Sins of Omission: Catholics, Marriage, and Politics

The California Supreme Court supremely violated the will of the people of that state when it overturned California’s eight-year-old Defense of Marriage Act. The court declared that homosexuals have a right to marry the person of their choice.
The Catholic governor of California supported this ruling, as did several other prominent, publicly Catholic Californians. The court went on to grind salt into the wound by denying all motions to stay the ruling until October when the voters would have a chance to — once again — vote on the issue.
Leave aside for the moment the blow this event portends for the democratic process. Instead, examine the trickle-down effect: Children in California schools, from kindergarten through graduation, will be captive victims of homosexuality portrayed as a healthy, viable, and legal lifestyle choice. Parents and students who object to reading King and King (wherein the prince, not caring for princesses, marries another prince) will be penalized. Because it is now enshrined in law, if you object, you are the party out of step, beyond the bounds of new community standards.
Many sincere Catholics might hope to move their children out of public schools, if they can afford private school tuition. It is unclear just what the new legal requirements may be for religious schools (though test cases are sure to come). But we already know that California homeschooling families could face criminal charges after a District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles decreed that only certified teachers can teach homeschooled students.
What we see clearly is that people whose faith informs their morals are now squeezed between the walls of a social-political vise. The attack on marriage puts our civilization in crisis for believers and non-believers alike.
But the response from some Catholics so far has been tepid. Take the following statement released by the California Catholic Conference:
Although we strongly disagree with the ruling, we ask our Catholic people, as well as all the people of California, to continue to uphold the dignity of every person, to acknowledge individual rights and responsibilities, and to maintain support for the unique and irreplaceable role of traditional marriage as an institution which is fundamental to society.
“Maintain support” for traditional marriage? Catholic support requires more episcopal muscle than the release of a mild statement. Because the Church is “the universal sacrament of salvation” (Lumen Gentium), our shepherds should be mobilizing Catholics to fight back. Every Catholic priest, religious, businessman, teacher, doctor, banker, grocer, landlord, professor, and college student should be sent out with a mandate to fight for marriage.
Others did send public and sober warnings. Bishop Thomas Wenski of the Diocese of Orlando wrote,
In redefining the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex unions, the proponents of “gay marriage” are in effect imposing their views and lifestyle on the larger populace, and once legal the state’s coercive power will punish those who refuse to embrace gay marriages. For example, public officials, regardless of their views on the rightness or wrongness of homosexual acts, will be obliged to officiate at same-sex “weddings.” Public schools will be required to teach their acceptability to children whether parents concur or not. Even First Amendment freedoms will not be protected from assault.
We have become a flaccid people. Catholics hesitate to speak out forcefully for the basics of societal morality. We do not wish to be labeled bigots or dismissed as intolerant. We fear social and professional opprobrium. Our goal is to preserve our comfortable lives rather than take on the challenge of gospel fidelity. We have forgotten that piety is not a feeling, but the determination to serve God despite the hardships that service might encounter.
In short, we are guilty of sins of omission.
Few shepherds teach us that we have been called to this nation at this moment in history for a reason. “A new state of affairs today both in the Church and in social, economic, political and cultural life, calls with a particular urgency for the action of the lay faithful. If lack of commitment is always unacceptable, the present time renders it even more so. It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle” (Christifideles Laici).
Thousands of Catholics will rally when visible leaders send them forth. When I speak at Catholic conferences, well-meaning people assure me that because the culture is debauched, “God will surely understand why so many have gone astray.” Perhaps. These Catholics are devoted enough to come to conferences, but have stopped short of venturing out of their comfort zones and into the culture as agents of God’s grace.
Some protest that “we aren’t responsible for what these politicians and judges do.” But Deuteronomy 16 paints a different picture: In an outline of how the Children of God are to possess the land, they are told to appoint good judges and civil leaders and not to “pervert justice.” Because we live in liberty, where we can freely choose our leadership, we have an identical responsibility to select moral leadership. We are a representative democracy — that is, our leaders are ours by choice. Thus, for Catholic Americans to choose leaders who bow to perversion is a grievous sin. Those who fail to work against evil leadership are also guilty by omission.
Thoughtful Catholics wrestle key moral issues each time an election cycle is upon us. But there are clear lines of demarcation; there are first principles. A faithful Christian cannot ignore the fact that natural marriage and the right to life are the twin pillars upon which all other societal goods are built. A presidential candidate who celebrates gay unions and refuses to defend natural marriage, but who champions the right to abort, is not our candidate.

Mary Jo Anderson

By

Mary Jo Anderson is a Catholic journalist and public speaker. She has been a frequent guest on "Abundant Life," an EWTN television program, and her "Global Watch" radio program is heard on EWTN radio affiliates nationwide. She writes regularly for Crisis Magazine. More articles and commentary can be found at Properly Scared and at Women for Faith and Family. Mary Jo is a board member of Women for Faith and Family and has served on the Legatus Board of Directors. With co-author Robin Bernhoft, she wrote "Male and Female He Made Them: Questions and Answers about Marriage and Same-Sex Unions," published in 2005 by Catholic Answers. In 2003 Mary Jo was invited to the Czech Republic to address parliamentarians on the Impact of Radical Feminism on Emerging Democracies.

