THE QUIET CORNER

Marriage is the best guarantee of family stability

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A news item told of two homosexual partners from Israel who brought the sperm of one of them to a clinic in India, where the sperm was used to fertilize an egg taken from one woman and then implanted in the womb of another woman.

Consider that the resulting child will have no real assessment of who the actual father is — apart from insisting on a DNA test later in life. The child will certainly never know who the mother is, since all that the word “mother” connotes belongs to neither woman. Ovulated by one woman, brought to term by another woman, and then nurtured by two dads, the child will never have a real maternal experience. In fact, this child will clearly never have a full family experience in the sense that family has been understood since Eden. The firm presence of a father, the warm presence of a mother, the male/female parental interaction within the household will be denied this child. A further major loss in this unique child’s life will be a sense of tradition, civilization and convention, dramatically isolating the child from history.

Persons who enter into this surrogacy procedure, according to recent news reports, do it obviously to gain a child for themselves. They might also justify the process by citing the vastly improved financial situation of the indigent women in India who are paid for their services. Everybody benefits — except certainly the child. The secular society that tolerates this trafficking in reproductive experimentation has no way of forecasting how a totally rootless birth will impact on a child. Trial and error is a hazardous way to raise a new generation.

Recently, on a much firmer foundation, Jennifer Roback Morse spoke at the New York Archdiocesan Family Life Conference and outlined three fundamental truths to be considered by those who would tamper with parenting.

Focusing on the harm that would be done by changing the definition of marriage, especially as regards same-sex unions, Morse reminded her listeners first of all that “marriage is a pre-political institution of civil society.”

Laws do not create marriage; laws recognize marriage as the union of man and woman. Marriage actually pre-dates all law. So the marriage of man and woman as husband and wife actually precedes society. In fact, marriage creates society; not vice versa. Christians should recall that the marriage of man and woman was the only blessing that Adam and Eve took from Eden after their sin. It’s that old — and that sacred. So for 21st century man to re-define marriage is totally to ignore human history — not to mention God’s will.

Second, Morse noted that “marriage is society’s preferred context for both sexual activity and child-rearing.”

Today this insight into perennial wisdom appears tragically, even comically, out of step with the prevailing popular culture — as the media often suggest. Yet, in spite of all the racy programs on TV and the adulterous shenanigans of celebrities and the prevalence of cohabitation, divorce and single parenthood, family life consisting of mom, dad and the kids is still the aspiration, acknowledged or assumed, of the vast majority of mankind. The sleep-around-girl and the party guy are not anyone’s lifetime ambition. Ozzie and Harriet still surpass Britney Spears and Kevin Federline as role models.

Finally, Morse advised her New York audience that “marriage is a gender-based institution for attaching fathers and mothers to each other and for attaching fathers to their children.” And in light of the news item reviewed above, Morse might now add, “… attaching mothers to their children.”

In other words, marriage has traditionally been the best guarantee of family stability within society, the best guarantee that spouses will enjoy the complementary love that will fulfill them and the best guarantee that children will observe the loving male/female interaction so important to a complete family life. Marriage cannot be an experiment; marriage is an institution. For Christians it is a sacrament. To eliminate gender and gender roles from marriage is to de-humanize it, de-civilize it, in fact, to destroy it.