The Things We Share

A Catholic's Case for Same-Sex Marriage

There's this guy I know in Manhattan. Call him Jim. Jim Watson. We’re friends, I guess. We used to be friends, anyway—grabbing a hamburger together near Gramercy Park, from time to time, or meeting out on the Stuyvesant Town Oval on a summer afternoon to play some folk and bluegrass with the guitar strummers, mandolin pickers, autoharpers, and amateur banjo players who’d drift by. None of us any good, but fun, you know? Old-timey Americana like “Wayfaring Stranger,” “Pretty Saro,” and “The Orphan Girl.” A version of “Shady Grove,” I remember, was one of his specialties: When I was just a little boy, / all I wanted was a Barlow knife. / But now I am a great big boy, / I’m lookin’ for a wife.

A few years ago, his friendship began to cool, bit by bit. You understand how it is: a little here, a little there, and last time I was through New York he didn’t even bother to answer my note suggesting we put together one of our low-rent urban hootenannies. The problem, our conversations had made pretty clear along the way, was that I am a Catholic, and Jim is gay.

Well, actually, gay isn’t the word he would use. I have what might be the worst ability to recognize sexual orientation on the planet, but no one needed sensitivity to guess Jim’s views. Not that he was campy or anything when I knew him, but he was always vocal about his sexuality, naming himself loudly to anyone nearby with words that polite society allows only in ironic use by gay men themselves.

Anyway, Jim gradually started to take our difference personally, growing increasingly angry first at the Catholic Church for its opposition to state-sanctioned same-sex marriage and then at Catholics themselves for belonging to such a church. His transformation didn’t come from any personal desire to marry—or, at least, from any desire he ever articulated or I could see.

But then, I’ve already mentioned how blind I can be, and maybe a hunger to marry was gnawing at his heart. However much the culture piously proclaims the equivalence of all lifestyles, a vision of the lonely bachelor’s deathbed can begin to haunt any man. We could talk here of what even back in the 1820s Schopenhauer insisted was the woe in marriage, but we can’t deny the sheer companionable comfort that marriage seems to promise as well: the hope that we won’t grow old and die alone, the hope that the good life and good death of Baucis and Philemon (in Ovid’s wonderful old myth about the gods rewarding an aging couple) might still be available—for me, for you, for any of us.

Still, as Jim began to formulate the emerging thought, his anger wasn’t for himself but for his people: exactly as though sexual desire had created an ethnic group that was the source of his deepest, truest self-identity. Measured by the lifetime of most cultural upheavals in American history, the debate about same-sex marriage has risen to its current prominence with astonishing speed. But rise it did, like the sun, becoming the symbolic issue around which a whole galaxy of moral impulses, political aims, social discontents, and personal grievances seem to gravitate. And my friend Jim found himself, like many others, pulled into that orbit.

Fair enough, I suppose. Certainly, without an expressed desire to be married himself, Jim’s support for same-sex marriage was at least partly free from the grating self-interest, the fallacy of special pleading, that infects too many declarations on the topic. When we’re told—as we were, for example in the spring of 2013—that the conservative Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) now supports same-sex marriage because he’s discovered that his son is gay, it may have a certain rhetorical effectiveness. And so too when a gay-rights activist speaks emotionally of the personal sorrows he suffered during the time he was unable to marry. But even when offered in service of something we agree with, doesn’t that kind of personal fact deployed as argument reduce public discourse to little more than self-interest and self-importance? The sexuality of Portman’s son doesn’t strengthen the logic of the senator’s new position; it weakens it, when offered as the reason for Portman’s changed views.


IT'S A LITTLE ODD, I realize, to press an argument against special pleading while writing a personal essay—especially one that opens with a plaint about a decaying friendship. But Jim’s increasing anger, the manner and the timing of it, at least helped bring into focus for me the question of what purposes the fight over same-sex marriage has been serving.

Not the fact of the legality of same-sex marriage, exactly. That ship has already sailed, as well it ought to have. By July 2013, thirteen states had already recognized it, and under any principle of governmental fairness available today, the equities are all on the side of same-sex marriage. There is no coherent jurisprudential argument against it—no principled legal view that can resist it. The Supreme Court more or less punted this June in its marriage cases, Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor, but it was a punt that signaled eventual victory for advocates of same-sex marriage. And by ruling in Windsor that Section 3 of DOMA (the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act) is unconstitutional, the justices made it clear that the court will not stand in the way of the movement’s complete triumph. We are now at the point where, I believe, American Catholics should accept state recognition of same-sex marriage simply because they are Americans.

For that matter, plenty of practical concerns suggest that the bishops should cease to fight the passage of such laws. Campaigns against same-sex marriage are hurting the church, offering the opportunity to make Catholicism a byword for repression in a generation that, even among young Catholics, just doesn’t think that same-sex activity is worth fighting about. There’s a reasonable case to be made that the struggle against abortion is slowly winning, but the fight against public acceptance of same-sex behavior has been utterly lost.

I find these practical considerations compelling, just as I think most ordinary Catholics do. The church in America today is in its weakest public position since agitation about Irish and Italian immigration in the 1870s prompted thirty-eight states to pass anti-Catholic Blaine amendments to their constitutions. A great deal of goodwill was built up by Catholic work in the 1980s and 1990s, from John Paul II’s successful campaign to “live in truth” by opposing Soviet Communism to the prestige of Mother Teresa’s work with the poorest in India. But the goodwill disappeared in a flash, just over a decade ago, with the Boston Globe’s 2002 stories of the horrifying priest scandals.

Regardless of the church-bashing uses to which some commentators put the news, the central fact of the scandals remains: a corruption, a horror, and an outrage, which many bishops tried criminally to bury in their bureaucracies. And major effects of the scandal included feeding the schadenfreude and sense of victory among anti-Catholics, wiping out the moral stature of the church in the mind of the American public, and eliminating the respect in which the seriousness of Catholic ideas was once held even by those who thought that such seriousness began with mistaken premises and arrived at false conclusions. In the context of the deserved contempt that followed, what kind of loony, pie-eyed judgment could lead the bishops to engage in a sex-based public-policy debate they are doomed to lose—feeding mockery of the church while engaged in the expensive process of losing that fight?

An easy answer is that America’s bishops have not always been famous for their skill at predicting public reaction. But the more serious response is that the bishops hold exactly what’s held by everyone from the Communist Party to the NRA, Occupy Wall Street to National Right to Life: Prudential and practical concerns direct how one fights in public but not why one fights. If a legal regime is wrong, then it’s wrong. And however much the culture despises and punishes those who resist its judgments, somebody needs to rise up and say we’re going to hell in a hand-basket if that is indeed where the culture seems to be going.

Like most Americans, I’ve always had a sneaking admiration for those who resist cultural consensus—the gadflies, curmudgeons, and cranks—however idiotically they choose their fights. And given the social and historical prominence of their ecclesial positions, and the confidence in same-sex marriage among the young and the cultural elite, the American bishops have chosen what these days can only be called the countercultural side in opposing civil recognition of same-sex marriage in America. They cannot have done so for prudential reasons, for every such consideration is against them. Rather, they have taken their position, the place at which they make their stand, for the simple reason that they think same-sex marriage is philosophically wrong: damaging to the individual and destructive for society.

In other words, the bishops are not going to be convinced to end their hopeless fight by some casual appeal to cultural consensus or a feel-good call to join the winning side. And if we appreciate a willingness to be countercultural, how can we ask them to do so for those reasons?

In June 2012, David Blankenhorn took to the New York Times with an interesting op-ed titled “How My View on Gay Marriage Changed.” To read Blankenhorn’s books—especially his 1995 Fatherless America—is to think him the nation’s leading commentator on the social importance of marriage. And he opened his op-ed with his long-held view that “marriage is the planet’s only institution whose core purpose is to unite the biological, social, and legal components of parenthood into one lasting bond. Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its children.”

Same-sex relationships, he noted, cannot by their nature fulfill the biological condition in his deep definition of marriage. But against that fact, he set three considerations that led him to support same-sex marriage: equal treatment (“legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness”), comity (“we must live together with some degree of mutual acceptance, even if doing so involves compromise”), and respect for the emerging consensus on the topic (“most of our national elites, as well as most younger Americans, favor gay marriage”).

I understand the point, and I suspect that Blankenhorn and I, like many others, are arriving at much the same place. But the Blankenhorn line leaves me unsatisfied. It’s not enough for a Catholic to say that legal fairness and social niceness compel us. We have a religion of intellectual coherence, too, and the moral positions we take have to comport with the whole of the moral universe. That’s the reason for trying to be serious—for demanding that the unity of truth apply, and that ethical claims cannot be separated from their metaphysical foundations.

If there is no philosophical or theological reasoning that leads to Catholic recognition of civil same-sex marriage, then we’re simply arguing about what’s politic. What’s fair and nice. What flows along the channels marked out by the dominant culture. We’re merely suggesting that Catholics shouldn’t make trouble. And how is that supposed to convince anyone who holds intellectual consistency at more than a pennyweight?


