"This is the generation of the great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently of that mortal god, to which we own under the immortal God, our peace and defense." -Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan
For those of you who have been following my notes, you know that the phrase “insidious and dangerous” was used by the Pope recently to describe gay marriages. However, in this note, I wish to spell out exactly why I think gay marriages are “insidious and dangerous”, what does this change mean for us, especially in an existential way.
From the Erotic to the Familial
One of the cornerstone of 18th Century Romanticism (English or German) is the fundamental harmony between nature and spirit and the determination to maintain a continuity between them (perhaps the theological equivalent will be the continuity between nature and grace). I confess that all my reflections on marriage and sex have been both inspired and guided by this Romantic vision of continuity.
So far I have argued that ultimately desire ultimately leads towards the formation of the Bond of Love, as grounded upon a sacred vow before God. I then followed up by arguing that the ultimate goal of any sexual desire, now recontextualised within this Bond, is the incarnation of Bond of Love in the begetting of children. Perhaps the evidence that this is sexual desire’s ultimate goal can be found in popular culture’s crude expression of one person’s love to another that goes something like, “I want to have your children.” Crude though such as an expression maybe, but yet, such an expression goes to show that the begetting of children is the ultimate goal and incarnation of love which exist between two people.
From the point of view of the parents, the act of beholding their child is an experience of the unity between their erotic love and parental or familial love. Between the parents, there is both the knowledge and experience that what moves them at their deepest (the experience of their erotic and sexual strivings towards each other), is fundamentall connected to its expressiona and incarnation in this child, which is theirs. The sense that their child belongs to them and is a part of their love is rooted in their erotic desire. Thus what this means is the love for their child has its ground from what forms such a vital and important part of themselves, their erotic and sexual love.
As I’ve said in another note, I have no illusions that many parents fall short of this ideal. My own parents are divorced, but despite their failures, I still maintain and hold that this is the ideal context which all children ought to be raised in. What gay marriage does is to separate the erotic from the familial love. Gay marriage says that ultimately, the erotic sentiment, what moves them most deeply, has absolutely nothing to do with their parental love to what must be their adopted children or, in the case of lesbian “parents”, sperm donated inseminated children. It involves a tear and schism into the fundamental reality of our personhood and into the reality of love.
Perhaps this might have roots in certain elements of Protestant theology which has a tendency to separate eros from agape. Eros, according to this schism, is about desire, union and possession, it is so-called “self-seeking” and selfish. While agape has to do generosity, giving, etc. Thus, on this conception, the attitude of gay parents towards their children is purely an act of agape, the sheer will and choice to give a home to another child, but which has nothing to do with their erotic sentiment.
Fortunately, Catholic theology has adamantly insisted on the fundamental unity of both sides of love, that there is no separation between the desire for union and giving. Thus, they will insist on the fundamental unity between their existence of their child, and who they are as an erotically bounded couple. Which brings me to my next point.
Our Existence has been Willed by Love
As I’ve said before, I would like to think that I was born because the love between my parents. Our biological body forms an important part of who we are and the existential question for us is, why have we come to be? As the Pope has said once,
Life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose!
According to the logic which I have described, it is vital for us to know that our very existence, our very being, has its cause in what is such an important part of the human reality, the reality of erotic love. Our existence has been willed by our parent’s love towards each other, which participates in the Eternal Love of the Triune God.
What gay marriage means is that our existence has ultimately nothing to do with a vital and significant part of the human reality. That our biological being is ultimately an accident, divorced from what is one of the, if not the, most valuable part of human existence. Thus, leaving us to float in an disenchanted and nihilistic wasteland called the Earth.
I realise that many parents do fall short of the ideal I’ve described, but just because there is such a thing as moral failure does not mean that therefore we change the ideal. Anyone who still values the place and reality of love in our lives, must resist the nihilistic implications which will come with the rise of gay marriage, which will cast us out of the joy of the reality of love into the wasteland of despair and alienation. To legitimise gay marriage is to legitimise fragmentation in the wholeness of the experience of love, to break the connection between eros and agape, and bring a systematic destruction on what is the most important part of the human reality. It is for this reason that the Pope has described it as “insidious and dangerous”, and this nihilistic apocalypse must be resisted with every fibre of being, lest Being be forever divorced from Love.