Friday, April 03, 2009

I'm just frustrated.

Today the state of Iowa decided that equal protection under the law meant that they had the right to turn marriage into a relationship that does not involve the possibility of involving new human life. Marriage no longer has to do with a husband and a wife who are capable of having children and, because of the uniqueness of that relationship, it deserves some protection. Now it just has to do with two people that think they love one another right now, regardless of their sex.

The worst thing is that children will suffer for this. We already see children as accidental consequences of recreational activities. Now, since this ruling basically solidifies that marriage should not involve them, we will continue to look upon them as disposable unless they are totally, one hundred percent wanted.

And, of course, since we cannot imagine a situation in which everyone gets whatever they want whenever they want it wherever they want it, the church is going to have to figure out some sort of way to deal with lawsuits that will inevitably come from gays and lesbians denied marriage in the church. We may lose our hospitals by refusing to perform abortions. Will we soon have to forsake a sacrament by refusing to marry gays?


Hillary said...

I figured you'd write about this today, and that you would be disappointed. I'm pretty ambivalent about how the possibility of gay marriage personally affects my life or others, but actually proud of Iowa for doing the right and just thing: strictly ruling in favor of the law. We are not cafeteria citizens; Iowa can't just "pick and choose" where and to whom the equal protection clause applies. If we don't like the law, then we can try to change it. But I'd sure hate to be the one responsible for writing discrimination into the constitution.

No, I think there is a lot of hype about just what this will mean. Certainly many in the Church will feel slighted, or worried, as though it were a ruling directed against them or what they stand for. This could actually be healthy for the Church in strengthening the meaning of sacramental sex and marriage . MANY countries have both civil marriages (legal aspect) and church marriages (spiritual aspect). What's wrong with that?

Fr.Dennis said...

The reason is that the state is becoming less and less tolerant of any entity that disagrees with it. When the state sanitizes sodomy, it's just a question of time until the state persecutes anyone who doesn't believe sodomy is moral. Here's the beginning

There are other examples too, including the issue of catholic charities not being willing to adopt to homosexual couples. The couples could have turned to the state but they sued the church in Massachusets and the courts said the church cannot discriminate against gays and lesbians and, so, forced the adoption. As a consequence, the church had to stop doing adoptions there.

The same is true healthcare. Catholic hospitals are being sued for refusing to do gender tranformation surgeries.

Some speculate that we'll just lose out tax exempt status. I think that will be the beginning. When that doesn't close us down or change our practice, they'll have to look at more drastic measures.

Just promise me you'll visit me when I'm in prison for not marrying someone.

Hillary said...

Wow, Fr. D! I respect you personally and as a shepherd of the Church, but here I think you've been drinking too much of the AM-talk-radio-Kool-Aid. I don't understand your leaps if (il?)logic that brings you to these conclusions.

I read the articles you linked to above. The New Jersey lesbian couple's case presents an interesting situation. The complaint was filed on the basis of "withholding an accommodation, service, benefit, or privilege" on the basis of sexual orientation when they offer supposedly same "goods and services to the general public." Assuming Iowa's law was identical, does the Catholic Church offer the service/benefit/privilege of Holy Matrimony to the general public? Can any random (hetero) couple just come in off the street and get married, or isn't there a highly structured procedure of marriage prep within the parish and verification of validity before the couple can confer the sacrament on each other? Clearly, a Catholic marriage is not offered to just the "general public."

The hospital case was interesting, too. If the health care was merely cosmetic, like getting a nose job or pierced ears, I think that the hospital has every right to refuse care because it's not medically necessary. If sexual reassignment surgeries are medically necessary as part of a patient's psychiatric care, then I don't think that a hospital receiving any kind of governmental assistance has the right to discriminate like that. Wouldn't it be really wrong if a Jehovah's Witness hospital had far and away the best physicians (or the only affordable care) and you were refused a treatment that allowed you to live normally because it required a blood transfusion, which they would deem immoral?

Your last statement is just absurd. Nobody in this society is ever going to force an educated white male to be married. Protecting another's right to be legally married does not in any way damage your right to remain legally celibate. If being single is ever a crime, look me up. I'll probably be in the next cell over.

Fr.Dennis said...

I wasn't referring to myself being in prison because I'm single. I'm not sure how you inferred that. I was talking about going to jail for refusing to marry a gay couple.

You are right in saying that the church has a long list of qualifications that we demand people do and that we don't offer it to the general public. Maybe you're right in believing that this will save the church from having to legalize sodomy or lose one of her sacraments. But, to be honest, I think they will say we are doing it on the basis of sexual orientation. If two catholic guys come to me and want to get married to one another, and I would marry a catholic guy to a catholic woman, the only reason I'm refusing them is the basis of sexual orientation, and that will be prosecutable. Somehow we've managed to avoid this with divorced catholics, I think because we have a process of annulment.

But I am far from drinking Rush Limbaugh's paranoid koolaid when I believe we're going to get sued. With those articles, I'm simply pointing out that the separation between church and state is being eroded such that the church is being forced to be something locked away in your personal life that shouldn't affect any other part of your life.

But, that's not really even the core argument I'm forwarding. It's part of it but it's not the core. Sorry if I've overstated it in the previous post. Read the Bishop's statement to understand what my bigger concern is.

Fr.Dennis said...

By the way, thanks for being honest and respectful in your comments. I don't know if others will read this ever but it makes me happy that we can have this conversation.

Hillary said...

Thanks. I appreciate this conversation too. And although I think I disagree with the premise of the Bishop's statement, I'm glad that they are publicly showing some muscle right away.

This could be a topic for a whole 'nuther thread/entry, but I find it interesting that you think the separation of church and state is being eroded/weakened. I think the separation is actually being strengthened, and that this is good for both "church" and "state." It will force the Church to become more relevant to society.

For years, people have thought, "Why have a church marriage when we can get married with a judge (or other authority) and witnesses? It's cheaper, simpler, and/or can be custom-tailored." Even more common today is, "Why get married at all? It's just a piece of paper that has only 50% odds of success." This has already taken the "sanctity" out of marriage because the state chose to use the word marriage to legally recognize a domestic partnership/union. And the church is right - families are vital to a thriving society and the current state of "marriage" and sexual encounters create a lot of anxiety and instability, which can particularly harm children.

But, now, if ANYBODY can go get "married" by the state, it shows that action for what it always was: a legal partnership with ink that is dissolvable with some more ink. Eventually the tide will turn (I think it already is with some of my generation) and people will hunger for a lasting union. Here is the Church's great opportunity to teach the value of the sacramental marriage. People already know they want something SPECIAL. I had a cousin, not baptized or raised in the faith, confide that she wanted a "church wedding" with her fiancé because she thought there was something special to it that her parents didn't have!

As for the homosexual couples who will undoubtedly request sacramental marriage and be denied, I feel with them. I hope you will feel their deep anguish also. Those couples who request marriage, perhaps more so than many heterosexual couples, understand its deepest meaning to not just be about sex, but the spiritual fruits of self-sacrificial love; the love that binds the Trinity to Itself, the love that binds God and Humankind. They want to wake up every day and reverence Christ in that other person. Although they can't have biological children, the spiritual fruits of their love will be solid, stable ground for raising adopted children.

And I will feel for you too, because maybe you and other priests really do "get" all this and are constrained by canon law. Until the church reconsiders its theology of marriage, you will have to deny that perfect gay couple the sacramental graces of that union, all because between them they don't have a round peg and a round hole.