I often refer to our society as the Procrustean Society. Simply put, our society has a mindset that says “a place for everyone and everyone in their place”, and that place is often based upon stereotypes and if you do not live up to those stereotypes, then you are tortured the way the Greek villain Procrustes would torture the people who came to his inn to sleep on his bed.
Todd Aglialoro over at Catholic.org offered up his four ways in which same-sex marriage is going to hurt people. At one point, Aglialoro asserts that “What does surprise me is how folks on the political and moral Left can pretend that when it comes to sex every man is an island, while in most every other area they are so quick to see far-reaching social ripple effects from personal actions.” Perhaps he hasn’t talked to me, because I freely admit that I am all for how the rulings on Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act are going to affect society. In fact, I welcome how they will affect society.
I welcome them because, when you get right down to it, the society that men like Aglialoro are trying to protect is one that is diseased and rotten. It is a society that lops the arms and legs off of the minds of children and fits them into little boxes where they are expected to grow up to be mothers who breed until they die of physical exhaustion and fathers who work to the point of being little more than dried up husks.
The society that Aglialoro defends is one that shields the perpetrators of heinous crimes from prosecution while throwing families into extreme poverty- often resulting in children having to comb through garbage to find things that can be sold for food, or sometimes food itself.
Aglialoro, going back to what he wrote, honed in only on the idea that advocates of same-sex marriage are only selling the idea of marriage equality based upon the notion that “this decision does not affect you in any way.” So, he claims that “So I think it’s important, as the SSM train rolls on and its supporters become bolder, for defenders of traditional marriage to be able to offer cogent answers to that challenge.” He then offers up four.
The first is “Ideas have consequences”. He concludes that section, which doesn’t have a lot to offer, with “Western culture as we know it is built on thousands of years of viewing marriage, sex, and family life in certain ways. To say that we can redefine those views and not change the culture is just silly, or else willfully naïve.”
Aglialoro doesn’t even offer up a consequence. First of all, he is wrong in that Western culture has not viewed marriage, sex and family in a specifically Christian way for thousands of years. Western culture only viewed these things in a specifically Christian manner for the last thousand years, and what is ‘Western culture’ anyway? Europe is a hodgepodge of different cultures. The Germans have a very different view of culture than, say, the French or Spanish. The Swedes are very different, culturally, than the Italians.
Another thing, prior to about 1000 years ago, marriage was seen as very different among the Norse than it was among the Italians. The Celts, who dominated much of Europe about two and a half thousand years ago, did not subscribe to the Roman view that women were subservient and that sex was something to be ashamed of. A Celtic queen once proclaimed to the Empress of Rome that “we make love to our best in the light while you are debauched by your worst in the dark.” Despite the prevalence of prostitution in Roman culture, sex was still a very ‘in the dark’ subject that the average Roman was ashamed of.
It was not until about AD 1200 with the Synod at Whitby when the Roman Catholic Church became the dominant Christian Church across Western Europe that there came to be a single, unified idea of what marriage, sex and family were suppose to be.
The second thing that Aglialoro offers up is “We all have to live in the world that SSM will create.” Herein, Aglialoro complains about how same-sex marriage will, in the end, mean that society endorses homosexuality. He writes in the second paragraph that “All this matters because we believe people with same-sex attraction are profoundly wounded and in need of healing. When by power of law the state applauds woundedness, deepens it; when it creates conditions that will increase the numbers of wounded; when it prioritizes making the wounded into adoptive parents, giving them leadership positions in government, education, religion, and the military, and lionizing their condition in public observances, school curricula, and the media—how does this not profoundly affect life for the rest of us?”
This goes back to the Procrustean Society. People who have same-sex attraction are only ‘profoundly wounded’ if and only if you live in a society that demands that people live according to the boxes you put them into. If you insist that everyone be straight and sit there mentally dismembering anyone who differs, yes, someone who is lesbian or gay will be profoundly wounded. Aglialoro mistakes the symptom for the cause.
In societies where homosexuality has been an accepted part of life, people do not suffer from the same kinds of psychological disorders that lesbians and gays do in societies where homosexuality is forbidden. This has not always mean that people who were lesbian or gay were not asked by society to marry someone of the opposite sex, but they often had someone of the same-sex as a permanent lover.
