How have we found ourselves in the midst of the a fight to the death against something so preposterous as gay marriage? We have failed to articulate the deep implications – societal, legal, and generational – of such a dramatic and impetuous alteration of the civil society. The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has written the most insightful and authoritative piece on every aspect of this issue in a long essay posted online here. American conservatives would be wise to extrapolate on some of the cogent points made by Rabbi Bernheim. Here are some key points:
On the straw-man argument of equality:
From the fact that people love each other it does not follow necessarily that they have the right to be married, whether they be heterosexual or homosexual. For example, a man cannot marry a woman who is already married, even if they love each other. Likewise, a woman cannot be married to two men on the grounds that she loves both of them and that both want to be her husband. A father cannot marry his daughter, even if their love is uniquely paternal and filial.
Of course, we understand the wish of people who are in love that their love be recognized. Still, there are strict rules defining what kinds of unions can be recognized as marriages and what kinds cannot. Thus “marriage for everyone” is only a slogan, since after the authorization of homosexual marriage the law would maintain forms of inequality and discrimination that would continue to apply to those who love each other but to whom marriage is not available.
To love a child is one thing; to love a child with a love that provides the necessary structure is another. There can be no doubt that homosexuals have the same capacity to love a child and to convey this love as do heterosexuals, but the role of parents extends beyond the love they feel for their children. To reduce the parental bond to its affective and educative aspects is to overlook the fact that the parent–child bond is a psychological vector of fundamental importance for the child’s sense of identity.
All the affection in the world will not suffice to produce the basic psychological structures that address the child’s need to know where he comes from. For the child establishes his own identity only by a process of differentiation, which presupposes that he knows whom he resembles. Thus he needs to know that he issues from the love and the union between a man, his father, and a woman, his mother, thanks to the sexual difference between them. Even adopted children know that they originate from the love and the desire of their parents, even when these are not their biological parents.
Father and mother represent a genealogy for the child. The child needs a clear and coherent genealogy in order to find his place as an individual. What has always and will always constitute our humanity is the capacity for language in a sexually differentiated body and as part of a genealogy. To identify a child’s parentage is not only to indicate who will raise the child, with whom he will have affective relations, and who will serve as his adults of reference. It is also, most important, to situate him in a generational chain. The chain guarantees each individual a place in the world in which he lives, for he knows where he came from.
Be sure to read the full essay when you get a chance. It is well worth your time.
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