Wednesday, January 2, 2013


And if I am not wrong, didn't Homer become a Catholic in one of the episodes of the past?


MY COMMENTS FIRST: Below my comments is a paper written on the topic from England and offers us some very good insights as to how to proceed in this country as Catholics who actually believe what the Church teaches about sexual morality and the divine institution of marriage all of which is based upon Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law (and all three must be held together for the full teaching).

Same sex marriage is now legal in nine states and Illinois will be next. The Supreme Court more than likely will either confirm it and thus case closed or delay it or allow it to be a state matter rather than a federal one.

My clairvoyance says that more than likely it will be the law of the land and in less years than we think. I hope I am wrong, but I don't think so.

Now, the question is, how do we uphold the sanctity of traditional marriage without becoming homophobic or trying to control people's sex lives, although civil law has tried to do that with some forms of sex in the past, namely sodomy, as well as rape and child exploitation and sex abuse. Is same sex marriage in those categories? I simply pose the question.

It seems to me if the Church's primary mission is the salvation of souls to which everything else we do is relegated, such as helping the poor, educating the young and not so young, forming community and support groups as well as the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church, should we not cooperate in Christ's light to illuminate, as a lamp on a stand, the darkness of sin and the dread of eternal punishment when the world rejects Divine Law revealed in Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law?

Let's face it, as same sex marriage becomes legal and more and more homosexuals are married to each other, we will be like the frog slowly cooked in the crock pot and before we know it, it will not in any way faze us. We will of course have family members who are homosexual getting married. Do we shun them, kick them out of the family and the Church?

How do we treat our relatives and friends who are heterosexual and live in a sexual union or are divorced and remarried outside the Church?

And what about our Catholic politicians who support same sex marriage and worse yet are pro-choice and support a women's right to kill their child prior to that child being born, children who will never go to school and will never really be missed except by the mother who later is convicted in conscious over the intrinsic evil and mortal sin she has committed with the help of the law and an abortionist and others who supported her decision to "take out" her child?

The following from England I think is a very good way to support traditional marriage from a political point of view, although it is written by Catholics who live in the United Kingdom where the same issues is being faced also.

What are the reasons for this paper?

The Government proposes legislation to allow for same-sex marriage. The Catholic Church, with many others, strongly and unequivocally opposes such plans both for religious reasons (based on Scripture and Tradition) and because they are against the natural law which applies to everyone regardless of their faith commitment. Marriage, as the lifelong union of one man and one woman ordered for the procreation and upbringing of children, is rooted in human nature itself. Put simply, no government has the authority to change that. Any attempt to do so is harmful to society and constitutes a threat to freedom of conscience and the Church’s ability to function within civil society.

Why does it matter that marriage is between a man and a woman?

Marriage is as old as humanity itself. Men and women are complementary, equal in dignity but different. The very reason for this sexual distinction is to bring new life into the world. Since the beginning of humanity, marriage has been viewed as the proper environment for this, providing children with the context of permanent, committed love in which they can best flourish. Studies consistently highlight the importance of a stable family, of a mother and a father, for the best results for raising the next generation. But marriage concerns more than parents and children. It is the basis of a stable society and of civilisation itself and, therefore, requires legal recognition and protection.

But the Prime Minister says marriage is so important that everyone who wishes should be allowed to marry. Shouldn’t we be supporting him?

The basis of the Prime Minister’s argument seems to be that, if two adults in a committed loving relationship wish to enter marriage, then they should be allowed to do so, regardless of the fact they are of the same gender. With respect, the Prime Minister is misrepresenting the nature of marriage. It is not, nor ever has been, about just any loving, committed relationship. We might have a loving committed relationship with our parents or our best friends, but marriage with them would be neither possible nor appropriate. Only the natural complementarity between a man and a woman can lead to marriage. Only this loving union, by definition, is open to bringing forth and nurturing children. Even in old age and infertility a husband and wife still preserve, like no other relationship, the elements of complementarity. That is why marriage is only possible between a man and a woman.

So isn’t the Church just discriminating against gay people?

Absolutely, not. The Church holds that every human being is created equal by God and is to be respected accordingly. The Church strongly opposes unjust discrimination against people with homosexual inclinations. In fact, the proposed legislation is not directly linked to the issue of same- sex attraction. The issue is about the meaning of marriage. Being pro-equality does not mean that everything is the same, nor that distinctions between things are unjustified. To say that everyone is equal is not the equivalent of saying they are the same. To say that a man cannot be a mother, and a woman cannot be a father is not against equality. To state this is simply to recognise an obvious fact of nature. It is in no way discriminatory. The same is true of marriage. Marriage is intrinsically linked to the procreation of children and makes no sense apart from this.

