Showing posts with label Marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marriage. Show all posts

Monday, January 9, 2023

Think twice before saying "Those lies don't affect me"

Lack of critical thinking has led 21st century Westernism into one of history’s most barbaric and irrational societies.  How, one wonders, did a sizeable percent of the population come to lose the ability to distinguish something so basic as identifying a boy versus a girl? So far gone are some as to celebrate—much less turn a blind eye to—the mutilation of children, in and out of the womb, against every semblance of reason, science, or mite of common sense. And those in a position to stop it do not.

Revisit 1973. The legally and morally bankrupt Roe v. Wade decision asserted that a “person…does not include the unborn.” This was despite reason, the science of fetal development presented at that time, as well as the lack of legal grounds for Roe. Its reckless force was subsequently negated a half-century later at Dobbs. In mis-defining a person, Roe failed to account for the evidence, appealing instead to the behavior of more ancient generations when natal science was more obscure. Today, the science is even clearer as to the uniqueness and living quality of an individual person from the moment of conception. 

No industry is more dependent on lies than abortion. It is infected by a legion of dishonest euphemisms. Some acquiesced to its central lie that the unborn is not a life. Some did so under the pretense of it “not affecting” them. Many accepted the specious lie that abortion is “between a woman and her doctor” making a “medical” decision only about her. These lies before and since Roe have led to the bloody sacrifice of over 63 million innocent children and counting.

More recently, we saw the 2015 Obergefell decision, which redefined—without cause—marriage itself. The court incorrectly claimed that a “marriage” not only could occur between two people of the same sex but was “equal” to and the “same” as the marriage that occurs between a man and woman. The public was bullied or fooled into accepting the lie that a man could be swapped out for a woman and still have the “same” categorical arrangement. And, as with abortion, how many times did we hear someone justify their desire to go along with such an irrational idea by claiming the matter “did not affect them”? What two other people do is “their own business,” the masses said, oblivious to the Trojan Horse of malleable meaning they let through the door. 

The procession of the Trojan horse by Tieppolo
Detail from The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, ca 1760 (Wikimedia Commons)

The devil’s table was set. The truth was up for grabs, insofar as the masses understood it. If the meaning of a person was changeable on a whim, or if the uniqueness of a man and woman was changeable on a whim, what other things could the world’s overlords “change” without cause? The public was already brainwashed into staying out of any such debate unless they perceived an immediate personal impact. They were brainwashed, not only to ignore any immediate immoral harm occurring among others, but to avoid thinking of any other variables or trajectories that changing unchangeable definitions would beget.

And here we are. 

  • Many today don’t know what a boy or girl is. A supreme court justice famously played along by pleading ignorance as to what is a woman during her confirmation hearings. To foster this confusion, the American Psychological Association redefined “Gender identity disorder” to “Gender dysphoria.” The redefinition “shifted the emphasis in treatment from fixing a disorder to resolving distress over a mismatch.” Victims of this often-learned confusion include small children who haven’t the intellectual nor biological foundation to know otherwise. And it is no secret how many children have been coerced with lies to mutilate themselves in the name of denying the reality before them. A landmark lawsuit is currently ongoing in Cole vs. Kaiser Permanente on the damages caused after doctors are said to have denied her parents the option to treat her condition as a mental disorder. Many who now regret “gender transitioning” surgeries have expressed lack of care by the medical industry. Calling a boy a girl, or vice versa, is not only wrong, it is 180 degrees wrong. It is maximum wrongness.  It is a fruit of dishonest redefinitioning.
  • On a related note, the American Psychological Association also recently published a “guideline” that redefined masculinity. Their statement declared that boys raised by fathers to be traditionally masculine were a threat to society. It referenced the disproportionate number of violent crimes committed by males in the context of “socialization practices that teach boys from an early age to be self-reliant, strong, and to minimize and manage their problems on their own.” However, as clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson observed:

“[I]t’s...a lie, scientifically... To indicate, as the writers have, that it is the socialization of boys and men by men that is producing both a decrement in the personal mental health of males and females and a threat to the social fabric is not only to get the facts wrong, but to get them wrong in a manner that is directly antithetical to the truth. ... [I]t is this simple fact that is absolutely damning to the claims in the APA document. What kind of families produce violent young men? Fatherless families. The pernicious effect of fatherlessness is exceptionally well-documented. … If it is fatherless boys who are violent, how can it be that masculine socialization produces harm both to mental health and society?”

  • In a more strictly political example, the current U.S. Administration declared redefined the criteria of a “recession.” A recession was previously known as two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product. Despite this having occurred after the second quarter of 2022, an Administration official denied that a recession had begun, manipulating voters into believing their finances were in better shape than they were.
  • In 2022, two South Carolina judges attempted to redefine terms for the medical industry by denying the existence of a “heartbeat” in the unborn at six weeks gestation. They are obviously wrong, as multiple peer-reviewed studies reveal a baby’s heartbeat scientifically observable at an average of 110 beats per minute at six weeks. The judges attempted to redefine this observable pulsating phenomenon as something different than a heartbeat. The goal was to sanitize the idea of an abortion. 
  • In December, a Virginia restaurant attempted to redefine, among other things, the concept of “safety.” The Family Foundation had booked a private room at the restaurant. Less than two hours before their reservation, the restaurant called to say the Family Foundation was not welcome to dine there. The restaurant apparently had discovered that the Foundation was pro-life and pro-marriage. In a statement to the media, the restaurant said they refused service to the Foundation because allowing them to eat there would make the restaurant workers “unsafe.” Of course, this assertion may be best described as a hallucination. Whatever imaginary threat the restaurant owners perceived did not actually exist. The bigotry in their reaction was amplified when they stated they prided themselves “on being an inclusive environment for people to dine in” while simultaneously refusing to serve food to pro-life, pro-marriage patrons. Injustice against pro-life, pro-marriage individuals was justified by “redefining” danger. Indifference to these sorts of lies places innocent persons at greater risk in society.

These are but a miniscule sample of the redefinitions inverting reality, imposed on the masses daily. 

In the fourth century, St. Gregory of Nyssa pondered whether to remain silent in the face of lies. At first, he thought silence best. But, after discussion, he understood the injury that “succeeding” lies would cause:

I thought it right, indeed, in view of the continuous and varied effort of our enemies against us, to keep silence, and to receive their attack quietly, rather than to speak against men armed with falsehood, that most mischievous weapon, which sometimes drives its point even through truth. But you did well in urging me not to betray the truth, but to refute the slanderers, lest, by a success of falsehood against truth, many might be injured. (Gregory of Nyssa, On the Holy Trinity, ca 375 A.D.)

There is a devilish pressure to ignore societal lies on the grounds that they are someone else’s business. Yet lies unchecked are a virus. Lies beget lies. St. Paul warned about persistence in sin and how it leads to “greater and greater iniquity.” (Rom. 6:19) Endorsing lies is primarily an immorality and damages our very souls. For this reason alone, we should not accept them for ourselves nor others. As well, endorsing lies is also a blueprint for spreading more and more social sickness to every corner of the culture, from the elderly to the young to the unborn. We should not pretend lies as these are someone else’s business and do not affect us. Investment in lies as these have already produced untold poisonous returns to the masses.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

How does Pope Francis reconcile calling gay "marriage" as of the devil yet support civil unions?