I DON'T MEAN to hide this essay’s conclusions. Where we’re going with all this is toward a claim that the thin notions of natural law deployed against same-sex marriage in recent times are unpersuasive, and, what’s more, they deserve to be unpersuasive—for their thinness reflects their lack of rich truth about the spiritual meanings present in this created world. Indeed, once the sexual revolution brought the Enlightenment to sex, demythologizing and disenchanting the Western understanding of sexual intercourse, the legal principles of equality and fairness were bound to win, as they have over the last decade: the only principles the culture has left with which to discuss topics such as marriage.

And so, I argue, a concern about the government’s recognizing of same-sex marriage ought to come low on the list of priorities as the church pursues the evangelizing of the culture. For that matter, after the long hard work of restoring cultural sensitivity to the metaphysical meanings reflected in all of reality, Catholics will have enough experience to decide what measure of the deep spirituality of nuptials, almost absent in present culture, can reside in same-sex unions.

But before we reach for those conclusions, there remains, I think, a question religious believers must ask: a prior question of whether the current agitation really derives from a wish for same-sex marriage, or whether the movement is an excuse for a larger campaign to delegitimize and undermine Christianity.

The question is not an idle one. Yes, American culture, through the devices of American capitalism, has repeatedly proved its ability to adapt to social changes, reshaping them into middle-class norms. This was exactly the complaint of the activist Donna Minkowitz back in 1994. Bruce Bawer had just published A Place at the Table, his plaintive call for national acceptance of a bourgeois gay lifestyle, and Minkowitz raged against it as a betrayal, a co-opting, of the true radicalism of the gay and lesbian movement. “We don’t want a place at the table,” she announced on Charlie Rose’s national television program. “We want to turn the table over.”

In the years since, the radical wing lost badly the fight to be the public face of the movement, but Minkowitz’s successors have hardly been shy about their desire to use the visibility of the same-sex marriage debate as an opportunity to damage public perception of Christianity. And watch, for instance, the downstream effect on someone like Patrick B. Pexton, who used his Washington Post ombudsman’s column in February 2013 to explain that journalists like himself “have a hard time giving much voice to those opposed to gay marriage”—because “they see people opposed to gay rights today as cousins, perhaps distant cousins, of people in the 1950s and 1960s who, citing God and the Bible, opposed black people sitting in the bus seat, or dining at the lunch counter, of their choosing.”

One wonders what the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., would have had to say about this interpretation of the civil-rights movement as fundamentally an overcoming of Christianity. But if that’s what the same-sex marriage movement is really about—the redefinition of history as Christian oppression, the rereading of even success stories like the civil-rights movement as tales of defeating Christian evil, all for the purpose of cutting off the religious roots of Western civilization—then to hell with it.

To hell with it, as well, if the campaign for same-sex marriage has anti-Catholicism as one of its major causes, or a feeding of anti-Catholicism as one of its welcome effects. Well through the nineteenth century, the church often seemed as much a refuge as those who felt same-sex desire were likely to find. There are reasons that Oscar Wilde, for example, returned to the church after his public trials, and they involve his aesthetic sense of the capacious Catholic understanding of sin and grace in a fallen world: the beauty of European Catholic medievalism, matched with a sophisticated, confessional-trained understanding of the real pressures under which human beings labor.

In Protestant America, however, a word like sophisticated (to say nothing of confessional) was more a denunciation than mild praise of practical wisdom. Catholics sometimes exaggerate the extent to which they were oppressed by their WASP overlords, but they are not wrong that suspicion of Rome is one of the small but constant motors on which our national story has run.

By the late 1960s, some of the fuel for that motor was still coming from the far right, among the traditionalists keeping alive the antique quarrels of the Reformation. And some was coming from the far left, among the radicals who saw the Vatican as a hindrance to either the communist future of the world or the transformation of human nature through the sexual revolution. At least a little anti-Catholicism, however, remained in the central current of American elite culture, among the heirs of the old Protestant consensus.

They stripped out much of the doctrinal Christianity, of course; the general collapse of the mainline Protestant churches is one of the most fascinating historical trends in the past fifty years. But the elites kept that curious mainline class-based combination of a nobly wide ethical concern and an infuriatingly self-confident assertion of moral ascendancy. And to listen to its current members is to get the feeling that they may have also kept, and even reinvigorated, the good old-fashioned, all-American anti-Catholicism and suspicion of Rome. If the campaign for same-sex marriage is just a further development in this historical line, then the theological argument isn’t worth making. Isn’t worth even trying to develop.


THINK OF IT THIS way: The funny thing is that, back when I first knew him, my gay friend Jim Watson was more conservative than I was. Or more Republican, at any rate. My writings against the death penalty, for instance, produced nothing except a snort from him. He hated the huge tax bite of New York City, municipal taxes piled on state and federal, and the best way to turn him away from his let’s-embarrass-strangers-with-my-sexuality game was to mention Manhattan’s rent control—provoking a free-market tirade that was good for at least fifteen minutes of soap-box statistics. It bored me, but then my vociferous opposition to legalized abortion probably bored him, and affectionately putting up with each other’s crotchets may be as good a description of friendship as we’re likely to find in this fallen world.

Andrew Sullivan, Bruce Bawer, Michael Lind, even David Brock—the 1990s had its share of avowedly conservative or libertarian commentators who were also more or less openly gay or activists for gay causes. Sullivan, for instance, is a disciple of the British political theorist Michael Oakeshott, and I remember reading a passage in which Sullivan was willing to put (even though he disagreed with it) a fair statement of a political-theory rejection of same-sex marriage. To be conservative, Oakeshott had famously written, “is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.” No culture has ever fully embraced same-sex marriage; every culture has understood that marriage, through heterosexual procreation, touches the deepest and least-understood structures by which civilization survives. And this wide testimony from human experience, together with the dangers of meddling in the unknown, ought to make us hesitate.

By somewhere around the midterm elections of 2002, those conservatives had generally disappeared from mainstream conservatism. (Or, at least, the male ones had. Interestingly, the Libertarian, Catholic, and Straussian lesbians tended to remain, many of them still writing for conservative publications.)

Some gay conservatives would later insist that they had been pushed out of public-intellectual conservatism by what they believed were bigoted Evangelicals—the people a conservative movement needs to attract to overcome the large Democratic voting blocs. A good example might be the argument, through the 1990s and 2000s, against allowing gay and lesbian anti-abortion groups a place in prolife marches and strategy meetings. And there are still portions of the Republican world that suffer no dissent on social issues. Just this year, I was invited to give a small talk on faith at CPAC, the enormous annual conservative convention in Washington—and then disinvited, my time given over to someone safer on the topic of marriage.

Other gays seem to have felt the pressure more on the inside, finding it impossible to hold both support for same-sex marriage and any political theory that rejects same-sex marriage. But regardless of the cause, they nearly all disappeared from conservative discussions precisely at the time the issue grew in public importance, and I doubt that there was a single one who didn’t vote for Democratic candidates in the 2008 and 2012 elections.

My friend Jim Watson certainly became a functional Democrat, suppressing his fiscal conservatism to vote for Barack Obama as the official candidate of gays. A relatively wealthy man who inherited trust-fund money from his grandparents, he stopped giving to conservative candidates and even gay groups like Log Cabin Republicans, transferring his election-year donations to left-leaning same-sex-marriage organizations and Democratic office-seekers.

Along the way, Jim also picked up a case of virulent anti-Catholicism. I suspect that there genuinely exist activists who welcome same-sex marriage as part of the great destructiveness of the Enlightenment project: a blow against whatever medieval Christian ideas still linger in modernity. I also suspect that they are a minority, and Western culture will prove, as it has so often before, resilient enough to absorb same-sex marriage—turning it possibly into an aid to, but at least not a further weakening of, the endangered culture of marriage.

Still, I can’t ignore the changes in Jim. In the first years I knew him, he would speak of the Catholic Church as something like a batty great-aunt: crazy, of course, but fondly indulged. He admired the solemnity of the Mass, in the abstract, together with the beauty of the church’s long deposit of art and architecture. The dedication of hospice nuns invariably made him quote Santayana’s wistful line, “There is no God, and Mary is his mother.” Without a religious bone in his body, as far as I could tell, he nonetheless appreciated the seriousness of Catholic intellectuals, even if the church’s continuing ability to attract any intellectuals seemed to him one of the mysteries of the age.

A decade or so later, and all that was gone. The Catholic Church now appeared to him genuinely evil, and Catholic intellectualism an entirely malignant force, born mostly from hatred of gays in general and even, at his most paranoid, of him personally. The long denunciations of the bishops’ contrarian and countercultural leadership had taken its toll. The old ACT-UP protests over condoms hadn’t moved him, but the same-sex marriage agitation pushed him over the edge—until I do not believe Jim can now be conciliated even by something like the Catholic case for same-sex marriage. Nothing but the total eradication of the Catholic Church, its complete repudiation by its members, will satisfy him. Ecclesia delenda est, I can picture him mumbling to himself as he paces through New York. The church must be destroyed.