  • Jay S

    The author hits the nail on the head! I have gotten so disappointed by our church leadership on this issue. No one condemms anymore, no one is wrong. Nothing is profane, nothing is sacred. As John Paul II said “BE NOT AFRAID”.

  • Todd

    If we’re talking sins here, I confess I find it hard to get excited about this.

    I have yet to see a convincing case made that people and elements outside of traditional marriage harm it in any significant way.

    It seems to me that marriage has its own share of challenges: ill-prepared couples, divorce, adultery, economics, substance abuse, military service, over-romanticized notions of love and partnership–the list goes on and on.

    I might suggest in turn that scapegoating homosexuals contributes to the victim mentality awash in our culture. Why blame porn when I can blame lesbians? Why blame narcissism when gay men are so objectionable. Defend marriage by criticizing fairy tales and legal agreements. Then tell us we’re sinners if we don’t get as excited about it.

    Nice.

    One would think that sacramental marriage has no merits of its own with this kind of emphasis. That SSA couples want to emulate the virtues of commitment, stability, sacrifice, and love would seem to be at bare minimum, a compliment, if nothing else.

    If we want to strengthen (far more preferable to “defend”) marriage, by all means let’s do a better job preparing couples, promoting its virtues and sacrifices, and cultivate an authentic culture.

    If we want to oppose same sex marriages, we have the right. But let’s not disguise the effort as in any way related to defending an institution that has plenty enough troubles of its own.

  • Nathan Cushman

    Todd, you’re right that we shouldn’t just focus on this gay marriage issue. You’re certainly right that we should better prepare couples for marriage, and that porn is as big, if not a bigger problem than gay marriage.

    But, people are heavily influenced by laws. If something is legal, it is good. And we don’t need to stack more crap in the way of healthy marriages. There has been a downward trend in family stability with each of the legal attacks on traditional marriage from contraception to easy divorce. We don’t need more legal baggage.

    2nd. We don’t want to let homosexuals think that marriage is REALLY their road to happiness. It isn’t. It just locks them into a sinful lifestyle.

    3rd. I think you missed a HUGE point. The main point, in my opinion. The state is attacking our rights to home school, and they fight against us putting our kids in private schools. Meanwhile, along with gay marriage comes their whole agenda of indoctrination. They don’t just want these behaviors legalized, they want them normalized.

    This isn’t just like the law allowing you to get drunk in your own home. This is like the law requiring that public schools teach the benefits of alcoholism, that the schools pass out flasks of whiskey to high school students, and that the schools have drinking clubs. Then, if the parents get mad, they’re told they aren’t fit to be parents, and maybe they even take the kids away, or encourage them to run away to a “more loving environment.”

  • Todd

    “But, people are heavily influenced by laws. If something is legal, it is good.”

    Perhaps this line of thinking is influenced by a legalistic, minimalist mindset. Not everybody operates this way.

    The Christian ethic is not, at its core, one of keeping to the bounds of what is allowed. Authentic Christianity is demanding because the believer is called to go much, much deeper. Every Christian should know, and has known for two millennia, that what is permitted by secular law will not save us. Even secular law in Christian nations.

    It seems as if many conservatives are convinced that if they keep repeating the mantra “Same sex marriage is a threat,” that it will actually transmogrify into the truth.

    If the so-called Defense of Marriage Act was, in fact, a defense, it would tend to the problems of actual marriages: either as defined by conservatives (limiting legal options in porn, divorce, etc.) or by liberals (funding public support systems, for example) or both.

    For a moral voice to be a clear and persuasive one, it must be committed to the truth. I see no truth in the title of the overturned legislation. Likewise, conspiracy theories inspire little confidence as they often favor fear and suspicion above actual fact.

    This is why I have to register my dissent from the premise of this essay and the suggestion I’m a sinner for doing so. I think Ms Anderson can do better than this.

  • Sam

    For a moral voice to be a clear and persuasive one, it must be committed to the truth. I see no truth in the title of the overturned legislation. Likewise, conspiracy theories inspire little confidence as they often favor fear and suspicion above actual fact.

    This is why I have to register my dissent from the premise of this essay and the suggestion I’m a sinner for doing so. I think Ms Anderson can do better than this.[/quote]
    Todd,

    I don’t know where you live, but here are some facts.

    1) Massachusetts (my state of residence but certainly not of my heart) severely regulates home schooling, has prohibitive property and income taxes which make it difficult for middle class people to send their kids to private schools, and pushs pro-homosexual propaganda through the public schools at all levels. When parental rights clash with the homosexual lobby agenda, they inevitably lose in the courts.
    2) Canada is increasingly moving toward overt persecution of Catholics and Christians who dare to even quote the Bible when upholding traditional marriage. The kangaroo courts known as Human Rights Commissions are making life miserable for traditional marriage upholders.
    3) Yes, the state of marriage is in bad shape given the high divorce rate and widespread use of contraception. But, that doesn’t absolve us Catholics of preaching the truth in season and out of season, even if many of our bishops are too timid to do so. Yet again, we laity have to pick up the ball the bishops have dropped (collectively) and run with it.