Much ado is in the news again about Pope Francis and homosexuality. This time, the headlines from today read such as: Pope Francis calls for civil union law for same-sex couples, in shift from Vatican stance

This story is at least 7 years old, however. It is apparently back in the news because a new documentary quotes him, apparently more recently, supporting civil unions. But, let's look at the backdrop. 

In March 2013, then-Cardinal Bergoglio was in the news because there was a push for gay "marriage" in Argentina. According to the New York Times, Bergoglio saw civil unions as some sort of concession to be supported to prevent the passage of a gay "marriage" bill:
Faced with the near certain passage of the gay marriage bill, Cardinal Bergoglio offered the civil union compromise as the “lesser of two evils,” said Sergio Rubin, his authorized biographer. “He wagered on a position of greater dialogue with society.” 
–Cardinal Bergoglio, quoted in New York Times, March 13, 2013.
If this actually was and is Pope Francis's opinion, he reportedly thinks civil unions are "evil," but not as bad as gay "marriage." It is difficult to ascertain his opinion, however, because quotes from him are sparse, he is not known to issue clarifications, and the media doesn't push for clarification anyway. The Catholic News Agency reported in 2013 that the Pope supporting civil unions was false. 

2019 detail of photo of Pope Francis. Photo by В. Николов. Acquired from Wikimedia Commons.

Writing in 2010, Cardinal Bergoglio stated:
The Argentine people will face, in the coming weeks, a situation whose outcome may gravely injure the family. This refers to the project of the law regarding marriage of persons of the same sex. What is at stake here is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of so many children who will be discriminated against in advance, depriving them of the human maturation that God wanted to be given with a father and a mother. At stake is the outright rejection of the law of God, engraved also in our hearts. ... It is not a mere legislative project (this is only the instrument) but a ''movement'' of the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God. Jesus tells us that to defend ourselves against this lying accuser, he will send us the Spirit of Truth. (Letter (PDF) from Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. to the Carmelite Nuns
of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, June 22, 2010)
In the context of that same chapter in Argentina, we have Bergoglio saying the movement for gay "marriage" is from the devil himself. That being the case, it's hard to reconcile why he would believe conceding to "civil unions" would be a better alternative than standing firm in the truth. The recklessness of that opinion would explain why he was overrulled by his fellow bishops at the time—the only time he was overruled as head of the Argentinian Bishops Conference, according to the NYT article.

All that being said, the quote from the documentary does not appear to offer any mention of civil unions as a necessary "evil." Pope Francis is quoted to now say:
Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,. ... What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered ... I stood up for that.
If the Pope currently believes confirming people in a sinful arrangement is a virtuous solution, then he is obviously mistaken. That's like conceding to give porn to an addict so he still feels "part of the family" and isn't "miserable." There is a perverted notion about placing "welcomingness" or "accompaniment" above truth among some clergy in the Church today. This brand of welcoming is like the spider saying "Come into my parlor!" to the fly.

If, when the Pope refers to when he "stood up for that" is in context of the Argentinian gay "marriage" movement of the early 10s, he either forgot that he said civil unions were a "necessary evil," or the "necessary evil" quote was misrepresented by his biographer Rubin. Otherwise, the Pope recently saying "I stood up for that" could be referring to the early 10s incident. It is unclear. There is also no mention I've seen in today's stories that the Pope reiterated that gay "marriage" was a lie of the devil.

Supporting civil unions puts Pope Francis in opposition to magisterial texts on the matter. For example, speaking doctrinally and formally on this matter, the Church has stated:
In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection. ... [It is] necessary to oppose legal recognition of homosexual unions...
(Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2003)
The document includes a variety of reasons why homosexual unions are to be opposed, including the natural law on which all morals are founded, and arguments addressing rational thought, the biological order, social order, and legal order.

Another matter comes from secularists as well as Pope Francis' more recent quote, such as "homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family...they're children of God..." etc. None of these assertions are disputed by supporters of marriage as between a man and woman. Supporters of true marriage actually agree with the notion that persons of homosexual disposition are children of God and belong in their families. But, to acknowledge that is a very different matter than whether same sex persons can "marry" or whether it's prudent to endorse some secular imitation of marriage in a "civil union." 

It's quite devious to imply that to love a person of homosexual disposition, one must confirm them in sin. But, to confirm someone in sin and lies is the exact opposite of love. Today's report on the Pope's words have resulted, again, in terrible scandal for the faithful. 

Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin summarized this sentiment today as well:
The Church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships. Individuals with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and must have their personal human rights and civil rights recognized and protected by law. However, the legalization of their civil unions, which seek to simulate holy matrimony, is not admissible. (Bishop Thomas Tobin, statement on Pope Francis's recent comment on civil unions, Oct. 21, 2020)
Finally, the matter of papal infallibility inevitably comes up in these contexts. Secularists and heterodox Catholics grow zealous at the thought that Catholic dogma on homosexuality has "changed" because of the Pope's comments when it has not. Confusion has resulted from a Pope Francis story again. I received email notice of a statement from the Diocese of Rockford today, reading in part: 
The comments being reported by Pope Francis have not changed the teaching of the church in regard to the Sacrament of Marriage or the complementarity of men and women.
This matter does not remotely come close to being a statement under the charism of infallibility native to Pope Francis's office. The criteria for infallibility to occur (Vatican I, 4.4.9) includes that it is a matter of faith and morals, is stated as from the function of the chair of Peter, is for all of the faithful to hold as dogmatically true, and is defined.

The latest Pope quote from the documentary meets zero of those qualifications. Pope Francis's thoughts on this matter are his personal opinion.

EDIT 10/22/2020 to add: Additional clarification and thoughts have been provided in detail on this issue by Cardinal Raymond Burke.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Obergefell and legacies of lies

One of the big lies issued by the 2015 Supreme Court recognition of same-sex "marriage" is the following statement from the majority opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy:

The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons. (Obergefell v. Hodges, IV)

Since the court's 5-4 ruling, we have seen multiple cases violating Justice Kennedy's "assurance." We have seen a county clerk imprisoned for refusing to issue gay "marriage" licenses despite conscious laws and the wide availability of licenses all over the state. A multitude of other cases include numerous lawsuits against bakers, photographers, caterers and more to compel them into labor for specific gay "marriage" ceremonies. Even a Catholic cemetery has faced legal issues for not submitting to the Obergefell plaintiffs' demands. 

Recently, another devious maneuver occurred during the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearings. 

Barrett's public history should be noted. Big media and leftist politicians have made much of Barrett's Catholicism—specifically, the Catholicism of one who is not known to trample Catholic teaching as many "Catholic" politicians or even clergy have. Thus, when convenient, the narrative attempts to convey that being truly Catholic somehow disqualifies one of judicial competence whereas someone irreligious is supposedly immune to biases. Now, I am not familiar enough with Barrett to know how much she adheres to Catholic teaching, but, for the purposes of this article, it is enough that her opponents perceive her as a traditional Catholic.

When Barrett was nominated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, Senator Diane Feinstein famously opined:

"Whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country."

This attitude is consistent in the trajectory of anti-Catholic and anti-traditional discrimination from before Obergefell to the current acceleration.

