Marriage will always be marriage – but lies can destroy language


The weakness of any argument is often revealed in the reversion of its advocates to the ad hominem mode – which is just another way of avoiding the issue at the heart of an argument. While not exactly ad hominem, more a question of ad institutionem, the media onslaught on the mild but clear utterances of the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales over Christmas did little more than betray the shallowness of the gay case for the redefinition and ultimate destruction of the institution of marriage.

As the British media response group, Catholic Voices, points out on its blog today, “references to the threat to marriage in Archbishop Vincent Nichols‘ Midnight Mass homily were brief — a matter of a few lines in what was mostly a gentle meditation on the meaning of the Nativity. He referred to “the love of husband and wife, which is creative of new human life” as being “a marvelously personal sharing in the creative love of God who brings into being the eternal soul that comes to every human being with the gift of human life.” Later — following a paragraph about businesses failing to respect people, and other examples of “corrosion” of human dignity – he added: “Sometimes sexual expression can be without the public bond of the faithfulness of marriage and its ordering to new life. Even governments mistakenly promote such patterns of sexual intimacy as objectively to be approved and even encouraged among the young.”

The blog notes that he also made forthright, heartfelt and thoughtful comments to the BBC, broadcast on Christmas Day, about the shambolic and contemptuous way in which the Government was going about the implementation of same-sex marriage.

But these mild and surely legitimate expressions of authority  by a teacher in a law-abiding Church were enough to provoke what Catholic Voices termed “some stern sermonizing from same-sex marriage advocates, who rather than engage with his points, declared that Christmas was about ‘peace’ and ‘love’ which was being hijacked by the Archbishop of Westminster’s attempt to mount a political rally.”

The problem about peace and love is that one man’s peace is another man’s war and for King Herod the arrival of a particular baby in the world was about anything but peace. Archbishop Nichol’s reading of the significance of the event was true to its entire context. The reading of the media advocates of the gay lobby’s argument had more to do with the schmaltz with which the 20th century has smothered it. In the whole gay “marriage” campaign, the hi-jacking of language is rampant. The message which came into the world in the aftermath of that event in Bethlehem has for two thousand years consistently and persistently moved hand in hand with the message that marriage between a man and a woman is central to the well being of humanity and human society.  Surely the outrage should be provoked by those who try to suggest that Christmas would be celebrating anything as contradictory as proposing that a sexual relationship between two people of the same sex be described as a marriage and be somehow consistent with the moral tenets of Christianity. If so it was not to be found in the British press this week. The campaign which can only result in the destruction of marriage in any meaningful form has far greater affinity with the world which Herod was seeking to protect than it has with the new world heralded by the arrival of the child he sought to destroy. He also was deceitful about his intentions. Gay lobbyists paying lip-service to Christianity are no less so.

Catholic Voices surveyed the press  reaction to Nichols’ words:

There was Graeme Archer in the Telegraph, who claimed that “real men and women woke up on Christmas Day with nothing but love in their hearts, switched on the radio, and heard Nichols’s message to the planet. The bit about Jesus and love was cut from the headlines, in order to give him space to push his political agenda.”  There was Ben Summerskill, head of the multi-million pound gay rights lobbyist Stonewall, who thought it “sad” that “an archbishop should sully the day of the birth of Jesus by making what seem to be such uncharitable observations about other people”, before adding, with an extraordinary mixture of pseudo-piety and acidity, that “some of us are mindful of Luke 2:4, which reminds us that Christmas Day is a day of peace and goodwill to all men. Perhaps Archbishop Nichols should have spent a little more time in bible study.”

Catholic Voices then raises the question:

If a Catholic bishop cannot raise the alarm over the destruction by the state of the most essential civil society institution in society and history, one founded on the God-created fertile complementarity of man and woman; and if he cannot do so on the eve of the Government bringing it before Parliament; and if he cannot express, when he does so, the mind of the Church — which is pretty much made up on this — then he would hardly deserve to be entrusted with the office.  Summerskill seems to think that the Church should render unto Caesar everything and shut up shop.