Aglialoro’s third offering is pretty much just a restatement of the second. He claims that “Error has no rights.” He also screws up with this one. In this third offering, he states “Don’t want to attend a gay pride celebration in your office? You will be fired. Don’t want to rent a room in your B&B to a homosexual couple, or bake a cake for a gay wedding? Agree to service a gay wedding but just want to say your peace about traditional marriage? You’re going to jail, or at least getting slapped with a big fine.”
He is doing what many anti-gay activists are doing. He is confusing marriage equality with nondiscrimination laws. This is part of the martyrdom problem within the anti-gay Right. They want to conflate these two in order to claim some kind of injury. Never mind the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a Pride celebration being held at an office, or anyone being fired for not attending one. In fact, I believe that people cannot be fired for not attending office Christmas parties either.
The nondiscrimination issue is one that is a losing argument largely thanks to the fact that most people these days do not buy into the idea that one’s religious life and one’s professional life must be wedded to each other. In fact, it would be easy to point out that, if you try and make this about religious liberty, then a Catholic should not be selling anything to a Protestant or a Muslim or a Mormon or a Jew since, morally speaking, a Catholic would view those religions as being wrong and immoral.
Aglialoro’s argument on this one is a Pandora’s Box issue. It isn’t even a ‘slippery slope’ argument. It’s a full blown Pandora’s Box because once you start making the argument that discrimination against gays is alright based upon religion, then others will make the argument that being anti-Catholic is alright based upon their religious beliefs.
And, finally, Aglialoro concludes with “Catholicism and gay rights are incompatible.” It should be noted that, at one point, Protestantism and Catholic rights were incompatible. In fact, right now, there is a huge demonstration of how that still holds true in parts of the world going on in Northern Ireland right now.
Aglialoro starts with “At present the Church, and all Christians of a traditional sort, coexist in a false and uneasy truce with the sexual revolution. There has always been sin in the world, of course, and Christianity and sin are always incompatible, but increasingly our world is one of sin normalized, institutionalized, made official.”
This is where the problem lies. For instance, define what a sin is. A sin is simply “a violation of God’s will or religious law.” To many Protestant and even many Pagan faiths, the transubstantiation of the bread and the wine into the body and blood of Christ is a sin- a sin of cannibalism, and yet, it is a vital part of the Catholic faith. Should we, because it is a sin, outlaw transubstantiation and Catholicism because of a difference regarding what ‘sin’ is?
Aglialoro goes on to say that “The state and the culture say two persons of the same sex can marry; the Church says they can’t. This condition can’t endure. The Church’s position is just too great an obstacle—an insult—to the sexual liberation project, of which homosexuality has become the popular symbol.”
He went on to say “So, you might ask, when the state and all the force of law say that our religion is false, that it is in fact bigoted, isn’t there a teensy chance it will affect us in some way? We don’t have to make wild predictions here—we just have to look at recent precedent. Viewed in the context of the fight against the HHS mandate and the state’s accompanying argument that religious freedom is really nothing more than ‘freedom of worship,’ it seems clear enough that the logical terminus of legalized same-sex marriage is the forced relocation of Catholics to the closet—or the catacombs.”
Actually, at this point, the problem facing the Catholic Church is not the tension between it and the State, but rather the Catholic Church’s refusal to bend to the present. If one looks at Vermont and New England, what one sees is the steady collapse of Christianity in all its forms largely due to this unwillingness to bend on doctrinal issues that are not even part of the Bible.
Marriage being defined as being between one man and one woman is not really Biblical, but rather was defined by the society that was the largest to absorb Christianity centuries ago- Rome. Roman culture stated that marriage was between a man and a woman. Saint Paul’s epistles may be the basis for marriage as we know it, but if you read through them all, what you realize is that the early Catholic founders cherry picked his letters. In his epistles to the Romans, he would say one thing while in his epistles to the Gallatians, he would say another.
Take abortion, for instance, the Bible’s only statements on this have to do with “life begins when the blood flows”, which was, for most of European history, interpreted to mean either when the first motions in the womb were felt or when birth occurred. The idea that life began at conception dates back to around 1300 and a Papal Bull which was, itself, based upon the inaccurate notion that men carried around inside them little copies of every human that they could ever father- male and female- and that all a woman offered up was a fertile field in which to lay the seeds.
In fact, this explains a lot of terminology that exists today regarding sperm.
Catholicism can change. Pope John XXIII showed that. The problem is, the Church has to want to change.
However, looking at the empty churches and Catholic schools along the roads here in Vermont, one can only think that it may be too late.