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A Dialogue on Marriage: Part Five

Dialogue-Part-Five-no-wordsPart Five of the Six-Part series beginning with the question, “What is Marriage?”

Socrates: Bob, I have a cute story to share with you, if I may.
Bob: Sure, go ahead.
Socrates:  I was tucking my daughter into bed, and she got a dreamy look on her face as she said, “Daddy, I want to marry you.” I smiled and told her that she couldn’t marry me, but that someday she might want to marry someone else. She looked very sad, and said, “But I love you so much!” I told her that she would always love her daddy, but that love isn’t the same kind of love as married love.
Bob: I think I know where you’re going with this.
Socrates: Well what do you think about that? Should a daughter be able to marry her dad, since she loves him?
Bob: Of course not!
Socrates:  But why not?
Bob: Because, like you said, it’s a different kind of love—or at least it should be.
Socrates:  Do you think it is true love though?
Bob: Of course.
Socrates:  Then we agree that there are several ways of truly loving people, not all of which lead to marriage.
Bob: Naturally. But I think that the love that two men or two women have for each other can be the kind that leads to marriage.
Socrates:  Even though, when we talked previously, you admitted that they can’t unite completely, the way that a married man and woman can?
Bob: They can unite on a deeply personal level though, and be companions for one another throughout life . Maybe it shouldn’t be called marriage, but it’s something.
Socrates:  What would you call it?
Bob: Some laws call it a civil union— that they are close friends who support one another and love each other, and implied in that love is a sexual relationship.
Socrates:  Do you think that the sexual relationship is an integral or essential part of a same sex friendship then?
Bob:Not in general, but for people who are attracted to the same sex, it is: yes!
Socrates:  Then you would say that the body itself is neutral in terms of sexual expression?
Bob: What do you mean?
Socrates:  It seems you’re saying that the body, the way it’s made, doesn’t reveal how one’s sexuality is meant to be expressed.
Bob: You mean that the attraction and the body are entirely different things, so that a man can be attracted to either a man or a woman and it’s basically the same thing?
Socrates:  Right. Is that what you think?
Bob: Yes. Clearly some people are attracted to others of the same sex. You wouldn’t deny that, would you?
Socrates:  No, I wouldn’t, but I would question the idea that just because it happens, it’s the same as when someone is attracted to people of the opposite sex.
Bob:Sexual attraction is just that, attraction… being drawn to someone, feeling connected to them. It’s not everything about a person, but it is pretty determinative of a person’s life: who they love.
Socrates: Okay, but what is the “end” of sexual attraction?
Bob: What do you mean, “end”?
Socrates:  I mean purpose. What is the purpose of sexual attraction?
Bob:The continuation of the species… and the making of a community and family.
Socrates: How does sexual attraction to a person of the same sex continue the species?
Bob: It doesn’t; but it can make two people into a community.
Socrates:  How?
Bob: Like I already said, they can share a life together.
Socrates:  Okay, but I can’t see any reason why being “a community” requires a sexual relationship. In fact, I think a sexual relationship in which the most obvious purposes of sex (total union and procreation) are not respected does more harm than good. That’s usually the case when something is used in the wrong way, and not treated with the dignity or respect it deserves.
Bob: We’re going to have to come back to this.

FAQs: Isn’t marriage a private relationship? What does it have to do with the common good?
What about “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships”?

7 responses to “A Dialogue on Marriage: Part Five”

  1. Rich L says:

    This is not right at all… Marriage was God’s first vocation he clearly made it known that a man should be married to a woman not the same sex… the conversation you two are having is pointless…Marriage is God’s most holy will as well as priesthood, so the question is should gay men or women be accepted into religious life because they are around the same gender, because if so it would be a major disappointment to the Catholic Church and faith

  2. Joe M says:

    I’ve enjoyed the write-up. I’ll need to read the previous parts. There is a missing piece of the conversation though.

    What if Bob had said: one key piece of sexual relations, apart from pro-creation, is giving and receiving physical and emotional pleasure as a gift shared between the two. This gift, though not child bearing, brings greater joy to each in the relationship which spreads to the community at large. So not a child, but an intangible depth of relationship.

    • DOM says:

      That’s a great point, Joe! It is life-giving in itself and marriage makes a new family, even if there are no children.

  3. nicole says:

    Not all sexual relationships are ment to continue the species. A husband and wife can choose to not have children or may not be able to have children thus they are not continuing the species. This does not make this sexual relationship unholy. Why would it be any different for the same sex? They, just like the man and woman, are expressing their love to one another without the intent to create children.

    • DOM says:

      Thanks for your point! This is where we have to get into the deeper questions of who man and woman are, and how they are created.

      When a man and a woman come together in the marital act, their bodies unite in a way that cannot be replicated by any other combination. Two men or two women cannot physically unite “just like” a man and a woman at all.

      The sexual relationship between a man and a woman is always the kind of act that is procreative. It is procreative in its essence. Male and female bodies are made for each other, in a way that is fairly obvious from a biological point of view, but is not only biological since we are soul & body (united) persons. The reproductive system is the one and only system in the body that is not complete in itself– in fact, neither makes any sense without the other.

  4. Tom says:

    I clearly understand the Church’s position on a sacramental marriage and I can certainly understand why it may oppose the broadening definition of marriage in a civil ceremony, but should a State deny someone of the same sex the opportunity to contract for marriage because they do not believe as we do? The example given above about a daughter’s desire to marry her father seems a bit off point, because we know that a minor daughter could never contract. Second, the State’s public policy does not allow for this type of union to occur. But, as it seems today, the public policy is changing regarding same-sex unions. Can a religion impose its beliefs on a changing public policy? While I am certain it can express its opinion, I find the freedom of religion fraught with many legal challenges. I have struggled with the Church’s new found sense of “victimhood” regarding the term, “Freed of Religion” that surprises me. I guess I understand the message, but haven’t understood the methods being used to achieve its goal.

    • DOM says:

      Thanks for your comment. The Church’s understanding of marriage is not limited to the sacramental realm, but rather based in nature. In other words, even if Christ had not elevated the bond between man and woman to the level of a sacrament, it would have always already been a unique relationship: the only way that two people can united fully, the only way that children are conceived, and the best way for those children to be nurtured and loved by the very source of their lives (the man and woman who conceived them).

      All public policy imposes a belief of some kind. Why is it that those who do not believe that the human body and sexual acts have meaning beyond the subjective is able to impose their beliefs on everyone else, and particularly on religious people?

      Sadly, the case about a daughter and her father is not as off point as you may think. It follows the logic that is inherent in expanding the definition of marriage according to any desires of people involved.

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