Goodbye, Marriage

marriedSurprise! Approval of same-sex marriage has risen sharply among Americans in just a few years–according to one poll, from 41% in favor in 2004 to nearly 60% now. Surprise!

Some surprise. The same media trumpeting this change lately worked hard to bring it about. Major sectors of the communication industry,  both news and entertainment, have served as advocates for same-sex marriage, and the present situation reflects their handiwork. Don’t be bashful, guys, stand up and take the credit you deserve.

In fairness to the media, most of them undoubtedly think backing gay marriage is a good thing to do.  When moral consensus breaks down in a society, as it has in America today, people’s built-in impulse to organize life in moral categories moves them to seek new objects of moral concern. Thus we get things like the attempt to ban oversized soft drink containers by decree. For Americans egged on by media, the legalization of same-sex marriage is another, less risible instance of the same thing.

The media didn’t act alone. Judges, educators, and clergy programmed by ideology have joined politicians prompted by expediency to do their bit. But the media have been the loudest mouthpieces for gay marriage–shock troops of the culture war, promoting the cause relentlessly.

Preceded by a barrage of coverage and commentary lecturing it on what it should do, the U.S. Supreme Court during Holy Week heard oral arguments in two gay marriage cases. Its decision will come in late June.

While it would be hazardous to predict the result, no one will be tremendously surprised if the justices take a states’ rights approach–upholding California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in that state but overturning the Defense of Marriage Act that recognizes only man-woman unions as marriages for purposes of federal law.

But no matter how these cases turn out, that plainly will not be the end of it. Since the Supreme Court is unlikely, at least for the moment, to discover in the Constitution a fundamental right for homosexual couples to marry, pressuring the court to do so will become a priority for gay rights activists and their media friends.  And if President Obama gets to name one or two more justices to the court, it could  happen in just a few years.

One reason gay rights groups and the media have made such progress lately can be found in the failure of traditional marriage supporters to offer a compelling account of the threat that recognizing same-sex marriage poses to traditional marriage.

But consider.  Statistics and everyday observation both underline the fact that marriage is in trouble in America today. Fewer and fewer Americans even bother to marry. Part of the cause is the widespread collapse of agreement on what marriage is.

The traditional understanding is this:  marriage is a monogamous, permanent relationship between a man and a woman, grounded in sexual complementarity and intended for the begetting and raising of children and the mutual love and support of the spouses. One or more essential elements of that definition are eradicated by society’s toleration of no-fault divorce, infidelity…and same-sex marriage.

This isn’t to say that all those who want to enter into such unions wish to undermine traditional marriage. Most are simply seeking what everyone seeks in marriage–happiness–and who can blame them for that? But natural human sympathy doesn’t justify equating an ersatz version of marriage with genuine marriage. If that isn’t deeply harmful to traditional marriage in these confused times, what in heaven’s name is?

Russell Shaw


Russell Shaw is a freelance writer from Washington, D.C. You can email him at

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  • I was at the Rally for Traditional marriage in DC on March 26th and I asked five of the progay activists if they supported polygamy and everyone of them did! Half also supported chld -adult sex as a choice for those involved. I asked the ones who did not support the adult-child sexual relationships what the basis was for that and they couldn’t tell me. If gay sex is so natural and the moral equivalent of heterosexual unions why is it that 70-80% of the AIDs cases are in the gay community? They also support transgendered folks using the lockers and bathrooms of the opposite sex. This recently happened in Washington State where a transgendered male was parading around naked in the girls/woman’s locker room at Evergreen College pool. The media will never publicize this as it informds the public of the true gay agenda. Finally, a bakery owned by a Christian in Denver refused to provide a cake to a lesbian couple for their “wedding” ceremony so they are suing him. What about tolerance for one’s beliefs? The bottom line is that there is no tolerance for those who do not accept the gay agenda.

  • Peter Nyikos

    Excellent points, Barry. The next time you talk to pro-gay activists, you might try also asking them if they support overturning the laws against incestuous marriages. If they counter that the children of incest are more likely to have negative physical traits, there are various follow-up questions you could ask, one of which is that if two unrelated people carry genes for the same hereditary defect, should they be prohibited by law from getting married?

    The logic behind this follow-up question should be familiar to proponents of same-sex marriage; they use it all the time when asking why people against same-sex marriage don’t say sterile people should be forbidden to marry.

