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  • Countering Christian Support for Gay Marriage

    by Joshua Brotherton

    macklemore_gay

    The victory recently granted the gay lobby by the U.S. Supreme Court parallels a particularly disturbing shift in public opinion toward tolerance for the idea of “homosexual marriage.”  More than by such political maneuvers, however, the popular consciousness (which also affects Christians) seems to be influenced (often unconsciously) by the crafty use of artistic skill like that displayed in the new and wildly popular pop song by rapper Macklemore and singer-songwriter Mary Lambert, “Same Love.”  The song’s lyrics articulate a thought pattern that already deeply pervades society. (I have personally encountered it at universities, churches, pubs, and family gatherings.)  This essay seeks to challenge those Christians who may find themselves influenced by this recent tidal wave of societal pressure, to ask themselves this question: Can a Christian in good conscience support governmental approbation of sexual activities traditionally thought to incur divine wrath—even when they take place within the bounds of legally sanctioned same-sex “marriage”?

    Some Christians may take the political attitude of then Democrat Party presidential candidate Barrack Obama, at a town hall meeting with Rick Warren (and then Republican candidate, John McCain), when he responded to another hot-button ethical issue (the question of life’s beginning) with the infamous “that is above my pay grade.” Others have evidently already yielded to the temptation to dismiss biblical arguments against homosexuality with the flippant “we paraphrase a book written thirty-five hundred years ago.”  And yet many of these same Christians do not want to relinquish the ideal of gospel charity; for example, the concluding verses of “Same Love” are from Paul’s hymn of charity in 1 Cor. 13.  Macklemore’s song thus attempts to give a “Christian” voice to the popular civil rights mantra of equality of race, gender, and sexual orientation, as if the last was equivalent to the first two. The thought that is conveyed with such powerful sentiment is precisely that homosexuals too have the right to marry the ones they love.

    The numerous logical errors and historical inaccuracies that the rap song contains will be ignored here in order to focus on the heart of the issue, the coherence (or lack thereof) between the ideal of “equal marriage rights” and the morally relevant word of God. Obama, a professed Christian, has joined Macklemore in taking moral positions that directly contradict the clear and explicit teachings of divine revelation. This essay seeks to respond to this cultural pressure by correcting such prevalent and mortal misappropriations of Christian revelation held by so many self-identified “believers.”  Hopefully, Christians who have not yet encountered, but are open to, strong reasons for opposing “equal marriage rights” will once more be prepared “to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope that is in them” (1 Peter 3:15).

    Christians and Divine Revelation
    It is the common understanding of many “Christians” more or less influenced by the gay lobby (like “religious” abortion advocates) that one’s personal religious position on such ethical matters should not be imposed on others—the mortal assumption here is that opposition to immoral behavior is merely a “personal religious opinion.” In contrast, Christian revelation clearly indicates that there is an inviolable moral law inscribed in the very nature of things that is accessible to all men, regardless of their religious persuasion. Such fundamental ethical questions can be answered with rational moral argument without the aid of divine revelation, even if the latter adds clarity and ease to the process.

    The Catholic understanding of revelation is not that every word of Scripture was dictated to the human writers (as in fundamentalist Christianity and Islam), but neither is it simply that the Scriptures are “inspiring” books written merely by human beings.  The books in our “Bible” were deemed “divinely inspired” by the bishops in the 4th and 5th centuries because they were known to be faithful accounts of the words and deeds of Christ.  The apostles and early disciples of Christ, witnesses to the resurrection, are the trusted authorities on Christ’s message of salvation.  The Scriptures are a theological record of divine interventions in the ordinary history of events intended to communicate truths necessary for salvation.  Man is not the measure of truth; if I truly accept the Christian tradition as divine revelation, then I must conform my mind and heart to the entire message proclaimed, rather than seek to adapt the message to fit my own preferences.

    What makes it possible for Christians to be ambivalent toward, let alone supportive of, homosexual relations is the loss of a sense of divine revelation, which clearly endorses what becomes called “natural law” (see Romans 1).  A Christian cannot believe that homosexual acts are permissible, unless there is a fundamental misunderstanding of revelation, or more likely, a crisis in faith regarding its existence.  If I truly believe in divine revelation, I will seek to understand why the Christian faith designates homosexual acts as immoral, despite the goodness I observe in homosexual friends, rather than attempting to rationalize my own prejudice against what is “thirty-five hundred years [old].”  As most of us are mixtures of depravity and greatness, there is no contradiction in condemning a behavior and loving the person who engages in it.

    When it comes to ethical issues like homosexuality, Macklemore (and the many he represents) display a reluctance to listen to arguments from Scripture (all-the-while quoting it when convenient), and the reason indicated for this seems to be the belief that many things in Scripture are no longer worthy of belief and inapplicable to today’s world.  This assumption is based on an (inherited) fundamentalist approach to the texts, a hermeneutic anyone would judge to be faulty if he or she took the time to critique such methodology (or lack thereof).  Anyone attempting to understand a complex text like the Scriptures must examine the rules of interpretation that he or she has already (often unconsciously) opted to utilize.

    Equal Rights in Scripture
    Here follow two instances of New Testament text that are often badly interpreted and thus lend support to those who favor abandoning the notion that every page of Scripture is inspired by the Spirit.  The uncritical often assume that St. Paul supported slavery because he exhorts the virtue of obedience to slaves (e.g., Eph. 6:5).  But not only does he acknowledge the equality of slaves and freemen before God (e.g., Col. 3:11) and exhort slaveholders to practice justice (Col. 4:1), he also advocates the freedom and equality of Onesimus, whom he made his “son” (Philemon 10, 16).  Rather than condoning the social practice of slavery, Paul adapts the gospel to the concrete historical-cultural context of the time—the apostles were not sent forth to initiate social reforms (even if social justice is a task that develops later in Church history in accord with the movements of the Spirit), but to preach the gospel.  Christ’s obedience to the will of the Father is a model for everyone in any circumstance.