  • James Pawlak

    California’s government has been setting up for this by a steady, incremental, grinding away of the right to keep and bear arms in that state, including purchase of lead shot, inflicting serial numbers on individual rounds and such like attacks.

    An unarmed people are an enslaved people.

  • David W.

    By all means, let’s address the problems of Marriage as an institution…HOWEVER, there is room for both actions: Defending Marriage AND Reforming it. For the record, I believe No Fault Divorce should be illegal, Pornography should be more tightly controlled if not banned outright, and Catholic Marriage as a vocation more vigorously taught.

    The attitude that heterosexual marriages are jacked up, so that means letting homosexuals “get married” won’t cause any harm is, and I make no apologies for this statement…STUPID. You can quote me on that one.

  • Brian Cook

    Sadly, if you compare two sets of traditionalist rhetoric, interracial marriage and same-sex unions do seem to go hand-in-hand, whether or not they ever should have. Sadly, legalizing interracial marriage did seem to “violate the will of the people”. Sadly, skinheads on the West Coast and in Eastern Europe really have condemned and brutalized homosexual persons. Sadly, the likes of the Ku Klux Klan and Stormfront uphold themselves as champions of Nature and Nature’s God. Sadly, all of these statements are facts. How will we address those facts? I’m afraid that we must address those facts at large in order to make meaningful progress in witnessing to the Gospel. Thank you for hearing me out.

  • David W.

    Just because kooks happen to support the same things you do doesn’t mean the idea isn’t good. The Autobahn was a good idea, even if Hitler built it. As a man who is in an interracial relationship, I’m well aware of past attitudes on the subject. They are not the same, and anyone who attempts to equate them is either ignorant or trying to score a political point. The nature of marriage, as defined by the Church is not dependent on race…it was earthly prejudice rather than Church Teaching that barred interracial couplings. This important difference is lost on a lot of people apparently.

  • Brian Cook

    Thank you for your respectful and honest response, David.

  • Mary Jo Anderson

    Many thanks to all respondents. Good questions have been raised that ought to be addressed.

    Is there wiggle room? Can it really be *sinful* to take another position on the issue? Todd suggests I can do better. Fortunately, the Church already has done better, as quoted below.

    But first, may I ask readers to bear in mind the narrow focus of this one short column is the appropriate response for *faithful Catholics* to the same-sex “marriage” movement. (Later columns may address the health of marriage in our culture.)

    Simply stated, as Catholics we could soon face the difficult challenge of living faithfully in a culture that has legalized what we cannot support in actual, communal practice. What does this mean in practical application?

    Here are the instructions from Pope Benedict XVI when he was Prefect of the CDF:

    “In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection. “
    (Quote is from “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons”)

    “Clear and emphatic opposition is a duty” applies to each of us. The directive is specifically presented to include action in a secular/ legal situation. And a duty is not optional. Therefore to fail to give “Clear and emphatic opposition” is to
    own a sin of omission.

    It seems to me the prohibition against any “formal” and “material cooperation” means Catholics cannot vote for a candidate at the local, state or national level who would advance the same-sex union movement.

    The teaching adds that Catholics be about the business of “reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon (homosexuality) within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas…”

    If same-sex unions are legalized, not only will children be exposed to erroneous ideas about sex and marriage, they will be forced to learn it and facilitate it as a protected “right.”

    What will Catholic teachers in public schools do? Lawyers? Landlords? Day Care operators? Judges?

    On the comparison of laws against interracial marriage and laws concerning same-sex unions, the two are not analogous. One’s race is from God, an inherent facet of the person. Homosexual acts are not inherent; they are a chosen behavior, and the Church defines that behavior as “objectively disordered.”

    Besides, the point is not a “right” to marry, as it was when interracial marriages were questioned. Homosexual persons have the same right to marry as any other citizen. What they do not have is a right to redefine what marriage means.

  • Adriana

    On the subject, I got to listen to a liberal speaker make fun of the issue – about how religious conservatives talk about the coming election:

    “You lost your job. Your mother lost her home in the mortgage crisis. Your son was crippled in Iraq and the Army uses red tape to deny benefits. You have no health isnurance for your children. The price of gas is going through the roof, and so is the price of food….. But I got good news!

    “Yes?”

    “Gay marriage is still illegal”

    I left before he got to the point of mentioning geckos…

  • Charles Miller

    Mary Jo Anderson wrote: Homosexual persons have the same right to marry as any other citizen. What they do not have is a right to redefine what marriage means.

    That is absolutely the best way yet to characterize the objection to same sex marriage. One could expand it to homosexuality in general: Persons with homosexual inclinations have the right to be loved and prayed for, but not to be affirmed in their homosexuality.

    Love the sinner, hate the sin.

    Still works pretty well, even after all these years…

  • Todd

    “Homosexual persons have the same right to marry as any other citizen. What they do not have is a right to redefine what marriage means.”

    Many Americans, both on the left and right, seem fixated on the notion of “rights,” to the exclusion of the other side of the coin: responsibility.

    “What will you allow me to do? How do I stake my claim to a certain set of rights? How can I legally protect them?”

    I would suggest that while a SSA person may have the “right” to marry a person of the opposite sex, he or she has a responsibility not to do so. I certainly wouldn’t want to be married to a person with internal conflicts about sexual orientation. I wouldn’t want to see it happen to anyone.

