Monday, November 12, 2012

Marry or perish: the death knell of Western society

"Nor will children want to look after a step-parent who, even if not actively resented, will not command the same bonds of love and duty as someone’s natural father or mother.
This breaking of the bonds between the generations is absolutely calamitous. For beyond the tragic abandonment of people to lonely lives, there can be no community without a strong sense of duty and commitment to other people and the need to look after them.
What this society has increasingly thrown overboard is nothing less than the idea of kinship, where people are knitted together by the sense they belong to each other.
Instead, our post-religious, post-modern, post-moral society prizes above all else independence, which is seen as essential to fulfilling one’s potential without any constraints or interference by anyone else.
This fact more than anything else helps explain the rise and rise of cohabitation, and the reason why so many now prefer it to marriage.
The key point about marriage is that it is not a partnership or a relationship but a union in which two people bind themselves to each other for ever in solemn obligation.
By contrast, those who choose to cohabit regard their relationship as a partnership of independent individuals — in which they reserve for themselves the right to opt out, with no binding obligation on either side.
Whatever they think the word ‘commitment’ may mean, the fact is they are not prepared to make that leap of faith and love that binds them in a permanent tie of obligation to another person. Who can be surprised, therefore, that cohabitations break up far more frequently than do marriages? For cohabitants have written themselves a get-out clause from the start.
Nor is it surprising that a principal reason why cohabitations collapse is the arrival of a baby. For a child demands unconditional obligation to another human being. And that’s what cohabitants don’t want."

The whole of Melanie Phillips' stirring article, "Broken Families, Lonely Britain" in the Daily Mail is here. I would head it differently (as per the title of this post). For a generation or more most Western societies have steadfastly refused to affirm the importance of marriage over other forms of relationships, even by the simplest step of (say) offering tax incentives to married couples. The debate on gay 'marriage' is another step in the journey of devaluing marriage between a man and a woman because it is a further application of the refusal to affirm the distinctive contribution marriage between a man and a woman make to the present and future of a society. (I acknowledge that gay 'marriage' is a nuanced step in that journey because the arguments for it involve affirmation of the intrinsic value of unconditional commitment in a relationship). 

In the end societies reap what they sow. The unravelling of the economies of the West at present is the harvest of sowing plentiful debt. The surge in immigration into those economies is the harvest of sowing minimal attention to marriage and family life. In the end Western societies will be replaced with peoples who value marriage, family and thrift. Solomon predicted all this when he wrote Proverbs!

40 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

One can only ask: "How can extending the benefits of 'marriage' to same-sex couples possibly interfere with the propriety of heterosexual marriage?"

Surely, if there are identifiable benefits to be obtained through monogamous opposite-sex marriage, these would not be adversely affected by extending the same benefits to monogamous Gays! I don't get your logic, Peter.

Does not Paul's injunction that 'it is better to marry than burn' apply to everyone?

If monogamous. committed, sexual relationships are what is desirable in society, then surely, the discipline that this would extend to the Gay community should benefit society - not the other way round?

In a situation where heterosexual marriages are increasingly at risk, how possibly could the a gay person's intention to commit to a lifelong union to one other person be considered to be an attack on heterosexual marriage? Perhaps it might even offer a better example for heterosexual couples.

Promiscuity is the real problem for society. Faithfulness is not!

Anonymous said...

"I acknowledge that gay 'marriage' is a nuanced step in that journey because the arguments for it involve affirmation of the intrinsic value of unconditional commitment in a relationship"

Actually it's about "the instrinsic value" of sexual activity. "Unconditional commitments" can take all forms, but no relationship, not even real marriage, is "unconditional".

Anonymous said...

"One can only ask: "How can extending the benefits of 'marriage' to same-sex couples possibly interfere with the propriety of heterosexual marriage?""

Many Muslims in the west ask the same question about polygamy. Polygamy is the answer to promiscuity.

Father Ron Smith said...

