Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What we Catholics believe about 'same-sex marriage'

(I wrote this as a handout for members of my parishes. Please let me know if you think it states Catholic teaching appropriately, is appropriate for all ages, is clear, etc.)

The legislature and governor of New York recently acted together to change the definition of marriage, to apply to people of the same sex.

The Catholic Church opposes this redefinition of marriage. As a result, we’ve been criticized as against “progress” and even called bigots. This is so often cast as a question of “rights,” we may wrestle with this, or else feel awkward defending our position.

Let me briefly explain what the Church teaches and why it is important.

This may surprise you, but our stance isn’t based on religion; marriage existed before anyone wrote the first words of the Bible. Marriage arises from human nature itself. Human beings are designed to come together and make a family. This is part of being human and obviously necessary. Marriage is important to the well being of us all .

Still, many will say, “So what? Why not just change the law to accommodate the wishes of those who don’t fit this mold? What’s the harm in that?”

There are several harms, some immediate, some long-term.

First, this is a power-grab by government. The state is imposing a very fundamental change on the whole of society. To some degree, we all must go along with this. What marriage means for our society is changed by this. And we should all ask, Who gave the government the right to do this? Redefining marriage, redefining family, ultimately means redefining what it means to be human. This is social engineering.

Second, society lives in harmony because of shared values. Some say, “we shouldn’t impose our values.” But we can’t avoid it; this is what law does—it reflects shared values that shape how we all live together. So this represents an imposition of new values—which may, or may not, work out so well. It is already spawning conflict.

Third, this affects everyone. Marriage and family are so fundamental, that when we deconstruct the very meaning of such things, it pulls out the foundation stones of our common society.

Parents understand this. When you try to maintain certain values in your home, what your children experience in the other houses on the street affects you; how can it not?

Finally, this is reckless tampering. In recent years, we appreciate better the importance of treating our natural environment with respect. It is complex system which we don’t fully understand; but we do know that we depend on it in order to flourish.

So, with our natural environment, we’ve been chastened to be more humble—because we realize how not respecting it ultimately threatens our own well being. And yet, politicians are re-engineering marriage and family. As Catholic writer Mark Shea often says, the “what can it hurt?” phase will eventually be followed by, “how were we supposed to know?”

We might ask more broadly: What does our faith say about same-sex attraction?

Why some people—2-5% it seems from most reports—experience this attraction, no can fully explain. For some, it is a phase, for others it’s deep-seated. Coming to grips with this at a young age can be very difficult. Some never share this, others are open about it.

Sadly, teasing, cruelty and rejection take a terrible toll. Some young people go through awful trials, and make rash decisions with life-long or even fatal consequences. A lot of folks have serious soul-searching to do about attitudes and behavior toward gay people.

The truth is, that our family and friends who wrestle with these feelings ask the same questions everyone asks: who am I? Why did God make me? How do I fit in his plan?

The answers—for everyone—are: We are made in God’s image. God made us to know, love and serve him in this life, to be happy with him in the next. We spend our lives discovering our particular vocation, but we are all part of his plan.

Many say, this same-sex attraction comes from God; it’s how God made us.

On the basis of what? Certainly Scripture doesn’t support this. But set aside Scripture; human evolution doesn’t support this either. People will often say things like, God made me this way, in order to affirm their sense of worth, to combat shame originating from others or themselves.

But every human being learns that one way or the other, our human nature is wounded. No one can claim to be a flawless image of God. This is a result of Original Sin.

So, when we say same-sex attraction is “broken,” or disordered, not according to the norm God created, this is what we also say of those who eat too much, who can’t stay faithful in marriage, who are filled with rage, and so forth. We’re all broken.

But: the wounds in our human nature do not define who we are, or our value.

One of the errors of our society is to tell us, “we’re fine the way we are.” But we’re not. Coming to grips with our own brokenness is part of our salvation. Lots of folks face life-long struggles and shame because of their trials or flaws. Christ accepts us where he finds us, but loves us too much to leave us there.

Jesus said, “Take up your cross.” This has always been a hard sell. Why did he say it? Maybe because he knew that there’s no other way to become truly human.

