Marriage, Flipped Out

Some of you might recall that I dealt with the difference between human and animal sexuality in my last column. I had no idea when I wrote that piece that I’d have such a great opportunity for a follow-up.

I’m sure you have heard by now that the Internet was abuzz recently with news that a British woman married (more aptly, attempted to marry) a male dolphin in Israel. First question: Has the world gone absolutely berserk? Answer: Yeah, pretty much.

Sharon Tendler, from East London, wore a white silk dress and a pink tiara as she stood by Cindy the dolphin’s tank for this unique ceremony. Sharon apparently kissed Cindy and whispered “I love you” into the dolphin’s blow hole. How romantic.

Israel’s leading newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported that after a gift of some mackerels, Sharon’s friends tossed her into the water so she could swim with her new spouse. “I’m the happiest girl on earth,” the bride reportedly said, as she choked back tears. “I made a dream come true, and I am not a pervert,” she stressed.

Mercy. Where to begin? How about “in the beginning?”

In Genesis we read, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man [Adam] should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’” (Gn 2:18). First, God creates the animals, which the human being names (“Adam” means man in the generic sense, not first the “male”). But among the animals “there was not found a helper fit for him” (Gn 2:20).

This is a key line that Sharon Tendler might do well to reflect upon. I’d say the same for Cindy, except dolphins can’t reflect on such things. Herein lies the problem.

We may be amazed at what scientists have demonstrated dolphins and monkeys are capable of. But we do not delude ourselves when we recognize that there is something more to the human being — a particular richness, an inner life, an inner self, something spiritual that even the most advanced animals do not possess. After all, it is human scientists who reveal the ability of monkeys, not monkey scientists who reveal the ability of humans.

It’s impossible to speak, even analogously, of the inner life of animals. It’s because of our inner life that we experience wonder, recognize beauty, yearn for love, search for meaning, desire knowledge, and seek understanding. It’s because of our inner life that we long for truth and goodness and are pained by evil and injustice. It’s because of our inner life that we have the capacity to marry. Dolphins, however cute, simply do not have this capacity.

Now I can understand why, in today’s world, Sharon Tendler might resort to such a thing. Our pornified world has turned a large number of men into beasts — wolves with one-track minds, and women are the prey. If I was a woman and I had a choice between a wolf and a dolphin, I’d choose the dolphin, too.

This woman-marries-dolphin story is just the latest fallout of the so-called sexual “revolution.” In reality, it has proven to be a “devolution.” And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. As someone put it to me recently, evil has no guard rails.

But we needn’t fear. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Rom 5:20). Christ is preparing a great springtime for the Church and the world. The darker it gets, the more we are drawn to the light.

The Church’s teaching on the human person and on human sexuality is the stone the modern world has rejected, but it will become the cornerstone of a whole new world. If you are in doubt, take up a study of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and I think you will see what I mean.

Christopher West is a fellow of the Theology of the Body Institute.

His books and tapes on the Theology of the Body are available from our online store.

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Christopher West is a Catholic author and speaker, best known for his work on Pope John Paul II’s series of audience addresses entitled the Theology of the Body.

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