ONE MORE ASIDE before we arrive at the argument for same-sex marriage—not a mea culpa exactly, but an attempt to examine my own conscience, for even as I write this personal essay, I’m growing uneasy with the petulant and aggrieved way it is presenting the idea that anti-Catholicism was one of the purposes of, or at least one of the bonuses for, the cultural elites who took up the cause of same-sex marriage.

I’ve made it sound, for example, as though the fading of my friendship with Jim came entirely from his side. Actually, it did, considered purely as a private matter. If only the personal were the political, as the 1970s feminists used to claim, then Jim and I wouldn’t have had much more than an abstract disagreement. Unfortunately, often enough, the political becomes the personal, and Jim had public activities for which to blame me.

I did not believe then, as I do not believe now, that opposition to same-sex marriage must, by its nature, derive from (or issue in) hatred of gays and lesbians—else one would never see pieces like Doug Mainwaring’s “I’m Gay and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage,” which appeared in March 2013 to argue, “In our day, prejudice against gays is just a very faint shadow of what it once was. But the abolition of prejudice against gays does not necessarily mean that same-sex marriage is inevitable or optimal. There are other avenues available, none of which demands immediate, sweeping, transformational legislation or court judgments.”

Still, in the current state of the public square, opposition to same-sex marriage gets portrayed (and thereby perceived) as hatred. And if I have felt old friends pull away from me over the issue, then I also have to admit that they must have felt my occasional public work on the topic to be the equivalent from my side. To be my breaking off friendship with them. To be an attack on them individually in what they take as part of their very existence.

I think I met Bruce Bawer once at a poetry festival or a magazine party, but maybe not, and regardless I can’t say I know him. Still, perhaps we could use him as an example here—for I recall being taken aback when I came across an interview in which he declared me fundamentally unchristian, some years after my negative review of his 1996 anthology, Beyond Queer: Challenging Gay Left Orthodoxy. Insofar as I remember the book, I still think Beyond Queer was not great work. For that matter, even though Bawer is an admirable poet and interesting author of nonfiction, he has surely received other unflattering reviews. But what I hadn’t considered is the way disagreement over this particular topic feels intensely personal: perceived not as rejection of a public position but rejection of how one understands the self.

We could probably work up an indictment of the media, identity politics, and the grievance industry for this perception (as Bawer himself has in other contexts): turning even slight deviations from the accepted position into occasions for full-blown accusations of bigotry. But why bother? Hot or cold, the water in which we find ourselves is the water in which we have to swim. The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes a distinction between same-sex orientation and same-sex activity that might have once seemed intelligible, even commonsensical. But the distinction has absolutely no purchase today. And what good does it do to complain—as does, for example, Ryan T. Anderson, the sharpest of the younger activists now working against same-sex marriage—that the distinction somehow ought to have purchase?

Some of the perceived offense may have come from inattention. In 2011, the Washington Times asked me for a little piece celebrating the anniversary of the classic 1981 BBC mini-series version of Brideshead Revisited. And after its publication, David Boaz, the gay-marriage supporter from the libertarian Cato Institute, dropped me a note taking me to task for using the word “homosexuals” instead of “gays” in my opening description of the series’ reception. He understood that I was trying to recapture the tone of those early 1980s days, when homosexuals was still more or less the polite term of reference. But we are long past all that, he insisted, and I should realize that the word, taken as a generic noun, had picked up enough negative connotations that writers ought not to employ it even in a historical way.

I think I replied with a casual apology and a hackneyed quip about how one should never give offense unless one actually means it. But I didn’t mean personal offense with any work I did on same-sex subjects—and still I managed to give offense.

How rarely the subject actually came up surprises me now, looking back. In the hundreds of essays, poems, and reviews I published over those years, opposition to legalized abortion and rejection of the death penalty are constant themes. Raging themes, to the point where I probably lost most of even the best-willed readers. But gay topics? A brief contribution as the token Catholic in a little-noticed symposium in Newsweek. A 2004 editorial co-written with Bill Kristol. A review of Bawer’s anthology in the Weekly Standard. Another of Andrew Holleran’s depressing novel The Beauty of Men. And not much else that I can still find.

In my editorial jobs at the Weekly Standard and First Things, of course, I came to know some of the people fighting same-sex marriage. Ryan T. Anderson, for example, co-author of the widely discussed, career-defining 2011 essay “What Is Marriage?” in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. Later expanded into a book, it remains the clearest, most cogent defense of traditional marriage. David Orgon Coolidge, too, founder of the Marriage Law Project before his untimely death in 2002: Richard John Neuhaus helped raise money to support Dave’s work, and we would often sit together and drink at Fr. Neuhaus’s innumerable theological and social-policy meetings.

I was much under the influence of the Christian poetics of W. H. Auden in those days—a man who, though gay himself, hated organized homosexuality: “the Homintern,” he mockingly named the gay establishment in poetry (playing off the Comintern, the international arm of party-line Soviet policy). Under the influence, for that matter, of the suspicions of attempts to claim victimhood expressed by René Girard—the contemporary writer who most formed my mental universe. Then, too, as the mantle of gay rights passed from the wild contrarians and countercultural figures of its early days to become the received view of the entire elite liberal class, it came to seem increasingly bland and uninteresting, with little in it tempting me to reject the general conservative position.

“At times one remains faithful to a cause,” Nietzsche writes, “only because its opponents do not cease to be insipid.” It’s a sad observation of human behavior, but who among us hasn’t been guilty of it? “Same-sex marriage is the great civil-rights struggle of our time,” a young newspaper writer grandly announced to me in 2009. She had come to interview me for some article she was planning, but she spent most of her time lecturing me on how immoral it is that anyone opposes the right of gays to marry.

As it happens, when I asked, she proved to know almost nothing about the controversy: hadn’t read the legal decisions, hadn’t followed the arguments, hadn’t examined DOMA, hadn’t even tried to keep up. Only the warmth of her conviction of her own moral superiority seemed necessary, and I remember thinking: This is supposed to persuade me? Insipid self-righteousness—delivered in exactly the hectoring tones with which her Protestant great-grandparents would have lectured me about lack of Catholic support for Prohibition?

At the same time, looking back, I can see that even in my editorial choices I was avoiding the topic. Not entirely: there are some pieces the institutional weight of a magazine simply won’t let an editor refuse. But generally I turned down pieces on same-sex topics—and I did so by telling myself I found the subject dull. That’s an editor’s privilege, of course, and a lot of the thinking genuinely was dull. Dull as dishwater, gray from all the old, similar writing that had already been washed in it. But the avoidance was also, I now realize, a species of dishonesty: an unwillingness to sit down and decide what I really thought about it all.

Not that the world was waiting breathlessly for my nattering asseverations on the topic—and, anyway, the moment for being genuinely serious about same-sex marriage may have passed while I wasn’t looking. Or while I was refusing to look.

Still, it all came to a head for me when, one morning down in Lansdowne, Virginia, Chuck Colson woke up with a plan to gather every religious leader he could find and decry the destruction of Christian culture in America—promising civil disobedience, if necessary. The outcome was The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience, a manifesto issued in November 2009 that equated abortion, same-sex marriage, and intolerance of religion, and vowed to oppose any mainstream consensus that licensed them. Dozens of important religious figures met with Chuck Colson in New York to become the initial signers, and The Manhattan Declaration would go on to find half a million additional signatories.

One of the problems with the document was that none of the people on the drafting committee—Chuck himself, Princeton’s Robert P. George, and the very smart Baptist divinity-school dean Timothy George—were primarily writers. They were activists and teachers who happened to write, sometimes (as in Robby George’s 1995 book Making Men Moral) with real skill. But the genuine literary talent behind an entire generation’s set of manifestos had been Richard John Neuhaus—first as a Christian protester against segregation and Vietnam, and then as a Christian neoconservative. And with Richard’s death from cancer earlier in 2009, they had to produce The Manhattan Declaration in his absence.

The result would prove turgid, politically clumsy, and strangely disorganized. Just as there’s a rule in some online discussion groups that you’ve automatically lost an argument if you compare your opponents to the Nazis, so there ought to be a rule in public discourse that you’ve guaranteed your failure if you compare modern America to the decline of Ancient Rome. But that’s how the declaration opened, and as it wandered through its various complaints about the nation, it came to seem more and more a laundry list in search of a thesis: there’s bad stuff out there, people hate us, and it all adds up to, well, a picture—a modern reflection of the moral collapse of Rome from the stern glories of the republic to the satyricon of the empire.

I spoke to Chuck privately about the draft several times, urging him to reorganize it and tone it down, but he was too enamored of the frisson of rebellion in its call for civil disobedience to agree. Finally, at the New York meeting, I got up and announced publicly my unease: The equating of these three concerns is a mistake; not only do the possible negative results of same-sex marriage fail to match the horrors of abortion, but religious freedom isn’t even the same kind of thing. It’s like equating a small weed to a giant sequoia—and then lumping them both together with an umbrella. The entire text needs to be recast, I said. If the document has to threaten civil disobedience, then it ought to be about freedom: religious Americans may accept a culture that recognizes same-sex marriage, but they hereby announce that they will not accept a legal regime that uses same-sex marriage as a wrecking ball with which to knock down every religious building in the public square.

