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.
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.
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.
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 praise or flattery
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.
1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them :
- by participating directly and voluntarily in them; so we are responsible for sins if we enter voluntarily into a same sex marriage. That makes sense
- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them; “Hey Dan, I want to hook you up with Brian” “Hey Brian, you are a legend at fornication! Way to go!!” “Dan, I approve of you dating my brother, Herman.”
- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so; The qualifier there is “when we have an obligation” this speaks to our authority over that person.
- by protecting evil-doers. Before/where secular laws permit marriages between two same sex persons, running a protected undergroundd gay marriage chapel?
#1868 is about your personal culpability in participating in the sins of others. This is not about the gay couple themselves, who don’t sin according to this framework, but rather against the Sixth Commandment, dealt with elsewhere. This section applies to those who attend.
Attending a gay “wedding”, according to the framework of #1868 makes you guilty of cooperation in the sins of others (thereby resulting in you also incurring sin):
By participating. When you attend such an event as a bridesmaid, for example, that is a direct participation. When you officiate, or serve in some essential role that brings the event to completion.
By approval. You sin by approval when you stand up and raise your glass to them. When you congratulate them. And merely by being there, you show you approve of what they’re doing.
When you make a nice speech for them, you also participate in their sin by praise.
And if your example sends the wrong message to others, like your children, then your sin takes on the additional element of scandal.
You don’t necessarily have to meet all of these criteria to be guilty by cooperation. One is already culpable when you cooperate through one.
I wouldn’t go to the cross telling another person that they should praise God for the illness of a loved one — others will have to do as they see fit. I can tell you that I just got back from the medical center where I’d taken my father to see if he had cancer or not. He didn’t. Apparently just nerve damage from an injury (he had bitten his tongue a few weeks ago and hasn’t been able to talk plain since, also swelling) — not fun, but not fatal either. We first ruled out a stroke, and now cancer has been ruled out. It doesn’t get much better than that! Admittedly it’s easier to praise God for good outcomes, than for bad ones, but I was prepared to offer praise either way. My mother has been inconsolable and she is having her first “good” day in weeks.
One flaw I see, if you can call it that, is that it kind of feels like trying to “play reverse psychology on God”, which is inherently unappealing. The key is to get to the point of not having any preferences on anything, and being resolved to accept whatever God sends, good, bad (to our lights), or indifferent. The Jesuits approach this from one angle (detachment) and the Buddhists approach this from another angle (renunciation of craving). Both are right. We can learn much from Buddhism. (I think I’d better keep that sentiment to myself the next time I go to the diocesan TLM, too.)
I’ll just put it this way — whenever I have failed to praise God for whatever comes my way, I have done nothing but damage to myself. I have had to learn this the hard way.
Upon what are you basing this opinion regarding authority?
If we see wrongdoing, are we not obligated to try to prevent it? If we are brothers and sisters in Christ, don’t we have obligations to each other? The analysis seems off.