The Same-Sex \”Marriage\” Challenge: Let The Debate Begin Here

Francis - Marriage Debate


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.

© Francis. All Rights Reserved.

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52 thoughts on “The Same-Sex \”Marriage\” Challenge: Let The Debate Begin Here”

  1. i want to share a testimony of my life to every one. i was married to my husband, i love him so much we have been married for 5 years now with two kids. when he went for a vacation to France he meant a lady who en charm him with her beauty, he told me that he is no longer interested in the marriage any more. i was so confuse and seeking for help, i don’t know what to do until I complained to my friend and told her about my problem. she told me not to worry about it that she had a similar problem before and introduce me to a man called Dr Saibaba. who cast a spell on her ex and bring him back to her after 2days. she ask me to contact Dr Saibaba. I contacted him to help me bring back my husband and he ask me not to worry about it that the gods of his fore-fathers will fight for me. He told me by two days he will re-unite me and my husband together. After two days my husband called and told me he is coming back to sought out things with me, I was surprise when I saw him and he started crying for forgiveness and that he never knew what came upon him that he will never leave me again or the kids. Right now I am the happiest woman on earth for what this great spell caster did for me and my husband, you can contact Dr Saibaba on any problem, he is very nice, here is his contact

  2. Regardless of ancestry, desire, or consent, a man is a man, and a woman a woman; men and women have been designed by God in such a way that it is not possible to engage in same-sex sexual acts without demeaning the inherent personal and relational Dignity of the human person.

    Love is not possessive, nor is it coercive, nor does it serve to manipulate for the sake of self-gratification; only in a complementary relationship of Love between a man and woman, united in Holy Matrimony as husband an wife, can two become one body, one spirit in Love, creating a new family.

    Marriage, by its inherent nature, is restrictive to begin with, because not every couple can exist in relationship as husband and wife.

  3. SSL, just throwing out some quick thoughts:

    1) You speak of Catholics “pushing” beliefs on those who don’t agree, but in fact, we are simply desiring the status quo (marriage has always been intrinsically heterosexual). All the “pushing” is coming from one side, and it’s not ours. We are simply trying to hold ground against the pushing.

    2) If this was about theocracy, then why do atheist regimes proscribe homosexual marriage? After all, atheist regimes (naturally!) reject the Trinity, the sacraments, and overt religious practices (Christian or otherwise), but somehow they are still in agreement with us on the heterosexual nature of marriage. Clearly, they don’t see it as an issue of “theocracy”, so why do you? (Of course, from our Catholic perspective, we can see that even atheists respond on some level to the Natural Law, i.e., the universal moral law that is written on our hearts, so it’s not surprising that we don’t see gay marriage in those nations.) Unlike, say, belief in the Trinity, which is clearly theology — Natural Law adherence cannot be relegated to “theocracy” the way that forced mass attendance might be, or forced conversion to Islam, for example.

    3) As to the normalization of bestiality and pedophilia, remember that there is no natural “stop” for sexual progressives. Even as many progressives dismiss these slippery slope arguments, we have Planned Parenthood International advocating to lower the age of consent for children (sexual “rights”, you know) and to remove the stigma of sexualized children (read their booklet, “Exclaim!”). And just yesterday came reports of Yale hosting a sex seminar with a pretty young sex expert sensitizing students who might be judgmental of those attracted to animals (google it). (Princeton has its own celebrated bioethicist, Peter Singer, a proponent of some of the gentler forms of sex with animals, by the way.)

    4) Look to Canada and England for what is ahead for Catholics or any Christians who do not believe in redefining marriage. When grave sin is re-categorized as a societal virtue and a civil right, then the Church and her faithful are suddenly the ones in violation of the law and will be penalized for speaking or acting in opposition. Think about it: “protections” for religious believers are put in place when new gay rights laws come on board, but we never needed protections before.

    More about the dangers to religious freedom, here:

    It is not for no reason that Pope Benedict lists the defense of marriage as one of the “non-negotiables” in the public square.