Yesterday, activists of gay "marriage" ideology took another dishonest step. During Barrett's confirmation hearing, she used the phrase "sexual preference" to refer to persons of homosexual attraction. Known for other anti-Catholic opinions, Senator Mazie Hirono scolded the nominee, claiming the term was "offensive and outdated"—an attitude, incidentally, true to the 21st century's toddler-esque immaturity and obsession with what is "offensive."

So, how "outdated" is the term "preference" when referring to homosexual attraction? When did the term fall out of form?


That's right. One day ago. Observant Twitter users noticed that Webster's dictionary altered the definition of the word "preference" as "offensive" when Amy Coney Barrett used the term in the context of sexual attraction. The English language was retconned to accommodate a leftist accusation, to ex post facto paint Barrett as some sort of bigot.

Other Twitter users noted how homosexuality-focused publications such as The Advocate and Pink News used the phrase "sexual preference" in the same sense in their publications as recently as three weeks ago.

Webster's live manipulation of language is Orwellian, devious, and dishonest. And, so is the fake outrage of Senators such as Hirono who suddenly claim offense at this term once used by a Catholic primed to be in a position of judicial authority. The language manipulation is simply a lie. Such lies are the devil's offspring. And this has been the hallmark of Justice Kennedy's promise of "proper protection" to those who recognize male-female marriage. Even the Barrett "preference" incident came up in the context of a question about Obergefell. This all fit the same pattern: No one is to question homosexual activism's narrative.

And now, those who seek to persecute Catholics and traditionalists have announced that they are not beyond changing the definition of a word in the dictionary to persecute you. This is dystopian, something you would expect of a one-dimensional movie villain. This is a perverse version of the Emperor Has No Clothes and no one is supposed to notice the lie in front of them. 

The trajectory of villainy against Catholics and traditionalists will only get worst unless there is something to alter the current course.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

When Bishops embrace politics over pastoring

In January 2019, the diocese of Covington Kentucky, under direction of Archbishop Roger Joseph Foys, issued a condemnation one day after a viral video appeared to show high school boys harassing an older man at the March for Life in Washington. The archdiocese called the students' behavior "opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person" and issued an apology to the actual aggressor. The media had already politicized the issue, emphasizing race, and showing only a specious snippet of video that belied the story. The light-speed reaction of the archdiocese has left them embarrassed as subsequent footage of the incident revealed the older man to have been the aggressor. Even though the archdiocese openly condemned the students absent of further investigation, their most recent statement said it is "important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate." Lexington Bishop Stowe originally called the students a, "contradiction of the very reverence for human life that the march is supposed to manifest." Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz tweeted a condemnation of what he claimed were "the shameful actions of the Covington Catholic High School students." Other bishops made similar premature condemnations. They wittingly or not worked in concert with an unethical media, hostile to the Church and the pro-life movement. And, once again, they showed themselves perfectly capable of crying out in unison when politically popular, but painfully mute when needing to champion unpopular, but true, teachings of the faith.

In February 2018, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich responded in a week to publicly condemn and sanction a priest who burned a flag promoting homosexuality that once hung in his parish. Meanwhile, after two priests in Cupich's archdiocese were arrested for committing a public sexual act with each other, Cupich said he would wait for an investigation. Neither originally, nor over four months later, has any public condemnation come from Cupich. Cupich is also the Archbishop who responded within 48 hours to the first Viganó letter about clergy abuse by say saying the Pope should focus on "other things" and that addressing the letter was to go down a "rabbit hole." Vexingly, the Pope still appointed Cupich to the organizing committee of the February abuse synod.

In June 2018, news media drew attention to the temporary separation of family members crossing the southern U.S. border while screening occurred. Although these detainments were temporary and complicated by such matters as child sex traffickers often posing as a child's parents, multiple bishops, in a unified, simultaneous voice, condemned the policy in the harshest language. Tucson Bishop Edward Weisenburger referred to the practice "In light of the canonical penalties that are there for life issues" and suggested the hierarchy consider "canonical penalties for Catholics who are involved in this". San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller said, "To steal children from their parents is a grave sin, immoral (and) evil."  Brownsville Archbishop Daniel Flores said, "separating immigrant parents and children as a supposed deterrent to immigration is a cruel and reprehensible policy." Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron said, "The forced separation of children from their parents, which is underway now at our southern border, is an unconscionable violation of human dignity." Chicago Archbishop Cupich also spoke out immediately (He did not wait for further investigation as with his priests in Feb. 2018), stating the policy was "nothing remotely Christian, American, or (sic) morally defensible..." These are just a small sample. But whatever one thinks of these detainment policies (the policy was since deauthorized), if the bishops were truly concerned about damage to families, where is their massive condemnation about ongoing issues that are destroying legions of families, in numbers no border detainments will ever approach? Where are the bishops' unified and sobering statements about family destroyers such as divorce, cohabitation, pre-marital sex, or contraception? These things have created a hemorrhage of destruction in the institution of the family. Obviously, the bishops have shown they have the ability to issue strong condemnations in a unified voice. Why not conduct a communication blitz on these other matters instead of something politically charged that does not even constitute objective immorality?

Jesus Chasing the Merchants from the Temple by Quentin Matsys, 16th cent.
Public domain image acquired from Wikimedia Commons.
These incidents are some among many examples. Meanwhile, scandals among the hierarchy themselves persist. The faithful are left vexed. Stories of infiltration abound. Neither Pope Francis nor any other named bishops have been able to rebut the content of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó's letters detailing cover-up of sexual deviance within the Church. Pope Francis has neither replied to the 2016 dubia issued by four cardinals on the matter of Communion. Stories of priests teaching heterodoxy from the pulpit persist. Bishops consistently react fast when making popular political condemnations, but react glacially slow or altogether silently when upholding Church teaching or when condemning ills coming from their own ranks. The current state of bishops is unacceptable.

What are the faithful to do? Foremost, there is prayer. Another consideration some Catholics have suggested is withholding Sunday giving in favor of other faithful Catholic and non-profit organizations. In this scenario, dioceses are withheld funds until the true doctrines of the faith are promoted and opponents from within the Church are silenced or expelled. However, there is opposition to that view, such as from Catholic radio host Al Kresta from November 2018. Phillip Lawler, who has been instrumental in journaling scandal within the Church, also has suggestions in his recent book, The Smoke of Satan: How Corrupt and Cowardly Bishops Betrayed Christ, His Church, and the Faithful...and What Can Be Done About It.

Further resources:
Divorce Hurts Children, Even Grown Ones, Psychology Today (2011)
Unprotected movie, Don Johnson Evangelistic Ministries (2018)
Children falling short in school? Blame parental break-ups, Nicole M. King and Bryce J. Christensen (2018)
Kresta in the Afternoon, Jan. 25, 2019, hour 1, interview with Phil Lawler (on Covington Catholic incident)
The Patrick Madrid Show, Jan. 21, 2019, hour 1 (on Covington Catholic incident)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

How Colorado unwittingly sided with Masterpiece Cakeshop in the SCOTUS hearing

During the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) case before the Supreme Court of the United States, an attorney for Colorado unwittingly sided with Masterpiece Cakeshop.1

A quick summary of the case is that a gay couple in 2012 wanted Masterpiece Cakeshop to make them a rainbow-filled custom cake in celebration of their gay "wedding." Shop owner Jack Phillips is a religious man opposed to the concept of gay "marriage" and so chose not to affiliate his cake artistry in celebration of a gay "wedding" ceremony. Attorneys for Masterpiece argued that free speech protects their client from being compelled to make speech—in this case the artistic expression of a custom cake—contrary to his beliefs.