One of the reasons our message is a hard sell is because our culture demeans chastity so completely. As a result, the idea of life-long chastity seems ridiculous. But is it?

This is the same society that exalts over-consumption and gluttony. Maybe it’s our culture, and its values, that are ridiculous?

Let’s remember, that Christ calls everyone to chastity, not just some.

Married people are called to be chaste in their relations with each other and with others. This, along with the dying to self that comes in marriage and family, are costly.

Still others (with heterosexual feelings) find, for other reasons, they can’t make marriage work. They, too, are called to the same chastity, as divorced or single persons. And then Christ specifically called men and women to be chaste for the kingdom of God—which is what brothers, sisters and priests do. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.

Instead of accepting our society’s (low) value of chastity, we might pause and contemplate how messed up our culture is about these things.

Our society’s warped values about sexuality have created terrible human suffering which we’ve grown used to. We don’t, however, have to accept it as “normal.”

The call to take up the cross is hard; it’s the hardest thing we ever do. We all take up our cross, only to want to put it down as soon as possible!

Everyone, without exception, must come to Christ and admit he or she is broken in some way. We all need his grace throughout our lives to become fully human. Saying these things to those with same-sex attraction is not “hatred” or bigotry—unless we mistakenly think these things don’t apply equally to ourselves.

In every era since Christ came, some part of his message wasn’t listened to, because it was such a challenge to the culture of its time. If, instead of continuing to confront the culture, we had simply re-tailored the Gospel to be “up to date with the times,” the Gospel would have become empty centuries ago.

Jesus told us plainly: his message wouldn’t always be received. We will be criticized and even hated for speaking Christ’s word. He told us to expect that. His command is not to respond in kind, but to turn the other cheek, and to pray for those who persecute or speak ill of us.


Mark Winner said...

Hi Fr. Fox,

I believe what you said about sums it up. As someone with same sex attraction, I can definitely identify with most of the points that you made. I was away from the Church because of that lifestyle for about 5 years until I finally realized that it was just never gonna work out and due to loneliness. I was angry and bitter at the Church for it's "supposed" hatefulness towards those with same sex attraction. About 5 months after I came back into the Church, I discovered Courage which is a support group, officially supported by the Church, which is to help those with SSA to live out their chastity. If anyone asks for any advice, please refer them to Courage or Encourage (for the parents/friends/family of someone with SSA).

Pax et Bonum,


Kathy said...

It's very good Father. Way to pastor your flock!

Sevesteen said...

I won't argue Catholic teaching. America is not and should not be a theocracy, Catholic or otherwise.
Do you have similar objections to sodomy, adultery and premarital sex being legal?

Fr Martin Fox said...


I think you didn't read my post very closely. You'll see I said pointedly the Church's position on so-called "same sex marriage" is NOT (N-O-T) based on religion but on universal human experience--i.e., what is often termed "natural law." In other words, let's play pretend, and pretend we know--for absolute certainty--that God does not exist; let us suppose we never heard of any deity, and we had no religions whatsoever.

In the absence of any and all religious belief, we would still make the exact same observations about universal human experience, of men and women being made for each other, and marriage being an institution that arises from human nature itself.

So I repeat for emphasis: this is not about religious dogma.

Sevesteen said...

"Not dogma, natural law" is something I've only heard from devoutly religious people. However, the same experiences and education that lead you to your natural law conclusion lead you to the Church. Humans are meant to come together in families, but members who do not (or no longer) procreate are still valuable--including priests.

Miscegenation was widely believed to be against natural law--Was it a power grab when those restrictions on marriage were repealed, when those social norms were relaxed? Same sex attraction may be broken, but I think it is far more likely that there is some subtle purpose that we cannot understand.

And gay marriage won't have any significant effect on straight marriage, both because of numbers, and because it doesn't change straight marriage at all. I will remain married to my wife, our commitment will remain the same, our family will remain the same.

Fr Martin Fox said...


"Not dogma, natural law" is something I've only heard from devoutly religious people.

That's not an argument. So what?

However, the same experiences and education that lead you to your natural law conclusion lead you to the Church.

If you really mean what you just said, you're saying that by merely observing the world around you, it will "lead you to the Church." Is that really what you meant?

