Michel Serres on Gay Marriage

Michel SerresOur friend Cathie Fournier facebook-forwarded a lovely quote by French philosopher Michel Serres, which I thought would be worthwhile to English. I don’t know the context in which he said or wrote it, except that the French parliament is discussing gay marriage right now! Here it is:

“This question of gay marriage interests me, given the answer the ecclesiastical hierarchy brings to it. Since the first century after Jesus-Christ, the model of the family has been that of the church, that of the Holy Family.

But let us examine the Holy Family. In the Holy Family, the father is not the father: Joseph is not Jesus’ father. The son is not the son: Jesus is the son of God, not the son of Joseph. Joseph, he has never made love to his wife. Concerning the mother, she is the mother indeed, but she is a virgin. The Holy Family, that’s what Levi-Strauss called the elementary structure of kinship. A structure that breaks completely with ancient genealogy, based until then on filiation: one is Jewish through the mother. There are three types of filiation: natural filiation, recognition of paternity and adoption. In the Holy Family, what is blocked is both natural filiation and recognition; only adoption remains.

Thus, since the Gospel according to Luke, the Church proposes as model for the family an elementary structure based on adoption: it is no longer a question of making children, but of choosing oneself, to the point where we are parents, you will be parents, father and mother, only if you say to your child “I have chosen you,” “I adopt you because I love you,” “ it is you I wanted.” And reciprocally, the child also chooses his parents because he loves them.

Thus to me the position of the Church concerning homosexual marriage is perfectly mysterious: this problem was solved some 2000 years ago. I suggest that the whole catholic hierarchy should reread the Gospel according to Luke. Or to convert.”

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3 Responses

  1. Conor Graham says:

    Not true about ‘since 1st century’- modern family unit is only a century or two old. Before children were often sent to live/be raised or work in other families.

  2. Poo says:

    Well I suppose you can sufficiently befuddle anything with a few good quotes. The Bible may not be the best source for this sort of thing. It can be quoted in so many different ways.

    “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” Matthew 13:55-56

    Weren’t they a family too? Technically, because of the virgin birth thing, Joseph was not the Father of Jesus so these other lads and lasses were half brothers and sisters to him. Sounds very much like a modern family to me. And Jesus never said a word about homosexuals, married or not. Even if he wanted to, I don’t think they had a word for it. True, there is that “fruitful and multiply” bit to consider, a challenge for gay couples to be sure but as an ‘adopted’ child himself it is unlikely Jesus would have opposed it as an alternative. Besides, there are many biblical references to adoption, like Moses for example. For the record, it was really Adam and Eve who were given the original “fruitful and multiply” directive. They followed it with gusto becoming the Mom and Dad to all Humankind. It has been reported they had some 33 sons and 23 daughters in total, with probably a gay or 2 among them. Who knows? Mind you Adam and Eve each lived to the very ripe old age of 930 years or there abouts. These were very productive lives. No mention was made of how they supported and housed this lot but begatting Humankind was a big job. No one said it would be easy.

    Not being a biblical scholar by trade or even religious, lapsed or other wise, I am left, therefore, with those things that matter to me. Call it instinct, gut feeling, natural tendency, whatever. Perhaps it is more my innate sense of right and wrong as horribly subjective and egotistical as that may be. All I know is; I have no plans to marry anyone so what others “plan” is none of my business. They need not invite me. I would advise, however, any couples planning the matrimonial plunge to check out the divorce laws in their local area. I say that out of experience not malice. Just saying.

    While on the social issues I might as well add my ‘feeling’ on abortion and be done with it before it comes up in a future posting. I am not planning one of those either and so am willing to leave those who are to carry on under their applicable local laws. I might add that children can be a joy unmatched by any other human experience. They can also be a troublesome pain in the ass. Just saying.

    For the record, I checked and both gay marriage and abortion are legal here and have been for years. Who knew? Certainly not me but I can vouch for the fact that things, such as I remember them, seem the same.

    I suspect Monsieur Serres chose to quote the Bible for effect and whatever moral authority it might carry. I can do that. Perhaps the best quote might be from Jesus himself in Matthew 7:12.

    “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

    Works for me.

  3. Pierre,

    I remember seeing his words when they were published in French. They were made in reaction against the comments of the abbé Grosjean around the time the demonstrations against the gay marriage bill started (last month or so), demonstrations that were propped up mostly by the Catholic Church and the French Right.

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