The Elevation of Anti-Gay Efforts

Even I was surprised when initiatives to oppose same-sex civil unions were elevated to the level of life-and-death issues like abortion and euthanasia. I have yet to read or hear a coherent and direct theological response to a few simple questions:

If the Church is opposed to genital activity among unmarried people, why does it not support legal actions taken against what is conceded to be sinful actions? Why does it oppose legal action that would permit actions which are morally good, or at minimum, morally neutral? So why is this a life-and-death issue?

People will continue to have sex outside of sacramental marriage, regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s initiatives. They will do so legally, by the millions. Most of them will be heterosexuals, and many of them will be married to other partners. What they will continue to be unable to do, according to the testimony of this Catholic and other citizens, is perform basic civic and personal duties for a loved one. Frankly, I think the bishops, the Knights of Columbus, and other well-meaning (I believe) Catholics are misguided in this political activity. They all have a right to conduct it–don’t get me wrong. But none of us possess the right to be right. And I’m willing to concede there is a moral argument against civil unions out there. I have yet to see a whisper of it, given the numbers of people around the world who marry outside of a Catholic Church, or even a Christian setting.

Jimmy Mac sent me this link of a visiting professor disinvited from USD for suggesting publicly that a conscientious Catholic could support civil benefits for same-sex couples. Clearly, this has confounded the Lay Internet Magisterium, so they take a page from the Karl Rove/Deal Hudson school for scandal. When you lack the moral or political arguments against a person, just go after their job.

My suggestion for Minnesota and Washington Catholics who aren’t getting good theology this weekend: Focus on the readings. But in considering “all his statutes and commandments,” don’t worry about shrimp and pork. Don’t worry about capital punishment on all those GOP politicians. Be less concerned about agricultural methods or poly-cotton blends or modern genetics. And tattoos? Immigration policy? Yikes. Talk about a hermeneutic of subtraction.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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15 Responses to The Elevation of Anti-Gay Efforts

  1. atwells55@yahoo.com says:

    The issue is authority, not morality. The King cannot admit hi is wrong.

    The Catholic church argues against gay marriage on the basis of Natural law, not Christian morality or Scriptures. The doctrine (?) of Natural Law, a philosophic belief, has been elevated to absolute truth.

    The main point of Natural Law is that this theory gives the Pope the right to be the Supreme Judge and interpreter of this law, thus giving the pope moral and legal authority over all nations and religions and constitutions. It preserves he pope as King Of the World. Thus a big claim about how to properly interpret natural law cannot be rescinded.

  2. FrMichael says:

    “If the Church is opposed to genital activity among unmarried people, why does it not support legal actions taken against what is conceded to be sinful actions?”

    I can think of a number of reasons: the inability of contemporary jails and prisons to be a constructive environment to rid fornicators and adulterers of their vice; the difficulty of creating juries that could sit on these cases and render justice; the expense of jails, probation officers, and court costs; and the progressive delegitimation of the law in general as adultery and fornication are widespread sins, so prosecutions would only represent a small percentage of the population engaged in these activities– somehat akin to how many people think about speed limits.

    Besides I’m not even sure that your question is accurate. Where sodomy was illegal prior to Lawrence v. Texas, I don’t recall any movement by the Catholic Church to overturn the sodomy laws. I might be making a fallacious argument by saying “silence is consent,” but I don’t recall any agitation in the Church against the laws where they stood. Likewise, until recently the Uniform Code of Military Justice outlawed adultery, which was punishable by incarceration. I did know of guys who spent time in the brig for that crime when I was in the service. Never recalled a Catholic chaplain railing against the UCMJ on those grounds.

  3. FrMichael says:

    “Why does it oppose legal action that would permit actions which are morally good, or at minimum, morally neutral?”

    I wasn’t aware that the Church as an institution opposes actions which are morally good or neutral as a matter of policy. Certainly the article cited here doesn’t provide enough information to understand why she didn’t receive medical power of attorney from her “wife.” Is there some state law against non-family members receiving medical power of attorney? Did the “wife” not trust her “spouse” with having sufficient prudential judgment in medical affairs? The article wasn’t written to probe these questions. It was a typical liberal press hack job: one lesbian dead, the other outraged that her “rights” were violated without any journalistic investigation to see whether the laws, in fact, prevented the two women from arranging a power of attorney.

