IN the previous edition of The Catholic Leader, I urged Catholics firstly to engage in the marriage debate with truth and love, and secondly to understand that we are not debating equality or love, we are debating whether the definition of marriage should change.
It is necessary to point out that there are many kinds of loving relationships.
I have some great friends that I care deeply for. I could even say that these people are lifelong friends and that I love them, but I do not register these friendships with the government.
If at all, these friendships are only registered on Facebook.
So why should the government have an interest in this marriage relationship and not others?
1.Marriage is unique
A person can do many things without the help of others.
I do not need anyone else to eat, to play music, to read, to write, to sing – I can do all of these myself.
I cannot, however, have children on my own.
To procreate, I need another, and because I am male, I need a female.
As Royal Dutch Airlines so clearly and unwittingly demonstrated in a recent tweet, a heterosexual sexual union is essentially different to any other kind of union.
It is the only kind of union that not only can produce children, but can provide a mother and a father for a child. This uniqueness should be celebrated and protected.
You’ll find that on a Dutch Airlines plane, it is only the bottom seat belt combination that you’ll find actually installed on their seats – as it is the only kind that can save you.
Among other things, the government has an interest in marriage because it is unique and for the sake of the wellbeing of the children that might come from the marriage.
— Royal Dutch Airlines (@KLM) August 5, 2017
Because my other relationships – my lifelong friendships – are not the kind of relationships that produce children, the government has no need to register them or keep me accountable to them.
2. Children have a right to a mother and a father
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states; “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.”
The right to marry is the right to family.
While there can be now doubt that a same-sex couple can provide love, care and stability to a child, we must then ask – is it right that a child should be born by means of IVF only to be deprived of one of their biological parents?
Many will point to the fact that there are many single parent families because of broken heterosexual relationships.
While this is true, the difference is that in most cases, children conceived in heterosexual relationships, were not conceived with the intent of severing the relationship between the child and one of the parents.
Does the right of two men or two women to marry, trump the right of a child to a mother and a father? Someone once said: “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”
Marriage is important to society because it is the unique kind of relationship that has the potential to create new life, and provide a mother and a father for a child.
While same-sex relationships can be meaningful, loving and life-long, they are not the same kind of relationship.
Thus, in order to protect the rights of the child, and the uniqueness of the marriage relationship, it is important that marriage remains between a man and a woman.
Marriage, as it stands, gets the gender balance right.
In the next issue, I will address how the Church’s view of marriage is already different to the government’s view of marriage, and what we can expect should the government redefine marriage.