As the full court press is made for gay “marriage”…

As the full court press is made for gay “marriage”… May 11, 2012

…and Nancy Pelosi is leading the charge among heretical Catholics to try to say that the traditional definition of marriage is wrong, one of the perennial lies that gets trotted out is the attempt to say, “And besides, the Church actually used to marry gay people”. That bad chestnut is being recycled right now for the benefit of historical and theological illiterates in a piece called “When Same Sex Marriage was a Christian Rite“.

It is, in fact, the sort history written for people who take The Da Vinci Code very very seriously and is based on the exploded “advocacy scholarship” of John Boswell’s Same Sex Union in Pre-Modern Europe Fr. Richard John Neuhaus and Robin Darling Young did the autopsy on this stuff 20 years ago, just as the autopsy was done on Holy Blood, Holy Grail by real scholars 20 years before The Da Vinci Code found a fresh generation of suckers to snooker.

Deal with it: the Catholic tradition recognizes *no* place in the theology of marriage of anyone but one man and one woman.

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  • Ben the Atheist

    I don’t get why what your personal, private faith tradition says has to be normative for the entire society.

    • dpt

      Why must faith tradition need to remain personal and private?

    • And why should your personal, private belief system be normative for the entire society instead?

    • TheRealAaron

      I’m sure Mark is sick to death of having to say this, so I’ll do it this time.

      Mark is clarifying here that the Catholic Church has never approved same sex marriages and isn’t going to start now. This post is answering “what does the Church do?”

      The question you ask here is “why does Mark (and numerous people of many religious backgrounds or no religion at all) believe that same sex marriage is wrong?”

      The argument is not “male/female marriage is an important Catholic tradition and therefore everyone should have to follow it”, as though we want to shut down Burger King on Fridays in Lent or something.

      The argument is (crudely stated) “male/female marriage is, by the very nature of what marriage is, the only kind of marriage and therefore any other kinds of relationships are not marriage. It follows that society should not build laws around non-truths.”

      To quote G.K. Chesterton: “And in all this time I had not even thought of Christian theology.”

    • David

      It is not merely a private religious view. I suggest a careful reading of the following entirely secular argument for the traditional understanding of marriage:

      • Siobhan

        Excellent article, David, thanks so much for sharing it. Everyone should read this.

    • When somebody says, wrongly, what my faith tradition says, that is unfortunate. After being told that their assertions are in error and yet people like Nancy Pelosi persist that is an assault on my beliefs. In a free country, people are, of course, at liberty to believe as they please. They are not at liberty to make up stuff about what Catholicism believes.

      Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and a large number of protestant groupings, collectively forming a durable majority, all hold to the two person, man/woman marriage standard. Durable majorities are generally considered normative.

    • Roberto

      All political choices we make are based on our personal belief system. Why should this be any different and why should we shut up about it? Oh yes, because in this way your personal opinion becomes the norm. Sorry, I am not buying the argument.

    • str

      It need not be normative and nobody claims it as normative for all of society.
      But it also happens to be the definition of the term “marriage” in all societies and in all ages.
      Furthermore, what Mark criticizes here is an objectively false claim about our “faith tradition” (if we have to use that ugly term).

  • Tim

    There was another good article in First Things by Robin Darling Young. Not sure if it talks about that particular book, but does discuss the author’s argument.

    Everything old is new again.

    • Tim

      Sorry, it does talk about that book.

    • The same one I referred to.

  • bob cratchit

    This post couldnt have come at a better time. Right after I saw one of those websites on a relatives fb page. Thanks!

  • Virginia

    Thanks, Mark. I was going to ask you about this very thing. I also saw the link on a friend’s fb page, was pretty sure that it couldn’t be true. so, I’m glad you posted something to clarify.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Yeah, this sham is making the rounds on FB right now.

