Saturday, August 14, 2010
IS THERE A BETTER WAY TO OPPOSE SAME SEX MARRIAGE?
I was listening to the Catholic Channel on my XM radio yesterday. The talk show host was on the topic of the recent ruling on same sex marriage in California. He played two clips, one from an activist gushing over the victory of same sex marriage and the other lamenting what had happened.
The homosexual activist praised the decision as a happy day for America, for freedom, and for the pursuit of life, love, liberty and happiness--the American way.
The proponent of traditional marriage railed against the decision, mocked it and was rather shrill in her attacks on same sex marriage and the homosexual community.
Of the two reactions, the Catholic host seem to think that the younger generation would agree with the homosexual's description of things as being positive and loving and the proponent of traditional marriage as mean-spirited and ugly. And to me I would have to agree after listening to both "rants," if you will.
How can we as Catholics put forth our Catholic understanding of marriage which predates Catholicism, Judaism and other world religions and do so in a convincing, loving way that does not make us look like the stereotypical "homophobes?"
And in a court of law, how are those who want to keep the definition of "legal" or "civil" marriage as being between one man and one woman without resorting to the rhetoric of marriage being divinely instituted and defined? The American court system will not decide the issue on religious principles or on any belief in God but rather from a purely legal and political point of view. Do those who want the traditional definition of legal marriage know how to defend it without resorting to pious religious platitudes? Religious belief about marriage is simply not going to work in a court of law in the USA.
I'm not a lawyer, but lawyers representing the side of those who want legal marriage defined as a union between one man and one woman had better get as wise as the world and become worldly in all of their arguments if they want to win this one especially when it reaches the Supreme Court. The religious definition of marriage just isn't going to cut the mustard on this one. What does Jesus say about the worldly? They get the job done, whereas the spiritual seem to lack proper motivation and tactics.
As Catholics we must also admit that the greatest threat to marriage whether it is a sacrament or not is divorce not same sex marriage. Nearly 50% of marriages end up in divorce.
As Catholics we must also admit that we don't believe that a man and woman who enter second marriages while their first spouse is still living without the benefit of a Catholic annulment are in a marriage although the state law says it is.
As Catholics we also have to admit that within our very own tradition we allow for the marriage between a baptized person and an unbaptized person and that the "legal bond" can be celebrated at a Catholic wedding in the Church. This type of marriage is not a sacramental marriage but rather only a "holy" legal bond. It can be dissolved by the Church, not through an annulment but through dissolution--divorce Catholic style. So in effect, even in the Catholic Church we acknowledge some marriages as valid and legal but not sacramental because a sacramental marriage must be between two baptized Christians.
Even if civil law changes the definition of legal marriage, the Church can still uphold the Catholic understanding of marriage. But here we must ask the question, will there come a time in our country or in some other country that the Church must allow same sex marriage in the Church? Not all countries have the clear separation of Church and State as does the USA.
Finally, as Catholics we teach a very strict sexual and marital ethic based upon Scripture, Tradition and natural law. We teach chastity, no sexual genital contact before marriage and fidelity or chastity within marriage. We also teach as the Bible does and natural law reveals that sodomy both oral and anal are opposed to God's will for both homosexual and heterosexual individuals even within the bond of marriage between a man and women. However, we do not police what consenting adults do behind closed doors. However, when married couples have sex in public or prance around publicly naked, they'll be arrested, convicted of obscenity and put in jail.
As Catholics we should not be preoccupied by what consenting adults do behind closed doors and privately. That's between them and their Maker and for Catholics if sin is involved, after a thorough examination of conscience, confession to a priest is required for penance and absolution. But the priest is not a voyeur peeking through the lattices of the bedroom or a deputy dragging people to confession for things done in private.
So let us get a grip on things, uphold our Catholic understanding of marriage and to the extent that our political and judicial system allows and and uphold our teachings on sex in all of its facets and find worldly ways to pro-actively keep the time-honored definition of marriage in the public square and on the law books.
And for those who do not accept the Catholic Church's teaching on sex and marriage, let us Catholics not get shrill about those who want legal recognition of their relationship and the benefits of law that come from this legal recognition. Let's be as politely pro-active in all the the arenas available to make sure that these civil unions are not called marriage, call it a legal partnership or civil union. Let's make sure we argue the traditional case for legal marriage properly in whatever court of law that will be necessary.