Columns

Gay marriage and the natural law

BY BROTHER HAYDEN AUGUSTINE

Tuesday, March 26, 2013    

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GAY marriage has become a hot topic, a burning issue. Some time ago, on the front pages of our dailies, two women are captioned in matrimonial embrace. As we continue perusing the news, more captions, more divergent opinions and viewpoints, columns and letters are expressed on this most elemental of traditions. One journalist even feared for her life in the firestorm of opinions.

Is sexual expression a human right? Could opposition to homosexuality be considered a hate crime? Would homophobia be one day declared a mental sickness? These are some of the thoughts that run through my mind as I reflect on this ongoing impassioned debate about same-sex marriage.

Marriage has been a noble institution that virtually all cultures have embraced. It is the substratum of civilisation, the most fundamental unit of human society. By definition, it is the state of union between a man and a woman, a permanent and affective relationship of a husband and his wife that generates and educates its offspring.

All religions, not just Christianity, have denounced homosexuality and see no reason for it in marriage. That is to say, it is part of natural law. Christianity, which is Jamaica's bedrock religion, has pronounced unequivocally on the nature of marriage as the exchange of vows between a man and a woman, equally made in the image and likeness of God, and joined together in harmonious unity to "be fruitful and multiply, and (to) fill the earth and subdue it".

Thus, marriage is part of the natural order of the universe, the pristine and constitutive ingredient uniting man and woman in their joint stewardship of creation and as progenitors of the human race. Marriage is thus a primordial commandment, a natural law.

Is it now God's will that two women marry each other? Would the Creator unite two men in marriage? And to what end? We cannot now throw out the natural laws of God uniting man and woman, laws which have made possible the posterity of the race, the creation of family life and the guarantee of social cohesion, for this anomalous situation.

It is irrational and against natural law for two men or two women to marry each other. If they fall into sexual relationship, it is sinful and they can be forgiven. But they must control their passions and transform their relationship into friendship.

Indeed, its foundation is noble. It is friendship, but friendship which does not require marriage. Friendship oftentimes grows deeper than marriage. Friendship is created for the sake of brotherhood or sisterhood, people get united to achieve one purpose or common cause. Companionship and fellowship are time-honoured joys of civilisation.

These must continue, be nurtured and allowed to flourish. Friendship is found in the myriad ways in which man relates with his fellow man in all the aspects of his life. Oftentimes it leads to heroic expressions of love and commitment far surpassing that of marriage, such as happened between Jonathan and King David: "They loved each other more than husband and wife......even unto death."

In the Christian dispensation, friendship without Eros is the highest form of love. Jesus said that "a man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friend." For the Christian, friendship is one of the foundation stones that builds the kingdom of God.

Friendship is also based on feelings. Feelings are beautiful and give power to our actions. They are part of the expression of our humanity, our personality, and they flavour our interpersonal relationships. But often they go awry unless we rein them in.

Feelings can be like an unbridled horse. If we don't control them, they will control us. Sometimes we must reject them, otherwise they create irreparable damage.

If we love God, we will obey His commandments, no matter how difficult. Life and love are difficult, requiring risk, trust in another, constant self-sacrifice, a veritable dying on the cross with Christ, so that something honourable and noble and beautiful is birthed in all our relationships -- with our friends, with our wives and husbands, our children, and our neighbours, without carnality, but in the love of God.

— Brother Hayden Augustine is a member of Missionaries of the Poor

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