Do we practice what we preach? Why I cannot be anti-gay rights.

I was recently in a conversation with my evangelical cousin. She is a very sweet loving person. She doesn’t hate gay people, but she knows that the Christian faith doesn’t approve. In Junior College she said that she was anti-gay rights in class, and was confronted by her classmates. She justified her political opinion with her religion. Reflecting on it later, she told me “its nice that you can blame it on your religion, then people don’t hate you so much.” In my mind I was thinking, “You’re right, maybe they don’t hate you, but they hate your religion. “

Even if I accept the teachings of the Church that homosexual actions are sinful, I could never justify the discrimination Christians have against the GLBTQ community. The political anti-gay movement frustrates me to say the least. Why would professing Christians ally themselves with hateful crowds of bigots? Why would they force their religious beliefs onto other people? Religion is a free-will choice, never something that should be forced or enforced by law or the state.

Yes, a Christian should seek to avoid all sexual immorality. But that has no bearing on how we are supposed to treat others. We have no examples of Jesus instructing us how to attack other people for their sins. The example we do see (over and over I might add) is love. Love for the sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes. Jesus taught us how to love unconditionally. That is what the cross is all about. Not about addressing the “reality of sin” in other people’s lives. Jesus didn’t come to judge the world, he came to redeem it. He preached “The Way” to people who voluntarily asked, people who chose to be there to hear his words. Jesus was never a political figure, no matter how much his apostles longed for him to be.

And yet the Christian community continues to be highly active in bigoted political movements. Contributing to the massive culture of shame and discrimination that contributes to young people everywhere to taking their own lives rather than try to face one more day of hate.

It is not our job to judge. If someone decides in and of their own free will to be a part of a religion, then they can seek to follow the truth of that religion as closely as they can. There is no reason to demand that everyone else follow that understanding of truth if they are not a part of that religion. And yes, a religion may judge certain actions as sinful. But the state is not religious. So if those actions cannot be argued against without using religious reasoning, the government has no right to ban them.

I’ve heard the argument before that “we as Christian’s can’t allow people to think that Jesus is this all-loving person, he is our judge! He is angry with our sin! If people aren’t aware of their sin then they aren’t aware of their need for a savior.”

Listen to how scary this sounds “we, as Christians, can’t allow people to think.”? Christianity isn’t a mind control religion. We don’t have a duty to make people think that our religion teaches this or that. Christians don’t have the responsibility to allow or not allow people to think anything. The apostle Peter said, “Be prepared to give an account of the hope you profess.” Yes, if a non-Christian wants to know the Christian teaching regarding homosexuality, adultery, abortion, or whatever; that is their choice to initiate. Why are telemarketers obnoxious? Because they solicit you without your invitation. Marching for political issues is not religious evangelism.

Making obnoxious attacks on people in the name of truth is a disgrace.

However, living a Christian life, manifesting joy in the Lord, imitating Christ, is radical and will be noticed. When non-Christians see Christians showing unconditional love that makes them want to know what Christians have. People want to know about our hope in the face of death. Let’s be real, very few people hate Christian disaster relief efforts, rescue missions, or service projects. Most people who have converted to Christianity attribute their faith to the powerful love and witness of believers they encountered. I’ve never met a convert who was “confronted with truth” in a political rally.

Gays wouldn’t even need Political Actions Committees dedicated to Gay Rights if there weren’t well meaning but misguided religious people trying to block their access to jobs, housing, and equal rights under the law. Opposition to gay rights and gay marriage comes on religious grounds. Even appeals to the natural law are subject to religious reasoning on the basis of a creator. How would you respond to a Mormon campaign to ban Starbucks or caffeinated beverages? You’d probably find it ridiculous. But to a Mormon they would be simply trying uphold “God’s Truth” right? Or how about a group of Orthodox Jews trying to ban non-Kosher foods in the USA? To boot, non-Kosher foods are a legitimate health risk. Shellfish is one of the leading causes of food poisoning in America. It is ridiculous isn’t it? To Orthodox Jews it is God’s Truth. But the argument cannot be substantiated on non-religious grounds alone.

Why are those examples any different from a million Christians standing on the National Mall to protest the rights of gay people to choose for themselves how to live? It is just as ridiculous. Signs blaming disease on homosexuality are just as cheap of a shot as blaming non-Kosher food for food poisoning. Political activism to prohibit or ban gay marriage and gay rights advocates something which goes against our constitutional right to freedom of religion. Each of us is free to believe or not believe. The last day is up to God, not man. Just because you have the legal right to say something on the basis of freedom of speech, doesn’t mean you should.

Lets look at another area of sexuality that Christians believe is contrary to God’s law. While adultery is recognized as wrong in all religions, it has never been a crime in the US or even in Christian Europe. Why? Because morality cannot be legislated. However, sodomy was a crime until recently. Why? Bigotry. Adultery involves violating a contract of marriage. It hurts someone else. It violates the trust of a partner in a marriage. For this reason, adultery has always been viewed as bad even by non-religious people. Homosexual union involves people’s free consent. It doesn’t hurt anyone (Unless of course, one argues for hurt on religious grounds, again not a valid legal argument). If someone doesn’t want to be in a gay marriage, then don’t marry someone of the same sex. It is that simple. Granting full rights even to those who do not obey your religion’s principles is profoundly American. The need for a Savior is in no way diminished by whether or not the government permits two people of the same sex to get a legal marriage license. Humans are sinners, but God is the judge, we are not, and neither are nations.

Advocates for gay marriage aren’t asking the church to approve of their marriages. They are asking the government to grant them the right to live their lives as they believe. As a Christian, I want the same from the government. Marriage licenses are under the jurisdiction of the government. Having a wedding ceremony in a particular church is under the jurisdiction of that church. The USDA can approve non-Kosher food, because non-Jewish Americans have a right to pork and shellfish. However, Jewish homes are free to keep their homes clean of offending food items. Heck, even in Saudi Arabia (a religious state) when the call to prayer goes out five times a day, non-Muslims are not expected to drop what they are doing and pray? Why? It isn’t their religion.

How much more simple can this be? When will American Christians get over themselves. Just because they are currently the majority doesn’t mean they get to control everyone else’s thoughts, lives and choices. Just because the Christian religion disapproves of homosexual actions doesn’t mean gay people should be subjected to signs calling them perverts or degenerates, or get rejected in a government building from marrying the person of their choice. Religious truth is a voluntary thing. A person can choose to adhere to it or not, it’s a free choice. I don’t understand why Americans feel the need keep stuffing their “truths” down non-consenting people’s throats.

The “don’t ask don’t tell” policy of the US Army is another great example of blatant discrimination against people with homosexual orientation. You are free to volunteer to serve your country, as long as the Army doesn’t know if you are gay. However, if they find out that you are gay, whether you let it slip out inadvertently or you are outed by someone else, the Army will fire you. Yep. They will let you go for no other reason.