And in response, Maggie Gallagher stood up in that crowded room to call me a coward—or, at least, she declared that any reduction in the status of the fight over same-sex marriage was a counsel of cowardice, born from a fear that same-sex marriage was inevitable. A writer and activist, former president of the National Organization for Marriage, Gallagher has always struck me as a fearless and contrarian figure, and in this case, I think, she was correct.

Oh, not about the law: the legal victory of same-sex marriage actually was inevitable; not a single persuasive legal argument emerged against it in the courts. But right in her accusation of cowardice—although maybe not in quite the way she thought. My worry with The Manhattan Declaration wasn’t about the consequences of defeat, as Gallagher suggested; if something is wrong, you oppose it even though the heavens fall. But cowardice about my own mind, yes: my profamily friends were a strong public-intellectual force opposed to abortion, and I went along with them on same-sex marriage mostly because I lacked the seriousness and strength of mind to work through it for myself. I was just like that young woman journalist I found so insipid and self-righteous for pronouncing uncritically the views of her class.

In the end, my friends...but why should I continue to blame them for my own fault? In the end, I let myself be talked into publishing the (only slightly altered) document, despite my objections—talked into becoming one of the original signers of The Manhattan Declaration myself. It was a mistake, and one I regret.


LET'S TURN AT LAST to the actual intellectual questions raised by same-sex marriage. At the time Americans were waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on the two pending marriage cases, Catholics were waiting to see if the new reign of Pope Francis would signal any change in the church’s views. And if, as I suggested earlier, the Supreme Court basically punted when it handed down its opinions on June 26, the pope refused to punt at all when he promulgated his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, on July 5.

There’s something in the new encyclical to disappoint everyone who longs for direct political action from the Vatican. Those who were hoping that a radically leftist Pope Francis would repudiate what they saw as the radically rightist work of his predecessor are bound to be saddened. A draft was prepared under Benedict XVI before his retirement on February 28, and Francis himself has described the completed document as written with “four hands”—Benedict’s and his own.

At the same time, disappointment must haunt those who hoped that a radically traditional Francis—a lifelong churchman instead of an academic theologian like his predecessor—would step back from the softness of Benedict’s economics and confront the world with the hardest edges of the institutional church. Faith is at “the service of justice, law, and peace,” Francis insists. We need it “to devise models of development which are based not simply on utility and profit, but consider creation as a gift for which we are all indebted.” Yes, he notes, all “authority comes from God,” but it is meant for “the service of the common good.”

Not since John Paul II’s great crusade against Soviet Communism has the Vatican been easily classifiable by the world’s political categories, despite the incessant effort of the world, left and right alike, to pin the church with those categories. That unclassifiability may be the best way to understand our new pope. He is an advocate of the poor who opposed many of the Argentinian government’s programs for the poor. A social activist who cannot be counted on to support social reform. A churchman who refused the elaborate trappings of his office even while he promoted the power of the church. A radical who rejects the state power and cultural change demanded by the secular left. A traditionalist who despises the accumulation of wealth and libertarian freedoms praised by the secular right. No attempt to impose liberal and conservative definitions on him will succeed. Pope Francis simply won’t fit in those categories.

Still, in Lumen Fidei he grants the faithful Catholic little room to maneuver on same-sex marriage. In “Faith and the Family,” section 52 of the encyclical, he calls the family the “first setting in which faith enlightens the human city”—a political-theory reading of the church’s interest in the institution. Indeed, “I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage,” he explained. “This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom, and loving plan.” In marriage, “a man and a woman can promise each other mutual love in a gesture which engages their entire lives and mirrors many features of faith.... Faith also helps us to grasp in all its depth and richness the begetting of children, as a sign of the love of the Creator who entrusts us with the mystery of a new person.”

But perhaps Francis does offer us an opportunity to think about marriage in terms of the politically unclassifiable that constitutes much of Catholic teaching. The stony ground on which the church must sow is the landscape created by the sexual revolution. Made possible by the pill, accelerated by legalized abortion, aided by easy pornography, that revolution actually needs none of these any longer to survive, because they never defined it. They merely allowed it, and the completed change is now omnipresent. The revolution is not just in the way we use our bodies. It’s in the way we use our minds.

One understanding of the sexual revolution—the best, I think—is as an enormous turn against the meaningfulness of sex. Oh, I know, it was extolled by the revolutionaries as allowing real experimentation and exploration of sensation, but the actual effect was to disconnect sex from what previous eras had thought the deep stuff of life: God, birth, death, heaven, hell, the moral structures of the universe, and all the rest.

The resulting claim of amorality for almost any sexual behavior except rape reflects perhaps the most fascinating social change of our time: the transfer of the moral center of human worry about the body away from sex and onto…well, onto food, I suppose. The only moral feeling still much attached to sex is the one that has to hunt far and wide for some prude, any prude, who will still condemn an aspect of sexual behavior—and thereby confirm our self-satisfied feeling of revolutionary morality. Of course, the transfer of moral anxiety away from sexual intercourse might not be so peculiar. Think how often ancient thinkers, from the pagan stoics to the church fathers, would reach to gluttony and fasting, instead of lust and chastity, when they needed examples for their discussions of virtue and vice.

The turn against any deep, metaphysical meaning for sex in the West, however: that is strange and fascinatingly new, unique to late modernity. Jean-Paul Sartre once denounced Michel Foucault as one of the “young conservatives” for his refusal to embrace Communism, but in other ways, the radical gay philosopher, the very model of a star French philosophe before his death from AIDS in 1984, was the key explicator of the sexual revolution. And just as he saw a change in moral understanding of the body slowly developing among Christian writers from the fourth-century John Cassian to the eleventh-century Peter Damian, so he saw yet another change emerging in modern times. The comic line that “sex was invented in 1750” is an exaggeration of his thought, but Foucault quite rightly understood that there were bound to be consequences to what Max Weber called the great “disenchantment of the world” in the joining of the “elective affinities” of the Protestant Reformation, the scientific and industrial revolutions, and the triumph of Enlightenment philosophy.

Those consequences were, in essence, the stripping away of magic—the systematic elimination of metaphysical, spiritual, and mystical meanings. Science, Francis Bacon told us, could not advance in any other way. Real democracy, Diderot explained, would not arrive “until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” When the Supreme Court gave us the infamous “mystery passage” in the 1992 abortion case Planned Parenthood v. Casey—“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life”—the justices were merely following out to its logical conclusion the great modern project of disenchantment. And it’s worth noticing that the mystery passage was quoted approvingly and relied upon in the 2003 sodomy-law case Lawrence v. Texas and by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in 2005 when it ordered the state to register same-sex marriages.

As a practical matter, the gay-rights lawyers were probably smart to take the mystery passage and run with it. You use what tools you’re given, even if they confirm your opponents’ inchoate sense that all social issues are somehow joined, abortion of a piece with same-sex marriage. But as a theoretical matter, I’m less convinced. What kind of moral or social victory do you obtain if the marriage you’re granted is defined as nothing more than a way in which individuals define the concept of their own existence? Marriage seemed one of the last places left where Weber’s “great enchanted garden” of traditional societies could still be found.

And yet, again, I could be wrong, even about a premodern enchantment perduring in marriage. G. K. Chesterton once suggested that if there truly exists such a thing as divorce, then there exists no such thing as marriage. The root of the paradox is his observation of the metaphysics implicit in marriage ceremonies: “There are those who say they want divorce in the second place without ever asking themselves if they want marriage in the first place. So let us begin by asking what marriage is. It is a promise. More than that, it is a vow.” If we allow divorce, then we have already weakened the thick, mystical notion of marriage vows. Adultery is an everyday sin. Divorce is something more: a denial of a solemn oath made to God.

I’m not trying to argue here directly for an end to the culture’s embrace of legalized divorce, much as the sociological evidence about the harm to children now appears beyond dispute. Rather, the point is that the legal and social acceptance of divorce, building in Protestant America from the late nineteenth century on, culminated in the universal availability of no-fault divorce. And if heterosexual monogamy so lacks the old, enchanted metaphysical foundation that it can end in quick and painless divorce, then what principle allows a refusal of marriage to gays on the grounds of a metaphysical notion like the difference between men and women?

Think of the parallel with laws against sodomy. Justice Thomas may actually have been right that, bad as such laws were, it’s better to have our feckless legislators accept democratic responsibility and replace them than it is to have the courts rule on their constitutionality. But whatever the cruelty and prurience of such laws in the first place, they had become entirely ungrounded by the time of the 2003 Lawrence case. If marriage is nothing more than a licensed sexual playground, without any sense of sin attached to oral sex and anal sex and almost any other act, then under what intellectually coherent scheme can one refuse to others the opportunity for the same behavior?