  • bob cratchit

    Well now that I read the Neuhaus article, while it is certainly good enough for us in the choir. I don’t think this will work with the mentality of the fiercely anti-reasoned, GBS that I am thinking of. It wouldn’t sync with their goose-stepping.

    • Rob B.

      No argument will suffice for them. The key is to stop ordinary folks from buying into their argument. Truth is truth, even if no one believes it (I think that’s from St. Augustine).

    • Noah

      It’s only good enough for “the choir”. The reasoning in it is, sadly, nothing but a long string of fallacies, rhetorical jabs, and special pleading. There is no evidence stacked up against Boswell’s evidence. The article claims that there is widespread rejection of Boswell’s work, but it only quotes two scholars, neither of whom gives any reasons in the quotes but who simply express their disagreement with Boswell. A major portion of Neuhaus’ argument, sadly, turns on what is blatantly a motivated misunderstanding – the notion of “homosexual” is almost entirely anachronistic, but, contra Neuhaus, the biological condition is not.

      It’s articles like the linked ones by Neuhaus and Young that drive me up the wall. Intellectuals are being driven away from the Church by bilgewater like those. I’m willing to accept that, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the Church is protected from serious error. But even when the conclusion may be guaranteed, sometimes, as in this issue, the arguments popularly advanced in support of the conclusion are worse than useless.

      As for the generic claim that Boswell has been discredited … just do a search of recent doctoral dissertations to see the most rigorous assessments available today. These are the sources that affect and reflect learned opinion, not factless, misargued magazine articles. The consensus is that Boswell is wrong on some details but mostly right.

      • Rob B.

        Sadly, Noah, I think this says more about the sorry state of academia than about Boswell’s actual argument. As a first-year grad student, I poked a lot of holes in one of Boswell’s books.

        In the end, I think Boswell’s reputation has more to do with being one of the founders of “Queer Studies” and his unfortunate death from AIDS than the actual scholarship.

  • bob cratchit

    Another item that many GBS are goose-stepping to is the fiasco with a number of Irish priests from ACP that are dissenting against Church teaching. “Its about time! (sic).”

    • Ben the Atheist

      Now THIS I don’t understand. If I were an Irish Christian and wanted married priests and acceptance of the LGBT community but still wanted to be Christian I could always join a Protestant denomination that practices these things. Why remain part of a Church you so profoundly disagree with? It’s nuts.

      • In short, married priests exist in the Catholic Church and it is very unfortunate that you are spreading this misinformation. If you want married priests, go visit us in the Eastern rites. We’ve always had them.
        Please remember this and consider that there may be other things that you don’t understand about Catholicism.

        • Thomas R

          This is a bit of a sidebar, but can a Roman-rite Catholic just switch to Eastern-rite or start attending an Eastern-rite Church? Or do you have to get some special permission?

          I’m somewhat interested in experiencing an Eastern-rite Mass, but I wonder if I would be confused or if it’s something you have to study for first or what have you.

          • David

            Switching rites is fairly involved, but possible. Any Catholic can attend any Catholic rite (Byzantine, Maronite, etc) to fulfill their Sunday obligation.

            • A friend-of-a-friend was a married “late vocation” who transferred to the Byzantine rite in order to be ordained. So it happens.

          • You can go and enter any church of any rite in union with the Pope and fulfill your Sunday obligation. Nobody checks membership cards at the door. So you visit. If you fall in love with a particular rite that was not your original one, form a connection with that another rite, the Church is generally not going to stand in your way but that connection needs to be real. It needs to be serious. And the commitment to the entire package of that rite needs to be there. Picking and choosing one from column a and one from column b is spiritually a bad idea and has been condemned by just about all sides of the question.
            So come and visit and learn about some corners of the Church that you perhaps were not very aware of. That’s always fine. You may come to a better appreciation for your own rite’s treasures. That’s wonderful. Or maybe switching rites is going to keep you from falling away from the Church because one or another rite speaks to you better. Whatever your motivation don’t imagine that the barriers to switching rites are there for frivolous reasons.

