The Intellectual Origins of Same-Sex Marriage

In today’s “liberal” culture, as religious observance declines, the moral tide goes out, seemingly beyond the drop off. The Supreme Court decision of June 26 concerning DOMA is the most recent in an effort to “liberalize” traditionally held moral norms that owe their original establishment to the faith convictions of a once (and mostly) Christian people. Other norms include the prohibition against contraception, sodomy, adultery, no-fault divorce, abortion, and now euthanasia.

How easy it is to underestimate the salutary effect of grace, not only on our reasoning, but also on the exercise of our freedom. Without the operative effects of grace on the soul, the morally degenerate effect of original sin pervades the social order, and the efficacy of the law written on our hearts falls into disrepute, and with some ferocity it seems, especially when it comes to homosexual behavior (Romans 1:18-32).  As it now stands, original sin is shaping a culture of marriage and family life that bears little resemblance to the human good. What ultimately stands behind the gay marriage proposal is a perverse rationale that originates in certain philosophical presuppositions we find all the way back at the inception of liberalism. It is these principles that have led, by a kind of necessity, to the perverse moral conclusions to which we are now being forcibly subjected.

To expose some of these presuppositions behind the gay marriage movement and how we got here, let us return to the Enlightenment. It is there that we find some of the deepest roots of our current situation, although not all of them. Three ideas, in particular, are formative and they have each received their due condemnation from Pope Leo XIII (and subsequent popes), whom I prefer to cite since he enjoyed a certain historical proximity to the institutionalization of these ideas. The first is the privatization of faith, which is how I will describe the classical liberal understanding of the separation of church and state. The difficulty is not with the idea of distinguishing the respective roles of church and state in public life, something Pope Leo XIII did quite commendably (Immortale Dei, no. 13). The difficulty is rather in how the Encyclopedists relegated matters of faith to the private sphere. Leo XIII describes it thus:

And it is a part of this theory that all questions that concern religion are to be referred to private judgment; that every one is to be free to follow whatever religion he prefers, or none at all if he disapprove of all. From this the following consequences logically flow: that the judgment of each one’s conscience is independent of all law (Immortale Dei, no. 26).

The second idea is the exaggerated primacy placed on the exercise of individual liberty, which some liberals touted as our highest political end. Here’s how Leo XIII describes it:

But that harmful and deplorable passion for innovation which was aroused in the sixteenth … invaded the precincts of philosophy …. From this source, as from a fountain-head, burst forth all those later tenets of unbridled license which … were wildly conceived and boldly proclaimed as the principles and foundation of that new conception of law which was not merely previously unknown, but was at variance on many points with not only the Christian, but even the natural law (Immortale Dei, no. 23).

The third idea is the liberal notion of social contract theory, which essentially means that civil authority originates in the will of the people and not from God (contra Wisdom 6:3 and Romans 13:1). Leo XIII goes on in Immortale Dei to say this:

Amongst these principles the main one lays down that as all men are alike by race and nature, so in like manner all are equal in the control of their life; that each one is so far his own master as to be in no sense under the rule of any other individual; that each is free to think on every subject just as he may choose, and to do whatever he may like to do; that no man has any right to rule over other men. In a society grounded upon such maxims all government is nothing more nor less than the will of the people, and the people, being under the power of itself alone, is alone its own ruler. (no. 24).

Let’s look first, then, at the privatization of religion and its consequences for marriage.

One of the principle motives behind separating church and state was to relegate matters of faith to the private sphere, so that those public matters shared by church and state would be placed directly under the authority of civil government alone. One such example of this was the newly acquired jurisdiction over the institution of marriage, whereby liberals now permitted divorce and remarriage. Admittedly, the liberal ideal of separating church and state has actually worked out well in some areas, but the institution of marriage poses a particular difficulty in this regard, as Leo XIII was prescient enough to explain in his encyclical on marriage, Arcanum.

Because marriage is a public institution, liberals believed it belonged under the direct jurisdiction of the state. Here’s how Leo XIII describes it:

[T]hese men will on no account allow matrimony to be the subject of the jurisdiction of the Church. Nay, they endeavor to deprive it of all holiness, and so bring it within the contracted sphere of those rights which, having been instituted by man, are ruled and administered by the civil jurisprudence of the community. Wherefore it necessarily follows that they attribute all power over marriage to civil rulers, and allow none whatever to the Church …” (Arcanum, no. 17).

As a result, today it is custom to liberal society to segregate the religious aspect of marriage, which belongs to the private realm, from the juridical aspect, which belongs to the public domain of civil government (Arcanum, no. 23).

