Filed Under:  Columns, Opinion

Are you comfortable in your own skin?

16th July 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

When Newsweek editor Tina Brown saw the outrageous Time magazine cover of a mother breastfeeding her three-year-old, she laughed out loud and shouted, “Let the games begin!” Therewith, she gave marching orders to her staff that was champing at the bit.

With one-upmanship in mind, the staff cooked up an idea even more preposterous than competitor Time magazine’s cover. In support of gay marriage, their cover features an image of President Obama sporting a brilliant rainbow halo over his head, with the presumptuous headline blaring unashamedly, “The First Gay President.”

The comparison is made, of course, with Black author Toni Morrison’s satiric reference to President Bill Clinton as “the first Black President,” because, during the Whitewater investigation, so many treated him as if he were Black. “After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”

Regardless of what others think and say about marriage, are you comfortable in your own skin, shoes, lot, condition, circumstances and cultural/religious beliefs? Does it make a difference to you what various enclaves of people think about marriage?

There is a message for us humans in the monogamous unions of animals such as albatrosses, swans, brolga cranes, anglefish, gibbons monkeys, termites, turtle doves, crows, kookaburras, shingleback skinks, wolf eels, black vultures, bald eagles, golden eagles, condors, sandhill cranes, pigeons, red-tailed hawks, ospreys and prairie voles.

To our embarrassment, some of these animals are more faithful in their mate relationships than many of us humans, even to the extent that black vultures attack individuals that dare to try running around on their partner. Also, the above-mentioned relationships are male to female, although there are rare animal lone homosexual cases.

With even irrational animals being part of the parade, humans – also known as rational animals – displayed permanent male-to-female relationships as early as human beings began to farm and herd cattle circa 9000 B.C. Before then, our ancestors were hunters-gatherers with no time or means for anything but tribal group sexual unions.

Even after the advent of farming and herding, millennia passed before any kind of legal documentation was demanded from those couples who decided to form a permanent union. It is safe to say that same-sex unions were not even in the conceptual phase then.

Western society traces some aspects of modern family relationships and customs to ancient Mesopotamia and Babylonia where ideas such as the wedding, marriage, and divorce began. Innumerable legal documents from the Sumerian to the Seleucid period show the individual as father, son, brother, or husband. All these relationships started with a proposal, followed by the marriage contract and finally the wedding.

Marriage as we know it has drawn heavily from the Old Testament. Jesus sternly quoted Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19:4-5, “Have you not heard that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’”

No paragons of virtue, the ancient Greeks and Romans nevertheless held marriage in high esteem, viewing it as a fundamental social institution. The great lawgiver Solon even contemplated making marriage compulsory. Under the guidelines of Pericles in Athens, bachelors were excluded from certain important public positions.

In puzzling contradictions, Sparta encouraged sexual relationships between men, even pederasty—sex with adolescent boys—yet insisted that men marry and produce children. No matter what their sexual orientation, single and childless men were treated with scorn. Clearly, no thought was given to same-sex legal unions, let alone marriage.

Political problems begin when some individuals are determined to modify all the above-referenced aspects of marriage to include the third sex—the gay world—who plead that they should have their equal time in the sun since they were born as they are. That, of course, bleeds over into semantics and reduces this dialogue to an exercise in semantics.

The main driving motives for desiring same-sex marriage are, of course, respect, public acknowledgement and the dignity of not being considered evil or second-rate.

This article was originally published in the July 16, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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