Richard Fitzgibbons

Marriage, essentially

Richard Fitzgibbons
By Richard Fitzgibbons
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August 10, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - I have been an active debater on blogs in which the topic of same-sex “marriage” is discussed and contested. Recently I received a comment that might benefit from a reply that is sent far and wide, beyond the one blog. The issue raised is common and the answer clarifies in a philosophical sense why same-sex “marriage” should never be defended. Good-hearted people with no philosophical training are being taken in by the rhetoric that homosexuals have a “right” to marriage. The intent of this essay is to show unambiguously that not only is this untrue but also the granting of that supposed right will logically lead to harm to children and to social chaos.

Here is the comment from the advocate for same-sex “marriage”:

“I’d like to see you be more precise in your language. You use words like essence, purpose, and endpoint as if they meant the same thing. The purpose of marriage is to create a new, separate family that ends loneliness and provides a helpmate. Most of these new families produce children, but marriage doesn’t exist solely to create children.”

Now to my open letter to all who have an interest in the subject of same-sex “marriage”.

The essence of something tells us what it is. A children’s ball for play has an essence because of the substance of which it is made, its shape, and its intended purpose. A ball like this is made of a substance that allows it to be bounced. It is round. And the intent of making the ball is play. The ball has an endpoint or purpose, that of enjoyment, play or fun. So, essence (what a thing is) differs from, but is connected to, its purpose or its function. If a person says that a square block of wood is a ball (what it is or it’s essence) this just will not do because a square block of wood cannot achieve the purpose for a child that a true ball can. To give a child a square block of wood and then to tell that child it is a ball and to create the expectation that the child should now play with it in a way that he or she does with a true ball is to invite confusion. If we persisted in insisting that the wooden square was a round ball, this will bring frustration and unhappiness to the child.

Now to our discussion of same-sex “marriage”. The essence of marriage (what it is) has always and without exception been this: man and woman in a loving, committed relationship. The endpoint or purpose of marriage has always and without exception been this: mutual loving support of each other and—and—the creation and support of children. Just as a particular children’s play-ball can have defects in structure, so too can any given marriage. These defects for particular play-balls or marriages do not change the fact of what the ball or the marriage are in their essence. If a particular man and woman choose not to have children, they are not availing themselves of the full purpose of marriage. The parent who puts the ball on a shelf and refuses to let the child play with the ball is not fulfilling for the child the full purpose of the ball. In either of these particular cases, the essence of marriage and the essence of the play-ball are not altered by particular uses or purposes that are idiosyncratic to these particular circumstances. The particular does not alter the universal essence of a thing.

You are asking society to change the essence of marriage, what it is at its core.

So what? you may be asking.

This. As you change the essence of marriage, you invariably change its purpose because essence and purpose are closely connected. You inevitably remove from the purpose of marriage this: the creation and support of children. Note carefully that you have done precisely that in your comment.

You then are left only with this as the purpose of marriage: mutual loving support of those entering into marriage.

How does the new purpose (it is new because part of the traditional purpose of marriage is deliberately eliminated) affect the essence of marriage (what it is at its core)?

Here is the punchline, so please read very carefully: If the purpose of marriage is only mutual loving support, it follows clearly and unambiguously that the essence of marriage can and must include polygamy, polyandry, and man-boy “love”. Why? Because each of these social structures fits within the definition of your purpose for marriage with no contradictions whatsoever. By defining the purpose of marriage as you have, you have changed its essence and allowed for some very strange social structures, such as man-boy “love”, of which you probably do not approve, but must logically accept.

What if you then say that you will alter the essence again and restrict the mutual love to only two adult people? You cannot do that logically.

Let us first discuss the issue of “two” and then turn to the issue of “adults”. Once you have reduced the purpose of marriage to the mutual loving support of those entering into marriage, “two” becomes what philosophers call an “accident” of a thing, something not necessary to the essence. It is like insisting that a ball always be red. Redness is an accident of the ball, not part of its essence because a blue or yellow ball still retains all of the essence of what a ball is. Similarly, 19 men and 5 women who come together willingly in mutual loving support completely fulfill your made-up essence and your made-up endpoint: what a marriage is and its purpose.

Now let us turn to the issue of “adults”. If you claim that any adults (man-man or woman-woman) have a right to marriage—and you must accept any combination of adults by your own definition of marriage as we have seen in the above paragraph—there is nothing to stop society from extending that “right” to consenting adolescents and children. After all, what right does anyone have to block the “wants” of children and adolescents who choose as their “right”, the “right to marry”? It is arbitrary to block their wants-as-rights if the wants of two men or two women or 19 men and 5 women are not blocked by society. You would be depriving them, based on your own words, of creating “a new, separate family that ends loneliness and provides a helpmate.” A 10-year-old fits this definition of your own making.

You might then say this: Well, the limitation of two persons must be arbitrary for heterosexual marriage also. No, it is not. Recall a vital purpose of marriage: to create and nurture children. Notwithstanding the methods of today’s reproductive technology, ultimately only one man and one woman can create a child. Research shows that the child is nurtured best with the mother and the father. The union of two is part of the essence of true marriage.

You might then say this: Well, the idea of only adults must be arbitrary for heterosexual marriages, too. No, it is not. Recall a vital purpose of marriage: to nurture the children. Only adults can do that because part of the essence of “adult” is maturity—greater maturity than children or adolescents have. Please recall that if particular adults lack maturity, this defect does not take away from the universal meaning of the word “adult”. Only one man and one woman can both create and nurture children in a reliable way. “Adults and adults alone” is part of the essence of true marriage.

Whoever was confused about the “rights” of two men to marry or two women to marry, I ask: Are you still confused? If you are not, then what is the logical next step to protecting the essence of marriage and the clear purpose of nurturing and protecting children in that context? As you can see, and this is the logic of it, not my opinion only of it, the alternative is to invite social chaos. The alternative is a failure to protect children, as marriage has traditionally had as one of it’s purposes.

Richard Fitzgibbons is the director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in West Conshohocken, PA. He has practiced psychiatry for 34 years with a specialty in the treatment of excessive anger. He co-authored Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope, 2000, for American Psychological Association Books.


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

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By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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