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How to argue against same-sex marriage

Peter D Williams says that the faithful can defend traditional marriage convincingly if we keep our language moderate and our tone light

By on Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A wedding cake made by supporters of same-sex marriage depicts a male and a female couple (PA photo)

A wedding cake made by supporters of same-sex marriage depicts a male and a female couple (PA photo)

The Sunday before last, the Archbishops of Westminster and Southwark sent a letter to be read out in every Catholic parish in England and Wales reminding the faithful of the nature and importance of marriage, and our responsibility as Christians to defend marriage for our sake and that of future generations. This letter was prompted by the Coalition Government’s stated intention to introduce legislation that would redefine marriage as a gender-neutral institution, opening up the way for same-sex couples to receive the right to solemnise their relationships as marriage on a par with heterosexual couples. This is a political action that, if we are to value the institution of marriage, and protect its integrity, we must all in good conscience (in keeping with the Church’s teaching, reflected in the archbishops’ letter) actively and strenuously oppose.

The best way to do this is to submit a contribution to the Government’s current consultation on same-sex marriage, which asks as its first question what respondents think of the basic proposal. As many Catholics as possible should write in making their views known. For many, however, this may seem a daunting task. The arguments against same-sex marriage seem counter-intuitive to the culture in which we live, and those who stick their head above the parapet to argue against the idea are frequently mocked, and slandered, as hopelessly antediluvian, homophobic bigots. As Christians, however, we know that God never asks us to do something that He does not give us the grace, strength, and ability to accomplish. Correspondingly, both a rational and powerful case against the re-definition of marriage, and an effective method of presenting it, are open to us.

The starting point in explaining why marriage should not be re-defined is precisely the one that the archbishops have described: the nature and purpose of marriage. In every culture throughout history, marriage has been the union of a man and a woman that is inherently fulfilled by, and is intrinsically oriented to, the generation of children. Marriage exists to provide the stability of formalised monogamous fidelity, which not only benefits the man and woman who enter into it, but forms the best atmosphere in which the children who result from their union can best be brought up. Indeed, the husband and wife consummate their union precisely by acts of sexual intercourse that do not just unite them together in love, but form the behaviour of reproduction. The nature of marriage, then, is a result of human nature, as our species has evolved to pair sexually as male and female, and in such a way that will result in the next generation being born and raised. It is, in this sense, a natural institution, and a fundamental part of what the Holy Father has called “human ecology”.

Marriage is also, therefore, a fundamental element of what the Church calls, the “common good”, by which we mean those institutions and conditions that lead to the flourishing of all human beings. We might say the common good is our “social ecology” – the social conditions that create the most beneficial culture for the good of humanity. Marriage forms the bedrock of the family – the basic unit of society – and it is therefore in the interests of the state to support and promote it. This is why the natural institution of marriage became a civil institution, regulated and recognised by government. By providing a formal and official recognition of marriage, our society prescribes the conjugal union of husband and wife as an ideal form of relationship. This reflects what we know about marriage: that it helps bind husband and wife together in faithfulness, and forms the best context in which to bring up children.

Why, then, should changing the definition of marriage, in order to include a small minority of same-sex couples, be deleterious to this fundamental human institution? For David Cameron, and other members of the Coalition Government, marriage is certainly beneficial insofar as it affirms “fidelity and commitment”, so why not allow two men or two women this affirmation? The rational answer to this is simply that marriage is not about “fidelity and commitment” alone. Marriage necessarily involves the possibility of the generation and bringing up of children, and by extending civil marriage to same-sex couples the state would be, on a very basic level, re-defining marriage itself. This is a move that would have profound and harmful consequences, in two particular ways that we may currently foresee.

The first of these consequences would be the effect it would have on our culture. The law changes, by the force of its authority, the way that society thinks, and how it perceives itself. By re-defining marriage, not only would Government be abandoning what it currently institutes as the ideal relationship, but it would, by implication, be denying that ideal. The relationship between husband and wife as the best context in which to bring up children would no longer be privileged by the state, and this would formalise an unfortunate view to the contrary that is already pervading public consciousness. Since the legalisation of same-sex adoption, and the legislative mandate that a child’s birth certificate no longer need mention the child’s father but may instead register the mother’s same-sex partner, our society has already begun to affirm the view that one or other of a child’s parents are dispensable to their upbringing. This is thoroughly wrong, and contrary to the best interests of children, who should have the chance to be brought up with, and have access to, the masculinity of their father and the femininity of their mother. As the columnist Matthew Parris once wrote: “I am glad I had both a mother and a father, and that after childhood I was to spend my life among both men and women, and as men and women are not the same, I would have missed something if I had not learned first about the world from, and with, both a woman and a man, and in the love of both.” By re-defining marriage, Government would deny this reality, and move our society further in the wrong direction. Re-defining marriage would also form a socially harmful precedent.

