Many years ago I was living in San Francisco, my faith life was mostly rot, and I was working at a Catholic University, under the supervision of two openly homosexual bosses. In the library of this university I found and read a book entitled Heterosexism. I was intrigued by the premise that by promoting same-sex civil unions or marriage it would be a great help in reducing the rampant promiscuity of homosexual males. This was long before the push for same-sex \”marriage\” became a national craze. My thinking at the time was not rooted in a Catholic worldview, as my faith practice had diminished to a whisper of what it had been in the first few years of my dramatic conversion to Catholicism. Fast forward to today – with a wife and several children – my faith life is thriving – my orthodoxy rock solid. I consider the movement for same-sex \”marriage\” as one of the greatest threats to the security of our religious freedom as Catholics. The Church is on the cusp of being officially and popularly regarded as dangerously bigoted – akin to racist – all due to the unwavering teachings of the Church with respect to homosexual acts and the legal definition of Marriage.
For me today, the official view of the Catholic hierarchy seems practically self-evident- but I know that without faith immersion, the mind can play tricks on you. In addition, I have a best friend who is immersed in the Faith, but who remains unconvinced of the hierarchical reasoning leading to our opposition to same-sex civil marriage. I want to help him and the legions of others like him who are motivated by good intentions, but all of the books and articles I have thrown his way have not sealed the deal yet. And so I offered him the opportunity to put down his arguments for this blog, anonymously, as he is not interested in publicly disagreeing with the Hierarchical view; he knows to be a faithful Catholic he cannot do so without breeding scandal. But his conscience is torn at the moment. I want to push him over the top, and I need the help of thoughtful, intelligent, articulate and kind orthodox Catholic defenders of the Church’s viewpoint on same-sex \”marriage\”. So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, here are my friend’s own words in challenging the hierarchical viewpoint. Please take as many of the following points, and offer the most reasonable response without resorting to counterproductive personal attacks or flippant disregard. My friend is on his way to becoming a professor and I want him to be convicted on this teaching and counsel, so that he can become a great ally of the hierarchy, and not someone who feels compelled to sit silently on the sidelines as a matter of personal conscience. So here we go:
1) Marriage has traditionally been between a man and a woman.
True, but lots of traditions have been discriminatory. Tradition often gives us much-needed pause before changing too rapidly. But tradition is not a valid justification for public policy. There have been traditions against treating women as equal partners in a marriage, traditions against miscegenation, traditions promoting polygamy et cetera, none of which most opponents of same-sex \”marriage\” accept today.
2) Marriage between one man and one woman isn\’t a religious doctrine; it\’s natural law that precedes the church and state.
The problem with this argument is that it cherry picks one element of traditional marriage while ignoring others. It is wrong to say that the marriage that existed before the Church and government was between one man and one woman. If anything, it was common for men to have more than one wife, and in fact, the Church likes to take credit for liberating women from this very tradition. Some address this problem of letting polygamy creep into the logic by saying that only a monogamous relationship can conceive life in a single act. This distinguishes monogamy from polygamy, but so what? I thought we banned polygamy because it is exploitative of women, not because it\’s impossible for a man to impregnate two women at the exact same time.
3) If same-sex \”marriage\” is permitted, why not marriage to children or animals?
This argument is particularly offensive because it seems to belittle the sincere love that homosexuals have for one another by comparing it to a perverse, exploitative, and criminal relationship. The obvious distinction is that with same-sex \”marriage\” we\’re talking about consenting adults, a principle the opponents of same-sex \”marriage\” presumably share, unless they would tolerate the marriage of a 50 year old man to an 11 year old girl.
4) We cannot establish policy that encourages people to sin.
This is a principle that seems to have been conceded a while ago. There are any number of temptations to sin promoted by government. Why do we accept and even subsidize the existence of other churches and religions when this makes it more likely that people will be led away from Jesus Christ? Why do we accept and even promote freedom of speech when it is so often used to expose people to immoral values? Why allow same-sex \”marriage\” to exist independent of religious marriage, thus tempting people into believing they can have a true marriage without God? Why do we accept the right of women to lead non-Catholic churches, when according to the Church, God clearly intended men to be the religious leaders? These are all indirect temptations to error and sin because of civil rights and liberties.
5) The only purpose of sanctioning marriage is to promote the birth and care of children.
This is the original purpose in terms of the state\’s involvement in the institution, but it is an argument that seems foreign to many if not most people today. I would wager that a strong majority thinks that marriage also has the purpose of two people making a public commitment to each other regardless of whether they are going to raise children or not. Even if a couple never intends to raise kids, there is still arguably a benefit to the state in promoting marriage, because the institution, on average, promotes better health and stability. This is probably true of homosexual couples as much as it is of heterosexuals.
6) The real purpose of same-sex \”marriage\” advocates is to destroy the Church and other traditional institutions.
Almost every movement and cause has its radical faction. If the Second Amendment is strongly supported by Neo-Nazis, would that mean that no one should support gun ownership rights? Policies need to be justified or condemned on their own merits, not according to guilt by association.
7) Same-sex \”marriage\” rights will cause the Church to be considered a discriminatory institution, opening it up to legal assault.
I agree that any law sanctioning same-sex \”marriage\” should protect religious institutions from being forced to perform such marriages themselves. The state can have a civil definition of marriage, while each church has its own religious one. I also think the threat of litigation may be exaggerated. To my knowledge there has been no serious movement to legally force the Catholic Church to ordain women, despite a strong feminist movement. And in a pluralistic society we sometimes have to pay for things we don’t like. If not, then I should be able to claim a 20-25% federal income tax credit during unjust wars.
8) The Church teaching on marriage has been consistent and shouldn’t change with the times.
This consistency is only true in the narrow sense of maintaining the same definition of marriage within its own institution. The Church objected when during the French Revolution, civil marriage was instituted without any religious affiliation. But the Church changed its view and today accepts the legal freedom of marrying outside of it. This opens the door for the Church to say that while it prohibits same-sex marital unions within its own institution, governments may have their own distinct reasons for instituting civil marriages.
9) Social science demonstrates the benefits of being raised in a traditional two parent household with a mother and a father.
It may be true that most scientific studies indicate that a traditional family environment leads to the best social outcomes on average. But this does not mean that homosexual couples do a poor job of raising children – only that on average they don\’t do as good a job as married couples. But the same goes for single parents, divorced parents, and other categories. The social science research on homosexual parenting is way too thin so far to draw any confident conclusions.
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