On Marriage – a Pagan Rebuttal to the Catholic Church

Marriage. What image does the word invoke when you contemplate its meaning? Most of you probably envision two people making a commitment to support each other through adversity and intimately experience every aspect of life together, united as one by the strength of their love. On a practical level, you might also consider marriage to be a voluntary contract between individuals formally declaring their intent to equally share financial and legal responsibilities.

Perhaps it may be useful to first look at marriage from a legal perspective and provide a foundation from which to proceed. Marriage is first and foremost a contract, the meaning of which is fully defined by the dictionary as a formal agreement between two or more parties, a document that states the terms of such an agreement and marriage considered as a formal agreement.

If we assume that the above definition is correct and the practice of marriage is a contract between two parties (or more for practitioners of polygamy), is it reasonable to then legally prohibit those parties from entering into a contractual agreement based on gender? Before you reply, consider this: what if you were to apply the same question to any other contract, say a land purchase deal, for example. Is it acceptable to prohibit individuals from buying or selling real estate based on their gender? Allow me to answer for you – of course not. Any state attempting to enact such legislation would be bankrupted by the endless number of discrimination lawsuits that would follow such a decision, and rightfully so.
From the viewpoint of the law, there can be no justifiable objection to the practice of same-sex marriage. Any argument against its practice must come from a religious source, although the reasoning behind such argument is universally flawed. Let’s take a look at the recent attempts by the Catholic Church to denounce same-sex marriage.

In Pope Benedict’s 2012 Christmas message, His Holiness makes a clear case against gay marriage in his call for Catholics to join together and oppose the practice. He states that “People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.” He further goes on to say “When freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God.”

In his message the Pope provides an incredibly clear distinction between Pagan and Christian religious philosophy, for Pagans do not believe that humanity is subservient to God or that our physical body is essentially the sum of all being. We recognize that the freedom to determine one’s own identity and to create one’s personal reality through the power of perception is an existential process which cannot be denied or prohibited, although the Catholic Church is certainly making a concerted effort to try.

Cardinal Francis George of the Archdiocese of Chicago expanded on the Pope’s message in a letter to Chicago Catholics denouncing the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act being considered by the Illinois legislature. The Cardinal begins his letter by stating that “Marriage comes to us from nature. The human species comes in two complementary sexes, male and female. Their sexual union is called marital. It not only creates a place of love for two adults but also a home for loving and raising their children. It provides the biological basis for personal identity.” He also says that “It is physically impossible for two men or two women to consummate a marriage, even when they share a deep friendship or love.”

I would like to point out that if the legitimacy and acceptability of an intimate relationship between two beings is derived from nature, not from doctrine, then Nature herself does not agree with the Catholic Church. In Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (1999), Bruce Bagemihl describes statements like the Cardinal’s as essentially being a “single-minded attempt to find reproductive (or other) explanations for homosexuality, transgender, and non-procreative and alternative heterosexualities.”

Intimate same-sex relationships have been observed in close to fifteen hundred species thus far, including humans of course, and such relationships are not rare by any means. In order for same-sex intimacy to be considered an abomination against nature it would have to occur infrequently at best, by necessity. The fact that such inclinations are hard wired into our genetic makeup is proof positive that one cannot legitimately use the “nature of man” argument to protest gay marriage; at least, not without exhibiting complete ignorance on the subject to begin with.

Additionally, the process of consummation in this instance must be defined as the completion of an arrangement or agreement by the signing of a contract. To argue that sexual intercourse is required for the Church to consider a marriage valid in the eyes of God would effectively prohibit any man suffering from erectile dysfunction from ever participating in a Catholic marriage. I find it disturbing that the Pope and Cardinal George, both of whom are intelligent and highly educated individuals, have chosen to lay out their respective arguments against gay marriage with such transparent dishonesty.

I should like to return briefly to Cardinal George’s letter for a moment and here I address the Cardinal directly when I refer to his assertion that the Catholic Church is not anti-gay. In short Your Eminence, yes, you are. Claiming that “the Church welcomes everyone, respects each one personally and gives to each the spiritual means necessary to convert to God’s ways and maintain friendship with Christ” is at best a slap in the face to any gay person. Please don’t claim that you welcome and respect homosexuals with one breath and call them unnatural defilers of God’s grace with the next. Do not insult our intelligence, Sir. It would be far better for you to be honest about your prejudices rather than disguise them with a poor attempt at politically correct dialog.

