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The Holy Father would have made a terrific relationships counsellor

One US ‘expert’, on the other hand, believes that people are just not cut out for monogamy

By on Thursday, 15 September 2011

Benedict XVI meets engaged couples in the Italian city of Ancona (Photo: CNS)

Benedict XVI meets engaged couples in the Italian city of Ancona (Photo: CNS)

According to an article in last Sunday’s Telegraph Magazine by John Preston entitled, “Is monogamy making us miserable?”, a certain Dan Savage, who I hadn’t heard of but who is apparently “America’s leading relationships columnist”, suggests that as a species we are not cut out for monogamy. Savage, who is homosexual himself, believes that heterosexuals could learn from people of same-sex attraction. He declares: “My partner’s fidelity to me is as important as anyone who’s in a monogamous relationship with somebody else; we just don’t define sexual exclusivity as the be-all and end-all of commitment. In other words, we’re faithful to each other, but sometimes we have sex with other people. However, that in no way violates our commitment to each other.”

My first thought on reading this was, “What in heaven’s name is he doing as a relationship advisor?” My second thought was, “You can’t separate ‘sex’ from ‘fidelity’ in this casual fashion.” Luckily John Preston agreed with me. I don’t know what his religious beliefs are, if indeed he has any, but he showed masterly common sense in his response to the claptrap above.

He writes: “Is it time to draw down the curtain on monogamy… Before we do, let us pause for a moment.” Canvassing a panel of his friends for their views, he continues: “All have succumbed to temptation. All cling feverishly to the idea that they’ve done nothing that bad; they’ve simply followed their instincts. Yet there’s something else they have in common: all are divorced and all are steeped in record levels of confusion, misery and self-pity…To be unfaithful can never be a minor infraction. It is a betrayal – there’s no way round this.”

He concludes: “And whatever this or that survey may say, once broken, the bond of trust between two people frequently proves impossible to repair. You look at your partner with new eyes and wonder if you ever really knew them in the first place – if whatever you shared wasn’t just a sham.” Preston quotes relationship counsellor Andrew Marshall, author of How Can I Ever Trust You Again? From Infidelity to Recovery in Seven Steps, who says he has never met a heterosexual couple who have made licensed infidelity work: “You’re playing with fire and you’ll almost certainly get burned… and any children you may have are almost certain to suffer too.” Not surprisingly, Dan Savage wasn’t thinking about children.

Then I read the words of Pope Benedict in Ancona on September 12, addressed to hundreds of young couples who had told him that they were worried about “the definitive nature of marriage”. He said to them: “Educate yourself on the freedom of fidelity. It leads to a life where you can care for one another until the point where you live for one another. Get ready to choose ‘forever’ with conviction, because that is the true expression of love.” And he reminded them that love is based on “gratitude, sacrifice, forgiveness and mutual respect”.

What wonderful and inspiring words. In another life the Holy Father could have made a terrific relationships counsellor.

  • Krista

    Certainly most people who have committed infidelity are divorced, but it’s not necessarily because they committed infidelity.  It is because the marriage was unable to survive the infidelity because of the insistence of some groups of people — unfortunately still a majority at this point, I think — that sexual fidelity is the single most important factor in a marriage.  Never mind that a couple may have wonderful intimacy, share lives together, history, children.  Never mind that there might be 100 things to keep them together other than sexual exclusivity — society tells us that having sex with another person is the ultimate betrayal of a marriage. 

    Of course, it then fails to tell us how incredibly common infidelity is among long-term relationships, how people are not naturally inclined to monogamy, how some people are able to very successfully navigate non-monogamous relationships, and how, when understanding these things, people are able to approach sexual infidelity (or, perhaps before the point of sexual infidelity, sexual exclusivity) in a marriage in a healthier, more human way that can actually *strengthen* the marriage.

    But, no, better we should just tell everyone that if somebody doesn’t manage to have sex with only one person for 40 or 60 years of their lives — in other words, if somebody is unable to maintain the Pope’s “perfect ideal” of a marriage — that the person is scum and the marriage is worthless.  Yes, that’s certainly *much* better for society.

  • Anonymous

    “One can pick and chose” – no when it comes to true love, one cannont. One must give oneself unconditionally. For richer for poorer, for better for worse. Anything else is just using the person.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe because it was 3am in the morning when it was asked?

  • Anonymous

    If you read the Catholic press regularly you would have seen this. If you just crop up here when it pops up on your newsfeed for trolling material then you won’t.