OK so same-sex marriage isn’t possible according to Christian belief, but the Prime Minster has given you assurances that you won’t have to marry same-sex couples in church if you don’t want to. Why can’t you accept they can marry elsewhere?

This is not merely a matter of religious belief and practice. It regards the future of society as a whole. It is called a matter of natural law which is something common to all regardless of personal religious belief. Tampering with such a fundamental natural institution as marriage is fraught with danger. Society ceases to flourish when it fails to cherish the family and the authentic understanding of marriage which makes the family possible. The experience of other countries where same-sex marriage has been introduced clearly indicates that the proposed change is only the beginning of a process of social engineering with tragic consequences. In Canada, since same-sex marriage was legalised, the courts have ruled that a child can legally have three parents. In the Netherlands also three-way relationships are now given a measure of legal recognition. Do we really want the UK to go down this route with all the consequent harm to children? Furthermore, with good cause, we have no confidence in the assurances offered by the Prime Minister. We recall how Catholic adoption agencies were closed because they refused to participate in a state permission for same-sex couples adopting children. If exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage is defined by equality law as discriminatory, toleration of such exclusion will not last long. Any attempted safeguard would be vulnerable to a future government, to a British court giving precedence to equality considerations and to the European Court of Human Rights.

Isn’t this a matter primarily for priests and other professionals in the Church?

Sadly, not. There is a real possibility that the Catholic Church will not be allowed for much longer to perform state recognised marriage registration in church because of its opposition to same-sex marriage. But leading human rights lawyer Aidan O’Neill QC has given his legal opinion that NHS Chaplains, teachers and foster parents could all be vulnerable. The rights of parents over their children’s education is also at threat. Mr O’Neill’s legal opinion is that any school, including a faith school, could legally dismiss a teacher for refusing to use educational material promoting same-sex marriage. Catholics must be aware of this threat to schools and teachers, and resist it with every means at their disposal. Similarly, if an institution is deemed discriminatory, can its charitable status be maintained? Legal cases would inevitably follow the passing of such legislation as in Canada.

So what are you encouraging us to do?

The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy is united in defending marriage and joins wholeheartedly the campaign of the Catholic Archbishops. We urge everyone who cares about upholding the meaning of marriage in civil law to make their views known to their MPs clearly, calmly and forcefully, and without impugning the motives of others. We urge all parties to ensure their Members have a free vote. It is not too late to stop this Bill. The Church calls on every Catholic, in conscience, to a clear and emphatic opposition to such proposals, and a refusal of any formal co-operation should such laws be passed. All this must be conducted in a spirit of charity. The Church defends the absolute dignity of every human being in the same way that she defends marriage and the family, that is, in proclaiming the truth with love. In this Christmas season, under the patronage of the Holy Family, let us all pray and work to ensure that the centrality of marriage and freedom of conscience which we have so long enjoyed continue to be defended by the laws of our country.

1st January 2013

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God


Lisa Graas said...

Very good overview of the whole situation, Father. It pains me to see so many in darkness.

Anonymous 5 said...

One of the arguments you often hear is similar to the PM's--that marriage is so fundamental that two people should have the right to marry regardless of the sexes of the two people involved, as long as it's a loving relationship. Since it's such a common argument, I want to critique it here, since it contains at least three fallacies.

1) The first is a simple case of question begging. Instead of beginning by asking what the essential components of marriage are, and whether a so-called "marriage" between two persons of the same sex possesses all of those components and thus really is a marriage, the argument assumes at the outset that such unions are actual marriages. It then simply asks whether society and the law should allow such marriages as a matter of policy. As Catholics, we should try to reveal this fallacy and get people to examine whether in fact a same-sex marriage can ever fit the definition of marriage. This isn't Catholic theology; this is simple logic, based largely on biology and the natural law.

2) Next, it involves a case of special pleading. As is clear from above, the argument doesn't really care what the definition of marriage is, but it then turns around and declares (at least by strong implication) that marriages are between two persons. But if we're going to ignore the definition of marriage, why limit marriages to unions between two people? Doesn't that discriminate against polygamists and polyandrists, both of which have a lot more historical basis than marriage between persons of the same sex? And what of incest laws? Why are those to remain legitimate, as I presume they are? Those who want monogamous "marriages" between two unrelated persons of the same sex give no rationale for the disparate treatment; why should we except them and not other cases? Without such justification, what thaey're arguing for is logically and legally overly narrow. Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi.