Miscegenation was widely believed to be against natural law

Citation? I don't know that to be true. How do you know that is true?

Same sex attraction may be broken, but I think it is far more likely that there is some subtle purpose that we cannot understand.

Well, let's view this from an evolutionary point of view. How does same-sex attraction advance the evolutionary process?

And gay marriage won't have any significant effect on straight marriage, both because of numbers, and because it doesn't change straight marriage at all. I will remain married to my wife, our commitment will remain the same, our family will remain the same.

It's already had an effect.

You are using the word marriage in a way different from me. Words mean things. Do you--or I--get to change what words signify because it suits us?

There is no such thing as "gay marriage." Where does it come from? How did it come into existence? Why, from the state of New York. But I'm in Ohio; so in Ohio, "gay marriage" is a nonsense term, because it doesn't exist here.

So the effect is to declare, by fiat, that "marriage" is not something with intrinsic meaning, but purely an artifice of the government. Marriage, according to the state of New York, and apparently according to you, is whatever the government says it is.

Sevesteen said...

by merely observing the world around you, it will "lead you to the Church." Is that really what you meant?

Not quite--rather the interpretations that lead to a particular view of natural law are quite similar to the ones that will lead to devout religion.

Miscegenation was widely believed to be against natural law

Citation? I don't know that to be true. How do you know that is true?

In some areas it was believed strongly enough to pass laws--see Loving vs. Virginia. My main point there was not about the percentage of these beliefs, but about reducing government restrictions somehow being a power grab.

How does same-sex attraction advance the evolutionary process?

There are a number of possibilities, mostly relating to extended family--but if homosexuality were not in some way beneficial, natural selection would have eliminated it by now. To me, that is far easier to understand than a just god who would give some people the same need for a mate that I have, but then forbid the fulfillment of that need in their particular case.

Our culture evolves, language evolves as well--the word gay for one example. But language and law are only slightly related--if it is the language that bothers you, why not eliminate all government recognition of marriage, instead expanding civil union to straight couples?

RVT said...

I am a chaste Catholic convert who happens to be gay. I have never known any other orientation. My chastity comes to me at considerable cost, yet it has at the same time also given me ground within which to experience the freedom Christ offers us. You are correct, of course, that our society demeans chastity (and virtue in general). Thank you for the clarity of your post and subsequent replies on this subject.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Sevesteen said...

by merely observing the world around you, it will "lead you to the Church." Is that really what you meant?

Not quite--rather the interpretations that lead to a particular view of natural law are quite similar to the ones that will lead to devout religion.

I don’t think you understand what Natural Law is and its role in the development of our civil laws, in philosophy, science, and political development in particular.

If you’re saying that Natural Law is something the “devout” advance--as if they invented it, or it arises from their religious worldview--well that’s factually false. You don’t get to invent your own facts.

Here’s a wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law to get you started.

You’ll find Natural Law has its origins in the ancient world, pre-Christianity. It is a recognized feature of the development of political structures and civil laws, and it’s also something discussed in the philosophy of science.


Fr Martin Fox said...

I asked for a citation for your assertion that “Miscegenation was widely believed to be against natural law”: you replied:

In some areas it was believed strongly enough to pass laws--see Loving vs. Virginia.

Are you saying that Loving v. Virginia defends miscegenation on the basis of Natural Law? Sorry, I’m not going to read the entire decision; cite the specific passage in Loving v. Virginia that claims that; otherwise this isn’t a citation.

Besides, one court case doesn’t establish that Natural Law, per se, gave rise to laws mandating miscegenation. Citing laws passed by racist politicians is a ridiculous argument to show that Natural Law called for miscegenation.

My main point there was not about the percentage of these beliefs,

Percentages? Who is talking about percentages?

Fr Martin Fox said...

…but about reducing government restrictions somehow being a power grab.

You know, you really should actually respond to my actual arguments; or else just admit you aren’t interested in them.

The law in New York does far more than “remove a restriction”--it creates a whole new definition of marriage.

I asked in my original post, who gives the state of New York the power to do this? I ask again.