If we can change marriage in order to include one particular sexual minority, then why not change it to include any other sexual minority? If the male/female complementarity of marriage can be defined away, then why not the limitation to two people forming the marital union? If the fidelity and commitment of same-sex couples must be formally recognised in the interests of equality, then why not the fidelity and commitment of polygamists, or polyamorists?

If this seems far-fetched, it ought to be pointed out that legal efforts have already been mounted in Canada, the United States and Europe for the legalisation of polygamy, precisely in the wake of the legalisation of same-sex marriage. This is despite the fact that polygamy (as an example) has intrinsic harms to it, due to the inter-partner jealousy it engenders and the effect this has on the welfare of the children brought about in such families.

More reasons may be given against the re-definition of marriage, but the central concern about the effect of re-defining marriage on our culture, and the consequences this would have on the welfare of children and the good of society, is without doubt the most salient. By interfering with social ecology, which is a reflection of our basic human ecology, the Government risks doing profound harm.

To raise these concerns is not to deny equality or human rights, or to be motivated by base prejudice, but to witness to the common good for all people. As Catholics we need not feel cowed by the thought-terminating cliché of “homophobia” which is so often thrown as mud against those opposing marriage’s re-definition. As long as our language is moderate, and our tone light, we can communicate the Church’s concerns grounded in nature and reason, and win hearts and minds to defeat the Government’s proposal.

As always, may our guiding light of example be found in Holy Scripture, in which one of the first letters of the first bishops tells us: “Always be ready to give a defence for the hope that is within you, but do it with gentleness and reverence.”

Peter D Williams is a Catholic apologist and speaker for Catholic Voices. He tweets on Christian apologetics and politics at @PeterDCXW

  • Lazarus

    I agree with a lot of this -and the case against same sex ‘marriage’ is set out clearly here. But it really won’t be enough. The pro-same sex ‘marriage’ side is using all the cultural resources at its disposal: ridicule, force, fierce denunciation etc. As well as the sweet reasonableness advocated here, you need intensive lobbying,  mass campaigns and the sort of fierceness displayed by Cardinal O’Brien in making clear that Catholicism really isn’t going to change its mind on this. (Clarity and forcefulness is essential at some stage in the campaign to remove the delusion -quite common among liberals- that given a few years the official Church will catch up with society, just like those nice people at The Tablet.)

  • Scyptical Chymist

    Is there a reason why the female couple are shown on a higher plane than the male couple? Does this indicate a prejudice?

  • Jeannine

    This excellent essay is a starting point to engage those who approve of same-sex marriage. Yet good science needs to be incorporated in the arguments. How can people listen to & think about your arguments if they have no sense of right & wrong (relativism) &/or lack any historical perspective? There has to be a common point for both sides to agree upon. I believe robust scientific inquiry is the answer.  By using scientific data one can start to thoughtfully answer such questions: “Why can’t my love for my partner be recognized by the state?” “It feels good so it must be right.” or “There’s no difference if a child is reared by a heterosexual or same-sex couple; it’s all about love for the child.”

  • Anonymous

    I’ve got a better one. In paragraph 2.16 of the consultation document, it is affirmed that adultery and non-consummation will have consequences for a same-sex marriage which they do not have for a civil partnership.

    In heterosexual marriage there is only one act which consummates it, namely the act by which couples procreate. The same act, when committed by a married person with a third party, is the essence of adultery.

    Given the wide variety of sexual acts which homosexuals do to each other, it will be necessary for Members of Parliament to use in debate, and write into the legislation, some rather unparliamentary language in setting out explicit descriptions of these disgusting acts, so that same-sex couples have certainty as to which acts “consummate” their unions, and which do not.

    In that case, it will probably be found that having changed the definition of consummation for same-sex couples, it will have been changed for different-sex couples as well. If marriage is the same thing for both kinds of couples, then consummation is the same for all. Consummating a marriage means doing so by an act categorically incapable of generating new life, but does not include doing so by a generative act.

  • Anonymous

    Peter Williams does not address the fact that the secular understanding of marriage is already very different from marriage in Catholic theology. Re-marriage after a divorce is usually impossible in Catholic teaching, but it is far more common than same-sex marriage would ever be. It is at least a hundred years too late to argue that the Catholic attitude to marriage has to be imposed on the whole of society; that ship sailed a long time ago. His argument is based on the idea that secular marriage and Catholic marriage are at present the same, and that this identity would be threatened by gay marriage. Since this is false, his argument must fail.