3) The third is a defintional fallacy: The very term "gay marriage" is misleading, and the fallacy is reinforced by the statement that "gays should have the right to marry." Of course gays have the right to marry. They have exactly the same right to marry as straights--that is, they may marry persons of the opposite sex. As presented, these forms of the argument constitute a fallacious appeal to pity--the implied and false notion that gays cannot marry _at all_. That somehow sounds worse (and thus draws more popular sympathy) than the correct statement that people with same-sex attraction may not marry people of the same sex. (I'm not trying to be callous here towards people who struggle with same-sex attraction, but if we're going to re-code the very fabric of marriage, I don't want us to do so on the basis of raw, misdirected popular emotion. I want society to face, very clearly, what it's proposing to do.)

John Nolan said...

The Archbishop of Westminster described the whole affair as 'shambolic', as indeed it is. Some years ago the previous (Labour) government allowed same-sex couples to enter into a so-called civil partnership which gives the same legal benefits as does a civil marriage. Like a civil marriage, it has to be strictly non-religious. Then Cameron decided to go one better and redefine such partnerships as marriage - but only civil marriage, of course, as distinct from 'religious marriage'. Then certain fringe faith groups (Quakers, liberal synagogues) say they want the right to marry same-sex couples according to their 'ceremonies', and some quite senior members of the Established Church suggested they might like to do the same (the Church of England has gone so far down the road of secular liberal relativism that it no longer cares about its relationship with the rest of Christendom).

OK, says Cameron, we'll allow faith groups to opt-in. However, civil marriage does not apply to the C0fE - as it is by law established it can conduct marriages without reference to the civil authorities, and on its own terms, which are clearly set out in the 1662 Prayer Book. Any other denomination (Catholics included) must first satisfy the registrar that they fulfil the requirements of a civil marriage, although a civil ceremony is not required (unlike, say, in France).

To bring the Established Church under civil marriage legislation would require a fundamental change in the law which would call into question the whole meaning of Establishment. So Cameron has to say that the CofE will not be allowed to opt in.

It is good that the English Catholic hierarchy are following their Scottish counterparts in making a stand on this. For 35 years the Catholic Church in England has been at pains to cosy up to the political establishment. Now that the politicians have significantly moved the goalposts, the bishops are rediscovering the necessity of being counter-cultural.

Yesterday Archbishop Nichols announced that he was stopping the controversial 'gay Masses' at Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, Soho (11 months ago he was defending them) and handing this fine and historic church over to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Yes, I know he has his eye on a red hat and has been leant on by the Holy Office, but this is an excellent start to what is going to prove an interesting year.

rcg said...

I think the Church should get out of the Civil marriage business. This is a good time to do it. If we even negotiate or take a position the Government of the US will assume it has a say in what happens in our Church. We can't have that.

Militia Immaculata said...

Father, regarding the Simpsons, Homer didn't become Catholic, but he came THIS CLOSE to doing so.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5:

I am going to play “devil’s advocate” here because I think it is important, if we are to make real progress in this debate, that we really join issue and grapple with the hardest and strongest arguments of those who support gay marriage. My basic premise is reflected in the following questions I have posed in an earlier comment on this topic: Isn’t the best way forward on this issue, as on so many other issues in which hearts and minds are at stake, appropriate and mutually respectful dialogue in which each side is open to, and listens to, the other at the very deepest level? If our God is a God of Truth (and He is), how then can He fail to lead all of us to His Truth if we are truly open and listening in this way?

So, how might one expect those in support of gay marriage to answer your three cogently presented points? Taking them in your order:

First, supporters might say that just because they reject a definition of marriage based on biology and the natural law, as you put it, this does not mean that they are trying to avoid defining marriage and identifying its essential components. It_does_mean that they proffer a _different_ definition of marriage, and see marriage as constituted by different components than the Church does. So, I am not sure I see the same fallacy here that you see.

Second, on the assumption that supporters_do_care what the definition of marriage is (but just define it differently from the Church), and on the assumption (which I am prepared to make) that they would not support polygamy and incestuous marriages (or any other of the “parade of horribles” one could imagine), then I agree that any definition supporters offer has to be able to exclude these other types of arrangements on a justifiable basis. And if that justifiable basis is not biology and natural law, then what is it? However, if supporters_could_articulate such an alternative definition and basis that would include same sex marriages but exclude these other arrangements, then this would presumably overcome your second point.

Third, supporters would likely counter that you are elevating form over substance and failing to look at the realities of the situation. On the assumption (which again I am prepared to make, unless and until it is proven otherwise), that a homosexual orientation is, at least in many cases, not a choice but something “hardwired” for whatever reason (genetic coding, early formative experiences, etc) and cannot be “reversed,” then what does it actually mean to say that gays have “the same right to marry as straights”? Yes, as a formal matter under the law, as you say,
they can marry persons of the opposite sex.” But, of course, they will not in fact avail themselves of this “right” because they “cannot” do so in reality due to an orientation that is beyond their control. Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Let us imagine, perversely, that we lived in a society in which the only recognized marriages were ones between persons of the same sex. I would not feel that I had equal rights just because I could, as a formal matter, marry someone of the same sex. I would never want to or choose to do so. Instead, I would what to marry someone of the opposite sex. So, in substance and reality, I would feel as if I had no such equal right to marry.