I fail to see how this discrimination on the part of the US Army is any different than many other unjust employment laws perpetuated throughout history. Being denied employment under Hilter’s rule because your grandmother was Jewish. Being denied a job because of your racial background in South Africa. Or even the character Fantine in Victor Hugo’s epic Les Miserables, who was fired from her factory job because someone revealed that she had an illegitimate child hidden somewhere.

It baffles me when Christian’s participate in this kind of discrimination. Even if the Catholic Church finds Homosexual actions sinful, they have clearly stated that having the attraction in and of itself is not a sin. This type of treatment is unjust on every ground. I’ve read the Catholic arguments against ENDA, and I still don’t understand them. The argument is that even though the Catholic Church agrees with equal employment rights for ever person regardless of sexuality and gender identity, they cannot support ENDA because it could lead to other rights such as the legal right for gays to marry. I think that’s a stretch, and like I said above, I don’t think that it’s really any religion’s business to dictate whether or not people have the right to enter into a legal state. But, understanding the reasons behind why the Catholic Church does not religiously sanction gay marriage, I guess I can understand why the official church position is against gay marriage politically.

Recently, a judge struck down “don’t ask don’t tell” seeking to end job discrimination against gay individuals in the US Army. And guess what? It has absolutely nothing to do with gay marriage. Nothing!
Imagine if the Catholic Church took an official stance supporting the end of the discriminatory “Don’t ask Don’t tell” policy? Imagine if they put themselves out there, separate from pretty much every other Christian group, in a visible demonstration of support for the people they claim not to condemn?

I doubt it would ever happen. But wouldn’t it be an awesome way for the Catholic Church to prove that they practice what they preach?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18114855102842020691 Tara Meghan

    YAY! Thank you for this. I love reading something that sends my brain into a huge roaring cheer at the end of every paragraph. RAH!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04738076740941616678 Rebecca

    This. is. beautiful!

    Thank-you for these words.

  • Anonymous

    Well written and well thought out. Thanks for putting it out there. I really think that I agree with you, but I am still digesting:-).
    Leigh Ann

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05014351173194941624 Sally Thomas

    This is tangential, but not irrelevant. Our family has a very dear, longtime friend, whom we first met when he was "out" and a part of an active gay sub-community within the church to which we all belonged at the time. He preceded us into the Catholic Church — in fact, he credits our conversion to all the novenas he prayed for us for about five years — and this is why:

    He came to feel that the life he was leading was degrading. He came to feel that the very fact of being defined by sexual habits was degrading. So he approached the leadership of the church to which, at the time, we all belonged, with this problem — and it was a church community which has been rather famously sympathetic to people who self-identify as gay.

    What he was told was that the leader whom he had approached would be happy to put him in touch with some gay people who would help him with this repressive hang-up he obviously had. Because what was "wrong" was not the immorality of the lifestyle he had embraced but now wanted to leave, but his wanting to leave it. If he could just get over feeling bad about himself, everything would be fine.

    Long story short, he's now Catholic. And he prayed for us for a long time, until we also became Catholic. Meanwhile, of this gay sub-community of the church to which we all used to belong, one man I whom I knew quite well is now dead, a few more are I don't know where, and the lover of the man who's now dead is also Catholic.

    And I mean, these guys are seriously Catholic. They're not gay, and also incidentally sort of Catholic-ish. In fact, I think they might find it insulting that anyone would suggest that the Catholic Church was not being "nice" to people like them, because it was the Catholic Church which gave them a culture to replace the culture they were leaving. This was literally their lifeline. If the Church had compromised on the boundaries of its culture, there would have been nowhere *else*, as in other than the culture they knew they couldn't live with any more, for them to go.

    In short, that's why I don't think it would be awesome for the Catholic Church to take an official stance on DADT, and I particularly don't think it would be awesome, or even remotely helpful, for the Church to support its repeal. The Church already practices what it preaches, and I know people who will testify that this has been their salvation, in this life as well as the next.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    What an amazing story! And what a witness to God's love shown through the church. I have found the Catholic churchs teaching on sexuality to be the most logical and complete I have ever encountered, and I've written about that before.
    Please understand that I am in no way saying that the Church should change it's teachings on the way Catholics are called to live. They should continue to be a beacon of love and life lived in the Lord. I am not arguing that the teachings themselves are "not nice", and am saying that discrimination is inexcusable.
    The Catholic Catechism teaches:

    2358 "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."

    I see denying people the right to work because of a sexual orientation as unjust discrimination, somthing the catechism condemns. I think that the Catholic Church is perfectly capable of supporting the end of unjust discrimination without comprimising their beliefs and teachings in any way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07096900267329540389 Nicole

    Great, great post! It would be so nice for people to realize that they can't force their religion onto other people and that everyone deserves the same rights.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06692372175623299858 Melissa

    This is a really well written post, really. I was thinking along these lines when a friend was attacked on line for saying she doesn't hate/discriminate against gays but as a Christian she doesn't "support their lief-style" choices anymore than she supports sex before marriage.

    My pastor had a great statement, he was referring to right to life (abortion and euthanasia) but I think it applies here too:

    "Politics has Hijacked the doctrine of the
    Church"

    His point was that we can't say it's a sin, we don't agree, with anything (adultery, homosexuality, abortion) without having to fall on one side or the other of a political debate. That government has stepped into to rule over the morality that people used to get from the church.

    But where to go? It's not like the government is going to step back right?

    I think the message of love is what we need to focus on.

  • amy h

    Very good post. You have put into words so many of the thoughts I have about this issue and the sadness that I feel seeing people treated the way they are, all too often by people who profess Christian beliefs. Thank you for writing this.
    *amy

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01113818823824140462 Katherine

    I fully agree that Christians should be a light of love to everyone, gay or not and that always words and actions of charity are what should be used.

    But I would wonder just where you think the "rights" you are talking about come from? Why do you think marriage is a right and just where does the "right" to marry come from? Or are you saying there is just a "right" to live any way we want? If so, where does that "right" come from?

    My husband is a theologian and, though it saddens him, he has no doubt homosexual legal "marriage" is inevitable because legally the courts have removed any way to restrict just what is an appropriate sexual act and what isn't. Of course, legally, the problem with this is that it is then impossible to legally say sexual acts can't be performed with animals or "marriage" cannot happen between 3 people or even between a person and an animal. On what basis would such things be argued against? If you begin defining "right" as anything anyone wants, then anything goes. What lines can be drawn anywhere?

    Please understand, I don't hate homosexuals. I have one close family member who is one and to whom I try to be a witness of true Christian charity. I don't approve of discriminating against them for any of the basic necessities of life (shelter, livelihood, medical care, etc.) but I also don't approve of redefining such things as marriage for the sake of making people feel better. No, adultery is not legislated, but neither is it called "marriage." It is the redefining of the term and the hijacking of its definition that is objected to. How would it not be imposing their beliefs on me to claim that my marriage to my husband is arbitrary against hundreds of years of American history? Or do only the feelings and "rights" of homosexuals matter?