    Another common misperception of New Testament doctrine is that it maintains an antiquated notion of women as unequal and therefore subordinate to men.  John Paul II, in his Theology of the Body in particular, made great strides in debunking such an interpretation with his exegesis of mutual subjection in the Pauline literature, grounded in Jesus’ own words on marriage.  Not only must Colossians 3:18-19 be viewed through the more complete text of Ephesians 5:21, but I might add that if one considers the predisposition natural to women, which everyone acknowledges (if fear of offending does not inhibit), to be “bossy” from the time they are little, it is appropriate for the submissive dimension of virtue to be emphasized as a counter-weight to such an inclination (which, nevertheless, when tempered certainly serves a good use), and it is likewise fitting to emphasize for men the need to “be not harsh,” as testosterone inspires destruction (again, something with a natural purpose when moderated).  Interestingly enough, 1 Corinthians 11:7 says “woman is the glory of man” in the same breath in which it is said to be unfitting for men to cover their heads since they are “the image and glory of God.”  Does Paul really mean that women must cover their heads because they are not “the image and glory of God”?  Hardly.  If man is the glory of God and woman is the glory of man, then is not woman the crowning glory of God’s creation, humanity?

    One insight I gained from Dr. Scott Hahn on this topic is that Eve, a foretaste of the Blessed Virgin, is the crown of creation (hence the beauty that radiates from a woman’s hair can distract men from worship) since “what is last in execution is first in intention.”  Alluding to the gospel maxim, “the first shall be last and the last shall be first,” when Paul reminds us that woman was created from man and for man, not vice versa, he adds: “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God” (11-12). None of this is to say that the disciplines promoted even on the pages of Holy Writ are to be preserved as if immutably applicable.  Rather, the doctrine that is being conveyed by the Spirit even through a man with his own cultural biases, certainly, can be discerned by those with eyes of faith and the critical acumen that develops out of it.

    Finally, homosexuals (e.g., comedian Josh Thomas) will often say that the Bible teaches us to stone them, citing Leviticus 20, neglecting all the other sins that are also listed as deserving of death.  They forget that Christians believe the old covenant was imperfect “because of the hardness of [their] hearts” (Mt. 19:8); while the Old Testament permits divorce, for example, Jesus explicitly overrules this law, forbidding divorce (e.g., Mt. 5:31, Mt. 19:7ff).  The relationship between old and new testaments (or covenants) is a complex theological question.  The implicit reference to Leviticus 20 at the end of Romans 1, in fact, points to the need to interpret the ancient prohibition through the lens of the New Testament understanding of law and sin.  One point on that: 1 John 5 says there are sins that are deadly (i.e., “mortal” sins) and others that are not.  Hence, the Spirit intends to convey through Paul that homosexual acts are deserving of spiritual death; and there are many other kinds of acts that qualify for the same (see, for example, 1 Cor. 6: 9-11).  Even though there are customs even in the New Testament that need not be maintained, there is a great difference between something like the suitability of women wearing veils in church and the intrinsic immorality of homosexual acts.  Whoever wishes to accept homosexual relations as licit, to be consistent, must be willing to do the same for murder, adultery, witchcraft, debauchery, drunkenness, and every other condemned behavior (see 1 Tim. 1: 8-11).  What sense does it make for a Christian to empty the word of God of any and all relevance to morality today?

    Romans 1 is the most pointed text indicating where God stands on homosexual relations because it addresses the reasons for their immorality and for their very existence.  St. Paul says that men stop believing in God when they turn away from the evidence of creation itself and end up worshiping something else in His stead.  The idolatry prevalent in the Roman Empire (the “deadly sin” of 1 Jn. 5) is the reason he assigns for the existence of gay and lesbian sexual relationships, which he says contradict the natural “use” male has for female and female for male.  The message of this passage is neither antiquated nor “thirty-five hundred years [old].”  The situation at that time in the Roman Empire is very similar to the situation now in the United States.  His argument hinges on the existence of a moral law inscribed into the very structure of the created order.  No historical, scientific, or cultural change can affect the time-independent nature of such a philosophical claim.

    The Natural Reasons for the Moral Condemnation of Homosexual Acts
    Homosexual marriage is an impossibility in the religious or theological sense both because divine revelation excludes it as a possibility and because, as God does not contradict the order He instilled in creation, the sexual expression of romantic love that is integral to marriage as a natural phenomenon is itself immoral when pretended by homosexual partners.  The former reason has been elucidated by briefly addressing scriptural interpretation, and thus it remains to argue against the morality of homosexual relations from reason (having been impelled by Romans 1 to do so).  Firstly, if the natural purpose of sex is propagation of the species, then homosexual relations contradict the natural purpose of sex, given that homosexual relations are intrinsically incapable of propagating the species.  And if homosexual relations contradict the natural purpose of sex, then they impede homosexual persons from fulfilling their own reason for existing because actions that contradict their own natural purpose (or reason for existing in nature) impede the person acting from fulfilling his or her own purpose (or reason for existing).

    Secondly, if romantic love occurs in human beings when there is physical and psychical complementariness, then male-female relations are the natural context in which romantic love occurs since man and woman naturally complement one another both physically and psychically.  And if the natural expression of romantic love is sex and male-female relations are the natural context in which romantic love occurs, then sex as a natural expression of romantic love occurs naturally in the context of male-female relations.  Thirdly, when the sexual act is isolated from its procreative capacity, it is performed for reasons of pleasure alone, and since homosexual relations have no capacity for procreation, homosexual acts are performed for reasons of pleasure alone.  And if sexual acts that are incapable of procreation, which includes homosexual acts, are performed for pleasure alone, then homosexual acts are selfish by their very nature since acts that are performed for pleasure alone are by definition selfish. In short, homosexual acts cannot reflect the mutual self-giving that constitutes the essence of romantic love for human beings; no one has the right to do what is harmful either to oneself or to others (and the mass endorsement of such in the name of love is most harmful on society as a whole).

