Thursday, February 11, 2010

A primer on marriage, the state, the Church and gay rights--part 1

As I wait for the storm to settle--and having written my column for the bulletin--this seems as good a time as any to write this post.

It won't be as good or as carefully researched as it might be, but it will do till that happens. Perhaps a reader can provide a link to a resource somewhere that does a better job of what I'm going to attempt here.

But since my comments at a Washington Post blog, and then a subsequent post here, have generated many comments--including questions from (mostly anonymous) visitors who seem to be genuinely puzzled about what I'm saying about marriage, so-called "same-sex marriage," and what the state and the Church have to say about all this, I guess there are some things I'm taking for granted. So I'll outline some thoughts here.

1. What is marriage? Who says?

Marriage is an institution that arises out of human nature itself. It is not the creation of government, nor of religion. So--surprise!--marriage is not a religious institution at all! The proof of this can be seen so easily that I suppose it's so big we don't even see it at all, sort of like the sky: marriage--I mean between men and women--has existed everywhere, older than memory, in every culture, regardless of religion. The Christian Church did not present this idea to the pagan world; the Jewish People did not do so before Christianity. Men and women figured it out a really long time ago.

Now, it is true that monogamy does have a religious component: while marriage involving men and women is a universal practice, having it involve a single male and a single female is not universal. Since I am not an expert in world religions, I cannot say if other religions teach it; but it is clear enough that it existed at one time among Jews, and among pagans in the vicinity of the Jewish people, because the Bible bears witness to it.

It is also clear that monogamy emerged within Judaism, and Christianity has carried that forward. If I were doing exegesis on the Bible, I would explore here how the Jewish Scriptures (i.e., the Old Testament) implicitly, if not explicitly, favor monogamy. That isn't directly on point here, but it is of interest, because sometimes folks will assert that the Bible "approves" of polygamy, and I think that's not really the case, but it is the sort of thing someone might think I was presupposing here.

So as a matter of history and universal human experience, marriage is heterosexual.

Those who favor so-called "same-sex marriage" would certainly have a powerful argument if they could point to examples of human societies that developed along different lines. And while there was a day that you could say, "oh the evidence exists, but we can't get our studies published"--but those days are long gone.

The question has to be asked: if this assertion that heterosexual marriage is a universal fact of history is wrong, why has no one disproved it? The best one gets is either citation of the ancient Greeks and Romans, or some other citation of an obscure culture where some sort of homosexual behavior seems to have been winked at or even encouraged to some degree.

But take the case of the Greeks and Romans: the fact remains that even in this example, where--we are told--there was open tolerance, if not encouragement of homosexual relationships...even here, marriage was heterosexual. And this is actually very telling, because if there were a place where you'd be likely to find the sort of history you'd want, if you favored same-sex marriage, this would be the place. Yet the gay-friendly Greeks and Romans (I'm sidestepping the argument about whether this is truly accurate) still didn't see any reason to create same-sex marriage.

Now, at some point, someone will say, why haven't I appealed to the Bible for what Jews and Christians believe about God's role in marriage?

The answer is because Christians do not believe they--or the Jews--"invented" marriage; another way to put it: heterosexual marriage (the only kind there is) pre-existed both Christianity and Judaism; if the Bible never existed, this would be just as true a statement. Christianity (I won't speak for the Jewish people) never asserts marriage to be an essentially religious institution, but rather a natural one that takes on religious meaning within our own faith.

Be aware that those who now seek to deconstruct marriage operate from the premise that this is a religious issue; and we are foolish--and factually wrong--to go along with that. It's like saying that because we use water for baptism, water was invented by Christianity; rather, Christianity takes a natural reality and invests it with a new meaning. And in the case of baptism, we invest the natural reality with rather more meaning than we do the natural institution of marriage.

Back to "what is marriage" and "who says." Some might say, my claims are arbitrary. How can this be? Marriage arises out of fundamental human nature--human sexuality and the need to procreate. Biblical religion asserts these are good things; does any society uninfluenced by the Bible believe otherwise?

Of course, reason would say that the burden does not lie with me to prove these things. I do not accept the burden of proving what is patently obvious and has always been held to be true, until the curious, recent phenomenon of folks acting as if this is all some thing that came out of the catechism. Those seeking to reinvent marriage are the ones who have the burden of justifying making a radical (i.e., to the root) change in a universal, old-as-humanity reality.

Update: when I dashed this off, it was one, very long post. I came back and broke it into three posts, and bolded the questions, and fixed one small error. Otherwise, same content.

129 comments:

Anonymous said...

Father there is a story concerning Abraham Lincoln in a meeting with reporters:

Abraham asked the reporters "how many legs does a dog have?" Of course they respounded: "four." Lincoln then said: "Suppose we call the tail a leg, then how many legs does a dog have?" They then responded: "five." Abraham then said: "You are wrong you can call a tail a leg but it will never be a leg."

We can redine marriage to be "politically correct" but it will never be a marriage, because a marriage is between a man and a woman.

prayerfully
r

Greta said...

Nice job Father, Keep up the work that Pope Benedict asked all his priests and bishops to take up strongly and proudly. Truth is a powerful way to bring people to our faith. God Bless and my prayers are with you.

Peggy said...

O, my! I just plodded through the 47 comments in which you respond with knowledge, intellect, compassion and Christian Truth. I see "George" finally had to wave you off as he could think of no further arguments. You were infinitely patient but firm and clear.

This tutorial is excellent. It is important to remind folks that marriage has ALWAYS been heterosexual, even in societies that preceded God's revelation to Man and those which have yet to be evangelized.

Anonymous said...

Father, your post here is excellent and says it all.

Marriage IS between a man and a woman.

If some wish to expand its natural parameters, where does it end? Could a man marry a snake, or a woman marry a parakeet? Does a dog marry a chicken leg, or a barn wed a pond?

There are two genders within the human race. They not only complement one another but also have the ability to co-create additional humans. Marriage is the institution whereby love, fidelity, and God's blessing all come together to make these two human genders succeed in their natural relationship - which is not self-centered, but works for the good of all humankind.

Marriage is between a man and a woman.

Annie

Anonymous said...

This argument for the "definition" of marriage is just like the one I used to use with my kids when I had no good reason for their doing what I wanted them to do - and they knew it. I just said "we always do it this way, so just do it." Your argument just showed me that there really is no good reason - and I know it.
Samantha

Fr Martin Fox said...

Samantha:

Thanks for visiting.

This movement for "same sex marriage" is really just a revolt against natural reality--because that natural reality is messier and involves unwanted struggles and tears.

Notice it is only happening in that part of the world that has, in its surfeit of prosperity and technology, and seeming mastery of everything, conned itself into thinking, "we can have it all."

Nature--or rather, reality--presents us with unwanted complications, and we figure we can just alter reality and problem solved.

It reminds me of the sad--and extremely difficult to understand--phenomenon of folks who are, for whatever reason, not at peace with their own sexual identity. A terrible cross, no doubt, and an intractable problem.

Ah, but we have a solution--whack off this part, stitch a new part on--look, I'm not a boy anymore, I'm a girl (or vice versa); problem solved!

But is it really solved? I admit I haven't studied the subject, but I am willing to bet that there are not a few folks who, once having undergone that surgery, still have difficulties, perhaps new problems for old, because it seems obvious to me that the real problem wasn't actually addressed.

Here's a thing to contemplate--bear with me as I develop it...

Did you know that we may, very soon, be able to implant a chip in our brains--and have the ability to "interface" our brains with computers? No longer the stuff of comic books or Sci-fi--soon a real thing.

Now I've imagined this would happen for several years, and I thought of something this would make possible, and I wonder what you will think of it: the ability to take "virtual reality" to the final step. Beyond virtual worlds via the Internet, beyond hi-tech goggles and earphones...

Imagine if we could short-circuit ones encounter with the real world, with all its hard edges and complications and inconvenient limits--and instead, we could connect our brains into a world of wishes; we could have the parts of life we want, while distilling out those parts we don't.

If you are young enough, Samantha--and I suspect unless you are very advanced in age, you are--you will see this come to pass. Humanity will have broken the final shackle! People will be "free" to escape what is unwelcome in life and have just what they really want.

Of course, we would at that point cease to be human...

Anonymous said...

With age - one hopes and prays - comes a certain measure of wisdom . Experience keeps a dear school ... but a fool will learn by no other is most definitely a cliche based on real life truth.
Natural Law is what it is . Human kinds vain attempts to circumvent same are just that - vain and ultimately futile .
Procreation is the reason for differences . Just because individuals of the same sex are able to "pleasure" one another does not indicate that natural law has somehow been circumvented and a "marriage" has somehow been created in the process.

Anonymous said...

'Notice it is only happening in that part of the world that has, in its surfeit of prosperity and technology, and seeming mastery of everything, conned itself into thinking, "we can have it all."'
________________________________

Parts of the world such as... Mexico? South Africa? Argentina?

Anonymous said...

"as a matter of history and universal human experience, marriage is heterosexual."
________________________________

No, not universal. For a small minority throughout history, gay unions are real, though not recognized or legal - until recently. John Boswell's work on same-sex unions in the middle ages also comes to mind, as well as the indigenous culture of Native American people, who of course don't count as "history" among Catholic priests, since you took away their children and destroyed their language and culture.

In any case, legalized gay marriage is now a growing reality, and it will continue to grow.

Anonymous said...

"This movement for "same sex marriage" is really just a revolt against natural reality"
____________________________________

As usual, you have it backwards. The OPPOSITION to same-sex marriage is really just a revolt against natural reality: the natural reality of a consistent minority of human beings who happen to have a homosexual orientation that naturally leads them to fall in love, mate for life and pledge love and care to one another. It's a natural reality that the Church just can't accept.

Anonymous said...

There are many gay and lesbian couples, legally married or not, who are raising children. But those children don't count in your world, do they? It's just another way the Church does violence to children.

Peggy said...

To Anon:

Yes, there has been homosexual activity in human societies. It has never been the norm, nor held equal to heterosexual unions as to be included in the idea of marriage, which is heterosexual. Marriages were pursued for a variety of reasons. Historically, they addressed issues such as political and financial alliances and involved reproduction (an alliance that doesn't produce an heir is politically problematic, see Henry VIII, eg) and continuance of a society. Gay unions can't achieve that goal for a society. It seems that only in the most recent centuries that marriage for romantic love has been pursued. While that might seem an improvement, that desire to fulfill romantic love and keep that romance alive has gravely harmed marriage among heterosexuals--people often divorce b/c they are no longer "in love." Or they don't seek a good stable partner, but a romance, and end up in a financial or other kind of mess. The gay community siezes upon this "romantic love" motive for marriage, I think. Romantic love is an immature view of marriage. While many marriages begin that way, that love needs to give way to something more mature about the commitment to this union the man and woman have created and to the children produced from the marriage. Finally, sexual attraction is a horrible basis for any marriage. I have no idea how a gay "marriage" can be divorced from that motive.

Anonymous said...

"sexual attraction is a horrible basis for any marriage. I have no idea how a gay "marriage" can be divorced from that motive"
___________________________________

Yes, sexual attraction is typically the START of a long, successful relationship - it's what brings people together. What happens in the years and decades after that is what makes a marriage. And in that respect, heterosexual marriages are no different than homosexual marriages.

Anonymous said...

And it's not a "marriage" -- it's a MARRIAGE, you condescending ignorant bigot.

Fr Martin Fox said...

this is too rich...

Anonymous said...