  4. Author’s summation part 2

    If you want to go back to original roots for our current culture where consumer choice is really the only shared value in our hyper-pluralistic society- you would do well to read Brad Gregory’s- The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society. I heard about this read from Archbishop Chaput, and am currently in the midst of it. The narrative goes along well with Philip Hamburger’s -Separation of Church and State. The shared point here is that with the protestant revolutions’ the genie was let out of the bottle- with sola Scriptura came the gamut of interpretations of doctrine and moral teaching- the process just continues to unfold unpleasantly. Each new wave of self-styled interpreters of God’s will on societal questions come in as well-intentioned “reformers”. There is usually something that triggers some good impulse to correct something out-of-whack. Corruption among the leadership of anything institutional- including Church- and irrational hatred of certain types of people who are thought to be unlovable and hideous because of various qualities- skin type, education level, sexual inclinations or behavior- all of these phenomena occur with astounding regularity. But once the Truth becomes unmoored from the Church- watch out! Natural Law? Sez who? We move to a situation where we feel compelled to make war or just forget about it and go shopping or obsess over diversions like sports.

    So- what to do? What to do about protecting Traditional Marriage as a legal definition? I would urge a much more comprehensive push back- going back to the beginning- evangelize the Catholic Faith- all of it to the degree we are each able to. We need to lobby the political order and try to buy the time to re-evangelize a mostly lost flock of American Catholics and keep circulating freely among the non-Catholics to attract those converts who are seeking the Truth. We need to get Theology of the Body up and running in our Catholic schools and parishes- it is as Peter Kreeft noted- the cure for the Sexual Revolution. But I know that most Catholic schools and parishes are still awash in ignorant or willful disregard of this reality. I have had precious little success lobbying for TOB in the schools I have taught and with the clergy in general. It is really past time for the Bishops to get their acts together. We have a hierarchical Church- the bishops have mostly neglected to defend Traditional Marriage by neglecting to use their clout to give the priests and nuns and administrators of Catholic education their marching orders. As Catholics we are not left without clear leadership- Use it! If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. And this is where we are- for the most part. Right now marriage in the minds of most Americans is all about romantic feelings of the moment and is all about giving recognition to consenting adults- be they heterosexual or homosexual. We don’t convince anyone of our case by suggesting that adding homosexual couples to the romantic/consenting adult “marriage thing” is

    tantamount to making marriage to animals the next step down. The people who support SSM are mostly just as repulsed at human-animal “marriage” as I am- but they aren’t repulsed by man-man “marriage” like I am- expressing repulsion isn’t going to win the game- we only cheapen our story by trying to pretend that most people think of marriage the way Jesus does. We have a lot of heavy lifting to do and there are no cute short-cuts like SSM = human-animal marriage -since they are both deviations of the traditional model of marriage. We need to fight off SSM politically right now- but it won’t go away without changing hearts if we can trust the surveys of the younger generations. We need to lobby our bishops- tell them we need Theology of the Body yesterday in our schools and in parishes, in marriage preparations for all Catholics wishing to marry as Catholics- that we can do- we don’t have to ask Obama’s permission- Do it Now! Call your Bishop and share some of the books mentioned above with friends and colleagues who are persons of goodwill.

  5. Author’s summation Part 1

    Thanks to all who participated in the Same Sex Civil Marriage (SSM) debate. I have read the comments with great interest and finished up with one of those late night/early morning chats with my friend whom I have been hoping to persuade. I believe the exercise was fruitful if it contributed anything to the general understanding to the actual reasons why our Church wishes all persons of goodwill to oppose the legal move to change the traditional definition of Marriage to included homosexual marriage. It also helps to sharpen our arguments to help convert those who are on the fence waiting for more solid reasons to support privately and publicly the movement to defend holding the line at traditional marriage definitions- one man, one woman.

    To sum up I first want to recommend some helpful reading that can clarify the orthodox Catholic comprehension of the moral and political implications of homosexuality and especially for the SSM challenge. Louis Cameli’s book- Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality- is excellent for getting to the higher ground of understanding the totality of the issue of homosexuality for all concerned- not just at the political level. His chapter on- Catholics Living in a Pluralistic Society- is quite good. Cameli makes the case that we need to engage but not in a scorched-earth policy manner- yes- it is quite difficult to be kind and compassionate when faced with the Dan Savages’ of the homosexual activist world- but we need to look at everyone as potential converts and not second guess our evangelical marching orders from Christ.