  • JMC

    Actually, historically, they WERE! My old Baltimore Catechism – first edition, from the late 19th century, declares that a marriage was invalid if either the man was impotent or the wife was barren. This is why you sometimes read historical accounts of men being permitted by the Church to “put their wives away,” as the phrase went, when they proved to be barren. Henry VIII used this reason for annulment on at least one of his wives before he broke with the Church.

  • Pierre

    I don’t believe you. Projecting your own sick fantasies onto those you deem less worthy as human beings than you imagine yourself to be, you narcissist.

    Why oh why will ‘straight’ people not just be honest and admit that they are the ones who have taken the sacredness of marriage into the pits of slum, filth and degradation ?!! Cause that’s the truth and hypocrites can’t stand truth.

    Society has gone, is going to hell cause of straight people’s hypocrisy and incapacity to be honest, not least with themselves. They still do what they did when Jesus walked the earth – scape goat. GROW UP and accept responsibility for your own failings.

    I don’t know ANY gay person who is not light years ahead of many ‘straight’ people, certainly many so called ‘fathers’ – in the child care and rearing department.

    Please, for God’s holy sake, the sake of honesty, decency and the rest of us – and just GROW UP !!!

    You reap what you have sown. YOU ALL DO !! Stop scapegoating and stop telling lies about your neighbour. That is a very grave sin at the very least.

    Hypocrites. Fool none but yourselves. You will answer to God for your own crimes, no one else’s. Do well to remember that.

    Mater Dei ora pro nobis.

    Ask we are delivered from Christian, Catholic hypocrisy – the ‘rot and filth’ in the Church.

  • klossg

    Our beautiful country/world lost this battle (ssm) when it accepted contraception at the release of Humanae Vitae. With SSM and everything it leads to is only a matter of time, unless we see a rejection of the acceptance of contraception. Yet God’s grace is more than enough. Prayer and love over gold.

  • Richard III

    The only wife Henry VIII had before his break with the Church was Catherine of Aragon, and she was not barren. She gave birth I believe 5 times with Henry, but only “Bloody” Mary survived. His excuses for dumping her included the scripture passage that condemned marrying one’s brother’s wife (Catherine was married to his brother Arthur, who died before their union was consummated. The scripture verse means that you can’t marry your brother’s wife while your brother’s still alive and married. You can marry her if your brother dies, and that’s what happened here), that his conscience was troubling him (funny that it took 20 years for that to begin, he was the one most eager for their marriage at the start), and that he needed a son for an heir (he had at least one illegitimate son, whom he legalized but later blew off).
    Ann Boelyn was executed for not bearing a son, Jane Seymour died after giving birth to Edward VI (Jane was the only wife Henry mourned the loss of), Ann of Cleves was divorced after 6 months because Henry found her unattractive but couldn’t just send her back to Cleves (they still somehow remained friends though), Catherine Howard was beheaded for cheating on Henry (she was a loose woman before marrying Henry, funny how he could be as adulterous as he pleased but could kill his queen if she tried it), and Catherine Parr outlived Henry.

  • The decline of morality in the world is represented in the rise of SSM and cohabitation between men and women. Sin is gaining such a reprehensible position that soon the only way to end this will be the return of Jesus. Is anyone surprised that God will bring massive chastisement to the world?

  • inspokane

    Lets say…this Gay marriage Sin (Lets call it like it is) This is going to happen and we cannot stop it. (love the sinner hate the sin. nothing homophobe about that!!!!!) So lets solve the problem. Gays need to be married for many reasons. They need the label they say. Becaouse Civil Union is not good enough.Let the Christian Community start being the first to hand out the labels. Call Gay Marriage just that. Gay Marriage, but Lets call Reg. marriage between a man and a women and not church involved. Secular Marriage, Normal Marriage,or Natural Marriage. Anyway see my point. Lets call Church marriage, Sanctified Marriage, and Lets call Sacrimental Marriage just that and move on with life. I think there are many things to apply this to…That way there is no confusion for our kids. No confusion for low information Christians, Low information Voters…Every body, Happy Happy, Happy! Call a Sin a sin…and lets start calling and labeling everything what it is and get off this…blow to the wind thing. Ride every horse that comes by and say they are all good….even the lame ones. No way to run a country..but the BEAST lives and is getting we got to call it like God sees it. WE change, God never changes!!!!

  • Pierre, it seems that you have a very deep-rooted bitterness against the Catholic faith. Usually, such bitterness is caused by someone who has done you some wrong. If that is the case, I would like to offer my apology, small as it is, on behalf of the Church. I am very deeply sorry for your hurt. I know that there isn’t anything I can personally do to make it better, and that I am not privy to the details of your situation, but I do know that you deserve an apology, and if no one else will give it, I will.