Don't change the subject. We're not talking about Muslims here. We are speaking of Christians in our own society. One would never expect a Muslim to have to adhere to specifically Christian ethics.

MichaelA said...

"Surely, if there are identifiable benefits to be obtained through monogamous opposite-sex marriage, these would not be adversely affected by extending the same benefits to monogamous Gays!"

Why would that be the case?

"Does not Paul's injunction that 'it is better to marry than burn' apply to everyone?"

Of course. By marry, he means "marry someone of the opposite sex".

"If monogamous. committed, sexual relationships are what is desirable in society, then surely, the discipline that this would extend to the Gay community should benefit society".

Why would an action in defiance of God's law benefit anyone?

"In a situation where heterosexual marriages are increasingly at risk, how possibly could the a gay person's intention to commit to a lifelong union to one other person be considered to be an attack on heterosexual marriage?"

Because its not a marriage. The gay person can commit to a lifelong union or not, whatever they choose, but it has nothing to do with marriage.

MichaelA said...

I am in general agreement with the article. But I haven't seen many relationships collapse with the arrival of a child. I have seen a lot go down because of financial pressures. Governments and other public bodies need to be alive to the pressure on families and enact measures to relieve that pressure.

Anonymous said...

"One would never expect a Muslim to have to adhere to specifically Christian ethics."

I never expect young Australians (or Kiwis) to show good manners either. Does that excuse boorishness? Never mind about "one" - does GOD have different ethical standards for different people? Is something a sin for one group but not another? or does God command all peoples to repent and believe the Gospel? or is Occamist nominalism correct and there are multiple, muutally exclusive ethical systems, so that something is wrong for one group but right for another? Maybe there are many different gospels as well?

Anonymous said...

"Why would an action in defiance of God's law benefit anyone?"

Because, as Aquinas pointed out, ALL sin conveys some short-term benefit to someone, e.g. burglary can relieve the burglar's shortage of cash. Lying benefits embarrassed cheats. Sexual promiscuity gives temporary relief from burning desires. And so on.

Of course, this has little or nothing to do with God's will for humanity, which is to be conformed to Christ. Every sin is a pursuit of some 'good'. 'Sin is behovely', saith Mother Julian. But it isn't the highest good and it doesn't make us more Christlike.

Anonymous said...

To quote St Thomas:

"Every sinful act proceeds from inordinate desire for some temporal good. Now the fact that anyone desires a temporal good inordinately, is due to the fact that he loves himself inordinately; for to wish some good to someone is to love him. Therefore it is evident that inordinate self love is the cause of every sin" (I II, 77, a.4).

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous and other commenters,
Please use at least a first name.
I will delete comments from now on without a name.
Regards
Peter

carl jacobs said...

FRS

You have it exactly backwards. The legitimization of homosexuality is a logical manifestation of the sexual revolution. The sexual revolution was specifically intended to establish personal gratification as the primary purpose of sex. Children and marriage and faithfulness were the exact obligations the sexual revolution was intended to removed. Given that our entire modern concept of sexual morality has been built upon the idea of sexual autonomy, you cannot now go back and try to re-establish those boundaries. People no longer consider promiscuity wrong. They no longer associate sexual behavior with commitment. If this was not the case, homosexuality would never have been legitimized. The case for homosexuality was built on autonomy, and now you are stuck with the consequences.

carl

Shawn said...

"If monogamous. committed, sexual relationships are what is desirable in society, then surely, the discipline that this would extend to the Gay community should benefit society - not the other way round?"

No. Because it is monogamous, committed, heterosexual relationships that are good for society, and ONLY those that are blessed by God.

Sin and perversion are not good for society.

Father Ron Smith said...

"you cannot now go back and try to re-establish those boundaries. People no longer consider promiscuity wrong. They no longer associate sexual behavior with commitment. If this was not the case, homosexuality would never have been legitimized."
- Carl Jacobs -

So, you're now going to blame heterosexual promiscuity on Gays - at precisely the time Gays are asking permission to commit to monogamous life-long commitment?