"The gay community siezes upon this "romantic love" motive for marriage, I think. Romantic love is an immature view of marriage."
___________________________________

Is this how I have remained with my spouse for 23 years now? There are countless gay and lesbian couples who spend decades together, and lifetimes together, just as heterosexual partners do - except that most homosexual couples must do it without the social and legal supports you take for granted. That would suggest that our marriages are strong, perhaps even stronger than yours. And it is completely dishonest to ignore the fact that "romantic love" is what brings together most heterosexual couples prior to their marriages. Are you in a loveless marriage? Is that why you're complaining?

Anonymous said...

almost forgot: Happy Saint Valentine's Day!

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous:

Since you apparently reject the claim--rooted in human history--that marriage is intrinsically about procreation, and thus necessarily between a man and woman...

Then what do say marriage is?

And where does your definition of marriage come from?

Does it come from you, personally? Your own particular experiences?

You set aside as normative how all human societies, down to the very recent present, have defined it.

Very well then. What is your definition, and upon what authority does it rest? I.e., why should your definition prevail over that which has been normative until some, recently, called it into question?

Peggy said...

Should I bother?

Happy wife and mother, here. As a wife of almost 10 years, I--and my husband--have learned that there is much more to marriage than romantic love--which I did not discount as a starting point for marriages today. But it has to mature and give way. Marriage is more than a private mutual admiration society. The sexual intimacy between a husband and wife has a higher purpose than that between 2 men or 2 women, which same sex relations can never achieve--procreation from that union, perpetuation of a family and society. It's really just what we tell small children: Mommy and Daddy loved each other so much that you were created. Children are a product of their parents' love. No homosexual couple can ever say that their love directly created a child.

Granted some couples are sadly infertile and may adopt (although non-Catholics will also pursue reproduction technologies which we consider immoral and unnatural because they divorce reproduction from marital intimacy--another topic).

Yes, Happy St. Valentine's Day to all.

Anonymous said...

"marriage is intrinsically about procreation"
___________________________________

How you guys LUV that word "intrinsically"...

Merriam-Webster says nothing at all about "procreation". Marriage-as-all-about-procreation is a religious belief. In civil marriage, having children is not required, and having children does not require a marriage contract, and never has. Many, many married couples are unwilling or unable to have their own children. Offspring are not even required to be married in the Catholic Church. At the same time, many same-sex couples ARE raising children. Why do those children not count in your view?

Merriam-Webster includes this definition (and you'll likely be shocked that I did not suggest it to them): "the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage". "Traditional marriage" may have been the norm, as slavery once was the norm for thousands of years, and it may have been dominant in human history, and it may be the norm among certain religious traditions (but not all), it is no longer exclusively between men and women. You've made the claim that no other cultures in history united same-gender partners, but John Boswell's research proves you wrong, as well as alternative unions which were recognized among certain Native American traditions as well. In any case, with same-sex civil marriage now legal and officially recognized in a growing number of countries, it is intrinsically false to assert the claim that civil marriage is exclusively about men and women. And I for one am thrilled to be able to have lived at a time of such *change* in human history.

Fr Martin Fox said...

And it's not a "marriage" -- it's a MARRIAGE, you condescending ignorant bigot.

Did that remind anyone else of this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7S_XWuKpHc

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous:

OK, so just to be clear: your position is that the publishers of Merriam Webster dictionaries decide what marriage is?

Seriously, can you not provide a more cogent argument than to cite the dictionary?

Anonymous said...

"your position is that the publishers of Merriam Webster dictionaries decide what marriage is?"
________________________________

No, that is not my position. You have a tendency to put words in my mouth.

Merriam-Webster didn't decide the definition of marriage any more than they decided the definition of "hypocrite".

When I married, our family and friends, who had known us as a couple for 22 years, told me that they had always considered us married. The state where we married also considers us married, of course, and provided a certificate saying so. And if you can speak for God, so can I, so I shall say that God brought us together and supports our marriage. None of those I mentioned are focusing on our genitalia, as you insist on doing.

Peggy said...

Anon:

How about some anthropological studies?

Here. Read up on the idea of "kinship" and the role of marriage in establishing kinship relationships. As you read on, you'll see that primitive societies that don't understand the biology of reproduction, knew that a woman bearing a child MUST have a husband.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinship

Societies give status to marital relations between a man and a woman for the protection of women and children. [Arguably, the economic concerns are not what they once were, but many women still exit the labor market to raise children and rely on their husbands' income.] Also, surely we all acknowledge the bad impacts on children and society at large from the continuous growth in unwed births. Children are better off with a mother and a father.

Also, marriage is a regulator of sexual activity in a society. In addition to ensuring that children are born to a mother and father, marriage civilizes men, in particular. [In surveys even admitted to by gay "marriage" movement, gay men are not very monogamous, though lesbians are.] Gay "marriage" does not civilize sex among gay men. Lesbian "marriage" doesn't help civilize men since they're not marrying men who need to be regulated into monogamy.

In general, we have a society of men and women who don't want to be regulated by marriage. So, we have children born without fathers, in poverty, addicted to drugs; men and women "hooking up" in all sorts of ways, left empty, reaching middle age alone, headed to the nursing home, with no children & grandchildren to visit.

Marriage between a man and a woman is a stabilizing building block for society, today and tomorrow.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous:

You seem to be seething with anger and fury, that's something to look into.

I asked you a question, I did not "put words in your mouth." You posted the Merriam Webster definition in reply to my question about what is marriage. By doing so, you made it a very reasonable inference that you were offering that as the definition of marriage--but as I said, "to be clear"...I ASKED...

So no need to be "on the muscle."

Now, in answer to the question, who says what marriage is, you are now offering:

> what your "family and friends" told you;

> what "the state where we married" says;

> what the certificate the state provided says so.

So, I ask again: is this argument? That if enough people, and the right people, say you are married, you are married?

And/or, if the state says so, you are married? When your friends said so, but the state didn't, were you married at that time?

"None of those I mentioned are focusing on our genitalia, as you insist on doing."

Well, you raise a good question. Should the law allow any two people to marry? And why two, and no more?

You see, until fairly recently, what marriage is was not in question, anywhere, as to the involvement of men-with-women. (Feel free to disprove me by citing, with a source, any culture that had male-male or female-female marriage, as opposed to same-sex attraction, which I readily concede has been around a long time, everywhere so far as I know).

But, you have set aside that universal, and extremely ancient consensus as--I guess--arbitrary, or perhaps past its time.

So I'm asking you, if that doesn't decide the matter, what does? Who does?

Instead of being on the muscle about the legitimacy of your union, how about simply giving some insight on that question?

I mean, I see no reason for you to be so furious that I put quote-marks around your marriage. Why should my view generate such rage in you?

Anonymous said...

Peggy, do you think that men and women will cease to marry and raise their own children if gay and lesbian couples have access to civil marriage? Furthermore, many gay and lesbian couples are raising children. Don't their children deserve to have their parents married? Don't those children deserve the same protection and security that other children have? Aren't gay and lesbian couples raising children providing a valuable service to society? Although the overwhelming majority of children will continue to be raised by heterosexual couples (although a great deal of those will be raised in single-parent households), research shows that children raised in same-sex households fare just as well as those raised with a mother and father.

I don't know of anyone who married in order to regulate themselves. Although it may be true that men tend to stray from monogamy (this is true among heterosexual couples as well, and likely the most common reason for the significant prevalence of divorce), monogamy among gay couples is more common than you think you know. And if marriage DOES regulate unrestrained sexual activity, why exclude gay people from that? You'd rather we remain promiscuous than marry?

Almost everyone who has been married a few years understands that marriage isn't primarily about sex. Marriage is a partnership, an intimate friendship, and provides companionship that has health benefits and actually extends life. It is immoral to deny that benefit to gay and lesbian persons.

FACT: It is no longer necessary for a woman to have a husband in order to conceive a child. Many heterosexual women do take advantage of that fact. And we are no longer a primitive species in danger of extinction - except by our own hand.

Anonymous said...

Yes - bigotry, arrogance, condescension, bullying and hatred tend to inspire anger. Get used to it. What is it that inspires your hostility to gay people?

I learned about marriage as a child, and not from anthropologists or religious officials or historians. I learned what marriage was about from knowing my parents, and being loved by them. Christian spirituality has a long tradition of the soul's marriage to Christ, or to God. Yet our souls aren't male or female, and neither is God a man with a phallus. It is a spiritual union, and marriage is as well. Marriage should point to that spiritual union of the soul with God. It's not dependent on gender.

I don't seek to denigrate "traditional" marriage, and neither do my heterosexual family and friends who regard us as married. Why do you feel you must defame and denigrate my marriage?

I think there is a certain collective consciousness regarding how we see marriage. It's not an accident that more and more people are including same-sex couples in their ideas about what constitutes marriage. That's why we now have legal same-sex marriages in place all over the world. That will continue to grow.

Anonymous said...

Putting quotation marks around the word 'marriage' every time it's preceded by the word "gay" or "lesbian or "same-sex" or "homosexual" is a way for you to negate my marriage, to mock it, to insult it, and to wish it out of existence. How would you feel if I consistently referred to you as "Catholic" or "Christian" or "human"?

Anonymous said...

'so-called "same-sex marriage,"'

"It is an act of aggression"

"this, I think, is the major harm: i.e., harm to the very cohesion of society."
__________________________________

The above quotations above are just three examples of thinly-veiled hatred - or at least insulting, false, degrading, fear-mongering commentary which stoke hatred. One respondent called gay marriage an "attack". This kind of thinking is what led Uganda to criminalize homosexuality and foster legislation to kill homosexual people. You and your Church are part of that. When it becomes your aim to show that gay couples really just shouldn't exist at all -- that their marriages are not marriages, that their life together isn't worth protecting, you are expressing HATRED. So what's the difference? What could be worse than denying others a dignified existence? And to do it arrogantly, unrepentantly and with a smile? EVIL.

Peggy said...

Anon:

Children deserve ideally to be born to and raised by a natural mother and a natural father who are married to one another.

I am sorry for any harm that children of homosexual households incur. They are not responsible for their parents' way of life.

Men and women are already declining marriage to bear and raise children. We see the effects in crime, drugs and emotional detachments. Because reproduction has been detached from marriage by technology, the gay "marriage" movement uses that as justification for their unions as being equal to heterosexual unions.

Gay "marriage" does not regulate sexual activity of men who are less likely to be monogamous--gay men are not as monogamous as lesbians. Lesbians are not taking otherwise promiscuous heterosexual (or homosexual) men off the market.

No, people don't explicitly say marriage will regulate me. But I think we all recognize that our lives are much more stable and less, er, wild, once we marry. The old idea is that men finally find a good woman and settle down to raise a family. That's self-regulation and taking social responsibility.

Society benefits from promoting and recognizing heterosexual marriage. There's little additional social benefit to recognizing gay "marriages." The State should not treat them equally. And society should not have to turn its idea of marriage from the beginning of mankind upside down to accommodate the desires of a very small portion of society.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous:

I'm sorry that reality does not conform itself to your wishes.

You deem describing reality as "hatred." Example: the reality of marriage as a union of men and women, from time immemorial, and in all cultures, everywhere...until very recently in human history when some have used the political process to create a new understanding of marriage.

The invitation stands to disprove this summary of historical and sociological fact.

Raging against it, and labeling facts you do not like as "hatred," is not normally considered a reasonable argument.

