Gay marriage - an oxymoron
by Peter Espeut
The homosexual lobby in Britain, not being satisfied with the creation of civil unions between persons of the same sex (same-sex unions became law in Britain in 2006), is now demanding that these unions be called 'marriages', and the British Parliament is debating that right now.
Under the British Civil Partnership Act 2004, same-sex couples now possess rights and responsibilities identical to civil marriage. Civil partners are entitled to the same property rights as married opposite-sex couples, the same exemption as married couples on inheritance tax, social security and pension benefits, and also the ability to get parental responsibility for a partner's children.
They can also assume responsibility for reasonable maintenance of one's partner and their children, tenancy rights, full life insurance recognition, next-of-kin rights in hospitals, and others. There is a formal process for dissolving same-sex partnerships akin to divorce.
But this is not enough for gay-'rights' activists; what they want is the right to use the word 'marriage' to describe what they have. Top of the gay agenda is to destroy the Christian Church - their main obstacle - because the Church refuses to call the homosexual lifestyle normal and acceptable.
Language is the repository of meaning. Therefore, the use of particular words can be very important, especially if the intention is to mislead. Today, special interests are in the business of reinventing language to achieve their own purposes.
And so gay-'rights' activists want the world to call the union between two men or two women 'marriage', in complete disregard of the long-standing profound meaning of the word.
If marriage were just a contract, defining obligations and benefits, there would be no difference between a marriage and a civil union. In Christian theology and practice, marriage is much more than a contract, and the word 'marriage' is wholly inappropriate to refer to a same-sex union.
I would like to take you on a short theological journey exploring the meaning of marriage. The quotes below are from The Pastoral Constitution on The Church in the Modern World, a document produced by the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church. I don't believe the theology of marriage espoused by other Christian denominations differs much from this.
The highest form of love (agape) is not sterile, but productive: the love between the Father and the Son produces the Holy Spirit; the love of the Trinity created the world (including humanity), and led to the establishment of the Church; the love of husband and wife leads to the creation of a new human being. The 'love' between two men or two women is sterile and unproductive; try as they might, they cannot produce children.
Most like god
Humanity (man and woman) is created in the image and likeness of God, and man and woman together participate in God's project of creation. 'God is love' (agape), and when we love deeply (agape love) in marriage, we are most like God. "Authentic married love is caught up into divine love."
"Hence, while not making the other purposes of matrimony of less account, the true practice of conjugal love, and the whole meaning of the family life which results from it have this aim: that the couple be ready with stout hearts to cooperate with the love of the Creator and the Saviour, Who through them will enlarge and enrich His own family day by day."
Gay sexual intercourse, therefore, can never be conjugal love, because it cannot cooperate with God in his creation project. 'Gay marriage', therefore, is an oxymoron; those two words cannot go together because they are inherently contradictory.
The bond between husband and wife - the marriage covenant - resembles the covenant between Christ and his Church; it is total giving of self, and potentially creative; some heterosexual married couples cannot have children for one reason or another, but the potential is there. Even if same-sex couples claim total self-giving, they cannot claim to be potentially creative, and therefore the word 'marriage' cannot apply.
So I say to the gay 'rights' lobby in Britain: stick with your 2006 victory and be satisfied with your 'same-sex civil union'. You have no right to the word 'marriage'.
Peter Espeut is a sociologist and Roman Catholic deacon. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.