    Maybe the only middle ground is for the state to no longer call it marriage and surrender that term to religion, but I haven't heard anyone advocate that yet. Maybe marriages shouldn't be under the government at all. Maybe marriage, which is a sacrament, should only be under a religious institution and the government should only have unions which can be marriages or between homosexuals or between people and animals or between 3 or more people or whatever people want if, after all, there seems to be no limits.

    But even if such a system came to be, it would not create less division. Even if my family member entered into a union, I could not morally condone it in my household or to my children. It would be a legal change. Nothing more. Just as Roe v. Wade has not changed pro-lifers to change their mind, neither would redefining legal terms.

    I don't approve of holding up signs to insult people, but, Christian or not, it is hypocritical to say that homosexuals have the right to live the way they want and those who don't approve of homosexual behavior do not have the right to speak their beliefs. I'm not saying their method is a good one, but if you are going to reduce everything to "rights" (your foundation of which I'm still unsure of) well then everyone seems to have the "right" to live and do almost anything they want.

    As far as DADT, I simply do not know enough about it to comment one way or another.

  • http://www.cooperfamilyfarm.com/fbp Jennie C.

    Very few of the rights and freedoms enjoyed by American citizens are enjoyed by the members of the military. They give up certain things in order to protect those freedoms for you. Unless you understand the military lifestyle and mindset, I don't think it's fair to consider the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy as discrimination. It's more about survival than discrimination. But I'm opposed to women in the military, as well. My observations from fifteen years of military life is that a woman in a unit with men will be a single mother before long; there will be adultery; and there will be a decrease in unit cohesiveness and morale. Honestly, I've appreciated that my husband, as a combat arms soldier, has seldom worked with women. And I have seen all these problems when he has. I am strongly of the opinion that similar problems would arise by having openly gay men in the unit. Take that as you will. I prefer to know that my husband is undistracted by sexual issues when other people are trying to kill him.

    As for the general population, I am also opposed to gay marriage. Marriage is naturally ordered to family life, and while a marriage between a man and a woman may never actually result in children, it has the potential to, which is not the case when the partners are of the same sex. If the State has a reason to sanction and encourage marriage at all, it is because marriage is naturally ordered toward children, which provides the State with the next generation of citizens, and all organisms are naturally compelled toward survival and reproduction – even man-made ones. Same sex relationships are not beneficial to the survival of the government, the nation or humankind in general, and it has nothing to do with the humanity of the individuals involved. Marriage is discriminatory by its very nature. It has to be.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Katherine- I feel that people do have the "right" to live how they want, undictated by any particular religion. This right comes from God creating humans with free will. Governement exists stop expressions of free will from violating someone elses free will. Take rape, a person may freely choose to rape someone, but because the other person does not consent, their free will is violated. The state has an interest in punishing those who violate others freedom.
    When civil union came out in vermont the same crowd who is apposed to gay marriage today was in an uproar. At that time there were people that said "maybe in the interest of equality the state should be eliminated form marriage and everyone would have a legal civil union. Obviously that didn't catch on.
    People who disagree with homosexual activity do have the right to state their beliefs, if the person doesn't want to hear it then they can walk away. But when religious beliefs dictate political viewpoints it gets messy real quick.
    You say that they should have access to shelter, food and healthcare. So even if you do not approve of gay marriage, you would approve the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA)?

    Jennie- I appreciate your perspective as a military wife.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01113818823824140462 Katherine

    You say you believe people have the "right to live how they want" because YOU believe "God" created "humans with free will." Fair enough. But what about people who don't believe in God? Or who don't believe God created anyone? Aren't you imposing your beliefs by using such an argument? Aren't you using religion to argue for people to live how they want? Why should your beliefs be used to dictate government? What about the atheists who believe in survival of the fittest and genocide? Why shouldn't their beliefs dictate government? Who even said government had to protect free wills? Where did such a definition of government come from? If we can just start redefining words like marriage, why not government? Government is not a self-less entity run by selfless people. If anything it is usually run by selfish greedy people and those people have their own beliefs. Look at Roe v. Wade. No where in the Constitution does the "right" to kill an unborn child exist but it legally exists now. Why? People with their own beliefs put it there. And those who are in favor of legalized abortion argue to pro-lifers not to impose their beliefs against abortion on them.

    You argue that government exists to protect everyone's free will. What about my free will to have marriage defined as a man and a woman? Wouldn't redefining it violate my free will? Or should everyone just define any word as they see fit?

    The problem is that it is impossible for no belief system to dictate government. Not choosing A or B is still choosing. It is simply impossible for a government to be completely belief-free (religious or otherwise). Even the rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," these are rights the founding fathers legally gave to this country because of their beliefs in God and the Word of God. Our government exists because a group of people came together and agreed on a common understanding and a common belief of what our government would be and what it should do. Without the religious beliefs of the founding fathers, our government would be vastly different than it is today and who is to say if we would have any legal rights at all?

  • Anonymous

    Young Mom,

    I read your blog very often but have never commented before. I think you said everything very very well. You are an excelent writer.

    Katherine,

    I am pretty sure that Young Mom believes what I do as far as where "rights" come from. Purely from the fact of being a human being is where rights come from. Having the rights of freedom of thought and choice are inherintly a part of being human. That is truth. And the only reason it is truth is because God made it that way. God made human beings very different from everything else by giving them complete freedom of mind and body. That includes who they want to have sex with, who they want to "marry", and even what food they want to eat…(a forbidden fuit perhaps?)..even if it will kill them in the end. If there is no god then human beings do not have rights any more than any animal, bug or bacteria.

    Another thing I would like to point out (to everyone) is that "christians" seem to believe that they have a right to call people names or condem them because they are not living in an upright way, because that is what Jesus did many times. But the bible clearly states that we do not need to be offended for Him or defend Him, because He is more than capible of defending Himself and only He has the right to judge. That even happens literally (physically) in the garden when Peter takes out his sword to fight and Jesus says, chill It's under control, He could definitely take care of the situation if He felt He was being attacked.

    :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Katherine- Actually I wasn’t seeking to define how government should function in my last comment; I was trying to explain how my understanding of my religion forbids me to forcibly intervene with another person’s free will. Currently the American Government is founded on “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for each individual. Americans are also strong proponents of separation of church and state, given the government we currently have, it is hypocritical to say that one groups definition of “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” must define everyone else’s. I the American Government became a dictatorship that didn’t value people as individuals; there would be other problems to address. I am pro-life as well, and as a believer in Human rights I believe that starts with the right to live. I also think that when life begins can be debated outside of religious grounds. But that still does not warrant hatred or mistreatment of those who disagree with me.