    Of course, these arguments do not directly concern the political dimension of the question about whether homosexuals should have access to the same legal benefits (e.g., tax credits) that are afforded heterosexual couples.  What I have sought to do instead is address the question of homosexual relations from an ethical standpoint, and particularly one that is based in Christian revelation, because both media propaganda and governmental sanctions have created an atmosphere in which Christians feel compelled to compromise the moral ideals that have informed them to a greater or lesser extent for the sake of accommodating a campaign of “equal marriage rights.”  Christians who have experience with homosexuals of apparently decent character are thereby inclined to question the relevance of some scriptural dicta.

    Without the foundation of a firm unequivocal faith in divine revelation it is difficult for many to be persuaded that some do not have the right to marry whomever they so desire.  The retrieval of the sense of faith in revelation is thus one important way to discover the authentic meaning of marital love that is in accord with the reality of human nature.  Of course, this kind of talk is impugned as religious “hate speech” by those who fail to take into account the reasons given for the moral ideals inherent to Christian faith. Christian revelation impels us to invoke both natural and supernatural reasons for maintaining the integrity of marriage against all immoral capitulation to “progress,” however tempting.

    Editor’s note: Pictured above is rapper Macklemore (a.k.a. Ben Haggerty).

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • James

      A small number of gay couples want legal rights and social acceptance. Many (straight) Christians are hesitant to condemn something they don’t understand based on an ambiguous passage of scripture. (C.S. Lewis deliberately said nothing about homosexuality because he had no temptation toward it.) Furthermore, Protestants generally interpret Romans 1 as being about the fallen nature of man, not a revelation of Natural Law. Finally, denying tax breaks and inheritance rights to a couple (what civil marriage is about) and socially ostracizing couples who want them doesn’t seem very Christian.

      But what most people don’t understand is that gay marriage isn’t about gay people, but about straight people wanting to redefine marriage. No more than 10% of the population is gay (most surveys put the number at less than 5%) and an even smaller number is interested in marriage. So how did gay marriage gain the support of a majority in certain states?

      I see it as a culmination of decades of the social elite wanting to strip marriage of its meaning. How long have the social elites told us that companionate marriage, easy divorce, “open marriage”, “trial marriage”, sexual experimentation, cohabitation, and now “childfree” marriage are the answer? How many have said that marriage is an oppressive institution? Gay marriage means social acceptance of the “new” meaning of marriage over the old.

      • Rock St. Elvis

        Your last paragraph is spot on. Gay “marriage” would be unthinkable without the precedents you list.

      • Steve Frank

        Your accurate assessment also underscores the utter hypocrisy of the social elites when it comes to their present day love affair with the idea of “same sex marriage”. Starting with the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the message of liberals and social elitists was that marriage was an outdated and oppressive institution. “It’s just a silly piece of paper” the baby boomers said to their dismayed parents as many of that generation chose cohabitation over marriage. And they were egged on by social elitists who mocked marriage as a bourgeois institution. Back then of course, the idea of “same sex marriage” was an absurdity, even to liberals. But today, now that marriage has become a “gay” issue, it seems that the social elitists have had a complete change of heart. They’ve decided that that silly “piece of paper” as they called it, is now so important that any gay couple left without one is the equivalent of an oppressed black living in the Jim Crow South. Today the same elite class who mocked marriage when it was an exclusively heterosexual institution, are telling us that same sex marriage is a good thing because it will strengthen society by encouraging stable families. Evidently, the elitists have decided that the 1950s model of marriage and family is not so bad after all, as long it’s Ozzie and Harry instead of Ozzie and Harriet. Of course, we know the whole thing is a charade. Modern day elitists are feigning respect for the institution of marriage as a means to an end. In order to sway public opinion in support for same sex marriage, they must pretend that they now think marriage is a good thing. Their ultimate agenda is not same sex marriage itself. It’s to abolish all traditional sexual mores including all moral opposition to homosexuality. Same sex marriage is just a stepping stone to that end. Once same sex marriage is legal everywhere and the issue becomes “settled”, liberals and social elitists will go back to telling us what they REALLY think about marriage (that it’s oppressive, stifles human potential, blah blah blah).

        • James

          When asked about the meaning and purpose of marriage, many heterosexual leftists will readily admit that they believe that it is a repressive institution that must be radically altered and that gay marriage is a means to that end. Their hope is that a non-differentiated union with no inherent connection to procreation will become the social norm for marriage.

          While nearly all gay people want the right to get married, I have found that relatively few want it for themselves or see it as appropriate to their relationships. Of the gay couples I know, including several stable couples, only one has chosen to get married. One of the women in this couple is so masculine, I suspect there may be some biological intersexuality or similar disorder involved. They act far more like a heterosexual couple than a same-sex one.

          • Bob

            I remember reading an article that Canada has now had legalized gay marriage for ten years. But apparently only (approximately) 17% of homosexuals take adavantage of the law and get “married”, while 75% of heterosexuals get hitched.

          • vorpal

            Same sex married for nearly 10 years. Both my husband and I are very traditionally masculine: no one ever suspects we are gay, and everyone who meets us thinks that we are brothers.

            Our marriage is the most valuable thing in the world to us. It is not just a piece of paper.

      • Joshua

        I do not know of any “ambiguous” passages on homosexuality…they’re pretty straight-forward, and of course gays do not appeal to them, because their actions are there condemned. Not all Protestants reject “natural law.” But the ones who do are clearly ignoring Paul’s words: man knows by looking at creation that God has made man male and female with a “natural use” for one another – it’s that simple (people often misunderstand the term “natural law”). In the original draft of this essay I did, in fact, comment on marriage being emptied of its procreative and life-long dimensions as the condition of possibility for the present homosexual agenda, but that is not the focus of this essay. The situation I’m addressing is the “Christian” who justifies support or ambivalence toward gay marriage by claiming that the scriptural teaching is antiquated or irrelevant (or for that matter, ambiguous).

