March 28, 2013

Danish Weddings for All

Right now God's hearing a lot of different prayers by a lot of different people on two very different sides.

I'm trying my best to stay informed without getting my news from super-biased, emotional sources but honestly I haven't looked very hard to find things from the pro gay marriage camp. I'd like to read some such articles if anyone has a suggestion, but if the argument comes down to "it's a right" and "let's not hurt any one's feelings" then I'm not interested. If they have good logic for why it is a right then that I am interested in. I will still disagree (marriage isn't a right whether you're gay or straight) but I am very interested in understanding the other side.

I really liked this article The Red Herring of Marriage Equality by Steven Smith (h/t Brandon Vogt) and especially this point:
But in that normative sense, equality is wholly uncontroversial—and entirely useless. Everyone favors equality: Everyone thinks that like cases should be treated alike. Nobody argues, “These groups are alike in all relevant respects, but they should be treated differently.” So when people disagree about legal or political issues, they aren’t arguing for and against equality. Instead, they are disagreeing about whether two cases, or two classes of people, actually are alike for the purposes of whatever is being discussed.
Consider an example. We would treat blind people differently either by denying them the right to vote or by denying them drivers’ licenses. But we would treat them unequally only in the first case, not in the second. That is because an ability to see is not a relevant qualification for voting, but it is a relevant qualification for driving. We know this, though, not by applying the idea of “equality,” but rather by thinking about the nature of voting and of driving.

I also liked what Meg said at Held By His Pierced Hands:
 I don’t think there are a lot of people sporting pink equals signs who are trying to destroy the moral underpinnings of our society or corrupt children. And I haven’t met many who support traditional marriage because of hatred and fear.

Abigail just about took the words out of my mouth in her post What Marriage Means to Me:
Here are the pre-conditions for a holy marriage in the Roman Catholic Church

--one man and one woman
--faithful for life
--open to life
--and if you are baptized in Christ, you need to get married in a Christian Church
--and you need to be "free to marry" (i.e. no previous marriages, or a valid Catholic annulment)

Right now there are a lot of heterosexual unions that people called "marriages" that don't count as sacramental marriages within the Roman Catholic Church. If you're in a "open relationship" where it's okay to have affairs as long as you tell your spouse, that's not marriage. If you get married and intend never to have kids together, that's not marriage. If you are two Catholics and you elope in Las Vegas. That's not marriage.

Divorce is bad in the Catholic church. We live in a culture of 'no-fault' divorce.

Heterosexual couples have really screwed up the Institution of Marriage.

Heterosexual couples divorce freely. We use contraception and have abortions. We suffer from domestic violence abuse and drug addictions. We've also got the clean addictions like "workaholism" that are just as destructive to family life, even though they are socially sanctioned.

So the sins against marriage are easy to see and are all over the place.

Mary also made some excellent points over at Let Love Be Sincere but one of my favorite things she said was this:
You see, a couple of years ago there was this story in the newspaper.  It was about a church down south that refused to marry an interracial couple.  People FREAKED THE FREAK out.  I am one member of an interracial couple and I DIDN’T freak the freak out.  In fact, I thought, awesome, at least I know what church not to go to.  Unfortunately, a lot of people thought the church should face consequences, be forced to shut down, etc… Here’s the thing.  In our country, we allow for a variety of thought, and if a church doesn’t think a black man and a white woman should be married, well that makes me shake my head.  BUT, I don’t think our government should force the issue.  I don’t think our government needs to be involved in how marriage is defined in churches.

I've also been watching what's going on in France. The New York Times has an article about hundreds of thousands of people turning out to protest a proposed bill to legalize gay marriage there.  While they mention all the religious people who have turned up to protest they don't discuss the fact that  many homosexuals in France are also protesting this bill. How many? I don't know - it's hard to find a good answer to that since I can't seem to find a neutral report on that matter.

Then I saw the following conversation on Twitter about news from Denmark that all Lutheran churches must now allow  homosexual couples to marry because of a newly passed law.

