Theologist Anna Shephard is campaigning for a no vote in the 2015 referendum on same sex marriage. A recent article in the Cork Independent presents her case for what I call “a momentous step towards true inanity”.
All jesting aside, and with full and fundamental support for the right to espouse all opinions on this issue, what marvellous tosh this is. I’d considered countering on a point-by-point basis until I arrived at the stupendous humdinger that is “Why only two people and why stay together if the love fizzles out?” Read it again, word by word; let the syllables melt in the mouth and cherish their flavour like you might a piece of particularly tasty gum. “Why only two people and why stay together if the love fizzles out?” Without children to guide newlyweds, of course, monogamy has little attraction: why not three people? Why not four? Heck, why not throw the family dog into the mix? The manner in which it’s oh-so-delicately danced around here tells you that even those people who propagate that absurd where-does-it-end argument know that it’s nonsense.
“…and why stay together if the love fizzles out?” Forgive me another repetition, but this sentence is like the chorus of a really catchy song: I just can’t but repeat it again. Without kids, there’s no reason to go on when the well runs dry. Which is to say, we can only presume, that the true sacred magic of marriage is in keeping two people who can no longer stand each other together, for the good of the children. Because heterosexual parents who loathe each other make for a better home than do loving gays. It’s all for the children. Won’t somebody please think of the children?
Marriage bereft of children and the possibility to produce them, contends Anna Shephard, is marriage without meaning. Never mind the earlier claim that “marriage is about two people, it involves sex, it is monogamous, and it is intended to be permanent”; marriage is suddenly now meaningless without children. Hard luck for the infertile and the elderly, those who can’t have kids or those who just don’t want to, perhaps even those who do have children and have the terrible misfortune of losing them. At least they’re free to call it quits if “the love fizzles out”, eh?
“Only the traditional view explains what we all know about marriage.” Here, at last, is a point with which I agree. The traditional view—or indeed the Catholic view, to use the term Anna Shephard does a bloody good job of hiding as integral to her agenda—certainly explains what I know about marriage in Ireland, in its current form: it is offensive in its selectivity, it is outrageous in its inequality, and it is outdated in its entirety, a last loathsome relic of the “special position” of the Church we did well to kick out of the constitution. This article can only be commended for managing never to drop the old “marriage is sacred” line, glaringly present as it may be between the lines. Catholic marriage may well be sacred, and you’re welcome to it. Civil marriage is a right, and you have none to deny it to anyone.