Catholic Social Teaching Corner: Thoughts on “Gay Marriage”
May 25, 2012
Fr. Francis Belanger, OP, is the promoter of Social Justice for the Province of St. Joseph. As such, he occasionally publishes reflections or essays expounding upon the social justice teaching of the Catholic Church. He also serves as the pastor of St. Denis Catholic Church in Hanover, NH. The following was published in a recent edition of the St. Denis parish bulletin. Catholic Social Teaching is non-partisan, but different aspects of it may be emphasized more according to which party or point of view is in the ascendancy. Thus during the last Presidential administration, the Pope and the U.S. Bishops were quite clear that President Bush’s stated reasons for going to war with Iraq didn’t meet the criteria for a just war. Nowadays, with a politically progressive administration, the Church speaks a little more loudly on matters of family and human life. Hence it is appropriate, given a recent statement supporting homosexual marriage by President Obama, to address this vexatious issue. I thoroughly accept the Church’s opposition to so-called gay marriage and humbly offer three ideas on the matter, in the hopes that they be helpful. 1. George Orwell. It’s been a long-time since I read Orwell’s classic warning against totalitarian government, 1984. One thing that stands out clearly in my memory is his description of a situation in which historical perspective was at the whim of Big Brother – what was true yesterday is false today and vice-versa. While I don’t think we live in a dictatorship, there is something indeed Orwellian in the insistence that a form of behavior that was universally regarded as degrading and psychologically damaging only thirty years ago is now regarded by many as a basic human right, which should be defended and, in a real sense, promoted with all the machinery that the state can apply. This is simply nonsense. I detest this view of “evolving morality”, as it pertains to the very fundamentals of human life. Yes we can grow in our ethical sensitivity to human rights, but this growth is always founded on basic, everlasting moral truths available to human reason and propounded in Scripture and Church teaching. What is sinful and objectively disordered in 1950 is still so today. 2. But what about my gay friend? To this I say, “What about my friend who is an alcoholic?” It doesn’t make me pro-alcoholism. This argument based on the reference to nice people who are homosexual is understandable, but intellectually weak. We cannot base our morality on the behavior of seemingly decent friends and family. Seemingly decent people have done all kinds of bad things, exhibited moral ignorance, or caved in to human weakness. Evil is seldom obvious. The Friend whose behavior and outlook counts most is Jesus Christ, and His teaching on homosexual behavior, as propounded in Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium, is unchanging and abundantly clear. Just as with various people who suffer from crosses of addiction or unhealthy desires, we do the homosexual person no good by attempting to bless this fruitless inclination. The old adage still applies: love the sinner, hate the sin. 3. Civil rights. The question is framed today as a matter of rights. Why can’t homosexuals get married like everyone else? First, one has to understand the word marriage. In essence, the Church is not opposed to gay marriage – it simply says there is no such thing. Marriage has to do with the difference between the sexes, with the compatibility of and complementarity of man and woman, and with the ability to procreate naturally. We live in a culture where traditional marriage is deteriorating – over the last several decades divorce has skyrocketed and cohabitation has become commonplace. It is ironic and perhaps hypocritical that some of the same cultural voices which disparage traditional family life are now loudly proclaiming the wonders of marriage for homosexuals. Shortly after New York state legalized gay marriage last summer, the Sunday Magazine of the oh-so-enlightened New York Times published a cover story entitled “Married, With Infidelities” in which a new view of marriage, taken from a homosexual activist, was sympathetically expounded: “tolerance for pornography, fetishes and a variety of partnered arrangements, from strict monogamy to wide openness.” (Mark Oppenheimer, “Married, With Infidelities”, June 30th, 2011.) Thus the gay marriage movement showed its true colors. It is not for marriage at all, but for giving perversity a veneer of respectability. It is impolite perhaps, but we should remember that sodomy is one of the sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance. Our Catholic faith should make us suspicious of the Zeitgeist. It was the Zeitgeist, the deadly common cause of the conservative Pharisees with the more liberal Sadducees, abetted by the blasé relativism of Pontius Pilate, which decided the enlightened course of action was to crucify Jesus. Let us resist the Zeitgeist on gay marriage. It is not good for anyone and we should never let popular opinion determine our morality. Viva Cristo Rey!