    You are free to stick with your religious definition of marriage, and we each should be. I just don’t understand how that has anything to do with the legal documents that the state gives out. It may be emotionally violating for you to see legal marriages granted to people that your religion would not sanction, but emotional violation is hard to quantify. Is it also hard for you that people define educating their children in a way different from you? Or it could be emotionally violating to have protestant neighbours who believe strongly in birth control. There just isn’t a whole lot that can be done about it. I happen to disagree with you about the faith of the founding fathers. Most of them were not practicing Christians, there were several deists, and almost all were Masons. The American mindset was decidedly anti-Catholic for years. Yes, people’s faith will always impact how they approach life, and it should! But I still maintain that religion is a voluntary thing, so to the best of our ability we should seek to refrain from forcing our religious beliefs onto other people.

    Anonymous- I agree, Jesus has it under control and only He can judge. I would also add that the only times Jesus "called people names or condemned" were the times that he was confronting the pharisees who insisted that they had it all figured out and were without sin.

  • http://jennaseverythingblog.wordpress.com/ jennaseverythingblog

    I was just talking about this with a friend last weekend . . . as a Christian myself, I couldn't agree more that our job is not to judge others, or try to get the government to restrict other peoples' freedom in the name of our beliefs. It's not our job to point out people's sin who aren't in the church and don't even claim to believe in Jesus. We're supposed to be talking about Jesus, and these issues not only distract from the point (which is Him) but also are an opportunity for many believers to be hateful. Not good.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01113818823824140462 Katherine

    Anonymous,

    I understand where Young Mom, and you, and I believe rights come from. My point is that you cannot remove marriage from the context of one man and one woman without calling into question every other foundational building block of our society. If you redefine marriage, what is to stop the redefining of any number of other crucial elements to our society? Abortion is already not murder, it is choice.

    Our society, whether anyone likes it or not, is built upon a foundation of law based on the Judeo-Christian tradition – the 10 commandments. If you remove the Judeo-Christian from our government, then it is all arbitrary and we could just as well have a Muslim government like those in Iran or Pakistan, where Christians do not have the same rights as Muslims.

    You said, "as far as where "rights" come from. Purely from the fact of being a human being is where rights come from. Having the rights of freedom of thought and choice are inherintly a part of being human. That is truth. And the only reason it is truth is because God made it that way." But not every culture believes that is the truth. The Mayans believed some humans did not have rights but could be sacrificed. Some cultures believed in slavery. So did ours not all that long ago. If you deny our country to have a Judeo-Christian origin in beliefs in establishing rights, then even the most basic rights can be called into question. Remove religion, and the rest can crumble.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01113818823824140462 Katherine

    Young Mom,

    Certainly the Christian religion respects every human being's free will. But that doesn't mean Christians should try to set up a society of law enabling anything people can do. Should we make public nudity legal? Does it infringe on anyone else's free will? What about public masturbation? Certainly people can use their free will to murder, that doesn't mean it should be legal (even though pro-choicers think so). The American Government seeks to ensure everyone's right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," (the unborn being the exception), but what about when a person's happiness hurts others? Of course there are the obvious Jeffrey Dahmers whose happiness would be in eating people but what about the next generation that cannot be born from 2 women or 2 men? That hurts society in many ways. What about the vocation of every married person? Is that just arbitrary? Could you or I just as well have married spaniels? I'm not supposed to be hurt by that? If homosexuals believe marriage can be between 2 men or 2 women and the U.S. government redefines marriage to be a union between (I'll be nice for the moment) any 2 human beings, how is that not an imposition of their beliefs on me, religious or not? It is simply impossible to have it both ways.

    Marriage has always been defined as a union between 1 man and 1 woman. A neighbor who believes in artificial birth control is not a parallel example. No one is trying to legally define "all sexual intercourse" as "birth control." They would be doing something different than I am but not insisting I accept their understanding of a term so that they felt better about themselves. Likewise, certainly people define educating their children differently than I do, but they are not insisting that my understanding be redefined so they can be happy. It is one thing to agree to disagree. It is quite another to try to change words so more people can fit into them and feel happier. If you redefine marriage to make homosexuals happy, what about the heterosexuals who are married who are then unhappy. If happiness is the criteria, whose happiness means more?

    You say you believe "we should seek to refrain from forcing our religious beliefs onto other people." What about non-religious beliefs? Homosexuals insisting the word marriage being redefined because they believe differently – isn't that the exact same thing?

    Now, if they wanted to choose a different word, like unions, that might be a different matter all-together and avoid a lot of this mess. But, for the most part, that isn't what they are demanding. They aren't demanding a separate word for their relationship. They are trying to push their beliefs about how marriage should (not is) defined onto others who have accepted the definition of marriage for centuries. Who is imposing on who?

    Re: Jesus, judging and christian charity – I generally think it is best, instead of thinking of Jesus the accuser of Pharisees, think of Jesus, the diner with prostitutes and tax collectors. While he never condoned sin, his charity always welcomed sinners and it was his charity that always changed hearts.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Katherine- America is not the only country or governing system in the world. America does not have the power to “redefine marriage”, they only have power over who gets a legal document giving financial and legal protections to the 2 parties in a marriage. In countries that have already legalized gay marriage life goes on exactly as before. Gay couples still lived together and already had the right to adopt married or not before the laws ever changed. Now they just have legal protections.

    Murder, cannibalism and public masturbation are things that harm others because it infringes on a reasonable expectation of freedom from indecency, being eaten or killed. I don’t see how you can put a gay couple having legal rights in this category. They don’t infringe on you and it feels like a stretch to me to say that it would hurt you. I see no reason why heterosexuals should be personally offended.

    I suppose a conservative Muslim man could feel violated by western women refusing to wear burka’s. A Hindu could feel violated when in a restaurant a hamburger is served (since cows are sacred to Hindus). But they cannot enforce their religious preference onto a non-consenting public.

    I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01113818823824140462 Katherine

    Indeed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06374573594800663980 Kacie

    I'm right with you. :)

  • Lana

    I used to feel as strongly as you do. Compassion toward gay people as equivalent to not being anti-gay rights. I am still not anti-gay rights in an active way, but privately. Still, there is no way I could support the repeal of DADT or gay marriage on the bases you name.

    I like what Sally Thomas had to say. It seems that if we as Catholics do indeed believe that leading a homosexual life is degrading, then at the very minimum, we cannot SUPPORT legislation that approves of such a lifestyle. In fact, it makes sense to NOT support it (thoug the way of doing that should be chosen wisely).

    In the same way that we cannot approve of easy access to contraceptives (it is degrading to both partners), or of the right of parents discipline their children (read: spank) in any way they want to. In homosexuality, there are two consenting parties (no one is a child) but both are degraded by the homosexual act.

    So why in the world would we support that in our nation's laws, if we really believe it is profoundly harmful?

