Thursday, August 05, 2010

What might be the fall out...

Right now, we are losing one front of the so-called culture war. From what I understand, the pro-life message is making inroads among several young people such that more people classify themselves as pro life than pro choice.

Yet, even as we (hopefully) start to liberate the lives of tens of thousands of children from the unholy scourge of abortion, we now face the cultural experiment of gay marriage. We've had it in Iowa for a while but I sort of believed that, if the most "progressive" among us in California could see the dangers of it, then there was hope that Iowans would get there too. But, once again, the will of the people has been subverted by one person who reminds us why Jesus had such antipathy to scholars of the law. Of course, I can't totally blame the judge for this ruling. The truth is that the people defending the will of the people did a really crappy job of articulating it.

Society needs to promote marriage because it is the only way that society can ensure a next generation. That's the uniqueness of marriage; it's the only situation in which the next generation will be present to "replace us". Homosexual relationships cannot naturally create a second generation. And if, as some have said, they can through adoption and IVF, can't we pretty much say that of any relationship? A single person can adopt. A man and two women can adopt. A man who used to be a woman and hiser lesbian life partner can adopt. It's not because homosexual people don't or can't love as well as heterosexuals. To be honest, I've met a lot of very loving gay people in my life. It's just that they are incapable by their very nature of benefiting society by contributing the next generation to carry society forward.

My concern is that, if we in fact lose this war it will not only affect American society leading to her downfall, but that Christianity will be forever changed as well. It's truly ironic that some of the people who broke from the Roman Catholic Church because we didn't take the Bible seriously enough are now blessing same-sex unions and choosing openly gay and lesbian leaders. Where sola scriptura when you need it? And, even though I know the Catholic Church will never fall victim to this abomination, I just wonder at what point the persecution will begin. How many priests will collapse under the pressure of gay rights lobbyists and carry out a mock wedding ceremony? When will we lose our tax exempt status because of discriminating against a protected class? When will they start putting Catholic priests in jail for committing hate crimes for refusing to marry two homosexuals?

Unless we can somehow help judges see the integral connection of creating new life with marriage, I fear it's just a question of time.


Fr.Dennis said...

I shouldn't moderate comments on Sundays after mass. I rejected this comment and didn't mean to.

catholicsensibility ( has left a new comment on your post "What might be the fall out...":

I think you're stretching on this.

First, I don't think that gay marriage will ever be a choice for heterosexuals. Human complimentariness drives so much of the culture and the way God made us and it's hard enough finding a life's partner, I don't foresee that anyone but homosexuals will opt for same-sex unions. And it's certainly not good for a person undecided or confused about their sexuality to be marrying anyone just to have offspring. The human race will lose very, very few reproducers on this one.

I'm sympathetic to gays who want, in one big gulp rather than countless small battles, to gain admittedly moral benefits from permanent union: visitation in hospitals, legal ties, adoption, and what-have-you. The Church actually has a better argument for outlawing sex outside of marriage--that's the real sin here.

As far as adoption is concerned, two unmarried people cannot adopt. A married couple can adopt. A single person can adopt. Two unmarried persons--nope. That would be one consequence of not permitting same-sex unions. One gay partner would adopt, but if that person were to die, the child would be returned to the state as an orphan. As an adoptive parent, I know I wouldn't want that hanging over my head if my wife were to die, and she were the sole adoptive parent, I would lose a daughter.

I think the scary scenario of persecution is empty. Priests often discourage heterosexual couples from church marriage for very sound reasons civil law does not take into account when granting marriage licenses: emotional immaturity, prior valid marriage, counselling issues--the list is long. As long as any list of canonical and psychological impediments.

While I uphold church teaching on sex, and I counsel others to do so, I have a very hard time with the Church's rather public stance against same-sex unions. I could not in good conscience advise a young homosexual to disregard church teaching on sex, but on the other hand, I don't see the direct connection between sexual intercourse and the legal protections of same-sex unions, especially the ones that reflect mora values of commitment, permanence, reassurance, and protection.


Fr.Dennis said...

I would just offer a couple of responses. I wasn't meaning to infer that heterosexuals would enter into same sex marriages inasmuch. I was just saying that the only real reason that society has marriage is to ensure a second generation. Gay marriage will not advance this cause. In fact, it removes that component.

As for the threat of loss of tax exempt status and eventual imprisonment. It's one thing to tell heterosexuals that they can't get married because we have different standards. It's another to tell a protected minority in our litigius society that awards six hundred fifty thousand dollars to a High School Football coach in an invalid marriage that we won't perform gay marriages.

I feel sorry for a bunch of people who aren't "normal". But I still think it's a bad idea to change the norm for the sake of the abnorm.

Anonymous said...

Well, I know about that Waterloo football coach and the situation. It was rather bungled by the school board on a contractual level, entirely apart from the fact that the archbishop was at the top of the hierarchy of that chain.

Being the straight-arrow you are, you have zero chance of being imprisoned in this country. Unless you engage in some form of violent or obstructive protest.

As for the Church losing tax status, I don't see it happening. If it did, it wouldn't be the end of the world.

Perhaps the best solution would be to permit adults to enter into privileged status of varying sorts and include familial situations. Is it of benefit to society for my sister to take in our elderly mother instead of having her live on public subsidy to augment a rather minimal retirement? Or four students to share a house?

I don't have the answers to any of that. I just wonder if the Church isn't in an awkward spot on this. And I tend to look at the advantages for well-meaning people trying to do the best they can. I think the big picture stuff takes care of itself.


Hillary said...