That the dictionary, or your friends or family, or even a government, says marriage is something other than this, does not make it so. Pointing this out is not arrogance, it is common sense, unfortunately not welcome to you.

Anonymous said...

"I am sorry for any harm that children of homosexual households incur."
________________________________

There is no harm. That's what the research says, and that's what reality says, but by all means, don't let that spoil your chosen bigotry, which actually IS harmful!

Anonymous said...

"Society benefits from promoting and recognizing heterosexual marriage."
_____________________________

How did "society" benefit from Britney Spears' marriages?

Go ahead, promote it and recognize it. No one is stopping you. You're not the only people on the planet.

Anonymous said...

Peggy, thanks for promoting MONOGAMOUS LESBIAN MARRIAGE! It's a start!

Anonymous said...

"Men and women are already declining marriage to bear and raise children."
______________________________

Apparently, the fault of your immoral heterosexual lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

"The old idea is that men finally find a good woman and settle down to raise a family. That's self-regulation and taking social responsibility."
________________________

Yes, I know you'd much rather I enter into a loveless, sham marriage. That would not be a good idea for me, as I don't wish to destroy both my life and that of the "good woman".

Anonymous said...

"Raging against it"
________________________________

It's just another one of your lies that I have "raged" against heterosexual marriage. I absolutely support heterosexual marriages. I also support homosexual marriages. You're the one that's raging.

Anonymous said...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-wilson/divorce-rate-in-gay-marri_b_267259.html

Provisional data from 2008 indicates that the Massachusetts divorce rate has dropped from 2.3 per thousand in 2007 down to about 2.0 per thousand for 2008. What does that mean ? To get a sense of perspective consider that the last time the US national divorce rate was 2.0 per thousand (people) was 1940. You read that correctly. The Massachusetts divorce rate is now at about where the US divorce rate was the year before the United States entered World War Two.

Back in summer 2006, after more than a year of poring over accumulating data I reported what was, to my mind, a foregone conclusion; after two years of legal gay marriage, the Bay State still boasted the lowest divorce rate of any state in the nation. That was notable in light of the absurdly histrionic claims made by leaders on the Christian right that legal gay marriage in Massachusetts would be an "apocalypse" that would destroy the institution of marriage and lead to the destruction of Western Civilization or even the Earth itself.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous says:

"Raging against it"
________________________________

It's just another one of your lies that I have "raged" against heterosexual marriage. I absolutely support heterosexual marriages. I also support homosexual marriages. You're the one that's raging.

My response:

I'm sorry, but you are raging, because you don't even seem to know what you're reacting to.

Here's what I said you were raging against: not "heterosexual marriage," but the factual and historical argument, presented in the original post in defense of marriage, and recapitulated in summary form, in the comments.

Here's my comment, from a bit earlier, which you quoted so selectively:

I'm sorry that reality does not conform itself to your wishes.

You deem describing reality as "hatred." Example: the reality of marriage as a union of men and women, from time immemorial, and in all cultures, everywhere...until very recently in human history when some have used the political process to create a new understanding of marriage.

The invitation stands to disprove this summary of historical and sociological fact.

Raging against it, and labeling facts you do not like as "hatred," is not normally considered a reasonable argument.


For clarity, I put the phrase in question in bold. To what noun does the pronoun "it" refer back? You claim it refers back to "heterosexual marriage."

Now, I'll allow that a reasonable person might be uncertain, because the "it" could have several referents in the prior text. But then, such uncertainty by definition does not allow you to hurl the accusation of a "lie"--it does entitle you to ask me, or even challenge me, over the ambiguity.

But normally, in grammar, a pronoun such as "it" refers back to something earlier in the same sentence, or in the sentence immediately prior. Such as:

"The invitation stands to disprove this summary of historical and sociological fact."

And, without asking me to clarify, one might naturally--according to the normal rules of grammar--take the "it" to refer, perhaps to "this summary of historical and sociological fact."

That was what I meant, and again, I'll allow that I might have avoided the "it" and excluded any possibility of confusion, but pronouns are so handy to avoid repetition, especially of phrases such as "this summary of historical and sociological fact."

Now, I happen to think I wasn't asking too much of you or anyone else to follow my argument; but I would have been happy to clarify had you asked. I think it's meaning was clear enough.

That you leapt over my actual words--and leapt over any thought of asking for clarification--to the accusation you hurled...

The thing is, however well intended a mistake (meaning, I am not accusing you of a deliberate falsehood, as you so easily accuse me), that does seem to bear out my observation that you are caught up in rage.

Anonymous said...

blah blah blah. You're rambling.

Peggy said...

I should not say more, but a few points, then back to my family:

--Yes, society is better off had Brittany Spears and whoever he was remained married and matured and concentrated on raising their family.
--I did not promote lesbian unions. I said they are more likely than gay men couples to be monogamous. They do nothing to improve society. These women are not helping "civilize" men, as heterosexual women who marry do. There's no social benefit to lesbian or gay men unions.
--Sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is socially destructive. Heterosexual sex is in and of itself not immoral or unnatural. But it is to be acted upon within a marriage. God's teaching makes sense.

Gotta go for the night. Cheerio. Thanks for letting me join the debate, Father.

Anonymous said...

Peggy, one would think that after thousands of years of heterosexual marriage allegedly "improving society", as you claim, society would be much better off and world peace would have broken out long ago. But no such luck! Suffering, violence, misunderstanding and hatred continue unabated, with the world still full of ignorant, prejudiced individuals and organizations bent on hurting others in the name of their respective gods.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Peggy:

You're most welcome. I'm sorry I can't do much about the, er, "mood" on this thread. Poor Anonymous, I think if I so much a sigh in his or her direction, it'll be yet more instance of "hate" and "prejudice" and who knows what else.

I'm probably responsible for global warming too.

Anonymous said...

"I'm probably responsible for global warming too"
_________________________

Only when you're blowing hot air, which is frequently.

Peggy said...

Hi Father. Time for a break, I know. I had followed the Prop 8 trial recently, so these concerns have been on my mind of late. Interesting intellectual excercise.

Anon: You seem to be unaware that this is a sinful world. We have free will. All of us are sinners. That's why the world is not perfect. Nonetheless, society is more orderly when marriage between a man and a woman is promoted, especially before the children from said union arrive.

Really. I'm quitting now for tonight.

Carmela James said...

blah blah blah. You're rambling.

Only when you're blowing hot air, which is frequently.
________________________________

And these comments contribute to meaningful discussion...how?

Brittany Spears, by the way, is just as responsible for the abuse of marriage as are the officials in Massachusetts who legalized homosexual marriage. I doubt anyone in his right mind holds her up as an example of what marriage ought to be.


What is it that inspires your hostility to gay people?
________________________________

I see no way in which Father's primer inspires hostility. He's called to attention the fact that some things people want are wrong, and they can't have them. He hasn't done it hatefully. This is not hostile. It's fact.

Anonymous said...

"society is more orderly when marriage between a man and a woman is promoted"
_______________________________________

I have nothing against that at all, Peggy. Promote it all you like. Is society *less* orderly when gay men or lesbians marry one another? You've implied that same-sex marriage does some kind of damage, but you have not presented any evidence whatsoever to support that. How does granting access to civil marriage for gays and lesbians harm your marriage or discourage heterosexual couples from marrying? Aren't the anthropologists saying anything about that? The record shows that Massachusetts, having legalized gay marriage five years ago, continues to enjoy one of the lowest divorce rates in the country, if not the lowest.

Anonymous said...

"He's called to attention the fact that some things people want are wrong, and they can't have them. He hasn't done it hatefully. This is not hostile. It's fact."
_________________________________

I disagree. And I'm happy to break this to you: we can and we do have it. My spouse and I are married, and neither you nor the Church can do anything about it. Civil marriage is now available to gay and lesbian couples in many parts of the world, including America. And it's only the beginning. Mazel tov! The Catholic Church is free to discriminate regarding who they marry - as they always have been. And instead of whining about the fact that we can and do marry, the Church should turn its attention to lowering the divorce rate and doing away with its "annulment" industry.

Anonymous said...

The Church teaches that gays and lesbians are to be treated with "dignity" and "respect". Can someone explain to me exactly how this respect and dignity is practiced in the Church (and on this blog)? What is it that the Church "respects" about me as a person with a homosexual orientation?
Where is the "dignity" in being told that our lives are harmful to others? That our experience of love and intimacy is "disordered"? Even a child would tell you that's not how people are respected, and it negates all dignity to be told that who you are is an offense to God. As far as I can tell, there is no sign of dignity or respect coming from the true believers on this blog, who are openly hostile.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with you on the annulment scam. Come on down! You got the money, we've got the annulment for you. I've seen it in action. Good friend of mine, married in the church, went thru the pre cana courses, had children. Ten years later, runs into a new sweetie who lures him away. He had the money, boom, he got the annulment. Would like to read that one. Must have been some really good legal girations to get that one. In fact, the jilted spouse begged the pastor to intervene and help save the marriage. Pastor declined to enter the fray. So much for supporting and promoting marriage.

The annulment process is so rife with abuse, it is laughable.

Fr Martin Fox said...

The annulment process is certainly open to abuse.

Stop the presses! Banner news!

Human activities are subject to abuse!

Call the networks and cancel normal broadcasting to run this monumental story!!!

Seriously, come on, are juvenile attacks like this best that people can do?

FYI, the idea that the annulment process--whether it's handled the right way every time (which it certainly isn't, how could it be?) is about making money is really ridiculous.

The more prosaic reality is that people's lives are messy and they can legitimately ask the question whether a prior attempt at marriage was valid as a sacrament. The answer is often yes--meaning they cannot remarry. The answer sometimes is no, and they then may--not automatically--be free to marry.

Yes, it's true that those who seek this service are asked to contribute something.

Wow! What a shocking scandal! Oh the horror!

OK, back to sanity again...the reality is that this is a request. Maybe other dioceses handle it differently, I don't know (and neither do the snarky commenters who hide behind "anonymous"--what are you afraid of?)...but here, things are handled the same way with our without a contribution.

Most of the time, little or no money is received, and the amount is not so great, several hundred dollars. Not nothing, but hardly a big money-maker.

Someone may ask, why ask for any contribution at all? Well, question: this costs something; who should pay? Why shouldn't those who seek this, and benefit, contribute toward the cost? There's no way what is asked completely covers the cost.

By the way, if it were about money-making, then why would any request for a decree of nullity ever be turned down? Yet they often are.

Bottom line, this is just a side, snarky comment--like many other here--because the original question about what marriage IS...and how we know this...is not welcome; and the obvious answers from human nature and history are unanswerable except with snarky comments, loaded down with enough resentment and defensiveness to make a psychoanalyst rich.

Carmela James said...

Nonny, you keep claiming that we're openly hostile, and you keep failing to provide sufficient examples of this so-called hostility. This line of thought has ceased to amuse. Please drop it and move on to something more substantial.

And you seem to have misread my words. I never claimed that homosexual marriage is not available anywhere in the world. I was making a general statement about all the things that people want.

Homosexual marriage is legal in some places. So is abortion. It is our duty toward mankind to stop them.

We would be bad people if we ONLY focused on...the abuse of the annulment process, since you've pointed that one out. Badness must be stopped wherever it crops up.

Anonymous said...

"Homosexual marriage is legal in some places. So is abortion. It is our duty toward mankind to stop them"

How is it that you've awarded yourselves the right to dictate other people's lives -- other people who aren't Catholic or Christian?! This is pretty much what we are fighting in Afghanistan with the Taliban.