Anonymous 2 said...

If these, then, are the possible responses to your three points, what affirmative arguments does the Church have to meet from supporters of same sex marriage in any respectful dialogue? At the 2011 Conservative Party Conference, at which he announced his support for civil recognition of same sex marriage, David Cameron said the following:

“Yes, it’s about equality, but it’s also about something else—commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us. Society is stronger when we make vows to each other and we support each other. I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a conservative.”

And a month later he cited the New Testament:

“The New Testament tells us so much about the character of Jesus; a man of incomparable compassion, generosity, grace, humility and love. In the book of Luke, we are told that Jesus said, ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’—advice that when followed makes for a happier, and better society for everyone.”

And Andrew Sullivan, who used to be a member of the Conservative Party when living in Britain, reacted as follows after the interview with President Obama in which Obama announced his support for same sex marriage:

“When I watched the interview, the tears came flooding down. The moment reminded me of my own wedding day. I had figured it out in my head, but not my heart. And I was utterly unprepared for how psychologically transformative the moment would be. To have the president of the United States affirm my humanity—and the humanity of all gay Americans—was, unexpectedly, a watershed.”

Here is a link for the full article from which these quotes are taken:

Again, I am not setting forth these points because I oppose the Church’s position. As a Catholic I must accept my Church’s teaching on this subject. Instead, I am trying to explore where, and at what levels and in what dimensions, the issue needs to be joined if we are to make progress in loving, persuasive dialogue instead of victory (or defeat) due to the exercise of political power. I recognize, however, that this is a feeble attempt that only begins to scratch the surface.

I am not sure myself that it is possible to improve on the natural law arguments for restricting marriage to persons of the opposite sex, as the U.K. paper seems to recognize, and I suspect that the issue will have to continue to be joined here. However, the challenge is to present these arguments persuasively, not in a cold, rational, and logical manner, but in a loving and compassionate manner that affirms, and does not denigrate, the humanity of gays and those who support gay marriage. And to do_this_ don’t we first need to listen to what they say?

Anonymous 5 said...


In regard to your first post: I've no qualms with any of your arguments. My problem is that those in favor of same-sex marriage aren't, by and large, bothering to make those arguments as cogently as you do, and in failing (or refusing) to do so, they're trying to pull a fast one by making their case seem to be something it isn't, and thus winning emotional support from the mob.

1) In Perry v. Schwarzenegger, for example, the judge didn't admit to having a different definition of marriage, if I recall correctly; he tried to get us, by his phrasing, to think that the concept of marriage as currently constituted applies to same-sex unions. That's intellectually dishonest. A first year law student should know how to apply a syllogism: 1) the definition of marriage consists of elements X, Y, and Z; 2) in the facts before the court, X, Y, and Z are present; 3) therefore a marriage exists. But instead of doing this, the judge simply stated that since marriage is a fundamental constitutional right, the Equal Protection Clause prohibits California's attempt to stop people from marrying other people of the same sex. The only way that that logic holds up is if the judge adopts a definition of marriage that nobody has ever had before. If he wants to do that, fine. but he should tell us that's what he's doing. By not doing it, he makes all proponents of traditional marriage throughout history appear to be bigots who have never applied their own rules fairly.

2) I'm wide open to hearing logical justifications why permitting monogamous marriage between two people of the same sex is ok while polygamy and polyandry aren't. My point is that I haven't ever heard such arguments from the same-sex marriage adherents. And I must admit that if I did hear such arguments, while I would try to be fair in judging them, I'd start with the presumption that they were hypocritical, especially given the emotive (and thus unprincipled) nature of most of the arguments in favor of monogamous same-sex marriage. If those folks are honest in their argument that people should be free to marry whom they please (which is what most of their popular argument comes down to), I think it's going to be awfully hard for them to deny the force of that argument when others make it.

3) I'm in agreement with your statements on the third point, as I am in the first two. I am (and was) well aware of the value of the rigt to marry a person of the opposite sex (although for purposes of such thing inheritance/estate/trust law, I don't see that right as valueless as you do--marriage for love isn't the only model, or even the most important model, that has historically been followed). Again, my sole objection is to the emotive nature of the language the pro-same sex marriage people use. By not using accurate descriptions and definitions, they make the traditional marriage adherents out to be straw men. I do think there's an emotive (not logical, but gut-level) difference between "They won't let me marry who I want," which is what they mean, and "They won't let me marry at all," which is what they say (or at least strongly imply) and what they want people to hear. The latter conjures up images of chattel slavery, in which slaves typically had no capacity to contract marriages at all, and it's going to get more (misplaced) sympathy. It's the difference between selfish and persecuted.