    Why not be fully open and admit that the reason why the Catholic Church is opposed to same-sex marriage is because it will establish the normality of homosexual relationships? In a society where same-sex married couples are normal it will be very difficult to maintain the argument that homosexuals are intrinsically disordered.

    The acceptance of Catholic teaching on homosexuality depends on gay sexual relationships being considered perverse by the ordinary person in society who is trying to live a good life. When most people were repelled and disgusted by homosexual acts it was very easy to teach that they were grave sins. In future, when every extended family will have someone in it who is married to a person of the same sex, that will be impossible.

    The Church already has a teaching on contraception that is rejected by 98% of its members. It will be yet another self-inflicted wound to its moral authority if it maintains an outdated teaching on homosexuality that is based on a false understanding of human psychology.

  • Fellow Traveller

    I am not in favour of same sex marriage for various reasons and I wish the Church well in its opposition to it. It will however be an uphill task as the ongoing sexual abuse and hierarchical cover up scandal (new revelations about the Dutch Church only yestersay) has damaged the Church’s moral authority even in this country to a much greater degree than many in the Church realise, or at any rate are prepared to admit. Arguments which rely on moderation, reason and common sense and not on the Church’s doctrine are called for. The sort of fierceness demonstrated by Cardinal O’Brian might have made Ireland tremble in the nineteen fifties but it will be counter productive and rejected out of hand in contemporary Britain. Furthermore, unless the Church makes it quite clear that it is not opposed to civil partnerships and supports legal and fiscal equality for long term same sex friendships (what, if anything, they do in bed being a matter for their consciences) then I am afraid that its whole opposition to same sex marriage will be regarded as being rooted in homophobia and therefore unnacceptable 

  • theroadmaster

    A very well-defined and articulated case has been laid out by Peter Williams for the retention of marriage in it’s age-old, properly understood definition, which precludes any attempt to stretch it’s boundaries to include relationships which will gravely distort it’s meaning and essence.  Current attempts to reshape this Institution of inestimable value, is blatant social engineering at it’s worst, under the guise of rights.  It must be resisted vigorously if we want to preserve the essential nature of it for future generations

  • John Byrne

    mollysdad said: “In heterosexual marriage there is only one act which consummates it, namely the act by which couples procreate.”

    This is not true unless the variation “by which some couples could procreate” is used. If the couple have, for example, decided that they will not have children, and always take the appropriate contraceptive steps,  then there is no procreation. In the eyes of the civil authorities the sexual act of impregnation, under these circumstances, constitutes consummation.

    In the case of homosexual couples the concept of consummation could be applied (meaning any sexual act), or it could simply be omitted.
    Some believe that the consummation requirement could be omitted for heterosexuals too.

  • John Byrne

    I do not see anything of original value here. Rather I see exactly what you would expect.
    There is, of course, the recognition that the vitriolic rhetoric of Cardinal O’Brien serves no purpose and is easily seen by the Nation to be ridiculous. However the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales had already acknowledged this by their milder letter to the parishes.

    There is simply no recognition of the concept of equal Rights. The gay community wishes to have the same Rights, in respect of marriage, as the heterosexual community.  

    As a heterosexual married Catholic man, with children and grandchildren, I can quite easily understand what they are saying.

    As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the battle of the “traditionalists” has already been lost, in part measure because of the deplorable attitudes displayed in the Catholic press and on websites such of this. Do you not realise that you are talking to yourselves? – No one else is listening.

    Although the Church (with other religions) will be given an initial opt-out (in the sense of not being required to conduct homosexual marriages in church), this situation will not last for very long.
    Such an opt-out is obviously discriminatory and civil Rights lawyers will soon obtain Court decisions declaring it to be unlawful.

  • Anonymous

    No, it is true. If either the man or the woman are determined never to have children, they do not consent to marriage. They consent to something else. Consummation is done by the act which could produce offspring, whether impregnation occurs or not.

    If it is contracepted by barrier methods or by withdrawal, then the fact of consummation cannot be established unless a child is in fact conceived despite the use of contraception. If chemical methods are used, then the reproductive system is disrupted, though the sexual act is not.

    Impotence to have sexual intercourse invalidates a marriage because the person it affects is not capable of the marital act.

    You cannot change the definition of marriage except by changing the description of the consummating act, and changing it for everyone.

  • Lazarus

    Even if it is true that society’s understanding of marriage has been imperfect for a long while, that is not a reason to make it more imperfect. 