        • Chris M

          There are also married Priests within the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church as well. Google “Anglican Ordinariate” for further info.

        • dean steinlage

          I will always treasure the times I visited the Byzantine Rite Liturgy at St Gabriel’s in Las Vegas. Almost otherworldly. If I understand correctly, the priests were Latin Rite but were given permission by the bishop’s to celebrate the Liturgy.

          Anyway, my question is what rules are in place for married Eastern Rite Catholic clergy? If I understand correctly, the priests are to abstain from marital relations the day before celebrating the Litury, as well as other forms of fasting? If this is correct, do you know if this applies to Orthadox as well?
          thanks in advance,

          • Pattie

            I am RC, and so not know much about our Orthodox brothers. However, since priests celebrate Mass daily, that would rule out ANY marital intimacy, so I think this may be in error.

          • Margaret Catherine

            Roman Catholic also, but I used to be a parishioner at St. Gabriel’s – happily back East (geographically) now, but I still miss that parish! I believe that the requirement you’re asking about originated with and still exists among the Orthodox. A good resource for questions of that nature is the website

      • Mechajim

        “Now THIS I don’t understand. If I were a … Christian and wanted married priests and acceptance of the LGBT community … I could always join a Protestant denomination that practices these things. Why remain part of a Church you so profoundly disagree with?”

        I agree, Ben. These people need to hear: “The Episcopal church welcomes you!”

        • Rob B.

          Except that many in the Episcopal Church are swimming the Tiber…

  • David

    The ceremony described is one of spiritual brotherhood, nothing at all akin to marriage. An important distinction that Boswell did not seem to notice is that in the Churches of the East, the bride and groom are crowned as a symbol of sharing in the Kingship of Christ, and as martyrs to one another. This feature is not included in the rite above.

    At various times in history, men have had intense, deeply bonded friendships with other men. Modern scholars see this as evidence of homosexuality, but actually it was the taboo against homosexuality that made these kind of friendships possible- it would have been inconceivable to cross that line.

    • Sal

      Or, as I remember it being described, as a sort of blood-brotherhood pact of mutual non-aggression.
      But by no means universal.
      I was wondering just yesterday if this chestnut was going to surface.

      • Robin Darling Young’s review of Boswell in FIRST THINGS related that she received the rite of *adelphopoeisis*, officiated by the Archbishop of Sinai, no less. So it is still done, and is not “same-sex marriage”. Perhaps the ideologues will tell her that she and her friend are “really” lesbians, no matter what THEY say about it. And perhaps those assertions will be treated with the respect they deserve.

    • bob

      When the late Boswell published his most pathetic attempt at research on “same sex unions” the great Jesuit Robert Taft wrote what is still the best comment on the whole thing. He said Boswell’s work was “just plain bullshit”. Maestro!

      • Noah

        Hint: when people accuse the Church of being anti-intellectual (an obviously false charge *in general*), this is what they mean. You just called Fr. Taft “great” and “Maestro” for responding to a major work of scholarship with … an expletive. Yeah, that’ll show ’em.

        • Rob B.

          Sometimes, the best thing you can do is call a spade a spade. I’m sure Father Taft wrote more extensively on the matter. Perhaps with your interest in condemning these anti-Boswell statements, we can rely on you to say where he went wrong?

  • Rob

    For the Love of God and his holy church where are the Bishops

  • To be honest though, why are people going nuts over this? I find it to be silly. It’s not culturally and historically important, same sex marriage has already been legalized in other countries like Spain (which is a catholic majority last time I checked) and there are many, many, many other issues much more important right now than men marrying men or women marrying women.