And, of course, not only did marital relations become a value-free zone in the sexual revolution, but non-marital relations did as well. The seal of virginity, the procreative purpose, the mystical analogy of marriage to Christ’s espousal of his church, the divinely witnessed vow, the sexual body as a temple, the moral significance of chastity: all that old metaphysical stuff got swept away. And regardless of whether the metaphysics was right or wrong, without it there is simply no reasoning that could possibly outweigh the valid claims of fairness and equality. Same-sex marriage advocates don’t just have better public relations than their opponents. They have better logic, given the premises available to the culture.


THIS POINTS US toward the general problem with arguments that rely on natural law—natural law, that is, in the modern sense, as developed most notably by the philosophers John Finnis and Germain Grisez, and explicated for political application by Robby George and many subsequent conservative writers. As deployed in our current debates, this kind of thing has always seemed to me a scientized, mainline-Protestantized version of the thicker natural law of the medievals: natural law as awkwardly yoked to the “elective affinities” of modernity.

On point here is Russell Hittinger’s critique of “new natural law” as an attempt to have a theology-free version of a rational philosophy that depended, by its original internal consistency, on premises of God, creation, and Aristotelian natural forms. Natural law was always a little theologically thin. It derived from a rich understanding of the world, yes, but it was something like the least common denominator of spiritual views: a “mere metaphysics” (to misapply a concept of C. S. Lewis’s). And it worked well enough as a philosophy in a time when people generally agreed that the world was enchanted, however vehemently they disagreed about the specifics of that enchantment. Natural law broke spirituality down to its most basic shared components and then built a rationally defensible ethics up again from that foundation.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in a thick natural law. To read the questions on law in the Summa is to watch Thomas Aquinas assemble a grand, beautiful, and extremely delicate structure of rationality. As the Duke theologian Paul Griffiths pointed out in a prescient 2004 Commonweal article (“Legalize Same-Sex Marriage,” June 28, 2004), the premises may not be provable, but they are visible to faith, and from them a great and careful mind like Thomas’s can logically derive extraordinary things. The delicacy is revealed, for example, in his analysis of the questions of marriage. Too careful, too honest, simply to condemn everything except the sanctified monogamy that Christianity had given him, Thomas works through an escalating series that ends up preferring the Christian idea of nuptials as the richest, most meaningful form of marriage—without condemning even polygamy as necessarily a violation of the most philosophically abstract application of the natural law.

In this, I think, is a model for how Catholics might think about the world in which legal recognition of same-sex marriage has emerged. The goal of the church today must primarily be the re-enchantment of reality. This is the language in which Pope Francis speaks: Marriage “as a sign and presence of God’s own love.” Birth as “a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom, and loving plan.” Mutual love as something that engages our entire lives and “mirrors many features of faith.”

Is sex the place in which that project of re-enchantment ought to begin? I just can’t see it—not after the nearly complete triumph of the sexual revolution’s disenchantment, not after the way “free love” was essentially sold to us by the Edwardians as an escape from narrow Victorian Christianity, not after part of the culture’s most visible morality became the condemnation of those perceived as condemning something sexual. The campaign for traditional marriage really isn’t a defense of natural law. It revealed itself, in the end, as a defense of one of the last little remaining bits of Christendom—an entanglement or, at least, an accommodation of church and state. The logic of the Enlightenment took a couple of hundred years to get around to eliminating that particular portion of Christendom, but the deed is done now.

We should not accept without a fight an essentially un-Catholic retreat from the public square to a lifeboat theology and the small communities of the saved that Alasdair MacIntyre predicted at the end of After Virtue (1981). But there are much better ways than opposing same-sex marriage for teaching the essential God-hauntedness, the enchantment, of the world—including massive investments in charity, the further evangelizing of Asia, a willingness to face martyrdom by preaching in countries where Christians are killed simply because they are Christians, and a church-wide effort to reinvigorate the beauty and the solemnity of the liturgy. Some Catholic intellectual figures will continue to explore the deep political-theory meanings manifest in the old forms of Christendom, and more power to them, but the rest of us should turn instead to more effective witness in the culture as it actually exists.

In fact, same-sex marriage might prove a small advance in chastity in a culture that has lost much sense of chastity. Same-sex marriage might prove a small advance in love in a civilization that no longer seems to know what love is for. Same-sex marriage might prove a small advance in the coherence of family life in a society in which the family is dissolving.

I don’t know that it will, of course, and some of the most persuasive statements of conservatism insist that we should not undertake projects the consequences of which we cannot foresee. But same-sex marriage is already here; it’s not as though we can halt it. And other profound statements of conservatism remind us that we must take people as we find them—must instruct the nation where the nation is.

For that matter, the argument about unforeseen consequences is a sword that cuts both ways. Precisely because human social experience has never recognized same-sex marriage on any large scale, we don’t know the extent to which metaphysical meanings—the enchantment of marriage—can be instantiated in same-sex unions. How faithful will they prove? How much infected by the divorce culture of modern America? How spiritual? How mundane? How will they face up to the woe of the quotidian that, as Schopenhauer insisted, marriage forces us to see? How will such unions aid their participants to perceive the joy of creation?

The answer is that we can’t predict the effects of same-sex marriage. I think some good will come, I hope some good will come, but I cannot say with certainty that all must go well with this social change. Still, as the church turns to other and far more pressing ways to re-enchant the world, we’ll have time to find out. And when we are ready to start rebuilding the thick natural law that recognizes the created world as a stage on which the wondrous drama of God’s love is played, we will have the information we need to decide where same-sex marriage belongs in a metaphysically rich, spiritually alive moral order.


I UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS not the answer my traditional-marriage friends demand. But then, it’s not the answer same-sex marriage advocates want, either. Far too many people on both sides see the issue in such stark terms that they dismiss any nuance as merely giving excuse to immorality. As only lending countenance to evil.

Certainly it will not satisfy Jim Watson, my old friend from New York. How could he accept talk of the Catholic Church’s charity and evangelizing? He wants the church hurt, its tax exemptions and even property-holding rights stripped away until it not only accepts laws allowing same-sex marriage, not only encourages same-sex marriage, but actually performs same-sex marriage. Even that might not be enough; the institutional weight of the history of Catholic bigotry, he thinks, is probably too much for repentance and reformation to overcome. Best, really, if the Catholic Church is systematically outlawed.

And that is one Catholic fear about same-sex marriage with force—the fear that the movement is essentially disingenuous. That gays don’t actually want much to marry, but Catholic resistance to the idea is just too useful a stick not to use. That modern Americans, heirs to the class-based self-satisfactions of their Protestant ancestors, look at same-sex marriage and think how wonderful a device it proves for a little Rome bashing.

But how can we not take same-sex marriage advocates at their word, accepting that they really seek the marriages they say they desire? For that matter, I still believe in the general resilience and common sense of America, which will halt those who wish to hijack the movement. Christians are sometimes called to martyrdom: “The sacrifices you want to make aren’t always the only sacrifices God wants,” as the interesting lesbian Catholic commentator Eve Tushnet once observed here in Commonweal (“Homosexuality & the Church,” June 11, 2007). But I just don’t think that same-sex marriage is going to be the excuse America uses to go after its Catholic citizens.

At the same time, there’s been damage done in the course of this whole debate, some of it by me. And I’m not sure what can be done about it. I certainly lost my friend Jim along the way. Some come here to fiddle and dance, I remember he used to sing. Some come here to tarry. / Some come here to prattle and prance. / I come here to marry. You remember how it goes. “Shady Grove,” the song is called. A bit of old-timey Americana, the stuff we all still share.

Funding for this essay has been provided by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.



Commenting Guidelines

In their political opinions, the bishops are not infallible. 

I told you the Gays never miss one single anti gay word from the lips of your Catholic Leadership.

Here today via Pink News out of the UK, your Catholic Bishop from Hawaii

Below is the link ot the full letter. It is the usual slippery slope arguments, so disgusting. And to answer the Bishop the State will not recognize poly marriages becaue it is against the States Interest to do so. The State regulates Civil Marriage in order to create stable households to more easily govern. A same sex couple of two is the same amount of people as the heterosexual couple of two, and thus matches the current requirements for marriage. Poly marriages make it much more difficult for the State to Govern and thus do not serve the States Interest. All this letter is, is fear mongering. The fear that gay marriage will mean that gay people will be seen and treated by their fellow citizens, to use the Bishops words, as normal. After he fear mongers his congregations about how bad gay people are, so bad that we should see and treat them as abnormal, he, with no shame at all, ends his letter to the flock, "After all God Is Love"


I would like to remind you that every single medical and psychological association says that homosexuality is on the NORMAL SCALE of Human Sexuality. It's normal, there are jsut not many of them is all. Yet our fighting Catholics Bishops are fighting hard as they can to fight science and lead people to believe that homosexuality is abnormal. Does this letter stigmitize and marginalize gay people? You bet your *ss it does. I don't mind the Catholic Bishops ministering to thier flock, but when they step down the church steps and into the Public Square to try to force these views via FORCE OF LAW onto non catholics, I MIND.