    A minority of SSA people seek a legal, permanent commitment. Some may call it marriage. I might demur from doing so. But if a SSA couple chooses to imitate some of the spiritual and material benefits of marriage, I’ve yet to see anybody give a more convincing argument than, “That’s stupid.” For that matter, my sister chooses to house our elderly mother, why shouldn’t she lobby to reap some tax benefit from that? Our mother is in a home, not a nursing care facility. She is far less of a burden on society. My sister has embraced a certain responsibility. Who’s to say she should get married instead to reap a certain set of benefits in return?

    It may well be that the current political environment is so charged that a sane and reasonable discussion is near impossible. Even on this thread, we’ve got side comments on guns, stupidity, and truth commissions. It’s sort of like an ADD debate.

    I repeat my charge that the initial California measure, as titled, is a falsehood. At best, it covers an unproved connection, namely that SSA unions in some way harm marriage.

    Sad to say, I think the homosexual community is one up on Republican conservatives on this one. They’ve moved beyond the basic narcissism of “my rights.” They’ve embraced the responsibility of living together and are willing to work on sacrifice, commitment, and stability. Sounds a lot better than promiscuity, self-gratification, and isolation.

  • Peter Freeman

    I think Todd makes a worthwhile point, however, that many of us don’t feel adequately equipped to provide solid secular arguments against gay marriage. If things were operating as a true democracy, we wouldn’t really need such arguments though. It wouldn’t make a difference why people were voting a certain way, politicians would simply respond to the demands of the people.
    If I understand his comments, I think Todd is calling for consistency in our stance as Catholics. Our society has already legalized plenty of abuses to family and reproduction issues that Catholics don’t seem to get as excited about. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be emphatically against gay marriage…I’m saying we should be as emphatically against divorce, cohabitation, etc.

  • Brian Saint-Paul

    Following up on both Todd’s and Peter’s comments:

    While I certainly support traditional marriage, the religious right has taken the wrong approach to this, and is inadvertently responsible for a lot of the mess. There’s absolutely nothing in the Constitution that gives the Federal government authority over marriage, so when secularists began intruding on that ground, the faithful had three choices:

    1. Ignore the problem. Given the aggressive nature of the secularizing effort, this wasn’t a reasonable option.

    2. Take the rhetorical high ground by arguing that the state has no business overseeing marriage, and that it must leave the matter to the individual churches (and similar social institutions). There are 1001 ways inheritance rights can be handled without allowing the state to regulate marriage.

    3. Seize control of the government and use state power to promote and defend traditional marriage.

    Unfortunately for the faithful, the religious right chose option 3. While it wasn’t a surprising decision — that movement has never been classically conservative — it effectively conceded the idea that the state may rightly govern marriage.

    That strategy works… so long as you’re always in control of the government. But in a democracy, that’s never the case. And so when a liberal administration comes to D.C. (with a friendly Congress), they’re able to follow the pattern set by the religious right, and impose their definition of marriage on everyone else.

    Advocates for traditional marriage have no compelling grounds for complaint, beyond making theological arguments (which would have worked if they chose option 2, but hold no water in a secular forum) or dire sociological predictions.

    To put it differently, when the forces of traditional religion met the forces of secularism, the religious activists decided to abandon their best argument and retreat to lower ground. Now we suffer with the result.

  • Jason

    What time period are you pointing to when you say “when secularists began intruding on that ground, the faithful had three choices”? Because most of us acknowledge that the State has an interest in societal stability. State officials (JPs, judges, even captains of ships in loco patriae) have had the authority to perform marriage ceremonies since before the founding of our country.

    I don’t see a problem with the City of Man having a role in solemnizing / recognizing marriage contracts. How would you have it done?

  • Todd

    “Because most of us acknowledge that the State has an interest in societal stability.”

    If this is true, the state has an interest in greater stability among SSA citizens, and therefore should encourage permanent same-sex unions above the options of promiscuity or isolation. A happy society is a stable one, right?

  • Jason

    Todd wrote: A happy society is a stable one, right?

    I don’t know if you were being flip with that comment, but yes, happiness and the possibility of prosperity in a society require stability. Of course, you can’t achieve stability by doing evil (like killing all the unwanted, handicapped, deviant or funny-looking), but maintaining stability is certainly a good that the State should properly seek to achieve.

  • Brian Saint-Paul

    Jason wrote: What time period are you pointing to when you say “when secularists began intruding on that ground, the faithful had three choices”? Because most of us acknowledge that the State has an interest in societal stability. State officials (JPs, judges, even captains of ships in loco patriae) have had the authority to perform marriage ceremonies since before the founding of our country.

    Hey Jason,

    There’s an important difference between having the authority to perform a marriage and having the authority to define it for everyone else. The secularist encroachment I’m referring to isn’t just about marriage, but the full gamut of intrusions into the personal lives of the faithful. That’s been going on for a good while, though it heated up 30 years ago.

    It would have been much easier to defend the position that the government has no Constitutional business getting involved in these various areas (marriage, in this case). If the religious right had maintained the traditional conservative position that the state has no legal warrant here, we might be in a different situation right now.