Equally patronizing was Ian Birrell –tellingly, a former speech-writer for David Cameron — in The Independent, who suggested that the opposition of the Churches to gay marriage was evidence of their ‘irrelevance’ and ‘diminishing importance’. In other words, we don’t need to bother with their arguments or concerns, only to reassure ourselves that these are institutions which belong to the past. But because they persist, they must be dealt with harshly by the law. Thus ‘churches should no more be allowed to ban gay people from marrying in church than those who are black and disabled’, he rules, adding: ‘With luck, a rapid appeal to the European court of human rights will remove any opt-outs given to hostile religions’. As in China, revolutionary Mexico, or Soviet Russia, the remedy is simple: abolish any right the Church may have to govern itself; the ‘progressive’ state is limitless.

Birrell also tries to claim that the Archbishop has no right to criticize the undemocratic nature of the Government’s consultation because the Church is not a democracy. ‘For an outfit headed by someone who proclaims infallibility to complain about the lack of democracy when an elected government seeks to pass a law on a free vote in parliament takes not just the biscuit, but the entire packet,’ he writes, echoing Minette Marin in the Sunday Times: maybe the Government’s plans are shambolic and undemocratic, she says, ‘but the Church of Rome is hardly known for democracy or political accountability itself.’

Leaving aside the misunderstanding of the idea of papal infallibility, the stupidity of this argument is obvious. Almost no organization in society is run as a democracy: not businesses, not civil society bodies, and certainly not newspapers (when was the last time an editor was elected?), which, let us remember, have been in the dock for ignoring the law and fleeing public scrutiny. If the Independent, Telegraph or the Sunday Times do not run on democratic lines, with what justification – according to their columnists’ reasoning — do they slam the Government every day?

This post appeared on MercatorNet’s Conjugality blog yesterday evening.

David Page, from the United States, commenting on the post on Conjugality  objected  as follows:

This article is full of flaws. Mr. Kirke claims gay people are arguing for the destruction of marriage. That’s just silly. Gay marriage affirms the stabilizing effect of marriage. The Church should, at the very least, recognize this and stay out of the way. If they don’t like gay marriage then don’t perform any. But don’t try to tell my church that we have no right to perform gay marriages if we want to (and we do).

To which the author replied:

Consider this: the Communist regime in East Germany, when it came to power described itself as a democracy. As we well know it had as much to do with democracy as the regime which preceded it. Whatever hopes the unfortunate people of that region of Germany might have had of living in a democracy had those hopes destroyed when their ideological masters took control of their language and as much of their lives as they could. The true meaning of democracy remained and the effort to programme reality through language was of course a failure. Marriage will always be marriage – the conjugal union of a man and a woman. What will be destroyed by the attempt to change the definition of marriage in any given society will be the public perception of that institution within that society. A lie will become the official “truth”. That is a pretty destructive thing to do. For the unfortunate men and women in that society – as well as the children and families created by their conjugal unions – the connection between their unions and the word marriage will now be destroyed. Eventually however, the folly of the sentimental nonsense underlying this entire project will collapse under its own internal contradictions – like the Berlin Wall – and anthropological reality will reassert itself. In the meantime be prepared for the catalogue of dysfunction and misery which gross self-indulgence always brings in its wake.

A “sham”, empty and profoundly undemocratic document

As posted this morning to MercatorNet’s Conjugality blog where you can read much more and stay up to date on the issues facing the institution of marriage.

The initial verdicts on British Government’s ambiguously entitled “consultation” on the  proposal to legislate for same-sex marriage in England and Wales is pretty negative, – not just on the substantive issue but on the very muddled presentation in the document itself. The “consultation” was issued on Thursday.

The Coalition for Marriage (C4M), which now has a quarter of a million signatures to its petition to save marriage, proclaimed the whole process to be a “sham” and profoundly undemocratic. “The institution of marriage is not the play thing of the state; it belongs to society and therefore cannot be redefined by a few politicians obsessed with appearing ‘trendy’ and ‘progressive’ C4M says.

After reading it he Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, told BBC Newsnight that it was “utterly astonishing  that the document made no reference to children throughout its 20 pages: “Marriage is about bringing difference together. Different sexes, sometimes different families, different tribes. It’s been used to bring kingdoms together. It’s about bringing difference together, out of which comes a new start and a new life.

