Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Everything Hinges on the Preserving Image of God

As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.

–Isaiah 62:5

The angel spoke to me, saying, "Come here. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."

-Revelations 21:9

From my observations, the Catholic Church is subtly but steadily losing the younger generations as well as those who formerly subscribed to her teachings on the sanctity of marriage. It concerns me because there is a lot at stake. Those who used to be on common ground with the Church were Christians from other denominations and conservatives. However, that base is eroding. I do wonder if the Catholic clergy as well as lay evangelists and teachers are making the connection for people that the sanctity of marriage as between a man and a woman is inextricably linked to economic and political prosperity. If the latter is a cause for alarm for everyone then increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage should be equally alarming. As Pope Leo XIII said, within the circle of family life the destiny of the State is fostered.

For starters, same-sex marriage not only undermines the true nature of marriage but it is an affront on the image of God. In Genesis, God said let us make man in our image. Then Scripture continues: "Male and female, he created them." If we are to have a correct understanding of God, at the very least, we have to get his image right! And his image- that is, the template and blueprint of who he is -includes one man and one woman. After all, both the masculine principle and the feminine principle come from him. We can even say that these two principles are mysteriously contained within his nature. Yes, God is Father and God is Son, but the prophet Isaiah likens the Lord to a mother as well. “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15) Therefore, if we as Christians still believe that a marriage between a man and a woman symbolizes who God is, if marriage still says something about how the Jesus, the bridegroom, his bride, then we have to get the image of God right and retain the marriage between a man and a woman as the only acceptable union. If you take away the man and woman combination and replace it with something else, the image gets distorted and the very understanding of who we are, how we relate to one another and how we relate to God is likewise distorted.

Indeed, the proper understanding of human sexuality and the distinction between the male and the female gender- at some level -is absolutely necessary for a lifelong marriage and a “family that stays together.” Moreover, a mother and a father is an image of God for the child; and it is through this image that the child understands himself, God and the world. It is not an exaggeration to say the following: the image of God (mother and father) is more powerful than a lifelong education itself! The repercussions are even more profound than that of legalized abortion. Whereas the abortion issue addresses the dignity of the child’s body- as well as his very life –the challenge of homosexuality or same-sex marriage is broader in scope; and even deeper. Tinker with this image- the primary medium through which we perceive reality and the natural channel through which God fathers us -then everything is thrown off balance. With the sanction of same-sex marriage, the incentive for couples to marry will decrease, the permanence of marriage will be increasingly seen as unrealistic and broken families will become the norm. And worse yet, God himself will cease to be known as he wishes to be known because his image- as comprising that of a man and a woman –will not be held up as the standard in society.

What can we conclude from all of this? What the family loses, the State gains. Political prosperity and democracy presupposes that the citizen is capable of exercising some measure of self-governance. And the institution that is most efficient at teaching self-governance is a strong, intact, traditional family. Every study I read about same-sex unions strongly suggests that they are inherently unstable. But we can't forget what a prosperous economy presupposes, similar to political prosperity, and that is honesty and virtue. If our word and credibility means little to our neighbor then distrust arises which in turn strains financial relations. Again, virtue is best fostered within the circle of tradition family life (religion plays a significant but different role too); and the guarantor and guardian of the family is a loving, lifelong marriage between a man and a woman united in Christ. In the absence of a nuclear family structure, as so many studies have demonstrated over the years, social disorder increases and the State is empowered to clean up the mess.

This is why same-sex matters. Political or economic remedies alone will not be sufficient to forestall America’s economic and political challenges. The image of God must be preserved for every child. Our nation depends on it; our salvation depends on it.