Bottum is a machiavellian thinker, who wrote this:

"Of course, for purely political purposes, the anti-abortion movement and the foreign-policy activists were obviously correct to join forces--given their shared desire to help reelect President Bush and increase the Republicans' hold on Congress. Polls this spring showed some weakness in popular support for the president's administration, but, as the political analyst Michael Barone observed in response, "the hardest numbers in politics are election results." The pro-life and pro-Iraq Republicans won handily in 2004--and along the way, they laid the groundwork for future gains, with eleven Democratic senators facing reelection in states carried overwhelmingly by Bush and only three Republicans in states taken solidly by Kerry. As nearly every commentator has observed, abortion and the war on terror are now linked at some of the most practical levels of partisan political calculation."

I suppose the fundies are out in force here, but being in lovely Salzburg I have not time to read them!

Yesterday the winner of the best video song with the best Social message was

SAME LOVE (Macklemore & Lewis)

Here are the lyrics-

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
'Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She's like "Ben you've loved girls since before pre-k, trippin' "
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn't she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, "Yeah, I'm good at little league"
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it's a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don't know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don't know

And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
"Man, that's gay" gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we're saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don't have acceptance for 'em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It's the same hate that's caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It's human rights for everybody, there is no difference

Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren't anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that's not important
No freedom till we're equal, damn right I support it

(I don't know)

And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

We press play, don't press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking 'round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn't gonna solve it all
But it's a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us

We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it's all the same love
About time that we raised up... sex

And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I'm not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind

(I'm not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I'm not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
Love is kind

You Catholics do NOT want it to be the Same Love, but after 4 years of learning and participating in the movement for Gay Rights, I knwow that you are wrong. In fact, it IS the SAME LOVE. They Love the same. The desire to pair off, remain faithful to each other and start a family. I have read thousands of comments over 4 years, comments like "I have been with my husband 23 eyars I want the same protections for our family as anybody else" You can try and "other" them and "smear them with abnormality," but you are wrong. They do Love the same.

You Catholics do NOT want it to be the Same Love, but after 4 years of learning and participating in the movement for Gay Rights, I knwow that you are wrong. In fact, it IS the SAME LOVE. -


Straight Gramdmother I believe Jesus would tend to greatly disagree with you.  Not only is He LOVE incarnate, but you make a case against your own defense when you (and others), quote Scripture. out of context 

I suggest you finish reading the rest of Corinthians, including what love is not

Lastly, if being a cheerleader for behavior that puts at risk the eternal Kingdom of God, that is a 'love' that certainly needs to be questioned.  By quoting Scripture (out of context and in your defense), you lose the counter argument that God is not the standard, when in fact, he IS Love,  the standard,.and last but not least, the "Catholic Church" (in union with her faithful members).

 Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9–10, NIV).

Let's keep it simple:  Christianity has given way to neo-paganism.  This has passed the tipping point.  Those whose definition of "good" is tied to what minimizes short-run pain and maximizes material goals are dumbfounded by and frustrated with those who for mysterious reasons follow the "capricious whims" of a "medieval" or "iron age" "god." 

As for Mr. Bottom, his "change of heart" exemplifies how even the most intelligent people will come out thinking funny if they swim in mental manure (that exuded by those at the commanding heights of our "culture" these days) long enough.  When we associate with unrepentant sinners long enough, they become our friends, and sooner or later we move past empathy and into agreement. 

Truth?  What is truth? 

You are trying to direct the conversation back into religious doctrin.

The discussion is NOT about Catholic Doctrin or Holy Marriage,  it is about secualr Civil Rights.

Therefore I am not going to read Corinthians.

Bottom makes the case for CIVIL Marriage not HOLY Marriage, kindly stay on topic.

Circle the wagons seems to me to be your plan.

You make no recognition that not everybody IS Catholic.

According to Bottum, "given the premises available to our culture," heterosexual monogamy now "lacks the old enchanted metaphysical foundation" that supported its unique status. Thus, he asks, "what principle allows a refusal of marriage to gays on the grounds of a metaphysical notion like the difference between men and women?" The difference between men and women is only a metaphysical notion? What about the substantial physical difference which makes the male-female pairing the only kind capable of generating a human future? No pairing of two men or two women can do what almost any pairing of male-female can do. That "old enchanted metaphysical foundation" was not detached from a clear physical ground. Perhaps today's culture is a little unhinged; or not as clear-eyed and honest in distinguishing between reality and desire.

     Granny, if you are an atheist, like Obama, or a neo-pagan, like Hefner, we can still consider this from your view (i.e., the view of those who think the universe created itself from nothing):  You're all about freedom of choice, right?  Who are you to tell me what my "orientation" is? 

     "Homosexuality," unlike gender or race, is a choice, i.e., behavior.  (Otherwise how do you explain bisexuality, unisexuality, pansexuality, transexuality, etc? The young person starts by thinking perverted thoughts, solidifies them in the hardwiring of the brain via dopamine-releasing onanism, and—whalla—they have habituated themselves into something none of their ancestors was, i.e., assuming all of their ancestors had children). 

     If we want as a society to abandon the religious foundations of our society, that is a choice, too.  (I imagine you and your ilk consciously choose to teach kids in schools how to engage in sodomy with the least risk of aquiring a STD.   Look at the highschool "health" textbooks.  They devote pages to birth control and only a brief paragraph to chastity.) 

     Ancient Rome made similar choices.  In such a society it is easy to predict steady increases in medical expenses devoted to curing STD and to making children even more of a "choice" than they are now.   Pressure will build for euthanasia (to keep aggregate costs down).  Your ilk is teaching that evil is good.  Oops, I forgot, "good" and "evil" are slippery concepts for atheists and nihilists. 


Too many video games.  We confuse virtual reality with true reality. 



The First Things folk have responded with another mad rant-binge:

The false prophets (including Mr. Bottum—one finds it hard to resist making a play on the name) have proliferated and have convinced many.  Given that this kind of “protestant” outlook (sliding towards pantheism on the road to nihilism) still exists in the minds of many far-from-retirement priests, and that most Catholics (even ones with orthodox pastors) apparently cannot resist the tidal forces of our “culture,” no matter how clearly against Sacred Tradition, the Church needs to take drastic measures.  As it is, our shepherds are avoiding the issue, confusing the faithful.  (I know Archbishop Cordileone walks a tightrope, but was nevertheless concerned to hear that last month he said, “The Church must be a safe place where [those who consider themselves “gay”] can feel secure and loved in revealing their orientation to others. . .”  Apparently he believes there is such a thing as “orientation.”  The implication is that people are “born that way”—as Hollywood and the atheists at the APA would have us believe, despite the lack of evidence—and that the sin is no different from any other.  There is no mention of the evil of teaching children, who are not yet in any degree fixed in their “orientation,” that this is just one more example of concupiscence, i.e., that it is not one of the sins crying out for vengeance.  There is no mention that we in a sense help God to sculpt our own souls through our free-will acts, that the edifice of habituated perversion is constructed out of the bricks of myriad sins of thought or deed.) 

It may look like the Church is a billion strong, and in a crucial sense is so, but it won’t be for long.  Many, many of the baptized are not introducing the Faith to their (few) children.  It is better to leap than to fall, so as to land on one's feet.  We may be at the dawn of a new schism, but the alternative is worse.  Clarity is called for, and fullness of Truth.  And the sick branches (those who “refuse to serve,” i.e., to assent to the teachings of the Magisterium,) must be pruned (explicitly taken to task) to save the healthy shoots.  


Mr. O'Leary, it seems to me that libertines believe X because they want to do Y.  What about you?  I believe A (e.g., sodomy hurts people) because B (e.g., millions died of AIDS, a preventable disease, over tha last few decades, and millions more are forced to remain on deadly chemical cocktails).  Ntural law has something to be said for it. 


I quite enjoyed the article. As a 32 year old married, soon to be divorced catholic with one child under the age of 3...I find myself constantly chewing over the disenchantment of marriage...the disenchantment of life.  I never was able to jump aboard the "say no to same sex marriage train" and this article helped clear up and define why.  I agree its here and there is no civil reason it should not stand, no coherent argument that can be won in the courts.  However, I have been moved to focus more on finding that "deep magic" still lingering in the world - a call to be an authentic catholic witness to life. Right now i feel empty and disenchanted, but with Gods grace anything is possible, right?

On a side note: this article seems a good compliment to go Chesterton's Orthodoxy, which I am in the middle of


Thank you

Roberto Hill makes a discovery: "apparently there is such a thing as orientation". Sadly, or rather very happily for gays, the anti-gay argumentation since the very beginning of the modern gay movement has been unable to get beyond: "Yuck, sodom, unnatural, perverted", with the result that in every respectable forum (psychological, legal, political, theological, academic) the pro-gay argument has scored massive victories. This is due, of course, to the superior merits of the gay argument, based on human flourishing and human rights (pagan ideas in the eyes of some). The pro-Jewish argument has similarly leapt to victory as millennia of anti-Jewish prejudice has been exposed as what it is: tawdry, hateful, unjust, vicious, cruel, inhuman and dehumanizing, and leading to the most obscene kinds of mass violence.