Sometimes I just wish the government would remove spouses and marriage from the equation. Keep marriage in the Church and have the government rely on something that's not Sacramental. It's not the most well-formed opinion and it's not even a consistent thought, but I do think about it.

The Roman Catholic Church will never, ever witness the wedding of a same sex couple. It will not rent its churches or halls out to same sex couples for weddings and receptions. Same for marriages of people who are divorced or who are going to have an open marriage or who will use a form of contraception to never have kids*. This is not because we're a bunch of hateful bigots but because we would see it as a lie, a sham, going against what marriage really actually is. And so I wonder if what Elizabeth Scalia says will actually happen - if we will be driven underground. If it does happen I do not look forward to it, but I do think it might be just the kind of suffering and separating of the chaff and wheat that we need.

*Sadly I am well aware of priests who have gone against Church teaching and witnessed same sex weddings and weddings of people who have previous, not annulled marriages. I am also aware of heterosexual couples who have lied to priests about things like contraception and affairs so they could get married in a pretty church. Obviously, that is not how things are supposed to be.


  1. I've been following the march in France, and also found it interesting that homosexual couples were protesting too. I think Elizabeth Scalia's comment about going underground is telling; what will happen to our religious freedom's? Will our clergy be fined and/or go to jail to even speak on 'traditional marriage/?

  2. I think every loving, faithful couple should be able to commit to one another for life, with the attendant rights and responsibilities. I agree that the Church should witness marriages and the State should witness civil unions. That's what other countries do - they have a civil ceremony and a Church ceremony (if they want one). No one has the "right" to marry any more than people have the "right" to drive or have children.

    I agree that the State cannot change the definition of marriage. Give gay couples civil unions, tax benefits, partner benefits, etc. Just don't call it "marriage".

  3. My understanding is that France already has civil unions and that gay "marriage" means that gay couples will have access to state funded fertility treatments. Most of the protests are about opposing same-sex parenthood, not same-sex relationships.

    If it were up to me, the state would give civil unions to everyone, and leave marriage to the churches. But I don't see much difference between a civil union and a civil marriage, which annoys people on both sides of the debate.

  4. Well said, Bonnie. I have a lot in common with your opinions, I think. I don't enter the marriage debate much because I've really mucked it up in th past, but I am always appreciative of cool heads like yours that are willing to speak up.

    My main frustration with the gay marriage camp is that my concessions are never enough. Civil unions aren't enough, conceding to state marriage isn't enough, etc. It's full submission (i.e. saying that SSM is exactly the same as traditional marriage) or I'm considered a bigot.

    Here's an article I appreciated yesterday. Don't read the comments though. ;P.

    1. That's my issue, too. In a sense, I can understand an individual's desire to be considered "married" in the eyes of the state. I understand it must be frustrating to commit yourself to someone for years and have no real benefit to it as far as insurance and other legal issues go. I get that. I really do. And if that's ALL we're fighting over, then I'm actually okay with it.

      What concerns me is that I don't think that will be "enough." Soon, just as it has happened in Denmark, there will be a battle for a same sex couples to be allowed to get married in the Church.

      I know many heterosexual couples who have left the Church because one (or both) had been married before and were unable to be married in the Church. I think that's very sad (that they left the Church), but that's what the Church says about marriage. I'm sure there have been many fights and protests over it, but it's not going to change. Because the Church says so.

      What bothers me is that people assume the worst about me because I trust in the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Do I always wholly understand it or agree with? No. But, I believe the Church knows best. Just like my Mom and Dad when I was growing up. Did I always like their rules and consequences? No way. But I always knew they had my best interest at heart.

      But in this particular issue, the fact that I trust in the Church makes me a bigot and afraid of progression and change. I have literally lost friends over this issue and I don't even really vocalize my stance. I just silently refuse to accept theirs.

      Thanks again, Bonnie, for your thoughtful, cool headed discussion.

