How to Respond Gracefully - Gay Friend Getting Married

That is not relativism. Two people, each with the “facts on the ground” in front of them, weigh these facts, and then make a decision. Neither one is necessarily “right” or “wrong”. Even moral theologians come to different conclusions — usually with some nuance of thought, so that it is not as simple as saying “you can do X, always, no matter what” or “you cannot do X, never, no matter what”.

It is not intrinsically evil to be physically present in a place where a sacrilege or an abomination is taking place. Otherwise, for instance, if someone at the ceremony fell dead of a heart attack, the EMTs could not come and get that person without sinning, for “coming and getting that person” would require their physical presence. Of course they can. It would actually be evil for them not to come, to say “we’re not going into that place and rendering aid”. First responders went to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and rendered aid, as they should have done. No doubt some of these first responders were faithful orthodox Christians of various denominations. Chick-fil-a even prepared and donated food for the responders, mirabile dictu, on Sunday! (Note to readers outside the US: Chick-fil-a is owned by evangelical Christians and they close on Sundays. They are a wildly popular chicken fast-food restaurant chain.)

Okay, move forward from there. Abel is “marrying” Baker. Abel’s father is invited. He tells Abel “I cannot do that”. Abel says “okay, but if you don’t come, you’ll never see your grandchildren again”. (Abel has children from a previous heterosexual relationship.) Abel’s father says “well, that’s pretty dirty, but if that’s the situation, then may I come and sit on the back row?”. Abel says “that’s not being very supportive of Baker and me, but at least you’ll be there”. Abel’s father says “and will I then get to see my grandbabies?”. Abel says “sure”. Has Abel’s father sinned? I don’t think so.

Figuratively speaking, Abel’s father has a gun to his head. In no way is Abel’s father condoning the “marriage” of Abel and Baker. Abel knows this, and surely he will tell Baker. Does Abel’s father have the obligation to go around and tell all of the guests “I don’t support this ‘marriage’, I have a very personal reason for being here”? I don’t think so. The less said, the better. Family harmony, or what’s left of it in this case, is more important than avoiding scandal. We are not obliged to avoid scandal at all costs. Sometimes scandal is taken, and nothing can be done about it. Does it not fall upon the other guests to give Abel’s father the benefit of the doubt, and say to themselves “everybody knows what a faithful Catholic Abel’s father is, and we didn’t expect him to show up, but here he is, and his reasons for being here may be very personal, and something we don’t need to be thinking about”? We’re always being told “not to judge, not to judge”. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.

I tell this story to demonstrate how there can be nuance, and excusing cause, that would permit something that, at first blush, one would think cannot be permitted. I think it was scenarios such as this one, that the US Catholic bishops had in mind. Again, that’s far from being relativism.

Do you believe that the Bible condemns homosexual relations?
Should that be taken seriously?
Anyway, I know one Catholic college that congratulates its alumni and/or alumnae upon their entering a SS marriage.

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But they are making a decision based on their personal viewpoints. That surely is the very definition of moral relativism:

Relativism is the idea that views are relative to differences in perception and consideration. There are a variety of different interpretations of the concept.[1] The major categories of relativism vary in their degree of scope and controversy.[2] Moral relativism encompasses the differences in moral judgments among people and cultures

John Paul II:

there is a tendency to grant to the individual conscience the prerogative of independently determining the criteria of good and evil and then acting accordingly. Such an outlook is quite congenial to an individualist ethic, wherein each individual is faced with his own truth, different from the truth of others. Taken to its extreme consequences, this individualism leads to a denial of the very idea of human nature.

When freedom, out of a desire to emancipate itself from all forms of tradition and authority, shuts out even the most obvious evidence of an objective and universal truth, which is the foundation of personal and social life, then the person ends up by no longer taking as the sole and indisputable point of reference for his own choices the truth about good and evil, but only his subjective and changeable opinion or, indeed, his selfish interest and whim.

All from:

Condemned or not, I think it’s quite impossible to adhere to everything that the Bible or the Scripture says us to. And one such is same sex marriage. One poster here clarified me about why it’s condemned and I agree with him/her. But to be practical, I just can’t isolate myself from LGBTQ people just because the Bible denies gay marriage. I will refrain from committing one myself but I’d go to theirs (marriage) , definitely.


I hear what you are saying, but I do not equate casuistry with relativism. Simply put, casuistry says something like “we have principles of Catholic moral theology, and clear teachings on XYZ, but every case must be considered on its merits, with all the attendant circumstances, and there is not necessarily a ‘one size fits all’ way to apply XYZ”. Relativism would deny that these principles are true, and relativism would deny that those teachings are true. Casuistry does neither.

An amusing way to illustrate casuistry is this: once upon a time, a man asked his confessor if he could smoke while he was praying. The confessor asked him “well, do you think you can pray while you are smoking?”. There the man had his answer.

