April 25, 2013

More Flawed Reasoning from Expert

A Roman Catholic priest and professor has launched another assault on marriage equality. Fr Rhonheimer claims that marriage equality actually imposes a burden upon, or discriminates against mixed-sex marriages.

Conferring legal equality to same-sex unions signifies to publicly establish, in the law system, the principle of dissociation of sexuality and procreation... Besides containing an erroneous moral message, it actually means to objectively discriminate against married people, who intentionally have engaged in a union ordered towards the task of the transmission of human life, accepting all the burdens and responsibilities of this task.
As is so often the case with arguments from the procreationist side of the reality divide, this fails to recognize that the "burdens and responsibilities" of procreation do not fall upon all mixed sex couples, however "ordered" their union might be. Moreover, all citizens bear some of the burden of supporting other people's children. So even the unmarried, dare I mention even the celibate, or those married but without children, share in the burdens and responsibilities placed upon them by those who do bear children — some of whom actually become wards of the state because of the inadequacies or misfortunes of their biological parents. So if anything, those who procreate discriminate against those who don't.

If anything is "erroneous" it is Father Rhonheimer.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Paul (A.) said...

Nor do I see how the legal system "associates" sexuality and procreation in the first place. This may hold within some sectarian canon-law speculations, but it is no part of the civil law, which generally associates procreation with property issues.

One would think that this "association" of sexuality and procreation is a matter of biology rather than of law.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Precisely so, Paul. I occasionally run into an English blog-poster who keeps insisting that the capacity to procreate is inherently necessary for marriage because of a clause cited in Blackwell concerning an aspect of English trust law, that "the possibility of issue is never extinct" (even in the case of centenarians, the cite goes on to say.) The point is that this only has to do with inheritance, not marriage. Moreover, the English BCP (1662) directs that the prayer for procreation is to be omitted when the woman is past the years of childbearing, so the church law also recognizes that procreation is not an essential element in marriage. (There's also the state law, I forget which, that allows cousins to marry only if one or both are infertile or the woman over a certain age...)

I know of no civil or church law that requires procreation -- even the RCC does not require it, and infertility is only grounds for separation if preexisting and concealed.

Tim said...

With all due respect to Fr. Rhonheimer, it is erroneous to link the state of marriage with sexuality OR procreation, as anyone who has actual experience in these matters instinctively knows. Those three separate and distinct topics CAN overlap significantly, but to associate one with the other shows a fundamental lack of understanding when it comes to the intimate human experience.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Tim. I wonder if a Venn diagram might help this errant scholar? To be fair, he is to some extent imprisoned by the logical inconsistencies of his church's teaching, to say nothing of their distance from human experience and life. But it does neither him nor the church much credit to parade these logical and moral inconsistencies.

Tim said...

The requirement for Roman priests to be celibate certainly would hamper his experiential understanding of the 'issue', but I would point out that Fr. Rhonheimer is and has been long associated with the group Opus Dei, which is known for it's less than liberal biases.

JCF said...

"it actually means to objectively discriminate against married people"


You probably know this, Tobias, but the "National Catholic Register" (distinguished from the National Catholic Reporter!) is a Popoid rag owned by EWTN.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Tim and JCF, I did not know of these associations. That does explain a good deal. However, I tend not to want to be distracted by "source criticism" but would rather focus on the argument itself, which in this case would be specious even if from an unbiased source.

Jon said...

Additionally, sex and procreation have been separated in the US for years even for married people by birth control.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Indeed so, Jon. Though, of course, the good Fr would say that is part of the problem. The real problem is that the RC position fails to recognize that procreation is only one purpose of sex (or marriage). The downplay the obvious fact that not all sex -- even between a fertile couple -- leads to procreation; so the two are "separate" to some extent by nature. Also important to note that in humans in particular there is no "estrus" and sex can "naturally" occur when procreation is not possible. Rather than draw their conclusion from this fact, they instead base their position on a pre-scientific view of sex as the male planting a seed in female soil, which if it fails to grow is the woman's fault. The RC view of sex is no more defensible than the pre-Galileo view of the cosmos.