That really does sound topsy-turvy!

MichaelA said...

Father Ron, people who practice homosexuality do not need to "ask permission" of anyone to commit to life-long monogamy, if that is their thing. They can do it right now - nothing has ever stopped them.

But what they can't do is legitimately call it "marriage".

liturgy said...

MichaelA, I have no idea which country (or which planet) you are living in. But here, in New Zealand, homosexuals making a life-long monogamous commitment to each other was illegal until 1986, and those who did so often avoided detection by having a separate bedroom in case they were invaded. In some countries still, such a commitment results in execution. So your "nothing has ever stopped them" is just plain wrong. Fr Ron may make some comments that are open for discussion, but this was certainly one of his better points. If that cannot be acknowledged, then, really - there's no discussion happening here at all. Just heat and noise.

Blessings

Bosco

Shawn said...

"If that cannot be acknowledged, then, really - there's no discussion happening here at all. Just heat and noise."

Well, there is plenty of "heat and noise" coming from the pro-homosexual sect of the Church. and certainly no discussion. In fact there never has been any intention of genuine discussion from that wing.

"Fr Ron may make some comments that are open for discussion,"

Only some? Most more like it. And most are not "open for discussion" but just plain wrong.

"but this was certainly one of his better points."

Not really. It was just one of the usual excuses used to attack the Bible's clear teaching on marriage

Shawn said...

"So your "nothing has ever stopped them" is just plain wrong."

Not really. If people want to sin they will find a way, regardless.

Shawn said...

Was this the first example of "discussion" with liberalism?

Eve... "God told us..."

Satan... "Did God REALLY say that?"

It is striking how much liberalism sounds at times just like those first recorded words of Satan.

MichaelA said...

Bosco,

You seem to be reading things into my post that just aren't there.

My comment about nothing stopping homosexuals from committing to a life-long relationship was a reference to where Father Ron is (which I assume is New Zealand) not to any and every country on earth. If the word "ever" in my original sentence confused you then I apologise and withdraw that word - although I think it would have been obvious to any objective observer that I was talking about the situation right now.

In the process of misunderstanding my post, you have managed to obscure my actual point, so let me reiterate it:

A homosexual couple can make a "lifelong commitment" to each other if they please. They may even stick to it. But its not marriage.

Separately, I wrote that Gafcon leaders have spoken out against laws that prescribe the death penalty for homosexual activity, which is true. Your comment "In some countries still, such a commitment results in execution" does not respond to my point. (I suspect it is also incorrect - in most such countries it is homosexual *activity* that is the crime - "making a commitment" just doesn't come into consideration. But that is another discussion)

liturgy said...

I’m afraid that my command of the English language, MichaelA, is obviously not as good as the objective observers you refer to. This has led me to read into “nothing has ever stopped them” some things that obviously just weren’t there – the idea that “ever” meant “ever”. Thanks also for the clarification that in countries where homosexuals get executed for homosexual “activity” they can make a commitment without consequences – I was unaware of that subtlety.

Since my English is obviously incapable of communicating usefully, I will have to bow to your objective understanding of the language, and accept that homosexual commitment cannot ever be called and will not ever be able to be called “marriage”.

Now is that “ever” as you use it – or as I use it?

Blessings

Bosco

MichaelA said...

"Thanks also for the clarification that in countries where homosexuals get executed for homosexual “activity” they can make a commitment without consequences"

No Bosco, you have no excuse for such a misunderstanding this time around - I made very clear that that is not what I meant. You are just being mischievous.

Shawn said...

"No Bosco, you have no excuse for such a misunderstanding this time around - I made very clear that that is not what I meant. You are just being mischievous."

Get used to it. I have been on the recieving end of these word games myself.

Peter Carrell said...

