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.