There are many facets to this case and the December 5 SCOTUS hearing worth discussing, including free speech, what verdicts should be rendered, or what laws might be best in a free market. But the purpose of this blog post is to focus on the apparently inadvertent concession made by CCRC.


In the middle of the hearing, an exchange took place between Justices Alito and Sotomayor and Frederick Yarger, solicitor general on behalf of CCRC.
YARGER: Mr. Phillips would not be required to sell a cake to a gay couple that he wouldn't sell to his other customers.
Justice Alito interjected:
JUSTICE ALITO: Mr. Phillips would not— do you disagree with the fact that he would not sell to anybody a wedding cake that expresses approval of same-sex marriage?
Yarger does not answer the question directly but admits his case requires the presence of discrimination based on the identity of the customer:
YARGER: What he may not do as a public accommodation that offers to the public ... is decide that he won't sell somebody a product that he would otherwise sell because in his view the identity of the customer changes the message.
JUSTICE ALITO: No, he didn't say the identity. He said the message.
Crosstalk occurred until Justice Sotomayor interjected:
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: I'm sorry, could you answer the question asked?  Let's assume this couple did come in and wanted the rainbow cake. ... And this gentleman says one of two things:  If you're same-sex, I'm not going to provide you with a rainbow cake or I don't create rainbow cakes for weddings because I don't believe in same-sex marriage.  I'm not going to sell it to you. I'm not going to sell it to a same (sic)— a heterosexual couple.  I just don't want to be affiliated with that concept of rainbowness at a wedding, any kind of wedding.
Yarger then repeated the parameter which would unravel his own case if true:
YARGER: Justice Sotamayor, in that latter case, if that was truly a product he wouldn't sell to any other customer, he wouldn’t sell to any other customer, he would not have to sell it to this customer.
In these words, Yarger has conceded his own position. Both Justices Alito and Sotomayor asked if it was okay if a business refused to sell even a heterosexual couple the same cake for the same purpose. Alito even referred to it as "fact" that Phillips would not serve to anyone a cake celebrating a gay "marriage." Thus, Yarger cannot say the refusal of service was based on the identity of the customer.

To look at it another way, if a heterosexual couple entered the store to buy a cake, the heterosexual couple would be the customer. If that heterosexual customer wanted a rainbow cake to bring to a gay "wedding," Mr. Phillips would have refused. The sexual orientation of the customer is not a determining factor in producing the cake in question. The customer could be gay or straight, and the business owner would refuse either way. Therefore, CCRC cannot argue that Masterpiece would sell the same product to one identity but not another. CCRC, by the admission of their own counsel, have no case.


Shortly, thereafter, Justice Alito and Yarger held another exchange to the exact same effect:
JUSTICE ALITO: So if someone came in and said: I want a cake for— to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and I want it to say November 9, the best day in history, okay, sells them the cake. Somebody else comes in, wants exactly the same words on the cake, he says: Oh, is this your anniversary? He says: No, we're going to have a party to celebrate Kristallnacht. He would have to do that?
Notice what Alito did here. He came up with a scenario that 1) excludes the identity of the customers; 2) features the identical product for both customers; and 3) features a different purpose for the product. Yarger is thus forced to ignore the identity of the customer or any features of the product. Yarger is forced to address whether the purpose of the cake is a viable reason for refusing service. And, once again, he concedes exactly that:
MR. YARGER: Your Honor, that wouldn't be— 
JUSTICE ALITO: It's exactly the same words. 
MR. YARGER: It is, Your Honor. I haven't— I don't— that would be a question about whether there is a even-handed, genuine policy applied by the baker that doesn't have to do with the identity of the customer. And if it has to do with a message that is apart from the identity of the customer, then he can refuse that.
Phillips has additional precedent because he has knowingly served multiple gay customers in the past. Their identity cannot reasonably be said to be a factor if Masterpiece only refuses service to those customers—and customers of other identities—for the same type of event. Clearly, the event—in this case the celebration of a gay "wedding"—is the catalyst in refusing service, not the identity of the customer. Phillips has also refused service for a variety of other messages independent of the customer's identity, including refusing to make Halloween cakes, divorce cakes, and even cakes that have anti-gay messages on them.

Because customer identity is not a determining factor in this case nor in the hypotheticals posited by the Justices quoted above, CCRC has no case by their own unwitting admission.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Difficult questions modern Catholics face

I spoke at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton church in Naperville, IL on Feb. 25, 2014 on the subject of difficult questions modern Catholics face. Topics included suffering, hell, marriage, contraception, abortion.

Right-click here to download an MP3 of the talk. (40:21 minutes)

Monday, December 23, 2013

4 ways pre-marital sex is harmful

The Marriage Feast at Cana by Juan de Flandes, 1500 (acquired from Wikimedia Commons)

There are many resources demonstrating the various harms that pre-marital sexual activity often induces. This post is intended to collect a few. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list.

All other harms of extra-marital sex should be supplementary to the moral harm done. The moral detriment to the individual can never be altered by any future technology or medicine. To recognize the moral quality of the sexual act, one not even need to be overtly religious, although, certainly Jesus Christ spoke to the proper order of marriage between the "male and female" and as it was "in the beginning" (i.e. Adam and Eve). (Matt. 19:4,8)1

But as was discussed in a prior post, What did the Church teach about marriage, men and women in 1880?, the very nature of the human body supports the idea that one man and woman belong together in the sexual order. One example is that a female egg naturally closes itself to receiving sperm from more than one father.

This is further fortified when we recognize the body's release of certain chemicals, which will be further addressed below, that tend toward attachment or even "addiction" to the recipient of a person's sexual attention. In other words, the body itself wants to move toward monogamous permanence when engaged in sexual activity.

These kinds of things are what belong to the natural law. For example, if someone came up to you and punched you for no reason, you would would rightly cry foul, that it was a violation of some kind to be struck unjustly. If you were at a restaurant and laid your wallet on the table for a moment and someone snatched it, you would rightly cry foul, as they took something that belonged to you. These examples speak to the sensibilities we have that human beings possess certain dignity and that it is morally wrong to violate that dignity.

In the same way, the various signposts of sexual activity toward committed, one-man, one-woman relationships communicate proper use of our human gifts, including our sexual faculties. Outside that committed relationship, persons engaged in sexual activity violate their own humanity and that of anyone else involved in the activity, whether or not they "feel" violated at that moment.

As I said, one needn't even be "religious" to draw such conclusions. But, certainly, if Jesus Christ is truly God, rose from the dead as witnesses attest, and taught his disciples about eternity for those living in accord with his teaching and damnation for those opposed, then the issue of proper sexuality is paramount.

As stated above and in a prior post, during sexual activity, various chemicals are released by the body, such as oxytocin, vasopressin, and endorphins, which cause attachment to the recipient of sexual attention.

A clear example of this, even in secular studies, is seen when examining pornographic addictions. When someone is looking at pornography, the chemical releases present tend toward attaching that person to physical imagery. This is one of the great harms of porn addiction, that it compromises a person's ability to see the beauty in a real person beyond the surface.