Er, MichaelA and Shawn, I think it is time to call a halt to saying others are playing the word games. The point at issue is that in some countries, including Uganda, where it is CHRISTIANS calling for tougher laws, it is incredibly dangerous to signal in any public manner that one is gay (whether or not one is sexually active etc). I would prefer commenters here to think carefully about making statements that any way shape or form give credence to views that it is okay through law to enshrine an unsafe environment for gay people in any country. I am sure we appreciate the (relative) safety and protection afforded all people in NZ and Oz through our laws, bill of rights and so forth. Should we not be keen to see similar respect for human dignity throughout the world?

Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Peter.

MichaelA said...

But Peter, that is my point. Bosco wrote: "Thanks also for the clarification that in countries where homosexuals get executed for homosexual “activity” they can make a commitment without consequences".

Yet that is the opposite of what I clarified - if you look at my post before that, you will see that I had writen: "My comment about nothing stopping homosexuals from committing to a life-long relationship was a reference to where Father Ron is (which I assume is New Zealand) not to any and every country on earth."

My original point (to
Father Ron, not to Bosco) was that a lifelong homosexual commitment is not a marriage. That obviously cannot be referring to countries where homosexuality is a crime - the issue of homosexual marriage simply does not arise there.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi MichaelA

I appreciate your responding with clarification.

I think it is this paragraph in an earlier comment by you which has, let us say, a certain ambiguity about what might or might not be the case in countries other than NZ and in which severe penalties are prescribed against homosexual sexual activity:

"Separately, I wrote that Gafcon leaders have spoken out against laws that prescribe the death penalty for homosexual activity, which is true. Your comment "In some countries still, such a commitment results in execution" does not respond to my point. (I suspect it is also incorrect - in most such countries it is homosexual *activity* that is the crime - "making a commitment" just doesn't come into consideration. But that is another discussion)."

I appreciate, therefore, your clarity in your most recent comment. Thank you.

Father Ron Smith said...

As a postscript to MichaelA's posts on this thread, perhaps he could read my latest article here, which unveils Uganda's latest push to criminalise homosexuals (not necessarily just their activity) in Uganda - no doubt aided and abetted by The Church! :-

Uganda revives its intention to further criminalise Gays
Posted on November 15, 2012
Anti-Gay Bill: Speaker Kadaga Promises to Speed Up Law in Uganda Author: NTV Uganda Publisher: NTV Uganda Publication Date: 12 Nov.12

Judicial Affairs, Governance The speaker of parliament – Rebecca Kadaga has called upon Members of Parliament … Continue reading →

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SIfbOA7XyxU

MichaelA said...

Peter, my apologies to you, Bosco and Father Ron for the nit-pickiness of my last two posts: the very thing I object to in others and I am doing it in spades!

I appreciate that Bosco was talking about a very real issue, but I was so fixated on my own point that I wasn't even seeing it. Best regards all.

Anonymous said...

African countries can be bullied by the West, with the threat to cut off aid, as the UK has done to Malawi, and the US may do to Uganda.
Muslim countries which punish and even execute homosexuals (like Pakistan and Iran, Egypt as well) will not be targeted by the West, because (a) they are too strong to be bullied; (b) the left needs Muslim votes in the West; (c) the West is terrified of more Al Qaeda-type attacks, and supporting homosexuals in those countries will only support the Al Qaeda narrative about the anti-Muslim West.
So, much easier to push around the weak Africans.

Gary

Father Ron Smith said...

I find Gary's exposition here to be quite fascinating. Has he ever thought of putting his exaggerated fantasies into a more commercial form. It's not exactly Booker Prize stuff, but maybe he'd find a small publisher- say, in Nigeria.

I'm sure he'd have an audience - maybe even here, but not from me. I'm not for bogey-man fiction. I'm a strictly non-fiction person, myself.

Shawn said...

Hi Peter,

" I would prefer commenters here to think carefully about making statements that any way shape or form give credence to views that it is okay through law to enshrine an unsafe environment for gay people in any country."

The problem here is who defines what is or is not "unsafe"?

Gay rights groups would claim that anything other than full and total acceptance of any demand made by them, and nothing less than the full capitulation of every institution, including the Church, means that society is "unsafe".

