Father, that was a lovely sermon, but I feel like there's something missing. Your own illustrations suggest that the first place most of us learn love is from our parents. What are we to make then, of a spousal relationship that is, of its nature, unable to produce children?
I know that there are infertile heterosexual couples whose love is also unable to produce children.
And I know that adoptive parents love their children every bit as much as biological parents love theirs.
But I don't think that's enough of a response. I think there's a real theological question to grapple with here--namely, what is the purpose of marriage and sex? And I don't think that we can, of our own accord, forcibly divorce the procreative purpose from the unitive purpose. We would as well remove our souls from our bodies--as if those were two different things.
I don't hate gay people. My aunt and godmother is gay and I love her. And I love the child -- my cousin -- that her partner gave birth to and she adopted. He is as much my cousin as the biological children of any of my other aunts.
But I just can't see how a relationship that cannot produce children, and is not even of the sort that produces children, is a marriage. Please help me to understand your reasoning.
God bless you -- you are in my prayers.
Ben asks a very sincere and authentic question. I believe one which deserves a considered answer. First, if you were to enter the sacristy of your local parish church and access the Rite of Marriage book which is authorized by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, you would discover something interesting in the marriage rite. All references to children are contained in red parenthesis. Why? So that the bishop, priest or deacon officiating at the wedding may easily omit such references in the case of a couple which is past "child bearing years". Obviously, it would appear absurd to include such references for a couple, say in their mid sixties. The Church marries people who cannot reproduce and has done so for centuries.
Why? The answer to this is rather obvious. Not all married couples will produce children. Are their marriages any less valid? The practice of the Church clearly suggest that the answer is that their marriages are equally valid. That some couples will not reproduce does not spell the end of the human race. Don't worry, God will bless many marriages with children.
The other question which is raised here is the purpose of sex. This is a great question. Obviously, one of the purposes of sex is reproduction; however, if marriage is permitted for couples who are incapable of reproduction and the Church currently does permit such marriages then, the Church also tacitly admits that there must be some other reason for sex other than reproduction. If this were not the case then, sex for females past the age of menopause would be considered "sinful." This "other" reason is called unitive by theologians.
The unitive end of sex, as the name suggests is a bonding. A tender union of the two people. Incidentally, this gives us a new insight into sex. It is good. It is not to be feared. It is not shameful. It was designed by the Creator. Whether the sex produces physical life or not, it may contribute to a union of love and life, which is the very definition of marriage. Heterosexual couples in their "golden years" understand this so too, do same sex couples.
So, if this is all true for heterosexual couples incapable of physical reproduction then, why would it be untrue of same sex couples who are equally incapable of physical reproduction?
I want to thank Ben for his question. Remember, the traditional definition of theology, is faith seeking understanding. Since theology is the study of God, we will never fully know God but, asking honest questions is a way of coming to know God better.
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