    • They are going nuts over it because the US is a common law country and the *other* relevant precedents mean that gays who want to be aggressive towards the Church can bait the Church and make it hurt if they can get this change through.
      In the US, the tradition is that the civil and religious ceremonies are done simultaneously. Priests are generally cross qualified as civil officials who do the secular stuff simultaneous to the religious. As I understand it the european tradition is to do the state stuff in front of a judge and go off to do your religious ceremony separately. So the gays in Spain are probably not trying to do anything in a Catholic Church building. The separation between the two ceremonies discourages it. Here things are different. There are already attempts to force US church buildings including Catholic parishes to host gay weddings.

      • It’s still not that important. There’s way much more important issues like inequality, economy and violence than people marrying their own sex. I mean, nobody is dying because homosexuals can or cannot marry.

        • There are 310M Americans. For just about every issue this is enough people that a biggish group of people will care about it and make a significant amount of noise about it. Go through the archives on this site and you’ll find that while this issue gets covered, our host is not obsessive about it and, in fact, writes about a wide variety of things, generally in strong tones. This is, after all, a blog.

          • Do you actually think that this is more important than the economy issues the USA is going through right now? Or the Arab-Israeli conflict? Or the fact that the USA is not doing enough to solve the drug problems? People are dying here because Obama doesn’t want to support us in our efforts to legalize drugs. Do you actually think that same sex marriage is more important?

            • Chris M

              We can actually deal with the economy, drug problems, Obama’s military adventurism, his attempts to stifle civil rights, unilaterally kill US civilians without due process AND oppose the redefinition of marriage ALL AT THE SAME TIME! I know.. Catholics are just that awesome.

            • Faith

              If same sex marriage is so unimportant, why aren’t all those people pushing for it so aggressively out doing better things with their time? They’re just shallow, that’s all.

            • The vast majority of my political time is spent on issues other than same sex marriage so objectively I don’t think that it’s more important on the political importance scale. What makes you think that otherwise? I wouldn’t want to give the wrong impression.
              I generally come here as part of my *religious* time. Sin gets you sent to hell. It’s more of a pass/fail construct. The most important sin is the one you have the most trouble letting go of in preparation of going to Heaven and that’s generally a very personal, individual rating scale. So since I have no desire to have homosexual marriage legalized and materially assist in something that’s going to lead to sin, no, it’s not important religiously either.
              What is important is to defend the Church as best I know how whenever I see it assaulted. I may or may not do it the right way on any particular issue but sitting around and ignoring assaults is never right.

            • So, we should not do or say anything about any matters other than what you consider “most important”?

        • Thomas R

          I don’t know. This kind of “other things are more important” argument is the kind of thing that can lead to saying we shouldn’t care about anything except building clean-water-wells in Africa and eradicating polio or whatever.

          I mean yes that is maybe more important, but it doesn’t mean other things don’t matter. And people can care about more than one thing at a time. There’s no reason you can’t help poor people and also care about religious freedom or family-issues or whatever.

        • Roberto

          By the same token, I am sure there are other more important things you can do with your time, so why spend it commenting here? I am not saying you should not, I am saying that your objection makes good publicity, but little or no sense.

          • I’m a college guy soon to be 19 who lives in Guatemala. I don’t think I can do much right now for the entire world, besides I constantly visit blogs and opinion sites to form my opinion myself and I have my own blog where I try to exhort people to think better.
            Also, my country is pretty homophobic, at least with men (cuz lesbianz ar hut, ya kno?) but even then nobody here is discussing same sex marriage, we talk about how violence is rising up, and how to solve that problem. Pretty sure if our president starts talking about same sex marriage, people will laugh their ass off at him.

            • Roberto

              In that case, where is your question coming from? Why should people not discuss an issue that interests you enough to participate, just because there are other issues available as well? Discussing one does not mean not discussing others. Maybe you are not familiar with Mark’s wide range of topics?
              Your intention to encourage people to think better is praiseworthy, so why not give us a good example and explain your questions better? Just a suggestion.