  • Rebecca in CA

    I would like to restate my position, as a faithful Catholic: It is very, very important not to confuse either positive divine law (such as the kosher laws of the old testament) or human custom (such as fashions of the times) with the natural law. The natural law is a moral code which is knowable by any human being, regardless of a particular religion. If you really hold in an absolute way that morality cannot be legislated, then you believe there is nothing, no moral law, which all men share and must be subject to, so anything goes. The strongest will prevail. Machiavelli and Nietzche. But it seems like what you are wanting to say is that morality can be addressed by legislation, but that legislation *must* confine itself to just keeping people from hurting eachother or doing something against someone else's will. Even then, you have to agree about what hurting eachother involves. What if I want to kill myself? Isn't that okay, as long as I don't hurt anyone else? What if a fourteen year old girl really wants to have sex with a thirty year old man? Shouldn't he be allowed to do that with her? Shouldn't people be able to sell their bodies for money, too? It will get rather difficult to define exploitation, won't it? Once someone is eighteen, then unless someone was holding a gun to their head, well then that was just their free choice. There have to be some objective judgements about what is truly hurtful. It is either true or false that men having a sexual relationship with one another is objectively gravely wrong. If it is true, then for this relationship to be sanctioned by society, with men acting like married couples in public, children's literature lauding homosexual relationships, signs and TV shows portraying homosexual relationships as good and moral–all of those things are deeply harmful and confusing for children growing up in that society. If homosexual behavior is just fine and doesn't really hurt anyone, doesn't hurt the people engaging in it, then we shouldn't be bothered by such literature or such media portrayals. There either is, or isn't, a natural moral law, and it either does affect us deeply, or doesn't. I haven't seen that addressed yet.

    Jesus was not a political figure. Certainly he was not. But he did not condemn politics! He did not condemn fighting for what is just and right and caring about it. I doubt that he would condemn the U.S. and other goverments standing up to a maniac such as Hitler and saying, Stop it Now, or Else! Jesus was not married, he was not a monk, he was not many things, but that does not imply there is not a place for such things. He was not an anarchist, he did not state what is or is not the role of government, nor did he imply that it does not matter. He did what He came for, and He left a Church to guide us through the ages, by the Holy Spirit applying the moral law to particular circumstances in each time and place as needed.

    I cringe to see such hateful talk and actions and signs being held by those who profess the Christian faith. It is embarrassing, and it is extremely destructive. But just as I am not going to dissociate myself from Christ's name, though they use it for hateful purposes, I won't, in reactionary fashion, swing to the opposite side of this issue or of the abortion issue, which is closely aligned. The truth lies in the mean: Society is to uphold the natural moral law, not to concern itself merely with the physical but also the mental well-being of its citizens, and every human being must be treated with utmost respect and charity. The people holding the signs fail miserably in the latter, but again, I insist that those who tell homosexuals "that's okay for you" are also failing miserably in charity by pretending that harmful, self-destructive behavior isn't really harmful.

  • http://www.coffeestainedclarity.com Bethany

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I'm so glad you brought up the example of Mormons or Orthodox Jews trying to change American laws to follow their religious precepts. When conservative relatives of mine have fumed over group prayer being banned from public schools, I've often wondered how they would feel if it were Muslim group prayer in question. Gay rights is an even more inflammatory issue, but it seems to me that two men marrying each other does nothing to destroy the sanctity of my marriage. Adultery or divorce, both common even among Christians, could destroy the sanctity of my marriage. But strangers' lifestyles? No. And who am I to force my personal convictions on other people, especially at the expense of their well-being?

  • Anonymous

    I love your blog, but I have to disagree with some of what you say here. I agree that we need to love the sinner and we have no business forcing our religion on anyone, and that by definition, the Christian lifestyle should be about love and respect for all. I am a Catholic with a few gay friends, coworkers and I live in a city with a large gay population. So I have no hangups with gay people. Just wanted to get that all out of the way.

    That said, I do take issue with the gay marriage thing. It seems so many times that supporters of gay marriage point out, in response to objections, that in countries where gay marriage, adoption, etc is accepted, there have been no dire consequences. And this may be true, but it is largely irrelevant. Every society and culture is different. What happens in one country may not have the same outcome in another and sometimes effects are more long-term, not immediately noticeable. It just seems a lazy argument to me. But when you say that America cannot ‘redefine marriage’, yes, they absolutely can. Maybe not what it means in religious/natural law terms, but it’s definitely redefining what most of society will think of and accept as marriage. The dictionary definition would change. Putting religion entirely aside, part of being a citizen in a democracy is being able to define terms like civil marriage as the citizens prefer. This goes with a lot of laws – drug laws, gun laws, public indecency laws, laws re incest, polygamy, etc. People have the right to live as they choose, yes, but civil marriage is marriage defined by the state and in essence, the people. If the people say, ‘we want to live in a society where marriage is one man or one woman’, then so goes it. You can choose to live there or not. I don’t like when people start talking about how civil marriage is a civil right. This seems mostly an appeal to the emotionally charged term ‘civil rights’, yet it’s a very different case than when black Americans were not allowed to be and go certain places. That was something that clearly was intended to undermine the human dignity of a group of people who were despised for no other reason than the color of their skin. This is not that. Marriage is and has always been about one man and one woman. That is not discriminatory, it’s natural law, it’s a since-the-beginning-of-time institution. There is no violation of human dignity.

    Just the way I see things.

    Elizabeth

    Elizabeth

  • Anonymous

    Two other points I wanted to quickly address:

    I think the military is a poor example and your argument ignores key points on the other side. The military has given reasons for the policy that have to do with the safety of their personnel, morale, etc. I assume you disagree with their reasoning, but it’s disingenuous of you to imply that the underlying reason is discrimination, when the military has clearly made the case otherwise. As far as the Church getting involved here, the Church is very consistent. When it’s clear that a situation is a violation of the dignity of the human person, they are very vocal in denouncing that situation. I just don’t see how this policy fits that, nor do I think the Church has any place in telling the military how to run its operation.

    Also, groups that push their interests in legislation always make me queasy…it’s so rarely genuinely only about wanting understanding. I see what the Church is saying, there are plenty of examples of things where mainstream acceptance and celebration of immorality leads to an attitude of quiet acceptance and ‘maybe it’s not really all that bad, everyone else seems okay with it so I don’t want to say anything…’. Yes, at the end of the day the real battle is to change people’s hearts. But given the amoral culture of death we live in, this restructuring of societies morals through legislation is not really resulting in good things. Abortion naturally comes to mind, but I realize that is a much more serious situation. But just to throw out something for thought – what about the Boy Scouts organization? They decided that openly gay scout masters were not consistent with the values of their organization. Lots of parents supported that decision. What did gay rights activists do? Did their level best to defund and discredit the organization. Not exactly the poster children for live and let live. They don’t seem too eager to respect the views of parents who don’t want to explain ‘gay’ to their cub scout. Christians are supposed to be loving and respectful and tolerant, but that doesn’t mean we should be doormats.