For the Catholic Church to say that recognizing civil rights in turn destroys natural rights is completely absurd; to claim that human dignity can somehow be negatively affected by enacting laws that promote freedom and equality is ridiculous. And the next time they decide to invoke the Gods of Nature I suggest they consult with a Pagan first and avoid further embarrassment. Nature is our specialty, after all.

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About William Knox

Rev. William Knox is the founder and current Chancellor of the Contemporary Pagan Alliance. Ordained in 1995 as an interfaith minister, he serves as senior priest at the Sanctuary of Light in Ravenswood,WV. and is an invested brother in the Shanddite Order of Pagan Secular Monks.
This entry was posted in Equality, Gay Rights, God, Paganism, Religion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to On Marriage – a Pagan Rebuttal to the Catholic Church

  1. We are +7 Billion of a population on this planet we love. We are getting a little overcrowded and overpopulated. We have many children in Foster Care who are looking for loving familys to take them in and give them a loving home. Many straight couples who want to adopt would rather adopt a “Baby” vs. a slightly grown child or well developed child, in my opinion, because they cannot manipulate them nor shape them into their image as they’d like to.

    I think, in a way, Homosexuality, Transgenders and others are in fact “Blessings” to our world. Many of the Homosexuals, Bi-sexuals and a couple of Lesbians I’ve met I have had positive and wonderful relationships (by that I mean friendships) with. I know many of them have been looking forward to having “Familys” of their own and so adoption is an option they want to explore. I think that’s awesome – because in a way I feel their existence in the world allows them to ripple out more good, teach us to be open-minded, learn acceptance, tolerance and more. Not a perfect system mind you, there are the slightly zealous or grumpy ones, but eh! Every society has those rotten apples who try to ruin the bunch. We just keep looking until we find the sweet ripe ones. 😛 If we’re smart.

    But I do agree, if they were suppose to be “abominations” like many groups try to tout, I don’t think it’d be such a common thing we’d see in nature, which in fact it is.

    • William Knox says:

      You bring up an excellent point in that many opponents of same-sex marriage believe that gay couples cannot properly raise a child as the immorality of their so called ‘unnatural’ relationship makes them somehow incapable of teaching basic family values to their children. In point of fact, same-sex parenting exists in many areas of the natural world. In the late nineties there was a touching story of two male penguins in a committed relationship (I forget their names) who hatched and successfully raised a female offspring in a New York zoo.

      Scientific studies conducted over the last forty years have found absolutely no significant association between parental sexual orientation and the ability of a child to socially adjust. The findings clearly prove that two parents of the same gender can be capable parents and that parental sexual orientation is in no way related to parenting skill. Thank you for bringing up this subject as many people don’t seem to understand that gay parents are just as capable and loving as heterosexual parents.

      • You’re welcome. I knew about those studies but the other side still like to argue that Same-sex parenting studies are still inconclusive or try to argue it’s not a good environment because a child “needs” a Mother and Father absolutely. I really gotta ask though, in what freakin world does it say that?! Must be their own because it doesn’t say in mine and I know in others it is the same like mine.

        Far as I’m concerned, a child should have two loving parents – whether same-sex or no. It helps I think. That’s not to say single-parents are bad or not conducive, but parenting is an awfully big responsibility to shoulder alone. Until there are probably more successful stories of children being raised by same-sex couples, I don’t think the Homophobes or otherwise will stop their assault until they can see the writing on the wall and know they are truly beaten. 😦 So sad to think it may take such a long time – but I hope it’s quicker than how some of the events in the past have taken place.

  2. jrmeredith says:

    “Please don’t claim that you welcome and respect homosexuals with one breath and call them unnatural defilers of God’s grace with the next. Do not insult our intelligence, Sir. It would be far better for you to be honest about your prejudices rather than disguise them with a poor attempt at politically correct dialog.”

    Exactly.

  3. Pingback: Is Human Charity Service to Humans, or is Human Charity Service to Christ? « Living On Tilt

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