    However, because the faithful ceded authority over marriage to the state, we are forced to accept increasingly liberalized divorce laws and soon-to-be realized same sex marriage. The entire institution is in collapse, as with so many things the government gets involved in. I don’t think my suggestion could have resulted in anything worse.

    Jason wrote: I don’t see a problem with the City of Man having a role in solemnizing / recognizing marriage contracts. How would you have it done?

    That’s just the thing. It does seem reasonable, but comes with a raft of unintended consequences. If the state has the authority over what is and is not recognized as marriage, then whoever is in charge of the state at the moment will get to define marriage as his or her politics demand. Protecting marriage in that kind of environment requires constant control of the state, which is just about impossible in a liberal democracy.

    As for how I’d do it, in broad strokes: Get the corruptive tentacles of the government out of the entire enterprise. Religious groups and comparable secular organizations (the Humanist Society, say) could define marriage as they understand it. Those areas of marriage that touch on public matters could easily be governed by contracts. For example, the Catholic Church’s marital contract would forbid divorce, same sex unions, polygamy, etc.

    And here’s the important thing…

    Because marriage would be outside governmental control, the Catholic Church could never be forced to recognize unions that violate Church teaching. Sure, the Humanists and Unitarians will claim to have their own gay marriages, but they’re already saying that. And unlike the current situation, they would never be able to force Catholics to accept their position.

    Ultimately, we all want to have a arrangement where Catholic marriage is protected from corruption by outside forces. Handing control to the government wasn’t the best way to do that.

  • Jay S

    Why is gay marriage wrong? Forget about the Bible, the doctrine of the Church or anything similiar. I can give you a very basic reason why gay marriage is wrong.

    What is the intrinsic reason for sex? Not pleasure. It is to reproduce the species. Nothing more. Sex is pleasureful so that we will want to reproduce. Not the other way around. Men and women are built differently really, you can tell just looking! How they got that way, by evolution, God, it doesn’t matter which for this discussion, but they are different, we can agree. Marriage just gives legal standing to affirm what is already found in nature.

    Gay marriage gives legal standing to something that is unnatural. (I think the Church has something to say about natural law, no?) Two homosexuals cannot, biologically have children. A black man/white woman can have children, which is why interracial marriage is OK, but not two homosexuals.

    Gay marriage just isn’t natural.

  • Donna

    Jay S.-
    I am not in favor of ‘gay marriage.’ However, I’m afraid the ‘it’s not natural’ argument won’t fly with a large percentage of people, who would simply respond ‘Heck, if we only did what was ‘natural’, we’d still be living in caves ! ‘ Also, I’m afraid the ‘homosexual people can’t have kids’ argument is dependent on our current technological status. Scientists are working on altering female cells so that they behave as if they were sperm, and have already ‘achieved’ this in experiments on mice. Once this technology gets to human beings, a lesbian couple will be able to have a child without any male involvement – not even the minimal involvement of a frozen sperm sample.

  • Brian Cook

    Sadly, some people continue to shout that interracial unions are unnatural because they fail to perpetuate nation and civilization. They say that the mere concept of bringing races together violate the separation of races in Nature. Moreover, even though the Nazi party had a few homosexual cliques, the Nazi government publicly condemned and outlawed everything even remotely homoerotic. How are we to address those facts?

    Also, Todd brings some very valid points that we should respect and address. I want to thank those of you who address his points respectfully. We need constructive dialog, not destructive harangues.

  • Mary Jo Anderson

    Quick clarifications:

    To point out that SSA persons have the same rights to marry as the rest of the citizenry, but not the right to redefine the elements/ definition of marriage, is NOT to suggest that SSA persons should marry irresponsibly. No one advocates that at all. But it is to say that the right to marry applies to all citizens equally. That some choose not to exercise that right (a personal decision) does not lead logically to giving them a special “right” to redefine the meaning of marriage–we will soon see this point hammered home when the polygamy lobby follows the SSU legalization movement, because, logically, if the meaning of marriage is open to redefinition, then why not a menage a trois? (such HAS been legalized in Holland as a civil union)

    Some strain a bit at the California “Defense of Marriage Act” bill’s title. Simply add the words “the definition of ” before the word “marriage” and then the truth of the title will be more precise.

    There are plenty of non-religious arguments in favor of natural marriage. Chief among them are the economic and health benefits for the members of natural families and for their communities–benefits that SSA pairs cannot duplicate. (think for a moment: IF any real benefits accrued to the nation/state from same-sex pairs, then some nation/state would have discovered it and promoted same-sex unions as a service to the nation. This has never happened because the opposite is true, it is a grave detriment to society.

    We have a better chance to prevent legalized SSU is we remove it from the category of “religious right” or “conservative Republican” ideals. ALL citizens will be affected by the social mayhem that will ensue if such unions are legalized. The definition of marriage, the meaning of marriage and the service marriage has rendered to society is not a right-left, religious-secular discussion. It is part of the homosexual agenda to frame the issue as a “conservative” or “religious” matter when in reality it is a social/economic/health/ concern.

  • Todd

    I thank Brian and others for a constructive dialogue. I will offer one last comment to this statement:

    “What is the intrinsic reason for sex? Not pleasure. It is to reproduce the species. Nothing more.”

