Love Marriage and the Common Good— Part VII
Beyond the damage done to homosexuals, has Mr. Haseltine considered the damage done to humankind by departing from God’s plan for human procreation? Christ, whom he professes to follow, took the sexual distinction in human nature quite seriously.
Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.
A man and a woman literally become one flesh when their child is conceived. But male and female are conceptually one in the mind of God, for their physical union takes place in accordance with the provision God makes in their flesh for the procreation of the species that, as a whole, they constitute. For the sake of the species, therefore, they are conformed to one another in the flesh, joined together in the mind of God so that his benevolent intention for the existence of humanity will be realized and carried on. The synthetic unity of humankind in mental conception reflects this natural union of male and female in the act of physical conception. In both cases things distinct in their particular form are recognized as one, and therefore understood on the whole in a way that transcends the particular differences that distinguish them one from another.
Beyond the intellectual reflection of this unity, however, lies its psychological consequences for the self-conception of individual human beings. In the presence of the human potential for self-consciousness, the individual’s need to reconcile two distinct ways of being within itself calls for and corresponds to the faculty that must eventually give rise to mental conceptions, and eventually to the concretely perceived distinction between oneself and the world that is the basis for self-consciousness. As three lines enclose a space, so two others are required in order to establish the distinct self-consciousness of a third, who encounters himself in consequence of the perspective required to perceive and process the difference between those two as it relates to himself.
In light of this reflection, is Mr. Haseltine sure that no damaging consequence arises from the disruption of the trinity formed by the male, the female and the child that represents their union? Christ alludes to what God has joined together, and forbids us to destroy that union by human will. Does Mr. Haseltine does he assume that doing so will have no consequences? The experience of divorce suggests that he is wrong, even if the consequences can be dealt with, with God’s help.
But what of the consequence of abandoning the God-ordained union of male and female in principle, in the way implied by pretending that what homosexuals do is conceptually the same as what people of difference sexes do when it comes to the organs intended for procreation? In bodily terms, the “sexual” activity of two homosexuals is of no consequence for procreation. In bodily terms, the life of a child follows upon the sexual activity of male and female. Is that of no consequence for procreation?
Logically, it is of great consequence once we work out the logic of a future in which most men and women turn from the responsibilities entailed by the prospect of child rearing in order to pleasure themselves without consequence through homosexuality, or through other practices that make their so-called “sexual” activity materially inconsequential, as homosexual “sexual” activity does. This is not just a change in behavior. It’s a change in mentality and self-consciousness. Instead of living toward the day when they will make responsibility for the preservation of humankind the particular focus of their own lives, people will live as if that responsibility is always a choice, never an obligation. Seen in one way, the logical consequence of this mentality is the self-extinction of humanity. Seen in another, it leads to the extinction of family life, as responsibility for child rearing is assumed by the state.
The God-endowed natural family is an intimate association of human individuals, in which mutual care is a function of each individual’s expansive, self-consciousness raising response to God’s inwardly compelling command of love. This outward construction of self-consciousness begins, of course, with the mother. Its fruit eventually extends to the father, in whom it becomes the conscious self-consciousness that reflects the speculative nature of human knowing. (Human beings not only know that they know, they also stand apart from that knowledge in order to consider the nature of it, as Kant does, for instance, in his Critique of Pure Reason.)
The human family is the affective, existential expression of this quality of human knowledge. So the Bible refers to the activity from which the natural family takes root as a kind of knowing. In our time it is especially inexcusable for us to neglect the literal truth of this usage, since we are more aware than people ever were before of the fact that the activity of procreation turns on an exchange of information. The result it produces recapitulates the information prepared on one side and the other of the exchange. In that recapitulation the special information provided by both sides is formally preserved, albeit in a way somewhat differently informed than either of its progenitors. This somewhat different information is then prepared to be one side in another information exchange, and so on into the future.
When Christ speaks of marriage in terms of the union of the flesh (rather than in the abstract spiritual terms affected by some self-styled Christian thinkers), is he purposely taking account of the meaning of the Bible’s use of the term “knowledge” in a way that cannot yet be consciously understood by the generation to whom he speaks? As the Word made flesh, does he speak from a basis in God’s understanding of His Word that accurately anticipates our present and future knowledge? If he does, are there aspects of that knowledge, now still beyond our reach, that are nonetheless made available to us in the instructions and admonitions of God’s Word?