their lives. People of the same sex, no matter how hard they try, can never be united in a marital way. Nature does not allow it.
Along with this, a couple can not use contraception because this contradicts both union and procreation — the double meaning of marriage.