[Re-posted from this afternoon.]
Ross is at his most Catholic today in his column on marriage equality, and I'd like to start a response by saying that he has conceded many secular points: that the life-long, monogamous heterosexual nuclear family is not natural and it is not the default definition of marriage in world history. Abandoning these defunct arguments - defunct because they are transparently untrue - is a helpful throat-clearing for which I'm most grateful.
Ross' core argument is that "lifelong heterosexual monogamy at its best can offer something distinctive and remarkable a microcosm of civilization, and an organic connection between human generations that makes it worthy of distinctive recognition and support." I'm going to repeat what I have said before: I don't disagree with this at all. I remain in awe of the heterosexual life-long coupling that produces new human life. There is a miraculous, sacred, awe-inspiring aspect to it. I understand why this is a Sacrament, and have no interest in being included in such a Sacrament since it is premised on the very Thomist arguments Ross puts forward.
Sex for me has long been an intimation of the divine. Yes, we know that there are many ways human beings experience pleasure and transcendence - try magic mushrooms or a great Bordeaux or a rip-roaringly funny conversation or a quiet walk on a summer's afternoon. I see all these things, as Ross does, I think, as part of the glories of divine creation (okay, maybe not the shrooms in his case). But the extreme, compelling, irresistible nature of the orgasmic pleasure - I know of nothing more sublime or self-losing - and the linkage to creating new life does make it special.