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          Certainly, Protestants of the Reformed tradition give “natural law” a very limited rôle. To take a typical example, “The law of nature has only one purpose: namely to make man inexcusable before God. Since it becomes manifest in the dictates of conscience, the latter too has no other object but that of depriving man of the pretext of ignorance and making clear his responsibility before the judgment of God. All this, however, does not imply that in this way man can attain a real knowledge of the divine will. ‘As man is enclosed by the darkness of error, the natural law gives him scarce an inkling of the kind of service which is pleasing to God.’ The ability to distinguish between good and evil have ceased to be healthy and intact in the mind of fallen man”

          Pascal was of the same mind, “Thus, without Scripture, which has only Jesus Christ for its object, we know nothing and see only obscurity and confusion in God’s nature and ours.”

          • James

            That’s what I was getting at. Many Protestants of the Reformed tradition recognize the natural law, but in the same breath declare its insufficiency and even irrelevance to the believer.

            One of the key beliefs of this school of Protestantism is the depravity of man and the insufficiency of human reason to find God. While Aquinas asserted that there can be no conflict between faith and reasons, Reformed Christianity asserts (to various degrees) that human reason is dangerously flawed and that only faith is trustworthy. This is the Protestant interpretation of Romans 1 that I was referring to.

            As such, there is no reason to delve into any theories of what the natural law is or why such acts are against it. Paul’s scriptural condemnation is all that matters.

            This gets into a problem with Romans 1:26, which is ambiguous. Is the “that which is contrary to nature” unnatural heterosexual activity (the same unnatural act the men are engaging in) or lesbian activity? Most pre-20th century commentators said the former (which I would agree with), while most modern commentators say the latter. In the Catholic tradition, both are contrary to natural law and Paul’s exact meaning is not important.

            (Pascal was a Jansenist, which was essentially a Catholic version of Reformed Protestantism. Jansenism was officially condemned as heresy after Pascal’s death.)

            C.S. Lewis said he lived in a nation of “apostate Puritans”. I think this applies even more to the modern United States than Lewis’s Britain.

            • Steve Frank

              Romans 1:26 is only ambiguous if you detach it from verse 27 which says “in the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another”. Where does this passage say anything about heterosexual activity? There is no ambiguity here. Which is why until very recently no scholar or theologian ever understood this passage as talking about anything other than homosexuality. Ambiguity was not claimed until cultural pressure to accept homosexuality began to intensify. Now the most ridiculously strained interpretations are being foisted upon biblical texts in order to make a politically incorrect Christian teaching go away.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              James

              Pascal was heavily influenced by Jansenism, but much of his thinking was orthodox and Augustinian and his reservations about Natural Law became part of a great debate in the last century.

              Thus, in the memorable exchange in 1910, in Maurice Blondel’s magazine, L’Annales de philosophie chrétienne, the Oratorian Lucien Laberthonnière, accused the Jesuit Descoqs of being influenced by “a false theological notion of some state of pure nature and therefore imagined the state could be self-sufficient in the sense that it could be properly independent of any specifically Christian sense of justice.”

              Maurice Blondel himself insisted that we must never forget “that one cannot think or act anywhere as if we do not all have a supernatural destiny. Because, since it concerns the human being such as he is, in concreto, in his living and total reality, not in a simple state of hypothetical nature, nothing is truly complete (boucle), even in the sheerly natural order”

              Jacques Maritain, too, declared that “the knowledge of human actions and of the good conduct of the human State in particular can exist as an integral science, as a complete body of doctrine, only if related to the ultimate end of the human being . . . the rule of conduct governing individual and social life cannot therefore leave the supernatural order out of account.” He also said, “Man is not in a state of pure nature, he is fallen and redeemed. Consequently, ethics, in the widest sense of the word, that is, in so far as it bears on all practical matters of human action, politics and economics, practical psychology, collective psychology, sociology, as well as individual morality,—ethics in so far as it takes man in his concrete state, in his existential being, is not a purely philosophic discipline”

              It was this insistence that united such disparate thinkers as Blondel, Maréchal, the Dominicans, Chenu and Congar and the Jesuits, Lubac and Daniélou.

      • redfish

        I always think its a mistake when people on either side of the debate make this about gay people, when there won’t be a “gay test” in order to enter a same-sex marriage. And there shouldn’t be. The state shouldn’t check if you’re having sex with each other; its not their business. There will be plenty of people in fraternal or sororal relationships who would find use of the contractual and legal benefits. It’ll serve the same purpose as “brotherships” and “sisterships” did when they existed in the legal code. “Same love.” Fraternal love is a type of love, too. Sex doesn’t make love more love. As much as gay people are being discriminated against, so are straight people.

        So, the question is not about “gay rights”, that’s a red herring, but what the purpose of marriage is, and whether this change undermines the purpose or serves the public better.

        • James

          I have no problems with non-conjugal civil unions and, AFAIK, neither does the Church.

          That being said, civil marriage is legally little more than a civil union already. In many states it is not necessarily even a conjugal union.

          • redfish

            Either way, I think the debate needs to move away from homosexuality. There are legitimate disagreements on the morality of sex, and the psychology of sexuality, but I don’t think marriage directly has to do with sexuality.

            Catholics are right when they put the focus on child-rearing and raising a family. The main civil purpose for marriage is centered around children; whether natural children or adopted children. Even in the aspect where benefits are given to the spouse, its on the assumption that one spouse will stay home to raise the kid, while the other will go to work. The spouse staying home needs some type of support. If both spouses can work, this isn’t an issue. A large number of secular people still take the Catholic position that a child should have a mother and father. Whether the same-sex couple is gay or straight is a non-issue. The issue is that they’re same-sex.

            Personally, I think these policy issues can all be dealt separately. Even if same-sex marriage is introduced, we could have legislation that prevents discrimination against adoption agencies that give preference to mothers and fathers. We could make it more difficult to exit a marriage where children are involved, and less difficult to when there are no children.

            But in order to have a real debate (and a productive one) we have to focus on the real issues. ‘Gay rights’ is not the real issue.

            • Adam__Baum

              ” I don’t think marriage directly has to do with sexuality.”