In a similar way, when these chemicals are released in the body outside of a committed relationship, the involved persons will tend toward that other person due to the physical bond they have exchanged. However, when those individuals move toward a decision for or against marriage with their partner, they may well make a decision induced more by chemicals rather than an objective analysis of their compatibility. This is not to say no couple that engaged in pre-marital sex could have a lasting, monogamous, or happy marriage. The point is rather to say how that potential is compromised by pre-marital sex.

The data supporting this is plenty. For example:
Dissolution rates are substantially higher among those who initiate sexual activity before marriage...and who cohabitated before marriage.2 
[M]arriages formed after cohabitation are rated as less stable and result in more divorces than marriages not preceded by living together. Cohabitation thus "does not seem to serve very well the function of a trial marriage... (Popenoe, 1993)."3
After marriage it was about 3.3 times more likely that a woman who had cohabited would have a secondary sex partner. ... If a woman has a previous history of multiple sex partners, the likelihood of her having a secondary sex partner during her current relationship greatly increases. This is particularly true for married women.4
Study results also indicate that out of divorced women, 81.8% had engaged in pre-marital sex as opposed to 17.8% who remained abstinent and did not cohabitate.5 Studies also indicate that once the number of sexual partners a person has exceeds one, so does the risk for marital failure.6 Divorces can be a detriment not only to the couple, but to any children who may suffer the consequences of the dissolution.

You can see the pattern here that the virgin bride and groom have the statistically and significantly superior advantage for a successful marriage. Reason alone communicates that this is so because the virgin bride and groom have not developed those physical attachments to another person that could otherwise cloud their appraisal of a lasting mate. To boot, there are numerous testimonials and studies indicating that sexual activity is more fulfilling when exercised in marriage alone.

It does not take a great intellectual leap to realize that sexually transmitted diseases (or infections; i.e. STIs) are significantly reduced in persons who are abstinent. They are likewise reduced in a permanently monogamous relationship, i.e. marriage. As the Mayo Clinic puts it, "The more people you have sexual contact with, the greater your overall exposure risks."

Secular culture responds to this with the promotion of various contraceptives. However, this "solution" does not only not always solve the STI problem, but can perpetuate and even foster the other chemical and moral problems described. Contraceptives also instill a mentality toward the sexual partner that tend to objectify that person. A man who is closed to conception with a woman and contracepts with her will view her differently than if he had to consider her as a mother and a partner with whom to raise a child. One tends toward objectification, the other considers her more completely. (For resources on contraceptive information and on child regulation in accord with Catholic teaching, see some of the resources below.)

In reviewing all of the above detriments of pre-marital sexual activity, we can see how this would harm society at large. Working our way back up the list, if extra-marital sexual activity contributes to the spread of STIs, persons facilitating or engaging in that behavior are contributing to that spread. And a variety of STIs are currently on the rise despite all the medical remedies and solutions which foster promiscuity.

As well, if greater pre-marital sexual activity clouds one's judgment toward identifying a marriage partner, then those persons have in some way contributed to the normalization of that behavior, and hence, the resulting marriage failures and STIs.

And finally, the moral decay resulting in the spread of pre-marital sexual behavior, supported by the emotional and physical data, literally de-humanizes us. That is one reason why proponents of abstinence before marriage invite everyone to embrace the beauty of reserving the sexual faculties for the marriage bed. The more individuals who embrace sexuality exclusive to marriage grows the pool of available mates with that disposition, and in turn, will result in more solid marriages. Such a movement could also help current practitioners of abstinence, who have the call and self-giving disposition to serve a spouse, in finding a suitable mate they may otherwise have difficulty finding.

Those who may not have practiced abstinence outside of marriage should not be discouraged by the data. It's never too late to practice a moral virtue. Such persons could be considered particular kinds of heroes of society, along side those who already practice abstinence, by embracing a virtue against what the pressures of a sexually addicted society might impose. See also the previous post, On Reconciliation: Can virginity be restored?

Even if such a person has already married, it is never to late to encourage others to practice proper use of the sexual faculties, teaching their children or others. Plus, simply learning about humanity can help married couples "see" each other for the unique beauty instilled in each other, and the unique value and societal pillar extant in the stable foundation of a family.

Effects of Cohabitation Research Summary
Premarital sex and greater risk of divorce
What does the Church teach about Birth Control?
The Harms of Contraception
What a Woman Should Know about Contraceptives

1Some writers and commentators like to talk about a confusing message in the Bible, going so far as to say the Bible endorses polygamy or divorce. Yet there is are no such passages making such moral definitions. Typically, those who claim the Bible supports polygamy will point to examples of characters in Scripture practicing it and interpret that as a moral endorsement, which does not automatically follow. This is especially so when one realizes that the events and figures of the Old Testament are often an inferior form to that which is to come in the New Testament. This is basic Christian typology. Something in the OT reflecting the natural law, like thou shall not kill, remains in the moral order. The behavior of any individual may or may not be proper.
2(Heaton, Tim B., Factors Contributing to Increasing Marital Stability in the United States, Brigham Young University, 2002) 
3 (Smith, Tom W. American Sexual Behavior: Trends, Socio-Demographic Differences, and Risk Behavior. National Opinion Research Center University of Chicago. March 2006)
4(Forste, Renata and Tanfer, Koray. Sexual Exclusivity Among Dating, Cohabiting, and Married Women. Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 58, No. 1. (Feb. 1996) p. 43, 46)
5Teachman, Jay. Premarital Sex, Premarital Cohabitation, And the Risk of Subsequent Marital Dissolution Among Women. Journal of Marriage and Family 65 (May 2003): 444–455
6The National Survey of Family Growth. 1995. Cited at The Wintery Knight.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Parable of the Great Feast: On marriage, God, and Pope Francis

Parable of the Great Banquet, Brunswick Monogrammist, (ca 1525-1545), 
acquired from Wikimedia Commons

16b A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; 17and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, "Come; for all is now ready." 18But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, "I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused." 19And another said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused." 20And another said, "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." 21So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, "Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame." 22And the servant said, "Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room." 23And the master said to the servant, "Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet." (Luke 14:16-24)
The context proceeds a moment later to the infamous line:
If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (14:26)
As with many parables, there is a master and servants with the master representing God and the servants representing the people. The "invitation" to a banquet in the above parable corresponds to the eternal banquet (Rev. 19:9ff, CCC#1344, etc.).

In the parable, there are those who decline to attend. The passage refers to these "excuses." One points to his wife. The other two point to their professions. Of these persons, the master in the parable says they shall "[not] taste my banquet."

A cursory reading of the text may lead one to think one must follow God so "exclusively" that one cannot have a spouse, a family, a job, or even a "life." And that cursory reading would think the other of this text mad that any deviation from that exclusivity results in failure to attend the banquet––the figure of going to hell.

What could be so horrible about getting married or making a living or having a family? The answer is: nothing, in and of themselves.

I'll focus on the married servant, which I think will reveal the answer to each servant. We see Jesus opening his ministry in John's gospel account by attending a wedding and turning water into wine there at the prompt of his mother. (John 2:1-11). Jesus also affirms the sacrament of marriage as a divine event when he recalls Genesis:
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:5-6)
Is Jesus here contradicting what he said in Luke? If the parable's servant in Luke is to part from his wife for God's sake, isn't that a contradiction to Matthew 19 which states that the marriage was God's doing in the first place?