    As an example you might like to look at the Diocese of Boston which now publishes on-line  diocesan priests who have even been accused of abuse.

    Sorry that reality doesn’t always fit in with your narrative.

  • blondein_tokyo

    Just because a book is popular doesn’t make it true. If you want to assert that the Bible is true, you need to present actual evidence for that. Please post that evidence here so that we can see it, then we’ll be able to have a discussion in regards to whether or not we should take guidance from it. Until then, you can not assert that we should. As for “Naturally-divined order”, there are examples of homosexuality in nature, so it is indeed “natural”. Whether it is GOOD or not is another issue. And before you quote your Bible at us, do remember that you first have to prove it’s divinity and it’s truth before you can use it to make ANY assertions regarding morality.

  • blondein_tokyo

    Aearon43: The comparisons are NOT valid.  To make a comparison valid you have to show that the things you compare share the same characteristics- so let’s take a look and see if they do. First, rape and beastiality are both illegal.  Rape is a non-consensual violent sex act against a person with the intent to do harm.  Beastality is also a non-consensual sex act. Animals can not give consent, and therefore beastiality is also sexual abuse.  In contrast, homosexual sex and sodomy (we take those separately because sodomy- buttsex- is not a homosexual act- straight people have buttsex too!) are NOT illegal (see 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas.) In addition, homosexual sex and sodomy are consensual acts between adults. 

    Your personal “ick factor” regarding all three is not a valid characteristic for comparison because it is subjective rather than factual.
    With that, I think I have established that the three in fact have nothing in common; therefore the comparison is invalid, and you sir, are a bigot of the first class.

  • blondein_tokyo

    Also let’s emphasize the clear teachings of the book “Opening Up” on the sacred nature of trust. Open marriages demand total openness and honesty, self-sacrifice (you don’t get everything you want!) and mutual love and respect on the part of husband and wife. Non-monogamy is natural; recent studies (best described in the book “Sex at Dawn”) have shown that it’s ingrained in our species to desire more than one partner, and in fact evidence from anthropology, archeology, primatology, anatomy and psychosexuality show how far from human nature sexual monogamy really is. A happy marriage (monogamous or non) has been found to be the best environment to bring up and nourish children as well as being beneficial to the well being of the couple involved and society as a whole. Wow, what a wonderful ideas are behind this concept of “to each his own” and how beneficial to the well-being of the individual and their personal pursuit of happiness!

  • blondein_tokyo

    The roadmaster- Why, yes! In fact, I am in a polyamorus relationship now. I am confused, however, by your citation of Biblical teachings. I don’t see how they apply, considering that I am not a Christian. It seems you have mistaken your own personal idea of morality as being universal and applicable to everyone. It is not. To paraphrase Johnny Paycheck, “take your Bible and shove it.” :)

  • sunmountain

    So…a relationship counselor “says he has never met a heterosexual couple who have made licensed infidelity work”.  He’s a counselor, he only sees people when they are having problems.  You can’t logically conclude that his perspective is objective or complete.

  • Anonymous

    Furthermore, it’s interesting that Savage does not seem to
    appreciate the logic behind it. That is, its force, ironically for
    Savage, derives from the grotesque nature of homosexuality. Savage
    unwittingly (?) assumed that people have a natural revulsion to
    homosexual sex, thus would laugh at Santorum being humiliated.

    No, no.  The new definition of santorum involves anal sex, which is an activity in which all people, gay and straight, male and female (lesbians, too!) can participate and take enjoyment (if that’s what they’re into).  The grossness of santorum comes not from its association with gay sex (which many people find somewhere between erotic and uninteresting) but its association with feces (which most people find gross).  Feces does not have to be a part of anal sex if you do it properly, but it sometimes happens.  Just like gay-bashing doesn’t have to be a part of American politics… but it sometimes happens.  So it’s useful to have a word for it.   

  • Anonymous

    Right, “bigot” of course. Can we have a grown-up discussion and leave the name calling to the schoolchildren.

    It’s interesting that you mention Lawrence v. Texas, because that was precisely the context in which Santorum made his comments. That case was pending at the time, so, at that time, sodomy was illegal in the state of Texas. Sodomy has been prohibited legally throughout the world for thousands of years and remains illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The post-modern, Western world is in the historical minority in considering all types of sex morally equal. So it is certainly a conservative view that it should remain illegal, but calling me a “bigot” is simply a cop-out and an ad hominem, and lowers the tone of the discussion.

