Trying to find balance, and failing


#1

I’d appreciate advice on how to live with a balanced Catholic view of one of the stickiest issues for me personally - homosexual marriage. My problem is the opposite of the one I usually hear about from other Catholics. Most seem to have difficulty fully embracing the Church’s teaching that homosexual acts (including “marriage”) are sinful. I have no problem with that - rather I tend to take things too far to the other extreme. I let my zeal for defending Catholic beliefs affect my ability to have charity for my neighbors; those who are struggling with same sex attraction as well as supporters of their “rights”.

I’ll quote from a recent post in another thread because it might help clarify what I’m asking about:

Do you know how many gay couples are now adopting children out of the foster system, children that most “kid producing” couples are not adopting. A friend of mine from high school is in a gay marriage and has a beautiful happy daughter who is very loved, has a huge extended family, and is experience things and places she would never have experienced in the foster system.

I too have no problem with the legal union of the same sex, but it goes against Catholic laws and that will not change so I don’t worry about it. These marriages came as a result of so many families rejecting their gay children and their long time spouse, until they were dying of AIDS. Then those families kept those long time partners, the ones who loved and took care of their child when he was dying, from being there to hold their hand when they died. That is why partners want their rights.

I know two gay couples that have been together over 30 years, but neither feel the need to marry because they don’t care about any political issue, so they have nothing to gain being married and both families are fully excepting and would never go against their wish to be there when the other dies. What two people do or do not do in their own home is not for me to judge. I know too many gay people that make some straight Christian people look like monsters.

The situations described here are some of the issues I struggle to understand from a correct Catholic point of view. Personally I feel that homosexual civil unions are a bad idea because they would seem to validate and encourage sinful sexual activity. So I disagree when someone says we shouldn’t have a problem with unions outside the Church. Is my viewpoint on that lacking in charity?

Also on the issue of raising children, I’m very conflicted. I know a gay couple with two children and to my knowledge they provide a loving home for them. OTOH, I also understand and agree with the importance of children having a father and mother (biologically male and female). What is the correct Catholic stance to take here? Where is the balance between faithfulness to Church teaching, which would seem to oppose gay couples raising children (or does it?) and charity for them?

Finally, am I wrong to even worry about this? I’m re-reading The Imitation of Christ, which stresses the importance of staying out of other people’s affairs and focusing on our own sins and shortcomings. However, we’re also taught to evangelize and challenge the sins we see in society, right? I’m sure that, like many things in Catholic belief, it’s a case of “both and” rather than “either or”, but I don’t really know how to reconcile these seemingly opposite ideas.

I know that’s quite a bit to ask all in one thread, and I’m grateful for Catholic insights into any or all of them. Please don’t waste your time or mine by telling me the Church’s teaching which opposes homosexual acts is wrong…there’s really no chance you’ll convince me of that. This isn’t intended to be that kind of thread. :slight_smile:


#2

Step back, take a deep breath and bear with me on this walk:

One issue here is human dignity and respect of that dignity. Regardless of a person’s sexual orientation/attraction/activities, each person should be able to determine what other person they would like to make decisions for them when they are unable to do so. Similarly they should be able to determine who they spend time with, who is a member of their household, who should be able to visit them in the hospital, who should inherit their belongings, etc. All these issues are almost non-issues for those persons who are joined in a secular “marriage.” People who do not want to or can not marry could also hire lawyers and create legal instruments to establish the same privileges at a fairly large expense. This is where the secular issue comes in.

Another aspect of human dignity is understanding that each person is entitled to their own opinion, and their own choices. Those opinions and choices may or may not meet your or my approval, moral code, etc. Until those choices infringe on someone else, it is the natural right of a person to make those choices.

If you live in a place governed by secular law that not religious law, the concept of equality would suggest any number of persons of any biological sex should be allowed to enter into a contract that confers all the rights, privileges, and duties of secular marriage to each party to the contract.

The problem comes in when people start evaluating the morality of behavior that may or may not be occurring between the parties to the contract. People assume two adult persons who live together are engaging in sexual activities together. This may or may not be the case, and really should not be a matter of civil interest to anyone if the activities between consenting people.

In short, the civil secular authorities should stay out of making moral judgements and basing laws on moral judgements.

Now the Church has a duty to instruct the world that just because something is legal in secular society does not mean it is morally acceptable. The Church must hold fast to her teachings and ensure the Truth is proclaimed everywhere. The Church has defined, with no ambiguity, that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God and as such demand to be treated with dignity.

Respect for the dignity of the other person allows me to be friend to the person who does not necessarily agree with my moral code in all things. It allows me to demonstrate, through my actions, how I can love the person but not approve of their choices. I can better meet the person where they are, and proclaim the Truth in a way they are more receptive to - and hopefully, by the grace of God, help to lead them home.

The many “battles” we see in the US media: same sex “marriage,” legalization of abortion, etc. - the determination of the legality of these has little meaning if the rest of society has a properly formed conscience. If something is secularly legal, but immoral and so no one does it you no longer need to make a secular law against it. The goal is not to make things legal or illegal, but to change the hearts of people so they do what is moral and right.


#3

I have several gay friends and a gay uncle. I love all of them and honestly don’t let their decisions there affect that love. I have made it known to them that I oppose those choices, but still spend time with them and see the good in their lives. Unfortunately, it has become difficult as many have also decided that they want nothing to do with Christianity, and have chosen instead to embrace the spirit of the age. In those cases, the relationship has almost disintegrated - not because I want nothing to do with them, but because they want very little to do with me. Should those people decide to start taking an interest in their faith again, I will gladly walk with them on their path.