        • Jack

          Homosexual marriage is ultimately an economic issue and forcing people to accept sexual deviancy is a form of violence

          • That’s like saying the goverment is forcing people to accept that killing is good because the state has the death penalty.

            • Jack

              Can’t argue with you on that point.

            • Andy, Bad Person

              Yup. Yes it is. The law in instructive, and what is permitted is is necessarily considered at least harmless, if not good. It’s a sign of immature morality that thinks, “X is legal, therefore it’s okay. Y is illegal, therefore it’s not okay.” Yet this is exactly the mentality that many of our countrymen have.

        • str

          On the contrary, redefining the oldest institution in the world is not unimportant.

          Next, they will redefine what a human bei… oh wait, they have already done that!

      • JimBeam

        As a lawyer, this is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard.

        The United States has the First Amendment to the Constitution. The government cannot force the church to give any sort of approval to gay marriages. Period. Full stop. End of discussion.

        Anyone who says otherwise is only trying to scare you and probably has a political agenda.

  • Ah, but death is not the greatest evil, Alejandro.

  • Ben,

    When the county I grew up in threatened to remove my younger sister and I from our father’s custody for not having an indoor toilet, I couldn’t help but wonder why your privately held values should be normative.

    Let’s face it, the problem isn’t the source of our outlook, but the outlook itself. My sin isn’t affirming Christianity, but disputing you.

    • Thanks for the wikipedia link. I edited the article to be less tendentious.

  • Charles E Flynn
  • Ashley

    Mark, this was truly an answer to prayer. A friend pointed me to this book yesterday to contradict my claim that the Church has always opposed same-sex “marriage,” and while I knew that there was something wrong with it I had no idea where to find the Catholic scholarship to equip me to address it. Thank you!!!

    • Even if the early christians practiced same sex marriage, that wouldn’t stop making it a sin. After all, some early christians also actively tried to martyrize themselves.

      • Andy, Bad Person

        some early christians also actively tried to martyrize themselves.

        Huh? I’ve never heard of that before. Please give some more info on that.

        • I saw it on wikipedia though, I think it was in the Mortification of the flesh article, that some christians provoked persecution on themselves so they could be martyrized.

          • Andy, Bad Person

            Sorry, that doesn’t take. “Provoking persecution?” Really? That’s like blaming the guy who got punched because he put his chin into somebody’s fist.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              If the powers that be announce a policy of executing people for committing/omitting an act, and you actively go out of your way to commit/omit that act, seeking opportunities, that can certainly be provoking martyrdom.

              Let’s say feeding the hungry gets you shot on sight in America. You see two obviously starving people, one ahead and one down a cross street. One is alone, the other surrounded by cops on a coffee break. So you go feed the former, and hope the cops move on soon so you can help the latter safely.

              If you march right up to the starving guy surrounded by cops, you’re provoking your martyrdom.

              For a great example of the proper approach to martyrdom, see St Thomas More. He tried everything he could, except mortal sin, that would get him off the hook. He didnt run down there shouting where Hank could stuff his phony oath.

        • str

          It was not “early Christians” but the Donatists, a 4th century heresy.

          And, since truth matters, early Christians did not “practice same sex marriage”. One cannot simply say, it doesn’t matter.

          • Maureen

            It wasn’t just the Donatists. It was pretty common for the enthusiastic and the newbies to try and get martyred. This was discouraged, because of course it’s not a good thing to try to get other people to commit the sin of murder, and because people who are hotblooded enough to volunteer for martyrdom often lose their courage and their faith shortly afterward. So there were a lot of martyr wannabes becoming pagans, escaping death and then killing themselves in remorse, or even hunting Christians… not good.

  • Ben the Atheist

    Homosexuality exists in over 300 animal species.

    Homophobia only exists in one.

    • dpt

      Why does thinking marriage is between a man and a woman mean that one is homophobic?