    You are correct that both heterosexuals and homosexuals engage in sodomy; however, only heterosexual sex is capable of not being sodomy. Anyone who has a basic understanding of biology can see why a normative view of procreative sex is, actually, factual and objective, not subjective. I assume you know where babies come from…

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for proving my point. Excellent satire; however, I believe you forgot to call me a “bigot.”

  • Kevin

    If the pope were truly making “very positive steps” on child sex abuse cases he wouldn’t have given shelter to the Cardinal of Boston, who very clearly knew what was going on as he desperately moved priest-rapists from one parish to another. Instead of a high-level non-job in the Vatican the good Cardinal should be in prison awaiting trial, but thanks to the pope and his “very positive steps” the law can’t reach him.

  • Kevin

    “Some remarks about homosexuality”?  The man compared homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality. Those are not just “some remarks”. They are vile, contemptuous calumnies that, unrepented of, according to this Church’s own teachings, ought to earn him a spot in hell for bearing false witness. Santorum made a loathsome attack on an entire group of people, on the basis of a characteristic that even the benighted Catholic Church with its almost-up-to-medieval views on science understands is an innate characteristic, all for political points, and he whines when someone turns the tables and makes fun of him?

    The best people to advise on woodworking are not academicians who sit around thinking about wood but people who actually work with wood. The best people to advise on relationships are not celibate (except for the occasional child-rapist) men who sit around theorizing on relationships but people who have actually lived in one, have friends in them, have done the hard work personally to make the relationship thrive and who have seen first-hand what does and doesn’t help a relationship survive. I’d take his views more seriously than the pope’s on relationships any day of the week.

  • Anonymous

    Dude, so not satire– I meant every word. If you’re not into anal sex, you don’t have to have it, but that doesn’t make it innately and inherently more disgusting than other kinds of sex.  (All of which, even the procreative kind are, well, kind of squishy, and likely to stain the sheets.)     

    And I don’t know whether you’re a bigot.  Do you think that gay people should be treated differently from straight people because you find what we do gross/you believe your God has forbidden it?  If so, then yes, you kind of are.  Because you’re judging an entire group of people negatively based on your uninformed perception of one aspect of us, not on the qualities of each individual.  That’s what bigotry is. 

  • Kevin

    And so, procreative sex is the only acceptable kind?

    If so, that means sex between infertile or sterile people ought to be treated the same, in your view, as sodomy. Women who’ve had the menopause ought to be forbidden to have sex because they can’t bear children. Good to know where you stand.

  • Kevin

    But Prescott, of course, misses the central point: it’s in how you define “fidelity”. For one couple, it’s okay if each partner does whatever they want, on their own time, as long as sex isn’t involved. That’s the conventional definition of “fidelity” (which is more correctly labeled “monogamy”). For another couple, the act of having sex, per se, with an outside party by one partner doesn’t threaten the stability of the relationship, but meeting in secret for lunch with someone else, three times a week, to share their hopes and dreams (while not sharing this information with the partner back home) is far more devastating a violation of “fidelity”.

    And as Savage has pointed out, we are human. Sometimes, we make mistakes. Under the classic formulation, sleeping with someone outside the marriage was grounds for ending the marriage on the spot, no matter how much else the relationship might have going for it. Which is worse for the marriage: Understanding that there may be an occasional outside fling, and being prepared to deal with it, or holding the partner to an absolute standard and dissolving the marriage if he (or she) slips up once?

    Because Savage is not advocating (as he’s made clear) that every marriage should be open for both partners to do whatever they wish – although he says that for those who do, they should be able to do so; he’s advocating for couples *trying* for the closest approximation to monogamy that they can manage (“monogamish”) without being ready to make an enormous fuss over the gap between the two.

  • Kevin

    Correction, roadmaster: Modern studies have shown that two-partner households in legally recognized committed relationships are, on the whole, better for raising children than single-parent ones – and that is primarily because it means either both parents can work, providing a more financially stable environment for the child, or one parent can be primary breadwinner and the other can focus on child-rearing. That’s ALL that the “modern studies” have conclusively demonstrated. Whether or not those two parents are husband and wife, two husbands, or two wives made no difference.

    Also, correction: marriage as a transaction between families extended well into medieval times in the Christian world and in some areas much later than that. That’s simply a fact.

  • SundaysChild

    Good on ya, Dude!

