lördag 15 december 2012

"Gay marriage" opponents' blind spot

The controversy over "gay marriage" shows no sign of going away. The Catholic church has been in the forefront of the opposition, taking the view that it is a sacrament, in which a man and a women enter into a loving relationship open to the conception and nurturing of children in a stable environment. If that is the definition of marriage, then same-sex "marriage" is a nonsensical contradiction. It is argued that the re-definition will lead to people taking a different view of what marriage is, that will ultimately destroy the institution. In my view the point is a valid one. However, the worrying thing is that those who have been speaking out against "gay marriage" seem to overlook the more insidious pressures on the family that apply all the time.

The most family-unfriendly policy is war: many of the problems that families experience today can be traced back to the two world wars.

Next is economic instability. Governments should ensure that families have a the means to provide themselves with a livelihood (which is not the same as giving everyone a job). It is a fundamental right. Economic policies with targets like keeping unemployment at X% are not family-friendly. Nor is the policy of telling people to get on their bikes to look for work. Commuters travelling long journeys to work hardly get to see their children except at weekends. How family-friendly is that? But how often is the case argued?

Then there is the chronic difficulty of keeping a roof over one's head, which puts people in acute debt to banks for more than half their working lives. That is not family-friendly. It is true that the churches will help people are the margins, and are almost the only ones that do, but how often is the system as a whole held up to question?

It does nothing for credibility to concentrate attention on one issue to the exclusion of others. I have said this about abortion as well. There is a preoccupation with reproductive moral issues, to the apparent exclusion of other moral issues. This narrow focus has nothing to do with official Catholic church teaching, which has plenty to say on the wider political and economic structures of society. There seems to be a blind spot here.

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