Anonymous said...

"the amount is not so great, several hundred dollars"
__________________________

To most of your parishioners, that's a great deal of money.

Who would go to a bunch of closeted, sexually repressed, allegedly celibate gay men who have never been married to make judgments about the validity of their marriage? What a supreme irony! LOL

Anonymous said...

"Homosexual marriage is legal in some places... It is our duty toward mankind to stop them"
____________________

Carmela, the above is an example of the hostility you're so clueless about. Who would go after other people's marriages to invalidate them? That's hateful and it's hostile.

Next time, think before you write.

Anonymous said...

"The annulment process is certainly open to abuse. Stop the presses! Banner news!
Human activities are subject to abuse!?

_______________________________

It's interesting that clergy spend most of their time asserting moral authority and superiority - and the rest of the time making whiny excuses for their moral failings. That way, they can't lose.

Fr Martin Fox said...

"Who would go to a bunch of closeted, sexually repressed, allegedly celibate gay men who have never been married to make judgments about the validity of their marriage? What a supreme irony! LOL..."

Actually, a significant number of folks involved in reviewing requests for decrees of nullity are laity, not clergy.

Also, the question of validity has to do with the sacramentality of the marriage...which, to a significant degree, is a theological judgment, although not exclusively.

Peggy said...

Something kept nagging at me since last night and it wasn't the darned plows coming by every 1/2 hour for a 1/2 inch of snow.

Anon revealed him- or her- self when he (Let's just use grammatically correct masculine pronouns in the case of unknown.) expressed concern for being trapped in a loveless marriage entered into b/c of a pregnancy. What are we (as a society) doing having sex with people we don't love? Or how do we have sex with some one we claim to love but are not willing to marry them? Society was much more stable when men and women took that responsibility.

Marriage is NOT a vehicle for attaining personal happiness. God wants us to be happy in whatever vocation He has in mind for us. Personal happiness is attained in bending our will to God's will. I pray that you attain that kind of happiness in your life as well.

When I was engaged, an older black man on the Metro saw my ring and noted his experience that there were good decades and bad decades. There's a message in that. I am a child of divorce. I was single many years before marriage. If I had a dollar for every person who claimed they were no longer happy or no longer in love, I'd be rich. I felt resentful toward such claims from married persons. I was happy and unhappy too at times as a single person. I could divorce no one. I could blame no one. It was just me.

Marriage is selfless, self-sacrificing, sometimes heartbreaking, often very joyous. Marriage between a man and a woman is a responsibility to our families, to our future children, and to society.

It is happy, it is sad. It is challenging, it is fun. Marriage is not about receiving satisfaction; it is about giving to one another and being open to life. Happiness is in meeting responsibilities, in giving of ourselves to God's higher purposes. Same sex unions are not on par with the higher purpose. They do not bring people to God's will for them.

God's will is for heterosexual marriage. And man figured that out before God revealed himself to the Jews and sent Jesus to fulfill the Law. It's in man's nature that God created us so.

tyler said...

A discussion on gay marriage amongst Catholics... and based out of a parish in Piqua, OH no less? That's like discussing coal energy in West Virginia. Where's the discussion? There isn't a bit of it. You're surrounded by calm seas and gentle winds. And just to note, I see a whole lot of "snarky" coming from both sides. Father, you're hardly innocent (ie: "Stop the presses! Banner news! Human activities are subject to abuse! Call the networks and cancel normal broadcasting to run this monumental story!!! Seriously, come on, are juvenile attacks like this best that people can do?").

I grew up in Piqua. I was baptized at St. B's and went through the entire Catholic school system. My parents still attend mass weekly. You know who they are and you might even know who I am. I would hope you wouldn't hold it against them (or the rest of my family) as we may not share the same viewpoints, but I refuse to post anonymously. I know where Catholics stand on the subject of gay marriage and so does everyone else that's commented on your blog. The Vatican didn't formally apologize to Galileo (he died in 1642 while being held under house arrest by the Church for stating the earth revolved around the sun) until 1992. 1992! Rest assured, hell will freeze over before the Church acknowledges gay unions. That is fact.

So why argue the point so fervently? It comes down to faith, no? Faith in the belief that same-sex unions go against God's will. It's written (depending on how you want to interpret or rather, how you follow others' interpretations) that the sun rises and sets and returns to the place where it rose. Faith drove the Inquisition to burn one man at the stake and force another to live out the remainder of his days under house arrest because of those written words... amongst others. And we've been told what the bible has to say about same-sex relationships. The Church has a stance and that's not changing... you are NOT their lone savior in a den of wolves. You're a member of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. You're swimming with some pretty red fish when it comes to the topic of gay marriage.

(comment continued)

tyler said...

With that being said, I commend you for your faith. I truly respect your decision to join the priesthood. It certainly doesn't coincide with the norm. And while I don't think blogging is all you do (I don't think anyone else does either, that's foolish, so there's no need to cry foul)... I must admit that it takes a considerable amount of time to manage 144 (and counting) comments across seven posts in less than ten days. And to defend George further, counting words is as simple as Copy / Paste / Tools / Word Count... as is compiling a parish-wide listserver (to let them know about upcoming volunteer opportunities, of course).

In closing, perhaps it's best to leave the politics in Washington. I don't know the details of the state of the parish... or the state of the city. I'm sure few do. But I do know that I try and volunteer at the beer booth every year at St.B's festival with my dad and what I see is the same men and women working the booths that they worked 25 years ago. You weren't around when we would have two festivals a summer. It was brilliant. What I see now is a parish and its school system struggling to stop the attrition. Struggling to fill its coffers. I'm an alumni... I get the mail. You can argue with the world until you're blue in the face about the nuances of gay marriage, but I can assure you that such arguments will not make a non-believing couple with a child walk through those church doors. What it will do is polarize a community that is in dire need of young leaders. Be innovative, not divisive. You are young and you are well-educated. I implore you to stop preaching to the choir on such topics. There are families with children just outside your doors that would benefit greatly from words of love and inclusion. And maybe you are giving as much time as you possibly can, but they need more. The community of Piqua needs you more than some online forum. Believe me, the topic of gay marriage isn't going anywhere. I'm always up for discussing ways to make things better. I'd enjoy sitting down and having a chat or two over coffee.

– Jason Tyler

Fr Martin Fox said...

Jason:

Thanks for your great comments.

I'd be happy to have a cup of coffee or anything else with you, just let me know.

Anonymous said...

"Marriage is selfless, self-sacrificing, sometimes heartbreaking, often very joyous."
_____________________________

Why do you assume that gay or lesbian couples don't experience the same things after 20, 30, 50 or 60 years of marriage or partnership? Do you really think you're that special?

Anonymous said...

"Actually, a significant number of folks involved in reviewing requests for decrees of nullity are laity, not clergy"

Right... I'm sure they're the ones making all the decisions, Father...

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous:

Do you have anything constructive to contribute?

Carmela James said...

Carmela, the above is an example of the hostility you're so clueless about. Who would go after other people's marriages to invalidate them? That's hateful and it's hostile.

Next time, think before you write.
_______________________________

Nonny, you seem not to understand that when someone actively opposes your viewpoint, it's not necessarily done with hostility and hatred. So who needs to think before he writes?

I have a duty to stand up for what I know is wrong and right. I'm not doing it in a hostile way. I don't go chasing down homosexuals and beating them with baseball bats, nor do I encourage anyone else to do the same. Yes, I acknowledge that physical violence is not the only form of hostility.

What were you trying to accomplish here in the first place, Nonny? I lost track of it long ago.

Anonymous said...

I don't go chasing down homosexuals and beating them with baseball bats, nor do I encourage anyone else to do the same.
__________________________________

Merely "opposing" my "viewpoint", and aggressively seeking to end my marriage are two very different things. You're a gay basher, no less than those who beat us with baseball bats.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carmela James said...

Pish posh, Nonny. If you want to call me names, please do it at my own blog, not the good Father's.

Anonymous said...

OK, whatever.

Anonymous said...

http://www.ctlawtribune.com/getarticle.aspx?ID=36099

from Norm Pattis, criminal defense attorney and civil rights lawyer, Bethany, CT:

I think of marriage as something more than licensed sexual intercourse. And I think of intercourse as more than rutting in the name of the species. Marriage, and all that it entails, is a commitment of one person to another. It nourishes, sustains, and, from time to time, challenges in ways that force one partner to learn to regard another’s claims as of equal or greater significance than our own. Marriage is a good thing. Few doubt that.

I cannot see the justification or logic in denying gays and lesbians the right to marry. It strikes me as cruel to say that just because a person’s libidinal compass points East rather than West they should be denied the succor and social standing of being a spouse to another.

Opponents of gay marriage who rally under a banner reading “Protect Marriage” startle me. No one is trying to prevent anyone from getting married. Expanding the right to marry encourages marriage. Just how does the extension of a right I enjoy to another person diminish the right I have? There is something like envy, one of the seven deadly sins, at work here.

The agenda of those opposing gay marriage is really something other than protecting marriage. It is more an incipient brand of nostalgia for a bygone era, an era in which God sat confidently in the Heavens. However, and this is the point, all has never been right with the world. Biblically literal people know this, if they have ever read about Adam and Eve.

So what of this linkage between opposition to gay marriage and televised court proceedings? I guess it really does have to do with the Scopes monkey trial. Recall in that case that the law banning the teaching of evolution resulted in a conviction of Mr. Scopes. The Biblical literalists won the trial. But they lost the battle for public opinion. Clarence Darrow crushed his opponents.

Prejudice works best in dark and silent places. Sunshine disinfects. The only justification for a ban on gay marriage is an antiquated theology. Opponents of gay marriage don’t want to admit that. They prefer darkness to light. Shame on them for hating so; shame on them for denying that human dignity transcends libidinal boundaries.

Peggy said...

Lent begins tomorrow. Today I shall end my participation in this thread. Just as there is more to Lent than giving up chocolate, there is more to marriage than 2 people's happiness. A marriage reflects a vocation and considers God's will for mankind.
To use economic lingo, there are no positive externalities to a homosexual union. They might sacrifice for one another, but there's no sacrifice which benefits society: no perpetuation of a society, no civilizing of men, no stable structure for conceiving and raising children. Marrying to bear and raise children has positive social benefits that require sacrifice beyond that directly exchanged between the husband and wife. In fact, there are negative externalities: disrupting social cohesion and man's understanding of society from the beginning of time; threats to religious liberty; sexual confusion to children; children deliberately raised with only one sex of parent; children deliberately raised with at most one bio or legal parent. [Yes, some of the negatives also result from deliberate single parenthood and use of reproductive technologies, both of which the Catholic Church discourages as well. Just b/c heterosexuals might mess this up, doesn't mean homosexuals may do so.]
***
In response to the last post about the efforts of Judge Walker to televise the Prop 8 trial. Judge Walker went contrary to existing law and administrative rules to try to get a federal trial televised. He got slapped down by higher courts for such egregious disregard for the law and current practice of federal courts. The federal judiciary does not want witnesses subject to harm for their testimony. Recall federal cases might involve mob crime and perhaps terrorist trials as well. Prop 8 proponents have been physically harmed by anti-Prop 8 people. Witnesses need to be protected.

Anonymous said...