The casuist would start off as I did about attending the gay wedding — “first question is, is it intrinsically evil to be physically present at a place where a sacrilege or abomination is taking place?”. I demonstrated above that it is not. Then you work forward from there, with the facts at hand. Different people, with different reasons to be there, will come up with different answers. That’s not relativism. Different people, with the same reasons for being there, may come up with different answers. That’s not relativism either.

Sorry, I cannot attend.
That’s all you need to say.

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I can see there’d be no problem in calling some decision relativism if the decision went against the church’s teaching. But that the problem is more nuanced doesn’t alter the fact that some consider the call to be morally wrong whilst others would claim it is morally right. By that very fact we are in the realm of relativism by any generally accepted definition of the term.

It’s the very reason for attendence is the problem. Some say it’s a celebration of immorality and some say it’s not. Can they both be right?

If it were identical people in absolutely identical situations, with absolutely identical reasons, no, they could not both be right. Vary any of those factors just a hair’s breadth, and yes, they could be.

That being the case, this might be a kind of relativism that the Church does not condemn. If casuistry is a form of relativism — and I do not think it is, but just granting and not conceding — then the Church doesn’t condemn it.

This is really getting more into semantics than anything else. We may just be talking in circles at this point.

Agreed. Thanks for the input.

We only have to remember Jesus example, he never “My friends know that I am a devout Catholic, but I think they may expect me to put my beliefs aside in the name of friendship”

He actually had a lot of enemies because he remained faithful to the doctrine and beliefs he taught.

Remember spiritually speaking we are always either advancing or retreating, there is no neutral area.

God Bless


I know what you mean.

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We all have our own beliefs about what is right and wrong, but how can we know what is going to make someone else happy or unhappy? I doubt that marrying someone of the opposite sex is going to make a gay man or a lesbian happy. And remaining single and celibate is unlikely to be a source of happiness either. But what do I know about what makes someone else happy. Maybe some people are happy being married to another person to whom they are not sexually attracted. And maybe some people are happy living alone and not being in an intimate relationship for their entire life.

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In our increasingly secular world, the pursuit of happiness may sometimes be conflated with that which is right.
Of course, what brings happiness to one, may well involve causing misery to others.
To argue that one should pursue whatever makes one happy risks neglecting the fact that we live in community and what we choose to do will have effects on others.


And that is your choice. The ramifications of our actions are part of making that choice.

If this were as monumentally a problem as some feel it to be, the Catechism would be updated to reflect a ban they way the teaching on the death penalty has been broadened. Right now, the Church universal does not see accepting invites to weddings as a cut and dry teaching.


Mightn’t it fall under bearing false witness?
The church universal doesn’t give us a laundry list of specific situations, but it does give us the commandments and challenge us to consider our actions in their light.

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Happiness, as in a feeling of being satisfied and untroubled in the temporal realm, is not the be-all and end-all of everything. It may not be God’s Will for you to be happy in this life, or probably better put, as “happy” as you would be, if you could have that thing that you really, really want. Our Lady of Lourdes told St Bernadette “I do not promise you happiness in this world but in the next”. The faithful Christian will seek and find great joy in knowing that God’s Will is being done regardless of one’s own wishes, but not everybody is at that point in their spiritual life. I myself have failed to do this at times in my own life. One other book my catechist had me read in my baptismal preparation was Power in Praise by Merlin Carothers. (Incidentally, it is not specifically a Catholic book.) In a nutshell, Carothers points out how we must praise God for all things, even those things that are against our wishes. I heartily recommend it.

All things? Really - praise God even for sin? Overt sin? The devil? Are you saying we should praise God for sin and the devil? This sounds almost like the New Age philosophy of Marianne Williamson and “A course in miracles”.

No, not sin, I would think obviously not. I mean praising God for misfortune, loss, injury, poverty, loneliness, anything you can imagine, that is not sin. I have found great power in that throughout my life, and I have borrowed myself a lot of trouble and heartache when I failed to do it.

I’m deeply thankful I read that book.

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Loss of friendship (and even family) is a cost many of us may have to face when we choose Christ. The Lord himself told us that. A gay “wedding” is a celebration of a sinful situation. Catholics are best reminded that we incur guilt by cooperating in others’ sins. Remember these nine ways we can sin by cooperation in the sins of others:

  • By counsel
  • By command
  • By consent.
  • By provocation
  • By praise or flattery
  • By concealment
  • By partaking
  • By silence
  • By defense

Attending such an event may cause you to incur guilt by cooperating in at least three of these criteria: by consent, by praise, and by partaking.

Staying away from such an event is not because you hate them or even because you disapprove of them. It’s because you want to prevent yourself from falling into sin. It is your soul you are looking out for in the first place.

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