    Cameli uses St. Paul’s example of preaching in Athens and failing in large measure, but being transformed by the process, and relying less on human wisdom, and more on surrendering to the wisdom and power of God, he goes on to proclaim the Good News with more success in Corinth.
    I think the lesson to be drawn from Cameli’s entire work is keep to the holy path in our witness and veer away from the jihadist tendencies that are on display all around us and tempting us internally. Fight the good fight while recalling that love and compassion aren’t cheap emotions. There is a lot of tough love in the blogosphere and political sphere- remember to balance things out like we do at home with our kids with authentic affection and attempts to really understand rather than just get up repeatedly to our soapbox and grandstand.

    Along these lines comes another book I heartily recommend- How to Defend the Faith: Civil Responses to Catholic Hot-Button Issues- by Austen Ivereigh. His chapters on- Homosexuality and Contraception- and -Keep Marriage Conjugal- are excellent. I think the way forward is to recognize that we didn’t just arrive at this SSM intersection with no warning, like being beamed down from the USS Enterprise without a clue as to what is going on here on planet Confused Earth. Traditional Marriage has been getting beaten up a regular basis for long decades now. Think how women had been regarded as second-class citizens which led to fights for basic rights to vote etc.. (See And then with the Sexual Revolution, came the arsenal of weaponry dedicated to ruining male-female sexual relations by turning everyone of all ages into teenage boys where the topic of sex was concerned. Contraception was allowed in at the parish level (in essence ignoring the Magisterium). The disconnect between sex and children became status quo- and so the comprehension of marriage as something fundamentally Conjugal-
    became optional in the public mind. While this fact was quickly taking over as part of the New Reality of Marriage- the Catholic bishops and parish priests mostly fiddled. This brings us to the subjects of abortion, pornography, easy divorce. Civil Marriage was turned into a national joke- with Vegas quickie weddings, and no public concern over whether or not couples intended children- all that was left was adult consent- so is it really a surprise that the mainstream media and major corporate players are enthusiastic supporters of SSM? The principle that marriage implies conjugality and is a “till death do you part” covenant between a man and a woman is not one that has dominated the American landscape- to include most cradle Catholics.

  6. SSL, this was your paragraph I was responding to above:

    In terms of what we are saying when we establish SSM as equal to traditional marriage, I’m not sure that we are saying much more than that we as a society respect and encourage public life commitments between two adults that love each other. Within the traditional civil law there is a wide range of couples that could legally marry that we might still want to discourage from doing so. An 18 year old boy can legally marry a 90 old woman, but it would be hard to argue that society views this kind of coupling as equal to any other. – See more at:

  7. I agree with much of what you wrote, SSL. I do want to comment on this:


    Society will always favor certain couplings over others, depending on prevailing values and ideals of desirability, etc. But in a healthy society, it seems marriage should be more than your definition. And I’m not sure what the principle would be then for preventing three or more adults from making a public commitment to one another. What’s so magic about *two* people? I’m not trying to be ridiculous; I’m only trying to get at the heart of what the principles are behind the definition of marriage you propose.

    Oh, and I think we *should* be saying that no-fault divorce is harmful and conceiving artificially is not the way to go. The Church is too silent on both, at least in the public square.

  8. James, Son of Francis

    (SSL says:

    “I will reiterate a simple pragmatic point about the bestiality analogy. If you want to guarantee that you lose the argument in society at large, keep pretending there is no difference between consensual love between two adults and sex with animals.”)


    Define “consensual”

    Define “adults”

    And most importantly Define “love”

    And please, define “love” outside of our observable natural design.

    (“As much as we might like to believe that our pets “love” us, there is no way for them to convincingly express a commitment to love us in marriage. It is a little disappointing that this is still part of the debate.”)

    Define “commitment”.

    Let us all be mutually disappointed – shall we?

    1. James, Son of Francis

      If we are going to redefine “marriage” – then I’m afraid reasonable logic would demand that we redefine all the parameters that are intimately relevant to that broader definition – no?

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