" I am sure we appreciate the (relative) safety and protection afforded all people in NZ and Oz through our laws, bill of rights and so forth. Should we not be keen to see similar respect for human dignity throughout the world?"

No. Because I am not convinced that our current laws are in fact right. Human dignity can only be based on a Biblical worldview, and such a worldview is interested in far more than our secular humanist notions of "rights".

I DO agree that people who struggle with homosexual compulsions should not be executed for them. That would be wrong, obviously.

But between that extreme and the situation in the West in which homosexuals wield disproportionate political power and are using that power to persecute Christians, there are many more sensible options.

Some restrictions with regards to homosexuality, such as marriage and adoption, are legitimate, as are laws to protect the God-given right of Christians to proclaim and practice the Faith.

Our society has become woefully unbalanced on this issue, and on the issue of rights in general.

Peter Carrell said...

Lightly moderated comment from Ron Smith:

""No. Because I am not convinced that our current laws are in fact right."

Ah wel1 That's that, then! ...
"

Anonymous said...

I wonder if "Father" Smith has ever been to West Africa or to Iran or Pakistan. If he had, he would understand what I am talking about. I appreciate that very few people seem to read his blog (to judge by the absence of comments), but I am not sure what he seeks to do by making confused ad hominem trolling comments here about people he doesn't know. Is it just to annoy orthodox Christians? Is that really how an ordained minister should spend his time? I am genuinely perplexed by this.

Gary

liturgy said...

Your comment, MichaelA, November 16, 2012 10:20 AM, at least in part to me, is much appreciated. Thanks. If there was any rush in my reading of what you wrote, please understand my being very busy. There was and is certainly no attempt at being mischievous. My points came out of the reality here in NZ of committed same sex couples who had to keep their relationship secret from the law; were excluded from the funeral of their partner; from decisions, inheritance, etc etc. It also comes from much travel. I also apologise if the tone of my points added to heat rather than light. Once again, thanks, and

blessings

Bosco

Shawn said...

" but I am not sure what he seeks to do by making confused ad hominem trolling comments here about people he doesn't know. Is it just to annoy orthodox Christians? Is that really how an ordained minister should spend his time? I am genuinely perplexed by this."

You and me both.

Father Ron Smith said...

Gary, if my remark was a bit too close to the bone for you to endure. I apologise for your hurt feelings.

In answer to your last question: No I have not visited any of the territories you have mentioned. Can I presume that you have? From your own remarks it would seem that you have lots of experience in the countries you mention.

I do however, have 2 English priest brothers-in-law who have personal experience as missionaries in Tanzania, Zululand, and South Africa, and we do have some lively conversations about this.

I'm a bit interested to see your reference to 'orthodox Christians'. Is there any other sort?

Peter Carrell said...

Slightly redacted comment from Fr Ron Smith:

"Just a wee not to [Shawn]. I once said I would decline to answer your calculated insults on this site. I now announce my intention to renew that declaration. Goodbye Shawn!"

Shawn said...

I have not made any calculated insults. My last comment was simply an acknowlegment of Michael's perplexity as to your own calculated insults, a perplexity I share.

Shawn said...

"I'm a bit interested to see your reference to 'orthodox Christians'. Is there any other sort?"

Yes, the heterodox and the heretical.

Mr. Mcgranor said...

Most fail to see what is clear. And that is postmodernism is a Satanic fantasy era. Largely pushed against whites, or broader Western civilization in a pre-Counterculture sense. This dismantling of Protestantism into nihilstic pseudo-humanism must be combatted. Not solely be Nigerian defenders of the Faith; but by reactionary militants of the Western hemisphere and the like. While its true the anti-Western criticism will be seen as nonsense, when the Nigerians and others assert the faith. Still, we need to understand that this is not to be tolerated. So start calling yourself bigots. And assert some buried history against Catholic and Orthodox for the true Church: Ole Protestantism.