  • SundaysChild

    Sorry, aeron43, you’re wrong.  The anti-sodomy laws of several US states, Georgia among them, applied to heterosexuals too.  Your ‘post-modern, Western world’ is a straw-nation.  There is significant legal (and moral) difference between sex between same-sex adults and sex with children or animals.  No one has the right to impose their morality upon another without the other’s consent.  Miscegenation was a crime in a huge number of American states until the 1950s and 60s.  Marriage or sexual relations between members of different religions has been criminalized throughout history.  Do you believe these facts somehow back up your argument from authority?  They have no more authority than you have legitimate argument. 

  • Anonymous

    We are not enslaved to our animal passions, how biologically ingrained they maybe.  We are supposed to be mammalian creatures at the upper end of development in the animal kingdom and thus should be able to master temptation when it comes our way.  Virtue does not come easy but practice can make perfect if we work at it.  The bar is set high but we should not not set our sights below that.

  • SundaysChild

    Amen, Kevin!  Bring Law before the law!!  There have been few more egregious acts of protecting the hierarchy at the expense of the faithful than this shameful piece of ass-covering by the fast-tracked-for-canonization, J2P2. 

  • SundaysChild

    True that!  Savage and his partner Terry have not only considered the good of their own child, but have worked to help the thousands of children who are made to suffer because their are “different.”  No religious organization has done anything comparable to the “It Gets Better” program started by Dan and Terry.

  • suffer_the_children

    @aearon43: since you won’t be able to cry about how persecuted poor christians are without it, here you go: yup, you’re a bigot. 

  • Anonymous

    Correction, Kev,  The criteria used in studies which report that there is no major differentials in terms of outcomes for children involving children raised by two members of the same sex on one hand and those raised by a husband and wife on the other, have been criticized by leading child psychologists and others for not being wide enough and thus lacking rigor.  Most of the authors of the reports already have a bias in favor of same-sex relationships and thus have preconceived ideas from the start regarding the direction that the reports will take.  Statistics reveal that same-sex relationships have a greater break-down rate than the much more stable marital relationships between husband and wife and this leads to psychological problems for the kids effected, in terms of anti-social behavior and bunking school.
    Further correction, marriage was not simply a transaction between a man and woman as any decent history book will tell you. I grant you that a lot of considerations came into play regarding the reasons for a marital union, dynastic deals, dowries,legitimacy of offspring etc but the common glue which held them together would be the ultimate compatibility between the couple.  The Church sacramentalized marriage around the 12th century to emphasize the sacred bond that it contained between one man and one woman.

  • Anonymous

    Well, Blondein, this is a Catholic Christian forum and thus if a contributor cites scripture and verse then do not be totally surprised.  I see that you are a paragon of civility as Johnny Paycheck might say.  Get used to the Christian point of view.  If you cannot take the heat, get out of the kitchen. 

  • Dave

    “It would be appropriate to provide the same level of legal scrutiny and oversight to other organizations that come into contact with children”. Can’t argue with that, except that attempts to subject the church to ANY legal scrutiny have been systematically obstructed by a leadership that cares more about protecting priests than children.

    Most (all?) organizations beside religious organizations which have contact with children are held to far higher standards than the church. In addition, anyone in one of these organizations who breaks the law will be prosecuted, not moved to another jurisdiction or even whisked off to some other country.

  • Anonymous

    Which do you think is more natural (i.e., in keeping with the objective nature of human beings): procreative sex, or sodomy?   Likewise, which do you think is more natural, eating food that makes you healthy (determined objectively by its effect on your body), or food which you find subjectively to be satisfying but which does not contribute to health? Wouldn’t you say that the latter type of food perverts the natural idea of what food is supposed to be?

    Human beings are naturally disgusted at fecal matter and things associated with feces and defecation. I don’t drink water from a toilet, however theoretically safe this activity might be made to be. There is something perverse and unnatural about drinking water from a toilet, even a very clean one, wouldn’t you agree?

    I do distinguish between people with homosexual inclinations and practicing sodomites. I try not to judge people as such but I do judge actions.

  • Anonymous

    Not exactly, but sex must be open to the creation of new life. If you are infertile or menopausal, then it would not be a perversion of sexuality to have sex, because it is not through your actions that you cannot conceive. The difference is whether you yourself are preventing conception, or whether it is prevented externally. That is where I stand.

