Monday, December 29, 2008

Paradigm paralysis: We just don't understand the divine nature of marriage (not)

Is it possible that we gays reject church teaching regarding the sacredness of marriage because we fail to understand the divine nature of the two sexes, male and female?

That is the argument of some theologians, as revealed in an article at that explains why Pope Benedict’s recent words about saving the human race have created such umbrage with gays.

CNSNews did a fine job of giving equal time to theologians who wished to rebut the pope’s words, although those quoted either had nothing of real substance to say being the usual sound bites, or CNSNews omitted anything substantial. But what I find curious is what the apologist for the pope said. His words are worth paying attention to.

“Fr. (George William) Rutler, who holds a pontifical doctorate in sacred theology, and a master of studies from Oxford University, said that homosexual activists and secular liberals do not understand the relationship between the human race and nature because they are essentially Gnostics, they see the natural world – the material world – as contrary to anything divine and ‘the result of energies other than God.’”

It isn’t acceptable to someone like Rutler that his premise is rejected, rather than misunderstood, by many gay activists. So he re-interprets what we are saying and doing to fit within the paradigm proposed by the church. The divine explanation can’t possibly be incorrect, so gays must be failing to understand it. That is why they react against it.

This is the trouble with paradigms. They are very useful tools to provide easy explanations about how the world works without needing to know the details. But paradigms have an inherent flaw, and that is when new evidence emerges that shows the paradigm is no longer useful and may, in fact, be false, that new evidence is rejected out of hand. This is particularly so if the paradigm in question is tied to a particular person’s or group’s retention of power.

“As a consequence, for example, homosexuals ‘do not see marriage as an essentially divine institution – they see it as a legal construction that can be changed at will,’ said Rutler. ‘They see a Supreme Court changing the law on marriage and say it is valid. But from the point of natural law, it would be like saying the Supreme Court could repeal the law of gravity.’”

We have a square peg argument being shoved into a round hole here, because marriage always has been a legal construct. Even during Old Testament times, marriage was an arranged contract and solely had to do with property. It was a completely misogynistic entity as evidenced by the biblical tracts that recite how some man begot another man, ad infinitum. In fact, Medieval art reflected this notion that women had no role in procreation other than being a receptacle with images of sperm containing tiny babies; it was believed that the babies were in the man’s sperm and all that was needed was a woman’s womb to grow it.

The church got into the marrying game because it was the only entity of any consequence that could recognize the marriage as a public union. As local government became more sophisticated, it also began to recognize marriages; hence, marriages were not always religiously based. Civil marriage was born. And over time, marriage was a legal construct that went through revisions: Everything from how many wives to how old the parties had to be and how distant the familial relationship. There is nothing natural about marriage. Shacking up is natural, yes, but marriage had to be created to protect property, and in the old days, that meant the man’s property.

“In 1992, then-Pope John Paul II described homosexual marriage as ‘perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.’”

I love the above because for one, it is clearly an addition by CNSNews, as it is not sourced. But the real beauty is how the statement so easily portrays anyone who supports equal rights for marriage as being a promoter of a “new ideology of evil,” so evil that it will destroy the human race. This is so classic Roman Catholicism, so much so that even the Protestants won’t admit it, but it is Rome ideology all the way.

If it threatens the church, then it is evil, so evil it must be destroyed. That’s the message.

This is a tough argument. This requires patience and persistence. The sophomoric retort of “homophobe” just doesn’t cut it.

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