So to repeat and sum up: I've no problem with your arguments. My problem is that the pro-same-sex marriage people aren't making them, and instead are trying to bypass logic with a raw, emotive appeal to the masses.

Anonymous 5 said...


As to your second post, though, I must disagree. Further, I fear I must respectfully accuse you of engaging in some of the same emotive talk that I criticized in my previous post--that bit about figuring out things in one's heart and thrill of having the president affirm one's humanity and such.

Further, Cameron's citation of the New Testament to support his definition of marriage displays only one thing: that he doesn't understand the meaning of the New Testament. That is why Christ gave us the Church to begin with; so that we won't be seduced by such treacly interpretations of Scripture as Cameron served up here. If Cameron's theology is right, then the Catholic Church is an abomination that has invented a God to justify its tyranny. If, on the other hand, the Church is right, then Cameron should STFU when it comes to quoting Scripture to justify himself and his sexual and emotional impulses.

It's fine to have compassion for Cameron, but that doesn't mean we have it in our power to make him right about this. If God has declared through His Church that in Cameron's case chastity means a life of celibacy--and as a Catholic I must believe that, and so must you, assuming Cameron to be gay--then Cameron (and you) must take that up with God. I don't know why He has asked people to make that particular sacrifice, and it must be a terrible one to make, but He has, and there's no arguing our way out of it. It isn't all about us.

And, by the way, I'm not necessarily arguing here that as Catholics we should impose our views of marriage on others (though the fact that biology and the entirety of history seem to be on our side and thus allow us to do so without an automatic First Amendment problem). I'm much more concerned about the government attempting to force the Church to perform same-sex marriages in the not-too-distant future. I don't expect the same-sex marriage train to do anything but to gain steam. My concern is in religious persecution.

ghp said...

[ya gots to see the "Catholic Heaven" and "Protestant Heaven"]

"Bart is given the role of a cooper in the school's medieval festival, while Lisa is the queen. Bart is blamed and expelled when rats come out of large pie that is presented to the queen. Marge looks for a new school for Bart and decides to try out a Catholic school. In his first day at school Bart encounters a tough nun and Father Sean. Bart takes a liking to Father Sean and begins to embrace the Catholic faith, which concerns Homer and Marge. Homer goes to the school with the purpose of taking Bart out of school, only to himself being converted before the night is through. With her husband and son gone Marge finds herself alone at church. Reverend Lovejoy tells her that when they die she and Homer will be going to different heavens. Marge, Ned and Reverend Lovejoy go to Homer and Bart's first communion class to at the very least liberate Bart from becoming Catholic. To bring Bart back to his old religion they take him to a religious festival. Father Sean and Homer arrive hoping to take Bart back, but Bart in one his rare moments of insight brings both sides together, that is until 1,000 years later."


Anonymous 2 said...

I have been thinking some more about all this and have some additional questions stimulated by Father’s thoughts and questions introducing the paper as well as by discussions in previous threads.

Why does the Church oppose use of the term “marriage” to describe the civil status of a same sex couple when it apparently does not oppose use of the term to describe the civil status of a heterosexual couple whose relationship the Church also would not recognize, e.g., a civil marriage entered into following divorce when there has been no annulment? As technically “adulterous” relationships these are hardly in accord with Scripture, Tradition, and the Natural Law either and yet, as far as I know, there has been no great outcry about using the term “marriage” to describe their civil status.

What justifies this difference in attitude? Is it the result of a previous battle that was lost, with that defeat simply being accepted? Or is it because even “adulterous” relationships can still be “natural” in ways that homosexual relationships cannot, i.e., specifically, they can be procreative?

Even if a difference in attitude is indeed justified, for this or another reason, is it still worth engaging in the semantic battle to restrict use of the term “marriage” to heterosexual relationships for civil law purposes as part of the Church’s countercultural witness? If it is, what other term could be used to describe same sex relationships that would adequately recognize the dignity and humanity of the same sex couple – a sort of “separate but equal” approach (the term “civil union” does not seem adequate somehow in comparison to the term “marriage”)?

Alternatively, can the distinctiveness of the Church’s understanding of marriage and its countercultural witness thereto be preserved and promoted by accepting use of the term “marriage” for civil law purposes but adopting another term such as “sacred marriage” or “religious marriage” for religious purposes? Or would such term be “diluted” too if other religious denominations used the same term for any same sex marriages they may decide to recognize for religious purposes? Would we then be relegated to the term “Catholic marriage”? Is the solution, then, as has been discussed before, to call the civil status “civil union” but reserve the term “marriage” for religious purposes? But here again, presumably, one faces the same problem of “dilution,” depending on the practice of other denominations.

