This is the anniversary – if that be the term – of the official legalization of same-sex ‘marriage’ in Canada, under the Catholic Prime Minister Paul Martin back in 2005. Yes, the ‘Civil Marriage Act’, which was not really civil, nor is it marriage, but it is, I suppose, an act. By becoming ‘law’ means that Bill C-38, as it was called, received royal assent. Ah, the poor Queen, and Governor-General, and everyone else.
When it comes to public law, we must make distinctions. As Saint Thomas says (I-II, q.96, a.2), not every vice can be proscribed by law (for such would be overbearing, oppressive and in the end, impossible), but only those ‘vices’ that harm others, and without which prohibition, society could not function nor, in the end, survive. Hence, we should make illegal such things as murder, assault, theft, perjury and such.
Homosexual acts – the sin ‘contra naturam‘ as it was called, sodomy after the city that was said to practise it – used to be against the law in Canada (and almost everywhere else in the world), but was decriminalized in the 1969 Omnibus Bill on May 14, which also legalized abortion, drunk-driving laws, contraception, divorce, gambling to raise government coffers and gun-restriction laws. Yes, I know.
To focus for now just on the sodomy issue: You might see why it would be difficult to police – it was on this basis that Trudeau Sr. famously, or infamously, declared that ‘the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation’, an aphorism that stuck, but like all aphorisms, is both true and untrue. Certainly, we don’t want police officers breaking down bedroom doors to see if two roomies are getting a bit too frisky with each other.
We may think, well, if it’s not illegal for two homosexuals to have ‘sex’, why can’t they also get married?
The answer is that private vice should not provide the basis for public policy. Even if we may have to permit some level of prostitution – so Saint Thomas says, apparently – we don’t want to set up university programs in that oldest of professions for our daughters and sisters.
We also cannot make ‘marriage’, and still less ‘family’ – institutions that come from God Himself and based very much on our immutable human nature – based on acts that are contrary to nature, and that can provide no complementary, stable, and mutually-fulfilling basis. This would be to counterfeit true matrimony, between a man and woman, for life, in a stable and irrevocable bond. And, like all counterfeit money, according to Gresham’s Law, the bad money – or marriage – undermines, and eventually drives out the good.
In other words, the whole institution of marriage itself would eventually be vitiated, and wither away. Families need the support of society to flourish and prosper – and no family is, nor should be, an island unto itself.
Rather, the state has the duty to support and foster marriage and family, in their true, objective sense. The Catechism says in no uncertain words:
The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family. Civil authority should consider it a grave duty “to acknowledge the true nature of marriage and the family, to protect and foster them, to safeguard public morality, and promote domestic prosperity”. (2210)
Once you undermine marriage once, you’re going to do it two or three or umpteen times more, until, to all intents and purposes, it exists no more. Already, there are calls for polygamy and polyamory, multiples wives, or husbands, or both, or a mish-mash of whatever it is pleases one, two, three or more, in the moment of hedonistic proclivity. Transitory couplings, with or without children – who are left abandoned to what fate may be, more and more of them wards of a crumbling, yet ever-more-deviant, state.
As the family goes, so goes society, as I’ve often quoted Pope Saint John Paul II. And neither’s going anywhere good at the moment.
But have hope, and, if you are so called, plunge into that great adventure of romance and marriage, even against all odds. For we have God, His law and His grace on our side, which will see us through.