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I love Leah Libresco…

I love Leah Libresco… January 29, 2013

…even when she’s wrong. Here she is, being wrong about civil unions.

Why do I think she’s wrong? Well, when the Pope’s agin it, the bishops are agin it, and the logic of what the word “marriage” means is agin, I’m agin it.  For me, the insuperable question is “What is marriage?” and the answer given by advocates of gay “marriage” eventually boils down to “Marriage is whatever we say it is.”  Draining the word “marriage” of all meaning seems to me to empty gay “marriage” of all meaning too.  What it comes down to is not mutual self-donating love resulting in union and fruitfulness (which is what “marriage” means) but “Everybody has to affirm our relationship”.  It stops being about giving and starts being about a narcissistic demand for affirmation.  And very soon (beginning with things like military chaplaincies and soon rippling out to the rest of the culture) it’s going to be about legal punishments for failing to join this charade.  It’s well-meaning, as such things usually are.  But it’s going to be a classic “What could it hurt?/How was I supposed to know?” two step.

“So I bet you feel like a real fool thinking Leah Libresco is a Real Catholic now, doncha Shea?”

Well, actually, I’ve known that Leah thought this since forever, just as I’ve known that Leah did not magically get rid of her bisexual orientation when she came to faith in Christ. Indeed, we spoke about it at the time and I warned her that the Combox Inquisitors would be out in force looking for blood and asking “What? How come you are still bisexual and have problems with some of the Church’s teaching after you’ve been baptized? CINO! Fifth columnist? Infiltrator! Subversive! Celebrity convertses!  We hates it forever!”

Here’s the thing: baptism is grace, not magic. Things that trouble us about the Church’s teaching before baptism can still trouble us about the Church’s teaching after baptism. For me, it was the Mary stuff, which took me a long time to sort out. For Leah, it’s some of the Church’sexual ethos (as it is for a gazillion other people). The way to approach such things is, as far as I can see, to hash it out, think it through and work through one’s difficulties, not to accuse somebody of bad faith when it’s really pretty obvious they are somebody of good faith who are trying to think with the Church but having trouble doing it.

I think Terry Nelson over at Abbey Roads has the best approach to this

She’s not making laws or changing Church teaching.

She personally thinks civil unions are okay.  Did she say marriage?  Civil marriage maybe, but she differentiates from sacramental marriage.  That’s kind of big for a new Catholic.  There are bishops and priests who think the same way.  People make mistakes.

I’m against it.  The Church is against it.  The Pope is against it.  When head of the CDF, the Pope wrote against it.
Leah Libresco has a personal opinion on a popular social issue, a POV, contrary to what the CDF teaches.  So?

***

So anyway, a former atheist chick naively states she thinks secular civil unions might work for gay couples.  She’s 23 years old.  So what?  She’s not formulating Catholic teaching.  She’s not even teaching.

The young lady is a new convert/new Catholic… sort of unequally yoked.  Though they were wrong to make a celebrity out of her, a little celebrity goes a long way…

Wait and see where it ends up.

Leah is a good person, trying to think with the Church on a matter she finds difficult, all while on a unicycle on a high wire, with people shouting at her and calling her both a fool for ever becoming Catholic in the first place and a traitor for not buying it all instantly.  I’m with Terry.  She’s a new convert thinking things through.  Instead of reading her out of the Church for expressing an opinion she may yet change, perhaps a little kindness might be a good thing?  Prayer and reasoned argument, rather than bulls of excommunication seem to be a sensible approach.  Particularly since since state involvement in marriage at all is a fairly recent development and the relationship of civil marriage to sacramental marriage is fraught with complexities.  Such figures as Tom Woods and George Weigel have argued that the Church should disassociate itself from civil unions altogether.  That’s not too far from Leah’s position.  So it seems reasonable to me that somebody as bright as Leah should want to puzzle the matter out.  I think her wrong (so far). But I think her obviously honorable too.


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