If today’s Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage were tough to swallow, this post will be even more of a challenge to accept. On the merits of the cases, dissenting Justice Scalia got it exactly right. No argument there. It’s where the blame ultimately lies that separates me from many fellow conservative and orthodox Catholics.
It’s many, if not a majority, of us.
It’s hard for me to blame the gays and lesbians here. They are a tiny minority of the population who have managed to swing some 55% of the nation their way. Today was a hard-won victory for them, in a 5-4 ruling whose split on the Court mirrors the split in the nation. They have fought for years (along with cohabiting heterosexuals) to share in all of the goods and privileges of marriage, and they won them, one at a time while many of us were too busy with work and recreational activities to get politically fired up. By the time the Churches got serious, the game was already over.
Enjoying all of the goods and privileges of marriage: sex, adoption, child-bearing and rearing, shared benefits, etc…, the only thing missing was the piece of paper that labeled the lived reality.
Having permitted non-married persons of same-sex, or heterosexual pairings to cohabit with all of the privileges of married people, we have been reduced to a semantic argument. What to call it?? For a time, “Domestic Partnership” sufficed. But thinking people knew that was just a stop-gap measure. Incrementalism always works that way. So, really, where did the train leave the tracks?
Perhaps married people haven’t appreciated the goods of marriage as such. Perhaps we forgot somewhere along the way that society valued marriage so much because society recognized the complementarity of the sexes and the need of children for both their mother and father living under the same roof. It was always understood that the strength of society required stable children growing into stable adulthood, and the social scientific data have repeatedly borne out this pairing of stability with being raised by one’s mother and father under one roof.
With divorce hovering around 50% for two generations, with sex being dissected and reduced to mere pleasure-seeking through the help of artificial contraception, with children completely commodified, this was bound to happen.
Specifically, on the commodification of children, everyone makes money on them. Need to adopt because you became sterile from abortion, or STD’s, or because you are a homosexual couple? It will cost upward of $40K, often higher than $60K. Want a baby that’s genetically your own, but fall into one of the aforementioned categories, or are infertile for other reasons? There’s in vitro fertilization costing into the tens of thousands of dollars. Too old to use your own eggs? Pay some young woman $10K to juice her body full of hormones to facilitate egg donation. Then pay tens of thousands for IVF; or pay tens of thousands to hire a surrogate mother. Don’t want that baby? Abortions range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
The wheeling and dealing over children as a commodity is ghastly, to the tune of billions of dollars each year. That’s because marriage isn’t about them anymore. It’s all about the adults. Were it all about the stability of children, today’s rulings never would have happened. The sad truth is that untold married couples fit into every one of those abusive categories just mentioned. We have made a real hash of marriage.
Instead, today motherhood was declared as entirely unnecessary in the lives of children adopted by homosexual couples.
Instead, today fatherhood was declared as entirely unnecessary in the lives of children born to/adopted by lesbian couples.
But that was just the codification of a lived reality ceded many years ago. So, no, today came as no surprise; no moreso than the diagnosis of lung cancer to the person who has smoked for decades. I was one of those smokers, too busy with work, school, family to get involved. So where do we go from here?
First, we should use great restraint in directing our anger at a tiny fraction of the population, the gays and lesbians. They have sought out recognition of their love as they understand marital love. And they do love each other, many with a greater devotion than many of our failed heterosexual marriages.
Next, we must put our own house in order; strengthening our marriages and churches, subordinating our marriages to God’s wise design. Only when that is done can we, or will we be in a position to evangelize others and change this course we have been on for decades. That won’t happen anytime soon. And what of prayer? Many have said we need to pray for a miracle.
I don’t see that happening. It hasn’t happened with forty years of abortion.
As my grandmother used to admonish: God helps those who help themselves. We, in the aggregate, have been asleep at the switch for decades. A miracle Supreme Court decision only compounds that laziness. In working to redeem marriage we grow as individuals, as churches, and as a society. Just as Adam and Eve would have to earn their living by the sweat of their brow, so it will be with abortion and marriage.
The redemption of lives and marriage itself will have to be the result of an awakening in society, or else it is cheap grace that will not endure.
Time to get to work.