This is a well-written, judicious piece. And it certainly seems correct as far as its descriptive analysis goes - and I don’t think anyone would disagree with that, in its historical sense. Homosexuality may or may not have been condoned historically, sometimes even encouraged, as a perhaps a more learned relationship than a marriage with a woman (which reveals an equally patriarchal within male-female relations and a master-servant hierarchical bias in sexual relations which we moderns are also equally uncomfortable with), but it was never confused with marriage. In fact, in at least one Torah commentary written by a female rabbi who was herself ambivalent towards modern conceptions of the same-sex marriage, she has said that the (unusual) prohibition of any same-sex expression was done precisely to maintain the common equality of all male Israelites vis a vis women so that no males would be socially debased into the female role of servitude, as was common in all ANE expressions of such behavior. In those isolated cases where such same-sex marriages were said to have taken place (Nero comes to mind), these things were reported precisely to lampoon the emperor. And the fact that Nero’s counterpart was married off precisely dressed as a woman, i.e. a superior to subordinate relationship, speaks volumes.
Certainly, we moderns, both secular and non-secular, carry with us Christian baggage which have created a peculiar Western notion of marriage (cf. Spivak on Indian marriages prior to British colonization for some comparison) in which everyone wants to participate in some fashion (the Hallmark weddings, etc.) without the entire package. As far as this goes, historically, I think this is nearly indisputable.
What needs to be clarified, though, is why though our case for maintaining tradition in face of technological developments, with some lamentable social set-backs indeed, is compelling. People have always tried to have sex without producing children (various medieval practices can be well-attested, alchemical and astrological as well as physical); the modern age is simply much more successful. Today, especially, aside from concerns about overpopulation, which is more of a post-hoc explanation than a real reason for most, anyhow, children have become more of an economic burden in the long-term: first - the separation of the home from the economy (post-Enlightenment Europe), which created the “cult of domesticity” and the divide between men and women in the first place followed by the seeming necessity of a two incomes household, substantial decrease in infant mortality, compounded schooling costs, the delayed “leaving of the nest,” the explosion of “empty” college degrees being needed for what were once entry-level jobs, prolonging of childhood, rising costs of living and the need for literally more stuff just to make it by in the modern world. Plus, children, given the restrictive child labor laws over the past two centuries, have become less of an economic asset for the family as a whole. Most, I think, want some kind of patrimonial legacy, part of our drive given by Nature and Nature’s God. But…
My point is simply that, structurally, our entire Western society has been on this road for centuries, for good or ill. And it’s not just contraceptives or Western individualism, an ethos that might be changed without consequences, but our entire socio-economic way of being. And I’m not sure the clock can be - or ought to be - undone.
Finally, the reason why the great pagan and Christian worlds stood in a common understanding here, for the most part, was the belief that Nature was normative for the moral life, a kind of Tao. But, given Darwinian evolution (and I full-heartedly believe in evolution by natural selection and its exclusive education in schools and oppose “Intelligent Design,” which is quite injurious, in my opinion, to normative Catholic theology, anyhow), that vision has given way to a kind of Baconian transhumanism. And, without the moorings in a transcendent order (which theistic and non-theistic religions still uphold (and, to this day, I am baffled as to why the Dalai Lama, who despite his anti-modern and beautifully pagan asceticism remains oddly a media giant to the materialistic West which really could benefit from a little Dharmic ascesis, has done a volte face on clear Buddhist tradition regarding homosexuality), such a worldview no longer holds water.
It seems to me the best option we have is get out of politics altogether, give up the ghost in the culture war which has for too long shackled the Church politically in a losing battle, and win the world’s soul through the weight of the Christian mythos - Creation, Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension - and liturgical life.
Just my two cents. Thank you for the enlightening commentary on this series of events.