Frank Wessliing misses what is wrong with Bottum's dismissal of the metaphysical foundation of marriage. Of course marriage has a metaphysical foundation, elaborated in Christian thought. It is based on mutual love and support which are an image of the divine (Genesis 2) and it provides the most humane context for procreation. Gay marriage also has this metaphysics on its side. Marriage equality, contrary to what Mr Wessling things, is not biological equality but moral and legal equality, similar to that between fertile and sterile marriages.

"paganism" and "neo-paganism" are the terms most frequently used in an apotropaic sense by Catholics who are nervous of modernity and modern rationality. This rhetorical has been in circulation since the 19th century, and its poverty is transparent.

Roberto Hill, the man's name is "bottum" not "bottom" -- a minor point, but it shows a lack of respect.

Roberto, someday there will be a cure for AIDS.  What, then, will be your argument?

Also, lesbians have never contracted AIDS through sexual contact.

Roberto, Roman empire was at its zenith when the Romans worshiped their emperor as well as Jupiter, Juno, and all the other gods they borrowed from the Greeks.  It was only AFTER Christianity became the state religion that the Roman empire disintegrated.  

Christianity, sad to say, brought a new kind of intolerance (from Theodosius on), spiraling to monstrous antisemitism and persecution of gays in the medieval period. Angela makes a valid point -- the same one orchestrated with ironic brilliance by Gibbon in his notorious fifteenth chapter. Christianity can be healed and renewed only by fulling facing these unpleasant facts.

Brava, StraightGrandmother.

Mr. Bottom,

To thine ownself be true for you will personally answer to Our Lord Jesus Christ on Judgement Day.

There will be no secular justifications, no excuses, no cloudy fuzzy logic answers just 100% pure truth to answer for ourselves and about ourselves.

Not even the "secular humanistic progressive liberal modernist beast" will help.

How will you answer?

It is NOT too late to immediately change your life now for none know the moment that we pass.

Good Luck



So apparently this article has been misread. Bottum is NOT saying that sodomitic relationships are ok. He's simply saying that the Church should stop publicly teaching that sodomitic relationships are harmful, immoral, and not to be enshrined in our laws as marriages. Get the difference? Because I dont.

Yeah, and I am ever reminded of how Jesus 'evangelized'...interesting how history always repeats itself. Jesus ate with the tax collectors and sinners. Look at how corrupt the world was back then; not much difference here  in America. We are just all appalled at how quickly our nation has publicly turned. Kind of like we were asleep at the the command of go into the world and preach the gospel. Seems like much of the religious efforts are turning into what might look like liberation theology - taking theology to the political realm, etc., to change things. Things will not change until people's hearts change. We hear talk of love, but where is the real love of a human being to not tell him of God's love for him, loving him so much that He died for him, wanting him to be with him in the eternal life that will follow for us all. Only such deep and true love can  save us all. I mean, read the Bible. We will all be held accountable for our lack of love - seeing our brother in deep spiritual need and turning our backs.....this is what all the problems are all about, in this country and all over the world. I don't know the specific answers and I would not try to publicly meander about them like Mr. Bottum did, but, let's just get back to the basics - read the Gospels and look at our example in Christ. He is the 'Truth' you know; there is no other. We can love each other. We can be Christian  in Politics. We can hold our moral stance and move forward. Carefully examine our own American history and you can see the moral decline from way back, the effects of what other countries have done in their breaks from the one true Church and how we have done the same thing....

It seems easy but not, I guess....history is repeating itself, once the Bible and read history....what do we really need to do? We have our marching orders from our Saviour, who died that all men might be saved....


Yeah, and I am ever reminded of how Jesus 'evangelized'...interesting how history always repeats itself. Jesus ate with the tax collectors and sinners. Look at how corrupt the world was back then; not much difference here in America. We are just all appalled at how quickly our nation has publicly turned. Kind of like we were asleep at the the command of go into the world and preach the gospel. Seems like much of the religious efforts are turning into what might look like liberation theology - taking theology to the political realm, etc., to change things. Things will not change until people's hearts change. We hear talk of love, but where is the real love of a human being to not tell him of God's love for him, loving him so much that He died for him, wanting him to be with him in the eternal life that will follow for us all. Only such deep and true love can save us all. I mean, read the Bible. We will all be held accountable for our lack of love - seeing our brother in deep spiritual need and turning our backs.....this is what all the problems are all about, in this country and all over the world. I don't know the specific answers and I would not try to publicly meander about them like Mr. Bottum did, but, let's just get back to the basics - read the Gospels and look at our example in Christ. He is the 'Truth' you know; there is no other. We can love each other. We can be Christian in Politics. We can hold our moral stance and move forward. Carefully examine our own American history and you can see the moral decline from way back, the effects of what other countries have done in their breaks from the one true Church and how we have done the same thing....

It seems easy but not, I guess....history is repeating itself, once the Bible and read history....what do we really need to do? We have our marching orders from our Saviour, who died that all men might be saved....


Sodomy is not a family value. Bottom needs to take off his own glasses and put on the Catholic Church glasses as Steve Ray would say. 

As a reminder to everyone. The discussion is about CIVIL Marriage, NOT Holy Marriage.

In New Meico which has nothing at all in thier laws or Constitution one way or the other, Judges County by County are ruling that same gender couples have the right to marry. The reson for the refusal previously was the paper form, becuse the paper form had husband and wife on it. Finally one brave County Clerk aid that the salutation on the form is not what is important to register, what I need to register is the names.

All Happiness is breaking out in New Mexicao, County by county.


All of you people who are so dead set against this, I ask you one thing.

Just look at the news report of the people getting married. Just look at them and hear thier stories.

Remember these are American Citizens. There is no justifiable reason to deny these people, that which we claim only for ourselves.  These couples fit the pourpos and the meaning of why we have the State regulating Civil Marriage. They need protections for their families just like we do. There is no reason if one of them dies that the second one can't collect on their parnters Social Security. These people are a couple, they are families, we need to recognize that, and stop this mean DISCRIMINATION against them. I am not going to deny these gray haired ladies who have been together 40 year the same benifits and protections I receive. Just give in and recognize that not everybody is straight and that is ok. We dont all have to be the same. Love IS Love.

To respond to this fellows longwindedness. Does he not recall the parable about the seeds being planted? Some will fall on rocky ground and die? Some will be on firm ground and so on. That is what people are at for their faith and morals. We have a right as Free Speech and Free Religion to speak up about same-sex marriage which it wouldn't be according to the bible whether Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Mormon or Muslim just to equal things out. Why? Because it is in Leviticus Ch. 18 that it is not what God wants us to choose to do as the Pagans did. Another Biblical referrence is Romans Ch. 1. Neither of these have anything spoken about Sodom and Gomorrah. Look in the Book of Revelation and you will find it in there about people following sexual perversion and not to do that. I am paraphrasing by the way. It is not a sin to be gay. The sin lies in the actions. Just like people having premarital sex and sex outside of marriage. People are not supposed to be doing that but they are doing that anyway. There are gay people in the church. We have a right to stand up for our faith and our belief in god. People who don't believe in God cannot quench out the fact that we have those rights. The early Christians didn't give up and I am not going too. As Aarron Tippin Sings; "You've Got to stand for something or you"ll fall for anything. You've got to be your own man not a puppet on a string. Never compromise what's right and uphold your family's name." I have had people try to tag me a gay because I am not married. I have dated men and been engaged a couple times. I just chose to not get married to the wrong man. I don't appreciate people telling me what I am supposed to be and who I am supposed to be. Hitler tried that and do you see him still here? He was brought up Catholic and do you see that he followed the faith? I think not. Although Hitler would've loved taking people who are homosexual and killing them; because he hated homosexuals just as much as the Jewish people. It also says in the bible not to be willy nilly and stand up for the faith and not let others run you.

Hey Grandma, no one religion "invented" marriage. Marriage is a natural reality which the Church recognizes as being a path to Heaven. But marriage in of itself is not a religious construct. Bad things happen when our law gets marriage wrong. Our laws should get marriage right. I will not give in to redefinition.

NC Woman Charged With Ordering Son To "Beat The Gay" Out Of His Brother


Russian landlords use propaganda law to hound gays in thier own homes

Witch-hunt notice warns tenants to be vigilant - gays 'can look ike you' but are breaching the law by 'living as a homosexual' and may offer you sex


I am convinced you people have no idea the persecution against gay people. After a couple of murders this summer and NUMEROUS gay beatings, HATE CRIMES, NYC Police Dept is offering free self defence class for gay people. There has been a global surge in this anti gay violence since June 2012. It is REAL. All reports out of Europe show Gay Beatings UP, by high numbers. This IS REAL.


The French Catholics at Manif Pour Tous had a protest in Munich Germany not this Saturday but the Saturday before. A featured speaker was German, the National Leader of the Neo Nazi group in Germany. You do not understand how this Catholic lead global fight to deny gay people civil rights is being amplified by the public.  You don't understand how your preaching and constant public advocating against gay people is putting them in harm. But it is. I monitor this.