Yet this is actually quite problematic. Marriage is, by nature, a public institution under the jurisdiction of religious institutions. God is the author of marriage after all. Leo XIII describes it thus: “Marriage has God for its Author … and therefore there abides in it something holy and religious; not extraneous, but innate; not derived from men, but implanted by nature” (Arcanum, no. 19). The state, therefore, is but a servant to what God has established by divine decree. Marriage is peculiar in this regard, precisely because God established marriage immediately through the promulgation of natural law. In its ontological character, it is not an institution established by human convention, whereas other institutions such as particular civil governments are.

The first thing Enlightenment liberals did to assert their alleged authority over marriage, then, was to allow divorce and remarriage without recourse to the anthropological underpinnings of natural law or Scripture, that is, according to the nature of marriage. This was the first ‘modern’ attempt to redefine marriage, insofar as the state no longer regarded marriage as an indissoluble covenant. “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matt. 19:8).

Yet, to really grasp the depth of the political conundrum we face, we need to consider the second and third enlightened beliefs, the primacy accorded the exercise of personal liberty and its interpretation within the framework of social contract theory. As we see in Leo XIII’s remarks, the idea behind privatizing religion was, in part, to create a legal asylum in the public square for the free exercise of personal liberty—a natural right no less—but now a principle interpreted according to social contract theory. The rationale of this theory is that the state’s primary responsibility is to guarantee, as an inalienable right, the free exercise of personal liberty, in whatever manner willed by the people—or at least some of them. In turn, civil obedience is binding only so long as the state guarantees this right.

As the sacred institution of marriage was appropriated by the state, it didn’t take long before the logic of social contract theory redefined the meaning of the marriage bond. The marriage bond was redefined as a contract rather than an indissoluble covenant. In other words, liberals assumed a marriage-defining authority over the meaning of marriage by a simple legislative fiat. Ironically, as it has played itself out in our own times, we do not need a legislative vote, or so it seems, to secure the exercise of individual liberty, but simply a court decision, affirming the will of those that decision represents. This exercise of legal positivism is a convenient way around the majority opinion.

What follows from these three philosophical notions—the privatization of faith, the primacy of personal liberty, and social contract theory—is that a “right” is appropriated to individuals to exercise their liberty in the contracting or dissolution of marriages without any regard for the nature of marriage, or its Maker, or the authority of a religious body. If, as a matter of principle, marriage is merely a private matter of individual liberty expressed through a social contract, then what’s to stop the state from further redefining the “meaning” of those contracts, as it has already done?

While at the time of the Enlightenment, the idea of redefining who the contractual partners of marriage could be did not include the unimagined possibility of homosexual couples, it did mean that liberals were free to recognize whatever marital arrangement they felt were appropriate to the commonwealth. Sadly, these philosophical commitments reached our own shores long ago and were deeply held convictions for many of the founding fathers. While clear differences mark the ascendency of liberalism in continental Europe and America—mostly the absence of an established Catholic Church in America—certain philosophical commitments were universal, including the liberal interpretation of separating church and state, the primacy accorded the exercise of personal liberty, and social contract theory. One has only to examine the writings of the founding fathers to see this. I would distinguish here between the philosophical spirit that largely animated the American founding and the form of government established by the constitution. It is from the former that our current problems originate.

All along, liberals have believed that the meaning of marriage is subject to the authority of the state. It has merely taken time for this logic to come now to this immanent conclusion, that it is a “right” of individual liberty and privacy that the state should acknowledge the contracted marriage of two homosexuals. It is a logical necessity, although not necessarily a historical one. Things could be otherwise, were it not the case that our religious culture is eroding in so many other ways.

But, be that as it may, it will be impossible to stem the tide of gay marriage, lest we find a way quickly to confront the underlying presuppositions of the liberal social agenda and its political manifesto. Gay marriage is actually a logical outcome of this perspective. But at least we know where things stand. What we are now facing in this aggressive ascendency of the ‘secular’ is nothing other than the terminal destination of certain Enlightenment principles. It is, as Pope Benedict described it, a dictatorship of relativism. In the absence of public religious conviction, original sin will always rule the day. At any rate, in the end, and only by the grace of God, gay marriage will be neither enlightened nor liberating. Therein lay our hope.

Michel Therrien


Dr. Michel Therrien is President of the Institute for Pastoral Leadership and Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Previously he taught moral theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver. He also taught at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, PA for seven years, serving there as Academic Dean for four years. His areas of scholarly interest are Thomistic virtue ethics and Catholic social teaching.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    The principle of private judgment had its roots in the Reformation, for scriptura sola can only mean, in practice, each individual’s private interpretation and, then, why should not the inner light supercede the written text?