    Is it wrong for the Church to stand up for the natural law, in the case of gay marriage? I don’t think so. I would be deeply disappointed if she did not.

    Elizabeth

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Wow, I've been surprised to get so much feedback, I guess this provoked some thinking. That's awesome.

    This is a tough issue, and while I don't feel as though I am a activist for gay rights, this has been one of the big topic I've been wrestling with as I try to figure out as I argue between Catholicism and Atheism in my mind. I cannot understand how christians feel the right to impose beliefs that I feel can only be substantiated with religious reasoning onto people who are non-consenting.

    This has been my way of resolving it for now.

  • Anonymous

    Obviously I can't comment on exactly what is going through your head, because I don't know. But it seems that you see a preference for certain societal norms as ‘forcing religion’. These are not purely religious issues. With gay marriage, I think you can make the case that marriage can and should be limited to one man and one woman without ever bringing up religion. Family is the cornerstone of society, it always has been. That it should be supported and protected seems to be generally agreed upon, society has a vested interest in families raising productive citizens. And the natural law and order of things does have a hold on the human mind and heart. Even without religion, right and wrong and the order of life is very much the same around the world. I don't think it's a coincidence, it's a result of natural law. Unless every single person who voted no on prop 8 in CA was a Christian (and I doubt it), there is more that is going into this decision than religion.

    I prefer to live in a moral society. I don't see anything wrong with this. I see this as similar to choosing to live in a more safe neighborhood vs a less safe neighborhood (and thank God we are able to make that choice), there are situations and lifestyles I would prefer my young children not be exposed to. And if I truly feel that a society with largely Christian values is best for my family and society in general, how is voting those feelings forcing morals on someone else? It’s a simple ideological disagreement – I am saying ‘I want society to define marriage this way’, others are free to disagree. That I think gay marriage is not in the best interests of society and my family is not discriminatory or hateful in any way, therefore, as a Christian citizen, I am allowed to express that opinion by voting that opinion. Heck, I might be obligated to do so. As I stated previously, this is not some attack on gays and I am in no way violating their human dignity by saying that I don’t think they should be able to be legally married. A man and two women can’t get married. A man cannot marry his daughter. It’s not open to everyone and I don’t see why it has to be.

    I don’t mean to get all preachy on this, I don’t even feel that strongly about the issue compared to a lot of things, but I do not like when people say that Christians have some kind of moral duty to support gay marriage/rights in the name of love and tolerance and that opposing it makes me a bigot. It does not. We have an obligation to uphold the dignity of all human persons and to show Christ’s love to the world. I do not think that supporting gay marriage was what He had in mind. I could definitely be wrong, but the Catholic Church agrees with me and I feel pretty good about that.

    Elizabeth

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02321618575119365254 Christopher Milton

    A side note: adultery has been a criminal act in Europe and the United States, and it still is a crime, though woefully under-prosecuted, in some states.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    No, it wasn't only christians who voted against prop 8. It was alot of bigoted people as well. At one time slavery of another race was the societal norm in America, I'm glad that's changed.

    I know all the arguements, because I used to make them. While I understand the religious reasoning behind the boundaries put in place by the Catholic Church and I agree with them and practice them in my own life. I don't see why that should mean that someone who doesn't agree with those religious guidelines should be banned by the government which is separate from religion from gainful employment, housing, or being with the person they love.

    The way christianity and politics mix so badly is one of the things that makes me want to walk away from the faith.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01113818823824140462 Katherine

    Christ said "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). If you do not defend the truth, then you fail to defend Christ. I'd rather risk hurting people's feelings in their desire to legally live immorally than offend God by failing to defend the truth. "But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father." (Matthew 10:33)

  • Anonymous

    That is what drives me crazy – comparing gay marriage to the civil rights/slavery thing. Saying marriage is one man and one woman is perfectly within the right of society to define. Slavery of any human being is something intrinsically evil and very, very different. It's not a fair comparison at all, not to mention insulting to those who lived through slavery. Either way, it is essentially a straw man argument and a poor support of your opinion.

    It seems to me you are saying opposition to gay marriage = bigotry. That is a very narrow view and sounds about as judgmental as the side with the views you previously espoused, so be careful there. Christian charity and all that. I would simply like to repeat that as Christians, we have an obligation to uphold the dignity of all human persons and to show Christ’s love to the world. As long as our political decisions uphold these principles (the second is a little more obscure, obv, but that’s where conscience formation and all that comes in), there are plenty of issues with room for a legitimate difference of opinion among Christians. I go back and forth, but overall, I do tend to think this is one of them. Like I said, it’s not even a passionate issue for me, but I do NOT think that opposition of gay marriage is necessarily, or even largely, the result of bigotry. I think that is insulting to the many good, intelligent people (Christian or non-Christian) who have put sincere thought into this issue and come down on the side of ‘no’. And I think it’s unfair of you to assume they have hateful intentions and this is all a big ploy to keep the gays down, or whatever. In my responses, I was simply trying to point out the several non-religious supports for the other side and that in certain parts (IMO), your argument lacked fairness to the opposition.

    Best,
    Elizabeth

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    I wasn't trying to say that all christians that oppose gay marriage are bigots. I am simply pointing out that christians are overreacting to this issue.

    According to the Catholic Church most people are living (legally) in immorallity,and yet christians continue to emphasize this issue as if it is different from all the other sexual sins "bringing down marriage and the family". We don't have marches trying to make divorce illegal, we don't put signs in our yards saying that people that use birth control are going to hell. We don't try to pass laws denying people living in fornication the rights to employment and housing. By making this a pet issue of "christian politics" we only turn more people off to the faith.

    I am in no way saying that Christ is not the way the truth and the life. And my opinions on this have nothing to do with "hurting someones feelings". I gladly stand up for Christ and point to him as the source of truth. I still firmly maintain however that religion is a free-will decision, not something that can be enforced by government. I think we get alot further defending the truth by the way we live our own lives, not by scraping specks from everyone elses eyes.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08972586781568166048 PWadleigh

    Ditto on what Rebecca in CA. said. I completely agree with her, and see that she has a very strong argument regarding the natural law in this issue.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01113818823824140462 Katherine

    You cannot defend the Truth and support immorality at the same time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    I am not defending immorality. I'm saying that it is God's job to judge, not the state's. As the ruler of the universe I'm sure He will do a much better job than a petty human government.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14659411240699818388 rachel

    This was a great post. I'm very impressed with how well thought out it was and how you are willing to stick to your guns on a very unpopular stance in conservative christian circles. This made me want to stand up and cheer. :)

    As Jefferson said, "if it neither picks my pocket or breaks my back…" :)

    God does not need the acknowledgment of humans or the forcible enacting of His laws by humans to BE GOD. He is still in charge, He is still God.