    … then bow out.

    I fear this reduces human beings to mere animals. Now it is true we are animals, by a scientific definition. It is also true that a primary purpose of sex is procreation.

    However, human beings differ from animals in significant ways in our sexual make-up, and we should attend to those biological differences carefully, learning what we can from them in terms of both scientific fact, as well as the Creator’s intent in making us this way.

    In addition, marriage and sex have, in the sacramental perspective, additional reasons for being, and those beyond just the element of procreation.

    CCC 2361 gives the full Catholic teaching on sexuality as “not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person.” (Quoted in turn from Familiaris Consortio)

    To me, it is a troubling mystery why so many human beings are same-sex attracted. As a married heterosexual man, it is easy enough for me to adhere to Church teaching on sexuality, and even encourage other Catholics to do so.

    I’ve known many SSA people who strove heroically to live virtuous lives, some who have not, and others who have found a degree of comfort and spiritual connection in their innermost being by abjuring promiscuity and opting for a committed relationship. It’s easy for me to say I would not make that choice, were I in those shoes. It’s not too hard to promote Church teaching on this matter to those who are already believers.

    It’s less easy for me to deny someone else the opportunity, even if it should prove unfruitful morally or spiritually, to search for and seek a permanent union that provides for something of what I experience as a heterosexual family man. The comfort and spirituality of a family goes beyond pleasure for me. As many of you know, the joy of adoption has replaced any potential biological generativity for me and my wife. But the profound nature of being a father transcends mere biology.

    Every so often the majority in a society engages in certain tyrannies at the expense of minorities. The battle-cry that the majority has been ignored in this legal instance leaves me with great unease, given that the initial measure was tainted by a degree of falsehood.

    With respect to the bishops, I think Catholics would be better served by giving examples of “addition” as far as strengthening marriage is concerned, rather than supporting “subtraction.” The advantage of a theology of addition is that it becomes rich and full as we develop further the good aspects of marriage and family and can show that example to the unbelieving world. The disadvantage of a theology of subtraction is that if everybody contributes by that method, we’re left with a poverty of shalt-nots. We can hold ourselves to a higher standard and lead better by inspiration rather then legislation.

  • Joanne Kane

    We cannot put aside the Bible, the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church in this issue. Gay marriage is not right and no political stance or “feel-good about yourself” attitude will make it right. Marriage from the beginning of time has been between a man and a woman with the purpose of bringing forth life. This cannot be achieved with two persons of the same sex. Yes someone mentioned that science will eventually change that as well, there again, science is interfering where it does not belong. I agree with Mary Jo that we as committed Catholics are too afraid to speak out on what is right and we fear that others will look at us as religious fanatics. We must get out of our comfort zone and begin to speak out about the major issues of Life. I quote Mary Jo here and agree with her completely. “A faithful Christian cannot ignore the fact that natural marriage and the right to life are the twin pillars upon which all other societal goods are built.” As Christians, especially Catholics, our vote in November has to reflect our values in all things LIFE.

  • Zoe Romanowsky

    Jay S wrote: What is the intrinsic reason for sex? Not pleasure. It is to reproduce the species. Nothing more. Sex is pleasureful so that we will want to reproduce. Not the other way around.

    Jay S,

    This is not a Catholic view of sex — it is actually a Darwinian position (we evolved to find sex pleasurable so that we’d do more of it and propogate the species).

    You may want to do some reading on theology of the body. From the Catholic viewpoint, sex exists for both unitive and procreative ends. They can not be separated. Unitive is ordered to the good of the relationship itself – intimacy, bonding, the expression of love and service. Pleasure is not a means to an end, but a good unto itself.

  • David W.

    Todd,

    The questions are relatively simple.

    -What does the Church teach on Same sex attraction?
    -What does the Church teach on Same sex “marriage”?
    -What does the Church teach on Marriage in General?

    Answer those, and what a Catholic must do is perfectly clear. The Church opposes Same Sex “marriage”….We as Catholics are faith bound to oppose such efforts…PERIOD.

    There is no equivocating, hair splitting, explaining away or attempting to contort Church teaching to fit our own ideologies. I never said it was easy, I never said it was fun…but WE MUST OBEY. If anyone has an issue with that, they need to do a self check because…the Church, on matters of Faith and Morals, is Free of Error.

  • Mark Stricherz

    Brian writes,

    Someone wrote: There’s absolutely nothing in the Constitution that gives the Federal government authority over marriage, so when secularists began intruding on that ground, the faithful had three choices:

    1. Ignore the problem. Given the aggressive nature of the secularizing effort, this wasn’t a reasonable option.

    2. Take the rhetorical high ground by arguing that the state has no business overseeing marriage, and that it must leave the matter to the individual churches (and similar social institutions). There are 1001 ways inheritance rights can be handled without allowing the state to regulate marriage.

    3. Seize control of the government and use state power to promote and defend traditional marriage.

    Unfortunately for the faithful, the religious right chose option 3. While it wasn’t a surprising decision — that movement has never been classically conservative — it effectively conceded the idea that the state may rightly govern marriage.