    As Bl. John Henry Newman shows, “Calixtus put reason, and Spener the so-called religion of the heart, in the place of dogmatic correctness. Pietism for the time died away; but rationalism developed in Wolf, who professed to prove all the orthodox doctrines, by a process of reasoning, from premises level with the reason. It was soon found that the instrument which Wolf had used for orthodoxy, could as plausibly be used against it;—in his hands it had proved the Creed; in the hands of Semler, Ernesti, and others, it disproved the authority of Scripture.”

    Individualism and egalitarianism are secularised forms of the Protestant doctrine that each person has unmediated access to the truth; Progressivism is born of the eschatological Anabaptist idea that history has an absolute beginning and a necessary end, unfolding according to a divine plan and universalism has its origins in the dogmatic principle of a revealed truth which, valid for all men, summons them to conversion.

    • ColdStanding

      It would require some research – which, je suis désolée, I shall not be undertaking – but I believe that the Thomas Paine’s famous “Common Sense” has it’s in roots or is of a type with the Anabaptist reaction to external sources of authority where Catholic Church — (maps onto) — (irony of ironies) —> English Crown.

      I could very well be out to lunch.
      Serious scholars may already know this.
      It might be of little importance either way.

  • Facile1

    Much as I am grieved by the decisions on the part of the US Supreme Court, I am not afraid of the future. And neither should anyone be (including the author). The LAW cannot change the TRUTH.

    Sexual gratification is not love and does not merit blessings.

    The State can legislate all it wants. But it cannot bless.

    Sin consumes itself. A ‘gay gene’ cannot reproduce by homosexual consummation.

    Much as I prefer to spare all of a broken heart, as Oscar Wilde (a convicted sodomite and one of my favorite poets) said in his Ballad of the Reading Gaol:

    Ah! happy they whose hearts can break
    And peace of pardon win!
    How else may man make straight his plan
    And cleanse his soul from Sin?
    How else but through a broken heart
    May Lord Christ enter in?

    GOD is LOVE. And ONLY GOD is LOVE.

    Much as I oppose turning sin into crimes, I also do not believe the State should lend its legitimacy to sin. Regardless, the law (ie a human invention) cannot change the TRUTH (ie GOD).

    Rejoice always in GOD’s LOVE and go in peace.

    • Adam Baum

      Sin consumes itself. A ‘gay gene’ cannot reproduce by homosexual consummation.

      Except the state doesn’t believe in sin, it believes in crime. Increasingly, crime is separated from sin, that which is criminal is not sinful and that which is sinful is not criminal. While the two can never comport completely, the increasing separation is evidence of a tyranny of caprice.

      • Facile1

        I’m not sure what you mean by saying “the increasing separation (of crime and sin) is evidence of a tyranny of caprice.”

        I believe in the separation of Church and State. Crime IS (and should be) separate from sin. BUT the separation of Church and State is a relatively new phenomenon. While in a democracy, the State reflects the will of its citizenry by referendum (in theory anyway); many modern nations still remain theocracies.

        For example, under Shari’ah Law, adultery is punishable by stoning until death (for the woman) and flogging (for her male partner). In the Philippines (where I currently reside), adultery is a crime under penalty of imprisonment for non-Muslims. Muslim Filipinos are subject to Shari’ah Law. In the US (where I used to live), prostitution is still a crime in some localities; but all states have decriminalized sodomy (and some have even lent it legitimacy by legalizing “same sex” marriage.)

        So, what is worse: criminalizing sin or lending sin legitimacy by State fiat? Is the “increasing separation” of crime and sin a ‘good thing’ or a ‘bad thing’?

        The Bible tells us, the Lord does not desire sin to be criminalized (read John 8:1-11 A Woman Caught in Adultery). The Lord also advocates the separation of Church and State (read Matthew 22:15-22 Paying Taxes to the Emperor).

        When the State takes upon itself what rightfully belongs to God, it is committing idolatry. It does not belong to the purview of the State to legislate morality.

        TRUTH begins with GOD (re: Genesis) and cannot exist outside of GOD (regardless of what the State decrees.)

        We are commanded, therefore, to LOVE GOD FIRST (re: Matthew 22:37-38).

        • Adam Baum

          Separation of Church and State is not the same thing as what have now, which is the sterilization of religious influences by the state.