    If, as so many claim, one man and one woman is HIS plan for marriage and that is all marriage should ever be, why on earth do we think that He needs a government to agree with Him? Hahahah!

    It amazes me how small that view attempts to make God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14659411240699818388 rachel

    Also, just for-the-record, with my friends who are GLBTQ I do not tell them that I think it's "okay for you" or that their lifestyle is wonderful. Of course, with my greedy friends I don't tell them it's okay either. Nor do I get up in their face. If they ask "Do you think this is greedy?" I would give my honest opinion in light of my faith. If the subject of greed comes up I give my honest opinion, even if I know they won't like it.

    I do "defend the Truth" but I don't expect society to all bow to what I believe Truth to be.

  • Rebecca in CA

    Young Mom, I want to agree with what you've stated here:

    "According to the Catholic Church most people are living (legally) in immorallity,and yet christians continue to emphasize this issue as if it is different from all the other sexual sins "bringing down marriage and the family". We don't have marches trying to make divorce illegal, we don't put signs in our yards saying that people that use birth control are going to hell. We don't try to pass laws denying people living in fornication the rights to employment and housing. By making this a pet issue of "christian politics" we only turn more people off to the faith."

    You're absolutely right about that, and Christians as a whole have failed to see that the major breakdown of the family began with the condoning of contraception. It's not like the gay marriage issue is some new thing that is threatening a society of strong families. The majority of the destruction has already happened. In this you are absolutely right and perceptive in a way that most Christians are not.

    I have a request, though…since you have taken the time to write two lengthy posts on this issue, since you have quite a few readers whom you influence…I really would like you to take the time to consider carefully and write out as cogently as you can, what you believe the role of government to be, specifically with regard to moral issues. Please consider the issues I named above, specifically, matters such as suicide, underage sex, sex for money and the exploitation involved. Also, something I didn't mention before, consider and talk about things like three-way marriage–I am not mentioning it to be ridiculous; I actually read a serious article the other day defending the goodness of polyamorous relationships, with three people having a sexual relationship and "loving" eachother and so on. So what I am asking you to do is first, explain what you think society's role is in sanctioning such things or not sanctioning them, how and where the lines are drawn, and second, since you have said a number of times that disapproval of homosexuality is a religious matter that cannot be known by nature, please explain why you hold this as a certitude. Not to put to fine a point on it, if you hold it as a certitude that it is not part of the natural moral law, then you are holding it as a certitude that the Catholic Church is definitely not what it claims to be. Third, I'm not sure if we all agree on the definition of "politics"–when you say Christians should keep their morality out of "politics", it seems like you are using politics in a pejorative sense, whereas I think some of us are using it in a different sense. I hope I don't sound like I'm trying to be combative, I am not, but I am trying to put my finger on what I believe is at the heart of the disagreement here.

  • Claire

    I believe there is some confusion in this post. The first point is correct. There is no possible way to extend love and compassion to gay people while holding onto bigotry and speaking or acting hatefully. It is the opposite of love.
    It is not love to cheer for so-called successes (political or other) that you believe do them harm. That is dishonest.
    As to politics and faith: do we believe that even small sins infect the whole? Then what does it matter whether one Christian sees this as a small or big sin? One of them is wrong and one is right, but if you believe it is sin, then you have already taken a stand.
    Finally: it is quite OBVIOUSLY sinful to demean others (and hold up signs condemning them to hell); that's not even a question. Those who do need to seriously examine their conscience and include this in their next confession.

  • Claire

    One last thought: as to the difference of intensity between Catholic/Christian opposition to the widespread use of contraceptives in marriages and to homosexual marriage, I agree with you that there is one and that each sin carries its own great weight.
    And yet, contraception distorts an otherwise natural act, while the homosexual act/partnering/relationship is argued to be instrinsically disordered. There is a difference. (I doubt that holding up signs to anyone about their sins is going to really do any good.)

  • http://blog.earthlingshandbook.org ‘Becca

    Great post!!!

    My Episcopal parish welcomes gay people, and I have been fortunate to know some wonderful people who are strong Christians and also fall in love with people of the same sex. Their partnerships are more admirable than many marriages I've seen. I am relentlessly heterosexual myself, despite being open-minded, so I don't feel able to understand what it's like being attracted to the same sex, but it doesn't seem to me to be wrong. Perhaps God makes some people gay because their role is other than procreation. I don't know, and it's not for me to judge.

    Adultery is still illegal in 26 states, but you have a point in that such laws are rarely enforced and most Christians do much less to express their views on adultery or divorce than on gay marriage or abortion, although adultery and divorce are the only sexual sins Jesus specifically spoke against.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Rebecca in CA- Your comment made me smile, because I don’t really see myself as influencing a readership. I blog because it helps me sort my thoughts and wrestle with dilemmas in my life, I’m not really out to “influence” readers. I write about what I think about, and this is an issue I’ve struggled with a lot for my own personal reasons, that is the only reason that I’ve “written 2 lengthy posts” on it. I consider carefully and seek to write out cogently every blog post I write, this particular one has been wrestled with and written over a period of several months.

    In this post, I wasn’t seeking to lay out a plan for how governments should make laws or run countries, I don’t feel qualified to define that. I was just asking why Christians feel that it is OK for them to endorse and campaign for what is basically a Christian version of Muslim “Sharia law”. I may try to write a post explaining more of my thoughts on how religion and politics interact, but at this point it would take a lot of time and effort that I don’t really have.

    In the end (as I’ve already stated) I agree with the Catholic definition of Natural law, and I seek to follow the teachings as closely as I can, including avoiding homosexual activity. However I still think that understanding of natural law takes an acceptance of the Church’s definition of nature. Accepting a religious teaching or interpretation is the free-will choice of each person. I feel that the government should seek to make laws that the majority of religions (or non-religious people) basically agree with. I feel that freedom of religion is a great goal to shoot for, and that means all religions (or non-religion) not just mine.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Claire- I think it is fine for people's faith to influence their politics, in private voting booths. I struggle with the mindset that campaigns and gets activistic in efforts to impact someone else's free choices based on religious beliefs.

  • Rebecca in CA

    "In the end (as I’ve already stated) I agree with the Catholic definition of Natural law, and I seek to follow the teachings as closely as I can, including avoiding homosexual activity. However I still think that understanding of natural law takes an acceptance of the Church’s definition of nature. Accepting a religious teaching or interpretation is the free-will choice of each person. I feel that the government should seek to make laws that the majority of religions (or non-religious people) basically agree with. I feel that freedom of religion is a great goal to shoot for, and that means all religions (or non-religion) not just mine."