If the state of New York can lawfully do this, what (other than lack of public support) prevents it from writing the law such that marriages with men-and-women are no longer valid? By your measure, all they did was "remove a restriction"--then they can lawfully add a new one: such that marriage-as-heterosexual is no longer valid.

Of course I know that's extremely unlikely; but that's beside the point. I'm asking you how--on your theory of what the state can legitimately do, how this, too, wouldn't be within it's power.

And how can you honestly pretend that this expansive notion of what the state can do is something we've always known and believed? No, it's a novelty--a power-grabbing novelty.


Fr Martin Fox said...

How does same-sex attraction advance the evolutionary process?

There are a number of possibilities, mostly relating to extended family--but if homosexuality were not in some way beneficial, natural selection would have eliminated it by now.

That is a wordy way of saying, “nothing I can think of.”

By your argument, any recurring deviation from the norm is “some way beneficial”--really? Blindness? Lou Gehrig’s disease? Extreme birth defects?

Nor does it follow that we should expect natural selection to have “eliminated” homosexuality. How would it do so?

Are you actually claiming that genetics control sexual desire and activity? Note, I didn't say genetics don't create a predicate for and a possibility of sexual activity; I asked you, do you claim that they control sexual activity and desire?

Your claim requires that you believe this--because only then could natural selection positively preclude any homosexual desire ever being felt, cultivated and acted upon.

Besides, I will readily grant that natural selection has not led to making homosexuality impossible. Quite true and readily observable. But that's a different point from my question, which remains: what evolutionary purpose does it serve?

I.e., it's quite possible to answer that while it serves no purpose, it's also nothing that natural selection has treated as a positive hazard--i.e., species haven't developed in such a way that they are barred from same-sex behavior.

(At least, I don't know that any species have developed along those lines. Others expert in those fields might actually know of an animal that is somehow incapable of it.)

But I wonder if you realize your argument means that natural selection breeds out free choice?

To me, that is far easier to understand than a just god who would give some people the same need for a mate that I have...

First, why do you keep bringing up God? Suppose there is no deity. Where's your argument then?

Second, this isn’t a “same need” for a mate “that I have”--because I understood you to be married to someone of the opposite sex.

I really don't believe I need to explain the birds and bees. Two men or two women "mating" is simply not "the same." Perhaps similar; and that, too, bears further examination; but "the same"? False.

Third, who says God--if there is a god--"gave" these desires to the folks we're talking about. Is it your assumption that every sexual desire people feel is "God-given" with all that may imply? Can you think of no other explanation for how anyone comes to have deep-seated sexual attractions and "needs"?

“… but then forbid the fulfillment of that need in their particular case.

How does the state refraining from changes in marriage law "forbid" anyone from fulfilling a sexual (or any other) "need"? What "need" are you referring to?

Anonymous said...

That's more than enough jibber jabber. You're making my head spin. Which is probably exactly what you intend. The more you say the less sense you make.
What I would like to hear is a concrete example of how this law affects me. You said it has affected everyone. And from the way you said it you need not know my race, gender, age or hair color to respond. Or does it affect eveyone, but differently?
I maintain it affects me not one iota.
And how is the law in New York so different from the laws in the half dozen other states that also allow gay marriage. Or is it just that it is the newest one to rant about? I assume tht you have read the entire law, since you seem so knowledgeable about it.


Anonymous said...

You asked if it was appropriate to children. I would let (and may require) my 12 year old read it. The whole subject would probably bore the younger ones and they'd most likely tune it out. But there's nothing in there that I would be upset about if they heard it or read it.


Sevesteen said...

Your link shows that there isn't anything close to a unified theory of natural laws, but rather various competing philosophies. I was less philosophical, using it in the sense that an ordinary person would say 'that's against nature' or similar.

There is a lot of similarity between racist restrictions on marriage and homophobic restrictions--or racism and homophobia in general, except that gays can 'pass' easier than blacks could.

We have vastly different ideas of 'power grab'. The New York law has almost no affect on you or anyone who does not want to marry their own gender. If they were going to force you to perform gay marriages, I would object to the law.