          No, crime isn’t and shouldn’t be separate from sin. Every penal code in the western world contains laws against murder, it is directly attributable the the Decalogue. It is a good thing when we criminalize that which is malum per se. You say “prostitution is still a crime” as if it shouldn’t be- we know it’s dangerous and usurious. The case that decriminalized sodomy did so, with Anthony Kennedy reasoning that custom was in itself a reason to overturn state laws that existed along side the Constitution for hundreds of years prior to this “insight”. With that reasoning theft prohibitions should be vacated because it is the “custom” of thieves to steal. But kakistocracy is wonderful.

          Increasingly the state is issuing fiats and edicts to make what is not a sin, a crime. How many thousands of pages of the federal register is devoted to criminalizing the failure to issue some meaningless report to arcane, contradictory, and counter-intuitive requirements? You think theocracy is the great danger? Maybe where Islam flourishes, but in the West (at lead until Islam intrudes) its Atheocracy that rules the day.Or how about the new wrinkle from Ceaser, criminalizing the failure to sin. Buy contraceptives or else.

          The Bible says nothing about criminal statutes. Christ didn’t stop a legal proceeding, he stopped a mob of hypocrites. I could just as easily say he implicitly rejected the absence of the rule of law.

          Theocracy and Scarlet Letters are the standard canard of libertines. Yet, it’s not theocracy, but autocracy we must fear, it’s the atheistic superstate that has the blood of hundreds of millions on it’s hands.

          • Facile1

            To begin with, I don’t believe in the temporal powers of the State.

            I cannot trust any human institution that directly threatens my human rights to life, liberty and property. The State has the guns to end one’s life; the prisons to constrain one’s liberty; and the power to tax.

            Sin should not be criminalized because the punishment meted out by the state can ONLY be draconian — capital punishment, imprisonment, and the seizure of property.

            The threat of sin to the lives, liberties and properties of the citizenry pale by comparison to the very real threat the State poses to any one citizen’s human rights.

            Capital punishment will ALWAYS be wrong. Imprisonment only makes sense if there is a viable threat for violence that must be contained. And monetary damages is in order ONLY if material damages actually can be proven.

            The State has no place in the Kingdom of God.

            And by the way, the Blessed Mother would have been stoned to death if she was discovered to be with child. It was the law, not mob rule.

      • ColdStanding

        Sin does not consume. It is a void or absence of being that leads to further deficits of being. God, “I am who I am”, is being. An absence of being is an absence of God. This is why Jesus Christ requires us to be fed by his body and blood. He supplies the short fall or deficit of our being that occurs as a result of the original and actual sin.

        We are in this situation because those that are his sheep, the validly baptized, are not being fed because their sacramental participation in the Church is non-existent (many Catholics, all Protestants). We have the form but not all have the substance.

        Therefore, sin does not consume, it is the coming apart in absence of sustaining substance (being).

        Yes, it is important to strive for accuracy in definitions.

        • Facile1

          “Sin consumes itself” like fire consumes fuel.

          Sin comes to nothing because the sinner eats away at whatever good is remaining in himself and when all the good is gone, the sinner perishes also.

          Sometimes we forget that even Lucifer is a creature of God and God saw good in all His creation. So how can evil win? When all that is good is consumed, NOTHING remains.

          TRUTH begins with GOD (read Genesis) and cannot exist outside of GOD (read John’s Apocalypse).

          Therefore, sin is self-defeating because sin (in destroying what is good) consumes itself also.

  • lifeknight

    Thank you, Dr. Therrien, for an essay that answers the question, “How did we ever get to this level of moral decline?”

    I was struck by one of the three facets of the essay, “the privatization of religion.” Some may recall JFK’s speech which, in essence stated that his Catholic religion would have no impact on his service as president. Today we have the multitude of Catholics in government supporting secular laws which defy the laws of God. When religion and its basic tenets are not lived on a daily basis, we see the result.

    • TomD

      JFK’s speech was indeed a significant turning point in modern politics . . . but even he, if he were honest, would have admitted that his Catholic beliefs had a significant impact and influence on his presidency. One need only look to his attitude about the poor and the less fortunate to see that. To argue that his foundational religious upbringing, therefore his religion, did not, or would not, influence his decisions in the presidency is to argue what must be obviously false. The extent to which his upbringing conformed to Catholic teaching is another matter entirely.

      What Kennedy brilliantly did at that speech in Houston, whether people knew it or not, was to provide an idea for others to project onto . . . I will do nothing of a religious nature that YOU find offensive. This is what many people at the time WANTED to hear.

