25 March 2012 by Michael Asciak
The suggestion by an MP to change the form of marriage to one where there is no longer a male and female component is a serious suggestion about which I already wrote in your paper two weeks ago on 11 March. However, I wish to add some other thoughts I did not pen at the time. The suggestion is serious because it goes against the very fundamentals of reason. This is that a man and a woman come together to form a family and produce offspring. This is what nature teaches us and from the study of nature we are able to use our reason to come to rational conclusions. This is called natural law. The main operative of natural law is in fact not the law of nature as such, but reason itself. This is ably expounded by 2,500 years of Western civilization. Nature can help us use our reason in finding an objective truth. Throwing away objective reason is throwing away everything that Socrates, Plato and Aristotle among others, stood for. However, one cannot stop with natural law itself, as Kant, a child of the enlightenment, also has something to add about reason, which strengthens what classical philosophy teaches in a rather categorical manner. The fact remains that if one were to dispose of reason one becomes very subjective and simply throws away 2,500 years of civilization!
I imagine that today we are living again in the times of the very subjective sophists who believed that there was more than one truth and that this truth changed with different cultures. They never looked at reason as an objective measure of truth until the objective philosophers turned up. Reason shows us that there is only one true form of marriage and if the state, any state, had to consider bringing in new forms of marriage, that is, changing the definition of marriage itself, then it is only fair that the objectivists among us should put up some form of resistance to this change of form. I find this issue of much more concern than other issues of the day, including adoption by same-sex couples, because multiple forms of marriage would undermine the very fabric on which society is built. I am in no way suggesting that homosexual relationships should not be otherwise registered by the state, but not under the form of marriage. Nor am I a homophobe, as I believe that all individuals should never be discriminated against for any way of life they choose to live. Neither am I saying that we are all not prone to learn valuable lessons from these types of relationships. However, this does not mean that tolerance and respect of other ways of life should reduce itself to destroying the basic building block of society which is the institution of marriage itself. A state can do this only at a great cost to itself and its citizens. I have always believed, as the late Censu Tabone always taught me, God bless his soul, that one man’s freedom stops where the freedom of another man (or woman) begins. Who is to protect the freedoms of those who wish to have a form of marriage based on objective reason, if not the state?
Recently, I discussed this issue with a colleague of mine. He in fact informed me that in many countries where the objective form of marriage has been done away with, so that it is now only a parody of its former self, a new movement is arising that asks the state to recognise the objective form of marriage as legally separate from the other marriage forms. This is already being done in some states. Under this new legal concept, individuals would have the right to ask the state to recognise their option for a form of marriage as being that between a genetic man and a genetic woman and this being of a permanent nature, which means foregoing the option of divorce antecedently. People would voluntarily choose this form of marriage over the others available in the state but are then legally obliged to deal with the consequences of their own personal choices. The name for this form of marriage is the so-called covenantal marriage. The Church may then opt to only accept Church marriages if the couple concerned choose the form of covenantal marriage offered by the state.
I am NOT saying that the Maltese state should do this, as long as it recognises one form of marriage alone. But if other forms of legal marriage were to become the order of the day, then I see no other way out but for the state to establish the legal option of Covenantal Marriage in order to safeguard the rights of those who look at marriage objectively.