As we all know, President Barack Hussein Obama announced that he now supports idea of so-called same sex “marriage”. This is no small thing, comingfrom no less that the bully pulpit of the office of the President of the United States of America.
To many, on the surface, it appears to be a cut and dried issue of equal rights, but to others it represents a clear and present danger which will lead to the destruction of the family and ultimately of society. This blogger takes the latter position without reservation.
Nevertheless, it is an extremely divisive issue, which now that the president has weighed in is going to cause alot of acrimony, but now serious discussion of the matter cannot be avoided any longer, and that discussion must remain civil and go beyond name calling on both sides.
This, I am republishing an excellent piece written by then Fr. now Bishop Thomas Dowd of the Archdiocese of Montreal who penned it when Canada was going through a similar wrangling, which unfortunately was resolved without consultation of the people, and thus unsatisfactorily. I defer to Bishop Dowd on this, since he has expressed his arguments in an academic non-confrontational and unemotional way. Sometimes it is best to step back and allow a more eloquent and qualified third party to speak, especially on a high stakes issue such as this. This comes from a Canadian perspective, written in 2005, but the reasoning is universal.
Here is the first part of his dissertaion:
The weakness of the public position of those opposing same-sex marriage
We had a meeting of our West Island deanery today (a “deanery” is, in our case, a regional grouping of parish priests or other priests working in that region), and the discussion turned — you guessed it — to the topic of same-sex marriage. It was quite freewheeling, and no-holds barred. I love it when that happens.
I must admit though, upon hearing what everyone was saying (and I include myself in that), that we really haven’t succeeded at articulating our position on same-sex marriage in a way that makes sense to many people. I think of Eric, who posted this message in a comments box some time ago:
A question I always had: Since there are technically a lot of marriages that aren’t “official” from the point of view of the Roman Catholic Church (took place outside, legal-only, Buddhist, etc.), why is so much being made of gay marriage? Aren’t they just one more on the list?
I am Roman Catholic and married, with a child and another on the way. Apparently, this definition of family is supposed to be threatened by the idea of gay marriage. We just don’t feel threatened. I’m open to the idea that I am viewing this incorrectly, so if someone could tell us why, that would be cool.
In an age of rampant divorce, cheating, etc. why would we get concerned that a loving couple would want the same civil (and only civil) rights as others? I would NEVER want to see legislation to force the church to marry gays and lesbians, but if it remans a civil matter, aren’t they just one more on the list?
“We just don’t feel threatened.” I think Eric captures the essence of the attitude of so many Canadians. This point needs to be taken seriously. I remember visiting my parents’ parish and hearing my very first homily on the subject. The preacher said, and I quote, “If this goes through, same-sex marriage will destroy the family.” The thing was, he never said *how*. I asked him about that in the sacristy afterwards. “Can you connect the dots for me on that one, please? How will it do this? I need for you to show me how legalizing same-sex marriage on Day 1 will lead to the destruction of the family on Day 1000. I’m not saying there isn’t a connection. I’m just saying that the connection isn’t obvious. So what are the intermediate steps?”
I’m still waiting for an answer. In the meantime, the teacher in me is looking for the necessary pedagogy to be able to provide an answer to honest people like Eric, an answer that will be more than clever rhetoric or an argument from authority. One thing I always admired about St. Thomas Aquinas is that he really understood the points his intellectual opponents were trying to make, sometimes better than they did. And he never shied away from addressing those points square on, with great humility and unassailable logic. It was never ad hominem with St. Thomas.
Nor can it be with us. I do not begrudge those who will defend traditional marriage with their flyers and their bullhorns. Go for it! You are defending a good cause. As for myself, though, I’m a teacher, not a social activist. My charism is to clarify and explain. And so that is what I am going to try and do. Eric, thank you! I hope any answers I can provide can do your question justice.
Second Installment to follow: Dot I: Natural Family Bonds