              Not married, are you?

              • redfish

                I am talking about it from a legal perspective. You don’t need a contract to commit to a monogamous relationship. You do need a contract because of all the legal issues that come around raising a child.

                Juvenal made fun of the idea of same-sex marriage in Roman times based on the idea that it wouldn’t lead to children.

                • Adam__Baum

                  I’ll take that as a “no”.

                  Seriously, when I read ” I don’t think marriage directly has to do with sexuality.”, I literally burst out laughing.

                  Nor is it a “contract”, Martin Luther.

                  • redfish

                    Well, no, I’m not. But if I were married, and said that marriage was directly about starting a family, and only indirectly about sexuality, what would you say? If I’m only planning to marry a woman if I’m ready to start a family with her, what difference would it make if I’m actually married or not.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      I’d say you are very confused in general, and especially about the “birds and bees”.

                      • redfish

                        I do think most people when they get married, imagine the person they marry is whom they’ll have kids with. Birds and bees, on the other hand, don’t get married.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        “Birds and bees, on the other hand, don’t get married.”

                        It’s way past the time, but you need to have “the talk”.

                        Your role will be to listen, attentively.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              Redfish

              That is precisely what the great French jurist, Jean Carbonnier meant, when he said, “The heart of marriage is not the couple, but the presumption of paternity.”

              The Civil Code contains no definition of marriage, but generations of jurists have found a functional definition in the rule that “The child conceived or born during the marriage has the husband for father”

              • redfish

                I think marriage, historically, has had far ranging purposes than that. For example, it used to be that if a husband left her in the middle of a marriage, she would find it difficult to remarry, and lead an impoverished life. A similar thing would happen to a woman that was left by her husband early on in marriage for reason of infertility. That’s one reason, among many others, the Church has historically opposed divorce.

                But even that is centered around the fact of child-bearing. That type of situation arose because a woman, pregnant or with child, would stay at home with the child and tend to the domestic sphere, and that placed her in a different position, socially and economically, than the husband. Women and men, because of their differences, but most especially because of their roles as mothers and fathers, had different social responsibilities.

                So the many purposes marriage has had have all been derived from the fact that men and women come together and have children.

                • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                  “But even that is centered around the fact of child-bearing” Precisely.

                  As the philosopher and staunch atheist, Bertrand Russell wrote, “But for children, there would be no need of any institution concerned with sex. it is through children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution.”

            • CrissCross

              “We could make it more difficult to exit a marriage where children are involved”

              Why?
              In many cases, preventing the dissolution of a marriage can be more damaging to the children than allowing it. Preventing it could expose the children to sustained conflict over a prolonged period of time. When a sustained conflict between two parents is entrenched in the psyche of the children it influences and dominates their own concept of parental roles & parenting itself, carrying the conflict forward to when they are parents, exposing future generations to the extended conflict.

              In some cases the dissolution can be less damaging, especially those in which the dissolution is structured appropriately.

              Preventing or hindering divorce is simply a mechanism of enforcing an ideal.
              Should the ideal be compulsory? Can it be?
              No idealized Utopia has ever succeeded, all have sunk into flaw and disunity.

              Look into the family trees of most people today and lurking in the 19th century there will be some shady character who jumped on a ship and fled to far flung lands, leaving family behind, and starting an all new life. The damage left behind was still there.
              Preventing or banning or legislating against divorce, achieves nothing. It still happens, only in a much more messy and damaging manner.
              Managing it in a carefully structured legislated framework is the safest and least damaging path for society as a whole.

              • redfish

                I didn’t even say it should be made harder; its just that if you have no children, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be easier than it is. In fact, things like alimony make a lot less sense. If there have never been children in a relationship, divorce should be quick and easy.

                As to making it harder, there’s such a thing as a ‘covenant marriage’ someone can enter in some states, where some type of couples therapy is a requirement before a divorce. Its true that if parents continue to have open conflict it could have negative effect on the child, but you talk about it as an inevitability they’ll fight, when its entirely a choice.

        • Joshua

          according to traditional Christian social doctrine, the state has not only the right but the duty to do what it can to foster morality and prohibit immorality, particularly (in our day) when the good of others is at stake.

          • redfish

            That’s fine. There’s a question then whether marriage makes couples act monogamous, which is questionable, given the divorce rate. There’s also a question on whether not having marriage for gay couples prevents them from having sex.

            The way morality has lined up with marriage laws, imo, is by centering on the role of child-bearing. Traditional Christian belief is that sex is about child-bearing, and marriage has been about child-bearing, and there you go. Sex outside of marriage was handled separately in law, with laws against fornication and adultery and sodomy, under penalties of things like jail time.

            • Joshua

              the piece does not really concern the political dimension of the question (i.e., who should get tax credits for what). it concerns the morality of government endorsed homosexual relations and whether a Christian can support homosexuality in any sense (the answer is no). i do think there’s an argument to be made for setting apart heterosexual marriage as a special kind of loving relationship, one major purpose of which is child-rearing, yes, but if you think the argument can be won on that front, you’re wrong (there will more and more focus now by the gay lobby on producing studies that “show” children do just as well if not better being raised by a “community,” not needing two opposite-sex partners as parents.

              • redfish

                Yes, but as I said, a same-sex couple doesn’t need to be gay, they could have a fraternal, rather than romantic relationship. And even a gay couple doesn’t need to be having sex. So, even if there were same-sex marriage, it wouldn’t need to be an endorsement of homosexual relationships.

                But I’m not arguing against the Catholic position that marriage be restricted to couples of men and women. I’m just pointing out the essential thing about the relationship between men and women is that they can have children. Its not that, absent children, sex between different genders is more moral. Its that sex between different genders produces children.

                • Joshua

                  actually homosexual relations are more disordered than heterosexual relations outside of marriage or its procreative purpose because it also violates the truth of man as male and female, not just that sex ought to be procreative (see the arguments above). and if any kind of relationship should be able to count as legal marriage, then the lifelong commitment between man and woman is not recognized as the special kind of relationship that it is.