    I know that this conversation has been exhausting for you, and I do not expect a reply, though maybe later you can clarify a little more. It seems to me that what you are saying is that although sexual behavior is a matter of natural law, it is not actually something that can be known by people apart from religon. Also, now it seems like you're saying that good law is simply an expression of the majority view of its citizens, but also that there should always be freedom for people to do what they want as long as they don't physically harm other people. If I haven't stated it well, please correct me on that. Anyway, there are so many things to consider here: What is natural law (is it knowable or not), is natural law the business of the state? does the state have any obligation to protect its citizens not only from physical harm but also moral harm, or is its business just to protect bodies? what is freedom; is true freedom license to do any old thing, or freedom to choose between a number of good things? does the state have the obligation to defend any old definition of freedom? What is the proper balance between freedom and guidance? is allowing morally evil acts the same as sanctioning them, or different?

    I'm stating those questions not to try to be confusing but just to try to point out that there are difficult, genuine, real questions here, wrestled with by philosophers through the ages, that people of good will can and ought to be asking. Through the history of the world, there have been very different takes on the answers to those questions. For example, the Greeks, infamous for their homosexual activity, nevertheless never proposed to elevate the homosexual relationship to the status of marriage, nor would they have thought this to be in the state's interest. So I guess I'd like to propose here (short of trying to answer all those questions right now!), along the lines of what Elizabeth posted above, is that it is a matter which involves some amount of thought, argument, and drawing out, and those who disagree with promoting homosexual activity to the status of marriage, nor would they have thought this to be in the interest of the state. If this is, as you say, a matter of natural law, then it isn't just a private religious matter, such as fasting on Fridays of Lent or eating Kosher food or wearing Burqas. It's more complicated than that–all I am asking at this point is that you allow for it to be more complicated than that. Allow that, even though you might disagree, a good-willed person, religious or not, might hold that the natural law is knowable through reason, and that the state has the right and duty to protect its citizens body and soul while balancing that guidance with freedom.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    With instruction from the Catholic Church, I have come to understand Natural Law as part of how God created Humanity. As a Protestant, I would have had no idea what you are talking about. I doubt that you could reason with the natural law arguement with Jews or Agnostics either. You would have to come to one of 2 conclusions, either anyone who is not a educated catholic is unreasonable and insane, or the understanding of natural law requires a little help from entities like the magesterium.

    I agree that this matter has provoked alot of thought by many different people and its fine for people to disagree. My opinion is that the state's right and duty to protect the body and soul of its citizens cannot be dictated exclusively by any one religion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13144780265730192629 Aubrey

    I wasn't able to get through all of the comments on this post, but I'm going to put in my two cents anyway.

    I agree that all people should have the right to shelter, food, etc., regardless of who they are, what religion they do or don't practice, and whether they call themselves gay, straight, bisexual, or transgendered. I do not like discrimination.

    My brother is military. My grandfather is military. Both of them said that 'Don't ask, don't tell,' is necessary for that person's own safety! Sure, you'd think that it would be a guarantee that military men wouldn't hurt other military men, but these are generally the type of men that are offended by homosexuality, the type of men that might retaliate against someone by whom they felt threatened. There's no guarantee. That's culture as it is, in all of its imperfection. I also to disagree with women in combat, for the same reason (and other reasons I won't bore you with).

    The thing I love the most about the Catholic Church is that all of its social teachings can be justified by natural law, without even bringing religion into it.

    So I oppose gay marriage on moral and legal grounds. The union (if we can even call it that) of two people of the same gender is not marriage. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

    Religion aside, I think that if we allow homosexual "marriage" then we will also have to allow consensual incest. Why not? They're not hurting anyone. So what if someone wants to marry her brother? The first response I got when I posed this to a raging liberal was that they could have unhealthy children. Well … does the raging liberal admit that marriage is about the possibility of producing children? What if the brother and sister were neutered? They couldn't produce offspring. We would still find that union disgusting–religion aside!

    Next up is polygamy! If a man and a man can get married, why not a man and a woman and a man, or a man and 4 women (as seen on TV recently)? They're not hurting anyone. Clearly, their family is happy and healthy.

    So if we legally allow homosexual unions, we've got to allow incestuous unions, bestial unions (I love my dog so much I want to marry it), and polygamy. Heck, why not throw polyandry in there? We now have genetic testing to show who the actual babydaddy is, after all.

    Having an Immigration Officer in the family, I know that marriage–as it is today–already constitutes a HUMONGOUS amount of fraud. Holy cow, I can only imagine what broadening the definition of marriage will do for immigration fraud, and every other kind of fraud I can think of.

    I oppose discrimination. But I can say confidently that the Church is correct: by supporting one gay movement–albeit a just movement–is just as good as lending its support to all that the gay community stands for, especially as things are today in the media. It would be scandal.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you on most respects, but I did want to clarify something: adultery has been and is currently illegal in some states in the US, although these laws usually haven't been enforced in recent years. There have been plenty of laws in the past that prohibited interracial sex as well (married or unmarried). Morality has been legislated (at least certain individual's ideas of morality). Just wanted to let you know so that you can base your argument on facts, not assumptions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02614822971755761394 Rebecca

    I just went back and read this post through linking to it in a recent post of yours. Wow. There's a lot here.

    I have started to think for a while now, that while I am against the practice (not the attraction–which often cannot be changed) of homosexual behaviors in the context of the Church and Christian commitment, perhaps I shouldn't be trying to legislate it in regards to the world. I really enjoyed your suggestion, "How would we like if Mormons tried to outlaw caffeine?" I never thought of it that way before. Excellent point! I have increasingly begun to think that restraining oneself from any kind of Biblically prohibited sexual behavior is more a matter of Christian discipleship than of legislation (with the exception of things like child abuse, of course). After all, Christians are supposed to be different from the world.

    Unfortunately, the gay rights movement is also leaking into the Church, which is a struggle. Because while we want to fully acknowledge God's love and grace for everybody, and while we want not to treat one sin as worse than others, and while we want to welcome people into the Church because it is a hospital for broken people, not a museum for put-together people, we can't compromise on what God says. So it is a struggle.

    And then my other struggle in regards to legislation is if someone is actively living a gay lifestyle, is it healthy for their kids? But then, I also know lots of parents do things I do not agree with. Like spank their kids (my friends do this), smoke, cheat on their husbands, live with a significant other instead of getting married. It's a difficult ethical dilemma as to how much the government should be involved in the upbringing of children.

    Thank you for sharing so honestly, intelligently and for being so darn fair. You're always fair, even to people you disagree with and I really admire that and it's part of why I come back to your blog again and again!

  • http://www.crayonaction.com Sheila

    Thank you for his post. You have articulated what I have struggled to find words to express but which I have often thought. I am keenly aware of how discriminatory the gay marriage issue is. My husband and I are a mixed race couple. Marriages like ours became legal in the United States in 1967. Mixed race marriages were also opposed on religious grounds and for violating “natural law.” I am a Christian woman. I love my husband very much. I shudder when I think if I were born in another time I would not have been able to marry my partner.

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