A recent victim of such overuse is the word "marriage." It is now proposed that "marriage" be used legally for same-sex relationships.
Sympathy for recognizing same-sex relationships as marriage is understandable. The appeal is to freedom and love, rightly cherished values. But marriage is about more than freedom and love. It is also about truth. It is not just about the choice of individuals. It is about the fabric of society. It is about a unique male-female expression of love by physically complementary persons that in proper, natural conditions brings a new human life. Even in arbitrary social contracts, civil rights have limits. If boys can join the Girl Scouts, what does "Girl Scouts" mean?
In "Through the Looking Glass," Humpty Dumpty said, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
"The question is," Humpty Dumpty said, "which is to be master -- that's all."
The uniqueness of the unity of husband and wife is a communion of love which, by its very nature, can create an entirely new human life with the world-altering responsibility to nurture that life with the same complementary form of love. If some such marriages do not or cannot generate a new life, the union is still of a natural design that does.
This union alone can bring a new human life and continue the human race.
To hold that marriage is a union of a man and a woman is not to deny a freedom to those who desire to make a same-sex commitment. It is, rather, to assert a freedom from legal coercion to endorse as marriage what is not the marital union found in nature and confirmed as such by many religious faiths. Freedom of conscience is paramount, both ways.
-- Father Earl Meyer is with the Capuchin Center for Spiritual Life in Victoria.