    The federal government or state legislatures did not foist gay marriage upon the states. State judges did. Brian blames the wrong culprit.

  • Kathy

    I am a mother of a son who has been and continues to live the “gay lifestyle”. He is nearing forty, has aids and addictions. He is also living a hidden life since his addictions and aids are not known. By all appearances he seems happy and free in this lefestyle. A successful example of the modern day “Gay Man” we are trying to treat so fairly by being compassionate and caring about his rights. He is an aggressive advocate for the “rights” of homosexuals including his right to adopt…despite the above conditions…and also during times of sobriety extremely open about how truly destructive the lifestyle is and how damaged the majority of homosexually active people actually are. Homosexuality is a deeply rooted psychological condition. This fact has been hidden from us since the media is “pro gay” just as they are pro choice which like this issue has been presented as a good thing…kill the baby for the sake of the mothers’ right to choose but save the manatees and the gopher tortoises. I hope you get my point….we don’t use reason or think rationally in our world anymore. Gay Marriage is simply an oxymoron. Marriage is a union between one man and one woman who through complemenatarity sexual union procreate new life. It is designed to be fertile. Homosexual sex is non complementary sterile sexual activity which inherently exposes the participants to high risk of contracting and spreading serious and life threatenning diseases. That these truths and the science and facts to back them up can’t be openly diputed and discussed these days is the most convincing argumnet to me that the foundation of the culture has given way to sentiment and false values that embody only circular discussions. How do we c return to a day when people can think rationally again? The Truth is that way and the Catholic Church has that. We have been hoodwinked by the secular agenda whose goals are to dimantle our Truth and Values based on Jesus Christ and his teachings.The “ism” of this secular age has infected us before we even get to the “gay marriage” issue by removing our Christian values and replacing them with theirs. Their is a foreign language being spoken today and that is deeply disturbing to me. Mary Jo Anderson is speaking the language of truth and not hers but the one TRUTH, the one that sets all men free.

  • Beth

    Kathy—thank you for your post–I’ll pray for you and your son.

  • Jay S

    Brian makes the comment that the Nazi party had “a few homosexual cliques” is an understatement to say the least. The leader of the dreaded Stormtroopers (aka SA), Ernst Rohm was a very open homosexual. He was also like to rape young boys. Homosexuals were very much active in the rise of the Nazi party. Indeed, it could be stated that without the efforts of Rohn and his homosexual buddies, Hitler could have never come to power. Rohm was, after Hitler, the most powerful man in the Nazi party. Hitler saw him as a threat, and purged him and the other homosexuals in 1934.
    Homosexuals were only persecuted in Germany, unlike the Jews who were persecuted throughtout Europe. And unlike the Jews (6 million killed) or the Poles (3 million killed) or the Roma (750,000) killed, the homosexuals actually helped bring Hilter to power. By the way only 5,000 to 10,0000 at most homosexuals were killed in the Holocoust, less that the number of priests and nuns murdered by the Nazis.

  • RK

    Kathy offers some brilliant insights, surely borne in part from her own family’s trials. I believe she is absolutely correct that homosexual activity is an extremely dangerous (and suicidal) behavior. Unspeakable actions lead to deadly conditions. There is nothing natural about the actions. This is not to say that one shouldn’t have compassion for those struggling with the inclination, but to cross that line toward justifying homosexual behavior makes a mockery of mercy and compassion.

    The fact that we are now in a place where we need to discuss the merits of “homosexual marriage” indicates that the rhetorical battle has been lost. Rather than discuss the origins of a disordered appetite, we scramble to find rationalizations for societal breakdown. Rather than asserting the triumph of the Cross, we’re left flailing defensively as our opponent continues to sucker punch us into the gutter.

  • Richard Fitzgibbons, M.D.

    Research on same-sex unions demonstrate that they are markedly different from marriage in that exclusivity and permanency are not present or desired in the vast majority of these unions. Same-sex unions suffer a significantly higher prevalence of domestic abuse, depression, substance-abuse disorders, and sexually transmitted diseases. Also, the overwhelming body of well-designed research demonstrates that the healthiest environment for child development is a home with a mother and father who are married.

  • Brian

    But then how do we explain the fact that the Nazi government condemned and outlawed everything even romotely homoerotic? How do we explain its insistence that homosexual persons threaten reproduction? I regret that the Weisenthal Center’s Multimedia Learning Center is offline; it states both this fact and the fact that the party had homosexual cliques. Thus I can accept that the Nazi party’s position is inconsistent. I can also accept that a much smaller of homosexual persons were killed than Jews, Roma, and Catholics. However, to ignore either side of the reality runs the risk of ideologically charged dishonesty and invites attacks on the Gospel.

  • Melinda

    The Catholic Church teaches that all people, straight or gay, are to be respected. The Church also teaches that sex is to be between a man and a woman who are united in the sacrament of marriage.

    Therefore:
    If one is an unmarried heterosexual man or woman, no sex. And no marriage.
    If one is a homosexual, no sex. And no marriage.

    A mandate that is:
    1. Counter-cultural? Yes.
    2. Difficult? Yes.
    3. Requiring of self-control and self-denial? Yes.
    4. Chaste? Yes.

