There is a certain pattern to this world: many things exist in pairs. When children discover this, they love to play the game “What’s the opposite of….?” What’s the opposite of day? night! What’s the opposite of hot? cold! and so on.
The Book of Genesis describes this fundamental structure to the world as “God divided”: God created light, and God divided the light from the darkness; God divided the sea from the land, and so on. Eastern philosophy found a simple way to expresses this basic division in nature through the image of Yin Yang. The image is black and white because Yin Yang means “dark light”, but Eastern philosophy applies this image to a number of other opposites: hot cold, dry moist, high low, air earth, fire water, and masculine feminine. On one level these pairs seem to be in conflict, as if hot is trying to destroy cold, but we notice that despite the impression of conflict, there is a harmony to the whole, and neither one overwhelms the other. We might say that the opposites are playing or dancing instead of fighting. The Book of Genesis describes this in terms of boundaries: when God divided the sea and the land, He set boundaries for the sea so that it would not submerge the land.
Even though there is a harmony between opposites, this division of nature into opposites creates a tension that bothers us. Dry and wet cannot exist together, hot and cold cannot exist together, something must be either high or low. In fact, it is impossible to combine the opposites, because when they combine they lose their character, they cancel one another out. We try to imagine a way that something could have all the qualities of both opposites, but in nature this is never possible, and that bothers us, because we do not like the feeling that things are always incomplete, that they are always missing something.
Masculine and feminine is one of these divisions. Man and woman are different, and we suffer from the same problem that troubles the world: a person must either be a man or a woman, and so a person is always missing something. We try to combine the two (hermaphrodites), but the combination is never perfect: it always loses what is special about about the genders.
Book of Genesis is more sophisticated than the Yin Yang philosophy, however, because it sees that there is something about man and woman that is different from all the other opposites that exist in nature. Man and woman are able to unite, in fact, they are meant to unite, and in man and woman nature finds the peace that has eluded it everywhere else; the possibility that opposites can unite without losing what makes them distinct. This union is possible because human beings have the power to love, and love is capable of uniting with the other in a way that fully accepts the uniqueness of the other. Sexual union falls far short of the union that man and woman are capable of; the union of two bodies is not the goal, but it is the path to a greater goal, which is the union of two persons.
I said in another post that the essence of marriage is the “total gift of self.” Since the man has given himself totally to his wife, she possesses his masculinity, and since the woman has given herself totally to her husband, he possesses her femininity. It is at the level of this personal union that two different lives become one life, without destroying what was unique about each one, and in fact, their differences become clearer and stronger but their differences no longer divide them.
It is very true that not every human being is capable of a marital union: some have no vocation to marriage, some experience a romantic interest in their own sex, and some people experience a call to give up romance in order to live in celibacy as a witness to God. (This witness, by the way, is a proclamation that God is healing a much deeper division than male female: He is bringing God and man together into one).
Every person wants to overcome his or her loneliness, but not everyone should do this through marriage. The Modern world rejects that idea, and wants to declare same-sex relationships to be “just as good as marriage”, so that even people who are romantically interested in their own sex can experience marital union. The problem is that this relationship is Yin Yin or Yang Yang, and so it completely fails to bring unity the way marriage does. The power of marriage is exactly the ability to unite the opposites, and so marital union is only possible with the opposite sex. Any other relationship fails to do what marriage does.
Society wants both things at the same time, it wants marriage and it wants same-sex couples to be married. The problem is that these relationships are based on opposite ideas: The idea that a same-sex relationship can never be the same as marriage is based on the truth that there is a real difference between male and female, but this real difference is what makes a union possible. To accept same-sex relationships, we need to believe one of these two ideas:
1) The difference between male and female is not a real difference, it is only an illusion or something superficial. If we accept this idea, then we encourage people to live in a way that is disconnected from the body, which is not a healthy or human way to live.
2) The difference between male and female is real, and it is so real that a true union between them is only an illusion, or at most something superficial. If we accept this idea, then we encourage people not only to feel connected to their body, but to feel so connected to their body that it divides them from the other half of the human race.
What is most chilling is the effect that this would have on our children. Children need to feel loved and accepted from a very early age in order to know that they have a place in our world and in human society. The first relationship that every child has is the relationship with his or her mother: already in the womb, children have a deep and profound connection with their mother, and this connection gives them a place in the world as long as their mother does not reject them. It does not take long, however, for a child to realize that the human race is divided into boys and girls, and mother is a girl. In order to be fully accepted by the human race, a child also needs to be loved and accepted by the other half of the human race, by a father. A father and a mother have a duty to accept and love the child they conceive because children desperately need to be accepted and loved by the whole human race. A father and a mother represent the whole human race for their children.
A same sex marriage is always missing either a father, or a mother, and so it leads us to the conclusion that children do not need a father or a mother. Unless our society insists that every child needs a father and a mother, we risk alienating our children from half of the human race, if not from both halves. The human race badly needs true marriage, because it cannot risk being any more divided. +