Catechesis: August 2004 Archives

In a comment on a previous post, I opined that Catholic bishops have been talking about homosexual marriage recently because homosexuals brought it up in the first place. Blaming them for taking an interest in the subject is sort of like blaming Poland for starting World War II.

I wanted to expand on my point that "militant homosexuals [are] trying to destroy marriage." On the surface, that would appear to be hyperbole -- they are merely trying to expand the definition of marriage, much as the definition of "citizen" has expanded to embrace blacks. It does not diminish American citizenship to let blacks have their full compliment of civil rights, goes the argument, so why is marriage injured by homosexual civil marriages?

Up until the campaign for gay marriage moved into its active phase in the 1990s, the homosexual movement agreed with the feminists: marriage is an essentially patriarchical, oppressive institution that codified the dominant heterosexual, masculine paridigm of American society. (Sorry for the jargon -- I'm trying to use the same terms they used when I was in college in the '90s.)

Now, however, the campaign for gay marriage has shifted its position, saying that homosexuals will be "civilized" (their word, not mine) by it, and therefore society will benefit because the instability of homosexual relationships will be greatly mitigated.

But you cannot radically redefine a concept without changing its essence. If marriage consists of one man and one woman, to change that formula is to make it something different. Even if you make the change for a greater good -- reducing the astonishing promiscuity of gay men, for example -- you will have mutated marriage into something else. Call it what you will, an agreement or a contract or even "marriage," but it will have ceased to be itself.

Supernaturally, marriage helps us because spouses assist each other in their journey toward heaven. Also, the relationship between husband and wife is a model of Christ and his bride, the Church. On the natural level, marriage is for begetting and rearing good children and thus the perpetuation of a good society.

The further we drift away from those fundamental ideas, the more the Church will insist upon the proper understanding of marriage. It's not rude of the bishops to indicate that homosexuals are trying to further degrade marriage in the popular mind, as well as civil law. It's their job, and may they do it well.

I have nothing but sympathy for those who have a homosexual orientation through no fault of their own. As a fellow sinner who lives with the residual yet powerful effects of original sin, I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to go through life with that burden, especially for people attempting to live a Christian life. Indeed, I am awed by their courage.

I hope that society can find some way to accomodate homosexuals without veering off to the extremes of violent rejection of their existence, or unqualified acceptance of homosexual conduct. However, defining marriage out of existence will not solve that problem.

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

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This page is an archive of entries in the Catechesis category from August 2004.

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