    Also, let me be the first to admit that it is us straight Christians, and especially Catholics, who have destroyed the concept of marriage. We are meant to be the model of marriage for the rest of the world, and our infidelities, divorces, contraceptions, and abortions have shattered that image and ground it into dust. But please, I beg you, do not throw away the Church or her teachings because of the brokenness of the people within it. If we have shattered the beautiful and holy image of marriage, the reaction should not be to throw away the broken pieces – it should be to put them back together again, piece by piece, as painstakingly as possible. We should look not for rejection, but redemption.

    I will be praying for you, Pierre. God bless you.

  • I have always respected Mr. Shaw. But I would respectfully beg to disagree with his implicit assertion that “a compelling account of the threat that recognizing same-sex marriage poses to traditional marriage” would help to promote authentic marriage and defeat counterfeit “marriage”.

    The After the Ball playbook didn’t use arguments, it used sophisticated marketing studies, consumer psychology and subliminal media messages to change emotional attitudes, conveying the diffused rather than pointed message “they’re just like everyone else, only a little ‘different’ “.

    The only thing that will help is to use the same sophisticated marketing studies, consumer psychology and subliminal media messages to convey a diffused rather than pointed message “every little child wants a married Mommy and Daddy”.

    It will take an advertising campaign that encompasses the issue of cohabitation as well as counterfeit marriage.

    Take the “Lifesaver” commercial shown on the Vitae Caring Foundation’s “Portfolio” web page

    A Woman firefighter hands a child she just saved to the Mom. “Being alive today has special meaning–for both of us. There have been times when I almost didn’t make it. But the one time I had the most to lose, was before I was even born. My Mom was young, single, no money. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her to give me a chance. But today, I know she’d be very proud, that her decision saved more than one life.”

    That ad doesn’t hit people over the head with “it’s a child” or “abortion is murder”. It subtly reinforces both a woman’s life giving tendencies and her desire for success and control over her life.

    We won’t begin to make any headway in defense of authentic marriage until we remind people of what they already know and feel, their natural sympathy and concern for the interests of children.

    Head arguments won’t help.

  • The bottom line is that Jeus gave heterosexual marriage as the only type of marriage allowed. He didn’t say that if some of my followers don’t follow this teaching (or any other teaching) then go ahead and throw it out. I agree that Christians are going to convert others if they lead exemplary lives or repel others if we are poor followers of Christ. This is why one must concentrate on what Jesus said and follow it regardless of how many others do.

  • Ed F

    Yes, Christians can be hypocrites, liars, cheats, and child molesters.
    Thanks be to God that Jesus came to save such as these and not all the
    perfect people who have no need of him. Funny how He would pick a fickle, scandalous, and even adulterous organization like the Church to be His Bride. But He did because He loves Her and He loves you Pierre. The uniting of a man and a woman for the purposes of rearing the children produced from such a union predates Christianity and in fact all religions. It does not take a religious person or divine revelation to plainly see that traditional marriage protects women and children from scumbag men who impregnate women and then abandon their offspring (the force of law gives responsibility for the child to the mother’s husband). If there should come a time in the future when the world can no longer manufacture (or afford) artificial contraceptives, that is the moment when it will realize the necessity of the traditional understanding of marriage and the need to bind a man, permanently and exclusively (until death), to the woman who is bearing his children. As is easily seen in arranged marriages or marriages of “convenience”, love is not even a requirement (and how would you prove it anyway?).

  • Cathy

    Please help us defend marriage by spiritually adopting a Supreme Court Justice. It only takes less than 1 minute and we ask for NO personal information.
    Thank you!

  • Riley

    Gay marriage has ZERO effect on “traditional marriage.” Sorry to inform you all, but because of the ability to literally get married to some drunk guy in Vegas, or the Kardashian 72 day wedding, or every other marriage that “one man and one women” enter because they are young and stupid has ruined the sanctuary of marriage. Every single article that I read of Russell Shaw’s just pisses me off more and more. Because he and so many other men and Americans are forcing this ridiculous garbage down the throats of so many young people. It’s 2013, not 1950. Lets move on, give people the rights they deserve and stop blaming a certain group for ruining “traditional marriage”. It’s sad that a 20 year old kid has more common sense and decency than most of the older generations, when it comes to not hating people based on who they love, color of their skin or back-story. Who cares? Honestly? How is gay marriage so much of an inconvenience on your daily life? And using God is an invalided excuse, because God didn’t write the Bible. I feel this is like middle school, but instead of 14 year old girls arguing about boys, it’s old men (mainly) arguing about how others should live their lives. I’m not gay, but I am a full supporter of gay marriage and if that lands me in Hell… so be it.

