16July

The Intellectual Origins of Same-Sex Marriage

Taken from CrisisMagazine.com
by Dr. Michel Therrien

The Intellectual Origins of Same-Sex Marriage

In today’s “liberal” culture, as religious observance declines, the moral tide goes out, seemingly beyond the drop off. The Supreme Court decision of June 26 concerning DOMA is the most recent in an effort to “liberalize” traditionally held moral norms that owe their original establishment to the faith convictions of a once (and mostly) Christian people. Other norms include the prohibition against contraception, sodomy, adultery, no-fault divorce, abortion, and now euthanasia.

How easy it is to underestimate the salutary effect of grace, not only on our reasoning, but also on the exercise of our freedom. Without the operative effects of grace on the soul, the morally degenerate effect of original sin pervades the social order, and the efficacy of the law written on our hearts falls into disrepute, and with some ferocity it seems, especially when it comes to homosexual behavior (Romans 1:18-32). As it now stands, original sin is shaping a culture of marriage and family life that bears little resemblance to the human good. What ultimately stands behind the gay marriage proposal is a perverse rationale that originates in certain philosophical presuppositions we find all the way back at the inception of liberalism. It is these principles that have led, by a kind of necessity, to the perverse moral conclusions to which we are now being forcibly subjected.

To expose some of these presuppositions behind the gay marriage movement and how we got here, let us return to the Enlightenment. It is there that we find some of the deepest roots of our current situation, although not all of them. Three ideas, in particular, are formative and they have each received their due condemnation from Pope Leo XIII (and subsequent popes), whom I prefer to cite since he enjoyed a certain historical proximity to the institutionalization of these ideas. The first is the privatization of faith, which is how I will describe the classical liberal understanding of the separation of church and state. The difficulty is not with the idea of distinguishing the respective roles of church and state in public life, something Pope Leo XIII did quite commendably (Immortale Dei, no. 13). The difficulty is rather in how the Encyclopedists relegated matters of faith to the private sphere. Leo XIII describes it thus:

And it is a part of this theory that all questions that concern religion are to be referred to private judgment; that every one is to be free to follow whatever religion he prefers, or none at all if he disapprove of all. From this the following consequences logically flow: that the judgment of each one’s conscience is independent of all law (Immortale Dei, no. 26).

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