    • Faith

      First, I don’t believe the 300 species figure. Sounds very propaganda-ish. A sound bite that is probably nonsense. Second, it is not homophobic to understand that marriage is the way human beings can best carry on the species and that means you need a boy and a girl, based on biology. Not talking about same sex attraction, but the institution of marriage. I am so tired of people saying homophobe whenever this issue comes up. It is cheap and shallow. Third, murder occurs in most species, I know of, but an understanding of justice and virtue, in other words, morality, only occurs in one.

      • dpt

        “I am so tired of people saying homophobe whenever this issue comes up. ”

        Faith- Ultimately, this is the argument they need to resort to–“shut up, sit down, go away”. It is about politics and power, so be a calm yet firm voice today stating “no, I do not agree with SSM”.

      • Brian

        “Second, it is not homophobic to understand that marriage is the way human beings can best carry on the species and that means you need a boy and a girl, based on biology.”

        Biology is obviously homophobic. Gays are shaking their fists in anger towards it!

    • LUKE1732

      Cannibalism is a common ecological interaction in the animal kingdom and has been recorded for more than 1500 species. (Source: Wikipedia: Cannibalism (zoology))

      • dpt

        Ben The Atheist is tossing out items in an irrational matter in an attempt inpart his “rationality” on us phobes.

        Subtance and logic are lacking of course. Take his claim in the other post where Silicon Valley overwhelmingly voted against Prop 8. This claim was based on emotion and not logic, as the CA voting results so “Silicon Valley” overall perhaps leaning against prop 8, but closer to 50%/50%–very far from the “overwhelming” claim.

      • BenM.

        “Cannibalism is a common ecological interaction in the animal kingdom and has been recorded for more than 1500 species.”

        …And Cannibal-phobia only exists in one.

    • Roberto

      Can I get examples of homophobics, please? I know and have seen many people who consider homosexual acts as immoral; as well as many people who do not see same-sex unions as possibly being marriages; as well as, unfortunately, a few idiots who bully and attack gays, but nobody who is afraid of them or of their behaviour. So, where is this homophobia everyone talks about?

    • bob

      A fair number of species eat their own excrement. Conclusions, atheist? Am I wrong not to? Any names to call me *because* I don’t or teach that it’s a bad idea? Oh yes, before we forget, it is never forbidden in the gospels.

    • Rob B.

      Reason and morality only exist in one animal species too. The problem with this argument is that lowers the human being to the level of a brute animal. Male lions kill the cubs in the prides they take over. Should men do the same thing when we marry a divorced or widowed woman?

  • TeaPot562

    In the First World (developed countries), the governmental pension schemes, including Social Security in the USA, all depend on younger adults (ages 20 to 65 or so) paying taxes to fund the retirement payments to those retired (ages 66 and up, e.g.). Any favorable recognition to those who fail to generate offspring may lead to an increase in childless adults; this decreases the number of people paying into the system in 20 years – and increases the burden on those who DO become young adults. Attempts by the governmental bodies to decrease the pensioners’ benefits, to the amount that the active workers can bear, lead to riots by those receiving the benefits (See Greece and Spain, for instance.)
    Encouraging people to live a Gay or Lesbian lifestyle exacerbates the generational inequity problem described above.
    To maintain a general govt-sponsored pension system, the amount of favorable recognition extended to those who adopt non-heterosexual lifestyles should be minimized, for the reasons laid out above.

    • kenneth

      This argument holds no water on any count. First, many gay couples DO have children, through IVF, adoption, or through earlier failed attempts to live in hetero marriages. Second, you’re proposing a special penalty of law against those least responsible for declining birthrates. At least 99% of that trend is driven by hetero people who are perfectly able to procreate but choose not to. Why would these people be given the benefit of marriage in your scheme? (Answer – “cause they’re not icky the way gay people are, and just having the right anatomy is virtuous enough”.) Additionally, I will challenge you or anyone else to produce one verifiable example of a single person who was “encouraged to live a gay lifestyle” because some government recognized marriage or civil unions. Do you seriously believe any otherwise hetero people just pulled up stakes and decided to “go gay” because some government improved the benefits package? Do you really think any gay person denied legal rights is just going to throw up their arms and suck it up and live a successful hetero marriage replete with kids?
      Finally, the whole premise that more children will lift our economy is utter nonsense. There are no jobs for most of these kids coming out of school, regardless of their level of education. Millions more 20-somethings living on mom and dad’s couch unemployed aren’t going to fix our retirement systems.