However the semantic battle turns out, the Church presumably still engages in countercultural witness by refusing to recognize, within her own jurisdiction, the validity of marriages that do not satisfy the definition of marriage as she understands it.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5: Many thanks for your thoughtful responses to my posts.

As to your comments on my second post, I would probably resist your suggestion that I was engaging in some of the same emotive talk you had criticized – at least if you are suggesting that these are_my_arguments in support of same sex marriage. In fact, I am not making any arguments in support of same sex marriage for my own account.

In my first post I was trying to formulate responses supporters might make to the arguments in your post and in the second post I was trying to identify and report on arguments or points that supporters had affirmatively made in support of same sex marriage. My point is that the Church (and that includes us) needs to listen to these (and other, perhaps stronger) arguments with compassion and to respond to them with compassion as part of the respectful dialogue in which she (and that includes us) seeks to persuade. To ignore them or to dismiss them as just “emotive manipulation” and to rely on cold reason and logic is, I believe, a mistake (I do not mean to suggest that this is necessarily what_you_are doing). So, if you mean that I was engaging in the same emotive talk by taking such arguments and points seriously as deserving of consideration and a compassionate response, then I am guilty of that I suppose.

BTW, in case it is of any relevance, as far as I know David Cameron is no more gay than I am (which would mean he is not in the slightest bit gay). See:

Anonymous 5 said...


First, sorry for conflating Cameron and Sullivan. It was late when I read your posts and wrote mine. :-)

I hope that, given some of my other recent posts on homosexuality, you realize that I do see compassion as very important. I empathize rather strongly with these people (or at least the ones of good will, of whom there are a great many), for particular reasons that I won't divulge here. But there must be a couple of qualifications. The first, and most important, at the end of the day, the Church is incapable of changing her position. She can listen compassionately, but her final answer, as her current answer, must be "no" to same-sex marriage and a practicing homosexual lifestyle. A compassionate "no," perhaps, but still "no."

That leads to the second qualification. To the end that the emotive arguments (more on that in a moment) are an attempt by the gay community to get the Church to change her position, they are pointless, and we are showing the greatest charity by disabusing the people concerned of the notion that they can be effective, since the Church's position can't change.

As to emotive manipulation: I don't necessarily accuse you of doing it yourself, but you do skirt (even if you don't fall into) the trap of dignifying emotive arguments when you report them and say we have to wrestle with them. I know that the gay/lesbian community has a ton of skin in the game and that their cause involves very deep areas of human biology and the human psyche, so it's both understandable and expected that a) their arguments will often be passionate and emotional and even that b) they would attempt subterfuge in public discourse. But that doesn't make those arguments right or their tactics aceptable. It's somewhat akin to arguing logically with a bawling two year old. The two year old doesn't want reasoned discourse in pursuit of a mutual search for the truth. He wants gratification of his instinctive desires and he wants to get that gratification by making an emotional nuisance of himself until you give up. I suppose I do see that as "cheating" on the two year old's part. Of course, we could abandon cold logic altogether and just both sides have an emotional screaming match, but I don't think that would be productive. I think it would end in mass bloodshed. That's why I keep appealing to logic and reason.

Maybe I haven't been looking in the right places, but in the popular media, at least, where the mass of public opinion is swayed, I _haven't_ heard much--or any--rational (or as you would say, coldy logical) arguments in favor of same-sex marriage. I've heard manipulative arguments of advocates who are misrepresenting facts in a way designed to jerk the emotionstrings of the puppet we call the public in order to make traditionalists out in the public eye to be fools or bigots (or both). While my natural impulse is towards compassion, that impulse is bound to get blunted in the face of a never-ending stream of such "argument."

Finally, remember that if we really want to be compassionate, it would be false compassion, and false charity, to allow these people state sanction for lifestyles that are arguably (quare full consent of the will) sinful. The two year old may _think_ that he wants to eat a cup full of sugar, but in lihght of midnight puking and rotten teeth, maybe he's not the best judge.

(By the way, we're all two year olds at some point or another, so I'm not singling out the gay/lesbian community for such an indfantile analogy.)

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5:

Once again you state your position very cogently, and I do agree that we should try to resist emotive manipulation. Indeed, what I am looking for is an improvement in the quality of the conversation across the board.

For supporters of gay marriage that certainly means a commitment not to engage consciously in emotive manipulation (as opposed to, say, a genuine and honest sharing of perceptions and experience in the interests of truth). For the Church (and again that includes us) it means that we should indeed be on the lookout for possible lapses (or lack of good faith) on the part of supporters – this falls into the “gentle as doves, wise as serpents” category I think – but it may mean something more too.