      • lifeknight

        Wanting to hear something doesn’t make it right. JFK ultimately separated himself from his Faith and knowingly or not, professed the errors of modernism in our current day. He was a compromising, political machine.

    • Talitha

      That was not only the turning point of modern politics. It was the turning point of the American Catholic Church and it’s relationship with modern politics. He was the prime example for many “Catholics” who found it easier to be political animals than religious believers, and he duped them into thinking that they could be both. Sadly, this message was taken to heart throughout the world. He is the modern liberals canonized saint.

      I won’t deny that many Catholics at that time were marginalized and suffering outliers. That is the summation of our history in this country. But the price we paid for that “freedom” JFK offered us was a strike at the heart of our credibility and faithfulness to embodying what Christ called us to do.

      It was a pinch of incense for Cesar. It still tears the Church apart, and has robbed her of her moral provenance.

  • Steven Jonathan

    The roots that grow into the tree of “gay marriage” are anti-intellectual, grounded in pathos and the normalization of perversion as the slide from freedom to licentiousness sinks to depths previously unseen. Liberalism is sophistry and it goes back to the Garden. The demons promote it incessantly. Screwtape tells Wormword “jargon not argument is your best ally to keep him from the Church.”

    It seems to me that our concern as The Body of Christ is to not compromise with the City of Man. We cannot concede a single point. For us and our posterity, we need to recover and reform the ground on which we stand. Today in Mathew 11:20 “Then he began to upbraid the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.”

    Christ condemns entire cities, not individuals. We would be wise to restore the boundaries. Certainly the Enlightenment has been a colossal failure, somebody better let the masses know.

    • musicacre

      A little late, the masses do know, it’s not a shock, but they no longer care. They’re more absorbed in whether there will be a spider-man 4 or when the next I-phone is coming out.

  • Adam Baum

    It was not enlightenment liberals who have paternity over the present deformation of marriage, but two men who were hardly enlightened or liberal. The enlightenment liberals merely used the ideas of Martin Luther -who proposed that the state was the proper domain for marriage in his quest to attack the Church and remake it in his image, and Henry Tudor, in his quest for a male heir (and then for whatever other reasons he sought so many other wives) made a union formed by God to be dissoluable by the state.
    Just as Tudor’s efforts to preserve his line ultimately failed beyond his time, I suspect neither anticipated that it would even be conceivable that marriage would be so abused as it is today, but then again, men, even kings and monks, have no capacity to think five centuries ahead. The put the initial crack in the rock and today, it is a pile of sand.
    Whenever I become frustrated with myself, other laity, or imprudent clerics in the Church, I am reminded that the “fullness of the truth” means standing firm against popular manias.

  • Uuncle Max

    How many of you would love to see and hear a conversation featuring this man, George Weigel, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden?

    Count me in

    • John200


      I want to hear this conversation, but I would prefer a lecture to Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. The lecture should expose to these worthies the basics of the Roman Catholic faith. It should include the consequences of denying the faith, undermining the faith of others, and leading God’s children astray. I will bring to this lecture a millstone with one end of a stout rope tied to it. The other end… you can see, eh?

      I am willing to deliver the lecture myself, free of charge.

  • Alphonsus

    Some folks here may not be familiar with the little book titled, “Liberalism is a Sin”, written in 1886 by a Spanish priest. It would seem to be a good footnote reference to this excellent article.

    A snippet…

    “Liberalism, whether in the doctrinal or practical order, is a sin. In the doctrinal order, it is heresy, and consequently a mortal sin against faith. In the practical order, it is a sin against the commandments of God and of the Church, for it virtually transgresses all commandments. To be more precise: in the doctrinal order, Liberalism strikes at the very foundations of faith; it is heresy radical and universal, because within it are comprehended all heresies. In the practical order it is a radical and universal infraction of the divine law, since it sanctions and authorizes all infractions of that law.” (Ch. 3).

    • John200

      This is one of the best books around in terms of “wisdom density” or the amount of wisdom per page of text. One can read it pretty quick and get the point.

      And yes, lefties, just so you know, liberalism IS a sin.

    • HigherCalling

      Definitely a book that every Catholic should read. It draws the straight line between Protestantism and atheism as well (–passing directly through the Protestant falsehood of Individualism). There is little wonder that things founded on Enlightenment principles ultimately end in Godlessness. But murdering God isn’t the end of the glorious road of atheism, for atheism unavoidably ends in despotism and tyranny. Murdering God does not kill the religious impulse. Since men cannot live without some figure of authority, that impulse gets redirected into godless religions, particularly political religions.

      This little book, while not addressing American politics in any direct way, explains how a country supposedly founded on “conservative” “Christian” principles, has now evolved, through secularism and relativism, to an increasingly atheistic State, with the first stages of soft-tyranny being laid in place. America was founded on radically Liberal ideas, by radically liberal, Enlightenment-influenced, Protestant-based men. Protestantism is Liberalism. Modern Protestants who claim to be conservative should really rethink that claim. There is no true social or moral conservatism outside of Catholic orthodoxy.

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  • Michel Therrien

    To those of you that have traced the cause back to the Reformation, I would not disagree. I simply chose not to go back quite that far because it would lengthened my argument unnecessarily. I had one reference to the Reformation but removed it. Actually, the roots go back prior to the Reformation, to the earliest genesis of the via moderna and the advent of nominalism. Nominalism was simply “metaphysical liberalism”, a step that needed to be taken prior to the liberalization of faith and religious authority at the Reformation, which itself preceded the liberalization of political and economic life.

    • ColdStanding

      Small error in the beginning, big error in the end (sic).

      • Dan Li

        De Ente et Essentia. A small error in the beginning often leads to a greater error in the end.

  • Louis

    It is interesting to note that in other cultures and other parts of the world, homosexuality is unheard of. The concept of “gay marriage” would make no sense to so called primitive or tribal people. They cannot imagine dedicating their lives to a sexuality devoid of reproductive purpose. Indeed, they are more intellectually sophisticated than our liberal “intellectuals” whose philosophy is watered down to “if it feels good, it is good” This 70s “me generation” mantra is as out of style as the polyester clothes and shag carpet in earth tones that everyone had.

    • musicacre

      Too bad evil can’t just “go out of style”; I guess every single generation that walks upon the earth will be tested by the peculiarities of the evil of that time period. The “me” generation may not have had many children but they have occupied so many places of prominence in education, law and administration. Their impact on society is as Khrushchev predicted, like an atomic bomb, culturally. The fall-out itself is poisonous and destroys so much that was once healthy. We can recognize it, and even document it, but we seem unable to fight it. Maybe we really need to turn to prayer big-time!!

    • Paul McGuire

      But gay and lesbian people exist in all parts of the world, even in those African and Middle Eastern countries where you can be killed for being gay. They may be more invisible but they are no less real. Ahmadinejad can deny that they exist all he wants but that doesn’t make it so.

      • Dan Li

        The point Louis was trying to make was likely (I think) that culturally, sexual preferences didn’t bleed into metaphysical or natural truths. Those who had those preferences either did not act on them or perhaps acted on them discreetly, but did not attempt to redefine fundamental principles of human society.

        • Trumpet Player

          It’s easy enough to find reported accounts of historically-approved homosexuality in diverse cultures of the world. Perhaps you can find some examples in the Bible of homosexual pagan idol worship, or if all else fails, there’s Wikipedia, which for example reports: “In many societies of Melanesia, especially in Papua New Guinea, same-sex relationships were an integral part of the culture until the middle of the last century. The Etoro and Marind-anim for example, even viewed heterosexuality as sinful and celebrated homosexuality instead.” It sure doesn’t sound like it “didn’t bleed into metaphysical or natural truths” or that they “did not act on them or perhaps acted on them discreetly”.

          • Adam__Baum

            It’s easy enough to find reported accounts of historically-approved homosexuality in diverse cultures of the world
            And it’s easy to find “cultures” that approve of ritual sacrifice. So what?

            • Trumpet Player

              You can throw the dice and see for yourself.

              • Adam Baum

                Do you ever have a point?

          • Bob

            These societies you mentioned also engaged in cannibalism and child sacrifice. As with homosexual acts, I don’t think they are good ideas either.

            • Trumpet Player

              The history of killing in your own society is unmatched.

              • John200

                The history of trolling in your own society is unmatched.

                • Trumpet Player

                  Thank you for your contribution to it.

      • Adam Baum

        The idea that people are homosexual and not acts, is a modern invention designed to exhonerate a specific group of people from their sins, to give sodomy a place of honor. Don’t worry though there’s plenty of heterosexual sinners out there.

        Those are the same Middle Eastern Countries where you can be killed for being Christian. So what?

