In the initial column on the sacrament of matrimony concerning the origins and history of the sacrament, Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:4-9 on the nature of marriage in the beginning were emphasized as expressing how marriage is a sacrament wherein God Himself joins a man and woman together. To answer the contemporary issue of whether or not two individuals who are both male or two who are both female can be “married,” we once more return to Jesus’ words in these verses, this time emphasizing the nature of marriage as between “male and female.”
Matthew 19:4-6 offers Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees on the question of divorce: “He said in reply, ‘Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator “made them male and female” and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.’” These verses make clear both that marriage existed from the beginning of creation and as a union between one man and one woman - as God creates male and female who are joined together to become “one flesh.” Herein lies the very nature of marriage as God willed it to be according to complementary nature of male and female who are joined together.
That many today want to propose that the relating of two men together and/or two women together is equivalent to marriage is both false and impossible. According to the very fruits of the intimate act of marriage - that strengthens the bond of love between the man and woman and is meant for the generation of new life - marriage by definition can only exist between one man and one woman. Thus, it is important to speak plainly: there is no possibility of what some call “same-sex marriage” – for (repeating) the reality of marriage “as marriage” can only be between one man and one woman who are joined together such that they become one flesh and can generate new life.
Along a similar line, there are others who are ready to acknowledge that there can be no such thing as “same-sex marriage” but who at the same time believe that relationships of two persons of the same sex should be given recognition in what are called “civil unions.” This idea of “unions between homosexual persons” is also problematic insofar as nature itself does not allow for it – and as explained by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Vatican in 2003, such unions do not follow the natural law as pertains to biology, social ordering, and the common good. In other words, while the Church does not deny that two people, whether of the opposite sex or of the same sex, can and do have intimate friendships and relationships, only the marriage of a man and a woman rises to a level of natural and societal ordering wherein new life is both able to be generated and most rightly formed to live in society – through the fundamental cell of society that is the family.
In closing, what is essential for the Church in the ongoing challenges of this issue is to love and uphold the dignity of every person: aiding all in seeing God’s love for each one of us, and how it is God who bestows upon each one a capacity to truly love – while also upholding the truth and dignity of marriage as it really is in God’s plan.
For further reading: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on June 3, 2003, issued the following statement regarding unions of homosexual persons, which speaks to both the nature of marriage and the problems of recognizing same-sex unions. Go to: https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html .