                  • tamsin

                    Redefining marriage finishes the job of redefining children as things that can be obtained, rather than as persons occurring naturally…

                    • Adam__Baum

                      And we get to the core of it. I loved it a few years ago when there was some federal rule that required health plans cover pregnancy “like any other disease”. .

                  • redfish

                    But the truth of man as male and female is only relevant to the sex act in so far as procreation is the natural ends of that. Men and women are allowed in all types of relationships with their own gender, just not sexual ones.

                    Again, I’m not arguing against the Catholic view of marriage. A Catholic could argue that if couples of the same sex, gay or not, are allowed to marry, that it dilutes the moral purpose of marriage. As you just did. I was just pointing out that the dilution of marriage represented by same-sex couples being accepted isn’t necessarily about gays, because men who are not romantically involved can use this change of marriage to their own purposes also. Its a dilution, but not specifically about homosexuality. And what the dilution represents is moving the marriage away from the purpose of procreative relationships.

                    Of course, Catholics still celebrate when infertile couples marry, but only because its within the same model, and don’t think it dilutes the social purpose of marriage.

                    • Joshua

                      I think it is important to clarify that there are two ends (purposes) of marriage, not one (procreation). Mutual self-giving love unites male & female in a special way that is recognized & exalted in marriage as both a natural/legal and sacramental reality. Homosexuals not only cannot procreate, but their “union” is really a self-seeking mutual utilitization, not a truly loving exchange (see “Love and Responsibility” by Karol Wojtla). In other words, The state ought to recognize that the sexual union of male & female in publicly proclaimed lifelong commitment is a unique union of natural installation and beneficial to society not merely through procreation but by its very nature as a special love-seeking relationship.

                      • redfish

                        Males and females can certainly unite in a self-seeking ways, though, and they do all the time. And although gay couples will have sex, which Catholics consider a sin, not every meeting of two people of the same gender is self-seeking. Catholics have recognized fraternal love as a real and substantial thing, and have not spoken out against Platonic relationships. The objection has never been that two men can’t love each other in a real Platonic way; that all Platonic relationships are self-seeking. The belief is that sex, not oriented towards procreation, is self-seeking.

                        In my view, the thing that makes the love in male and female relationships special is that its oriented towards a purpose of starting a family.

                      • Joshua

                        You’re missing my point. Of course, there is the possibility of same-sex platonic love. But that is not marital love. Marital love is inherently sexual (although not merely sexual). This kind of love can only exist between opposite sexes. Of course heterosexuals can engage in sex in a self-seeking way, but they can also do so in a selfless way, whereas homosexual sex-acts are inherently self-seeking. What makes a sex-act selfless is not the possibility of procreation but the presence of marital love over and above the attitude of mutual utility.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        And although gay couples will have sex, which Catholics consider a sin

                        They do not “have sex”. They can engage in various acts that are sexual, but all are counterfeits of the real thing.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “Men and women are allowed in all types of relationships with their own gender, just not sexual ones.”

                      Do you not know the difference between sex (biology, male, female, man, woman) and gender (his, hers, she, he)?

                      • redfish

                        Yes. Sex and gender can have different meanings, but can also have synonymous meanings. The same as morals and ethics, or truth and fact. Which similarly can mean different things, or the same thing, depending on the context. Gender studies theorists try to drive a wedge between the terms, of course.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        Sex and gender can have different meanings, but can also have synonymous meanings.
                        Only by those who don’t understand the difference between grammar and biology.

                      • redfish

                        Not just grammar, any type of distinction belonging to a sex. So, names are considered to be gendered. Charlotte is a feminine name, Charles is a masculine name. In general, sex vs. gender is the distinction between male and masculine and female and feminine. It comes from the meaning “kind,” as in having been engendered distinctions through differentiation. Shakespeare in Hamlet mentions people from the “general gender”, meaning common people and you see other terms at the time like “common gender”. In like terms, you see “female gender” or “male gender” being used in literature since Shakespeare’s time, without break, to refer to people from either sexes, and not just language. As an 18th century grammar book puts it “Gender in the natural Sense is a Distinction of Sex, or the difference between Male and Female ; But in a Grammatical Sense, we commonly understand by it, The Fitness of a Substantive Noun hath to be joined to an Adjective of such a Termination, and not of another.” So even back then, a distinction between the natural sense and the grammatical sense.

                • tamsin

                  Its not that, absent children, sex between different genders is more moral. Its that sex between different genders produces children.

                  If marriage = fertile, faithful, forever…

                  the need for faithfulness and foreverness follow directly from the fact of fertility, to benefit of the child by way of benefit to the mother, I’d say. Fathers who sleep around, or leave, are kind of worthless to the project of the child.

                  Same-sex marriage will endorse homosexual relationships at every age and stage in the government schools, which is to say, the message to kindergartners will be: optimize your sexuality before committing to any one object of your sexual desire.

                  Private optimization of personal experience doesn’t work or play well with others.

    • Steven Jonathan

      I think it is a line in the most recent Batman, he says something like “It is not who I am, but what I do that defines me.” The homosexualist agenda has successfully achieved the bait and switch by substituting doing for being and it is convincing enough for an intellectually and morally softened Christian community. The pathology spreads like wildfire over moral plains sucked dry of a sense of sin.

    • FrankW

      It’s nice to see the author reference the natural law arguments on this issue, because this approach is the most complete when opposing the redefinition of marriage based on the societal whim of any age.

      Marriage is essentially a creation of the natural law. It is the natural law that determined that only sexual intercourse as deigned by nature (and nature’s God) can bring children into the world. The need a child has of both a mother and father is based in nature, and thus, the need for marriage. That’s where the argument for traditional marriage starts and ends. The homosexual lobby will argue otherwise, but it is the laws of nature which they oppose, and what upsets them the most is that these laws cannot be changed by any human.