    You assert that the reason that the Catholic Church is opposed to same sex ‘marriage’ is that it will establish the normality of homosexual activity. That’s indeed one reason. But another reason (which you implicitly dismiss by ignoring it) is that, as the article argues, marriage is the institution which best serves the need of society to procreate and educate children. That’s absolutely crucial to human flourishing and needs to be defended.

    As to your final remarks, the Church is right about contraception and right about homosexual activity. I’d rather trust 2000+ years of Judaeo-Christian experience and ethical reflection than 20 years (the classification of homosexuality as a disease was only dropped from the the psychiatric manual, the International Classification of Diseases, in 1992) of  modish libertinism. Reducing what is essentially a problem of ethics to a problem of psychology is part of what’s gone wrong here. 

  • Anonymous

    You didn’t acually address any of the arguments advanced… simply said the gay community wants “marriage…” So I guess that feels right to you, and seems popular, as you say. Is there anything more to your position than feeling and popularity among the youth?

    It seems to reduce to an argument from force. This is going to happen, you say. “Do you not realise that you are talking to yourselves?” It doesn’t matter what we think, it doesn’t matter what’s right. (It’s ironic that a recent poll showed a majority of Britain opposing same-sex “marriage.”) It’s just going to happen, and there’s nothing we can do about it. In your world, Christians don’t, or shouldn’t, have a voice — is that correct?

    I had thought this was a democratic society, where people debate one another in a logical and civil way in order to come to a common understanding. Your view seems more akin to fascism, where the state imposes its will and everyone simply has to accept it. Logically, this is called an appeal to force, but is simply standard bullying. “No one else is listening,” as you say. Does that include our elected representatives? Do you think they ought to listen, or do some voices not count?

  • Rosskirkbride

    Tradition represents the consensus and spirit of those persons of the Church that have lived and died for the faith over the last 2000 years or so. As Chesterton said tradition is the ‘democracy of the dead’. To dismiss ‘traditionalists’ would seem to dismiss those voices of the Church that have passed on, unless you mean something else by the term. 

    Further, I am not sure that by identifying yourself as a married Catholic man with offspring you can lay any special claim to expertise on the subject of the re-definition of marriage to include same-sex unions. It’s a big step to re-define a fundamental aspect of family and societal life. Let’s hear your reasons.

  • Scyptical Chymist

     The concept of heterosexual and homosexual communities is a myth. I agree there is a homosexual pressure group who have an influence out of all proportion to their size but I am unaware of a distinct community of heterosexual people. Rather, as they form the vast majority, they do not feel the need to align themselves as a pressure group. Of course, this natural complacency has been exploited by a determined minority, many with connections at the highest level formed from an early age in school with those who share their interests and proclivities. There is no doubt that this pressure group has adherents and friends at very high levels in our society. In the circumstances t behoves the majority to make their views clear and not to always comromise in the mistaken notion of fairness. We already have an extremely fair climate in this country but the tide is turning against norms such as traditional marriage. The English hierarchy have kept silent for far too long – there is a lack of will here – and while you dub Cardinal OBrien’s views as vitriolc, I would describe them rather as forthright. It is true that the Church has the scandal of child abuse by  some priests over a long period haunting it but our leaders need to pluck up courage nevertheless. Indeed  it is likely that the homosexual proclivities of some of the clergy for young boys that has been the root cause and this may well explain the hesitation in speaking out. One has great sympathy with the struggle homosexuals have in being chaste and we must treat them with charity but we must not encourage them to give in to their inclinations.  All humans are prone to temptation and failing to resist it but we must do our best not to give in. Just because the modern world seems to believe that personal gratification is desirable provided it does not seem to interfere with others is no reason for the Church to keep silent. It will mean unpopularity and generate abusive, hostile and even possibly worse consequences but it has to be done or Christians may as well forget their faith and go along with the secular agenda of the day.

  • Anonymous

    The 98% figure is wrong, although widely publicized:

    Understandings of human psychology aren’t relevant. Everyone has psychological inclinations toward various sins. How can that possibly be taken as a justification for them? When the angry and violent man beats his wife, do we say, oh that’s fine, because, you see, he’s just expressing his natural desires? 

    Homosexual sex is clearly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. So how do you suggest the Church get around that — should the pope rewrite them? Or can we all each change them as needed to fit our personal lifestyles?

    Like so many other people, your argument, such as it is, is based purely on the fact that homosexuality is currently fashionable and popular among the youth. “In a society where same-sex married couples are normal it will be very difficult to maintain the argument that homosexuals are intrinsically disordered,” you say. True enough. But what does that prove? Truth isn’t a popularity contest.

    In a more sinister interpretation, you seem to even suggest a certain undertone of coercion. Society will accept homosexual sex, you say. Or else what? Is that some kind of threat?

