Marriage vs. 'Marriage'

A Register Editorial: Our style reflects an important Church teaching.

A recent interview posted at received quite a bit of attention, particularly from people identifying themselves in online comments as homosexual.

The interview was with Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., in which the bishop offered his thoughts on a controversy in his state over same-sex civil unions. Bishop Tobin’s fear is that settling for this compromise with same-sex “marriage” will leave the door open for that very thing: same-sex “marriage.”

One of the criticisms of the Register’s presentation of this interview, aside from the substance of Bishop Tobin’s argument, was this newspaper’s practice of placing quotation marks around “marriage” when referring to homosexual “marriage.”

“Your use of quote marks around marriage is demeaning and cruel,” one reader wrote.

It’s a point of style, but our reason for doing so is not to demean or offend anyone. It is very much tied in with what the Church teaches — that marriage can exist only between two people of the opposite sex, two people who know what they are doing and who freely give their consent to a life (a complete one) with only that person.

Many of the readers commenting on this interview believe that this can take place between two persons of the same sex. They insist that the love two persons feel for one another allows this.

“Regardless of the labels you want to stamp on our forehead, we still are instilled with God’s greatest gift to man — the ability to love one another,” a reader commented. “The kind of passionate love that ‘straight’ people have, believe it or not, can be found in numerous gay couples. And the ultimate message that gays want to have marriage for is the same that straight people get married for: ‘I love the soul that’s within this human being so much that I want to be with him/her for the rest of my life.’”

Noble sentiments. But love is not merely a feeling, no matter how strong and constant. Love is a decision — a decision to work for the good of the other. And the ultimate good is the salvation of that person’s soul.

Two men who “love” each other or two women who “are committed” to each other might have a friendship — but not marriage. It is not a matter of religion, but biology. Marriage exists for the procreation and education of successive generations of human beings. Same-sex couples simply cannot procreate. They can, technically, adopt or even have a child by artificial insemination or surrogacy, but that child will never be the fruit of their conjugal love. There is a biological disconnect that prevents the two people in a same-sex relationship from uniting as “one flesh.”

The future of society depends largely on natural marriage. For the state to grant equal status to same-sex relationships would undermine society’s own future.