Peggy, you just ignore facts which are not to your liking. The fact that many gay and lesbian households are raising children. For some reason, you refuse to value those children, and choose to lie and slander about the "harm" being done to them. Furthermore, if marriage is a good thing, why withhold it from gay people? Is it a greater benefit to society that gay people live promiscuous, shadowy lives than pairing with another person they love and pledging their lifetime together? WHy not encourage people instead of damning them? Why do you wish such ill on gay people - who don't even share your religious beliefs? In addition, you imply that somehow, heterosexual marriage will disappear if we allow a permanent minority of individuals to civilly marry. You have no rational argument against us. Think of that when the ash is rubbed on your forehead this Wednesday, and think about the harm you are wishing on others.

Carmela James said...

Here's some facts for you, Nonny. Like Miss Peggy, I'm ending my participation in this discussion for Lent.

http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=35427

You probably won't believe it, but none of the things we've written here have been said with hatred in our hearts. That's my final word on the matter.

Anonymous said...

You may rage against Natural Law. You may deny Natural Law. And for that matter ... you can drag all of the "red herring" issues into this debate that you wish . But the fact remains that marriage is what it is .... the union between a man and a woman if for no other reason than the plumbing .

Anonymous said...

I'm not "raging" against "Natural Law". I rage against ignorance, stupidity, bigotry, and sociopathic lack of compassion and empathy. My homosexual orientation is as natural as a heterosexual orientation. It didn't just appear out of thin air, it's not a choice, and it's not a disease. If you think life is all about your genitalia, you're wrong. Your position is called a "biologism" in discussion of ethics, and it's not so ethical. Human beings cannot be reduced to mere anatomy or biology.

Anonymous said...

Carmela, the link you provided is irrational, hateful, bigoted and full of lies - and defensive, of course. It starts out by comparing drug abuse and homosexuality and goes downhill from there. This is the reason I will fight you hypocrites for the rest of my life.

Anonymous said...

George Rekers is a homophobe with a Phd. Those are the people the Catholic Church relies on to support their bigoted, hateful teachings. Rekers doesn't represent the mainstream of psychology, and is funded by biased organizations for biased purposes. If the Church is so into relying on the sciences, why does it reject what what every major professional organization of doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists has already concluded? That homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality.

http://www.critpath.org/pflag-talk/gid.htm

Anonymous said...

Yesterday, or the day before, I asked someone to explain to me the meaning of the Church's call to "dignity" and "respect" for homosexual people. No one even attempted, not even the "pastor", which is understandable, since neither that dignity or respect exists. Children aren't harmed in gay or lesbian households, but they are in the Church - two millennia and counting of sexual abuse by your priests is documented. I hope it continues to bankrupt the Church.

Anonymous said...

Carmela wrote: "none of the things we've written here have been said with hatred in our hearts. That's my final word on the matter"
__________________________

Well, I've got lots of words left.

You posted a link which claimed I was dangerous to children, that my life is detrimental to society, and that I suffer from a mental disorder. Now it's not at all surprising to read this kind of thing in the Catholic media. What I find incredible is that you expect me to believe that these things aren't hostile or "said with hatred". And it's particularly ridiculous considering the thousands of children that *have* been molested and raped by your priests and harmed by your Church.

I have to say, Carmela, that it takes particularly unintelligent and socially retarded human beings to make such claims.

But please understand, I say this with nothin' but LOVE in my heart!

Fr Martin Fox said...

All y'all anonymouses--anonymice?--need to behave.

Anonymous said...

... and posting Catholic hate propaganda is "behaving"? No, misbehaving has saved my life, and brought my spouse to my side. If I had "behaved" the way you and the Church would prefer, I'd either be incarcerated, dead, or a very unhappy, dysfunctional Catholic priest.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous(es?):

I've been pretty patient with your tirades and tantrums for several days. You've had every opportunity to make your point, and in doing so, you've taken nearly every opportunity to throw around insults and opprobrium, all the while complaining about how "hated" you are.

Well, perhaps you have a very low threshold definition of "hate" and "oppression," insofar as you've said whatever you wanted here, and nothing bad has happened to you from me or anyone here--there's nothing we can do to "hate" you.

Now, examples of actual hate and oppression are not hard to find: one thinks of how the Iranian regime hangs kids in public squares for being gay; and then there are the developments in Uganda, which you or someone else cited here, or on another thread.

I'd be very sorry to think that this silly blog is distracting you from your efforts in protesting those, real forms of oppression. I mean, given your social conscience, I trust you are trying to do something about those crimes? Those matters are vastly more deserving of your attention.

Insulting me and the Catholic Church doesn't do a thing to address those very real forms of oppression--nor, for that matter, does it even help the cause of creating "same sex marriage."

Civil jurisdictions in this country declining to create "same sex marriage" as a new category of law is not "oppression" or "hate." And to get so upset about blog posts and comments...is a bit much, it seems to me.

There are real problems in our real world, far more deserving of such terms.

Mann said...

The "developments in Uganda" are due to the same kinds of anti-gay propaganda your Church has been pushing for centuries, and which you and others here shamelessly tolerate and espouse. Fighting the Church's prejudice against gay people is fighting the developments in Uganda. And what exactly are you doing about it? Or don't you have a social conscience?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mann:

Anonymous was looking for gay-hating dragons to slay. I'm seeking other dragons to slay. I don't hold that Anonymous should slay mine, nor that I should slay his or hers.

But--if one is looking for the sort Anonymous was looking for, there be far more ferocious such dragons in Iran and Uganda. On this blog? None.

And before you argue with my "none," spare us, please? That horse has been flogged to death already.

Mann said...

I asked if you had a social conscience. I'll take that as a "no".

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mann:

I cannot control what inferences you draw, obviously.

That said, if you genuinely want to know more about me, you can easily browse through this site and see years of comments, homilies and accounts of my doings.

Part of my social conscience is to be involved in the care of the poor and needy, to work for justice, and to involve others in doing so. That is part of my ministry as a pastor and part of what I do as an individual.

And I think "social conscience" is inseparable from "justice"--and that is why I am not out of bounds in speaking to matters of public policy, because justice is not merely personal, it is social.

That is why I feel strongly about working to end abortion and other assaults on life itself.

And it is why I feel strongly about the government not overreaching, and claiming the power to redefine marriage. I contend government has no authority to do so, without the consent of the governed--i.e., I believe state and/or our federal constitutions would have to be amended to authorize the government to do this.

And I think that government that ignores the bounds placed upon it by the law is a threat to everyone, but especially groups that represent a minority point of view.

Mann said...

Aren't secular laws for preventing discrimination against gay people in housing, employment and their primary relationships also a matter of justice? Do you support secular civil unions for gay and lesbian couples which provide all the legal benefits of marriage without the title of marriage?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mann:

I might think of a reason why "civil unions" create problems I'm not anticipating, but I don't know that I get super excited about that--I guess it depends on the details. In any case, I do think all the issues of visitation, inheritance, power-of-attorney and so forth that have been cited as justifying either "civil unions" or "same sex marriage" can--and should--be dealt with by legislation.

In other words, I have no problem with two people being able to make such arrangements, I think few people would.

As far as anti-discrimination laws, I'm of two minds. The libertarian side of me doesn't like aspects of these, in general, because of the First Amendment issues; on the other hand, that is an old issue, probably academic now. So, yeah, I think people should be treated fairly, regardless of race, sex and sexual orientation.

That said, laws must be judged not by the good intention that motivates them, but the actual effects they have: including many unwelcome effects--at least, unwelcome by some. For example (and I expect you may not like this, but), I think when it comes to adoptions, a family of a mother and a father is the better way to go (all things being equal, which is a hypothetical).

Yet many will say that's "discriminatory." Actually yes: "to discriminate" is to make distinctions; some distinctions are invalid, but others are entirely valid. If I am hiring a science teacher, I will legitimately "discriminate" against those who know too little science. I would illegitimately discriminate against someone because of race or sex, etc.

The thing is, I'm not going to be for any law whose effect is to pretend a family of a mother and a father is not the norm to be strived for, even if it cannot always be obtained.

Mann said...

"I have no problem with two people being able to make such arrangements, I think few people would."

That would not be accurate. Some states have outlawed any such arrangements-- even privately.

"laws must be judged not by the good intention that motivates them, but the actual effects they have"

So... if shown (as it has been) that children raised by same-sex couples fare just as well as those raised by a mother and father (40% of children are raised by a single parent), you would advocate such adoptions. Or would you rather see a child go unadopted?

Fr Martin Fox said...

With adoptions, each case has to be judged as a unique situation, because it's a question of alternatives and their relative merits. I wouldn't expect adoptions by single persons or gay individuals or couples to be ruled out; I'm just saying, the family of a man and woman is the norm and should be treated as such.

And studies and statistics aren't terribly impressive unless I examine them myself, or someone I trust looks at them (since I may not have the expertise to critique them) and they stand the test of time. A few years ago, "everyone" said the Head Start program was "obviously" a success. Recently an article appeared in the Washington Post saying, oops, it wasn't a success after all. Which was right? I dunno; but it happens too much for me to be very impressed by, "studies prove..."

Mann said...

Given the fact that 48 American states have allowed adoptions by single gay persons for years, and nearly all of those don't specifically prohibit adoptions by same-sex couples, or it's not clear, it would seem that these adoptions have stood the test of time. If there was any harm being done to these children, as purported to be "fact" by Carmela and others on this blog (and pointing to a questionable article on the matter), it seems that harm would have been obvious.

Mann said...

http://trueslant.com/allisonkilkenny/2010/02/19/catholic-church-throws-children-under-the-bus-to-protest-marriage-equality/

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has ended its 80-year-old foster-care program in the District rather than license same-sex couples, the first fallout from a bitter debate over the city’s move to legalize same-sex marriage.

What a brave and noble stance to take! Finally, the church has stopped focusing its energy on stopping war, or helping the millions of war orphans and crippled children in the Middle East. It’s just hard luck those kids didn’t attract the Archdiocese’s attention a few years earlier when they were fetuses, the only stage of life the church seems interested in.

To be fair, the distinctively anti-life events of war and poverty are pretty big issues to tackle. It’s easier to hate on them queers.

This decision means the Archdiocese have nixed programs for homeless families, victims of domestic violence, and also foster care. Rather than risk having to place abandoned children in loving same-sex households, the Archdiocese has wisely decided to abandon them.

This intrepid stance demands respect especially when one considers the church’s waterloo occurs during a time when over a hundred scientific studies show that the grown-up children of gay parents do as well as children whose parents are heterosexual “in every way,” according to Professor Ellen C. Perrin, MD of Tufts University School of Medicine.

Strangely, Catholic Charities transferred its duties to the National Center for Children and Families, an organization that embraces Judeo-Christian values and Baptist heritage.

It’s unclear if NCCF plans to honor the city’s move to legalize same sex marriage, or if they will be the next organization to abandon the homeless and children.

Either God only cares if the church mingles with the gays sometimes, or the Catholic church harbors especially vicious stalwart anti-gay values, and has decided to play it safe by passing off its duties to the Baptists rather than risk an eternity in the lake of fire.

If NCCF decides to honor the same-sex marriage laws, then that means Catholic Charities has directly deposited helpless children into the sinner’s nest. Horror! Maybe they’ll burn down NCCF’s headquarters rather than allow the children suffer their terrible fate of being loved by two daddies.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mann:

Ah, for a bit there you were being reasonable, only to launch into histrionics at the end.

Let that be the last word, there seems no point in continuing to try to be reasonable.

Mann said...

Correct. There is no point in being reasonable with the Church.

Mann said...