  • Richard III

    I am opposed to gay marriage because it is against the natural order, it kills the souls of those who engage in it, and it often kills their bodies through AIDS and/or other STDs. By the way, I just turned 18 at 12:20 this morning.

  • Riley

    Not really sure how it kills the souls of those who engage in it, but ok. AIDS and other STD’s effect straight people as well. Honestly that may have been the worst comeback that I have ever read. Come back with better excuses of hating somebody and maybe I’ll change my mind about you being a complete moron.

  • Riley

    What are you even talking about? The traditional marriage protects women and children? How does that make any sense to even you?

  • Logan

    This is the reason I hate religion. All religion, but especially Catholics. You are so hard headed that you can’t see passed your ridiculous beliefs. I’m not against you having a religion, finding peace with God, but seriously, times have changed, let people be happy. Traditional marriage was ruined because of straight people, not because of gay people.

    You all say if gay people are allowed to get married, it takes away from your rights and beliefs. No, it takes away from your religious beliefs and morals, but nothing is physically getting taken away or forbidden to you. You can still hate gay people, but opposing them to have the RIGHTS to get married is doing nothing to your life. However, because of your morals or beliefs, their rights of getting married are being striped and forbidden. There is a huge difference between beliefs/morals and rights.

  • Logan

    Is it impossible for you religious folks to have a logical argument about anything, without using the Bible or God as an excuse?

  • You seem to be arguing that because a point of view is supported by a belief in God that it is not logical. I assume you believe that murder and stealing are wrong even though they happen to be two of the 10 Commendments given to us by God and you apparently do not believe in God. The fact that there are 118,000,000 cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the US now (check recent CDC numbers) is a fact whether you believe in God or not. It is also a fact that if you follow the Christian teaching of only having sex in a monogamous relationship (i.e. marriage) your chance of getting a STD is almost zero. Therefore, strictly from a health perspective, it is logical to teach our young people to follow the Christian teaching regarding sex outside of marriage. It is the same as teaching them not to smoke because it can give them lung cancer and kill them! The truth is that Biblical teaching leads to the greatest joy and health for those who follow it and society would be better off if more people did. This is not to say that every Christian, including myself, does not fall short of the ideals because we do. However, I would submit to you that trying to meet the high standards is still the best route to take.

  • Pierre, you say you don’t believe what I reported on my experience at the rally in Washington. I would suggest you call up the various well known gay/lesbian organizations and ask them what their positions are on polygamy. I bet they will verify everything I said aboove. There are many examples of bad Christians throughout history as there are many bad examples of aehtiests such as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao to name a few. These bad examples do not in and of themselves prove either Christianity or atheism as true. I have analyzed the philosophies of both and found Christianity to be true for a variety of reasons including the best chance for individuals, families, and society to thrive. If everyone were to follow the Christian principles (and I agree with you many don’t and we could all do better!) then the world would be a much better place.

  • Actually 70-80% of the AIDS cases are in the gay community and the next largest amont is intravenous drug users. My neighbor lived the gay lifestyle in San Francisco and died of AIDS at the age of 40 some 15 years ago. At his funeral many of his friends came up to his mother and told her “There was nothing wrong with Jerrry’s lifestyle.” She told my parents “I wish someone had told him there was something wrong with his lifestyle for maybe he would be alive today.” Concerning the STDs, living an amoral lifestyle whether homsexual or heterosexual will probably lead to picking up an STD since there are now 118,000,000 STDs in the US (check recent CDC report).

  • Richard III

    Sodomy is a mortal sin, and all mortal sins kill the sinner’s soul. The soul can be given new life through Confession, but the sinner as to be sincerely sorry first.

    I do not hate gay people, and I never said that I did. I said that sodomy and gay marriage are very wrong, and the reason I said that is not because I hate gays, but because I love them and do not want to see them commit grave sin or die of terrible diseases at young ages. Sure, being told that something you do or want to do is wrong isn’t fun, but like Mr. Sullivan pointed out below, it might save your life.