      • Dorothy

        FrankW, you write that the “homosexual lobby” opposes the laws of nature. Are you not aware that homosexuality exists throughout the animal kingdom, even among insects? Of course, not everything that is “natural” is good, but I think it is a stretch to say that homosexuality is unnatural.

        You write that “marriage is essentially a creation of the natural law.” Could you please elaborate? When did this happen, and how do we know about it? I have always suspected that “natural law” was a completely articificial and arbitrary construct that Christians use in an attempt to legitimize their beliefs. Historically, it has been used to justify slavery, absolute monarchy, primogeniture, and the suppression of women’s rights.

        • Pay

          Homosexuality is unnatural in every sense of the term. It is contrary to man’s dignity. It is contrary to reason. It is contrary to biology. It is contrary to everything.

          • vorpal

            Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong.

          • CrissCross

            VERY wrong.
            It may be contrary to all that in you, but not so in others.
            Believing that everyone else is simply an identical clone like yourself simply reduces you to seeing the world as you are and not as it actually is.

        • Adam__Baum

          Are you not aware that homosexuality exists throughout the animal kingdom, even among insects?

          So? Are you not aware we are not animals or insects?

          • Joshua

            It is unnatural in the sense that it contradicts the nature of man as a rational animal (emphasis on rational – intellect discerns the immorality of sex separated from its procreative and unitive dimensions, that is, the nature of romantic love)

        • Rhett

          I have yet to see any gay cockroaches claiming marriage rights.

        • HigherCalling

          Dorothy, you are making the exceedingly common error of misunderstanding the “nature” of a thing and what it means for something to be “natural” or not. It is absolutely critical that the definition of “nature” be properly understood before natural law theory is criticized. The “nature” of a thing is the essence or form (or purpose or function) it instantiates. In this discussion, human sexual physiology, human sexuality, and marriage all have certain essences and final causes that each instantiate. Properly understood, the essences of these things reveals the utter unnaturalness of homosexuality, homosexual behavior, and same-sex marriage.

          The existence of some occurrence in nature, or even the genetic basis of some trait, does not by itself prove anything about its naturalness. Homosexuality is unnatural (or disordered — breaking from its natural order) because it upsets the essence, form, purpose, and function of human sexuality (which is directed to new life). Same-sex “marriage” is unnatural (or disordered) because it upsets the essence, form, purpose, and function of marriage (which is to create a healthy and stable environment for new life). That these things need explaining shows the decline in both basic education and common sense. A quick study of teleology would be a good start.

          Thousands of things occur in nature, and thousands of things have genetic bases, but those facts have no bearing on whether or not a thing is “natural,” nor do those facts necessarily make those things any less “unnatural” in the relevant sense. Take two simple examples: cleft palates and a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. Both occur in nature, and both have a genetic basis, but neither is “natural,” because the purpose of palates is to be whole, and human behavior is meant to function free of addiction. The proper response to these afflictions is sympathy and a desire to do what can be done to restore them to their normal, natural functions. Infanticide and rape occur in the animal kingdom, and there may be a human genetic basis for pedophilia. When those are used as justifications for human behavior, you will then at least show consistency, but it will still be irrelevant to their “naturalness.”

    • Jay V

      I believe in God although not the Christian version anymore it comes to simple point for me. We as a nation, although leaning heavily on Christian ideas, created a space between religion and law in order to allow multiple views to coexist. If the backing of the opposition to gay marriage is religious then it should be legally ignored as should be any other religious idea without a secular purpose. Stealing and murder have both so legal involvement is a good idea. I’m sure some would argue homosexuality is the same having both secular and religious ground, but none that has convinced me. I left the church because of such beliefs and for me I truly found peace and now feel a stronger faith than ever before.

      • Pay

        If moral truth does not infuse the law you have tyranny. That evil has started.

      • Adam__Baum

        “If the backing of the opposition to gay marriage is religious then it should be legally ignored as should be any other religious idea without a secular purpose. ”

        Here’s an idea that has no religious baggage. Make trolling punishable by the death penalty.

    • steve5656546346

      Good article!

    • smokes

      Most Christians aren’t.

    • smokes

      On a bright note: Swaziland’s King Mswati III has chosen an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant as his 14th wife, after the king announced his engagement at a reed dance ceremony. This is the kind of meaningful diversity that’s the cat’s pajamas.

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    • jnonN

      Thank God we now have a Pope who is prepared to propose that we tamp down on this constant distraction with homosexuality (and abortion and contraception) and focus on more positive and productive issues. Perhaps the face of the Church will now soften and be more attractive to the world. Those who insist on their own determined conservative views should perhaps set off and set up their own Truly Righteous RC Church – the richly and ostentatiously robed Cardinal Burke might offer to be your leader.

      • Pay

        There is no changing truth. “Gay sex” leads to hell. Contraception leads to hell. To call that a mere distraction is absurd.

        • jnonN

          Perhaps, Pay, you should send your reply to the Pope. Also, assuming that you get to Heaven I am sure you will meet an awful lot of Catholic women who are currently using contraceptives – or are you confident they will all be in Hell?

          • Pay

            Please do not remake the Pope into your image. I do not judge individual souls that is not my place. I do judge evil actions and yes contraception is a mortal sin. Subjective culpability is a separate issue. Are you now above the Pope and the Church in that you get to re-write the natural moral law?

            • jnonN

              Pay – I think I will keep my thoughts about you and your judgments to myself. Goodbye.

              • Pay

                Take it up with the Church. That is who you are arguing against not me.

      • Joshua

        Did you read the interview or just the pop media spin? The true nature of human love is not a distraction…that’s why John Paul the Great was its champion!