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/02/just-the-catholics.html#more

Does the Washington diocese's charities employ any people who have been civilly divorced and are now re-married under DC law? If so, how are these individuals less offensive to the teachings of the Church on the institution of marriage than a member of a gay couple provided civil marriage licenses?

Catholic doctrine is very clear: a remarried person is not remarried in the eyes of the Church, and for the Church to employ such a person would be to recognize a civil marriage that violates one of its core principles. There are infinitely more of these individuals than there are gay Catholics or gay non-Catholics who might want to help the homeless or serve the poor or provide foster care for an abandoned child. Catholic Charities might - Heaven forfend - have to provide spousal benefits to a member of a heterosexual couple violating Church doctrine about matrimony in exactly the same way. And almost certainly, they already do all the time.
Have Catholic Charities ever considered shutting down their entire city contracts for the needy because of the chance that this might happen or might have already happened? Of course not. So why this glaring inconsistency on the question of homosexuals - unless it is driven by animus against them?

I raised this question with Maggie Gallagher at the CATO debate. Her response, as I recall, was that the church should probably seek to "cleanse" more people from its ranks, implying divorcees or the remarried.

Nice word that, isn't it: "cleanse". But at least it would be a consistent position: a defense of any contamination of the church's definition of marriage by the District's City Council.

It's interesting that, once again, it's only the gays the Church singles out for this kind of radical action? And remarkable also that an institution found guilty of the rape and abuse of so many children for so many years - and a conspiracy at the highest levels to cover it up and perpetuate it - would now seek to abandon other children in need of foster care because it might - in some few cases - just might imply acceptance of the civil rights of gay couples.

This they take a stand on. Torture by their own government just miles away? Not so much. When Jesus' clear fundamental injunction is to help the needy. The homeless will be the next victims of this madness - for there is no other way to describe the extremity of the position, an act of pique that could actually hurt people genuinely in need, whom the church has served for centuries as part of its core mission.

Why? Because the maintenance of dogma, inconsistently applied, is so much more important than charity.
Yes, that's what Catholicism now seems to mean, isn't it?
These three things then remain: dogma, power and charity.
And the least of these three is charity.

Pat said...

Good Heavens, Father, your blog post shocks me. You name it "A primer . . . " which by its name purports to offer some actual teaching on the subject, but fails miserably. This is an important topic for all Christians and it is disappointing to see someone offer his random unsupported thoughts and even have the nerve to ask for a volunteer to "provide a link to a resource somewhere."

For shame.

That said, your post has brought about a robust discussion on an important topic, and for that you should be commended.

I'd like to return to the first question in your "Primer" since you've failed to answer the question, but merely offer your own personal (unsupported) thoughts on the matter.

What is marriage, and who gets to say so?

As to the meaning of marriage under the law, the State gets to say so. In Massachusetts, for example, two men may marry each other, a man and a woman may marry each other, and blood siblings (among others) may not marry each other.

Must the RCC recognize the first example as a valid State marriage? YES! In the exact same way that the RCC must (and readily does) recognize the Massachusetts marriage of (for example) a divorced, Jewish, infertile man in his 80s and his 20 year old Baptist wife each of whom have no intention of ever procreating.

Would it be a valid Catholic marriage? No. But it is a valid civil marriage, just like the Massachusetts marriage of two men or two women.

Isn't that the end of the discussion?

Patrick

Fr Martin Fox said...

Patrick:

In the U.S.,governments are constrained by constitutions that specifically empower the government to do this, but not do that.

I am not familiar with the constitution of Massachusetts, so please help me and the rest of us on this question: what provision of the commonwealth's constitution empowers the government to say what marriage is? That is to say: it is one thing to regulate something; it is another to redefine it.

Now in denouncing my account, I notice you neglected to refute anything I said. For example: can you dispute my claim that marriage has always, from time unknown, involved men and women? If so, I'd love to know what culture or society you can point to--prior to the court decision in Massachusetts that started this a few years ago--where marriage was not heterosexual?

By the way, if what you're complaining about is my post's title...okay, big deal. In the body of my post, I made it clear I was offering my own thoughts, and I was not attempting something "carefully researched." So the "for shame" is a bit much. I hope you didn't get the vapors as well.

Pat said...

Father:

I stick with my "for shame" statement, because regardless of your exculpatory language, you're holding yourself out as someone who can explain what marriage is, what marriage means, and frankly, it's a legal question right now in the US, not a religious one. You are speaking far outside your area of expertise, which is irresponsible and not pastoral. I look forward to reading your "Primer" on some question of Catholicism, but please don't hold yourself out as someone authorized to teach about civil marriage.

I believe the State has always had the power to define our relationships with each other with respect to civil matters like civil marriage, civil divorce, inheritance, adoption and perhaps a few other matters that touch upon family life. This is nothing new.

Here's a parallel that may illustrate: Mr. A marries Ms. B who already has an infant son by her former husband. The couple raise the boy along with the 3 additional children that are born to them in the following years. Mr. A feeds and clothes and educates and loves equally all 4 kids and proudly holds himself out as their father. He dies years later, a widow, and leaves no will, so by law the State ,must divide his estate among his heirs.

Guess what? The first child gets nothing, because he was never legally adopted by Mr. A. You see, the State gets to decide who is and who is not a "child" of Mr. A. and the State says his children are either those that are naturally born to him or legally adopted by him. The eldest boy was neither. If a church disagrees feels that they are all the "children" of Mr. A, well, that's nice, but irrelevant. Interestingly, if we really feel it's unfair, we can petition to change the law to include as a "child" a person such as the eldest boy - - that is, "a member of the decedent's household who, while not being a natural or adopted child of the decedent was nonetheless treated and held by the decedent in all ways as though he were a natural child of the decedent etc. etc." That would be a redefinition of "child" for legal purposes. The world would not end.

If we charge the State with the responsibility of helping us govern and enforce property rights and inheritance rights and intestacy laws, then who else should we turn to, who else should have the authority to say, who IS and who is not a "son" and who is and who is not a "daughter" of Mr. A? These are terms, defined in our laws for the administration of certain family law matters.

Similarly, we charge the State with the responsibility of helping us govern the creation and dissolution of civil marriages which necessitates defining it and redefining it, as needed. This is also not new. As you doubtless know, years ago in many states, Mr. A did not have a marriage by definition if he were black and Ms. B was white, even if they exchanged vows in a church and met the other normal requirements for a legal civil marriage. We changed that law and the definition of marriage was changed to include couples who met the other requirements of marriage (age, consent, etc.) and who might also be of 2 different races.

The question now in many states is whether or not a legal civil marriage can exist between 2 members of the same sex.

Tradition can inform our deliberations, but tradition alone is not determinative of our laws. If it were, women wouldn't have the right to vote.

Patrick

Pat said...

Father:

I stick with my "for shame" statement, because regardless of your exculpatory language, you're holding yourself out as someone who can explain what marriage is, what marriage means, and frankly, it's a legal question right now in the US, not a religious one. You are speaking far outside your area of expertise, which is irresponsible and not pastoral. I look forward to reading your "Primer" on some question of Catholicism, but please don't hold yourself out as someone authorized to teach about civil marriage.

I believe the State has always had the power to define our relationships with each other with respect to civil matters like civil marriage, civil divorce, inheritance, adoption and perhaps a few other matters that touch upon family life. This is nothing new.

Here's a parallel that may illustrate: Mr. A marries Ms. B who already has an infant son by her former husband. The couple raise the boy along with the 3 additional children that are born to them in the following years. Mr. A feeds and clothes and educates and loves equally all 4 kids and proudly holds himself out as their father. He dies years later, a widow, and leaves no will, so by law the State ,must divide his estate among his heirs.

Guess what? The first child gets nothing, because he was never legally adopted by Mr. A. You see, the State gets to decide who is and who is not a "child" of Mr. A. and the State says his children are either those that are naturally born to him or legally adopted by him. The eldest boy was neither. If a church disagrees feels that they are all the "children" of Mr. A, well, that's nice, but irrelevant. Interestingly, if we really feel it's unfair, we can petition to change the law to include as a "child" a person such as the eldest boy - - that is, "a member of the decedent's household who, while not being a natural or adopted child of the decedent was nonetheless treated and held by the decedent in all ways as though he were a natural child of the decedent etc. etc." That would be a redefinition of "child" for legal purposes. The world would not end.

If we charge the State with the responsibility of helping us govern and enforce property rights and inheritance rights and intestacy laws, then who else should we turn to, who else should have the authority to say, who IS and who is not a "son" and who is and who is not a "daughter" of Mr. A? These are terms, defined in our laws for the administration of certain family law matters.

Similarly, we charge the State with the responsibility of helping us govern the creation and dissolution of civil marriages which necessitates defining it and redefining it, as needed. This is also not new. As you doubtless know, years ago in many states, Mr. A did not have a marriage by definition if he were black and Ms. B was white, even if they exchanged vows in a church and met the other normal requirements for a legal civil marriage. We changed that law and the definition of marriage was changed to include couples who met the other requirements of marriage (age, consent, etc.) and who might also be of 2 different races.

The question now in many states is whether or not a legal civil marriage can exist between 2 members of the same sex.

Tradition can inform our deliberations, but tradition alone is not determinative of our laws. If it were, women wouldn't have the right to vote.

Patrick

Fr Martin Fox said...

Patrick said:

I stick with my "for shame" statement, because regardless of your exculpatory language, you're holding yourself out as someone who can explain what marriage is,...

When did I do that? I exercised my freedom of speech and offered my opinion.

...what marriage means, and frankly, it's a legal question right now in the US, not a religious one.

You apparently didn't read my post before you denounced it. I said:

Marriage is an institution that arises out of human nature itself. It is not the creation of government, nor of religion. So--surprise!--marriage is not a religious institution at all!

You are speaking far outside your area of expertise, which is irresponsible and not pastoral. I look forward to reading your "Primer" on some question of Catholicism, but please don't hold yourself out as someone authorized to teach about civil marriage.

I am speaking as a citizen. May I ask what authorizes you to speak on this more than me?

I believe the State has always had the power to define our relationships with each other with respect to civil matters like civil marriage, civil divorce, inheritance, adoption and perhaps a few other matters that touch upon family life. This is nothing new.

Well, that's nice that you believe this; people believe lots of things; I believe the pope is infallible, and Muslims believe Mohammed is the last prophet.

But you are incorrect. These are natural rights, which the state regulates--that's very different from deciding what they are.

By your logic, if the state gets to decide what marriage is, then by that argument, laws against interracial marriage were entirely within the state's purview--and not, in fact, a violation of natural rights.

Once again, what was it that authorized you to speak about these matters--but not me? I missed that...

Mann said...

"natural rights"

Define it.

Who are you to decided what they are and who has them?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mann:

I am honored you will allow me to define what natural rights are.

As it happens, this is no new concept at all. I'm pretty confident if you use a search engine, you can find a lot written on this ancient legal concept that underlies our entire constitutional system.

For example, it took me about 15 seconds to find this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_and_legal_rights

If you look a little further, you'll find the name of John Locke figuring prominently in connection with Natural Rights, as well as the Declaration of Independence, which includes the words:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain, inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." (That's from memory, I may have gotten a jot or tittle out of place.)

Indeed, the Declaration as a whole relies heavily on the idea of natural rights.

So you can see I did not invent this idea, but am calling it to mind as a key principle in our law. Because if rights are not ours by nature, but rather something government or society creates or gives us, then, morally and legally, they can be taken back as easily.