    One’s choices (and there are but two):
    1. Obey the teaching of the Church as a Catholic in good standing, following her teachings and doing all in one’s power by voice, vote, work, and example to see that society does so, too.
    2. Deny the teachings of the Church and leave her.

    Simplistic, huh? Yes, but true. Read the Catechism.

  • Brian Saint-Paul

    Mark Stricherz wrote: The federal government or state legislatures did not foist gay marriage upon the states. State judges did. Brian blames the wrong culprit.

    No dice, my friend. My bogeyman in this realm is the government in general — of which, the judiciary is certainly a branch.

    Here’s my point: If the state has the authority over what is and is not recognized as marriage, then whoever is in charge of the state at the moment will get to define marriage as his or her politics demand (expressed through legislation, judicial selections, etc.).

  • Jeannine

    Brian Saint-Paul wrote: [quote=Mark Stricherz] The federal government or state legislatures did not foist gay marriage upon the states. State judges did. Brian blames the wrong culprit.

    No dice, my friend. My bogeyman in this realm is the government in general — of which, the judiciary is certainly a branch.

    Here’s my point: If the state has the authority over what is and is not recognized as marriage, then whoever is in charge of the state at the moment will get to define marriage as his or her politics demand (expressed through legislation, judicial selections, etc.).
    [/quote]
    Here’s the problem, Brian. The Constitution doesn’t define marriage as a union of one man and one woman because at the time that the document was written, the definition of marriage was well-established by custom and by common law. I doubt that the founders thought that such an idea as “gay marriage” would ever be seriously proposed.

    It’s a very, very recent idea that the state has the right to intrude into every aspect of life. That’s an essentially totalitarian idea. The difficulty is that our constitutional republic wasn’t designed as a totalitarian state, so when those who want to run it that way get power–legislative, judicial, or executive, at whatever level–ordinary, honest citizens are surprised: What?? They want to do WHAT?? How can they get away with THAT??

    I don’t think it is as easy to separate marriage from the state and from civil society as you think. Do you really want marriage to be purely a “religious” matter, so that there is one “marriage” for Catholics and another for everyone else? What would be the legal status of such an institution? Moreover, if we believe that Catholicism is true, then we are consigning the rest of society to live in a manner that is destructive to society as a whole and to the members of society in particular. Laws relating to marriage have a long history and are not in themselves totalitarian. As long as the government respects “the democracy of the dead,” as Chesterton called it, that is, human tradition, the concept of laws relating to marriage is not a problem.

    I think the problem is that government now is overreaching, yes, but we can hardly blame that on the “religious right.” Christians and Catholics who are trying to defend the truth about human nature may be on the defensive because of the aggressive efforts to deconstruct marriage, but this isn’t primarily their fault. The fault here lies with those who think that government fiat can change human nature and who also think that they have the right to use government power to re-make society and all its institutions as they choose.

    The duty of the government is to protect civil society, including the family. Yes, government should let the family alone. Unfortunately, we can’t stop the people who want a new definition of the family and of marriage without pursuing political goals. Sorry, this is the real world we’re dealing with here.

  • joe

    Cdl. O’Connor was fond of the phrase “the law is Society’s great teacher.”

    What this meant, simply, is that if something that falls outside the scope of what the Church defines as acceptable will eventually find acceptance even within Catholics. A classic case is divorce and the laws pertaining thereto. Once “drive-through” divorce became a legal reality, society suffered, traditional marriage suffered and even Catholics, swayed by the general tenor of the times, joined right along.

    So it was with abortion, and so it will be with same-sex marriages.

    Compounding the issue is the, er, enuretic response from too many bishops, whose statements can be distilled down to “Oh, dear. Oh, my.”

    It is all too easy to not want to be called a “hater” by religious bigots (seeing as they hold sway over the popular media) for simply asking not to redefine traditions and institutions to suit the whims of the age.

    AMDG,

    -J.

  • epbetasso

    It is clear that the Nitzchean court’s will-to-power wants not merely normalized homosexuality, but CRIMINALIZE parent’s rights.

  • Karen

    Here’s a secular argument: I now live in a state where the public schools won’t let my son say “Mom” because it’s a hate crime. The world has lost it’s mind.

    See, I didn’t mention religion once.

  • Karen

    Here’s a secular argument: I now live in a state where the public schools won’t let my son say “Mom” because it’s a hate crime. The world has lost it’s mind.

    See, I didn’t mention religion once.

  • tom

    The very simple political solution that no one has put forth is for the government to get out of the marraige business. They should recognize *no* religious marraige ceremony, and instead make all couples (regardless of their sexuality) obtain a civil union. That way, the sacrament of marraige gets (pardon the pun…) divorced from the governmental social contract.

    I dont care if gay pairs get united civilly in order to obtain civil rights and such…. just dont call it marraige.

    It really is that simple.

  • Joseph

    Both Obama and McCain are evil. Both have not repented. Obama does not want to repudiate his pro-abortion stance. McCain does not want to repudiate his adulterous marriage by leaving his current partner. Neither of them can be trusted to run the country. One who is open to killing babies can’t be trusted. One who can’t be faithful to his wife and has stayed in an adulterous relationship for so long can’t be trusted either.

    No to both of them. None deserve the Catholic vote.

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