The always reliably liberal Father Thomas Reese wrote about gay marriaqe in Newsweek’s “On Faith” blog. In short, he thinks you’re too stupid to be trusted with the issue of gay marriage.
For almost 2,000 years, Christianity has considered any sexual activity outside of a marriage between a man and a woman to be sinful. This included prostitution, bigamy, adultery, fornication and homosexual activity. In many societies formed by Christianity, these activities and divorce were illegal, although enforcement of the laws was spotty.
The separation of church and state, as well as the desire to free private moral decisions from state control, has led to the legalization of divorce and the decriminalization of birth control, adultery, fornication and homosexual activity (but not prostitution and bigamy). Societal views of homosexuality have changed as we have become aware that homosexuality is an orientation that is not chosen.
Are WE aware of that? Is it always an orientation? Nobody is gay that just chose to be that way? I don’t think that question is even close to being solved, is it?
While few Americans support the criminalization of homosexual activity, a majority still opposes state-sanctioned homosexual marriages (see Pew Forum survey). Caught in the middle of this emotion-filled issue, politicians came up with “domestic partnerships” as a compromise that gives many or all of the rights of married couples to gay partners but continued to reserve the “m” word for heterosexuals.
Recently some Christian churches have changed their view of homosexual activity. These churches argue that if God made a person a homosexual then it would not be wrong for that person to establish a committed and loving homosexual relationship that included sexual activity. Some churches have gone so far as to celebrate these relationships as Christian marriages, even if these marriages are not recognized by the state. Such decisions have been controversial even within the churches that have approved homosexual marriages. The Catholic hierarchy does not support ecclesial or state-sponsored homosexual marriage and still argues that sex outside of marriage, including homosexual activity, is sinful. It no longer supports the criminalization of homosexual activity, and it argues against discrimination against homosexuals. It teaches that homosexuals should be loved and respected (see “Always our Children,” 1997).
You’ve gotta love how he says that recently some churches have changed their view. Not many, Father. And certainly not the one you say you belong to. And you also must check out how he distances himself from the Church by saying not that the Catholic Church is against gay marriage, it’s just that old rotten “Church hierarchy.”
The California Supreme Court, like the Massachusetts Supreme Court, has ruled that the state constitution requires that the state recognize same-sex marriages. The court specifically said that churches would not be required to perform such weddings.
Many, even some who support gay marriage, believe that this was an unwise decision on the part of the court. California already allowed domestic partnerships with most of the rights of married couples. By rejecting what had been a political compromise, the court has made it inevitable that a state constitutional amendment will be put on the ballot in California. The amendment will not only overturn the decision but may also eliminate domestic partnerships.
I agree with those who believe that the California Supreme Court’s decision was unwise, but I would oppose a constitutional amendment that would forbid gay marriages. I believe that this issue should be dealt with by state legislatures, not by the courts or referendums.
What?! So here’s what he’s saying. He’s against the people deciding this issue. He means the legislature which has voted many times to approve gay marriage. Yeah, those guys. Fr. Reese would rather the “hierarchy” of the legislature deal with this. It seems Fr. Reese like some hierarchies but only when they agree with him.
Some argue that gay marriage is a threat to marriage as a heterosexual institution. I have never understood this argument. In an apartment building filled with unmarried couples, both gay and hetero, if all the gay couples got married, it would seem to me that their example would inspire the heterosexuals to think about marriage. I would prefer to reserve the word “marriage” to heterosexuals, but I don’t think it is worth fighting over.
I think it is foolish for churches to expend their political capital opposing the legalization of gay marriage. There are many other issues of greater importance: abortion, hunger, global warming, peace, health care, etc. Pro-life churches and organizations should especially be suspicious when gay marriage is given more prominence as an issue than abortion. Money and resources that would have gone to pro-life work are being siphoned off to oppose gay marriage
. This is known as the old walk and chew bubble gum theory. Yes, Father, we can still be against abortion and feed the hungry while we’re against gay marriage. In fact, if it were on the ballot in my state I promise that on my way to the ballot box I’ll pray outside an abortion clinic and buy a homeless guy a sandwich. Does he really think that only one thing can go wrong at a time in the world? No. I actually think that he thinks you’re so stupid that you can only focus on one thing at a time.
The issue of gay marriage is not going to go away quickly. It is a highly emotional issue that continues to divide our country. Everyone needs to step back, take a deep breath and count to ten before saying anything. Proponents and opponents need to respect each other and be civil in their debate. My guess is that those who are most civil will win the day.
And if you’re too stupid to count to ten, then just call your legislator. See what that gets you.
May 26, 2008 at 2:19 pm
I don’t think most homosexual people choose to be homosexual. That is, they find themselves with a disordered attraction to the same sex, and many wish they were normal. But it doesn’t matter. We don’t have to do everything we want to do. When we say homosexuality is a choice, we mean that homosexual ACTIVITY is a choice. Just like those who find themselves attracted to children, or animals, or those who feel compelled to steal or horde or deface their bodies. They need to recognize it for what it is – a disorder – and seek treatment and choose to behave apporopriately.
May 26, 2008 at 3:24 pm
I tend to agree with you but I don’t think it’s been definitively proven.
May 26, 2008 at 5:43 pm
Funny how they always bring up “Always Our Children” a document priented by an administrative comittee by the USCCB which received pretty much zero input from the bishops and was never voted on. So it carries not weight whatsoever.
But magisterial documents put out by the CDF are dismissed.
As far a same-sex attracton not being chosen, I certainly belive there is much evidence in that direction for the majority of cases, though no evidence that it is genetic. Courage and others have identified common factors that can lead to same-sex attraction and these factors are not the result of individual choice.
But we also have the area of sexual experimentation that has been reinforced by society making people doubt their sexual orientation and being more willing to experiment with both sexes. So in some cases their is a confusion that will make some think that they are same-sex attracted.
May 26, 2008 at 6:49 pm
Agreed, Jeff. From what I’ve read, it’s an environmental, psychosocial thing. Maybe there are certain innate personality traits that predispose one to fall victim to those environmental influences more easily. But I don’t believe there’s a “gay gene” or whatever.
Also important to note the element of choice wherein people deliberately experiment in areas that they know to be inappropriate. They find themselves stimulated by something bizarre, and they have “trained” their bodies and their impressionable adolescent minds to believe that they are “in love” with a member of their own sex.
May 27, 2008 at 12:55 am
I believe that there could be such a thing as a “gay gene”, but the scientific community is too scared to find out. Research in to find the cause (and possible cure) to homosexuality is non-existent because it is too politically incorrect.
Just because a trait is passed genetically doesn’t mean that it is a desirable trait. Tay-Sachs, Cystic fibrosis, and Phenylketonuria are all genetically passed conditions, yet I can’t imagine anyone who would want their child to be born with any of them. Why should homosexuality be any different?
This is not to suggest that unborn children with the “gay gene” should be aborted. Nor should one infer that God “made a mistake”. We should, however, recognize that curing homosexuality is a good thing for society.
May 27, 2008 at 6:52 am
Why are priest who publically further opinions against Church teaching not censured! Or suspended until they repent?
I don’t get it – can someone help me out with this?
May 28, 2008 at 4:17 pm
Reese is right on target with the argument that expending much effort on the gay marriage issue will harm other more essential issues such as abortion, economic justice, etc.
And as any student of Church history would suggest, “Church teaching” covers a range of issues with varying degrees both of certainty and seriousness.