#4

Thanks for your response, frizzgrig! Please take my comments below as genuine questions, not an attempt to argue with your reply. :slight_smile:

Interesting points. I’d have to think more about that, but I still wonder if there’s not a way to accomplish the things you mention above without changing the definition of marriage.

Another aspect of human dignity is understanding that each person is entitled to their own opinion, and their own choices. Those opinions and choices may or may not meet your or my approval, moral code, etc. Until those choices infringe on someone else, it is the natural right of a person to make those choices.

I agree with this for the most part. God gives us a great gift with free will. My followup question would be, does the choice to marry someone of the same sex infringe on others or not? In some ways, from the Catholic point of view, it does seem to affect others in a negative way, not least of which is the danger that each “spouse” places on the other by formalizing an immoral lifestyle. If the union of these two people puts them at greater risk of losing their eternal souls, then it’s hard to say they aren’t harming anyone. And if their example encourages others in society to do the same, then isn’t that harming society? I understand that people don’t necessarily agree with the Catholic point of view, but we believe it to be Truth so doesn’t there have to be a line where we can no longer pretend there’s no harm done?

I’m thinking of Christ’s clear commandment in Matthew 18:15, "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over."

If you live in a place governed by secular law that not religious law, the concept of equality would suggest any number of persons of any biological sex should be allowed to enter into a contract that confers all the rights, privileges, and duties of secular marriage to each party to the contract.

Again, I wonder if allowing friends to visit each other in the hospital or inherit property from one another requires redefining marriage? Because based on your next paragraph, we would be assuming that nothing immoral is implied by the term “marriage” and therefore the parties are simply close friends, right?

The problem comes in when people start evaluating the morality of behavior that may or may not be occurring between the parties to the contract. People assume two adult persons who live together are engaging in sexual activities together. This may or may not be the case, and really should not be a matter of civil interest to anyone if the activities between consenting people.

In short, the civil secular authorities should stay out of making moral judgements and basing laws on moral judgements.

Two people living together aren’t necessarily engaging in sexual activity…I can follow you that far. But when two people want to get married, that definitely implies something sexual. Why get married otherwise? I have male and female friends who I care about deeply, and would love to have them visit me in the hospital with no restrictions, but I don’t feel the need to formalize those friendships with marriage.

Now the Church has a duty to instruct the world that just because something is legal in secular society does not mean it is morally acceptable. The Church must hold fast to her teachings and ensure the Truth is proclaimed everywhere. The Church has defined, with no ambiguity, that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God and as such demand to be treated with dignity.

Respect for the dignity of the other person allows me to be friend to the person who does not necessarily agree with my moral code in all things. It allows me to demonstrate, through my actions, how I can love the person but not approve of their choices. I can better meet the person where they are, and proclaim the Truth in a way they are more receptive to - and hopefully, by the grace of God, help to lead them home.

The many “battles” we see in the US media: same sex “marriage,” legalization of abortion, etc. - the determination of the legality of these has little meaning if the rest of society has a properly formed conscience. If something is secularly legal, but immoral and so no one does it you no longer need to make a secular law against it. The goal is not to make things legal or illegal, but to change the hearts of people so they do what is moral and right.

Completely agree with those thoughts.

Thanks again!


#5

No worries!

I intentionally did not use the term “marriage” because of the baggage is comes with. What is described is not “marriage” but more like “civil union.” That is kind of the point, you don’t have to redefine “marriage” to give the equivalent secular/civil rights, duties, and benefits. Unfortunately the media says you do and the activists have run with it.

If by “marry someone of the same sex” you mean to cohabitate and engage in sexual activities then that would be “publicly persisting in manifest grave sin” and it would potentially harm others by setting a bad moral example. The problem is unless the same sex couple admits publicly to having sexual relations, you really can not assume they are. Is it immoral to hug some one of the same or opposite sex to express greeting, appreciation, joy, and even affection?

And this is where the Church is required to point out the error of a same sex, sexually active relationship. Not that 2 men or 2 women living in the same house, making life decisions together is sinful, but that sexual activities between same sex people are.

Those things happen automatically when a couple is married. They don’t have to, but they do. In some countries couples are required to marry civilly, and then in the Church. The civil ceremony conveys the civil effects, the Church wedding is the sacrament.

The argument is to secure those civil benefits that come with marriage. I know some heterosexual people who married not for sex (they don’t engage in it at all) but for the civil benefits.

Would you want them to be able to make medical decisions for you if you were unable to? Would you want the hospital to not be allowed to prevent them from visiting you? These are some of the things civil marriage provides in some places.


#6

Thanks again.

The main point I hear you making is that there should be some legal framework for friends to specify certain wishes like visitation rights, shared property, etc. I see nothing wrong with that at all. I don’t think it could be called a “civil union” at this point either, because that basically implies a homosexual romantic relationship these days. Neither of us created that stereotype but it does exist.

What I have a hard time accepting is anything that could be misconstrued as suggesting that homosexual acts are not sinful. If you tell someone you’re entering into a civil union it’s highly likely they will think “gay marriage”, no matter what the true intentions are.

I still don’t understand what would be wrong with a power of attorney or living will for medical decisions, or the other kind of will to transfer property? There’s no reason they need to be expensive. It’s completely legal to write your own will without an attorney…then you only have to pay $5 or so to have it notarized. My wife and I did that years ago.

It just feels like a solution in search of a problem - if we’re truly talking about friends and nothing more. If it’s a romantic relationship then I understand the desire for a union. It’s wrong, but I can understand why someone would want to be married if they truly believed they were in love.

I guess another way to ask it is this: what percentage of civil unions are merely for “friendship benefits”? I don’t think it’s a stretch to say a huge number of them are explicitly and unabashedly for sexual reasons.


#7

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