Howdy Fr. Dennis! I am not an asian pornographer. But you still might bristle after you read this ;)

If you remember, we've already discussed your 2nd and 4th paragraph last year when the IA Supreme Court correctly and unanimously struck down anti-equality legislation as unconstitutional. I think my favorite saint, Thomas More, would have to nod in agreement, as portrayed in A Man For All Seasons, "I would give the devil benefit of law for my own safety's sake!" And like Todd, I truly do not believe you or any priest (or the church) who refuses a sacramental marriage to a gay couple can be prosecuted for it, so long as we continue to uphold another very important part of our constitution, the anti-establishment clause, and the church is not the only business in town providing a legal union.

I take issue with your 3rd paragraph, particularly the opening and closing sentences. They are simply untrue and illogical. It would be more correct to write: "Society needs to promote healthy, unprotected heterosexual intercourse and quality prenatal and postnatal health care because it is the only way that society can ensure a next generation. That's it - that's all it takes to make babies and bring them into the world. When way more than 1/3 of all live births in the US are to unmarried females, and many married couples contracept potential children, it's pretty clear that legal marriage has nothing to do with ensuring the next generation. That was a cultural battle that the church lost long before gay marriage came onto the scene.

If I were you, I would also re-think your last sentence of the same paragraph. It is true that with an LGBT couple, they are incapable of uniquely procreating exclusively from their own gametes. Perhaps someday genetic science will allow us to construct fertile ova from a male adult stem cell (to contain exactly half of his genes and his X) that can be IVF-ed with the other man's sperm to a surrogate mother, but I think we are a far cry from that. But otherwise they are incapable of benefiting society and carrying it forward? ANY committed, loving, other-serving relationship carries us forward!

Otherwise, society should be discouraging celibacy.

Oh wait. it already does, quite vociferously.

Fr.Dennis said...

I refrained from comment because I wanted to give some others the chance to comment on Todd's post but it appears that either they won't or they are going to take some extra time before they do. And, now that Hillary has contributed, I feel like I have to weigh in again. I mean, I probably should spend some time working for my new parishioners instead of responding to the concerns and complaints of my former ones. Don't you guys have other priests who you can talk to? Just kidding.

You both think I'm crazy for wondering when I'll go to jail for not performing gay marriage because of the separation of church and state issue. At least Todd is honest in admitting that, at some point, we could lose our tax exempt status for discriminating against a protected class. That way collection money can go to bail out AIG as well as helping a mom on Welfare pay for rent. The precedent is there to sue the church and collect large sums of money with the (completely justified) sexual abuse lawsuits. That anti-ecclesial anger is being transfered onto other subjects, however. The settlement in Waterloo is but one example. If I understand things correctly, the coach was only asking for $500K and the judge gave him $650K. The perception is that the Church has a lot of money and that we are sinister.

Here's one way that I can forsee this taking place. A gay couple comes to me and asks to get married in my church. I say that the Catholic Church believes in the sanctity of marriage and does not perform same-sex unions. The couple says it will cost them a lot more money to get married at the courthouse and they are baptized Catholics and deserve to get married in the Church. They sue the church and the judge decides that we should make up the difference between what the church charges and what a judge charges. The judge would probably also throw in pain and suffering but let's say, for the sake of argument, he says we should pay just the $150 difference between what the church pays and what a judge asks. We could pay the $150 and set up a fund to sponsor same-sex marriages in the process.

Or, we could not. If I'm the one being sued, I would demand that we not pay on principle and I will be willing to go to jail for refusing to pay a fine. Some will probably say that I'm going to jail, not for gay marriage but for refusing to pay a measly $150 fine. They'll probably even say that I've paid bigger traffic fines in the past. But, to quote Che from Evita, "that's not the point my friends." We can't get anything done if we have to subsidize the wedding ceremonies of all gay catholics.

Fr.Dennis said...

Or, we could not. If I'm the one being sued, I would demand that we not pay on principle and I will be willing to go to jail for refusing to pay a fine. Some will probably say that I'm going to jail, not for gay marriage but for refusing to pay a measly $150 fine. They'll probably even say that I've paid bigger traffic fines in the past. But, to quote Che from Evita, "that's not the point my friends." We can't get anything done if we have to subsidize the wedding ceremonies of all gay catholics.

One frustration that I have with Hillary's comments is the sense of inevitability. The world has already decided that sex is just something people do on a Friday night when you're bored so the Church should follow suit. Society believes that celibacy is outmoded so the Church should follow suit. Let's keep going. Society has decided that communal living and silence is outmoded. So, should we disband monasteries? Or just tell them to put a flat screen in each cell and allow religious women and men to have separate apartments? The problem is that we've done that and those communities are dying. The ones that are thriving are ones that have maintained a deep sense of the evangelical counsels.

My point is that I acknowledge that the Church will always call people to greater holiness than society calls them to. We will always be perceived as living "behind the times" because oftentimes "the times" aren't thinking about larger ramifications. I think, if they did, they would realize they are weakening society by continuing to remove fecundity from marriage.

But, as religion continues to be pushed into the realm of the purely private and any time a religion does something society doesn't approve it is publicly financially flogged, I don't see how you can honestly say that current legislation protecting religion from this ruling will continue to be in place, especially considering the fact that this ruling is a reversal of the previous ruling that marriage is only legitimate between a man and a woman. Laws don't matter. The will of the people doesn't matter. It only matters what some judge thinks. And, given what the case in Waterloo and the overall feeling regarding the sexual abuse crisis, I'm not all that hopeful that most judges won't fine the hell out of us.