March 4, 2009
By Al Kresta
Upon receiving his Oscar for best actor Sean Penn tried to use the phrase “Equal rights for everybody” as a weapon of shame against the defenders of traditional marriage. The final irony is that Penn’s call for universal equal rights has gained its moral authority from the same source as his opponents’ call to restore traditional marriage: The Hebrew and Christian influence on Western culture.
Historians acknowledge that the belief in and establishment of universal human rights is rooted in, among other influences, the great religions. Campaigns for human rights appeal to visions and values, standards and ideals that transcend human preferences and whim.
As Gandhi said, “The true source of rights is duty.” These duties, these moral imperatives, these universal obligations to our fellow humans derive from our faith that human beings are more than just accidents of history and nature. Humans possess their rights from Nature and Nature’s God. In the Western tradition, human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and thus God requires that we be our brother’s keeper.
These same religions also speak of another universal institution: marriage, a covenant between a man and a woman intended for permanence and with the obligation to provide for their well-being and education and children. Though heterosexuals have done far more damage to faithful marriage than ever could homosexuals, yet the nature of marriage is what it is in spite of its abusers. Those who try to reshape or redefine it will find the same disaster awaiting them as followed the last two century’s dictators’ as they sought to redefine human nature. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and Mao all promised a new man. What we got instead was a new tyrant who resorted to the old tricks to try and force people to be what, by nature, they were not.
Not all things are elastic or infinitely malleable. They possess a nature, an inner logic that defines their purpose and end. The attempt to force marriage to accommodate forces contrary to its nature will not extend the benefits of marriage to all but will weaken the plausibility of marriage as a unique institution intended to protect and provide for the next generation. The vows of marriage erect and form the best nurseries for our children.
As Penn rejects the Western tradition, he is predictably attracted to dictators who can change the traditional social and political order by decree. Denying the human aspiration for liberty and creativity is what caused Soviet-style communism to fail and has led to Cuba’s economic nightmare. People cannot expect to flourish and be productive when they are governed by those who deny human nature. Likewise, the continued denying of marriage’s nature will lead to similar futilities and breakdowns. Why is homosexual marriage so popular among the acting set? They believe that imaging makes it so. But even the finest of actors cannot deny the reality of the world God has created. Even children play pretend for only so long. Playing at marriage is not marriage; it’s theatre.
For all his acting prowess, Redefiner of Reality, is a role that even Sean Penn cannot believably fulfill. Reality, like Dan White, has its own revenge– with this crucial exception: White was a criminal vigilante trying to violently impose his will on others. Reality doesn’t have to try and do that: it just does it. Reality has its revenge by letting us imagine that we have gotten what we wanted only to find out that what that our fantasies have only hardened our hearts, laid scar tissue on our soul and left us dimmer than we were before. Legalizing same sex “so-called” marriage will trivialize our current institution of marriage as we’ve seen in France and the Scandanavian countries and won’t allow homosexuals to settle in for a life that’s lived happily ever after. The thirsty imagine that drinking salt water will slake their thirst. The addicted imagine that if they just get the chemicals right, they’d find a perpetual high. Homosexuals lusting for the social recognition of marriage will discover that the public esteem for marriage will decline in direct proportion to their redefinition of it. The social recognition they seek will have become moot.
“It is not that they do not know the truth about God; indeed he has made it quite plain to them…But they became vain in the reasonings and their foolish minds grew darkened…They gave up God; and therefore God gave them over- to be the playthings of their own unnatural desires, even to the dishonoring of their own bodies” (St. Paul to the Christians of Rome describing the futility of the pagan world.)
Al Kresta is President and CEO of Ave Maria Communications.
His afternoon radio program is heard on over 200 stations as well as Sirius satellite radio.