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Marriage Briefings: The Complementarity Principle

January 27th, 2012

At the most basic level, marriage and its offshoot, the family, are based on the sexual complementarity of a man and a woman. It is a union in fact, not just in form, based on a conjugal sexual act that unites the man and wife in a bond that includes every level of their being: biological, physical, emotional, mental, mystical, and spiritual. This is the primary reason we maintain that homosexual relationships, even if granted marital status by secular law, can never be legitimate marriages, or even unions, in concept or in fact.

Homosexual relationships are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of joining together that a man and a woman carry out in entering the institution of marriage. Such relationships cannot contribute in a proper, natural way to the procreation and survival of the human race. The possibility of using recently discovered methods of artificial reproduction, beyond involving a grave lack of respect for human dignity, does nothing to alter this inadequacy. Public policy should not intentionally create motherless and fatherless families. Marriage is unique. It is essential and incorruptible. And marriage alone can provide benefits inherent in the common good.

That is why, when the New Jersey legislature created civil unions to provide the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples, they recognized complementarity for what it is: the conjugal union of the two sexes. All arguments attempting to debase that idea fall short. Two men or two women engaged in a relationship cannot replicate this conjugal union at all.

It has been argued that marriage is a fluid institution, that it was not always between one man and one woman; that disgraces like the infamous Kardashian wedding so refute the sanctity of marriage that only hypocrites could withhold it from committed same-sex couples; and therefore that “social progress” demands we give up on marriage and redefine it in the terms that rhetoric and emotion will set for us.

Now. One would never argue that since one’s mother had been getting gradually feebler and sillier and then happened to fall down the stairs in a public place, one might as well finish off her embarrassment and injury with a kick to the head. But this is precisely the argument being made with respect to same-sex “marriage.” Marriage is, in a way, our mother. Marriage is the preeminent institution that protects, contains, and focuses the sexual complementarity of men and women, turning it toward constructive social ends. This complementarity is responsible for the life of every legislator, activist, and other human being on the planet. In a liberal society, the decline of marriage should not be an authorization to kick it while it is down. We believe our state is better than this. True social progress would undo social regress: it would strengthen marriage, reform divorce, eliminate tax penalties related to marriage, and permanently enshrine marriage in our constitution as based on sexual complementarity, so as to rule out marriage counterfeits and any openness to Vegas-style frivolity.

Ultimately what is happening in our state is that we are attempting to redefine marriage on a lie. As citizens of New Jersey who understand that the civil union law does provide benefits equal to marriage and that there is no complementarity between two men or two women, we find this effort disturbing. Finally then, we say let the people vote on an up-or-down definition of what marriage should be: the union of one man and one woman only, for the common good!

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