Russian landlords use propaganda law to hound gays in their own homes


Witch-hunt notice warns tenants to be vigilant – gays ‘can look like you’ but are breaching the law by ‘living as a homosexual’ and may offer you sex

- See more at:

Russian landlords use propaganda law to hound gays in their own homes


Witch-hunt notice warns tenants to be vigilant – gays ‘can look like you’ but are breaching the law by ‘living as a homosexual’ and may offer you sex

- See more at:


TEXAS: Christians Pray Against LGBT Rights At San Antonio City Hall

This is NOT about Civil Marriage. This is simply a demonstration to maintain the law in San Antonio Texas that makes this 100% Legal

"We don't serve Fags here" That is Legal in San Antonio, and the Christians want to keep it that way.

It is simply a religious war against gay people. Didn't you people earn anything after the Holocaust? Didn't you learn about picking on a group of people based on a shared charateristic and then systematically and publically deamonizing them? Don't you see it? Because I see it.

and this article you can read the proposed ordinace

If one is familiar with COURAGE it is the wise teachings of the understanding of one self and one's purpose in life as a child of God and an understanding of "why do I feel this way?".  Marriage; creation; One all powerful, Omnipotent God's plan for the children HE created.  He made them man and woman with the parts that fit and He asked one thing, OBEDIENCE.  A WISE OBEDIENCE to LOVE GOD & ONE ANOTHER AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF!!! Love yourself and you will love your spouse.  THat means SELF SACRIFICE which is UNHEARD OF TODAY!  UNSELFISH LOVE!  I give you LOVE and RESPECT and SERVICE and ViseVersa.  What is LOVE and RESPECT and SERVICE?  Loving one soo much as to NEVER desire to hurt them by INFIDELITY!  Loving one's CHILDREN created in this marriage soo much that one would NEVER break apart NOR ABUSE these children nor eachother.  That said, if the BASE of the marriage and parenting is that of SERVICE & LOVE then the children will NOT WANT FOR ANYTHING more than what has been modeled for them and they have been filled with the LOVE of their parents and of a PERFECT WORLD!  This is the IDEAL, This is the PURPOSE for which we have been created in God's family.  To stray from this is HURTFUL to the FAMILY.  We ALL CRAVE FOR THAT WHICH we DO NOT HAVE, for that EMPTINESS left from the beginning.  Whether it be a missing parent, an abusive parent, a neglectful, alcoholic, workaholic parent, the parent who was NOT there emotionally or was TOO MUCH there emotionally without BALANCE then there WILL BE UNBALANCE!  THis is what Courage explains in so many words.  Why do I feel this way? Get to the root and understand why?  and then realize that our sexual orientation does NOT DEFINE WHO WE ARE it is only a part of who we are and God can and will bring Good out of the circumstances.  Children who have been neglected or sickly at birth and not touched or loved in the beginning stages of life will hunger for the affection of what he/she has lost.  That loss may never be fulfilled but if we realize that we do have a HEAVENLY FATHER who will fulfill all our needs than we don't need to cling to that which is EARTHLY and passing.  We have a purpose, a road to take, a NARROW road in which to enter the KINGDOM of HEAVEN.  God sent his son, Jesus, to show us that route to heaven.  SACRIFICE and SERVICE and LOVE is the ONLY WAY in this VERY SHORT LIFE!  We must recognize our faults, our parents' faults and MOVE ON and we have a responsibility to our children the children of today to teach them and mirror and reflect the LOVING PATH TO ETERNITY not our selfish endeavors!  I accept my mistakes, I acknowlege why I feel the way I do, and I am a celebate and loving parent and will do my best to teach my child to take the path God has chosen for her to achieve everlasting happiness, NOT HERE but for ETERNITY!

A good example of why I never really trusted First Things; overly long-winded, unclear, and ultimately wrong on many accounts. It never ceases to amaze me how Catholics of this stripe will jettison Church teaching in favor of personal experience, how otherwise intelligent people so easily fall into moral relativism.

Dee Cree, "I am a celibate and loving parent"

Why? I thought you were supposed to be fruitful and muliply. Doesn't your husband mind your celibacy? Or are you a widow?

(oh and paragraph breaks are always appreciated)

I am a celebate and loving parent

I am a celebate and loving parent"

Um...I think you are the same guy that claims he caught "gay demons" from doing gay porn - and I mean literal demons through certain sexual act - you weren't being metaphorical.  I say get thee to an exorcist pronto!

translation: we don't have any facts or arguments on our side against same sex marriage so we invoke the get of jail free card - a) God (or his Pope) said so!  Or even better - b) natural law (as promulgated by the Catholic Church of course and thus the same as a).

It's circular reasoning and despite the best efforts by Robbie George, Marky Mark Regnerus, and old cranky John Finnis, everyone outside of right wing catholics and their water carriers here at the supposed "liberal" commonweal - find these assertions absurd - even laughable.  It's so juvenile and reductionistic - part a goes in tab b - haven't you guys progressed any since the 12th century.  We can forgive Aquinas - he was working with what he had in the middle ages - but just like we no longer believe that the earth is the center of the universe and blood letting cures disease, no rational person is going to be persuaded by purely sectarian diktats from the last medieval absolute monarch in the World...your beloved Pope.



Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, the Catholic Church did not oppose the Massachusetts Legislature’s lifting of the ban on the sale of contraceptives.

In a submission to the Legislature in 1965, Richard Cardinal Cushing stated that “I as a Catholic have absolutely no right in my thinking to foist through legislation or through other means, my doctrine of my church upon others. It is important to note that Catholics do not need the support of the civil law to be faithful to their religious convictions.”   

Charles Lacina 02/08/2013


A marriage certificate issued by the state does not make a marriage sacramental, and the religious community’s blessing of a faithful, lifelong, monogamous union does not institute a civil marriage. The current consternation in the Catholic circles exists because we have combined and confused the two entities in this country. It would be incomprehensible to churches and citizens throughout most of Europe, where marriage [civil] and matrimony [religious] are separately contracted.

And since the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize the civil marriage of its adherents, why should it concern itself with the civil marriages of same-sex couples?

(Rev.) Frank Bergen Tucson, Ariz. Ltr to Editor, 1/4/10

Straight Grandmother reminds us that the current rise in homophobia (reaching quite poisonous proportions among French Catholics not to mention American and Russian fundamentalists) no doubt corresponds to the social need for a scapegoat in times of stress. Race lynchings and pogroms against Jews are no longer respectable, but crackdowns on gays are an ideal substitute for many, who believe, like racists and antisemites of old, that they enjoy biblical authority.

Did Mr. Bottum write the sub-head for his article or was that supplied by the editors?

As it stands, the sub-head says "A Catholic's Case for Same-Sex Marriage"

As I read his article, it would have been more accurate to say:

A Catholic's Case for Not Opposing the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

Nancy Freeman, "Sodomy is not a family value..."

With all due respect, it is not any of your business Nancy Freeman.

In fact gay sex is not the governments business either. As Americans we have a sphere of privacy that the government may not abridge.  We have the right to Liberty afforded to all of us under the Constitution, meaining we can do whatever we want, absent harm to others. It really is none of your damned business what people do in their bedrooms. And FYI I hear anal sex is not restricted to gays, apparently lots of straight people do it. It's a new thing now I guesss.

It is just a mean demeaning comment meant to denigrate people who are gay.

This is who you are denigrating

Sodomy is not a family value. Bottom needs to take off his own glasses and put on the Catholic Church glasses as Steve Ray would say.  - See more at:

StraightGrandmother, Compassion for those with same sex attraction does not require that we redefine marriage. Bigotry is real. Anti-gay violence is real. But redefining marriage is not the answer.

 Interesting findings have developed that proves Holy Mother Church had our best interest in mind when the Church disallowed contraceptives.  Has anyone bothered to notice the increase of homosexuality?  These people can't help their chemical make up.  They were in fact born that way!  When the Birth Control pill was created, long term studies were not accomplished, until now!  Now we are dealing with a conflict that God never intended

The birth control pill also has been shown to increase a woman’s level of SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), which decreases the amount of testosterone available in her body.[27] This is one reason birth control pills are sometimes prescribed to treat acne. A decrease in free testosterone in a woman’s body may decrease the severity of acne. However, when testosterone is decreased, so is the woman’s sex drive.

Yes, "practical considerations" are important for the bishops to stop fighting legalized same-sex marriage (the Church doesn't have to perform them).  The same "practical considerations" argue against the Church's absolutist position in opposition to all abortions, as well as its opposition to artificial birth control.

Someone just had to drag Obama into this debate.  How do you know Obama is an athiest?  Did he tell you?  How do you know what's in his heart?

Despite Bottum''s voluminous verbiage, he still fails to  explain how a vice can be transformed into a virtue.



About the Author

Joseph Bottum is an author whose latest book is An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America (Image/Random House). The former literary editor of the Weekly Standard and chief editor of First Things, he lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

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