What do you mean by 'no longer valid'? I would like to see marriage as primarily spiritual rather than a way to gain material benefits like tax breaks and health insurance. If joint property is handled fairly, I may welcome the government no longer recognizing marriage, no longer giving extra benefits. It won't change my love for my wife or really much of anything about our life.

In evolution, very small differences in survival (or more exactly, reproductive success) generally cause those traits to be eliminated or nearly eliminated over successive generations--things as small as the pigment of your skin matching the climate. If complete homosexuality has a biological basis, (and I am near certain that it does) an overly-simplified view would expect the extreme penalty to reproductive success to cause it to be eliminated in a relatively few generations. However, helping a family member survive indirectly helps your genes survive--so parents and grandparents who survive past their reproductive years still help their offspring. I'm fairly sure that there are circumstances where having a 'gay uncle' or similar becomes a benefit to survival, and since 'gay uncles' still exist this must be large enough to offset that the uncle doesn't pass his genes on directly.

My wife and I knew we could not reproduce before we got married. We are still mates. Or are we not family because we cannot have offspring? How is our relationship fundamentally different than a gay couple?

And more importantly, how does a gay couple harm our relationship, or any other?

Fr Martin Fox said...


Your link shows that there isn't anything close to a unified theory of natural laws, but rather various competing philosophies. I was less philosophical, using it in the sense that an ordinary person would say 'that's against nature' or similar.

So what? It was a Wikipedia article, it's hardly the last or authoritative word on Natural Law; and when did I say there is but one, unitary notion of Natural Law?

I offered that simply to rebut your claim--which was rather silly, I'm sorry--that "Natural Law" is just something religious people came up with.

The fact remains that "Nature" is an observable reality, and it's entirely reasonable for someone to say, "X is against nature."

If I poke holes in my skin, and I get an infection as a result, I would be very foolish to express surprise. The nature of what skin is and does for my well being is fairly easy to observe, even without the benefit of technology.

But it's rather silly to pretend that nature doesn't have something rather definite to tell us about the purpose of sex--both sexual identity and sexual expression, and thus the purpose of human beings forming enduring relationships in which sexual intimacy is shared.

But we all pretend nature is somehow unclear on this, because we don't like some of the conclusions. Sex includes procreation as a purpose--it's obvious--because it's an absolutely necessary thing.

Of course, we humans have always wanted to separate out the procreative part of sex when it suited us; and we have developed increasingly more effective means of doing so. So we imagine that we've somehow undone what nature tells about the purpose of sex. No we haven't changed the facts, we have instead taken control over them for our purposes.

Notably, this has not solved our problems. All over the world reality is asserting itself with social, health and demographic problems that have arisen--and which will get worse in years to come--because we insist on sterilizing sex of it's procreative element; or else, through abortion, "fixing" this bug later in the process.

The problem is not that nature isn't clear enough about what sex is for; it's that we don't like the answers.

Again, we can see, plainly enough, why society developed a preference--even an insistence--on stable relationships among those who have sex and thus procreate. It's absolutely silly to claim this is unclear and merely a matter of religious interpretation.

Fr Martin Fox said...

There is a lot of similarity between racist restrictions on marriage and homophobic restrictions--or racism and homophobia in general, except that gays can 'pass' easier than blacks could.

I'll take that as giving up your earlier assertion that Natural Law justified laws against race-mixing.

Fr Martin Fox said...

What do you mean by 'no longer valid'?

I'm asking you this. If you accept the legitimacy of the state of New York changing the legal definition of marriage to include what previously was never included, can you explain to me what would prevent the state of New York, at a future date, doing the same thing reverse, to heterosexuals engaged in marriage?

Yes, yes, I know how unlikely it is. That doesn't answer the question. Does the state of New York legitimately have the power to do such a thing?

If so, that too is a power grab.

If not, then explain the legal and constitutional principle as to why not?

I'll put it as formula to make this simple:

Call straight marriage "A" and newly minted gay marriage "B" If, as you insist, B (gay marriage) = A (straight marriage), then it obviously follows, A = B.

By your argument, legally they are equal.

Then it necessarily follows what New York can do regarding B (gay marriage), it can equally legitimately do regarding A (straight marriage). If the state can grant it legal reality, it can take it away.

If not, explain why not.

Fr Martin Fox said...