  • Anonymous

    Ok, it’s true he could have done more to highlight the distinction between homosexual sex (and heterosexual sodomy) and people with homosexual inclinations who are chaste. However, not many homosexuals, I think, are chaste. Homosexual acts are not innate characteristics. I suspect you are aware of this fact and are simply splitting hairs for rhetorical effect.

    Kevin, if you’re not a Catholic and don’t care what the pope or other people who “sit around thinking” say, why are you on this web site? Understandably, Catholics do care what the pope says, and it is part of our religion that we consider the pope to have a special teaching authority. I’m not really interested in going into the details here, but Fr. Robert Barron has a great new book and documentary out called Catholicism, if you’re interested in learning more about the Catholic Church.

  • Anonymous

    Well one person’s “morality” may not be someone else’s or as the proverb  goes “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”.  But this subjective treatment of what constitutes moral standards in society muddies the waters and seriously undermines  the vows that a couple make to each-other during the marriage ceremony.  Marriage first and foremost, is a covenant before God which a couple promise to uphold and obey.  If one of the couple break their marital promise regarding fidelity by indulging in extra-marital affairs then clearly a serious breach of trust has been committed.  it is also a serious violation of biblical precepts and thus a serious sin. The ideal response to this would be for the couple concerned to renew their commitment to each-other as a reaction to such a disloyal act and forgive if not forget. If someone cannot control their libido in terms of having partners other than their spouse, then marriage is not for them. 

     The term “monogamish” is a cop-out and it is used here to create a fuzzy, grey area between a firm commitment to monogamy and a continuous tendency to look for one’s fun outside the marital bed.

  • Anonymous

    “The anti-sodomy laws of several US states, Georgia among them, applied to heterosexuals too. ”

    Correct. I would add that before the 20th century, sodomy was illegal pretty much everywhere in the entire world (although perhaps only rarely prosecuted).

    “Your ‘post-modern, Western world’ is a straw-nation. ”

    Perhaps. I think you know exactly what I meant, though.

    “There is significant legal (and moral) difference between sex between same-sex adults and sex with children or animals.”

    There is some difference, yes. Yet the acts are clearly comparable in some sense. Each is a distortion of the natural function of sexuality in a human being. The latter two example compound the distortion by the use of force or the abuse of authority.

    “No one has the right to impose their morality upon another without the other’s consent. ”

    That’s a queer statement, for several reasons. First, it is itself an imposition of morality: Moral judgments are prohibited. Second, setting aside that logical difficulty, I think you would agree that laws against beastiality are acceptable. Yet don’t they, too, impose morality? Don’t all laws, customs, taboos, and basic expectations of politeness impose morality? Why must that to be outlawed?

    “Miscegenation was a crime in a huge number of American states until the 1950s and 60s. Marriage or sexual relations between members of different religions has been criminalized throughout history.”

    Correct. However, unlike sex, religion and race are not natural categories.

  • Anonymous

    Given all my observations of humans (and I’ve observed a whole bunch), it’s in keeping with human nature for different people to act differently, about everything.  From taste in snack foods to taste in sexual practices; different people are drawn to different things.  There is no one “natural” way to be– the nature of humanity is to vary. 

    And that’s why humans, as a species, are so strong, and so able to thrive in so many different environments.  Pretty much no matter what skill or aptitude is needed for a situation, there’s a person somewhere who has it.  I do indeed find toilets gross, but the next time I need a plumber, I’m going to be glad that there are people who find toilets less inherently gross than I do. 

    Because there’s almost nothing that is healthy for everybody.  The green leafy vegetables that are healthy for me would kill my friend with Crohn’s disease; different diets and different types of exercise are helpful and healthy for people with different bodies and metabolisms.  (Did you know that almost nobody actually looks exactly like an anatomy diagram?  People have variations in size and shape, different numbers of bones, organs in different places than the textbook says they should– and it’s perfectly healthy for them.

    So, yes, I think it’s very natural for people to have different types of sex drives and sexual inclinations.  Not just in terms of object… in how we want to have sex, in how often we want to have sex, with how many people– there are no constants.  Everyone is different.  I think that’s a good thing, because our diversity leads to greater creativity.  Different people having
    different perspectives, and so lots of different ideas.  That’s why we
    have such amazing technological innovations, such gorgeous art and music
    and architecture.  But it’s how it is no matter what my opinion of it is. 


    Also… you judge people who have homosexual sex.  Do you judge us negatively?  Like, as a whole group, not as individuals? 

