Angela Merkel has given her party a conscience vote which has resulted in the passing of legislation for same sex marriage in Germany, though she herself failed to vote in favour of the legislation. It seems that, all bar the decision of who gets to have their business ruined or put in jail for disagreeing, the culture wars have moved on from this battlefield which is now a wasteland. The Left won. But, inevitably I’m afraid, it will be society that looses.
Like all wars of the 20th century the seeds of this one were sewn in an earlier war to do with marriage. The victory was so total, the surviving defeated now so immersed in the new language of their rulers that they were unable to draw on their previous values to fully evaluate their enemy and see them and their arguments for what they were.
This is how I was when I read an article by James Kirkup in my final days of reading The Telegraph(I had to stop when its capitulation was so apparent that its writing staff began to openly mock its readership). Kirkup had written an article on the proposed legislation for same sex marriage that Mr Cameron had enforced on his party, despite declarations to the contrary whilst campaigning for the election. Kirkup, with a tone that struck me as incredibly condescending, posited that anyone who objected to same sex marriage would have to persuade him as to why their objections weren’t the same as those used against Rosa Parks on her infamous bus journey.
Yes, I’m the same as a racist James. Of course, well argued. (Sarcasm off)
I didn’t object to civil partnerships at the time – I hadn’t queried the dogma of ‘born that way’ nor discovered the physical ramifications of the gay lifestyle. Yet there I was with a ‘B’ on my forehead for all the world to see if I worded any concerns I had about the legislation.
However, I’m grateful for the statement because it made me think; why did I object? Then I suddenly realised. Marriage isn’t a bus journey. It’s not as simple as getting from A to B. Marriage is a ceremony we have which conveys a responsibility that we have to our husband or wife, our family and society. The trouble is we started to treat it like a bus journey way before the calls for same sex marriage started to be voiced; ironically not loudly from gay people, but shrilly from those in the Cameron government.
My views on marriage developed way before I returned to my Catholic faith, in fact observing the reality of the need for marriage in society was a piece of the puzzle which eventually informed my faith.
I’ve previously written that when I was younger I was a police officer. At this time I would go from house to house, to domestic after domestic where both partners would use violence and aggression against each other. At these incidences you would have to ask the names and details of any children of both members of the couple resident there; whether the children lived with them or not. A list would develop. The woman would give you the details of the new baby at her feet in a travel cot. Then she would give you the details of her other children living at different addresses, taken from her because she wasn’t able to properly care for them.
I would ask who the fathers of these children were, and another list of names and details would be given to me.
Then the man was spoken to. Another list of children’s names. Another list of children’s mothers.
I needed the details as many of these children already removed from the home were still in a system deciding whether they could ever go back. As there was a revolving door in their lives of different ‘partners’ bringing new children these older children would be neglected at best, abused at worst.
Then there were the children that came across my path because they were committing crime. Most of them stealing to fund cannabis. Young men living with just a mother who intimidated and bullied their only present, female parent. It’s what they’d learnt about manhood from the few snatches of it they’d seen. Not sacrifice (the men in their lives kept leaving after all), not fidelity certainly; just aggression.
The girls didn’t come across my path that much. Not for crime anyway. They inevitably found a much older man and started their own cycle of partner, baby, abuse, repeat.
I can provide you with statistics to support the fact that my observations aren’t just conjecture. The sexual revolution leaves a mass of broken lives in its midst. But this was in the heartlands of council estates and modern day poverty (not the 1940s type, there is a difference), I just thought it was a class thing at first.
When I left the police I became a teacher. It was my first conversation about divorce that made me realise that the damage from the sexual revolution cut across classes. A young girl I knew – sensible, hardworking, a quiet contributor – spoke about her parents divorce and broke down in tears talking about the pain it caused her. It came from nowhere. I was speechless at the pain in front of my eyes and I’ve dragged rotten corpses from cars were suicide victims hadn’t been found promptly in the summer heat.
Another incident was when I got a glimpse into the devastation that a father’s abandonment can cause young girls. One of my pupils – popular, beautiful, incredibly intelligent – was telling me about the birth of her sibling. We chatted for some time as she was obviously delighted. As the conversation continued it was obvious that her mother was newly married to another man. Naturally I asked “Do you get to spend a lot of time with your dad?”
