According to many State laws one has a right to marry; more properly understood as a dispensation given from the State for the purpose of fulfilling one’s humanity. The language of such courts is very significant, for it reduces the essence of being human to action, or the right to deny essence in the choice of one’s action. This is profoundly flawed philosophy, but it is one that dominates our culture. For such courts, modern psychological reductionism is the only philosophical position worthy of being serious. Gay marriage proponents eschew any reference to essentialism in defining the nature of humanness. For such proponents, being gay and marriage are choices housed within the framework of positive rights disguised as a civil right. Equality here is most certainly attenuated.
Nevertheless, in the debate over the political, cultural and judicial legitiamacy of same sex marriage we are witnessing the medieval debate between realists and nominalists.
According to the realists, the mind possesses the ability to transcend individual phenomena and seek objective truth or essences that link phenomena. There are serious religious implications for the realists, for the world is a real reflection of God’s creation where its connections that we perceive are demonstrably real, they are not composed of illusions.
The nominalists hold that words cannot express things-in-themselves, for these are unknown and unknowable to the human person. Philosophically, this indicates that language cannot meaningfully grasp or signify universals. Nominalists firmly hold the cynics view that we cannot know much of anything in a world of continuous change. Consequently, we are not permitted the concept of marriage as it is grounded in natural law.
For Catholics, the permanent and irrevocable union that is marriage is a unique covenantal relation with profound moral, cultural, even theological, philosophical consequences; for it is the very ground (paralleled in the nuptial relation between Christ and his Church) of an encounter between God and man. The rites of marriage are performed in the hope that each and every example of this sacrament realizes its potential and purpose and therefore reflects divine intention. The divine mind has an ideal of human nature and therefore human relations. Marriage, in short, is a word that describes something particular in a divinely created natural order, something that cannot be replicated in gay relations.
Perhaps this blog needs a post on why man has arrogated to himself the purposes of God in substituting natural law for libertarian legislation. Nevertheless, in toying with the order of nature we are at a precipice, not only for constitutional law but also for language itself.
Consequently, the regime that seeks to reconfigure language also seeks to break down, eradicate the bond that makes man human.