A Reason-Based Argument for Everything

Question:

I’ve heard it a thousand times at school (I go to a Catholic school) that gay marriage is wrong. But time and time again all I hear are Scripture-based arguments that use vague Bible passages to support the claim that gay marriage is immoral. I have yet to hear or think of a solid secular, reason based argument against gay marriage. Any ideas?

Answer:

Thanks for the question!  My answer has two parts…

First of all, it is of the utmost importance that we realize as Catholics that God is the source of all truth.  I think it can be all too easy, especially for us young Catholics, to buy into the ridiculous idea that reason is somehow on one side of the spectrum and faith in God is on the other.  It was God who gave us our reason in the first place; and while we can come to know that God exists by virtue of our reason alone, once sin entered the picture things became a lot less clear.

Saint Paul explains this in his letter to the Romans:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth.  (1:18)

Translation: The truth that ought to be plain to us is not, and it is due to our own wickedness which turns us away from the truth.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.  (1:19-20a)

Translation: “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God’”.  All we need to do is open our eyes and look at the world around us to discern that the world we live in, with all of its glorious order and wonder, had to come from somewhere.  (For proofs on the existence of God, look elsewhere [like Thomas Aquinas]; this post isn’t meant to be a treatise on that).

So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles” (1:20b-23)

Translation: Ok, this one is pretty straightforward.  We sinned and rejected God and after a while we confused our own distorted version of the truth for actual truth.  God is no longer the author of truth; we are.  And let’s face it: I don’t care if you have a Ph.D., you’re not as smart as the author of life.

All this to say…

Yes, there are reason-based arguments against same-sex marriage.  But as all reason does, these arguments come from the One who gave us reason in the first place: God himself.  So we do well to not reject Scriptural arguments—for/against anything, not just same-sex marriage— as somehow not being based on reason (and we’re allowed to say that, because we are Catholic and are proud to believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of Sacred Scripture).  Truth cannot contradict itself.

As for the actual answer I think you were probably looking for, I suggest starting with the Catechism—but you can’t just skip to the brief paragraph on Homosexuality.  You have to read it in its proper context within God’s plan for human sexuality, the universal call to chastity, and the purpose of the vocation of marriage itself.  In short, (1) Read everything on this link.  (2) Pray.  (3) Repeat.

Finally, I know this only begs the thought/question: “Ok, we can believe something as Catholics and it makes sense to us and that’s fine.  But do we have a right to try and legislate our Catholic understanding of morality?”  It’s a fair question, but my answer is a resounding, “absolutely.”

“Morality” is basically a fancy way of saying “truth.”  And it’s nothing short of insane to expect that we, not simply as Catholics but as human beings, won’t stand up and fight for what we believe is true.

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  • jdt28

    My reason/biology based conclusion about marriage:

    Marriage is a real union of two people. It is consummated by a sexual union. The marital union between a man and a woman is unique. The union between and man and a woman becomes so real that it has the possibility of creating a life that truly represents their union. It is an autonomous life that came from both part of the one man and part of the one woman. A sexual union between one male and one female is a true union where the two physically become one, and this union has the potential to manifest itself as a physical reality, a physical being, a child. The child that can result from their sexual union is a physical reality of their union. This child is a living union of the male/female sexual union. The child is biologically both equally a part of the man and part of the woman. As much a same-sex couple loves and cares for each other they can never unite themselves in a way that creates a life outside of them that is both biologically part of one and part of the other. No matter how much a same-sex couple love each other, no matter how close they get physically to one another; it is a physical, biological, impossibility for them to become one. To create human life you need both a male and a female. The male/female marital union is a life giving union. That is why the marital union is unique between a man and woman.

  • Bruce Roeder

    The question asked for secular-based arguments, not religiously-based one. I would propose this: Marriage is not a “right”; it is a societal recognition of a biological, emotional, and cultural reality. That reality is based on the nature of human sexuality. Humans walk upright, which requires the human anatomy to have a narrow pelvis, so childbirth is difficult and the young are born when the brain is still small enough to pass through. This results in human babies being born very early in their development and requiring a long period of care before they are able to take care of themselves. This means human mothers have to dedicate long periods of time taking care of human babies. Human males protect and provide for their mates and children. So when humans mate they form strong, lifelong bonds.  In all human societies, marriage is the society recognizing and celebrating this reality of human sexuality – that partners have a built-in, lifelong commitment to their family responsibilities. The secular argument then, would be that same-sex marriage has no such basis in the nature of human sexuality. Same-sex marriage advocates could counter that our society’s current lifestyle choices recognize homosexual couples have the same rights as everyone else and the “reality” is our society has for 40+ years separated marriage from its based on raising children (via contraception) and a lifelong spousal commitment (via no-fault divorce). Nevertheless, even in the secular realm, marriage is not a “right” in the sense that freedom of speech, association, religion, etc. are rights.

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