George asked:

What I would like to hear is a concrete example of how this law affects me.

Well, several ways, some of which I mentioned in my original post. Here are two I invite you to reflect on:

1) The state of New York has asserted the power not merely to regulate marriage (which it had before), but to determine what marriage is.

It has asserted the power both to validate marriages that never were valid before; but the road goes both ways; it can, therefore, invalidate marriages whose validity was never questioned. It didn't have that power before. Maybe you are OK with the state of New York having that much power over people--including, potentially, you--but I am not. A lot of us do not like giving government so much power.

2) The state of New York has struck a significant blow for changing how we all understand what marriage--as a word and concept--is.

You and I are conversing now in English; that is only possible because we share more or less common understanding of what the words I'm writing, and you're reading, mean.

How is this common meaning arrived at? We do it together as a society. I don't think I have the right to impose a new meaning for a word on you; or vice versa. If I steal your car, and you complain, I can say, oh, wait, for me stealing doesn't include that!" You'd probably reply, "well, too bad, because the law says you did steal." And the law would agree with you (I hope).

Well, a lot of folks know perfectly well what marriage is; a man and a woman. That's what it always has been, and it's not arbitrary, it arises from universal human experience. Along comes the state of New York, and others, who are determined to change this.

If you have children, when you explain to them what marriage is--if you choose to teach them what it has always been--your job as a parent just became a lot harder. Just as, when parents try to provide a good environment for their children, their job is made a lot harder by the media, the movies, entertainers, or what other parents allow their children to see.

Of course, you might be just fine with this new definition of marriage.

In that case, you won; others lost. So this affects you in a way you can feel good about. But when the state takes an action that creates winners and losers, that creates division and conflict in society. That, too, will eventually affect you.

Anonymous said...

But it is the job of the state to regulate and define marriage. All states do it; all states are called to do it. Some religions believe in gay marriage, some don't. Some religions believe in divorce, some don't. But the State gets to set rules that are based on what the State believes is best for the citizens of the State. The State can be informed by many things in doing this, including, what the voters want, what the judiciary says, what other States do, what what other countries do, what some religious bodies want, what competing theories of law call for.

Sevesteen said...

It is traditional in debate to cite sources that you agree with--not make a citation then repudiate it shortly after.

I didn't say that natural law was something that religious people came up with--rather, they claim that natural law is independent of religion, but the only version that they accept comes to the same conclusions as whatever religion they belong to.

Of course procreation is a natural part of sex--but it remains important when procreation is not involved, as in my marriage. But we have all sorts of ways to thwart nature when it suits us, from modern sanitation, artificially preserved food, whether through temperature manipulation or chemicals, drugs that artificially lengthen life--to say that any of those things are OK, but sex without the possibility of conception is against nature is cherry picking to suit your wishes.

The legislature has always had the power to redefine marriage--until now they have not chosen to use that power. The fact that I dislike many of their uses of power does not change that they have it already.

Language evolves, and as new concepts emerge it is natural that they will be called by similar names for similar concepts. Gay marriage is identical to my marriage, except with one fewer gender involved.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Fox, you asked could the State write "the law such that marriages with men-and-women are no longer valid" (see 7/1 at 4:14pm.).

I have not researched the law on this, but I can make a reasoned argument that yes, theoretically the State absolutely has this ability.

For example, the State could determine to get out of the marriage business. (This idea has been floated during this recent controversy). Since the State defines marriage only so that it can enforce and interpret the State's marriage laws, I believe the State could leave all marriage matters competely up to the individual churches - like baptism - and remove all the State benefits of marriage (tax benefits, inheritance benefits, etc.) so that the State can administer its laws without ever having to look at a particular marriage and determine if it is a valid marriage under State law.

While we can't go back and rewrite existing case law they could enact a statute saying that the word marriage shall have no legal meaning in NYS (again, like baptism.)

I doubt the State would ever do this, but I think it could. Again, I haven't researched this, so I would welcome a reasoned statement pointing to any holes in this argument.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous:

You asked how a law enabling same sex marriage could concretely affect you:

There are many ways. One is not theoretical. Has already happened. A religious agency, such as Catholic Charities' adoption agency, is forced to shut down because it doesn't believe that it is morally right to place a child for adoption to a homosexual couple. But if a homosexual couple is legally married in a state, then every agency would be forced to allow such an adoption or close its doors (due to discrimination lawsuits and loss of license).

