Richard Fitzgibbons

Marriage, essentially

Richard Fitzgibbons
By Richard Fitzgibbons
Image

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.

FREE pro-life and pro-family news.

Stay up-to-date on the issues you care about the most. Subscribe today. 

Select Your Edition:


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

Kermit Gosnell considers himself a ‘martyr’: Gosnell filmmakers

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

HUNGTINGDON, PA, May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Spending life in prison without parole for murdering several newborn babies, Kermit Gosnell spends his days listening to music and thinking of himself as a “martyr,” according to the makers of the forthcoming Kermit Gosnell film.

Producers Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney, and Magdalena Segeida interviewed Gosnell for hours at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania – and they came away saying the doctor is remorseless, self-pitying, and enjoying far more liberty than they thought would be granted to a mass murderer.

The producers visited the central Pennsylvania penitentiary and spoke to the the late-term abortionist up-close – a little too close, they say. McElhinney said Gosnell sat uncomfortably close to her throughout the multihour session.

“We have just come back from Pennsylvania where we were the first journalists to sit down in prison to interview Gosnell,” the producers said in a mass e-mail to their supporters. “The two hours we spent interviewing the former abortion doctor were two of the most disturbing hours of our journalistic careers.”

“The interview was one of the creepiest we have ever conducted,” the mass e-mail continued.

Gosnell, they recounted, “is thought to have murdered hundreds if not thousands of babies in a 30 year killing spree.” Yet he has access to music, a subject he discussed at length. At one point, McElhinney said, Gosnell burst out into song.

Ann McElhinney told The Daily Signal, “I’m amazed at how pleasant his life is, the freedoms he has.”

Far from having repented of his crimes, Gosnell continues to justify his actions, they said.

“In his own version of the story, he’s a martyr – he’s part of a hounded class,” McElhinney said.

That assessment corroborates the views of others who interviewed the onetime proprietor of the “house of horrors,” where newborn babies had their spines severed, untrained staff administered fatal doses of drugs to poor women, and aborted fetal remains were found stuffed into every available crevice.

In September 2013, Steve Volk interviewed Gosnell for Philadelphia Magazine. Gosnell, he wrote, “sees himself as having performed a noble function in society.”

"It's not as if he feels guilty about what he did,” Volk said. "He believes he was a soldier at war with poverty.”

By plying his trade in poverty-stricken West Philadelphia, in a majority minority neighborhood, Gosnell believed he helped reduce the city's low income population.

“In this larger spiritual sense, he believes he was performing a service for people,” Volk said.

After his conviction, Gosnell sought to work with Hillary Clinton's embattled charity, the Clinton Global Initiative or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on issues of "prison and justice reform.”

"He believes that he gained insight into what it's like to be pushed into the system, without the capacity to explain himself," Volk said.

Gosnell's self-confidence has seldom been questioned, from the dismissive way he treated police who searched his home – playing Chopin on the piano as they searched his flea-ridden basement – to the way he carried himself in court. Defense attorney Jack McMahon had also told reporters after the guilty verdict that the mass murderer “truly believes in himself.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

The filmmakers, who have produced several right-of-center documentaries, plan to make a big budget, big screen film about Gosnell's life. They continue to raise funds for their efforts at GosnellMovie.com.

But they may need a breather after encountering Gosnell himself.

“I’m still recovering, actually,” McElhinney told the Signal.

Advertisement
Featured Image

Josh Duggar apologizes, admits ‘wrongdoing’ as young teen amid molestation accusations; resigns from FRC

By John-Henry Westen

Editor's Note: This is a developing story.

May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In response to allegations in the media that he molested minor girls when he was in his early teens, Josh Duggar has admitted in a public statement that he acted "inexcusably" at the time, and has resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.

A 2006 police report leaked to the media states that Josh was investigated for sex offenses, including "forcible fondling" against five minors.

According to the report, the first allegations surfaced in March 2002, the same month he turned 14. At the time the family dealt with the allegations internally. A year later, however, when further allegations were made, the family sent Josh to work with a family friend for three months, after which his father took Josh to see a state trooper.

According to the report, the trooper gave Josh a "stern talk" about what would happen if he "continued such behavior," but no formal action was taken at the time.

The issue emerged again in 2006, after a family friend had written details about the allegations in letter and placed it in a book, which was subsequently loaned out. This resulted in a call being placed to a child abuse hotline, which in turn led to a formal investigation being opened. By this point, however, the statute of limitations had expired, and as there had been no new allegations or evidence that the abuse was ongoing, the case was dropped.

Although Josh was never charged, his now-wife, Anna, says that he confessed his actions to her and her parents two years before he asked her to marry him.

"I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions," he said in a statement today. "In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption."

Anna said she was "surprised" when Josh had voluntarily admitted what he had done to her and her parents two years before proposing to her. "I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it," she wrote today. "For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even every difficult past mistakes."

"I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis," she added. "If it weren't for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right."

LifeSiteNews is continuing to investigate this developing story. Following are the Duggar family’s statements responding to media reports about the incidents.

From Jim Bob and Michelle:

Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.

Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles everyday.

It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us — even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey — the good times and the difficult times — cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.

From Josh:

Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. 

We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life.

I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.

From Anna:

I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock. It was not at the point of engagement, or after we were married - it was two years before Josh asked me to marry him.

When my family and I first visited the Duggar Home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it. For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even every difficult past mistakes.

At that point and over the next two years, Josh shared how the counseling he received changed his life as he continued to do what he was taught. And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him... I was able to say, "Yes" knowing who Josh really is - someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right.

I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis. Your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right. If it weren't for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right. Thank you to all of you who tirelessly work with children in crisis, you are changing lives and I am forever grateful for all of you.

Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Dutch court acquits man who euthanized his mother after doctor refused

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- A Dutch appeals court acquitted a 74 year-old man earlier this month of the murder of his mother in 2008, because he acted in an “emergency situation”: the woman wanted euthanasia and had not obtained it from her family doctor.

The decision is a surprising one, even in the Netherlands, and will probably be followed by an appeal from the public prosecutor, who has already published a communiqué reminding the public that euthanasia and assisted suicide “are and remain, in the eyes of the prosecutor, exclusively to be performed by a doctor.” But as it stands, it marks a new step down the slippery slope of euthanasia in that it justifies an act of euthanasia contrary to the letter of the law on the grounds that the accused, Albert Heringa, was careful to act in compliance with the law’s provisions, the court ruled.

Albert Heringa acted in accordance with his conscience of his own duty and he was right to do so, ruled the Arnhem-Leeuwarden appeals court, because his sense of duty “justly” carried more weight than the legal prohibition of the act, which in theory can only be decriminalized when performed by a medical doctor under strict conditions.

The accused said he was “very happy” about the decision. The Netherlands Right to Die Society (NVVE) hailed it as “a step in the direction we want to follow.” “Many people who consider their life complete wish to be helped by loved ones,” said its spokeswoman, Fiona Zonneveld.

The judges did not take into account the fact that Albert Heringa’s mother, “Moek,” was deemed ineligible for euthanasia by her doctor.

In 2008, Moek was 99. She had no grave illness; she was just old and blind and did not feel like living any longer, calling her suffering “unbearable” and “without hope of improvement.” When her doctor refused euthanasia on those grounds, she turned to her son who decided to help his mother die. He was later to explain that his mother started hoarding her medication in order to kill herself through an overdose. The pills she was taking would not have been able to bring about her death, he argued, but would have made her health much worse. This was confirmed during the subsequent judicial enquiry.

Heringa decided to go to work “transparently,” filming his every gesture in view of the killing of his mother. He used an overdose of his own malaria pills together with sleeping pills and anti-emetics to poison her. The films were later used to illustrate a documentary on “Moek’s last wish,” which was aired in 2010 on Dutch TV. The appeals court judges took this “transparency” into account in their decision to acquit him.

The public prosecution was not so lax. Despite the “rectitude” of Heringa’s intention, it accused the man of not having acted in compliance with the law. In 2013, he was judged guilty but exempted from punishment. The prosecution appealed that decision, demanding a three months suspended prison sentence in order to underscore the illegality of his actions. But the Arnhem-Leeuwarden appeals court went even further than the first judges in exonerating him completely.

They invoked the euthanasia law, which decriminalizes euthanasia when no other “reasonable solution” is available to alleviate a patient’s suffering and thus avoid euthanasia, but in this case they equated the potential “reasonable solution” with the ability to find a doctor who would be willing to perform the act, as if euthanasia were a patient right. Heringa could not find one, therefore he was justified in taking the law in his own hands, the judgment says in substance.

This marks a double revolution. Firstly, the court overlooked the legal requirement that a doctor should perform euthanasia, and no one else. Secondly, it justified euthanasia on a woman who was simply “tired of living,” a situation for which the euthanasia law definitely does not provide.

But this is just another element of the Pandora’s box that was opened when the Netherlands legalized euthanasia in 2002. Increasingly, regional control commissions, which verify all declared acts of euthanasia retrospectively, have cleared “mercy-killings” of elderly people who had multiple complaints but no single life-threatening disease. “Intolerable suffering” is being interpreted more and more widely. In Heringa’s case, it is simply his mother’s plea for euthanasia that justified the act in the eyes of the court.

The court even went so far as to say that Heringa would have had to live with a “sense of guilt until the end of his life” had he not taken measures to end his mother’s life.

In 2011, the Dutch medical association KNMG changed its position on “intolerable suffering,” declaring that “unbearable and hopeless” suffering can result from other causes than physical illness. Also, the End of Life Clinic founded in 2012 caters to euthanasia requests that have been refused by patients’ family doctors on conscientious or medical grounds. Would Heringa have found a doctor willing to perform euthanasia on his mother in this new situation?

Whatever the answer to that question – and no one will ever know – the fact of his acquittal is a definite sign that euthanasia is being treated more and more as a right and an acceptable option in the Netherlands. It is also good news for unscrupulous family members who might find it expedient to push their relatives towards the grave.

Share this article

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook