The Truth about Marriage

The Court and the New Consensus

There have been few changes in our moral, sexual, and legal culture more precipitous or, in some ways, more dramatic than the normalization of homosexuality and the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage. Within the lifetime of many Americans, homosexuality has gone from being a universally condemned vice, often only whispered about, to being an accepted and often celebrated sexual preference or identity. These attitudinal changes are especially pronounced between the generations, with younger Americans broadly supportive of the political demands of their gay and lesbian friends while their parents and grandparents continue to find these developments disorienting if not threatening to once-unquestioned values underpinning the family and traditional gender roles.

Commonweal has expressed skepticism and urged caution regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage, while at the same time defending the rights and dignity of homosexual persons both in society and in the church. In the aftermath of the chaos and destruction, both personal and social, wrought by the so-called sexual revolution, the rush to change the fundamental heterosexual basis of marriage seemed imprudent. With the institution of marriage already in crisis, such an unprecedented social experiment appeared to pose risks—especially to the already precarious place of children within modern marriage—that were all but impossible to measure. With divorce and out-of-wedlock birthrates soaring, tampering with the inherited understanding of marriage seemed like only one more instance of “enlightened” hubris. Advocates cast same-sex marriage as the extension of basic rights to a once excluded group, but it is likely also a reflection of—and a further step toward—an essentially privatized and libertarian moral culture.

None of these worries has been assuaged in any definitive way. There is simply not yet enough social-scientific data to say one way or the other how children raised in same-sex marriages fare, although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that same-sex couples are as devoted to their children as their heterosexual neighbors. Will severing the connection marriage has historically forged between sex, procreation, and family formation further undermine the expectations and value our culture places on the institution? No one knows the answer to that question either, but it seems we are about to find out. Clearly, the societal consensus about what it means to treat heterosexuals and homosexuals equally has changed, and it comes as little surprise that the Supreme Court has followed that new consensus by removing recently erected impediments to same-sex marriage.

In United States v. Windsor, the Court ruled that in defining marriage as between one man and one woman the Defense of Marriage Act violated the “equal liberty” rights of same-sex couples. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Court let stand a lower court’s decision to strike down California’s Proposition 8, which prohibited same-sex marriage. For the time being, other state laws restricting marriage to heterosexual couples will stay on the books, but the DOMA ruling makes it unlikely those laws will survive legal challenges, which are already being brought in several states.

Ideally, divisive moral and social questions on which the Constitution is ostensibly silent are best left to democratic deliberation in the states, where those on the losing end of the argument would at least have the consolation of knowing that their views got a hearing from their fellow citizens. Those pressing for “marriage equality,” however, are not likely to leave the question up to majority vote. Most of the cultural and legal momentum now clearly favors same-sex marriage, and in truth it is hard not to be moved by the evident joy of same-sex couples over the Court’s decisions. At the same time, Americans who oppose these developments, most of whom do so for religious reasons, have cause for concern.

In the DOMA decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy characterized Congress’s effort to limit marriage to heterosexual couples as a “desire to harm,” dismissing the reasonable if speculative concerns of many Americans as mere bigotry (see "Worth Worrying About?" and "Right Decision, Wrong Reason"). Kennedy’s indictment is shortsighted, and exposes those with serious reservations about the emerging consensus to possible legal action for violating antidiscrimination laws. As Commonweal has editorialized in the past (“Protecting Religious Freedom”), champions of equal rights should support the broadest possible protections for dissenting religious communities and their associated agencies. It is one thing for the courts to rule that there is no constitutional justification for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples; it is quite another thing for the courts to force religious institutions to recognize such marriages in their employment and benefits agreements. Under our constitutional system, the state must give the widest possible berth to religious practice, and it is imperative that dissenting religious communities not be driven from the public square over this issue. As many of the most eloquent proponents of same-sex marriage acknowledge, Americans will need time to adjust to this change. Traditional religious communities continue to do indispensable work in caring for the needy, educating the young, and calling the larger society to account on important questions like war, torture, abortion, euthanasia, and economic justice. American democracy cannot afford to deprive itself of those moral and social resources, yet that is what could happen if the law comes to equate institutional resistance to the recognition of same-sex marriage with racial discrimination.

In this regard, it is no secret that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been among the most outspoken opponents of same-sex marriage. The conference’s advocacy, which has often cast the debate in hyperbolic terms, has persuaded few and offended many. With typical alarm, the bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage issued a statement calling the Court’s decisions “a tragic day for marriage and our nation,” and a “profound injustice to the American people.” The statement went on to use variations on the phrase “the truth of marriage” seven times in two brief paragraphs, as though mere incantation were a substitute for persuasion. A more dexterous rhetorical strategy is needed if the church’s witness to the “truth” about marriage is not to be written off as blind prejudice. The bishops might begin by emphasizing that the church strongly defends the dignity of same-sex oriented people, a fact most Americans remain ignorant of. The bishops might also acknowledge the good of faithful, life-long same-sex unions, as well as the progress made in the public recognition of the manifold achievements and contributions of gays and lesbians. It is also time for the church to open its eyes to the selfless work same-sex couples do in raising children, many of whom would otherwise go uncared for and unloved.

Surely, whatever its legitimate reservations about the legalization of same-sex marriage, it is time for the church to begin to come to terms with this challenging new cultural and pastoral reality, a reality that calls for far more than overwrought predictions of moral decline and social calamity. Same-sex marriage may prove to be a mistake or a failed and eventually abandoned experiment, but it is not an existential threat to the church or to Western Civilization. It is now time to listen and learn from those the church has long silenced or ignored. Who knows, those being listened to might even return the compliment.

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The marriage licence bureau is always in the basement of city hall.the office is also  along side with offices that issue  permits for electrical plugs, new water heaters, kitchen sinks, parking permits and tickets etc.. Wise mature people don't get too excited about city hall permits,  especially who has them or doesn't...  it's the special interest groups who care the most.. . . 

Two comments: First, what will Francis's recent comment about not judging gay priests mean for the debate about gay marriage?  Second, and the more to the point of this piece--I found interesting the point, if I understood it correctly, that gay marriage could indeed be an imposition on religious freedom because the court would be "forc[ing] religion institutions to recognize such marriages in their employment and benefits agreements."  But how does that not already go on without gay marriage?  For example, a male and female who get married in a civil ceremony would presumably still receive the same benefits as other couples who married sacramentally.  Is that an imposition on religious freedom as well?  Does that force an organization who may not recognize the original marriage to now recognize something just because the state does?  Another example is a heterosexual married couple who gets divorced, and the employee gets remarried.  The benefits now shift to the new spouse.  Assuming there's been no annulment of the original marriage, has this also been an imposition on the religious institution, who, presumably, would view that original marriage as still in effect?

At a time when a monolithic sectarian (nee libertarian, aka "conservative") orthodoxy is intent on rolling back the Civil Rights Act, reversing a long tradition of openness to immigration, and conjuring the right to personal lethal force under the rubric of "stand your ground," this statement seems particularly curious:

"American democracy cannot afford to deprive itself of those moral and social resources, yet that is what could happen if the law comes to equate institutional resistance to the recognition of same-sex marriage with racial discrimination."

Add to this incongruity the protracted unwillingness of the Bishops to take full responsiblity for the lack of moral and withholding of social resources from victims of juvenile sexual abuse by clergy and one is left to wonder how a person of faith is to take such conjectures of doom seriously.

If, as it has with the rights and opportunities for women in church service, the US Catholic hierarchy continues to resist from a bastion of pre-modern selective judgment then it is difficult to see what is being defended by those so ill-equipped to lead where considerably more fundamental justice issues callout the challenge.

American democracy cannot afford to deprive itself of those moral and social resources, yet that is what could happen if the law comes to equate institutional resistance to the recognition of same-sex marriage with racial discrimination. - See more at: http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/truth-about-marriage#comment-form

American democracy cannot afford to deprive itself of those moral and social resources, yet that is what could happen if the law comes to equate institutional resistance to the recognition of same-sex marriage with racial discrimination. - See more at: http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/truth-about-marriage#comment-form

American democracy cannot afford to deprive itself of those moral and social resources, yet that is what could happen if the law comes to equate institutional resistance to the recognition of same-sex marriage with racial discrimination. - See more at: http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/truth-about-marriage#comment-form

Bravo to the Editors for this most insightful and truthful essay. With the recent comment by Pope Francis, that "who am I to judge them", perhaps the Church will recognize (as the editors said) faithful, life-long and fruitful civil unions, as well as the selfless and loving work same-sex couples do in raising children, many of whom would have gone uncared for and unloved.

 

 

Joseph Incandella -- thanks for those two very valuable and most important comments about recognizing for employment and benefits, the non-employee spouse of same sex civil marriages. 

It would be hypocritical for a Catholic organization (directed by mandate by the hierarchy) to deny employment benefits to non-employee spouses of same sex civil marriages based on religious beliefs (e.g., they are not married according to the Church and their sexual relations are considered immoral), but grant such benefits to the spouses of divorced and remarried Catholic employees who were remarried civilly (e.g., according to the Church they are committing adultery and their remarriages are not recognized); or to baptized Catholics who marry civilly but not in a Catholic Church (e.g., those Catholics that remain Catholic in name only but are spiritual but not religious). 

 

 

I never cease to be amazed that the RCC has survived quite handily in European and Latin American countries in which the institution of marriage is, first and foremost, a civil institution.  That state executes the contract between the parties and thereafter imparts the civil rights, benefits and responsibilities to those parties.  Religious organizations are not required to offer rituals and blessings to any people for whom they choose not to.  The United States is heading in this same direction and unless religious institutions agree to cooperate, they should be removed from the civil marriage process.

People who work for governmental institutions are hired to perform the duties and responsibilities of the jobs they occupy.  If their consciences prevent them from executing those functions for some people, then they can either have someone else performing the same function to do so for those they cosider to be  objectionable people or find another line of work.

Catholic employers do not have to recognize any same-sex marriages to any greater or lesser extent than they do of those other individuals who are not sacramentally married; who are in successor marriages, post-divorce; or who have been married in states under conditions that may not be normally recognized in one’s state of employment, i.e., minimum marriageable ages.

The Catholics in the pews appear to be ahead of the Commonweal editors and church hierarchy on this.  Support for gay marriage has increased in the United States in recent years, and it's actually higher among Catholics than it is among Americans overall.

A majority of Catholics, 54 percent, now support gay marriage, compared to 47 percent of all Americans, according to a new Quinnipiac poll (http://www.quinnipiac.edu/institutes-and-centers/polling-institute/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=1863.

The poll also found that more Hispanics, Catholic or otherwise, support same-sex marriage than any other demographic. Sixty-three percent of self-identified Hispanics are in favor of gay marriage, compared to just 32 percent of blacks and 48 percent of whites.

It's not the first time in recent history that Quinnipiac has found more support than not for gay marriage among Catholics. A poll in December 2012 of white Catholics found that 49 percent favored gay marriage and 43 percent opposed it (http://www.quinnipiac.edu/institutes-and-centers/polling-institute/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=1820.  This latest poll surveyed total Catholics, not just whites, and found a higher level of support than among whites only.

I was disheartened to read the reasoning of the Commonweal editors for their stand against same-sex marriage. Thre is no connection between legalization of same-sex marriage and the decline of marriage, the divorce rates among heterosexual couples, the number of children born out of wedlock, the number of children in institutions and foster care, the terrible abuse of children by heterosexual parents, the Church's refusal to recognize the remarriage of women who had been abused or abandoned by previous spouses, th echurch's refusal to recognize th echilren born to remaied divorced parents -- the list goes on.

These problems in traditional marriages ware in no way connected marriage betwee two gay couples.

The Court recognized the fundamental human right of association and sought to remove the stigma imposed by some religious or bigoted persons on children raised by gay couples. Some states still prevent the adoption of children by both gay parents allowing only one to have a legal relationship to the child. Gay parents are now free to arrange the adoption of the child by both gay parents insuring the federal rights of inheritance and social security benefits to the child in case of the death of the single gay parent who had previously been the only one allowed to adopt.

Both gay married partners can now have inheritance rights, the right to visit the dying spouse in the hospital and other precious legal rights.

It is unfortunate that the editors, like the hierarchy, are introducing the red herring of religious liberty. No church is forced to perform any rite or religious ceremony to recognize the marriage of a gay couple. And if the church wishes to discriminate in their social services, then it is best that they do not expect citizens of different religious or non-religious orientation to subsidize their discrimination.

The editors believe that fundamental rights of equality should be subject to the vote of citizens in each state. No one would believe that even today in the deep South would marriages between different "racial" partners be accepted as legal.

The editorial is unworthy of the thinking lay people who over decades have expected an enlightened, common-sense and decent response to social issues. Gay people have their right to religious liberty and freedom of conscience in the civil sphere.

This article is ridiculous, false.  First, the article presupposes this world over the Church.  Church teaches on marriage are not subject to popular will, evolving societal standards, or any secular court ruling.  The USCCB position, or any other group putting out a statement, either teaches Church teaching or not.  If not, that position is outside the Catholic Church.  That the article positions future acceptability of homosexual social unions on a secular justification is telling.

 

Second the article is false in its presentation of reality and ethics.  The acceptability of homosexual “marriages” can also be viewed from the standpoint of reason and science.

 

Homosexuality is a defect.  This is true whether viewed on an individual basis or on a species foundation.  An extreme disconnect exists when the desire for sexual fulfillment (or ‘giving’) is not natural to the body.  The anatomy of a man is for a woman.  Same sex coupling is illogical.  The deficiency in reason is particularly apparent when humanity is viewed as biotic community.  Homosexuality is a defect in propagation of the species.  It is counter to a species evolutionary success.

 

Social history, social ‘science’, is not supportive of homosexual marriage either.  There have been successful cultures that tolerated homosexual acts.  There has not been a successful culture that embraced homosexual unions.  Helen, not Hector, launched a thousand ships.

 

Homosexual unions are unreasonable from a scientific standpoint.  For the Christian; reason and science are not the basis of truth.  Yet Truth cannot run counter to reason or science.  That would be deceit.  Of course, the prior sentence requires a humble respect for the extreme human fallibility.

 

If the union of same sexes is to be embraced by the Church, what is the basis?  What basis can then be used for the prohibition of other un-natural unions?  Brother and sister or brother and brother are un-acceptable on what grounds?  Polygamy is natural and has been very successful from a social science perspective.  Why prohibit a loving group?  Will religious doctrine be relative to popular whim?

 

The Church’s teaching on the sacrament of marriage, based in faith and charity, illuminates the logic of biology.  Charity also defines what may ‘grow’ from reason.  Eugenics, a logical outgrowth of evolutionary biology, is rejected by the Church.  So too is hatred towards a homosexual.

 

The following excerpts from this thoughtful and far-ranging editorial on same sex marriage and the possible impact on our society seem most important:

“There have been few changes in our moral, sexual, and legal culture more precipitous or, in some ways, more dramatic than the normalization of homosexuality and the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage. Within the lifetime of many Americans, homosexuality has gone from being a universally condemned vice, often only whispered about, to being an accepted and often celebrated sexual preference or identity. These attitudinal changes are especially pronounced between the generations, with younger Americans broadly supportive of the political demands of their gay and lesbian friends while their parents and grandparents continue to find these developments disorienting if not threatening to once-unquestioned values underpinning the family and traditional gender roles….

 

“Commonweal has expressed skepticism and urged caution regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage, while at the same time defending the rights and dignity of homosexual persons both in society and in the church. In the aftermath of the chaos and destruction, both personal and social, wrought by the so-called sexual revolution, the rush to change the fundamental heterosexual basis of marriage seemed imprudent. With the institution of marriage already in crisis, such an unprecedented social experiment appeared to pose risks—especially to the already precarious place of children within modern marriage—that were all but impossible to measure. With divorce and out-of-wedlock birthrates soaring, tampering with the inherited understanding of marriage seemed like only one more instance of “enlightened” hubris. Advocates cast same-sex marriage as the extension of basic rights to a once excluded group, but it is likely also a reflection of—and a further step toward—an essentially privatized and libertarian moral culture.

“None of these worries has been assuaged in any definitive way. ...”

It is this very precipitivness nature of the "gay movments" gains over the last forty years that should give us pause. Now, in the latest gain, we simply don't know how such a fundamental change in the meaning of marriage, families and child-raising will mean for the cohesion, peace and stablity of society. So, why go so far, so fast? The speed is literally frightening. (And any backlash might be even more frightening.)

We are dispensing within a few short years with millenia of wisdom regarding the nature of marriage and the meaning of homosexuality in our society. This is not a prejudcial observation; but, one, I trust, of prudence. I pray we slow down; absorb the changes already made; evaluate them; then move on deliberately and carefully. I also suspect there will be no such slowdown; but, I still wish and pray for it.

 

 

 

 

Please, get real, who's being forced, who's being denied. Before legalization? After lehgalization"

When the world goes wrong, it proves rather that the Church is right. The Church is justified, not because her children do not sin, but because they do.”

__G K Chesterton

Initially this was a pretty fair article,  until the "bad bishops" section.

We are certainly in agreement that  the cultural mores have changed quickly and in favor of same sex marriage, even among American Catholics.  But then, years of are own spiritually reckless lives and disrespect for marriage are the cause, no fault divorce and artificial contraception being two of the biggest reasons. 

My biggest surprise of your article is that you are surprised by the American Catholic Bishops.  Did you really expect that the Cattholic Church was going to "get with the secular culture" and cave on one of  if not the most imporatant 2000 year old church dogma on marriage?

Do you not understand it's the job of the chruch to be right when when the world is wrong?  Even if you disagree with the Catholic Faith, it would be more than reasonable to at least agree to their right to speak out against a major dogma.  For the record, that is their job. The fact that most of you are probably Catholic and don't undertstand the problem is another matter for another time. 

To address a few of your issues, let's start with "dignity."  The church (and catechism), has always taught that every human life is entitled to dignity, regardless of sexual orientation and or inside or out of the womb.  Pope Francis just confimed that teaching.

As for raising children, be it in a SSM or a Civil Union, we don't need 20 more years and 200 studies to know that raising kids in a active homosexual environment is spiritual suicide, in addition to the obvious consequences that every kid needs and wants a mother and father. 

The "truth" of marriage is that it is between a man and a women.  You can throw any label you want on anything , but two married persons of the same sex  is not "marriage."  And speaking of truth, love can only coincide with truth, consequently, the only real love is in accordance with the truth of Christ.  Of course, the secular folks will disagree, but I would then ask them on what their "standard" is based upon for dignity and equality.  Unless God is the standard, it's all relative in our moral relative world.

The really over the top concern is "achievements."  What?  What does a person's sexual orientation have to do with achievements?  After all of these years of women fighting to be more "equal," now it appears that we are being asked to go backwards to make people with same sex attraction, more important.  Not only does it not make any sense, it's just plain stupid.  Our achievements have absolutely nothing to do with anything expect our hard work to earn them.  Furthermore, one of the things that makes our achievements even more note worthy are the obstacles overcome in achieving them.  I don't know about you, but I've yet to meet anyone in all of my years of life who has been totally devoid of obstacles.

Lastly, the threat of moral and social decline is beyond real.  We are already living it.

In conclusion, the bishops are only doing their job (s).  If anyone needs to "come to terms" with anything, every Catholic who doesn't see or understand the  the consequences and sinfulness of active gay sex would be a very good place to start.

  The reality it's the faithful Catholics who love the most.  Real love is always keeping the best interest at heart of those whom we love, not our personal agendas.  Faithful Catholics want nothing more than the salvation of all souls, of everyone.  To confirm anyone in their sins, regardless of how counter cultural and spiritually dangerous  it is, is anything  but love.

 

 

 

Yes indeed, Karl, we need a better God, 'cause this one sure gummed up creation when he included gay  people. What a klutz!

I'd just get out of this whole stinkin' universe if I knew the way.

Ah John P, not good.  God doesn't make mistakes.  I can sum it up for you in a one line from Pope John Paul II:

 

In the encounter with Christ, every man discovers the mystery of his own life.

 

Dare to know Christ, intimately, subsequently, you will know your own mystery.

 

 

Commonweal editors:  Advocates cast same-sex marriage as the extension of basic rights to a once excluded group, but it is likely also a reflection of—and a further step toward—an essentially privatized and libertarian moral culture. - See more at: http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/truth-about-marriage#comment-form

Ummmm - did it ever occur to you that the gay rights movement of the last 40 years is about a group of people claiming their dignity and leading more open, honest, dignified lives?   Does it say nothing to you that the major gay rights battles have been about marriage, about service in the military?  Are these the aspirations of the depraved?

And for all the pap about supporting the dignity of gays and lesbians, what exactly are you proposing as the alternative to marriage?  What would you have in place for those same-sex couples you praise for their selfless work raising children?  Do you not see how empty that praise is?

The Patricias of the world would no doubt be happy to go back to a world where gays and lesbians had the decency to kill themselves, or go into the clergy and pray for a vocation, or abandon themselves to the underworld and isolate from family.  And how much has straight society itself suffered from the old system?  How many men held back from emotional intimacy with their sons or friends or other family members because of ideas about manhood that in part rejected anything that could be considered "sissy"?  How many people didn't pursue interests or even careers because they might be perceived as homosexual?

If where we find ourselves now is too precipitous a change, exactly where should we be?  I wonder how many parents of happy same-sex couples really wish their child had found a Courage meeting and was in effect living the life of a recovering addict?  It would be interesting to hear from parents of gay or lesbian children who are in happy, thriving relationships.

Editors --

Excellent editorial!

In the good old days of the Church's ascendency in Franco Spain, the head of the "Holy Office" (they of the Inquisition), Cardinal Ottoviani (who literally suffered one blind eye), stated that Jews in Spain had no legal right to open synagogues since error has no rights. Pope Pius XII in an address to Italian jurors stated that error has no rights but people in error do have rights and hence Jews should be alowed to open public synagogues. If the Church keeps insisting that God made a mistake in creating gay people as gay, they must nevertheless, according to the reasoning of Pope Pius XII, afford them all legal rights despite the Church's belief that their orientation is an error (on God's part).

The editors encapsulated the weakness of the USCCB modus operandi on the issue and got to the heart of the matter with this: “The statement (by the USCCB) went on to use variations on the phrase ‘the truth of marriage’…as though mere incantation were a substitute for persuasion.”

 

That is why the bishops have provided little on no illumination regarding the issue (and very few other issue with the exception of Catholic social teaching). Their ability to persuade is not their forte, and it has not been their forte since John Paul II started appointing bishops noted more for their opposition to birth control, defense of a celibate priesthood, and a thinly disguised misogyny (that opposes the ordination of women to the priesthood) than for their theological acumen.

 

If this entity (USCCB) happened to be a law firm engaged in defense work, few, if any, would engage them to provide a defense in a court of law. They would likely be bankrupt very quickly.

Another example of their ineptness to use anything more than incantation to make their case has been their “religious liberty” crusade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Georgoe:

 

Can you point out to me where in the teachings of the Catholic Faith teaches that God made an "error?"  The church refers to a "disorder" which is a in no way the same as God made a mistake.  In point of fact, it has never been conclusively determined that homosexuality is even an inborn trait. (see article link at the end)

As for PPXII and the Jews, it's a non-sequitur to compare sexual sin with anothers' right to practice their faith.  Furthermore, if PPXII is your role model, know that he too would be in line with the faithful American Bishops.

That said, of course we all have "rights," along with our free-will.  Along with those rights also comes conscience.  To quote John Henry Newman,  "Conscience has rights because it has duties."

 

Back to the central topic of the bishops being "out of touch," some might find the below link helpful ("Bishop approved).

 

http://www.catholic.com/tracts/homosexuality

 

(Hollingsworth is misspelled in the editorial.)

Finally the church seems to be broadening its view beyond homosexuality per se, looking at relationships.  Certainly consensual committed relationships between adults of relatively equal social status are more moral than a series of one night stands, or a superior using status to coerce an inferior into having sex -- whatever the persons' sexual orientation. This of course applies to adults sexually abusing children. 

Whenever an interaction is I-It rather than I-Thou, this is no longer moral, no longer following the Gospel, the love Jesus spoke of.  I suggest a reading or re-reading of Martin Buber's classic, "I and Thou," the older 1937 English translation by Ronald Gregor Smith; it's more poetic and powerful than the later, "I and You" translation.  The big problem -- within and outside the church -- is people engaging in I-It relationships.  This includes pornography and corporations regarding workers as a commodity.  Sexual orientation is a lesser concern.   

To refer to sexual orientation as "disordered" without the knowledge of its evolution seems to me to be subjectively disordered.  It also appears to create a state of distress within the mind of the observer associated with the one being observed and identified as disordered.  This then becomes the basis of the relationship which is not the expression of love, rather, this distress is the seed of violence between the observer and the observed.  The cry for justice by those who are prejudged is a cry against the violence created by the seed of distress  when one's worldview is shaken by the unknown.  Dogmatic beliefs are attempts to create "order" when one encounters the subjective interpretation of "disorder".  

Our society needs considerable moral suasion, as not only are workers a commodity, corporations are persons and money is speech.  The church mutes its moral voice if it gets bogged down in lesser concerns rather than addressing these major concerns. 

Ron how exactly has homosexuality "evolved?"  I hope you are not referring to merely secular cultural acceptance. 

From listen to many of you, I think there is a problem in the understanding of authentic freedom.  We all want to be free, but none of us can ever possible be free in union with sin.

Just as there can be no authenic truth outside of love, it's also impossible to have true freedom outside of truth.  This is much of what the Catholic Church is trying to teach.  For all who doubt me, especially if you are one of 80% of Americans addicted to porn or even hetersexual sinful sex, how "free" you are  in your 'freedom' ("license"), to participate in it? 

This is directly from church teaching.

As for the church getting bogged down in "lesser concerns," what ultimately matters more than eternal salvation, which is exactly what is at stake.  It's also the responsibility of every Catholic Bishop to make that know to all the souls entrusted to his care.  What any of us do with that information is of course our free will, but they have a right and an obligation to teach it. 

Patricia, I am only referring to the evolution of sexual identity and preference. 

The objectifying of one person by another is THE I-It problem the church has inadequately addressed.  This is, of course, the sexual abuse of children by priests.  Until this problem is better tended to, why waste time worrying about an I-Thou relationship between two same-sex persons?  If the church doesn't want to marry such persons, it doesn't have to.  But the state can marry them if it wants to. 

Again, why waste time on this issue when there is much work to do in fostering more I-Thou relationships within the church?  To not do this work is to ignore the Gospel teachings and letters of Paul and James. It is to miss the point of our religion: love.       

Agree, Jim. 

-------

(Thanks, Editors, for correcting the spelling.)

 

 

Jim I don't know what planet you are living on, but the Catholic Church is the now the safest place in the universe for kids.  The only thing left hanging is more discipline for some of the abusing priests who are still alive. If only our schools and homes could offer kids the protection the CC now does.  Yes, it was horrible, but it has for the most part been resolved, especially that kids are safer than ever. 

Actually, Ross Douthart in the NYT has a great piece today specifically on that subject.

Why you think the church can only handle one sinner or crisis at a time is beyond me and certainly not even logical.  The church exists to teach the gospels and to teach all necessary for the salvation of souls, as well as making reparations for ours.  All sin matters, period, but as the Pope Francis recently pointed out, even Peter t was not only forgiven but made to be the first pope. 

It's always very telling when the only argument for big church issues is the sex abuse crisis.  As I often say, it was the Mother Load for every dissenting catholic that either dosn't know the faith or doesn't want to know it.

 

Off topic:

As for spelling checks, it's disappointing that an edit function wasn't included in the new format.  I apologize for my many typos.  I have a habit of typing very fast, and most of the time not proofing.

 

I found this editorial to be somewhat illogical.  It seemed to equate things that are happening with gay marriage as if they were" dependent variables."  The idea that somehow divorce and out of wedlock births are soaring, thus we need to ban gay marriage is a little strange, to say the least.  Those things have been "soaring" for 2 or 3 decades.  I can't for the life of me figure out what gay marriage has to do with either of those facts, unless you want to argue that it is just the latest in a long line of breakdowns in traditional societal relationships. 

On the question of religious freedom I am equally stumped. There is a general principal, I think, that when the Church, or any Church for that matter, is acting in a general business rleationship it has to follow the law.  When it hires an employee, for example, that employee is generally covered by generally applicable employment law.  The Church can't pay its employees less than minimum wage, nor can it have them work in dangerous occupations without complying with OSHA.  It can't not pay social security and medicare taxes.  Providing health insurance would seem to fall into this catagorey.  If an employee is married legally, not sacrementally, then one would expect that the Church would offer the same benefits it offers any legally married person in its employ.  I don't get how that imposes any restrictions on religous freedom any more than requiring payment of FICA taxes.  If the State comes into the Church and demands that Fr. O'Malley provide a Catholic wedding to Chuck and Bob, that is a very different situation.  But nothing like that is happening or is likely to happen. 

To me the Church has done an awful job of making its case, if indeed it has a case to be made.  simply stating that homosexuality is "disordered" without defending that proposition may have been acceptable in an earlier century. But the parish priest is no longer the most educated man in the village.  It certainly has not made the case that providing the legal framework for 2 people to decide who has certian rights to such thing as property and legal decision-making in cases of health is wrong.

 

There just is no case against gay marriage, which is why the church has made such an awful mess of trying to make one.

 

If 2 men or 2 women have the human qualities needed to tie the knot, and have not been totally demoralized by smug catholic homophobia, then they are contributing to a culture of marital responsibility and fidelity, not destroying it. Those who admire and love their gay and lesbian partnered friends see this, the church doesn't, yet.

Homosexuality was not known in OT times as we know it today. During those times everyone was believed to be heterosexual. Hence a homosexual act was considered an abomination because it was against the order of nature for heterosexuals. Today we know that homosexuality is a natural orientation, a condition that people are born with and not something the person chooses. The homosexual orientation is an inversion of the heterosexual orientation. Today the Church believes that homosexuality is not immoral. However, the Church teaches that the choice to engage in homosexual acts is intrinsically disordered and immoral. This means that homosexuals must practice a lifetime of sexual abstinence, despite the fact that lifetime sexual abstinence, as well as celibacy, is a gift from God given to the very few. In order to work, lifetime sexual abstience must be voluntarily chosen, not imposed on individuals by authority. This seems to be an impractical and unreasonable requirement because not everyone is called to practice complete sexual abstinence, or celibacy. Nor does the Church teach that God grants homosexuals (3.5% of the population are gay and lesbian) the grace and infused virtue necessary to live such a life. For homosexuals, both heterosexual acts and sexual abstinence are unnatural acts. 

 

From OT times to the 15th century, the male seed was believed to hold all the essence of the human person and to spill this seed on the ground, or in a place not suited for procreation, was considered quasi-homicide. Thus, a homosexual act was quasi-homicide as well and unnatural (against the natural law). This fact seems to be minimized by the Church in the formulation of its teachings.

 

The Sodom example, and the Lot story, is important for understanding Scripture. There is no textual evidence that the angry mob in the Lot story were homosexuals. The logical conclusion is that they were all heterosexual men who were freely choosing an unnatural act (gang rape). While the male rape by heterosexuals is condemned in the text, it is not an unambiguous condemnation of a just and loving homosexual act of men with a homosexual orientation. Homosexuality is one of three natural human orientations (e.g., homosexuality, heterosexuality and bi-sexuality). These natural human orientations were not known in NT times because of ignorance.

 

Todd Salzman in his book 'Sexual Ethics' makes clear, Magisterial teaching says that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered for the following reasons:

a. they are contrary to the natural law, the principles of which are reflected in human nature itself;

b. they close the sexual act to the gift of life; and,

c. they do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.

 

As to "a" above, the essential order of nature must be respected as a promotion of man's dignity. However, the Church does not recognize homosexuality as an essential order of nature.

 

Salzman also says "No one is arguing that homosexual activity is moral because it is natural for those with a homosexual orientation, for that would treat natural facts as moral justification. To be moral, any sexual act, whether homosexual or heterosexual, must be not only natural but also just, loving and in accord with holistic complementarity (sexual, personal and biological). Holistic complementarity includes "orientation", personal, and biological complementarity, and the integration and manifestation of all three in just, loving, committed sexual acts (in a committed marital relationship) that facilitate a person's ability to love God, neighbor, and self in a more profound and holy way." 

 

The Church condemns homosexual acts because they close the sexual act to the gift of life. This is contradicted in principle when the Church says that marital acts of infertile couples or menopausal women are not immoral. Nor are sexual acts immoral if they are objectively non-procreative by intention, end and choice as when couples deliberately restrict marital acts to infertile times to avoid pregnancy. In these cases, the unitive and procreative dimensions of the marital act are separated.

 

 

 

Ronald King:  well said.  Enjoy this as well: 

http://theweek.com/article/index/228541/how-marriage-has-changed-over-ce...

 

Your editorial "The Truth about Marriage" [30 July] is a profound disappointment. You're straddling all the wrong fences.

Over the centuries the hierarchy has accrued and reserved for itself alone the gracious gifts of the Spirit to the whole community.  In various ways the entire church is called to teach and sanctify.  It is the restricted use of the term magisterium that imperils the integrity of the religious community, not the imagined catastrophes caused by publicly licensed agencies "forced" to extend health-insurance benefits to the family of a same-sex couple.

The Spirit moves in the whole world, not only among the Catholic hierarchy.  Our church has a rich theology.  It would have been more sensible for your editors to urge the bishops to mine the treasures found in our sacramental theology.  Christ is our definitive revelation and sacrament, and, by extension, so are the People of God.  He did not leave us seven magic things.  It took many centuries for the present sacrament of matrimony to evolve.  Surely this evolution has not abruptly stopped.  The church will eventually recognize that other relationships within itself also reflect the love of Christ and bring grace to the world.  The teachings of theologians and the sense of the faithful are important indicators in this regard.

Am I misreading your thoughts about discrimination, or has Commonweal, too, nosed its way to the trough to feast on the garbage shoveled there by the bishops?  However well-meaning your intentions, your quotation marks around "marriage equality" and a thought like "Same-sex marriage may prove to be a mistake of a failed and eventually abandoned experiment..." are dismaying.

As a student at a Catholic university in a 1955 Senior religion class, I learned for the first time (!) that it was the Church's official position that "Procreation is the primary end of marriage." I objected, on no grounds other than my intuitive sense of the centrality of relationship to marriage. Subsequently in the course of my marriage, I evolved through the stages from the rhythm method of controlling conception (it didn't work on three successive occasions), through the process of accepting the relevance and rightness of human intervention through artificial means. In the meantime, the bishops at Vatican II charged with responsility for addressing this issue presented a report strongly urging a change in Catholic policy, which was suppressed by Paul VI. I was more influenced by the committee of bishops whose report I read and approved of.

It is my view that the historic roots of the prohibitions against contraception are the same as the prohibition of masturbation (I believe that Pope Paul also believed that to be the case, if I remember correctly). And, I believe that the historic driver from ancient times had two components: creating certainty concerning who is the legitamate father of all children, which necessitated a woman's being a virgin at the time of marriage, and the corrollary protection of the property rights of the family. Land was generally transmitted to the legitimate children in various cultures, according to the local customs.

In the 20th century the historic issues refenced above became moot. DNA evidence now can confirm legitimacy, and preservation of the rights of heirs occurs through sophisticated legal processes.

Consequently, I see no need to sequester the term "marriage" along the traditional gender lines (even though I went through the same initial process as referred to in this article of wishing that the gay community could be satisfied with civil unions). To paraphrase the Scholastic terminology, I consider the primary end of marriage to be relationship. Even Catholic thinkers today honor the concept of bonding of husband and wife as a legitimate and honorable aspect of sexuality.

Jim McDonald

Los Angeles

I appreciate the insights of this editorial on gay marriage, even though more cautious than I would be., and the tangle of religious freedom will always be with us as a work in progress. From my experience of long term committed couples of the same sex, I have come to realize that the main sexual organ, the seat of love, emotion, and commitment, is the brain, not the sexual organs that differentiate man and woman. With this realization, a lot of things fall into place, especially if one is persuaded that same-sex orientation is innate, rather than a learned behavior.Transgendering people also fit within this paradigm in their own unique way. As we are discovering, biology is not necessarily destiny. We  have so much to learn yet about human sexuality. The "others" are helping us to make these discoveries.

Fr. Ken Smits, Capuchin

No worries, Patricia @1:09 pm. Your typos are not a problem. I almost wish there were more of them.

Fr, Ken,
It is this very precipitous nature of the "gay movements" gains over the last forty years that should give us pause. Now, in the latest gain, we simply don't know how such a fundamental change in the meaning of marriage, families and child-raising will mean for the cohesion, peace and stability of society. So, why go so far, so fast? The speed is literally frightening. (And any backlash might be even more frightening.)

We are dispensing within a few short years with millenia of wisdom regarding the nature of marriage and the meaning of homosexuality in our society. This is not a prejudicial observation; but, one, I trust, of prudence. I pray we slow down; absorb the changes already made; evaluate them; then move on deliberately and carefully. I also suspect there will be no such slowdown; but, I still wish and pray for it.

I do not question your personal encounters with gay couples and the positives that they have engendered. I have gay couple friends whom I love and admire for many reasons. However, we surely do not know enough about how changing the definition of marriage will have on our culture, let alone, if it occurs, allowing gay couple adoptions on the same level as heterosexual will have on the children adopted. There are many other areas in which we are ignorant, or at least confused. I fear changes of this magnitude made so quickly by society will not come out well. Can we not slow down a decade or two, at least, until more studies can be made and more reflection taken?

This editorial reminds me of those National Review articles expressing doubt about the feasibility of racial integration and urging blacks to let whites lead.

In twenty years you will be ashamed to have written it.

why waste time worrying about an I-Thou relationship between two same-sex persons?

 

Because these relationships by their very nature are I - It relationships.  Consent can never make immoral actions moral.  While it is certainly true that a lack of consent is a moral determinant, the corollary about consent is false.  The idea that consent is an element of moral behavior is a fundamental error of our society. 

 

Wayne Sheriden,

I think the truth is that it is marriage that is changing.  What was a lifetime commitment is no longer seen that way.  What was seen only 20 year ago by most as a necessary step before having children is simply not seen as any such requirement today.  I think that this is a too little studied development, but one which will have profoundly greater impacts on society than a few gay marriages.  In one sense, the idea that gay couple want to get married is almost quaint when one looks at what is actually happening to the institution in the heterosexual community.  Average age of marriage is now 27 for women and 29 for men compared to 23 and 26 in 1990.  Almost half of Americans over the age of 20 are unmarried, something that has not happened before.  28% of adults over 18 have never married, compared to about 19% two decades ago.  I think in many ways it is this change, tha tmarriage is neither the "preferred state" not the dominat state in society that is what has really shaken people.  The fear that an already shakey institution will now be burdened even more is going on beneath the surface of this debate,I think. 

Consent can never make immoral actions moral.

If Mary has a box of chocolates and Johnny takes one without asking her, he's stealing, and that's an immoral action. If he asks, "May I have a chocolate, Mary"? and she says, "Yes," and he then takes one, it's still immoral.

Life just got a little bit harder. Or...

 

I'm sorry -- the editors sound a lot like the white moderates Dr. King responded to in Letter to a Birmingham Jail.  Lets's move slow, prudence, yes we recognize your dignity, but we cannot move at the pace of change you want.

King wrote to white moderates:

I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills.

There are ills to be cured.  Time alone will not cure them.  Adjustments don't just happen -- they have to be made to happen.   Basic civil rights of gay people are still being denied. 

If I read this editorial correctly, the people who continue to suffer because their spouse is the same sex are supposed to be prudent and allow spouses to be deported while we wait for adjustment?  Children they raised from birth should be taken away because a spouse dies while others adjust? The woman in the picture accompanying this article should lose a home or life savings so others can adjust?  The caution and prudence the editors advise would perpetuate horribly unjust burdens on gay families, of course very different from the oppression Dr. King fought, but it is oppression nonetheless. 

Jack, to compare SSM to the civil right's movement is not only ignorant, but insulting to alll who lived, and suffered,  under Jim Crow Laws.  As a Christian, I'm quite certain, along with  Dr. King's neice, Alveda King, that he would agree. 

Here's Alveda King in her own words.

There simply is no logical comparison between race, and gender.  The race of a person has absolutely nothing to do with "the content of his/her character," unlike the sex of a person haivng everything to do with what nature (and God), intended. 

While I and any reasonable, and certainly all faihtful Judeo/Christians (a group which interestingly never once denied interracial marriages), would treat any person of any sexual orientation with equal digntity including legal rights between them, are not bigots because we fail to acknowledge two people of the same sex seeking marriage as good for them, their children, or society. 

Furthermore, and if you want to throw in the race card, which ever weak argument always does, those pushing the gay marriage bandwagon are far worse than even  the elite white Redeemers after the post civil war Reconstructionist effort. 

It's simply astonishing to me that after 6000 years of every culture on the planet defining marriage as being between opposite sexes, we the people of our time, the Godless enlighgted,sages that we are, have finally gotten it right.  Imagine!

Must be those Holiday Inns.

I'd say Martin Luther King's *wife* trumps Martin Luther King's niece.

Thanks Jim.  That was interesting.

Well,  Coretta King was wrong Jim, and called out so by a plethora of Black American Pastors. 

Look no further than the majority of the Ronald Reagan Family, especially Ron Jr. compared to President Reagan.  Sometimes apples really do fall far from the tree, especially on issues that take extraordinary moral courage in our always needing to be liked culture.

Perhaps Coretta Scott King was simply like you, Patricia:  brave enough to speak the truth as her conscience saw it  in spite of voices to the contrary.

Well Jim, not if that truth was based on the same truth that her husband followed, Jesus Christ.

Interesting that if Coretta King was so on board with the "injustice equals injustice everywhere" mantra, she never, at least to my knowledge (someone can correct me if I'm wrong), spoke out against abortion.

I wasn't disagreeing with you that C King supported same sex marriage, only that she was wrong.

On a similar note, perhaps even a better example than the Reagans, is Laura and George Bush.  While Laura Bush had the class to not speak her personal view while George was still in office, she wasted little time afterwards in letting us know that she supports both gay marriage and abortion.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/laura-bush-supports-gay-marriage-abortion/story?id=10629213

As I said earlier, not all apples fall close to the tree.  Thank God at least for Alveda King who is also in the pro life movement.

 

 

 

Patricia,  God wired us to be loved and that we will be judged as we judge others.  Expressing prejudice or ignorance is not moral courage, especially in a society that protects free speech.  Putting one's life on the line and giving up everything for those less fortunate is moral courage.

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