All of the work they would have done in working with couples looking to adopt ceases.

Is that concrete enough for you?

What about a Christian Church someone belongs to no longer being able to survive financially, because the State goes after them for being discriminatory, because they won't perform same-sex weddings, and they lose their tax exempt status, causing donations to tank.

What if your minister is put in jail for "hate speech" because he teaches what the Church teaches against homosexuality or homosexual marriage. That Church is then -- concretely -- without an active pastor. This sort of thing is already happening in Canada and Europe.

Again, all very concrete.

Make no mistake, the concrete consequences if this went nationwide would be tremendous, most especially on religious liberty for those who believe in the traditional understanding of marriage.

Mike L said...

The argument that Catholic Charities has been forced out of the adoption agency business is somewhat suspect. I seems more that Catholic Charities does not wish to spend money raised by Catholics to run the operation and are quitting because the state will no long give them tax money.

And if you are claiming that people will stop supporting their church because they don't get a tax deduction, well that is a pretty sad view of your church.

Two of your arguments seem to rest on the fact that the state is not giving you free money. A very sad state of affairs.

Mike L

Fr Martin Fox said...


If you do a search, you'll see that the state of Massachusetts passed a law that deemed it unfair discrimination for Catholic Charities not to place children for adoption with same-sex couples. Under those circumstances, Catholic Charities would have been in violation of law if it continued to uphold the norm of a family of a father and mother. So it went out of the adoption-placement business.

What is your basis for asserting this is about tax deductions?

Anonymous said...

These conversations all become tiresome after only a few posts. They are the same everywhere. Someone writes a clear explanation of why the Church opposes SSM, and someone immediately writes a bunch of half-thought-out junk he or she pretends to think is a rational argument, with no facts and a lot of emotional statements. The original poster replies to the argument and asks the arguer to clarify... but the arguer just makes more and different half-thought-out junk and emotional statements. Fight the good fight, Father!!! I have been there and given up on more than one occasion.

Natural law is a fascinating subject with a long history -- certainly a longer history than Christianity's. But to understand it you have to accept certain underlying principles, three of which are that there is a truth beyond whatever I would like to be true; that we can know it; and that it makes a difference to both ourselves and society if we know and follow it. People like the murmurers here do not accept these principles. There is no way to have a meaningful conversation with them.

Gail F

Anonymous said...

I had a very long discussion about this on another blog not based on religion, but on the law. The other person, a lawyer, was arguing that the 14th amendment makes it impossible to deny gays the right to marry based on equal protection and also that gay marriage did not impact hetrosexuals who marry. My argument was based on several points. First, the 14th amendment was one of three amendments called reconstruction amendments dealing with issues concerning freed black men which has been hijacked by judges using "all persons" to say that whatever one is allowed, all are allowed. Of course when asked why women who tried to use this argument to vote went to jail and had to continue to fight for another 50 years to gain sufferage, the answer was because all the judges during that time who ruled were incorrect and bigoted against women. When I asked using their logic and legal president in giving gays the right to marry, how could we legally deny a mom and son, both adults and with the woman past the age of giving birth, the right to marry. I wanted her beyond the age of giving birth so that one could not use the argument of protecting potential birth defects on children. When those who are pro gay marriage argue, they often toss out we allow people who cannot procreate to marry, so I wanted to make sure I had apples and apples. I also wonder if this applied in the same way to brother and sister or other relatives now banned from marriage. The 14th that gave gays the right should now allow these people who might have been born with thos desires and deeply in love to marry as well. And then how about the guy who has 6 women who all desire to marry him who are all consenting adults and deeply in love and maybe born with those desires?

After much delay and side arguments, his reply was "The government, through court decisions, has asserted certain societal interests that it will protect, at times even discriminating against certain individuals. That is the reality. Is it strictly authorized by the precise wording of the constitution? No. But there are limitations on rights and freedoms that exist and are authorized. Whether I agree with them or not is a different matter."

