Is discrimination always unjust?

Hey everyone. I was just wondering: Is discrimination always unjust? I ask this because many times homosexuals accuse orthodox Catholics and non-Catholic Christians of discriminating against them when we refuse to support “gay marriage”.

In short, no.

Longer answer - it depends on what one means by discrimination. Discrimination basically means to recognise or understand differences; we do this all the time and there is nothing moral or immoral implied in such. It has also come to be used to refer to unjust treatment based on such differences; this is the moral consideration.

With regard to gay marriage, we (the Church) want to “discriminate” by making sure heterosexual, natural marriage is understood as something categorically different from any other unions of two people, including gay marriages. Here we use the term discriminate to refer to the recognition of the difference.

People who advocate for gay marriage accuse the Church of “discrimination” against gay people, by which they mean unfair treatment.

We need to make sure terms are used and understood correctly, otherwise reasonable discource is clouded by the semantics.

Sure, there are plenty of occasions when discrimination is appropriate. Discrimination is not only acceptable, it is necessary to some degree. You cannot choose your friends, your spouse or your place of employment without “discriminating” somehow or other.

I’d like to think that, in the “good now days” (as opposed to the “bad old days”), we all have a basic conception of what discrimination is good and what is not.

That is, when it comes to something like gender, skin color, nationality, creed, etc. then there needs to be some compelling interest to do so. Example: when hiring an actor/actress, gender and skin color can be important if portraying a particular character, thus compelling. When choosing a spouse, creed can be a compelling factor for obvious reasons, including the rearing of children and so on.

We are often tempted to behave certain ways due to instinct and/or cultural conditioning that we recognize are wrong logically (and morally) as far as taking a trait present in a certain set of instances and falsely applying it to an entire gender, skin color, nationality, etc. Fortunately, we do have that gift of reasoning that God has given us to try and overcome some of these biological/cultural falsehoods.

It’s a good question. In the social arena, it sometimes gets very tricky indeed, so much so that the courts have to decide; and, after that, people may still disagree regarding whether discrimination is justified or not. So I cannot answer the question without knowing the specific details of the situation being considered, and may have questions even then.

Discrimination is appropriate in cases where the people involved are not qualified for the specific position. I would go further to say it should be enforced in cases where it is impossible for the ones involved to meet said qualifications.

For example, a woman can not be a biological father, and vice versa. You can call a woman a father, but she cannot actually be a true biological father.

Another example, when hiring a physician, you should not hire someone who is under qualified, or completely unqualified, for the position. Like, you wouldn’t hire a plumber as a doctor. You also wouldn’t hire a veterinarian as a physician (of people), because even though they are similar, they are not identical.

The same can be said for so-called same-sex “marriage”, because even though the concept may be “similar” to marriage, but it is not and cannot ever really be marriage, because it does not meet the qualifications of what a marriage is in society.

let says there is a job in a factory that requires someone to be short in oder to work it. While not a dangerous job the place this person will work has very low ceilings and someone tall could work under there but it would not be as efficient if someone short was working it.

There is a similar example in the military you have to be under a certain hight to fly a certain plane someone who is to tall can’t fit in the plane.

Maybe hiring a councilor for a place that has a large hispanic population, you could discriminate against non hispanics because you believe that someone who is hispanic can better council hispanics because they can better relate to them.

I could come up with thousands of examples of legit discrimination. So its not always unjust. Sometimes the nature of a position requires there to be discrimination.

Thank you everyone for your responses. I greatly appreciate them. :thumbsup:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.