Friday 4 November 2011

Just say non…

                                     Cheese eating surrender monkeys done good…

One of the little secrets that modern up to date people like to keep from us dwellers in the Dark Ages is that the march of same sex ‘marriage’ isn’t inevitable. A key tactic in modern liberalism is that of creating the vision of the inevitability of ‘progress’ (as well as the identification of all fashionable change as ‘progress’). We need to keep reminding ourselves that such talk is nothing more than the mesmerism of the Ancient Mariner:

He holds him with his glittering eye -
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years' child:
The Mariner hath his will.
Whilst the depressing (but still quite short) litany of countries which have adopted same sex ‘marriage’ is regular trotted out in Scotland to encourage a sense of inevitability about the whole thing, the fact that France’s Assemblée nationale rejected it on 14 June (here (French); here (English)) this year wasn’t widely publicized.

Opposition to same sex ‘marriage’ in America seems to be very much a popular revolt against the preoccupations of secularized, liberal elites, and, as such, is easily portrayed by our media as the rantings of loony religious crazies who live in swamps and eat critters.

                     Christian protesters in the US on their way to oppose everything sensible…

The French case doesn’t easily fit into this caricature. If anything, judging by the fact that opinion polls show a popular majority in favour of same sex ‘marriage’ in France, it might more plausibly be seen as a demonstration of the French political élite’s disdain for anything that smacks of popularism.

My understanding of modern French politics is too limited to suggest any detailed reasons for this rejection. Doubtless, there will be debunking explanations couched in terms of the jockeying for position between the parties, or the history of struggle between Catholicism and anti-clericalism in France. Anyway, for the moment, I tell myself it’s down to a lingering French respect for clarity of thought and a suspicion of Anglophone sexual enthusiasms. In any case, the following remark by the UMP deputy, Christian Vanneste, is striking as a rare instance of a politician hitting the nail on the head about same sex 'marriage' (here in French):

It’s a private matter which doesn’t concern the future of society. It’s a matter of  sexual pleasure, of entertainment, of affection. What concern has society with that? Society is interested in marriage only to the extent that it is linked in the majority of cases to procreation.

There are all sorts of relationship that exist between people. Society ignores most of them. It recognizes and supports marriage because it has an interest in the heterosexual couple as the prime creator of the next generation and not because it has some purely sentimental idea of celebrating love and lifelong commitment.

Why shouldn’t we celebrate and support the good of poignant and short lived relationships? Of the pleasures of long term but superficial commitment? Why aren’t the good and the great demanding the sort of institutional recognition of short term relationships which exists (eg) in Shia Islam if we’re really going to be a go ahead progressive, non-judgmental Scotland?

The only reason for the State to support –rather than just tolerate- a particular type of relationship is that it contributes to the common good. And the Church has an answer as to why marriage is special in terms of the common good: the good of marriage is procreation and its characteristics –eg fidelity and life long commitment- are oriented to that good. Society has a reason –its own survival- to support the good of procreation, the proper raising of children and thus marriage. It does not have a similar reason to support other sorts of good embodied in other relationships. They are, as Vanneste notes, merely a ‘divertissement’. (Which leaves aside, for another day, whether they are good or bad divertissements.)

1 comment:

  1. I can understand and respect the reasons why many people (including Catholics) oppose the legal definition of same-sex "marriage". Expressing opposition to that ought not automatically to classify such a person as prejudiced. My concern is more about the way campaigns against same-sex marriage tend to be waged. From what I have seen, they do have a tendency to lapse into homophobia.

    As for France...notice that the parliamentary rejection of same-sex marriage was not a landslide - it was 293-222 votes. The Socialist Party is in favour of it, and if they increase their seats at the next election (as is likely) then the legislation may eventually be passed. Yes, you can portray the vote as a setback for the movement for same-sex marriage...but you could also see it as an indication for just how how far support for it has come.