  • Anonymous

    Well, Blondein, the bible is a complex mixture of history, poetry,biography and moral reference guide.  No-one claims that the  core 40 or so writers who compiled and transcribed the 66 books of the New and Old Testament canons over a period of 3000 years or more, got everything right as they were fallible men.  But if such a work in it’s totality was false, then how do we explain it’s universal appeal still after thousands of years, other than the providence of a Divine Creator.  

    The O.T contains over 60 different prophecies with 300 references which refer to the coming of a Messiah or Savior which we know to be the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  We know that a historic person called Christ existed as seen through the first-hand eye-witness accounts in the 4 synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  The supernatural basis of Christ’s claim to be the Son of God is vindicated through the descriptions given of the miracles and empty tomb after His resurrection from the dead, given by the apostles and other witnesses in the biblical accounts.

     Extra-biblical sources like the great Roman historian Tacticus describes the growth of Christianity inspired by a Man called “Christus” who was put to death by “one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate”.
    In terms of historical accuracy of the events recorded in the bible, here is what Nelson Glueck one of the premier experts in Israeli archaeology has to say-
    “No archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries.”

  • blondein_tokyo

    “If such a work was false, how could we explain it’s universal appeal.” You are starting on the premise that it is true, without providing evidence that it is true, and yet expect your belief to be taken as fact. This is working a proof backwards, which is a logical fallacy. If you wish to convince others of your belief, you need to provide evidence. Until then, I have no reason whatsoever to believe the Bible is anything more than collection of fairytales.

  • blondein_tokyo

    A bigot is, according to Websters, “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” I think you fit the bill, and honestly, am not sure why you wouldn’t just embrace this title with pride. Are you ashamed of your anti-homosexual beliefs? Don’t you want to stand up and be counted as someone who is against homosexuality? If so, then why not embrace your bigotry, and cry from the rooftops, “Yes! I am against homosexuals! I am prejudiced against them, and they should be treated with intolerance due to their refusal to embrace (what I see as) normality!”You also fit the definition of being obstinate and devoted to your prejudices. I clearly showed that there  is no validity in comparing consensual sex acts with non-consensual, violent sex acts, yet you refuse to concede. If you think that I have not proven my point, I invite you to present your reasoning; otherwise, you must concede.As for sodomy, I think to continue the discussion we have to define it more clearly. If you are in fact defining sodomy as “anal intercourse” then you are wrong in saying that “only heterosexual sex is capable of not being sodomy”.  To clarify, (correct me if I am wrong) you believe that the only sex homosexuals can have is anal sex. There are two points that can refute this claim: 1) Lesbians, who by definition are homosexuals, don’t have penisis, and therefore aren’t capable of sodomy. 2) There are many sex acts both male and female homosexuals are capable of (oral sex; manual) that do not involve anal penetration.As for your assertion that “a normative view of procreative sex is factual and objective”, I invite you to provide your reasoning for this. Where do you get the idea that ONLY heterosexual sex is “normal”? Considering that homosexual sex has been seen pretty much across the board in nature, it seems that homosexuality is actually quite natural; and therefore “normal”. And please provide your definition of “normal”. In and of itself, the definition of “normal” is very highly subjective.

  • blondein_tokyo

    Morality IS subjective. First though, we have to be clear what we are discussing, so let’s first define “morality”. Basically, the term morality can be used for either a. codes of conduct put forth by society; or b. another group, such as a religion. Due to our large and diverse society, this creates problems because different characteristics are offered up by each society to define their moral code. Simply put, different societies have different moral codes. Therefore, for the code to be accepted by the group as a whole, those persons whose behavior is being judged must all be under agreement as to the characteristics of this code. In other words, people who are part of the group will only accept moral judgements made by other members of the same group, with whom they are in agreement with regarding the tenets of their morality.

     This means that if one is NOT a member of that society or group, and is not as an individual accepting the descriptive definition, then this morality has no implication as to how one should behave. As an example, you are holding Biblical codes up as your personal code of conduct; so you and others in your group are in agreement as to the tenets of your moral code, and as such, are subject to it.

    However, those who are not in your group, who do NOT accept your definition of morality, are not going to find your code of conduct acceptable and will be in disagreement with you over your insistence that they adhere to it.