Again, a cursory reading of both texts may appear that way at first, but within them is the answer. A proper understanding of the totality of the teaching would recognize that a true marriage is indeed godly and bears mutual love, of giving oneself to the other (cf. Eph. 5:33). I also treated this teaching in a prior post, What did the Catholic Church teach about marriage, men and women in 1880?, in which we saw in Scripture and Pope Leo's words the beauty of a marriage which resembles Christ and the Church as bridegroom and bride, respectively.

If one's marriage bears those characteristics, if the partners love one another in the figure of Christ and the Church, then that marriage has not become an "excuse" to refuse God's invitation. Rather, that marriage is united with God and united with God's invitation. Choosing that kind of marriage does not result in excluding God.

The two most profound commandments of Christ are to love God and to love neighbor (e.g. Mark 12:30-31). There is not a dichotomy between the two. Thus, we can recognize that in The Parable of the Great Banquet, the married servant, by "refusing" the master's invitation, revealed that he had separated the two commandments. His marriage was ungodly. He chose his wife instead of God rather than his wife together with God. In a sense, in this servant's mind, his wife had replaced God, and thus became an idol of sorts.

Consider a couple views from the early Church. St. Basil (d. 379) writes of the verse in this way:
But he says, I cannot come, because that the human mind when it is degenerating to worldly pleasures, is feeble in attending to the things of God. (St. Basil, comment on Luke 14:20, quoted in Catena Aura)
St. Gregory (d. 604) writes:
But although marriage is good, and appointed by Divine Providence for the propagation of children, some seek therein not fruitfulness of offspring, but the lust of pleasure. And so by means of a righteous thing may not unfitly an unrighteous thing be represented. (St. Gregory, comment on Luke 14:20, quoted in Catena Aura)
Both of their points are that the foolish servant represented someone who took something good, marriage, and amputated it from God.

The decisions of the man with the field and the man with the oxen reveal the same. Their professions became something of a false god in place of God. There was no time for God in their work on the farm. The idea is the same here. Our work must not be something that we use as an excuse to avoid God's prompts. The same would go for the hyperbolic statement in Luke 14:26, that we must "hate" our family for God's sake, again shows how much we must keep God in the equation. The foolish servants in the parable all flocked to "good" things, but made them bad by refusing to consider God in their engagement with those good things.

St. Paul synthesized this idea well:
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)
All this leads to a final thought on the mistake of seeing someone write a criticism of a particular category of a thing and presume he is criticizing the entire category. In the above examples, it is proper to recognize only the folly of participating in marriage or work if those things are absent of God. It is faulty to presume Christ condemned marriage and work categorically.

This past week, the media engaged in another poor representation of Pope Francis' words in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Various voices seem to think he categorically condemned free financial markets and capitalism. For example, the Pope writes the following:
While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. ... In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule. ... Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. (Evangelii Gaudium, 56-57)
You see if we read carefully, the Pope is not calling for categorical rejection of a free market. He is rather calling for a balance. He is calling for a market that includes ethics and due consideration of God––just as the master in The Great Banquet parable calls for those workers to still accept his invitation. What Pope Francis is condemning is a marketplace that has excluded ethics, excluded God. In other words, a business that commoditizes human beings commits offense against those persons. This can be seen, for example, in countries where workers are deprived of their due wage, or where there is price fixing, or monopolies, or collusion, etc.

Some opining in the media go so far as to brand the Pope a Marxist or Communist or that he wants a world government. But such representations of the document belie statements within it such as:
All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders. (#60)

If we really want to achieve a healthy world economy, what is needed at this juncture of history is a more efficient way of interacting which, with due regard for the sovereignty of each nation, ensures the economic well-being of all countries, not just of a few.

It is the responsibility of the State to safeguard and promote the common good of society. Based on the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, and fully committed to political dialogue and consensus building, it plays a fundamental role, one which cannot be delegated, in working for the integral development of all. This role, at present, calls for profound social humility. (#240)
So these are just a few excerpts where the Pope condemns government corruption (not just financial corruption in marketplaces) and also emphasizes the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, which are concepts in Catholic thought based on the due freedom of an entity, whether individual, corporate, or public, such as a nation. He criticizes not free markets, but free markets which violate and manipulate persons. He criticizes not the wealthy, but the wealthy who exploit and debase persons. He even writes "The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike." (58)

In a 2011 book, On Heaven and Earth, the Pope, then-Cardinal Bergoglio, clearly did not create a dichotomy between rogue economies and communist thought. 
[The Church] condemns economic liberalism. Everyone thinks that the Church is against Communism, but it is as opposed to that system as it is to the savage economic liberalism which exists today. That is not Christian either and we cannot accept it.
In other words, everyone already knows the Church is opposed to Communist thought, but not everyone knows that the Church is opposed to what Pope Francis here calls "savage economic liberalism." To recognize him to condemn one is not to understand him to embrace the other. Yet many in the media have committed that exact error in interpretation.

The media also seems deluded that Pope Francis' teaching here is revolutionary. The media did not have the same sort of frenzy when Pope Benedict XVI said:
It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism. (Pope Benedict XVI, World Day of Peace, January 2013)
This statement by Pope Benedict encompasses a point Pope Francis drives home in Evangelii Gaudium––that a market which is "selfish and individualistic" (i.e. disregarding God) is what should be criticized.

So, once again, one should not make the false assumption that the Pope has "categorically" condemned free markets or all forms of government or all persons with wealth. Rather he is exhorting those entities to do what the master in The Parable of the Great Banquet asks of everyone––to include God in all that they do.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

On Reconciliation: Can virginity be restored?

Sometime during listening to Catholic radio archives discussing families, college kids, and the issues of the day, I thought it worthwhile to take a theological look at the question: Can virginity be restored?

Here's the short answer: If given in marriage, no. If given outside of marriage, yes.

Now, an event in history cannot be changed. But in the context of this analysis, the physical actions are not the ultimate focus. In Catholic teaching, the sexual faculties and the giving of the self in that way to another is something which belongs within the institution of marriage. From the Catechism:
Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. (CCC#2360) The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude. (CCC#2362) [S]pouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God. (CCC#2367)
The sacrament of marriage is seen as the image of Christ as bridegroom wedded to his only bride, the Church (Theology of the Body 91, et al).

In other words, the gifts of our gender and sexuality are properly exercised within marriage. In so doing, the spouses express gratitude to the Creator who gave the gifts. Thus, virginity given in marriage does not cause any spiritual damage to the involved spouses. Such giving of virginity cannot be "repaired" or "restored" because no damage occurred in its giving.

The loss of virginity outside of marriage is a different story. Because it involves the use of the sexual faculties in a way reserved for marriage, damage is caused to the soul. Sin takes place. It is in this sense that the virginity lost can be restored. And it is only this sense that is of ultimate consequence.

This involves the heart of the Gospel message:
The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God's mercy to sinners. The angel announced to Joseph: "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (CCC#1846)
In his earthly ministry, Christ breathed on the Apostles and said, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (John 20:23) Many Catholic apologetic articles can be found on this subject (e.g. here or here), but suffice it to say, this is an important passage in understanding that Christ installed the sacrament of reconciliation (aka penance, confession). Christ exercises his forgiveness through the priest.