  • Anonymous

     Sorry John I quite misread your stance by the way, in my previous reply to you I basically accused you of scaremongering in terms of legal challenges towards the Church.

    I thought you were using that as an argument against allowing same sex marriage. But as far as I can tell you are a pro gay-marriage Catholic? Well that makes two of us then I guess!

    But seriously, unlike you I neither fear, nor want a legal challenge to the position of the Church. Although I disagree with the Church on gay marriage – if practices of the Church are dictated by the law rather than the Church, then it is very hard to argue that we have true freedom of religion anymore isn’t it.

    But based on the fact that no such legal challenge has come the Church’s way, despite 10 countries and 6 US states all allowing gay marriage – I do doubt such a challenge arising at all.

    Regardless the Church will probably change its mind in 20-30 years anyway… you wait! (seriously I would not be surprised, after all the Church vigorously attacked civil-partnerships, and now Arch Bishop Vincent Nichols sings their praises)

  • Anonymous

     If we are to play by your rules of ‘democracy of the dead’ then we would still have public floggings and hangings.

  • Anonymous

     You are sounding a touch like a conspiracy theorist. ‘homosexual pressure group’ etc etc. Thing is 95% of conspiracies are just plain wrong.

    It would be good if you could find some statistical evidence to back-up your claim of such a group, or else its very hard to have  a proper argument.

  • Anonymous

    The Church will continue to base its teaching on Scripture and Tradition which both clearly condemn sodomy.  That is different from not forcing the issue of civil unions.

  • Anonymous

     ‘Given the wide variety of sexual acts which homosexuals do to each other’ I think you might need to open your eyes just a little bit. Heterosexual couples get up to just the very same ‘disgusting’ sexual acts.

    Anal and oral sex are had by both heterosexual and homosexuals.

    You might find that disgusting – but no one is forcing you to join in – so I suggest you get a grip, and stop acting all coy about what straight couples do in bed.

    As for your point about consummation – you are wrong in terms of the law – the law says consummation requires ‘sexual intercourse which is ordinary and complete’ Which for a straight couple would be vaginal sex, and for a gay couple most likely anal sex (but that needn’t concern you)

  • Anonymous

    Where in the New Testament? (It might well be, but can you point it out please).

    In the Old Testament it is condemned, but so are all sorts of other things that we do not condemn.

    For example the eating of Pork or Shellfish are an ‘abomination’ in the eyes of God, in the same way that ‘lying with a man’ is an ‘abomination’

    But the Pope eats pork and shellfish most likely, and most likely so do you. And even if you don’t, I don’t see it being condemned in the same way as gay-sex – even though in the Leviticus it is expressed in almost exactly the same words.

  • Anonymous

     I think a very fair summary of much of the public mood towards the Church I think.

  • Anonymous

    Are you suggesting that civil-unions do not promote gay-sex? Because I think that is a very hard argument to win I think.

  • Anonymous

    To be fair, the passages are pretty minor. Some have taken that as evidence that homosexuality should therefore be considered acceptable to Christians. But, I disagree, because it was widely condemned as sinful at the time, and Jesus made no effort to alter that understanding. Jesus doesn’t specifically condemn a lot of things, like adultery. True, he says “who will throw the first stone,” and that’s a Biblical scene it may be important to bear in mind in this discussion.

    I think it’s not unreasonable to suggest that sex has a greater moral weight than one type of food one eats. To argue against the passages as condemning homosexuality seems POSSIBLE, see this article for example:
    which says, “The paucity of references to homosexuality in the New Testament suggests that it was not a matter of major concern either for Jesus or for the early Christian movement.” Perhaps… but isn’t that but far more convoluted than to simply state that Jesus accepted the traditional Jewish teaching in regard to sexual matters, and therefore did not feel the need to place any special emphasis on them? Since Jesus didn’t speak at length on why lying or adultery were wrong, can we therefore assume that he didn’t find them offensive?
    So anyway there is this: “The anger of God is being revealed from heaven against all the impiety and depravity of men who keep truth imprisoned in their wickedness. For what can be known about God is perfectly plain to them since God himself has made it plain. Ever since God created the world his everlasting power and deity—however invisible—have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made. That is why such people are without excuse: they knew God and yet refused to honor him as God or to thank him; instead, they made nonsense out of logic and their empty minds were darkened. The more they called themselves philosophers, the more stupid they grew, until they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for a worthless imitation, for the image of mortal man, of birds, of quadrupeds and reptiles. That is why God left them to their filthy enjoyments and the practices with which they dishonor their own bodies, since they have given up divine truth for a life and have worshiped and served creatures instead of the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen! That is why God has abandoned them to degrading passions: why their women have turned from natural intercourse to unnatural practices and why their menfolk have given up natural intercourse to be consumed with passion for each other, men doing shameless things with men and getting an appropriate reward for their perversion. In other words, since they refused to see it was rational to acknowledge God, God has left them to their own irrational ideas and to their monstrous behavior. And so they are steeped in all sorts of depravity, rottenness, greed, and malice, and addicted to envy, murder, wrangling, treachery and spite. Libelers, slanderers, enemies of God, rude, arrogant and boastful, enterprising in sin, rebellious to parents, without brains, honor, love or pity. They know what God’s verdict is: that those who behave like this deserve to die—and yet they do it; and what is worse, encourage others to do the same.” (Rom 1:18-32) 
    We could say, well, “just a ‘degrading passion,” then, not an actual SIN? is it?” But is that a fruitful or wise line of reasoning ?

