Thirteen Theses on Marriage: Nine Scholars and Writers Respond to Douglas Farrow's Pointed Propositions about Sex, Gender, and Marriage
Thirteen theses in defense of so-called heteronormativity and other supposed heresies, from a Christian and specifically Catholic perspective, for the purpose of public debate:
1) Homo sapiens is a sexually dimorphic species that depends for its propagation and socialization on the complementary differences between male and female.
2) Sexual difference, not variation in sexual inclination or "orientation," is fundamental to the existence and well-being of the human race.
3) A human being comprises body and soul, and human sexual desires are influenced by developments and disorders of both body and soul.
4) Sexual desire, sexual intention, and sexual action must be distinguished, whether for psychological or moral or legal purposes, and each may be well ordered or disordered.
5) Well-ordered sexual intentions have in view goods both of body and of soul, goods that are at once personal and societal.
6) Consideration of these goods ought to respect the conjugal nature and reproductive potential of the most fundamental sexual act.
7) Consideration of these goods ought to respect the highest human good, which is enjoyment of God and of one another in God.
8) All human persons are constitutionally ordered to this highest good and as such are deserving of respect regardless of their desires, intentions, or actions.
9) All persons are capable, by intention or action, of subverting the human vocation and, insofar as they do so, are deserving of disapprobation and well served by appropriate social penalties that do not infringe upon their elemental rights.
10) The full development of a person is possible without sexual intimacy; where sexual intimacy is chosen, the faithful marriage of man and woman provides the only context in which that intimacy can be properly realized and fully expressed.
11) Moreover, the marriage of man and woman, by virtue of the natural law of fecundity, establishes a society more primitive than the state and bears inalienable rights untouchable by the state, which indeed is obligated to offer that society its support.
12) It is therefore right that public policy should encourage the well-being of the natural family unit and discourage activities that fundamentally undermine it, including sexual activities; fornication, for example, whether inter-sex or same-sex, ought to be discouraged in a manner respectful of individual freedom and responsibility.
13) The above claims have public relevance because they concern the public good; they are no more or less discriminatory than other bona fide claims about the public good, and their contraries or alternatives have no greater prima facie claim to public consideration.
BY JONATHAN RAUCH
I admire FIRST THINGS and Douglas Farrow for asking a secular Jewish homosexual gay-marriage supporter, a "SJHGMS," to respond to his thirteen theses. That shows the kind of commitment to fair-minded discussion that the marriage debate could use more of. But I find myself at a bit of a loss as to how to respond. From the point of view of this SJHGMS, Farrow's theses are, as Wolfgang Pauli once said, not even wrong. Most of them lack refutable content (what William James called "cash value"), amounting instead to metaphysical propositions that, for the most part, one must take or leave.
Predictably, I leave them. It's not even that I choose to leave them; it's that I'm not sure what they mean or how to get a handle on them. For example, I don't know what sort of evidence or criticism could be brought to bear on Mr. Farrow's claim that only sexual difference, and not sexual orientation, is fundamental to human well-being. He will forgive me, and other gay people, for not taking his word for this, and for seeing in it little more than an expression of heterosexual self-congratulation.
The epistemological problem with such propositions is that they provide no common purchase for people of diverse standpoints to discuss public policy. …