“The gender difference is essential for its creativity and its complementarity.”

“It is excluding things that are of the very nature of marriage.

“What society says, I believe, is the best circumstances for conceiving and bringing up children is the partnership between two natural parents. That’s why the law is there to protect marriage and that’s why the change in the definition of marriage affects everybody” Dr. Nichals added.

The Coalition for Marriage accuses the government of not only “trying to change the meaning of ‘marriage’, now they’re trying to redefine the meaning of ‘consultation’.

“Consultation means listening to people before making up your mind. But Lynne Featherstone (Equalities Minister) has a new definition – she is going to bulldoze ahead with the plans whether the public like it or not. Some consultation. Yes, she’ll ask the public if they agree. But she says she’s already determined to push on. Asking isn’t the same as listening – unless the meaning of those words has been redefined too.”

Coalition for Marriage campaign director, Colin Hart, said:

“The Government has today launched a consultation on redefining marriage. After initially relenting and promising to include a question on the principle of introducing same sex marriage it is clear from the written statement given to both Houses of Parliament by the Equalities Minister that she will simply ignore any answers to this question.

“I always thought that a consultation was about listening to people and asking them their views, before making a decision. Not only are they redefining the meaning of marriage, they’re redefining the meaning of consultation.

“This consultation is a sham. It is being pushed through despite the public never having a say on this change. None of the main political parties proposed redefining marriage in their manifestos and the impact assessment misses out many of the possible problems that could occur if this institution is redefined, for example how this change will affect our schools.

“The institution of marriage is not the play thing of the state; it belongs to society and therefore cannot be redefined by a few politicians obsessed with appearing ‘trendy’ and ‘progressive’.

“It is also bizarre that Lynne Featherstone says that she wants to end the current two tier system’, yet wants to replace this with an even more complicated system that has two options for gays, and only one for heterosexuals. That’s equality for you.

“The plain truth is marriage is marriage and should not be redefined by politicians.

“C4M and the people who have signed our petition believe that this change is profoundly undemocratic, will have massive consequences for society and is simply unnecessary as civil partnerships provide all the legal rights of marriage.”

Meanwhile the blogs are putting in their knives as well. “Regardless of where people stand on the issue, they should quickly realise that (this document) is a shoddy piece of work, undermined by the fact that its authors clearly don’t know what they’re dealing with” writes The Thirsty Gargoyle, one of the more incisive social values inhabitants of the blogosphere.

He begins at a very basic level pointing out that weddings and marriages are not the same thing.

“A wedding — otherwise referred to as a marriage ceremony — is an event. This event gives access to marriage, that being an institution.

“There is no legal distinction between civil and religious marriages. There are legal distinctions between civil and religious marriage ceremonies, but that’s it. In English law, it is legally meaningless to speak of either civil or religious marriage. There is only marriage. That’s it.

“Bearing that in mind, you should realise that the document is misnamed. It’s impossible to speak of ‘equal civil marriage’ in a meaningful British context; one can only speak of ‘equal marriage’.

“Of course, those of us who subscribe to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are already signed up to the concept of equal marriage; men and women, it says, have the right to marry and found a family, with both men and women being entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage, and at its dissolution.  Calling ‘same-sex marriage’ ‘equal marriage’ is an Orwellian hijacking of an established term.”

Questions five and six in the annexe at the end of the document, he says, are an example of the nonsense which fills the document, for instance.

“’Question 5: The Government does not propose to open up religious marriage to same-sex couples. Do you agree or disagree?’

“’Question 6: Do you agree or disagree with keeping the option of civil partnerships once civil marriage is available to same-sex couples?’

“Yep, utter gibberish. Questions five and six make no legal sense unless the Government is planning on legislating to create new institutions called ‘religious marriage’ and ‘civil marriage’. As it stands, there’s only the one institution, which we call marriage, and which has been defined, since at least 1662, as being the union of a man and a woman primarily for the purpose of bearing and rearing children.”

There is a great deal more in The Thirsty Gargoyle exposing what he – or is it she or it – sees as the folly of this whole project.