I'd welcome anyone to show any basis in the development of our legal and constitutional system--in the writings of those who prepared the way for the Founders, or the writings of the Founders themselves, for the current notion that government is within its rights not merely to regulate marriage, but actually to determine what it is.

I've asked for that before; it hasn't been forthcoming.

Mann said...

Well, I claim natural rights as well: "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". That's why it is only right that gay people have access to civil marriage. I believe the Iowa Supreme Court argued as much in their decision to strike down marriage discrimination. Seems to me you are all about DENYING life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to others based on your religious beliefs.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mann:

LOL. Nice try.

Pat said...

Father,

You can try to backtrack now but your whole post purported to be an explanation of what civil marriage is. If you had exercised some integrity you might have said, "I know little or nothing about what a marriage is under the civil laws of any jurisdiction, but I will now opine on what I think they SHOULD be. (Any Freedom of Speech is not at issue here. No need to cloak yourself in the mantle of a victim. Your free speech rights come into play when the government tries to silence you.)


Yes, you keep saying that "Marriage is an institution that arises out of human nature itself." That is not a reasoned argument or explanation of civil marriage. It is an unsupported, conclusory statement. Or is there a State law somewhere that says this.

This is a LEGAL question. When the woman who lives next door to you goes to the local courthouse and says, "I'd like to exercise my rights as a citizen and obtain a civil divorce from my husband, Fr. Martin Fox, the first question the courts will ask is "was there a valid civil marriage as defined in our laws?" And beleive me, you'll be VERY interested with the State's definition of marriage, as you hold up your State's marriage laws and say, "I've never met her, she has no marriage license with my name on, and there was no ceremony. She's nuts." You won't be running to the Bishop for his thoughts on what constitutes a valid civil marriage.

P.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Patrick:

Do you need a handkerchief for those crocodile tears?

It is not very commendable--nor very sensible--for you to make a claim about my post that can be easily shown to be false.

your whole post purported to be an explanation of what civil marriage is.

Really? Where did I say that?

I actually said:

But since my comments at a Washington Post blog, and then a subsequent post here, have generated many comments--including questions from (mostly anonymous) visitors who seem to be genuinely puzzled about what I'm saying about marriage, so-called "same-sex marriage," and what the state and the Church have to say about all this, I guess there are some things I'm taking for granted. So I'll outline some thoughts here.

I put in bold some key phrases that I think refute your assertion.

Also, I asked you a question, which you haven't answered, and I think it was a good question...

You said:

You are speaking far outside your area of expertise, which is irresponsible and not pastoral. I look forward to reading your "Primer" on some question of Catholicism, but please don't hold yourself out as someone authorized to teach about civil marriage.

Once again, I am speaking as a citizen. And so are you.

So I ask again, if I'm not qualified to speak to this subject...why are you qualified to speak to it?

Yes, you keep saying that "Marriage is an institution that arises out of human nature itself." That is not a reasoned argument or explanation of civil marriage. It is an unsupported, conclusory statement. Or is there a State law somewhere that says this.

No, Patrick, it's not a statement about civil marriage; it's a statement about marriage, with no qualifier. In normal discourse, "civil" denotes civil society or civilization. Is it your assertion that until people were "civilized" or formed civil government, they did not marry?

Talk about an unsupported assertion!

Are you seriously questioning the accuracy of my assertion that marriage predates government?

You're right--I didn't go find some article to cite for my assertion that marriage is a universal, human institution so ancient no one knows how old it is.
It's a statement of common fact.

I welcome you to show I'm wrong about that statement of common fact. You've graciously declined--now go for the kill: prove me wrong.

Mann said...

Excuse me, but weren't you the one who pontificated on "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? Now you choose to dismiss it as a joke?

"marriage is a universal, human institution so ancient no one knows how old it is. It's a statement of common fact."
_______________________________

Slavery is a universal, human institution which is supported by the bible and therefore the Church for a very long time). Now it's not (except that it's still supported by the bible, and slavery to dogma is still celebrated by your Church). Polygamous marriage is a universal, human institution, too. It's various forms probably pre-date your model of marriage.

Your arguments presume that ideas about marriage or any social ideas can't change or be inclusive of gay and lesbian human beings. Clearly, that is no longer the case. And it is not the first time in history. Just because it may not have been legal, socially acceptable, or part of mainstream Western culture doesn't mean it doesn't exist or hasn't existed.

And you haven't shown what your particular view of marriage has to do with "natural rights".

Pat said...

Father,

This is like playing tennis with an armless man.

This is a question of civil law; civil marriage laws. Not RELIGIOUS marriage. Those are two separate things. Wording and clarity are important. It's why our laws are written down and a carefully worded.

You and I both know that the RC rules about who can marry in the RC church have not been changed in Massachusetts although the civil law has changed there. No RC church in Mass, or Iowa must perform a marriage ceremony for two men, or 2 women, or 2 Jews, or any other combination that would be contrary to the Church's idea of marriage. But the civil law in those states certainly differs from what it was 10 years ago.

Here's another example: in Alaska, first cousins may legally marry. In North Dakota, first cousins may not legally marry. The 2 states differ in their determination of who is too close of a blood relation to enter into a valid, legal marriage. But the determination is most definitely up to the State. Whether or not the marriage of first cousins would be a valid Catholic marriage, or a valid Jewish marriage or a valid Baptist marriage is irrelevant. Only the civil laws are in question.

My authority to speak here is merely that I have read a State law or two that governs this topic. Try it.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Pat:

If you're going to slam my post, it would be good to read it first. I said right away that I was not speaking about marriage as a religious institution, because by its nature, marriage is not a religious institution. So why do you continue to erect that straw man?

Second, can you understand the distinction between regulating an existing thing, vs. defining what the thing is?

The government imposes regulations on human beings, but it doesn't--in our society thankfully--get to decide what a human being is.

Ditto marriage. For any government to seize that power is an abuse of power, whether concerning marriage, or family, or any other essential quality of what being human is.

Marriage arises out of human nature itself. Government did not create it, and if government has the power to recreate it, I wish to know who gave it that power? Where is it written in the constitution of the commonwealth of Massachusetts? Please feel free to quote the relevant sections of that document.

Finally, I don't have any problem with you speaking about this subject; you are the one who questioned my ability to speak to this topic. I assert I have the same authority -- your word ("authorized"), not mine -- as you, no more, no less.

Pat said...

Father Fox,

You have a gross misunderstanding of how our laws work. Civil marriage laws are rewritten, or redefined if you prefer that word, on occasion. A century ago you did not have a marriage, by definition, if one party was of a different race. We changed that law, we changed the definition of marriage, to include certain interracial partnerships.

This is so basic, I fear you are trying to torture your mind into believing something else.

As to your statement about regulating an existing thing, vs. defining the thing, you're missing the most important point. The 2 concepts are inextricably linked. Laws can't regulate a thing without defining that thing is, or at least agreeing on what that thing is for the purpose of the regulation. Please see above my earlier comment on the State defining what is and what is not a "child" of a decedent for the purpose of regulating estates and intestacy.

Mann said...

Marriage arises out of human nature itself.

It is not the government who is deciding who is married -- it is ourselves, our families, our friends, entire communities and countries, and it is rooted in human nature and human rights. In your book, gay people are somehow less than human, and rebels against nature. Both of those ideas are ignorant, wrong, unjustly prejudiced and rooted in the worst hatred and bias -- unfortunately, also a product of "human nature".

Fr Martin Fox said...

Pat:

I'm sorry, but it is you who are mistaken, and it's actually funny as you condescend to me on this subject.

You are quite right that at one time, civil law in the country sought to prevent interracial marriage. But it is not correct, as you say, that "a century ago you did not have a marriage, by definition, if one party was of a different race."

You see, those people were married, whether the state recognized that marriage or not!

But it is a bad tactic of you to bring that up, because that very instance exposes the key weakness in your argument.

Based on your claims about marriage -- that it is a creation of civil law (and I would welcome you to substantiate that claim, but you haven't done so) -- then those laws preventing interracial marriage actually rendered those non-marriages.

No, they were marriages, which the state -- unjustly -- refused to recognize.

You say: "We changed that law, we changed the definition of marriage, to include certain interracial partnerships."

No--abolishing barriers based on race did not "change the definition" of marriage at all. Do you suppose that until those laws were struck down, interracial marriage was some sort of novelty? Actually, it was the modern concept of race-separation that is the novelty -- it's a very interesting subject, google it if you like -- and you'll see that it's very much a creature of the modern age, with things like the "one drop" theory and the business of figuring out how many grandparents or great-grandparents were of this or that race.

But the essential nature of marriage--that it involves men and women--didn't change. What changed was knocking down an added restriction.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mann said:

In your book, gay people are somehow less than human, and rebels against nature. Both of those ideas are ignorant, wrong, unjustly prejudiced and rooted in the worst hatred and bias -- unfortunately, also a product of "human nature".

Mann, I've had it with your false and inflammatory statements. You were here as a guest, and can reasonably be expected to behave as such. When folks don't know how to do that, they are disinvited. That now includes you. Feel free to return when you remember your manners.

Mann said...

Sissy.

Pat said...

Fr.,

You are incorrect. Under the civil law a century ago in many US States, a black man and a white woman who were not blood relatives, and who got a marriage license, got blood tests, waited the statutory 24 or 48 hour waiting period, had their union solemnized by a willing Justice of the Peace, and consummated that union with sexual congress were not legally married.

The removal or the striking down of antimiscegenation laws redefined marriage in those states. What was not a marriage on one day, was a marriage on the next day, when the law was changed. I can't say it any more plainly than, that and it seems we are only going to continue to talk across each other on this point.

At least admit that it is a legal question, please? I mean, it's the courts and the legislatures that are being petitioned for change, correct?

Fr Martin Fox said...

"At least admit that it is a legal question, please? I mean, it's the courts and the legislatures that are being petitioned for change, correct?"

I never denied it. I really think you aren't understanding me, and I am at a loss to know how to be clearer. I'll try one last time and give up for now.

Marriage is obviously a matter of civil law -- as are any number of things -- but it isn't of essence a civil law. Marriage is antecedent to the law, because it is antecedent to government; or, alternately, they came together.

Here's what I mean: somewhere in the distant past--so far back all we can do is surmise about what happened--marriage started. Do you suppose government came first? Really? Why do you suppose that?

What do you suppose was the earliest form of government and law? My guess (and that's all it is) is that it was the clan or tribe--and I'm willing to bet that marriage came about along with the clan- or tribe-structure. If you know of anyone who can say with some credibility which came first, please enlighten us all. I have no doubt anthropologists and folks in like disciplines have interesting things to say--but I don't know how they can really know what did happen.

Fr Martin Fox said...

While I cannot prove marriage is temporally antecedent, although it may be; it's antecedent in every other way, because the tribe or clan cannot exist without marriage; but marriage can exist without the tribe, although in the sort of environment I am describing, it's not easy.

Fast-forward to frontier times in the modern era. When a couple--let's say they weren't married--migrated to the frontier in North America, say circa 1800, wherever they might have gone, they are technically under someone's jurisdiction: American, British, Spanish, Native American, etc. Practically, they are on their own.

Would you argue that unless they could find someone to validate their marriage, they could not be actually married? Even the law did not claim that--hence the concept of common-law marriage. A common-law marriage was one never solemnized in any way, yet it came to have real force in law.