    In other words, you don’t get to force your morality onto other people, because your personal religion is not the arbiter of morality for the entirety of mankind. :)

  • Anonymous

    Can you really say that about the scouting organisations, public school system, or institutes for sports coaches?  There has been shocking instances of  these organizations in the US  covering up suspected or proven cases of child abuse by people within their own ranks. The Boy Scouts of America  in 2010 was found to have kept secret thousands of “perversion files” on suspected child molesters for decades.  The public school system in the US has been wracked in recent years by cover-ups concerning abuse cases and the shifting of staff to prevent detection. I  would venture that the Catholic Church has one of the most thorough systems of child protection at present in Ireland, UK or indeed the US and this has been achieved the hard way.

  • Anonymous

    You have misunderstood my point which is that the Bible is so foundational to the development of Western Europe and Middle Eastern societies that it is highly unlikely that a “collection of fairtytales” as you so crassly describe this holy book, would achieve that.  The best art, music, architecture and legal and parliamentary systems in Europe can trace their lineage to this book. We would not have achieved our common understanding of human rights, guaranteed in constitutional form in many jurisdictions without it. Thus the Bible in it’s teachings provides us with transcendental values which tells us the truth about the value of each person and this has fed into the development of societies across time.
    I have already provided you with evidence concerning the gospels which provide first-hand accounts of the existence of a historical personage called Jesus who claimed to be the Son of God, the miracles He worked and the reality of an empty tomb after His resurrection.  I have gave a concrete example of an extra-biblical source as well.

  • Anonymous

    You have just described the phenomenon known as Moral Relativism i.e everyone’s opinion regarding morality is as good as the next without any version coming out on top.  When this non-judgmental system of approaching ethical standards is applied to society, it in essence leaves a vacuum at the centre  We can see the legacy that this leaves as in the recent riotous outbreaks in GB, which admittedly had other contributory factors as well.  Catholics and Christians in general propose solutions based on biblical precepts rather than impose them.  Catholic morality illuminates the dignity and integrity of each person, based on the Creator’s love for them and this is reflected in strong convictions regarding a pro-life ethos from conception to natural death.  Further extensions of this can be seen in such areas as Social Justice which emphasizes the inherent rights of workers across the world to enjoy the dignity and fruits of work without suffering from exploitation.

  • Tom Baxter

    Sodomy is not forbidden by law, at least in the US. Bestiality is not a crime in all states. In Florida, it wasn’t illegal until recently, when a law was passed criminalizing all sex between all people and animals, which also criminalized all sex between people. Rape of men, women and children is still a crime.

  • blondein_tokyo

    Just because a book is influential (and I am not conceding it is) doesn’t make it true. In addition, ithere has been no consensus among scholars regarding the existence of Jesus. There are views from reputable scholars, both religious and secular, on both sides of the fence. If you somehow are in possession of irrefutable proof that Jesus did indeed exist, AND that he is indeed the “son of God” (though you actually haven’t specified which God to which you refer, I’ll assume it’s the Christian God) I and the rest of the world would be very excited indeed to see it.  Please do post it (including references and citations). 

    But i won’t hold my breath. If this amazing proof actually existed, it would have been announced with great fanfare and be widely published,  as it is a question that many people around the world have been pondering for centuries :) 

    “Extra-Biblical sources?” What other sources can you possibly use as proof and expect to be taken seriously? You can’t use the Bible itself to prove it is truth-  that’s circular logic, which is a fallacy. If you want to convince anyone, you’re going to need to provide outside sources of tits truth. Feel free to post links for our evaluation.

    And finally- human rights? Are you INSANE? This is not an ad hominem attack, but a genuine question, because the Bible supports both slavery and misogyny, and contains references to numerous acts of genocide which were not only approved by, but ORDERED by the Christian God. I’m honestly wondering if you’ve lost your faculties to bring up such an easily refuted claim.  

  • MrFoster

    Oh.  Catholic Herald UK. I look forward to reading your assessment of the Pope’s indictment by the European court for covering up all the child molestations and hiding criminal child molesters. I suppose it’s to be expected that a Catholic publication would divert attention away from the Pope’s crimes by manufacturing a logical fallacy; in this case, a straw man using Dan Savage. We do understand that it’s easier to attack the “other” rather than defend the actions of the leader of your faith.

    Carry on. That’s how your Pope got himself into his current state of international disgrace. Francis Phillips seems to have not learned that.

  • MrFoster

    I wonder if Francis Phillips is aware how it makes millions of people cringe to see the Pope standing near a child.

