Jul 10, 2008

MARRIAGE: What McCain could have said

It was one of the more awkward moments in the presidential campaign. Senator John McCain was appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and she was asking why McCain did not support same-sex “marriage.” A well-prepared DeGeneres made the usual arguments about inclusiveness, and compared those who reject same-sex “marriage” to those who once refused to allow women or blacks to vote. It was all about fairness, she said.

McCain’s response? “I just believe in the status of a marriage between a man and a woman . . . We just have a disagreement.” Maybe, given the sensitivity of the situation, that was the best answer Senator McCain could come up with. But suppose the senator and Ms. DeGeneres could talk backstage, away from the glare of TV lights. What could he say to seize the moral high ground? To start, he could discuss the true meaning and purpose of marriage.

In his book, The Clash of Orthodoxies, Princeton professor Robert George writes that matrimonial law reflects a moral judgment. That judgment is that marriage is inherently heterosexual, monogamous, and permanent—a union of one man and one woman. This judgment is based on both the biblical and natural law understandings—that marriage is a two-in-one flesh communion of persons. This communion is consummated and actualized sexually. That is, marriage is made real by acts that are reproductive, whether or not these acts result in children.

BreakPoint 30 Jun 2008

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