It was like her face broke. All of a sudden the strong, confident, vivacious girl in front of me changed. “I don’t talk about that. I never talk about that.”
I hadn’t known it but her mother had fallen pregnant and 16 and her father had refused to acknowledge her. Fourteen years later he still didn’t.
The first battle won in the culture wars was won through the means of biological warfare; the pill. It obscured the knowledge from us of the interconnectedness of sex and procreation, convincing us that we could have sex without children. However the inherent capacity for life is strong and no form of contraception is foolproof. The reason that we have needed the institution of marriage throughout the ages is that it recognises this biological reality. The sexes are complimentary, but more significantly, they are designed in this way in order to produce children.
Human children need not only devoted attention to ensure their survival but, in order to create a society that is civilised, constant nurturing of the morality and intelligence of the person. Therefore marriage builds up society as well, hence its recognition and reverence by society (of former years anyway).
Although we share the burden of childrearing with others the awareness of human beings of their own identity means that our relationships with our parents can literally make or break us.
Even in an amical divorce I am often left wondering at the impact on the child. The girl who spoke of her anguish at her parents separation was not unusual. Why should she be? When you consider that each newly made child has 26 chromosomes from each parent – the blending of facial features, similarity of personalities and talents to name a few – when parent announces that they no longer ‘love’ their former spouse because they ‘just can’t live together anymore’ what message does this send the child as they look in the mirror and see the image of the rejected spouse?
For those who respond to my point about the nurturing and care of infants and children with cries of ‘gay people have children too’ let me make it clear; no, they don’t. At least not together and never by ‘accident’. The feelings of a divorced or abandoned child are intrinsic within this form of parenting where the family has been created by artificial means (whether through adoption, surrogacy or divorce).
In terms of faithfulness why should society care if you do or do not ‘forsake all others’?Sure the effect of STDs on society is detrimental, particularly with a nationalised health service, but that is not the reason why fidelity in heterosexual marriage has a wider impact. The welfare state’s response to 1960s sexual promiscuity has resulted in more of this behaviour and more of the consequences that I outlined above.
After their initial victory separating the knowledge of the sexual act’s connectedness to children a new battle emerged; the dissolution of marriage for any reason. No fault divorce. For all of those who say that SSM changed the institution irrevocably I’d have to counter that this is simply not the case. The idea that someone can just walk away from a marriage and no-one is at fault separated our awareness of the importance of parental ties to the child. If you can tell a child that they can see one parent every other weekend and insist they will be happy because their parents aren’t happy at the moment the idea of responsible parties are inverted.
Now there is no longer was there an emphasis on duty, but on a romantic notion of love. No longer a responsibility towards the children, but a glorification of ‘love’, which is in essence one of vanity. Marriage became a ‘day’ where women are ‘princesses’. Men play a bit part, but this is increasingly becoming a ceremony were Narcissus and the nymph Echo play their part.
With our societies separation of sex from its consequences and marriage from responsibility and all of us glorifying the ‘love’ story why wouldn’t it become to be seen as discriminatory to not celebrate all ‘love’. But this only works if you don’t want to look at the rot that the sexual revolution has caused to us all; which of course many don’t.
C.S.Lewis would often say that when you’ve gone the wrong way that progress is finding out where you went wrong and going back to that spot. Many talk about not being able to go back; a counter claim to the ethical argument par annum (it’s the year…….). But we do go back. If we didn’t then Jews would still be forced to divorce their non-Jewish spouses, there would still be a slave trade, eugenics would still be a part of our brave new world.
A constant ‘argument’ given for the rightness of this legislation is the fact that so many young people do embrace this new definition of marriage with open arms and the demonisation of those who are older, many of whom object. Nobody seems to notice that these young people have grown up in a society were not only the vast majority of their parents generation have separated or divorced, if they were ever together, but the grandparents generation too. The lived reality of marriage, let alone romantic relationships, are brief.
The older people, the ‘bigots’, went through real poverty together, perhaps weathered the fallout of affairs, and, inevitably, boredom. All for their children