Is the Pope Square?
August 5, 2003
Speaking as a Catholic, I wish the Vatican would
say nothing about same-sex marriage. Its beneath
its dignity to enter into debate with a sick joke, and when it does so it
only allows progressive-minded fools to change the subject.
Such fools, some of them
nominal Catholics, argue that the Church is a bunch of hypocritical old
men nervously obsessed with sex and Jesus told us to be nice to each
other and refusing to let homosexuals marry isnt very nice because
they dont bother anyone and anyway what about all those pedophile
priests so let the Pope mind his own business and look to his own house.
You get the idea. Like, if the Church doesnt enforce its own rules,
those rules must be invalid.
Some people have the
ineradicable impression that Catholics regard the Pope as an absolute
dictator who can change the moral rules at his own whim. On this view, he
could approve of abortion, contraception, and sodomy if he wanted to.
Unfortunately, he wont change his rigid opinions because he is out
of touch with the modern world. Not only is the Pope a religious tyrant;
worse yet, he is hopelessly square.
Even some Catholics hold this
view. They are always eager to let you know they are Catholics, albeit
nicer than the Pope and, of course, more in touch with the modern world.
Unfortunately, these Catholics arent in touch with their own
Church. They appear to have been dozing off during catechism.
The Catholic Church
doesnt teach that the Pope can change Gods moral law. On
the contrary, it teaches that he cant, because that law is eternal.
For example, the Pope
cant declare that murder is good. God has made man in his own
image, and it is evil to kill human beings. It may sometimes be justified,
but only in rare circumstances. The act itself is intrinsically evil. It
would remain so even if all priests and bishops were exposed as
murderers; in fact, that would only increase its horror.
Those who are in touch with the modern world may take a more
flexible view. They usually do. Advanced modern thinking keeps finding
more and more reasons in favor of things that used to be considered
murder, such as abortion, mercy killing, and preemptive war.
In the same way, the Pope
cant change the nature of marriage. It existed, by necessity of
human nature, long before Jesus or even Abraham. Every society has had
some version of it, but none has ever seen fit to establish marriage
between members of the same sex or more precisely, to call
homosexual unions marriages.
This has nothing to do with mere
disapproval of sodomy. Even societies that were indifferent to sodomy
saw no reason to treat same-sex domestic partnerships as marriages. Why
not? Because such unions dont produce children.
Imagine a society in which
homosexuality was considered normal and healthy, while heterosexuals
were considered perverted. It would still be necessary to have
heterosexual marriage as an institution, even if it was a sort of penal
institution, for the sake of taking care of the children these
perverts produced. Marriage might have no sanctity, but it
would still have the same reason. To put it as unromantically as possible,
people who have children should be stuck with each other, sharing the
Again, what society has ever
seen any point in married homosexuals? Set Jews,
Christians, and Muslims aside. The Chinese? The Japanese? The Aztecs?
The Vikings? The Apaches? The ancient Greeks and Romans? The list could
be lengthened indefinitely, and the answer would always be the same.
Marriage might be regarded as a mere necessity, even a regrettable
necessity, but it was always for men and women.
marriage were anything but a sudden modern fad,
wed surely have heard of it before. But it was never even a fad; it
was merely a contradiction in terms, not worth considering. So even
homosexuals never considered it.
Christianity took a more
elevated and uncompromising view of marriage than the businesslike
pagans did, raising it to the level of a sacrament; later the West mixed
marriage with the charming but extraneous idea of romantic love. But it
was always assumed to make sense only as a relation between men and
Today the contradiction in terms
has become the latest thing. And as always, the most absurdly provincial
idea is being accepted as the most advanced thinking, as long as it can be
passed off as modern.