‘Charges of bigotry . . . are the ultimate secular insult,” Caroline Farrow, a speaker with Catholic Voices in England, tells me. “The cry of ‘bigot’ is bandied around so much these days,” she observes, “that it has begun to lose some of its potency.”
Perhaps that’s why people are bullied out of their jobs now and into the intellectual desert for having ever supported the position that marriage is between a man and a woman. As when Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich was forced out of his new chief-executive job when activists decided to make an example of him for having given $1,000 to the Proposition 8 effort to support a traditional definition of marriage in California.
Farrow didn’t lose her job, but she has been warned. One lawyer even approached her to offer help in case efforts are made to cast her as a bad parent, unfit for her children. Her crime was similar to Eich’s. During a British public-affairs show, she was called upon to defend her view that marriage is a child-centered institution between men and women. The show was otherwise a celebration of Britain’s new same-sex marriage regime. For voicing an opinion that the progressive icon Barack Obama held at the same time Eich made his $1,000 donation, Farrow was declared “disgusting,” and spat on. The abusive commentary continues on the social media. Is this any wonder, at a time when Joe Biden has used the word “barbaric” to describe any opposition to the new moral mandate to surrender freedom in the name of the radical values of the sexual revolution? It’s one thing to embrace that revolution. That, you’re free to do. It’s another to force your neighbor to. That’s tyranny, not tolerance
in order to accommodate one group’s desire to have their love legitimated by the state . . . the state has emptied marriage of its essential meaning. It has changed marriage from an understandable, recognizable, conjugal institution, one hallowed by faith and civil society, to an ersatz, hollowed-out arrangement that cannot be called an institution at all. That matters because it makes marriage less interesting, less attractive and less important. People — gay or straight — will increasingly come to ask: why do I need a piece of paper from the state to prove I love someone? If marriage is simply “about” the love between any two people, what has the state got to do with it anyway?
Around the same time, in Rome, Pope Francis, not for the first time, addressed married couples — that is, married couples of opposite sexes. He said that in the sacramental union of “one flesh,” God blesses married couples so that they might become “living icons of God’s love in our world, building up the Church in unity and fidelity. Christian marriage also reflects the mystery of Christ’s own faithful and sacrificial love for his body, the Church.”
In addition to spiritual advice, Francis offered the practical, too: “You don’t need to call the United Nations to your home to make peace: a small gesture is enough, a caress, and tomorrow is a new day.”
t was hard to miss, and no surprise, that the pope doesn’t see the U.N. — an institution that recently unfairly and gratuitously attacked the Church — as a savior. And he just happened to say this as I was walking into the United Nations headquarters in New York for the World Youth Alliance’s forum on The Family: Backbone of Development.
At the forum, panelists talked about the urgency and the possibility of renewing marriage and family in the modern day. Children ought to know who they are, have models of masculinity and femininity, of love, of sacrifice, of rootedness in tradition, even as they very much live in the modern world. At the heart of do-ability is witness — in showing up in political discussions and in policymaking but also in actually doing it: couples committing to each other, acknowledging and embracing the complementarity of the sexes, loving and sacrificing for children, often forgoing some material wealth and freedom in order to do so. That’s freedom to choose. Not an ideology, but a loving reality pregnant with possibilities even in this hour of radical social change.
Don’t be bullied into abandoning marriage in the name of a tolerance that is actually tyranny.
“Marriage is more than a romantic feeling,” Farrow points out to me. And it’s more than a theological proposal or a political campaign. “Regardless of whether or not one subscribes to the metaphysical nature of marriage adhered to by Catholics, the link to reproduction has always been why it has been recognized by the state. It is simply the union of one man and one woman, brought together by love, sexually bonded, and faithful for life in order to provide the optimum environment for the creation and rearing of children.”
No small part of the reason that campaigns to redefine marriage have succeeded is what poor stewards we have been of marriage. “Instead of defending marriage, promote it,” Cristián Rodríguez, a professor of the School of Psychology of the Universidad de los Andes in Chile, said during our U.N. panel. And protect our right to promote it. There is a liberation that comes with our current state of affairs. Losing on so many political fronts, we can focus on the front lines of building beacons of family life, real, compelling, accessible options for those who simply want love and lack the models of men and women together for life. Look beyond the b-words, the insults, and consider this serious lifestyle proposal.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. This column is based on one available exclusively through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.