Saturday, June 27, 2015

What do I think about gay marriage?

It is with some trepidation that I write this article, because frankly I'm afraid of offending people, afraid of being bullied, afraid of alienating friends, afraid of being inacurrate... but despite these fears I am going to step into the fray!

Last week the US Supreme court declared it unconstitutional to ban same sex marriage at a state level.  Since then, a large number of my friends have changed their facebook profile to have a rainbow wash to celebrate their support for this legislation.  Others of my friends have posted messages reflecting the Catholic Churches teachings on same sex relationships.  And I've participated in a few online discussions.  The difficulty is that I find that I fall in between the two poles of the debate.  I suspect that there are a number of people out there like me who are struggling to articulate their thoughts, but are afraid of appearing bigotted on one hand or heretical on the other. I guess I am throwing caution to the wind by writing this-  but I won't advertise the post on facebook.  Too many trolls out there.

I think I am reluctantly in favor of legalizing same sex marriage.  This will surprise a number of people, since I always deliberately agree with the Catholic Church on everything, and it appears that the majority of Bishops oppose same sex marriage. However, I'm the kind of person who changes his mind when the facts change-  so I may change my mind on this, and I invite people to try to help me change it!

The thing is, I do think gay sex is sinful.  I believe that sex is created by God to be both unitive and procreative- an act of love that's by it's nature open to having babies.  I believe sacramental marriage must be free, total, faithful and fruitful.  In other words, I'm opposed to pornography, adultery, polygamy, forced marriages, divorce and contraception... among other things.  But I do not think that each of those things should necessarily be illegal!  (Forced marriages clearly should be, but for different reasons other than it invalidates the marriage.  I'd also like to see tighter restrictions on porn, but that's a rabbit trail.)

So I oppose gay sex for the same reason as I oppose those other things.  My opposition is rooted in my faith, and is the same reason that I hold human life as inherently valuable.  Clearly I do not think the Catholic Church should be forced to perform same sex marriages-  and actually I think that is theologically impossible.

But obviously our culture has a different definition than I do of marriage-  still noble, still a celebration of love-  but very diluted from the sacramental definition.  I think that an argument can be made to preserve the meaning of the word by it's Catholic definition, but frankly I think that battle is long since lost.  If gays want to celebrate their love in the more diluted sense in which most people consider marriage, then so be it. As suggested above, I think polygamy is the logical next step, especially considering that there are cultures all over that accept it, and it's consenting adults. So the definition will be diluted yet further.  Maybe we should allow consenting incestuous adults too... though I admit I feel squeamish about that, but maybe my squeamishness is only rooted in my deep seated psychological bigotry.  (No doubt someone is going to be offended by my equating gay sex with incest, but if consenting adults who declare love for each other is the only standard, I'm not sure what arguments can be made against it.)   I don't seriously think pedophiles or animals are on the list, and I hope robots aren't... but you know the slippery slope argument does seem to have some validity.  I suspect that in the end the definition of marriage will be so diluted that governments will ask themselves why they are in the business of celebrating marriages at all.  After all, we want to get government out of our bedrooms.... strange that we keep inviting them in!

So what should Catholics do?  I think it's time to recognize that what everyone else means by marriage is not what we mean.  Maybe we should call ours Matrimony, and just abandon the term altogether. Marriage is what is sanctioned by the state, Matrimony is what is sanctioned by the Church.

I do think however that we are in uncharted waters.  I have never before witnessed so much animosity to the Church, or to Christians.  I've never before been so scared to speak up publicly for what the Church teaches.  Any opinion which runs counter to the zeit geist is labelled homophobia, so pretty much hate speech.  How long will our culture tolerate things like Catholic Schools?  Catholic social justice groups? Christian universities? Are my concerns naive?  I think a very little research will show that they are not.

Anyway, I say, let the gays get married, just as we let people use contraception and get divorces and get married outside the Church.  Maybe if gays are treated equally within our secular, nothing is sacred culture, we will see a toning down of the venomous attacks against anyone who holds a different view.

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