      • Demography is a numbers game. Could you tell me what is the Total Fertility Rate of gay men and the net TFR adjustment of the increase in open gay couplings vs closeted gays who have a beard and children? Just as a perfectly atheist friendly practical discussion, I bet you the numbers are not very good for your position.

        • kenneth

          Even if we assume gay men and lesbians contributed absolutely no children to the world, their presence would still account for a negligible effect on the declining reproductive rates seen in the West in recent decades. That phenomenon is driven almost exclusively by the decisions of hetero, reproductive-capable men and women who choose not to have children, or to only have one. Yet the above poster suggests that gay marriage must be outlawed specifically on the basis that gay people will lead to population declines. There is no evidence to suggest that homosexuality is any more or less prevalent today than it has ever been. There is also no evidence for the absurd implication that allowing legal recognition of gay relationships would create an incentive for “gayness” and therefore for childlessness.

  • dpt

    “Finally, the whole premise that more children will lift our economy is utter nonsense”

    Not nonsense in the long-term.

  • Tom

    Kenneth says: This argument holds no water on any count. First, many gay couples DO have children, through IVF, adoption, or through earlier failed attempts to live in hetero marriages. Second, you’re proposing a special penalty of law against those least responsible for declining birthrates. At least 99% of that trend is driven by hetero people who are perfectly able to procreate but choose not to. Why would these people be given the benefit of marriage in your scheme?

    I think that Kenneth makes good points here. But, for me, this is why we should never have discussions regarding morality on “secular terms.” Economics, Demography and Biology are shifting sands to stand upon. That science has created ways for people to conceive (once provided with tissue or samples or even DNA samples) should not be used to justify immorality. Because we can, doesn’t mean we should. And using Demographic statistics or Economic figures to warrant things like murder, contraception, etc. is the worst kind of argumentation. Statistics can be used to justify anything and have no intrinsic truth in and of themselves. I think the issue comes down to the fact that GOD has spoken – the Church has passed down that message – and we need to be obedient to it. Nobody promised that it would be easy, or fair, or pleasant or just or anything else. Those are all man made concepts and ideas. GOD says heed my commandments. The debate ends there.

    • kenneth

      The debate ends there to the extent we’re talking about the Church’s purview to conduct marriage as its own sacrament on its own terms. As a public policy issue, it will be debated and decided on secular terms, as we are a theocracy or even a confessional state. Our government belongs to no one sectarian religious group nor even Christians generally as an enforcement brigade of their God’s commandments. In my earlier argument, I merely point out the fact that gay marriage opponents are not even willing to apply this supposedly universal and inviolable “natural law” upon themselves, only gays.

      • Dennis Mahon

        As a public policy issue, it will be debated and decided on secular terms, as we are a theocracy or even a confessional state.

        Then will we finally get a secular argument *for* gay marriage that doesn’t boil down to :”Because I say so!”?

        • kenneth

          The secular argument is that barring any compelling reasons against it, gay couples are entitled to enjoy the same rights in partnership as any other consenting adults. The law recognizes the right of adults to engage in the physical aspect of same sex relationships that have churches all atwitter. They are allowed to do this, and to cohabit, and no one has offered any sufficient reason why they should not be allowed to exercise the duties and enjoy the benefits of long-term legal partnership as civil marriage.

          • Hezekiah Garrett

            Shorter version: ‘Cause we say so!!!