    2. Leanne, I admire your trust in the Church. May I suggest that when you don't understand the why of a teaching, you make the effort to find out? I was a poorly catechised Catholic until I stumbled across a tape of Janet Smith's "Contraception: Why Not?" Dr. Smith explained Church teaching on contraception in a way that I understood it AND it made perfect sense. After that, I made the effort to find out why the Church taught what it taught on issues that came up (my sister-in-law is gay, etc.), and every time the explanation made perfect sense. This understanding made me fall in love with the faith in a way I had never dreamed imaginable. Catholicism is so deep and beautiful, and I was missing it.

      If you're looking for easily understandable explanations, I would suggest audio CDs by Scott and Kimberly Hahn. I always keep several CDs on Church teaching in my vehicle to listen to on long trips, or just while running errands. I promise you won't be disappointed.

  5. You can add me to the government-shouldn't-be-involved-in-any-marriage camp. Sexual orientationaside, if you want a legal document, go to a government office, if you want a Sacramental marriage, go to a church, which is free to grant or deny you said marriage based on any criteria they choose. I guess I just don't understand why the government is still involved in marriage. When it used to be about stabilizing society through the promotion of family (marriage = children = having both parents), I can get that it's for the greater good. But now, in modern society at large, it's about....what? I truly don't know anymore.

  6. Bonnie! It's like you cracked my head open and saw what I was thinking! I've been torn between the civil 'contract' that constitutes civil unions and the Sacramental Marriage.

    Incidently, as for hiding underground and Elizabeth Scalia, the only reason the Danish government was able to order the Lutheran churches to allow same-sex unions is that in Denmark, Lutheranism is the STATE religion - declared so in their constitution. As a result, their government is able to have their hand directly in the church's decisions & practices (in fact, the Danish Lutheran church is required to have a member of the royal family must "be a member of the established church". So take some heart from that, that at least we don't have a senator acting as a Bishop or something. ;)

  7. "Sometimes I just wish the government would remove spouses and marriage from the equation. Keep marriage in the Church and have the government rely on something that's not Sacramental. It's not the most well-formed opinion and it's not even a consistent thought, but I do think about it."

    That's about as far as I've gotten on the issue, as well. I just don't see how we can turn this cultural tide and I kinda feel like the way to rescue REAL marriage is to leave it to the Catholic Church. Come, Lord Jesus!

  8. your church can make it's own decisions about who it chooses to marry, that's fine. but why should your church decide who has what LEGAL RIGHTS?! like the right to collect survivor benefits from social security when a spouse dies. Or the right to sit in the hospital with your spouse when they are ill. or the right to commit to a life together. Remember the whole 'separation of church and state' thing? It's not your church's place to decide who has legal rights.

    1. I think that's exactly what she (and the ones she quoted) *just* said is the heart of the argument - the Church is the protector & minister of MARRIAGE, not a civally recognized union. Inflammatory responses aren't helping anyone. No one above has said it's the Catholic Church's right to choose what legal rights are enforceable.

  9. I think many people are starting to see that it's not all or nothing - I too am in the camp that says let the state/federal over see the legal aspects and let folks decide who they want as their legal "partner"(and no, I don't think we shouldn't get in the way of anyone deciding who they want their benefits, pensions, hospital rights, etc. to go to), but we still have freedom of religion and let the churches be protected to say who they want to recognize.

    Sadly, I wish on the other side of the field that we'd buckle down about "traditional marriage" and bolster it from that side. Too many heterosexual couples see it as just a legal arrangement already and that is doing just as much harm. We're tearing ourselves down from the inside.

  10. This is a good article. I especially like this quote: "I ask only one thing. Tolerance. Tolerance for those whose faith and traditional beliefs put them in what is fast becoming the minority."

  11. I love your idea of leaving marriage for churches and something else for the government. I was talking to another Catholic friend of mine who is very anti-gay marriage. We talked through some of my problems to be against it...just because I don't see a legal ground to stop it and that I will rely much more on prayer to save people.

  12. Guh. I have been referencing this post like crazy all week. Thanks for the heads up!