  • Marie

    Articles like this make me ashamed to call myself a Catholic

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure what Abp. Nichols’ reasoning was there, but I would think he wanted to make a good faith effort to show that opposition to same-sex “marriage” was not simply a dislike for homosexual people. Similarly, supporting, say anti-discrimination in housing w/r/t sexual orientation is not necessarily the same as supporting sodomy. Even though I oppose redefining marriage, I do think there should be some legal provisions in place for long-term partners to get some of the legal protections of marriage.

  • Honeybadger

    Sex and eating… hmmmmmm….

  • Honeybadger

    Grief! Another one!

  • Charles Martel

     There is no such thing as a “pro gay-marriage Catholic”. It’s a contradiction in terms. All homosexual unions are condemned by the Catholic Church and that condemnation is binding on the consciences of all Catholics.

  • Charles Martel

    paulsays, let me tell you a little about Catholic Christianity. In Catholic teaching, there are two sources of revelation: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. This means that our faith is not located solely in the Bible, even though revelation came to an end with the end of St John’s Gospel. ‘Sola scriptura’ is a protestant invention. Furthermore, the keys of the Church were given to St Peter with the words ‘he who hears you, hears me’. This means that the Magisterium interprets and teaches the true meaning of Sacred Scripture and guards the deposit of Catholic Faith and Morals. The Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Christ and its head teaches with the authority of its Divine Founder. For 2000 years the Catholic Church has consistently condemned sodomy and all homosexual unions. This means that in that condemnation we hear the very voice of God himself. It’s that simple. Protestant quibble over this or that passage in the Bible: we don’t have to.

  • Charles Martel

     Honeybadger, I think they’re all the same person.

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    Its going to be difficult for the Roman Catholic Church to argue that it doesn’t hate Gay persons or advocate extreme persecution as the Roman Catholic Church in the last month has publically endorsed legislation in Nigeria (in the name of an Archbishop and three Bishops emitted in the mass media of Nigeria and on the official Nigerian Catholic Bishops website) that will throw all Gay persons in prison for the crime of existing or even forming a Gay rights club.  That’s right.  The Roman Catholic Church has publically endorsed the jailing of all Gay persons and denying them the rights of speech, assembly, petition, protest, association, expression, religion, and due process.  I guess Catechism 2358 is null and void.

  • Benedict Carter

    It’s a great pity that we don’t have them. Britain would be a better place. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Revelation came to an end with the death of the last Apostle, not with the end of St. John’s Gospel.

  • Anonymous

    I do hope your being sarcastic.

  • Anonymous

    Many Catholics, by baptism and practice DO agree with gay marriage – in contradiction to the Church. So I’m sorry but your wrong. 

  • Andrew

    Again, the same old tired and, ultimately, intellectually bankrupt argumentation against the union of two persons (let’s keep external and internal genitalia and a few chromosomal differences out of it – sexual character is a part of the person, so that the organs are part of the person and not the person part of the organs).  The notion of bringing up children?  Yawn…  The Church has no objection to two young infertile people getting married and enjoiying sex and neither does it have any objection to two older people past the reproductive age getting married and enjoying sex.  People find they want to get married because they fall in love with each other.  People do not get married primarily to have children!  So having children is a choice and it is a secondary purpose of marriage – full stop.  We already have an exponentially increased global population of 7 Billion: quite frankly we need less reproduction not more if we are to be effective stewards of God’s Creation and ensure proper availability of essential resources such as food and water to peoples. 