    Contrast that to my recent real-life experience: a priest friend of mine gave me medical power of attorney as he undergoes two delicate surgeries. No civil union or marriage was needed– or desired! Medical powers of attorney are easy to execute, at least in California. Perhaps Washington State has needlessly complex laws for this: the article is too poorly written to determine. The reporter was too bamboozled by the outraged Catholic lesbian instead of fully investigating the who, what, where, when, and how of the situation.

    • Todd says:

      “I wasn’t aware that the Church as an institution opposes actions which are morally good or neutral as a matter of policy.”

      Not my question. My observation is that apart from the issue of genital activity, which is already legal and unopposed, there is nothing in the civil union movement that is morally wrong, as such, that is not already morally wrong between heterosexual couples.

      Aside from criticizing the journalism, is there nothing from the Minnesota, Washington, or Maryland bishops that addresses what the Church finds objectively evil in a civil union of any kind that is not already covered in the opposition to sex outside of sacramental marriage? I wonder if our bishops have been blinded, and are just grasping at scapegoats. Can anyone provide any real evidence otherwise?

    • Liam says:

      Hospitals have been known to refuse the recognize powers of attorney of unrelated persons, and courts too. Indeed, it was this phenomenon during the worst of the AIDS crisis that begat the movement for same-sex marriage. Virginia goes so far as to void any private legal arrangements that may simulate marriage between persons of the same sex. Et cet.

  4. FrMichael says:

    “My observation is that apart from the issue of genital activity, which is already legal and unopposed, there is nothing in the civil union movement that is morally wrong, as such, that is not already morally wrong between heterosexual couples.”

    Still not sure that I’m getting your point. Civil unions, be they heterosexual or homosexual, intentionally lack an expectation of permanence. That is a serious moral strike against them apart from sexual activity. These legal relationships give the privileges of marriage without the goal of permanency.

    As for the bishops of those states, the evil perversion of sexuality that civil unions represent, hetero- or homo-sexual, is suffiencient grounds in my book to publicly oppose them.

  5. Mike says:

    Civil unions, be they heterosexual or homosexual, intentionally lack an expectation of permanence.

    No they don’t. Your turn.

  6. FrMichael says:

    “Your turn.”

    Then why would a heterosexual couple seek a civil union over a marriage? Certainly in California (where I’m from), there is only a difference in name between the two when it comes to legalities. Apart from the small number of hetero couples who don’t want the “marriage” name because the gays can’t have it, in my counseling experience (now that CA has several years under the belt with C.U.) the missing element is always permanence on the part of at least one of the couple.

  7. Mike says:

    Then why would a heterosexual couple seek a civil union over a marriage?

    Most of the heterosexual couples I know who would prefer a civil union (quite possibly not as many as you know) reject the religious connotation of “marriage.” They are just as committed to permanence. I would prefer to see civil unions be the default, and be performed by the state, with marriage ceremonies performed by religious institutions. The latter would have no legal standing.

  8. John McGrath says:

    So what is the main purpose of marriage? Companionable love and support between two equal human beings, or sex for procreation? Take your choice.

    How come, if sex for procreation is all that matters in marriage, we as a species evolved to get rid of estrus and make relationships more important?

  9. FrMichael says:

    “So what is the main purpose of marriage? Companionable love and support between two equal human beings, or sex for procreation? Take your choice.”

    I’ll take both for $200.

  10. FrMichael says:

    “I would prefer to see civil unions be the default, and be performed by the state, with marriage ceremonies performed by religious institutions.”

    Doesn’t solve the problem of vicious anti-Catholic gays and lesbian agitators who would drive Catholic Charities out of the adoption process because CC wouldn’t facilitate adoptions for same-sex civil unions.

    Already done in Northern California BTW.

    • Todd says:

      Oh, please. You’re embarrassing yourself with ignorance about adoption.

      The “market” for adoption via Catholic Charities dried up in the 70′s for you-know-why. My own archdiocese, with a long commitment to adoption, placed five children in the last seven years they did it. They stopped because it was too labor-intensive for a staff already pressed by other demands, and for work that was easily referred to other agencies.

      Adoption hand-wringing is just a front for conservatives hating gays and lesbians.

  11. FrMichael says:

    “Oh, please. You’re embarrassing yourself with ignorance about adoption.”

    Well, you’re welcome to read the sad tale of how Catholic Charities of San Francisco was forced out of adoption services. It should be readily available on the internet.

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