  • Mal

    If Pelosi is speaking as a Christian then I would like her to know tha Jesus, the person she considers to be her redeemer, said that it was for marriage that God made us Male and Female at the beginning. However, marriage is not just a Christian invention. It is aphenomenon that is built into human nature. The two genders that separate us into two distinct groups have the principal organs associated with them complementing each other. When there is a union involving these genders there is a marriage. As I said, it is designed in our nature. And there is reason for this. This marriage, which is recognised and celebrated all over the world – except a few Western pockets – provised the community with stability and continuity. Man should not try to pull apart what is designed in our nature. It is dangerous, unproductive and criminal.

  • Jack

    ” Marriage does not exist for the benefit of the present generation but for the benefit of the next. It is a rite of passage in which two people set out on a path whose meaning lies not in their present emotions but in their future family. As in all rites of passage, the meaning of marriage is not individual but social, and any attempt to rewrite marriage as a deal between the living is a negation of its real meaning, as a bond between the living and the unborn”

  • bob

    The book by Boswell had its day some years ago. And it was a *day*. The only place it’s to be found now is remaindered next to the Complete Encyclopedia of Doll Collecting, the 1896 Gray’s Anatomy and the 2010 Spaniel Calendar. Right where it always belonged. It is so full of laughable errors you don’t know where to start.
    An notable one is a reproduction of an icon of Ss. Peter & Paul. In eastern iconography they are always depicted embracing. Boswell can’t resist tittering at this to start with, then goes on to point out that they are *crowned* in this particular icon. This he seems to think implies they were a *couple* because a married couple are also crowned in Orthodox marriage rites. Now this is written by a Yale professor, head of their history dept at the time. He really didn’t know that *martyrs* are crowned in icons? Could he really not have known both men were martyred? He also thinks that Jesus and the “disciple Jesus loved” were an “item”. Boswell died of HIV not too long after this thing was published. It’s no stretch at all to attribute such amazing stupidity to an addled brain. Point such things out to anyone who claims Boswell as a source of accurate history. Simply an embarrassment to what used to be a great university.

    • Noah

      Presumably you meant to claim that Boswell’s work is no longer useful and valid. Comparing it to Gray’s Anatomy isn’t a particularly smart choice for that claim. That book remains an amazing resource even today.

      The Neuhaus article also claims, also with minimal reason, that the scholarly consensus is against Boswell. Well, I actually took the time to look up every mention of Boswell in recent doctoral dissertations, and it seems your interpretation is off. There are several acknowledged errors in Boswell’s work, but overall his scholarship is considered reliable.

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        That’s little more than an indictment of Boswell’s peers, though, isn’t it? Considering the nature of those ‘errors’?

  • bob

    My reference to remaindered books was meant to point out how “fashionable” his book was for a few minutes, then once people read it they realized it was as useful as a two year old calendar. The calendar was actually useful and the pictures of the dogs cute. Boswell had a gigantic axe to grind and he was betting that people would be cowed by footnotes and his resume’. Didn’t work. He wants every two of any gender within a certain radius to be defined as a gay couple. Two soviet leaders embracing with a kiss is an event of rolling eyes and a Boswellian titter. Jesus and John — giggle, giggle….The stuff of dissertations? I’m not surprised but also not impressed. If his research is considered reliable what does it take to be unreliable?

    • Rob B.

      I’ve only read one of Boswell’s works: his first book *Christianity, Homosexuality, and Social Tolerance*. In reviewing this book for my graduate work, I found that his argumentation tried to make a tapestry out of a few threads. I’m not surprised, then, to hear that his work didn’t improve over time.

  • Loren

    Very well put, Mr. Shea! Why people try to make the Catholic Church sound like it means one thing when it clearly states another is truly strange. I cannot think of one reason why they think lame attempts like this silliness will actually work to their advantage other than…well to quote you, Mark, from another time, “Sin makes you stupid.”