So the crux of this essay is this: The giving of virginity in a sinful way causes damage that can be repaired by Jesus Christ who gave the Church the healing sacrament of reconciliation.

Think of what happens when someone incurs an injury, say a broken bone. Doctors can reset this bone such that it heals and restores the bone to its original status and strength. Sin likewise causes damage to the soul. It is Christ who repairs this damage.

Healing of the Paralytic, Codex Egberti

The figure of physical healing as the sign of spiritual healing is evident in Scripture. For example, in Mark 2, there is the story of the paralytic lowered through the ceiling. Jesus tells the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." The scribes there are disturbed and question who but God can forgive sins. Jesus then gives them the physical sign that he has the power to forgive sins which cannot be seen with the eyes. He says to the scribes, "But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" and then he says to the paralytic, "I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." The paralytic rises and walks.

Jesus juxtaposes the physical healing with the forgiveness of sins. Christ removed the man's physical affliction so that the audience would believe he removed the man's spiritual affliction. This is why if one illicitly loses one's virginity, one should know that this can be restored by Christ in the sacrament of reconciliation.

Here are a couple more Church references demonstrating this teaching:
The whole power of the sacrament of [reconciliation] consists in restoring us to God's grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship. (CCC#1468)

[W]ell may those sinners who have stained the white robe of their sacred baptism fear the just punishments of God. Their remedy is "to wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb"—to restore themselves to their former splendor in the sacrament of Penance. (Pope John XXIII, Paenitentiam Agere, 14)
And so, the Church, operating by the power of Christ, offers those authentically approaching the sacrament of reconciliation true healing of their sin, be it a loss of virginity outside of marriage or any sin. A soul can be restored to a newness, a "former splendor," as if the sin had never occurred. In the spiritual sense, which is the only one of eternal consequence, the soul having sinfully forfeited his or her virginity has recovered grace lost. The damage is repaired. As in the story of the paralytic, the affliction on the person is removed. Gone. The the true penitent receiving the sacrament is united to God destined to dine at the eternal banquet in heaven.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Replies to "gay marriage" arguments 2

Read the original Replies to "gay marriage" arguments here.

The Marriage of Tobias and Sarah by Havickszoon (1673)

Following are two additional arguments set forth by proponents of gay "marriage" and thoughts on each.

God loves everyone, including gay people. Therefore if you want to be godly, you should endorse gay "marriage." If you don't, you are a "hater."
The premise of this argument may be tricky to spot because there is a subtle switch from the premise to the conclusion. To rephrase the above argument, it claims: God loves everyone, therefore, God condones anyone's behavior because to love includes condoning behavior. However, this is clearly fallacious thinking. It is perhaps a breed of the fallacy of equivocation in which two different concepts, a person and the morality of a behavior, are wrongly equated. In fact, in the above argument, the arguer himself does not condone anyone who does not endorse gay "marriage," which ironically suggests that arguer himself does not love everyone according to the standard of the very argument he proposes. It is also extremely easy to find the label "hater" thrown about in forums or comboxes by supporters of gay "marriage."

Additionally, a reasonable person can see that condoning behavior is not always an act of love. If a child steals cookies from another child's lunch bag, his mother would not exhibit love to that child if she condoned his theft as acceptable. If she disapproved of his behavior, would that mean she did not love her child? Would it mean she hated her child? Of course not. By telling the child it is not okay to steal, the mother exhibits love. In other words, it is not an act of love to confirm someone in a lie or illicit act.

The teaching that God loves everyone is considered a teaching of Christian scripture and often used by proponents of gay "marriage" in the above context. Yet even in Scripture, we can see God condemning, say, idolatrous behavior in ancient Israel, even if that practice was popular and widespread.

The Catechism teaches the following about persons who are confronted by same-sex attraction:
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. ... 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. (CCC#2358)
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is aware of the sense of rejection that may be experienced by some with homosexual tendencies:
Essential to the success of ministry to persons with a homosexual inclination will be the support and leadership of the bishop and other pastoral leaders. A welcoming stance of Christian love by the leadership and the community as a whole is essential for this important work. This is particularly important because more than a few persons with a homosexual inclination feel themselves to be unwelcome and rejected. (USCCB, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, 2006)
So when it comes to matters of love, the Church is aware and should be given due credit for emphasizing the love that should be given to those who face same-sex attraction. Christians and non-Christians should be able to agree as a principle that human beings possess the dignity to be treated with love. However, as established, love is not defined by the approval of any behavior.

As well, the above argument does not confront whether or not a marriage can even occur without one man and one woman exchanging vows. It is the Church's position that it is impossible for a marriage to even occur without the proper ingredients.

It should also be noted that the Church does not condemn someone simply for being confronted with same-sex attraction. Just as the Church exhorts a single person, clergyman, or religious celibate, the Church exhorts those facing same-sex attraction to chastity and acknowledges their capacity to approach Christian perfection!
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (CCC#2359)
Those who dismiss the Church's position without confronting the Church's theology on the dignity of persons and the communal complementarity of the created genders do a disservice. As radio host Al Kresta has been known to say, "A mark of intellectual maturity is to be able to represent your opponent's position in a way that your opponent would recognize as fair and accurate." Blurting out things like "bigot!", "you just follow a two-thousand year old book!", or similar interjections are unworthy arguments.

People are "born" homosexual. Therefore, gay "marriage" should be condoned.
This argument is related to the other buzz-phrase, "marriage equality," which claims homosexual "marriage" is the same thing as marriage between complementary genders. The thinking seems to be that since people are born heterosexual and are allowed to marry, therefore people who are "born" homosexual should be allowed to marry a person of their same gender.

There are at least a couple problems with this reasoning. The first is the lack of conclusive evidence that persons with homosexual tendencies are "born" with those tendencies. There are a number of scientific studies refuting the idea that genetics is the reason for homosexual tendencies, including the fact that many identical twins do not share the same sexual attractions.

Consider also the principle espoused in the above argument. It says, if a person is born with Tendency X, then society should condone any enterprise which allows them to perform Tendency X. But what if a person is born with a tendency that all or most of society recognizes as disordered? Some scientific studies show that the brains of criminals exhibit abnormalities in certain areas. Hypothesize for a moment that someone is born with a certain brain abnormality that tends that person toward some violent, criminal behavior. Now apply the above argument. It would say something like: If a person is born with violent, criminal tendencies, society should condone their behavior as acceptable.

In other words, whether or not a person is born with a certain tendency, does not tell us whether or not that tendency is beneficial for society, much less moral.

Consider also what such proponents of gay "marriage" are asking: that the union of two same-gendered people be recognized as marriage, on the grounds that the individuals are "born" that way. But if, as the Church argues, marriage is only possible with one man and one woman, it is irrelevant what sexual tendencies any individual is born with because marriage does not depend on that. To give an analogy similar to my Estonia analogy last post, let's say there is a full-grown adult, Skippy, who would like to be recognized as six-feet tall. However, Skippy is, in reality, five-feet tall. No matter what a court or legislature may say, they cannot "write" Skippy's height at six-feet and make it a reality. In the same way, neither the way a person is born, nor a government declaration can alter marriage as anything but the union of one man and one woman.