    It is indicative of how desperate the anti-gay marriage brigade have become in Catholicism (and in anti-intellectual Christian evangelicalism) that we are now seeing concers raised about the ‘spectre’ of polygamy!  What other specious arguments will be dredged up as this consultation of HOW not IF goes ahead?  The ‘method’ the priest puts forward of being or rather appearing moderate is very dishonest – he is effectively presenting the homophobic percentage of the Catholic family with a means of dressing up their homophobia in a way which disguises it.  Shame on you Father!  As the battle is won, we will see even the best efforts to ‘keep calm’ disintegrate and vile emotions based on ignorance (or self-hating homosexuality – expressed or suppressed) explode outwards.  And then these people will be exposed for what they are – hating bigots.   I hate to disabuse the priest author, but if he expects large numbers of Catholics to be writing in to the Home Secretary, I fear he will be mistaken.  The largest number of Catholics in the pews have gay friends that they love and care for and have no difficulty with the essentially simple intellectual concept of persons in love (gender irrelevant) making a legal commitment together as concordant genders in a manner enjoyed by the discordant gender of male-female.  Sorry to disappoint the bigots on that one – fortunately you are in the minority and you are getting less and less in number as the older generations die off – the recent social attitudes survey shows this extremely clearly.  The Home Secretary has already said she will not be swayed by numbers of responses, but rather by arguments and your arguments are intellectually vacuous.

    So the Muslims and (orthodox) Jews and seventh adventists and others are against gay marriage too?  Surprise, surprise and what an unholy alliance we have here.  The argument which they express with homophobic Catholics – that marriage has always been between a man and a woman – is, again, unsupportable in the context of the current argument.  Many things werre ancient norms until they were changed – and changed for the better. The argument that “we’ve always done it this way” is no argument against a need for chage, it is merely a historical observation.  Having walked down a road for 1000 miles in the wrong direction is no argument for continuing – the only logical action is to turn back.  Not that heterosexual marriage is the ‘wrong direction’ – but rather the exclusion of some people in Society from the institution of marriage is.  It is this that the Government is rightly and honourably seeking to change.  And let us be clear:  most Catholics, let alone the general populace, do not quite understand the theologically nuanced idea of ‘just’ discrimination versus ‘unjust’ discrimination. That is, that it is just to discriminate against gay people in terms of access to the state of civil marriage. So that one is going to go down like a lead balloon too.

    Oh dear……  Well, to those who have a problem with this, either because of ignorance or irrational fear orbecause of self-hating homosexuality, then, well, “some people are gay and want and will be able to get civilly married.  Get over it!”

  • Anonymous

     You seem to have not noticed that “Paulsays” was replying to the suggestion that we use the Bible as definitive in sexual ethics. While that is obviously not a good idea, neither is the Church a good guide on moral matters.

    Over its history the Catholic Church has often been totally wrong in matters of morals, sometimes going badly wrong by simply following the mood of the times. When torture or death for speaking against a ruler was assumed to be moral, the Church was in favour of torturing or burning people who opposed the Pope. When the world thought that slavery was fine, the Pope kept hundreds of slaves. When the world thought that it was immoral to charge any interest on a loan the Pope condemned anyone who argued that it could sometimes be acceptable.

  • daclamat

    What’s in a name? From time immemorial there has existed  a form of social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but is usually an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged. Such a union is often formalized via a ceremony.
    We have become fed up with celibates dictating what kind of relationships we may form, how we may express affection.  They have a right to have opinions, but not impose them. Catholics are entitled to their paradigms but have long forfeited the right to hold them up as models.

  • daclamat

    I whole heartedly agree with Paulsays stance on same sex unions. I’m afraid I find explicit referral of who does what, with what and  to whom somewhat distateful. The mere thought of some practices gives me the shudders, but so do brussels sprouts, cabbage and beetroot.
    I was taken aback and shocked despite my advancing year when I first saw the Temples of Khajuraho and the the Kathmandu Valley. But then it occurred to me that they were carved hymns of praise  and thanks to God for the wonders of love and the myriad ways of expressing it. Manicheans just won’t be put down.

  • Anonymous

     It makes no difference whether these acts are committed by same-sex couples or couples of the opposite sex, they are intrinsically evil. Vaginal intercourse within marriage is the only form of sexual activity which is not regarded as sinful by the Church and is the only act which can consummate a marriage.
    Hetersoexual couples who marry are presumed to have had vaginal intercourse unless they can prove otherwise, e.g. only ever having practised some form of mutual masturbation, then they can have their marriage annulled (declared never to have existed in the first place) by both the Church and the state.
    Same-sex ‘married’ couples are physically unable to perform the act of consummation so their so called ‘marriage’ can never have existed either in law or in the eyes of God. This renders the whole idea of same-sex marriage as absolute nonsense.
    To set one criterion for heterosexual couples and another for homosexual couples, as you suggest, is the same as saying that these two types of union are in fact, different. This is the opposite of what the Coalition is trying to convince us.
    To alter the criterion for heterosexual married couples to ‘any kind of sexual activity’, is to redefine the legal status of their relationship, so to say this proposed legislation will not affect them, is a lie.