    • Karlos

      Why ‘Gay Marriage’ isn’t Biblical – in 5 minutes
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKZlPUx8F8c

    • chris

      Back in the old days christians were fed to lions in coluseums for their faith. It was enough to deter people. But today the lion is different. Today the lion is losing your job because your a christian, going to your daughters gay wedding, choosing being alone or surrounded in moral sin and falling into the lie.
      People are comprising their faith and the truth as not to be rejected by their family, friends, work place and the world. No one wants to live the life of a prophet. Those guys were rejected, cast alone with not much popularity and money. The book of Job in the bible 2:4 saids it all. “A man will give all he has for his own life”.
      To live a blessed life in freedom, employmet, nice home, a car, solid marriage, repectable person in society, children and a prominent place in society…in my opinion thats the world loving you…..you can have all those things without being a christian and being a christian.
      So when God loves you whats the difference?
      To live as a real christian means persecution for holding onto the truth as well as loving people. The latter is easier then the former. Every one wants peace and to get along but no one wants persecution.
      People think oh well we are all sinners so who am to judge…but it is best to be honest about our sin and hope in faith that Jesus in his good timing will heal us of our sins then to compromise the truth and except sin as no sin. In this Jesus is glorified because he can heal a sinner but not a righteous person who has no sin.

      • CrissCross

        “Christians fed to the lions at the coliseum” argument has been found to be myth with no actual basis in fact.

        There is zero evidence in Roman records & literature, archaeological findings that it ever happened, although one record of persecution under Marcus Aurelius in Lyons 177AD does indicate they were condemned to various punishments: being fed to the beasts, torture, and imprisonment.

        So maybe some members of one group of Christian convicts were fed to “beasts”, but not at the coliseum.

    • Nunya Buziness

      First of all peace be upon you. I appreciate you taking the time to write this article. As a believer in God, I was wondering how arguments against the debasement of marriage were going. From your article I would say “meh”, but we have a way to go. It’s great for Catholics to say Jesus(peace be upon him), said this from our only “correct tradition”, or born agains to say the same from they’re ” correct tradition”, but that weakens the argument and divides natural allies.
      We live in a pluralistic society not,the Vatican and not a truly Christian nation according to our constitution. So arguments on the morality of homosexual marraige(HSM), or lack there of, are comming to and from a lot of different communities. I understand the necessity in correcting and strengthening your base, but I have read a lot of these and they have similar weaknesses. You can’t wait to put down people of other faith in your arguments to try and show how great “your” opinion is, and not weaken your argument by implying its for your group only . So now we’re all isolated in our little anti-HSM conclaves, while the federal government and the corporations that run our TV and radio, are united and picking us off. How many Muslim’s do you know that are for HSM? Or Hindus? Or Sikhs? Or Buddhists? or any immigrants from traditional societies? Hollywood shows a united front, when are the religious people of this great country going to do the same? But we cant’t if cheep shots and ignorance pervay the argument and divide us

    • Peter’s Legacy

      The author calls for both natural and supernatural reasons for heterosexual only marriage. His argument ignores the fact that there are both such reasons for same-sex marriage. Unless one narrows the scope of marriage to the level of horse-breeding, gays are as naturally capable of sustaining a lifetime of fidelity and commitment as any straight couple. And the foundational ‘faith’ element of Christianity is the ability to recognize the presence of the Spirit of Christ within the life of our brothers and sisters–both gay and straight. It is tragic when one set of Christians refuses to do that. As Peter, the first leader and founder of Christian faith declared, ‘Who are we to hinder God?’ (Actually, he said, ‘Who am I’, but he was urging the other believers to follow his example.)

    • vorpal

      LOL what absurd leaps of logic and nonsense the author makes. This article takes all of the unbelievable stupidity and Christian idiocy that they try to use to justify their bigotry and places it in one convenient commentary.

      None of these arguments are uniquely applicable to homosexuality, and can be used to condemn all manner of heterosexual behaviour considered perfectly moral by Christians. The fact that these ridiculous assertions are made over and over again (and clearly and carefully countered over and over again for their ridiculousness) shows that Christians really don’t have a leg to stand on on this issue unless they once again – like in the case of asserting creationist revisionism instead of accepting evolution – ignore the cumulation of human knowledge in favour of their 2000+ year old teachings, which when combined with biblical literalism as is the case with these types of Christians, amounts of biblical idolatry.

      I don’t know about you, but I refuse to suspend my faculties to assert that a 2000 year old book somehow is the pinnacle of human knowledge, and everything learned since then that doesn’t agree with it should be discarded.

    • Irv Spielberg

      Jesus predicted that just before His return as Judge, there will be a
      strange, dangerous fad – a spontaneous global steamroller notable for
      its speed, violence, and impudent in-your-face openness. In Luke 17 He
      called this worldwide craze the
      repeat of the “days of Lot” (see Genesis 19). By fulfilling this
      worldwide mania that’s secretly coordinated by unseen spirit beings,
      gays are really hurrying up Christ’s return and making the Bible even
      more believable!

      They’ve actually invented strange architecture: closets opening not on
      to bedrooms but on to Main Streets where kids can see naked men having
      sex in “Madam” Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco Brothel District. We wonder
      how soon S.F.’s underground saint – San Andreas – will get a 10-point
      jolt out of what goes on over his head (see the dire prediction about
      cities in Revelation 16:19, and Google “Obama Supports Public
      Depravity”).
      What’s really scary is the “reprobate mind” phrase
      in Romans 1:28. A person can sear his conscience so much that God
      finally turns him over to S, the universal evil leader whose unseen
      agents can give a “possessed” person super-human strength that many cops
      with tasers have trouble subduing!
      Remember, gays don’t have to
      stay bound to their slavery. Their emancipation is found in a 5-letter
      name starting with J (no, not James or Julia). As soon as they can find
      out the all-powerful J name, gays will really start living! (Google
      “God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up,” “USA – from Puritans to Impure-itans,” and “The Background Obama Can’t
      Cover Up.”)
      Was Jesus silent about gays? Google ” ‘Jesus Never Mentioned Homosexuality.’ When gays have birthdays….”

      • CrissCross

        The end of days is a purely Christian thing. It is solely up to the Christians to decide if the world is worth destroying because the gays have some rights or not.
        Whatever the Christians choose, the destruction is theirs. Even if they destroy it because of some gays, does not make the destruction the fault of the gays.
        The gays are just getting married.