    You are right that straight people can get AIDS too, but the risk for homosexuals is much higher, and nearly all of the first documented cases were in gay men. To this day, many more people who engage in sodomy develop AIDS than those who don’t.

    In the end, then, I oppose gay marriage for the same reason that I oppose heterosexual adultery, smoking, substance abuse, stealing, gambling, suicide, murder, etc. These things might seem fun at first, but any satisfaction they do bring is fleeting, and their bad consequences for everybody far outweigh their good ones (if there are any).

  • Richard III

    And if you really want me to agree with you, calling me a moron is not a good way to go about doing that. Your insult didn’t break my heart, but it sure didn’t change my mind either.

  • Riley

    I don’t really care if you agree with me or not. But the facts are regardless of all the pointless words you just used, STD’s and AIDS can effect anyone regardless of if they are gay or straight.

  • Yes. But as this is a Catholic article on a Catholic website, it’s kind of odd that you would expect commenters NOT to mention God and the Bible.

  • If marriage is ruined, what do you want it for?

  • fig

    I once hated all religion too. But 7 years ago I became a Catholic and I have never been happier. I am sorry that so many of the Catholic faith act so intolerant. It is truly saddening. However, i do personally have zero problems with gay civil marriage and equal rights for all as I am certain that Jesus would not exclude them. The act of homosexuality is sinful by nature but I am no mans judge.

    The one thing I eould like to mention to you is that we cannot and should never conform our morals to society simply because it has changed. To what should we become? For instance, had Hitler succeeded in conquering the world and popular opinion remained antsemitic would tge Church have been well suited to adjust its morals to societies? No.

    Socuety should always rake its example fron Jesus, not the other way around.

  • Richard III

    It makes sense because traditional marriage ensures a responsible, supportive, and protective husband for the woman and responsible and caring parents for the children.
    Anyone who’s been part of or witnessed a divorce knows that it traumatizes the children and wounds at least one of the spouses. A man (or woman) finds him/herself fighting bitterly with and losing the man/woman he/she loves for sometimes the most threadbare of reasons. The children hear and see their parents fighting and either rarely or never see one parent again or get passed back and forth like hot potatoes.
    Many people with SSA are very friendly and caring people, but gay marriage is not good for them because it is physically impossible, it is not open to procreation, it is a grave sin, and it can cause them to contract terrible diseases or to fall into bad habits. Gay marriage is also bad for adopted children because the greatest father in the world cannot be a good mother, and the greatest mother in the world cannot be a good father. No matter what anyone says, men and women are different. They are equal in dignity, but different in abilities and fundamental characteristics.
    Men are often stronger and faster then women, making them good protectors of their wives and children. Men also tend to be less emotionally charged in trying times, and this helps them to teach their children to think clearly, to never panic, and to control their passions. And a common interest in active and athletic activities also helps men encourage their kids to stay fit and learn sportsmanship.
    Women have slightly better immune systems than men and are often better at dealing with physical pain, which are very important factors when it comes to carrying and giving birth to babies. Women are also better at reading people’s faces and at understanding the feelings of others then men tend to be, and they can use these to teach their children to be considerate of others.
    Last but not least, nobody enjoys teaching or learning about the Facts of Life, but it’s a lot less awkward for a girl to learn from her mother than from 2 “dads”, and the same goes for a boy learning from his father rather than 2 “moms”.
    Since Adam and Eve, marriage in all lasting cultures has been between man and at least 1 woman. The few that allowed or condoned gay marriage were either destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah or died out because homosexual couples cannot reproduce. Traditional, heterosexual, monogamous marriage is the foundation of all healthy cultures, and like the foundation of a building, if it is weakened or damaged, the culture collapses with it.

  • Richard III

    Yes, heterosexual adultery often leads to picking up STDs too, but homosexual adultery poses a greater risk. The point is, ALL adultery should be avoided. Anyone, gay or straight, who lives chastely has almost 0 chance of getting an STD. But gay marriage is not chastity, so it is still risky, even if less so than homosexual polyamory. A gay person does not have to marry someone of the opposite sex, but he or she must not give in to homosexual temptations. That’s why the Catholic Church has outreach programs like Courage to help men and women with SSA to live chaste, healthy lives.

  • JMC

    There’s another facet of this media promotion. Lately a couple of incidents of vanishing comments have made me suspicious, so I started carefully monitoring web news articles on which I commented. Without fail, every single time I posted a comment that did not agree with what the media said, it disappeared within a few hours. But I’ll keep posting, because at least a few people will get to see “the rest of the story.”