  • Solent Rambler

    And for lesbians?

  • Liam

    The author of this article isn’t a priest – who are you talking about?

  • Cjkeeffe

    The pro gay marriage lobby propose that we should have gay marriage because it’s an equality and human rights issue. The most convincing argument against this proposition is the brutal fact in 2010 the Euro Court of Human Rights held that Austria had not breached the HRs of gays when it refused to recognise or legalise gay marriage. Even this week the same court has ruled in a similar.
    The UNs declaration on HRs likewise when looking at marriage does not see same sex as an obstacle that bars a man and a woman from marriageing. It is thus clear that international HR legislation is against gay marriage.
    This government will legislate for gay marriage but it can’t use international HR law to support themselves.
    Finally not all criticism of gays ishomophobia just like not all criticism of iIsreal is anti semitism. Just because you are a critic of sdomethingh does not make it a hate crime. Otherwise would not those who crticise the chrisitan view of marriage be called christianphobic. we need more like on this deabte not heat.

  • Anonymous

     The ECtHR only yesterday decared that same-sex ‘marriage’ was not a Human Right.

    Who are these communities, homosexual and heterosexual? Do they all live together in defined areas such as people of different nationalities and cultures? They are just meaningless media labels.

    Pressure groups on the other hand do exist, Stonewall, Kaleidoscope, Catholic Voices, the Latin Mass Society, Pro-Life, Pro-Choice etc; there is a pressure group for nearly every cause you can think of. Political parties could be said to be pressure groups yet none of these live in gated communities, they all live side by side with each other throughout the land.

    The cause is lost, I agree, the government has made up its mind as the consultation says it is not a question of ‘should we’ it is a question of ‘how’. The overwhelming majority of the population, whilst disapproving in various degrees of homosexuality from mild distaste to outright condemnation, probably don’t really care too much as they can’t or won’t see the moral danger that this will place themselvess and especially their children in.

    I agree also that the religious exemption is not worth the paper it is written. The ECtHR again yesterday concluded “if gay couples are allowed to marry, any Church that offers weddings
    will be guilty of discrimination if it declines to marry same-sex
    couples.”  The Churches will simply withdraw from conducting civil registration leaving that to the state and just allow those who are canonically qualified to have a Church wedding as happens abroad.

    Although the government is not listening we are not talking to ourselves, we are talking to you. It simply beggars belief that you and others claim to be Catholics and yet virtually every single post you make is not just anti-Catholic but contemptuous of it, of what it teaches and moreover extremely patronising towards your co-religionists. Each one of you seems to be making up your own religions as you go along.

  • Anonymous

    What about them?

  • Scyptical Chymist

     I admire your stamina posting during the wee hours of the night.  You must keep a constant vigil to comment on any post which is not in accordance with your beliefs.

    There is at least one well publicised homosexual pressure group in the UK, “Stonewall”, so do not make the silly suggestion that it is conspiracy theory to assert this.  I am amazed that you seem unaware of its existence.

  • Lazarus

    Again, the same old tired and, ultimately, intellectually bankrupt argumentation against natural marriage. 
    Society needs to think very carefully about how children are procreated and educated. The answer up till now has been the male and female couple, in an exclusive, lifetime sexual bond. It’s pretty clear from all the evidence that this pattern in general works much better than anything else. That gives society a reason to support that relationship in a way that it doesn’t have a reason to support other relationships. Focus on that key issue. Everything else you say is so much fluff.

  • Anonymous

    Male and female bodies are different. Two men cannot produce a baby. So of course there might have to be a slight legal variation on this specific issue.

    Either consummation is dropped for gay couples, or it would refer to sex in general. But I think in all likelihood it would be dropped. 

    I don’t see why there would need to be any change to the law of straight marriage in order to facilitate this though.

  • Canuck

     Calm it down John,
    We have gay marriage in Canada and our society has not fallen apart.  We had the same anti gay marriage rhetoric here before gay marriage was legal and we did include the portion about religious institutions being able to decide who they would marry in their church.  Not that it was needed.  Churches have always been allowed to decide who would marry.  Divorced couples are not allowed to marry in a Catholic church neither are atheists.  No problem.  Churches can continue to follow their doctrines. 
    Also, while polygamy did have its day in court, it was denied.  So Canada continues to  discriminate against Muslim multiple wife marriages.