Do you really suppose that couple was concerned about what the laws of the Spanish Empire, or of the local Indian tribe, had to say about marriage? They knew what it was already. They presumed the law would uphold their marriage; but I am morally certain they did not think they needed the government to make them married.

The thing is, only recently has it even become necessary to get into what had always been obvious facts about marriage--precisely because a movement in very recent years has begun to change the heretofore universally accepted and understood essence of marriage: i.e., it involves people of the opposite sex.

You keep talking about marriage as if it's a tabula rasa, subject to restructuring periodically. No, the essence of marriage has always been heterosexual, with various other things, such as age of consent, and whether witnesses were needed for validity, who is free to marry (i.e., divorce issues), how it may be dissolved, and how many parties there may be to a marriage--but none of these pertain to the core essence of marriage which is a union involving people of the opposite sex.

And everyone but those trying to argue for so-called same-sex marriage knows full well why this is the essence of marriage--the same way that long-lost tribe or clan knew.

Let us fancifully suppose that this tribe, scraping by an existence somewhere in, say Africa or Asia, has some sort of way that individuals entered into marriage. And one day, one fellow--let's call him Brad--says to the chief, "I'm not interested in Sarah there; I like Joe here, better."

Now, let us further suppose that the tribe was rather broadminded, and the chief didn't react too negatively. Setting aside all nastiness, however, what would be the reason for the tribe to react badly? The chief says, "well, that's not going to help us as much with that tribe on the other side of the hill. We need more members of the tribe! Yes, they likely figured out pretty early that you need a man and a woman to make babies.

So marriage is about procreation and family and that is certainly of interest to society, SO OF COURSE the polity would have laws about it. But that is not the same thing as saying the polity can say WHAT IT IS. At least, not unless you subscribe to a very frightening notion of personal liberty--that our liberties are merely the concession of the tribe and not ours by natural right.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Look at a related matter. Our laws now certainly regulate questions of children in a lot of ways, but there is one thing they do not do--and I would argue they may not do legitimately--and that is to overturn the heretofore universal understanding of what "child" means.

A natural child is one conceived between a man and a woman; either naturally, or in an artificial way in a laboratory. Then of course, we have the category of adoption; but my point is, the understanding of natural childhood is presupposed.

Suppose someone sought to change the law, so that the fact of conception was deemed irrelevant and immaterial? I would argue that the state has no authority to do such a thing, that is a gross usurpation, and going far beyond "regulating" in these matters, which can be a legitimate exercise of government power.

Likewise, government usurps power when it recreates the essence of marriage--which it does when it says that marriage need not be heterosexual; because that means it is no longer what it was essentially. It is an entirely new definition of marriage, as radical (i.e., from radix, "root") as my hypothetical assault on the meaning of "child."

Consider that my last attempt to explain it. Perhaps others will offer theirs. You are welcome to have the last word.

Pat said...

Father,

You are all over the place. You're not making a cogent argument. You have so many separate points that can be countered individually, that it would take a junior associate at a law firm a week to even outline and organize your thoughts. (For example, your sudden statement FOURTEEN paragraphs into your speech that "marriage is all about procreation . . . ." Um, no, it's not. Read the law. Couples aren't required to procreate to have a marriage.)

You do agree early on though that this is a LEGAL question. Thank you!! So then why don't you leave it up to the legal scholars to try to figure it all out, rather than continue to pontificate on something that is clearly outside your area of expertise?

With all due respect, good sense and humility dictate that you accept the role of student here, and not teacher.

I will pray that the Holy Spirit inspires you accordingly.

-Patrick

Fr Martin Fox said...

Pat:

I just figured it out. You're looking forward to attending law school some day, and you'd like to have some fun showing up a silly priest online with all your legal knowledge! That can be fun.

But it would be good not to take ridiculous positions, such as your notion that marriage is simply a matter of what the law says about it. You remind me of the saying, to someone who only has a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

"marriage is all about procreation . . . ." Um, no, it's not.

Um, yes it is. Because it's not just about the law.

You'll find out when you get to law school that lots of things, not just marriage, have a long history and a lot to them, long before the law has anything to say about them.

Is marriage covered by the law? Of course; but the fact remains, it is antecedent to the law, and while I'm no expert, I am willing to bet when you get to law school someday, they'll teach you that.

Anyway, marriage has always been terribly important to any society because of the importance of procreation. After all, you yourself pointed out how it is bound up with inheritance--by whom, if not those being procreated?

I realize that may seem quaint nowadays with a world full of people, but believe it or not, it wasn't always that way. At one time, life was really difficult without all the technology and conveniences we're used to. So when human societies developed, they really had reason to be concerned about procreation.

Read the law. Couples aren't required to procreate to have a marriage.

Now, Pat--I think your composition teacher at school would fault you for that leap in what you say. I never asserted that couples are "required to procreate to have a marriage" as a matter of law.

You're making what's called an invalid inference. Logic is also very important in law school. Now, yes, it'd be fair to ask if that's what I meant because you were confused, but not to assert it. I have to keep reminding you Pat, that marriage actually existed before laws were written down. I'm talking about marriage as a social and human reality.

So, for example, you might want to take a look at what anthropologists and social historians have to say; they can teach you a lot that "legal scholars." Might be helpful in preparing for law school someday.

Pat said...

Father,

I have to say, your behavior is really offensive. I mean, I can take the snarky unnecessary comments (present in each of your posts) about me and vapors and handkerchiefs and dreams of law school. I've suffered nastier people and will continue to ignore your jibes and not get sucked into responding to them in kind. You seem to be itching for that kind of an exchange.

But this is an important legal issue, you are completely unqualified to speak with authority on this important legal issue, and yet you continue.

Do you dispense medical advice as well?

Please admit that this topic is beyond your abilities and that you regret ever attempting a 3-part post on something that you know nothing about.

Again, I pray that you either learn the marriage in the USA, or stop teaching about them.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Pat:

What I regret is wasting so much time trying to have a conversation with you, because you have disregarded what was posted, you have incorrectly claimed I made points I did not, you have demonstrated you aren't even interested in what another person says. I have said--so really, if you are going to treat what others say with such disregard, why should they spend time talking to you?

Also offensive--indeed ridiculous--is your notion that only "legal scholars"--which you seem to present yourself as, although it's unclear, yet despite several requests, have not shown that to be true--are "authorized" to speak on the subject of marriage.

So, yes, I did assume you to be in high school or perhaps college, because that's how you come across to me. I'm sorry you have so little humor; my point about "the vapors" was to show how silly it was for you to pound the "I'm shocked!" line, because that was silly, and I hoped you'd see that. Apparently not.

"But this is an important legal issue, you are completely unqualified to speak with authority on this important legal issue, and yet you continue."

No, my friend, it is far more than a "legal issue" something you persistently refuse to recognize. The whole world knows what you cannot bring yourself to admit even once--that marriage is far more than a legal question, and it arises out of human experience and human nature, it is not the creation of the law.

That you either cannot grasp this, or actually deny this, is a jaw-dropping predicate to your lecturing me about discussing things you know nothing about.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Pat:

I really like conversing with folks, and I am disappointed that we cannot have a meaningful conversation. Maybe someday.

Consider this my last post to you.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Here's something a commenter--who made himself unwelcome here--wished to post.

I have no problem posting it, without vouching for it.

Conrad P. Kottak, University of Michigan

MARRIAGE

CHAPTER OUTLINE

I. Introduction

A. There is no single definition of marriage that is adequate to account for all of the diversity found in marriages cross-culturally.

B. Edmund Leach argued that there are several different kinds of rights allocated by marriage.
1. Marriage can establish the legal father of a woman’s children and the legal mother of a man’s.
2. Marriage can give either or both spouses a monopoly in the sexuality of the other.
3. Marriage can give either of both spouses rights to the labor of the other.
4. Marriage can give either of both spouses rights over the other’s property.
5. Marriage can establish a joint fund of property—a partnership—for the benefit of the children.
6. Marriage can establish a socially significant relationship of affinity between spouses and their relatives.

II. Same-Sex Marriage

A. In the section Kottak argues that same-sex marriages are legitimate unions between two individuals because like other kinds of marriage, same-sex marriage can allocate all of the rights discussed by Leach.
1. In the U.S., since same-sex marriage is illegal, same-sex couples are denied many of these rights (e.g. rights to the labor of the other, over the other’s property, relationships of affinity with the other’s relatives).
2. This does not mean that same-sex marriages like any other cultural construction is not capable of meeting these needs; only that in the U.S. laws prevent it from doing so.

B. There are many examples in which same-sex marriages are culturally sanctioned (e.g. the Nuer, the Azande, the Igbo, and the Lovedu).

http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072500506/student_view0/chapter9/learning_objectives.html

Mann said...

"you have disregarded what was posted, you have incorrectly claimed I made points I did not, you have demonstrated you aren't even interested in what another person says"

Hmm... sounds familiar. Your standard kiss-off for those who challenge you? You know, it's because of sanctimonious cowards like you that I left the Church. And millions of others are doing the same thing. Finally. Good luck!

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mann:

I'm sorry for whatever hurt or anger you have, I really can't do anything about that.

But you were disinvited from here because you said the following:

In your book, gay people are somehow less than human, and rebels against nature. Both of those ideas are ignorant, wrong, unjustly prejudiced and rooted in the worst hatred and bias -- unfortunately, also a product of "human nature".

That, after being increasingly obnoxious and shrill.

When you start yelling at people in a restaurant, or in their homes, you should not be surprised to be asked to leave. It's not because your arguments are so clever that people can't handle them, or because they're "sissies"--that was classic--but for the simple reason that they are behaving in a boorish fashion and have to be reminded in a blunt way how to behave.

Curiously, you chose to keep coming back and posting more childish comments, many of which I deleted. Unless I close comments, or make people register to comment, that's all I can do.

You can blame me all you like, but the simple fact is that your manners need work. It's not your point of view; I even attempted to converse with you until you went off again and I said, that's enough. But I still allowed you to post...till you flat out lied about me in the above quoted comment which is over the line.

That's why, for example, I posted your item about Conrad Kottak; whether I agree or not, or even good methodology which I cannot say, it's a useful contribution to the discussion. But, sorry, you do not get to post here. You can call me names all you want--sissy, coward, etc.

I don't know what world you live in that you can actually be surprised, let alone offended, that saying things like that to people doesn't get you shown the door. I'm sure you're a barrel of laughs when you get invited out to dinner or for a drink.

Now, common courtesy says you behave a certain way or you're asked to leave. If asked to leave, you leave. You've been asked to leave. And, no, you don't get to respond because you've had plenty of opportunities.

If comments get closed, that'll be why.

Mann said...

"If comments get closed, that'll be why"

Oh, please don't. That would just be too hard to take.

Blow it out your ass, closet queen.

Pat said...

Washington Post
Thursday, February 25, 201:

"Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) declared Wednesday that Maryland will recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and that its agencies should immediately begin affording gay married couples the same rights as heterosexual ones. With Gansler's decision, Maryland in effect joins the District and a handful of states including New York that recognize same-sex marriages performed in four New England states and Iowa."


Also:

"March 3 [is] the anticipated first day when gay couples will be allowed to apply for licenses in the District of Columbia. While couples will be able to apply next Wednesday, the three-day waiting period in the District means that couples will not be able to formally marry until the following Tuesday, March 9."

Anonymous said...

Er, even at the most strange example, if a barn and a pond want to get married, why stop them? If one is going to make marriage a government issue at all, then might as well do it with the same uncompromising equality, can't think of any harm it does.