First, in explicating and explaining the Church’s position, perhaps we should be mindful that the discourse with which you and I are familiar – and whose meaning, nuances, qualifications, and implications are known to us because, being members of the same discourse community, we have access to the whole context – is not necessarily heard by others in the same way. To them the discourse may be received very differently, in a way that is counterproductive to effective communication of the Church’s message. On this point, the following is a link to an article in the Fordham Law Review to which a gay colleague and friend drew my attention after we had spoken about the need for civility in the political conversation on the gay marriage issue:

I would be interested to know what you make of this piece, especially (but not only) the author’s discussion of his second point addressing the natural law arguments and position as presented by Robert George. The author, who is gay, “hears” George as saying that homosexuals “are base, and we are degraded, and we are morally evil, and we are unfit for human beings in the ways in which we conduct our relationships.” (I have not read Robert George (although he is on my list) but perhaps you have.) The author does not seem to have heard or understood the distinction between the sin and the sinner. Of course, perhaps the author is just engaging in more “emotive manipulation.” However, assuming that he isn’t and also assuming the Church wants homosexuals to “hear” more, and other, than just this, presumably it is important to find the right words and the right tone to communicate what needs to be communicated. There are many truths within the one Truth and I assume we should try to address all of them (the “levels” and “dimensions” where the issue needs to be joined in persuasive, loving dialogue to which I referred in my second post). And, to be able to address them, we first need to listen for them. So, it is not a dichotomous choice between logic and reason on the one hand and emotion on the other; it is rather a holistic integration of the two.

Second, and following from this last point about listening, because our God is a God of Truth shouldn’t both sides in the conversation be open to what He might reveal to us in a mutually respectful dialogue in which each side is open to, and listens to, the other at the very deepest level? I am not suggesting that the Church will or should change her moral position; I_am_ suggesting that opponents of same sex marriage might be surprised by what they hear. What that might be, and with what effect, presumably will only be known if we have such conversations (I imagine they already occur, just not too publicly).

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. And we should always remember that what the Church is essentially saying with its “No” to those many homosexuals whose orientation is beyond their control: “Not only may you not marry. You must be celibate your entire life -- not because you have taken a holy vow to be so but because of the way you are made.” This would be extremely hard for homosexuals who are Catholics, even admitting the efficacy of God’s grace. It must seem incomprehensibly cruel to those who are not members of the same Catholic discourse community, and perhaps even to some who are.

So, of course, the Church recognizes the need for special compassion and mercy in these circumstances (and your previous posts indeed demonstrate that you do too).

rcg said...

A2, To retrace the ground of your last post, the Church understands that everyone will sin and can be forgiven. The Church correctly states that homosexuality is disordered and like any other disorder will likely over power the person at times. That makes some homosexuals very different than people who are merely indulging in physical pleasure or power. The important thing for everyone to understand is that the disorder should be resisted and the person will have struggles, and likely failures, to resist it. What must be resisted by everyone is shirking the responsibility to reject it as normal in any way.

Society has convinced most people, almost everyone, that love is the same as sex. That is where we must focus our efforts to reverse this trend. What we are really talking about is sex as power in much the same way as rape. It is the basis for abortion and contraception and is the basis for homosexual marriage.

Anonymous 2 said...

Rcg: I absolutely agree that we need to emphasize the distinction between love and sex.

But you will have to help me understand your next thought regarding "sex as power in much the same way as rape."

I think I get “sex as power” in relation to abortion and perhaps even in relation to contraception (a self-willed assertion of power over the gift of co-creation, for example). But I am unclear on “sex as power” in relation to homosexual marriage. Are you referring to self-willed assertion in general as opposed to humility before divine and natural law? Or is it again self-willed assertion of power over the gift of co-creation that you have in mind?

Also, I am a little perplexed by your equation of abortion, contraception, and homosexual marriage with rape in terms of "sex as power." Again, I find this easiest to understand with regard to abortion, less so with regard to contraception, and even less so with regard to homosexual marriage.

I apologize if I am being obtuse here.

Anonymous 2 said...

In thinking even more about all this, I realize that I may have been guilty of some analytical confusion by conflating several different issues. However, I suspect I am not the only one who may have done this.

Specifically, in trying to puzzle the matter out further, I wonder if we should distinguish among at least three separate questions in respect of sexual acts between persons of the same sex, and indeed in respect of any act:

(1) Is the act immoral or sinful? The other two questions arise if it is.
(2) Should the act be criminalized?
(3) If not, should the law nevertheless refuse recognition of the act through the denial of various kinds of legal benefit?.

As applied to same sex marriage I will assume that the opposition to same sex marriage centers on the sexual act that is characteristic of same sex relationships. (Thus I bracket the question whether same sex marriage, or equivalent status, would be morally acceptable if the same sex spouses committed themselves to celibacy).

