The Viewpoint authored by Jennifer Thomas, Ph.D., in the June 2004 issue of TNJ (“Lies and Illusions: On same-sex marriage, abortion, God and government”) provoked such passionate debate that we decided to publish the arguments raised by one reader and Dr. Thomas’s response. Dr. Thomas is a full professor on the faculty of Information Systems at Pace University. She may be reached by e-mail at JMJ33312003@yahoo.com .
Dear Dr. Thomas:
While I disagree with many of the conclusions reached in your Viewpoint, I enjoyed reading the articulate and reasoned arguments. Because I found your positions to be well thought out, I hope that you’ll be able to articulate an equally clear response to a question I have when people frame the same-sex union debate in the context of procreation.
If I understood your position correctly, you believe that marriage is an institution that serves exclusively for the procreation of the species—and only by natural means. Love, companionship, societal support, legal recognition and rights aren’t even secondary to the exclusive purpose of marriage. Procreation by natural means is the only purpose. With that as the argument, I wonder if you also believe that all marriages that cannot result in procreation by natural means are an inappropriate use of the institution? Should men and women who are not capable of bearing a child due to congenital affliction or accidental injury be denied the right to marry? Should men who have low sperm counts or women with restricted Fallopian tubes be married? Should men with erectile dysfunction be restricted from the institution? Similarly, should an older couple that desires to get married for companionship and support be rejected for a marriage license because they are past their ability to naturally procreate?
As an even more extreme extension of your position, I offer a suggestion. Perhaps we should build into the marriage laws an automatic annulment of the marriage upon the 18th birthday of the youngest child produced from that marriage. If no children are produced from the marriage within some reasonable amount of time—say, five years—the marriage would also be automatically annulled.
With these logical interpretations and extensions of your position, I assume that you would also support a revision to the marriage-license-granting process. Instead of simple blood tests, we should require that all applicants for marriage prove that they are capable of natural procreation prior to the granting of the license. This would surely strengthen the institution of marriage as you have interpreted it.
I look forward to your considered opinion and response.
Dr. Thomas responds:
Procreation, love, companionship, sacrifice, societal support, legal recognition and rights cannot be separated from the marriage bond. It is through them that the entire family structure is brought about, strengthened and nurtured. To separate them is to see the consequence so prevalent in society of dysfunction and brokenness. The marriage union in its perfection is described as the earthly reflection of Christ’s relationship to the church, in which he espouses the church to himself and pours out his life for her and she in turn submits to his love and together they beget children to make up the Body of Christ, which is, itself, a reflection of the Trinity and is an unbreakable union and covenant.
The natural union between a man and woman always has attached to it the possibility of cooperation with God in the creation of life. Impediments such as age, medical conditions, etc., are not purposeful or artificial obstructions to the creation of life through the exercise of our free will, and God, who is God of the impossible and all-powerful, can do all things if he so wills. He chose to give us free will and to have life created through the union of man and wife and created the respective parts for its achievement. In a same-sex union, this is never a possibility.
It should give us pause to wonder at our reasoning and priorities when one considers the lengths to which we are willing to go in investing money, energy, intellect and research into the means to artificially conceive and terminate life for our own selfish ends when God has already given us perfectly natural means for doing so, this while millions throughout the world are deprived of the basic necessities of life, including babies and children in need of loving, stable homes, which so many childless parents could be providing.
Desiring something to be true does not make it so, and without Truth, there is only illusion and delusion, and to risk that is to risk everything. For those still uncertain, wisdom would say to err on the side of caution, for what is at stake here is life, eternal life, and that is not illusion or delusion.