Same-sex marriage has been accepted by a majority of the American people. As of February 2015, it is legal in 37 of 50 states. While this subject has as yet to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, that review is expected to begin this April, with a decision possibly as soon as June.
The course was set after the court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. It only remains for the Court to determine whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right underneath the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.
The Court decision regarding DOMA was inevitable because the change in our culture means a radical change in the definition of marriage. The one man/one woman definition of marriage is cultural residue from the Judeo–Christian culture. Only Roman law provided monogamy; every other culture practiced polygamy or various forms of plural marriage. With Jesus’ teachings and the establishment of Christianity, the dignity of women and the equality of all persons required monogamous marriage relationships.
In the new post-Judeo–Christian culture, when marriage began to be defined as a love relationship between two persons of any sex, it was inevitable that under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, the United States Supreme Court would strike down any legislation that forbade man/man, woman/woman marriage. So it was when the Court struck down DOMA. The definition of marriage had to change, since marriage has traditionally been defined as a relationship between one man and one woman for 2,000 years (older than that in Roman law).
With the new definition of marriage, not only is same-sex marriage permissible but so are polygamy, polyandry, group marriage, etc. Those all fit the new definition of marriage because the biological and procreative dimension of marriage is no longer a part of the new definition.
This represents a new culture, which has now been enforced by the courts and not by the will of the people. With the aid of the Courts under this new culture, the law now is changed because the culture is changed. We have retreated to what was traditionally known as “pagan law,” endorsing polygamy (there is no evidence of polyandry or same-sex marriage in all of recorded history).
What we have, therefore, is marriage defined by a new culture and no longer an imposition of monogamous Judeo–Christian definition of marriage come down to us from Roman and Christian views of marriage. There are now two cultures for which there cannot be any bridge. Most of Europe has accepted the new definition of marriage, as well as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and much of the United States.
A Change of Culture
The culture has changed from Judeo–Christian to a culture of relativism and consumerism. It is under this new culture, in the absence of any religious foundation, that courts view the acceptability of same-sex marriage under the Equal Protection Clause. This is radically different from the 19th century Supreme Court decision on Reynolds v. United States that upheld monogamy and stuck down the polygamy of the Mormon faith, a decision made because a different Judeo–Christian culture was then is vogue.
It is important to note that each definition of marriage is built on the nature of the relationship. The Judeo–Christian view posits nature itself as the foundation. The nature of marriage here relates to two distinct parts of the one relationship: the love relationship between a man and a woman and its openness to the future in the form of family and children.
Traditional marriage fulfills both parts of that unique relationship. Sickness or age may make one part of the relationship inoperative, not because of an intrinsic inability to function, but because this inability comes ab extra, from outside the relationship. Therefore older couples may be married and not be able to procreate, not because of any intrinsic lack in the relationship, but because of nature itself which makes it impossible because of sickness or old age.
Such is not the case in any definition of same-sex marriage which makes one of the dimensions of marriage impossible. The relationship may be one of love, but it cannot fulfill the opening to life in a procreative sense. All sexual actions of homosexuals have nothing to do with family or the future. Any family of lesbian or homosexual couples is from ab extra/adoption, artificial insemination, or previous sexual relationships of one of the couple.
The homosexual “marriage” is intrinsically incapable of procreation. All actions of homosexuals are orientated only to themselves to foster love and not to family and openness to life: cunnilingus, masturbation, anal intercourse and the use of machines, which are all incapable of any future but are restricted to themselves.
Ancient views saw all these sexual acts as perversions, whether performed by homosexuals or heterosexuals, because they have no future and are overcome by death because there is no opening to life intrinsically. Normally, a same-sex marriage has no future and dies with the couple. Family must be added ab extra.
These two views of marriage result from a different culture and cannot be reconciled, no matter how open a particular society may be or even what the law says.
The change in cultures today is clearly non-biblical. God, in Genesis, created the couple male and female, and nowhere does the Bible view homosexual activity as anything but a perversion (homosexual marriage is not even mentioned in the Bible).
Even polygamy (practiced by Muslims and many other tribes in history, including the patriarchs) posits both dimensions of marriage even if the couple is enlarged to many wives or even many husbands. These relationships remain open to life and the future even in a plural relationship. The Jewish patriarchs, for example, were all polygamists, but Christ’s teaching went back to the very creation of marriage itself where God created only Adam and Eve, the only type of marriage in the Bible.
It is, however, very difficult if not impossible to find any foundation of these same-sex unions in philosophy or in history or in the Bible.
The only thing other churches can do is to refuse to bless these unions (that is, those churches desiring to remain faithful to Scripture) and yet try to welcome the individuals into their churches in charity and fraternity without accepting them as “married,” which the Judeo–Christian culture cannot do. What will be the final outcome of deliberations at this year’s Synod we do not yet know. There will be no change in doctrine, but quite possibly a change in attitude and acceptance.
Thus it is futile to argue about the nature of marriage in both cultures. It all depends on the definition of marriage and what is intrinsic to the relationship: love and openness to life, children, family — or love only, which cannot of its very own nature be fruitful intrinsically. For homosexuals to create a family, they must reach out ab extra of the couple themselves.
There is no sense in arguing the point unless each party changes its definition of the marital relationship, and this is not going to happen.
The most that is possible is a respect for each view (both born of nature) of each culture without condemnation or bitterness. Condemnation leads nowhere, because condemnation is not going to change either culture.
The only thing that remains is respect and charity without approval among those who wish to remain faithful to tradition and to Scripture, a loving welcome of homosexuals into the Church without approval of its definition of marriage.
In each culture, it is the people alone who have the power to decide the definition of marriage within a culture — not the courts.
The courts have decided in the context of a new culture to consider same-sex marriage as marriage. That could never have happened in the previous Judeo–Christian culture.
MR. RIGA is an attorney practicing appellate law in Houston, Texas. He is the author of over 35 books and over five thousand articles on law, foreign and domestic affairs, foreign policy, ethics, philosophy, theology and Scripture, as well as comparative religions including Islam.