  • Anonymous

    A man called Jesus walked this earth over 2000 years ago.  This is recorded by both Jewish and Roman historians of the period in which this historical personage lived.  Also we have eye-witness accounts both from the apostles who accompanied Jesus during his ministry.  Also as I have explained to you the archaeological record tallies with a lot of the events as they are recorded in both the OT and NT books of the Bible. I use extra-biblical sources as a back-up to the claims in the bible to reinforce the historical reality of incidents and personages as described in it’s pages.  Here are some useful links for you to peruse concerning the archaeological and historical proof for biblical events

    The truth about the dignity and worth of every human is contained within the bible and this is reflected in much of the positive developments that have happened concerning a broad range of humane policies and legislation passed in Western parliaments within the last 200-300 years.  Some will claim that the Enlightenment movement in 18th century Europe provided the intellectual grounding for these attitudes regarding society.  But if truth be told, the watchwords of the French Revolution, equality, liberty and fraternity are rooted very much in the Christian tradition and herein lies the evidence which backs up the truth of those who claim the Bible to be the guarantor of truth about the destiny of humanity.
    What is your quibble about my point concerning the evolution of human rights which originally had deep Christian roots?   The English Magna Carta document of 1215 which is viewed as the progenitor of modern constitutional rights, was based on Christian Ideals i.e people’s right to live free from oppression and with  dignity.  I know your point about slavery but it was tolerated as a custom in OT times but this unpalatable practice varied in terms of severity from region to region.  Verses in both Leviticus and Deuteronomy urged the humane treatment of slaves under a person’s care.   Jesus never had a political program to abolish it as an institution but rather to set all people free in a spiritual sense.  Christ’s kingdom extended to all classes of society and no discrimination existed in His pronouncements.  Also Jesus through his ministry acknowledged the talents and worth of women who accompanied him through the trials and tribulations during his ministry on earth.  There are some disturbing accounts of bloody warfare and mass slaughter in the OT but this was the reality of the times as the ancient nation of Israel through generations of leadership from kings and patriarchs fought to survive attacks from rival nations, enforced slavery etc.  These are not indicative of the loving nature of the Judaeo-Christian God who sent His only begotten son to free humanity from the slavery of sin and death through His death and resurrection as described in the gospels of the NT.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder what your reaction would be if the evidence is thrown out on the grounds of “no smoking” gun found?  Our current pope has been in the vanguard of updating Church canon law regulations and policies to deal with the global cases of abuse that has come his way.  In 2005 as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he personally requested that all cases passing through the system should be personally administered by him with the sole object of expediting the defrocking of proven abusers and dispensing justice more quickly for victims.  He as pope in 2005 personally fought successfully against internal Vatican resistance to penalizing Fr Macial, the disgraced founder of the Legion of Christ order who was a serial abuser of seminarians and minors.  Also he has met with many victims of such abuse during his apostolic voyages abroad. So we will see, if you resort to ad hominem or strawman attacks in the wake of this ICC indictment fails to prove any credible conspiracy concerning pope Benedict XV1.

  • Anonymous

    Many people, and gays, object to the word homosexual. It does not have good connotations. You used to be able to be locked up, and chemically castrated for being a ‘homosexual’.

    I may sound like a pedant, but if you speak to most people who are gay – that is how they will express how they are. Those of differing sexualities often unite under the banner of ‘LBGT’ – lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgendered. Not LBHT you notice. Most use, and want the term gay.
    Homosexual (although I am sure in this article is not meant), can appear condescending, disgusted or looking down upon.

    We are careful about the terms we use to describe different races. ‘Negro’ or ‘Coloured’ are simply not suitable any more. I fully comprehend the difference in severity in the comparison with terms for black people – but it is not like gays have also been unfairly arrested, persecuted, bullied and lynched and even gassed in the same way.

    I think bearing in mind the Church’s opinion that, quoting the catechism: ‘They (gays) must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.’
    I think that in order to be ‘compassionate’ and ‘respectful’ the most we can do is to use a word that they are more comfortable with, and does not have the ring of institutional and societal persecution. I would hope you give this a thought…

  • Anonymous

    You may disagree with Savage’s thoughts on marriage, but he has done great things to help stop the countless suicides each year of gay youth.

    The ‘It gets better’ project against bullying of gay children – in order to try and curb suicide and depression amongst gay youth should be highly praised.

    I can’t remember the last event the Church supported to try and stop suicide and depression amongst gay teenagers and children.

  • larrybutz

    And he’s made great strides toward combating the literal plague of AIDS in Africa by advocating responsible condom use, right?