        • Trumpet Player

          People can be homosexual same as people can be smart, happy and gay. It’s not an “invention designed to exonerate a specific group of people from their sins” any more than the terms “alcoholic” and “heterosexual” are designed to excuse alcoholism and heterosexual licentiousness. Rather, it roughly describes an aspect of the everyday experience of the estimated tens of millions of people who experience a more or less enduring primary sexual or romantic attraction to persons of the same sex rather than the opposite sex. And it hardly gives “sodomy a place of honor” because for one, sodomy is not restricted to homosexuality. Indeed, the top definition in the dictionary refers to variant practices “with a member of the opposite sex”. Even per my 1828 dictionary, it’s not restricted to homosexuality. Even the story of Sodom in the Bible does not fit the definition of “homosexuality” as defined in the Catechism, because the Bible story does not establish that those persons “experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex”.

          • Adam__Baum

            “People can be homosexual same as people can be smart, happy and gay.”

            Your capacity for analogy and comparison that doesn’t meet the slightest scrutiny is amazing . Intellect is a morally neutral attribute, it affects capacity-not inclination. Happy is a state of mind, and in this world an extremely transient and fragile one. We regard people who are persistently happy as naive or lunatics.

            Let’s assume for the sake of argument that same sex attraction is spontaneous, but more importantly, innate and durable. So what? There’s plenty of human disorders that cause people do pursue things that are wrong. According to this logic theft should become a legitimate form of property acquisition because some people are afflicted with kleptomania.

            You mention alcoholism. Some people, even whole families seem to have innate and durable inclinations to drink. Despite that, alcoholism is considered a disease (that there are often titanic but highly uncertain efforts to mitigate). Every alcoholic who has stopped will tell you things like “it’s a daily struggle” and “you’re never cured”. They avoid situations of temptation. What is interesting, that even though most ofthe population uses alcohol without issue is that some will say “i wish I never took that first drink” as if they had 20-20 foresight.

            Quite a difference in how we treat our disorders. It’s a criminal violation in some jurisdictions to even try to assist a person with a same sex attraction.

            • Trumpet Player

              You, not I, said “intellect”. “Intellect” and “smart” are not the same thing. And I didn’t say “homosexual” necessitates a constant or eternal inclination. A homosexual person can be more or less homosexual at different times. And it may be that a person who’s homosexual at one time may be heterosexual at another time. Doesn’t mean he’s not a “homosexual person” while he’s homosexual and a “heterosexual person” while he’s heterosexual. As to “happy”, it can be an inclination, an attitude. “Happy person” does not necessitate that the person is happy like a lunatic or naive, even if you fantasize that “we” regard them as such. It needn’t be “persistent” to a perverse degree. And a “smart person” needn’t be a whiz at everything but can be inclined to figure things out.

              Nowjhere did I say that a spontaneous, innate or durable characteristic equates with moral action or non-problematic. But it’s not immoral to be alcoholic, homosexual or heterosexual. And condition can mitigate culpability.

              “Assisting a person with a same-sex attraction” is grossly vague. With such vagueness, it may also be said that “assisting a person with an opposite-sex attraction” can also be a criminal violation, depending on what exactly the assistance is and where.

              • Adam Baum

                Are you a fishmonger? I mean with that many red herrings…

                I never attributed those things to you, which is why I said “for the sake of argument”.

    • Trumpet Player

      “Same-sex marriage” is not “dedicating their lives to a sexuality devoid of reproductive purpose”. Indeed, it’s not necessarily dedicating to any sexuality at all. Under the law, it happens when two people of the same sex sign some papers and carry out legal responsibilities. It doesn’t require any sexual act, sexual orientation or sexual interest of any kind. People in a “same sex marriage” can then sit around the house like Mary and Joseph, or live apart, or have sex with as many people of the opposite sex as they please and reproduce all they want.

      • Dan Li

        However the laws involving marriage exist *for* that institution and the people involved therein. The law supports some other institution, which until recently was understood to be classical marriage, a naturally arising union of a man and a woman inherently directed towards procreation and the raising of children, which in turn is necessary for the continuation of civilization and society.

        Perhaps you could extend the same or similar rights to general unions (for what purpose? To support their romantic inclinations I’m assuming). However, what you are supporting is clearly different than the underlying essential reality of what marriage (till recently) has been understood to be. To give both the distinction of “marriage” is to draw a false equivalency between two essentially different institutions.

        • Trumpet Player

          “Marriage” is an invented English word, and as part of the public language, it is not and has never been exclusive to holy matrimony as understood in Catholic teaching. That we have “marriages” of all kinds, including in games of pinochle, between peanut butter and jelly, between men, between women, between animals and what have you does not “draw a false equivalency”. No change in civil laws and no amount of posturing by religious blogsters can ever erase the “underlying essential” differences. Even children readily spot the differences. And civil marriage laws can support multiple institutions, same as the public roads can support the local church and also the grocery store.