With regard to (1) the Church clearly teaches that sexual acts between consenting same sex partners are immoral or sinful; indeed, any sexual acts outside the legitimate conjugal relationship in traditional marriage are immoral or sinful. I do not see how this will change as long as the Church maintains a consistent sexual ethic based on Humane Vitae. Of course, I assume that the usual three conditions must be present for any given person to be culpable (objectively wrongful act, knowledge of wrongfulness, full consent of the will).

With regard to (2) the Church does not, as far as I know, call for the criminalization of sexual acts between members of the same sex (quite apart from the fact that criminalization would be unconstitutional, at least in this country).

With regard to (3), I assume that this is the relevant question for recognition of same sex marriage. For sexually active same sex couples civil recognition of same sex marriage would be one central legal benefit. There are, of course, others (e.g., under various types of anti-discrimination legislation).

There are many types of acts the Church regards as immoral or sinful. Yet not only does the Church not seek to criminalize such acts; it also does not seek to deny them legal recognition. For example, there are many types of immoral or sinful acts that people commit through the use of contracts, especially those related to dishonesty or over-reaching or avarice, but the Church does not seek, or perhaps more accurately no longer seeks, to make contracts unavailable to such persons or, what is perhaps more practicable, to have the law vitiate such contracts (historically, of course, the Church may indeed have tried to do this when it had jurisdiction over contracts in the ecclesiastical courts under the canon law). Why, then, should marriage (or whatever we would call the status between same sex “spouses”) be different in this regard? Is it because the family is at the heart of all our relationships in a way that contract is not? Or is it because sexuality and marriage implicates the innermost core of a person in a way that contract does not?

Even if the Church were to accept the legal recognition of same sex marriage (or equivalent status), it would still judge them to be immoral or sinful and urge people not to enter them just as it still judges certain types of contracts to be immoral or sinful and urges people not to enter them. And it would still refuse the sacrament of holy matrimony to same sex couples within her own jurisdiction. And the Church must always fight for the right to do these things as a matter of her religious freedom, which, as I understand it, is what Anon 5 is really most troubled about. But again, in doing these things, the Church will still demonstrate compassion as part of loving persuasion.

Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to articulate these distinctions among different questions.

Gene said...

Anon2, You talk too much. It isn't as difficult as you are trying to make it and, once again, I read between your lines a desire to blur the boundaries and have the Church weaken her stance on homosexuality and marriage. Why dialogue at all with gay advocates? The Church and Scripture are pretty clear: homosexuality is an abomination, an anomaly, an undesirable life style. That is pretty simple. So, be nice, don't be abusive, don't tell gay jokes in public, and pray God's compassion for them. Meanwhile, if you drop your wallet on Castro Street, kick it to your car.

Anonymous 2 said...


Thanks for your comment. Yes, you are probably correct that I talk too much – it’s an occupational hazard. =) I plead in my defense that I am trying to puzzle through the salient issues in order to be able to think more clearly about them. In that regard I do think identifying the three separate questions provides a helpful framework for thinking through the issue of same sex marriage as well as other issues. The second and third questions go to the heart of the relationship between law and morality, or in other words the thorny jurisprudential problematic of the enforcement of morality. There are other, associated questions of course, but these three three are probably central.

As for a possible desire to blur the boundaries and have the Church weaken her stance on homosexuality and same sex relationships, I hope that is not what I am doing. As I have explained before, I do experience serious tension between the Church’s teaching and compassion for my homosexual friends, relatives, and colleagues. And I suppose I am trying to find whatever ways may exist within the framework of the Church’s teaching to address that tension. Also, given some recent posts and speculations, I was not entirely clear regarding the Church’s precise position on legal recognition of same sex unions that are not “marriages.” I have now researched that point in more depth on the USCCB website. Here are some relevant links:

The bottom line for the USCCB, at present, seems to be captured in the following statement:

“On two different occasions, in 2003 and 2006, the USCCB Administrative Committee stated: ‘We strongly oppose any legislative and judicial attempts, both at state and federal levels, to grant same-sex unions the equivalent status and rights of marriage – by naming them marriage, civil unions, or by other means.’”

That would seem to conclude the issue for us. However, the value of mutually respectful dialogue is in how the Church (and that includes us) presents its position as part of its effort at loving persuasion in the political conversation as well as in other types of conversation. Surely we should not discount the efficacy of God’s grace working within such dialogue.

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. And then, of course, there is all this on the “Call to Prayer on Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty” and associated material on the “Promotion and Defense of Marriage”:

John Nolan said...

Forget about the Church being 'forced' to conduct same-sex marriages. State legislatures, the US Congress or the UK Parliament have no authority whatsoever to alter the Canon Law of the Roman Church.