Related reading:
How redefining marriage harms society by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Monday, July 1, 2013

Replies to "gay marriage" arguments

Following are common arguments in favor of so-called "gay marriage" and some thoughts on each. There are indeed many other arguments and replies one could consider on this issue besides what is covered below, but in the interest of brevity, I will limit this post to these.

First, let me caution against a knee-jerk response: none of this should be interpreted as some sort of "hatred" for persons who assert homosexuality. Rather, consider this: if marriage can only "occur" if the ingredients of one man committed to one woman are joined, then it is not "love" to confirm one's peers in a lie by endorsing something as marriage which is not marriage. The sensitivity of this issue among families and friends demands that people avoid a strictly "emotional" response to arguments presented rationally and in good faith. One can still be a proponent of marriage as it has been known for centuries and still exhibit love for anyone, regardless of opinions or behaviors.

If two people love each other, they should be allowed the same rights and benefits no matter their genders.
First off, everyone does have the same rights. All persons desiring to enter the institution of marriage must do so with a member of the opposite sex. That's what a marriage is. Proponents of marriage are not granting themselves any privilege for themselves that they would deny to anyone else.

Additionally, if special federal benefits should be granted to "two people who love each other," then any two people who love each other, platonically or otherwise, deserve those benefits. Two brothers, a brother and sister, a daughter and father, two cousins, two friends, etc... Any two people who "love each other" fit the criteria argued by many proponents of "gay marriage."

As a radio caller Christine from Indiana said on the June 27 Catholic Connection show with Teresa Tomeo: "When I was listening to a lawyer on CNN who was so excited about the ruling, and he said, 'Now this means that two people who love each other can, you know, get married and are equal.' And I said, well, I love my mother."

As many have also pointed out, the legal precedent at hand is establishing a basis for state-recognized polygamy, concubines, incest, "temporary" marriages, situational or contractual marriages, etc... Although one can find "gay marriage" supporters scoff at this slippery slope, we have already seen advocates for these kinds of "marriages" attempt to springboard on the current legal precedents. The principles advanced by "gay marriage" proponents are transplantable to these arrangements without needing revision.

It is discrimination to bar any class of people from receiving the same benefits of other married people.
Again, no one has special privileges regarding marriage denied to anyone else (see previous answer). Additionally, why is there no movement demanding that single people receive the same benefits demanded for "gay couples"? In refusing single people, all of whom "love" someone, such benefits, proponents of "gay marriage" by their own definitions are advocating for discrimination against a "class of people." The arguments set forth do not show cause for why "two people who love each other AND share genital activity" merit benefits verses two people who love each other and are otherwise still committed to that love for life.

Also, the above argument is essentially, "If person X wants Y, and someone else has Y, it's discrimination to deprive X of Y." Consider, for example, if I want to be recognized as a naturally born citizen of Estonia. However, I was not born in Estonia. Yet there are others who were born there. If I demanded a law to recognize me as a natural born citizen of Estonia, and if that law were enacted, it would not make me a naturally born citizen of Estonia because some realities are not affected by the stroke of a pen. Ultimately, it is faulty to automatically assume that any enterprise had by one person is automatically discrimination against someone else who does not possess the same enterprise.

If marriage must be open to procreation, then why are infertile or elderly couples of the opposite sex allowed to marry? Since they are, then procreation is not "necessary" for a marriage and therefore "gay couples" are no different than those couples.
There are a number of problems with this argument as well. Sometimes couples who were diagnosed or thought to be infertile due to a defect or old age are surprised to find themselves pregnant. Absolute infertility is not an infallible thing to diagnose. Just last month a woman went to the hospital with "back pain" to find herself giving birth to a baby she did not know she was carrying––and her husband had had a vasectomy besides.

Secondly, the opposite genders, by their nature, have procreative qualities. Any infertility is a degradation or malfunction of the body. For civil society to embrace the marriage of such a couple is not to say "marriage does not involve procreation." For reasons in the previous paragraph, fertility may still exist. That alone is reason to continue support for marriage between one man and one woman. And also, by still recognizing marriage only in male-female relationships, the entire idea of a procreative union is fortified culturally whether or not the couple themselves are ever able to conceive. They retain their share of maleness and femaleness in which fertility resides in the complementarity of genders. That children are conceived by a man and woman is a statement not requiring any specific couple to exemplify. It is the basic, natural structure of a generational society. The complementarity they embody does not escape their genders if one or both of them should have a physical insufficiency. The recognition of their union fosters an environment of other male-female marriages which would be fertile. Same-sex "marriages" do not represent the fertility of maleness and femaleness because one or the other is lacking. By their very nature, the union of the same gender is always impotent.

As well, no one seems to argue that a married couple that was once fertile is suddenly not married once they reach old age simply because they are diagnosed as infertile. Yet, like a newly wed elderly couple, they still represent the male-female union that is elsewhere fertile and encouraged. And in this way, the figure of their gender complementarity fortifies the normative fertility associated with the genders they represent. In fortifying the idea that marriage is between one man and one woman, the idea of the fertility associated with the complementary genders is likewise fortified.

Children raised by "married" gay couples do just as well or better as children raised by their mothers and fathers.
In theory, even if this was true, it would not make the union of any two of the same genders "a marriage." But this is not true. History and social science have produced much evidence that children end up more prone to broken homes or other problems when raised apart from one of their parents. (Examples: citizenlink, Univ. of Texas-Austin study and here, Crisis Magazine, etc. See below for more thoughts on faulty male-female marriages.

Concluding thoughts
Now, of course there are a number of broken male-female marriages resulting in plenty of children raised in poverty or prone to crime, etc... In Catholic circles, you will have found for many years, criticism of the breakdown of marriage preceding all this talk of "gay marriage." In May, TCV reviewed the 1880 encyclical Arcanum by Pope Leo XIII who warned against straying from committed male-female marriages and facilitating divorce or concubines. The boom of contraception in marriage has also led to the further objectification of spouses, as predicted by Pope Paul VI, and hyper physically-sexualized the institution of marriage while championing infertility.

As I said in that May post, marriage has not degraded because the culture listened to the Church, but because the culture has scoffed at and failed to heed the warnings of the Church. A point being that support for "gay marriage" is not a remedy for the poisoned well of marriage. Rather, a number of arguments for "gay marriage" are founded on many of the decayed attributes of marriage in the last centuries, which are themselves repeats of ancient marital troubles in various times and cultures.

From a civil perspective alone, it is in the best interest for the state to recognize and foster a citizenry in which children have the best chance to be raised, in the order of nature, by both their mother and father. Regarding marriage, that is what the goal of a society seeking stability should be.

And finally, this is not heard much in the media, but I have not heard many people consider whether or not proponents of "gay marriage" are advancing a particular religious belief. Marriage is not an observable, quantifiable thing you can contain in a beaker in a laboratory. Proponents of marriage throughout the centuries recognize it as a divine institution because one can observe and verify the complementarity and potency of the genders that have been created. Proponents of "gay marriage," as we have observed, often base their arguments as reflections on the existing institution of male-female marriage. Is it fair to bring to the table whether or not proponents of "gay marriage" are imposing a state-sanctioned religion of sorts on the public?

(Added July 15, 2013: Read Replies to "gay marriage" arguments 2 here)

Image at top of post is Simon de Vos' Wedding at Cana, from Wikimedia Commons.