As a celibate person myself, I take serious issue with this statement from Geoffrey Stone, a “Distinguished Service” Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, in an article attacking Cardinal George and Catholicism.
Cardinal George insists that same-sex marriage is incompatible with “nature.” One might just as easily say the same about celibacy.
He offers this nonsense in a lengthy article attacking the idea that Natural Law, which is defined essentially as truths that everyone is born knowing, cannot actually be naturally known. In other words, there is no such thing as a Natural Law, in his view. He claims that the Summa Theologica penned by St. Thomas Aquinas was basically generated out of thin air.
Does “nature” speak directly to Cardinal George? More likely, George got his information from Saint Thomas Aquinas, who communed with “nature” 750 years ago. In his prodigious Summa Theologica, Thomas largely rewrote much of Christian moral theology and provided a rationale in “nature” for the notion that same-sex sex is contemptible in the sight of God.
Philosophy on Natural Law preceded St. Thomas Aquinas by many centuries. Plato, for example, lived in the 5th Century, B.C. and he penned the following in regard to homosexuality in Laws:
And since we have reached this point in our legislation, and have fallen into a difficulty by reason of the vices of mankind, I affirm that our ordinance should simply run in the following terms: Our citizens ought not to fall below the nature of birds and beasts in general, who are born in great multitudes, and yet remain until the age for procreation virgin and unmarried, but when they have reached the proper time of life are coupled, male and female, and lovingly pair together, and live the rest of their lives in holiness and innocence, abiding firmly in their original compact: surely, we will say to them, you should be better than the animals. But if they are corrupted by the other Hellenes and the common practice of barbarians, and they see with their eyes and hear with their ears of the so-called free love everywhere prevailing among them, and they themselves are not able to get the better of the temptation, the guardians of the law, exercising the functions of lawgivers, shall devise a second law against them.
Here he explains what this “second law” would be; the deprivation off all “civic honours and privileges.
The principle of piety, the love of honour, and the desire of beauty, not in the body but in the soul. These are, perhaps, romantic aspirations; but they are the noblest of aspirations, if they could only be realised in all states, and, God willing, in the matter of love we may be able to enforce one of two things—either that no one shall venture to touch any person of the freeborn or noble class except his wedded wife, or sow the unconsecrated and bastard seed among harlots, or in barren and unnatural lusts; or at least we may abolish altogether the connection of men with men; and as to women, if any man has to do with any but those who come into his house duly married by sacred rites, whether they be bought or acquired in any other way, and he offends publicly in the face of all mankind, we shall be right in enacting that he be deprived of civic honours and privileges, and be deemed to be, as he truly is, a stranger. Let this law, then, whether it is one, or ought rather to be called two, be laid down respecting love in general, and the intercourse of the sexes which arises out of the desires, whether rightly or wrongly indulged.
Aristotle, too, held that homosexuality is not natural and, as such, is opposed to Natural Law. The idea that Natural Law is an invention of St. Thomas Aquinas a few centuries ago is a flat out lie. Natural Law is not “Catholic.” It is accepted by Catholics because it is compatible with Catholicism. It is also compatible with Judaism and with all other denominations of Christendom, and many others besides.
The main reason that this is important is that Natural Law is what our Constitutional rights are based on. The Founders of our country knew that in order for America to be free, we needed to be welcoming of all viewpoints in the public square. They failed to include some persons in their plan, including African-Americans and Native Americans, and the right of women to vote, but what they did was still an incredible leap forward for freedom precisely BECAUSE it was based on Natural Law, limiting government to the enforcement of only those BASIC truths that are known to all.
The Declaration of Independence is the document which lays out the reasoning that the American colonists gave for breaking away from tyranny. Here is that document’s appeal to Natural Law:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
“Self-evident truth” is Natural Law — truths which are known universally by all, provided that they are not corrupted as Plato noted people can be corrupted by barbarians. There was a time in America when the vast majority of people were disgusted by homosexuality. This was before the entertainment industry successfully corrupted the nation to be more accepting than it ever was before on homosexual acts as “normal” and even “good.” It is now said that for a Christian to say that one should “resist” homosexual urges is itself evil. They call this “bigotry,” equating it with denying the personhood of an African-American. Our government is, in some places, taking the position that Christianity is evil because they claim that it is “bigotry” to oppose “gay marriage.” Catholics who are simply holding to the core teaching of their faith are lumped in with those who blocked school doors to blacks. This is insanity.
The very reason that our country is so polarized is because our government has decided to explode in size and make laws even about what light bulbs we can use. Now, there are people in both political parties who want to re-define marriage in opposition to Natural Law. This crushes the freedom of the Church, making it impossible for Catholics to work as court clerks issuing marriage licenses. It makes it impossible for Catholics to operate adoption agencies since we cannot place children with same-sex couples. It makes it impossible for Catholic parents to send their children to public schools where children are taught that “gay marriage” is normal and that you’re a bigot if you think otherwise. It even sometimes makes it impossible for Catholic parents to take their kids to a public swimming pool or park in places where “gay marriage” is legal. Don’t you get this, America? We can’t just yawn at sin in front of our kids and we can’t tell our kids that it’s “okay to be gay.” It’s never going to happen, for a faithful Catholic. Never.
If America rejects the very thing that makes us able to have a free society — Natural Law — the only possible result, ultimately, will be war. Limited government based on Natural Law is the only way to avoid continued polarization and animosity. Either we will go to war with each other or we will be so weakened by division that we will be attacked from abroad and conquered. Faithful Catholics will not comply with unjust laws. Just as Catholics stood with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, against the unjust laws of the Jim Crow era, we will stand together against this insane attempt to redefine us as “bigots” for being Catholic.