So what he is saying is that we will now allow unelected lifetime appointed judges to decide who gets rights and who will be denied not only for marriage, but for almost everything they want. I think it is good to keep this on a legal level Father as most associate natural law mistakenly to religious arguments. Of course the entire matter of religious arguments being taboo based on the "separation of church and state" is another lie given to use by unelected lifetime appointed liberal judges who see the constitution as a living document to be changed at their whim. I doubt gay marriage would have much support if people understand that incest and poligamy would follow based on legal precident. And who is to say that beatiality would not be far behind.

Anonymous said...

@ Mike L.

Huh ??? My examples were somewhat randomly chosen from three radically different spheres, just one of which was economic. You seem to be the one who are looking at them through a strictly economic lens.

It is a hypothetical example. Any Church, might be influenced by, among many different realities, financial ones. When the question at hand is, what makes something concrete, many people relate most concretely to economic issues. (Witness the election slogans, "It is the economy, stupid!")

That is not a statement on the Church's relative value of economic issues, but a recognition that to many people that is their idea of "concrete."

Clearly, in the Catholic Church, the arguments against SSM are not based crucially on financial realities.

I am not sure why you are so fiercely jumping on that tangential point.

I am reminded here of the critics of the Catholic Church who yawn and let their eyes glaze over at just about every doctrinal statement ever written by any pope or bishop on every topic under the sun, 99% of which they completely ignore.

When one is finally written on a topic that is particularly offensive to the critic -- such as condom use -- the first thing out of their mouths is, "Why is the Church so obsessed with sex?"

Sometimes the objections tell more about the objector that the author of the statement being objected to.

Stephanie Quinn said...

I was raised Catholic and am a lesbian. I understand your argument that same sex attraction is analogous to an inclination to overeat or to have heterosexual sex outside of marriage, in that as humans we are flawed and must "carry our crosses," even if it means considerable struggle to resist urges that are harmful to others or ourselves. But I do not understand why same sex love is harmful to either me, a potential same sex partner, or society at large. If two men or two women decide that they want to be committed to one another, to share their lives together, perhaps to start a family together, why is it wrong for them to do those things if their actions are inspired by love that God instilled in them? Overeating does harm to the body, which should be respected as a gift, and sexual infidelity does harm because it breaks the trust of one's spouse and can ruin a relationship and hurt a family, but I see no reason why it makes a positive difference for a homosexual person to deny his or her inclination to love a person of the same sex rather than express that love and pursue as full and enriching a life as possible. If I ever marry a woman, it will not be because I disrespect heterosexual marriage or family values, but because I recognize love as a gift that should not be dismissed as if it means nothing. What are your thoughts on this?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Stephanie: I don't know if you'll see this...and I'm sorry, I didn't realize you posted this several days ago.

But here's my answer.

I would suggest that part of the answer lies in what makes sex that is deliberately sterile a problem.

The other part has to do with that fact that sex, by it's nature, is both heterosexual and also procreative; when sexual activity is neither, is it rather far removed from what it is meant to be.

So what's the harm?

Sex is intrinsic to who we are; and it goes to our core. If we distort our sexual selves, we distort our whole selves.

I would argue that sex is procreative and complementary--and hence it needs to be. The further it moves from these aspects, the more it becomes...what? Something more self-referential.

Let's put it this way: if sexual expression is neither procreative nor complementary--then just what is it? An act of affection? OK, but also an act of pleasure. How much of it is about the other, and how much is about the self?

Look, the issue is not "love" per se. There is no Church teaching against two men or two women loving each other. THAT is not the issue.

The sin lies in the wrong use of sex; and to the extent that one or both parties finds love, without sex, to be a hardship, then the question is why? If you come back to answer that question, we can key off that.

As far as two people of the same sex making a family...how? The only moral way would be through adoption; but then the problem is this: does a child have a right to a natural family, if possible? I think so. If that is not possible, then the child deserves as much of a stable, happy home as possible. I'm not offended by the idea of a child raised by two people of the same sex; but I believe a child needs and deserves to have a family as true as possible. I would say the same about a child growing up in a household where the couple is not married; or in an orphanage.