      • Adam Baum

        So if exclusivity and sex aren’t a component of marriage and it’s merely a matter of mutual consent, then shouldn’t we eliminate consanguinity laws as well?

        • Trumpet Player

          I personally don’t have a copy of the Consanguinity Agenda, but the Bible does say “There is an appointed time for everything.”

          • Adam__Baum

            In other words, you can’t form a coherent response.

            • Trumpet Player

              No, it is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’

              • Adam Baum

                If you are imagining that you are clever, yes, you are imagining.

          • Alphonsus

            I do have a copy of the Consanguity Agenda. It reads much the same as the other misanthropic agenda, to wit: squeeze as much toothpaste out before an adult can get a finger over the mouth of the tube.

  • Paul McGuire

    So you recognize that the Founders of the United States basically followed this liberalism that you despise and yet insist on fighting against it using the same religion that The Constitution separates from the avenue of politics. Individual liberty was at the core of the founding of the country and yet many articles on here attacking the recognition of same-sex marriage act as if individual liberty is not an important consideration for deciding what the law should be. Individual liberty is not just a liberal idea but one that many small government republicans tout frequently.

    Wishing that The Catholic Church had authority over the decisions of this country does not make it so.

    • thebigdog

      “..the same religion that The Constitution separates from the avenue of politics”

      Religion is protected from the government, not separate from politics — big difference (see the Ten Commandments in the U.S. Supreme Court and prayers form the Congressional Chaplain)

      Reverend Dr. Paul Binion II

      “Our Father and Strong God, for this day, and the privileges and opportunities it brings, we say thank You.

      May this day not be typical or ordinary in any way, but one that will
      long be remembered because of what shall transpire in this House:
      decisions settled, issues resolved, progress made, partisanship
      minimized, and personal agendas set aside for the good of our

      God, we acknowledge our need of You and Your wisdom and guidance.

      Keep us mindful that we serve a people, community, and world that is
      looking and depending on us to do always what is best for them.

      And may we live always cognizant of what You expect from us today, and
      that is, to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with You. This we
      ask in the name of Jesus Christ.


      I did enjoy watching you on My Three Sons though.

  • John Francis Collins

    Luther, Founding Fathers of the USA and the Enlightenment as understood by Leo XIII. All the ‘if only’ hopes. The USA was founded in the spirit of the Enlightenment. Many of
    the early settlers were escaping persecution from the unenlightened European
    established churches. In one reading the Reformation was the result of Catholic
    stupidity and a desire to build monuments like St Peters in Rome. I am not sure
    Luther was the cause of the Reformation. Following the Reformation Catholics and
    Protestants fought like cats and dogs and I do not think it is unreasonable to
    propose that the seed-bed of the Enlightenment was religious wars.

    The Catholic Church has been a shaper of human history. It is difficult to say that on occasion it did not abuse its power. Prince Bishops, Papal States, selling indulgences.
    The Catholic Church is also shaped by human history. I think it is too easy to
    split-off the enemy as liberals born of the Enlightenment verses those who stay
    firm to the natural law.

    There is a natural law but it is not black letter law complete with answers. The natural
    law is the human capacity and desire to be attentive, intelligent, reasonable, responsible and in love. The Ancien Régime is gone. It seems now that with Pope Francis its spirit has even seeped into through the Vatican walls with Francis refusing to play the part as

    We can pine for a Church that never was and never will be or we can engage with the culture that we find ourselves in and slowly work to transform that culture aligned with eschatological vision of the reign of God as announced and enacted in Jesus Christ. Yes there is much in Enlightenment culture to critique but as Catholics we do not enter the debate in pristine condition. The broader culture has much to learn from Catholicism and the Church has much to learn from the broader culture.

    Creating straw men and throwing stones at them is easy. Engaging in the incarnational work of dialogue and discernment with culture in which the Church is embedded is the real work that needs to be done. This is what it mean to take up the cross every day. The Word became flesh without mixture or confusion, fully man fully God. It is easy to imagine a Church as holy it is much more difficult to have a Church that is holy and effective.

    Energy and intellect are needed for adult work. Building straw men to throw stones at is adolescent. For the sake of the Church grow up.

    John Francis Collins, Sydney Australia

  • guest science fiction, or more likely, fantasy, this rates fairly low. Sorry, guys.

  • Paul

    Please don’t use the word GAY referring to homosexuals. Check your older dictionary for the real meaning of the word. Queer is not mewntioned.