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Catholic priests are right to express fears over Government marriage plans

Equality legislation will certainly undermine the Government’s supposed guarantee

By on Friday, 18 January 2013

'Love is Love' Gay Marriage Contest Ceremony - New York

I just read this quote from the Caelum et Terra blog: “It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendour of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion – its message becomes meaningless.” Abraham Joshua Heschel, “God in search of Man: a Philosophy of Judaism.”

There is a lot of truth in this. It is too easy to blame “modern society” for the collapse of religious belief in this country. We should look in the mirror and ask ourselves the question “If I were arrested today for being a Christian, what proofs would be found to convict me?”

Tim Stanley said much the same thing in his article, “Christians need to find some old-time zeal” in the Telegraph on Wednesday. After describing the de-Christianisation within Britain today, he concludes: “In our new consumer-driven, postmodern order, Christians have to compete with people pushing other religions or no religion at all. We no longer enjoy a privileged status in the popular imagination. And while it’s easy to blame politicians and courts for this, responsibility ultimately lies with the true believers. The only thing that will renew British Christianity is to drop all the lazy presumptions that Britain is basically Christian, and start again from scratch.”

“To start again from scratch”: I think we are only just beginning to wake up to this truth.

One thing in Stanley’s article I disagree with: when he comments, “Although the Government insists that no church will be compelled to carry out gay marriages, more than 1000 Catholic priests wrote a letter to this newspaper last week protesting that equalities legislation makes a nonsense of this guarantee and that attempts to legalise gay marriage amount to a renewal of historic persecution against Catholics. I, too, am a Catholic – and the idea that the wedding of Adam and Steve can be likened to Cromwell’s rampage across Ireland strikes me as hysterical. But it reflects a wider panic among religious conservatives – the fear that a metropolitan political establishment is conspiring against us.”

I demur for several reasons: equality legislation will certainly undermine the Government’s supposed “guarantee.” Even if the Church wins in the courts when future cases are brought against her, there will be a long, slow war of attrition against those of all faiths and none who believe marriage can only be between a man and a woman. For instance, the Government has said that teachers must continue to uphold marriage: but if the word “marriage” is redefined they will be breaking the law if they don’t uphold the new definition; they won’t be able to uphold the old understanding and the new one at the same time.

Stanley describes the letter of the 1000 priests – including eight bishops and four abbots – as “hysterical.” I would rather describe it as good sense and right judgement. Are the more than 600,000 signatories to the Coalition for Marriage petition (C4M) also “hysterical”? Perhaps the letter reflects justified forebodings at such a fundamental change to the natural order of relationships and is not about “panic” or “fear” or “religious conservatism”. “Marriage” should never have been used as a political issue in this way and it is not “conservative” for Christians and others to champion it. These 1000 priests are not zealots and religious extremists; they are decent, God-fearing men, alongside all the other people who signed the C4M document, who rightly see that there will be far-reaching implications to a change of definition which will, in the course of time, amount to a form of persecution.

You don’t have to refer to Cromwell to realise that persecution need not be bloody or violent; it can simply be quiet, boring, relentless and implacable, fought through the courts and leaving mental and emotional stress and pain in its wake. That is what opponents of a re-definition of marriage will face if the Government forces through this legislation and I am not remotely “hysterical” in pointing this out. So far only individuals have been challenged, such as Christian B+B owners, a Christian registrar, a Christian marriage counsellor, a Christian psychotherapist. If the definition of marriage is changed by law, the whole of society, whether married or unmarried, priest or lay person, will be affected by it.

But to return to Stanley’s main point: there is no use being aggrieved or wringing one’s hands over this approaching confrontation. Those who want to defend marriage must indeed start again from scratch: acknowledge our own lukewarm support for marriage in the past; our tacit acceptance of a widespread contraceptive mentality; our tolerance of cohabitation as an acceptable alternative; and our placid illusion that the comfortable Christian status quo would last forever.

  • Stephen

    I am a faithful Catholic and I don’t submit nonfactual statements or comments that contradict the teachings of the Church why is it that you’re deleting my comments?  

    I noticed you didn’t delete posted links to the homosexual advocacy site “pinknews”?  This “Catholic” Herald site also leaves diabolical & hostile comments posted by militant atheists, heretics, marxists, and apostates.  Yet, you delete the comments of a faithful Catholic.  Why is that???? 

    Please publish the UK laws and rules of political correctness I must follow so I can defend the Faith and dialogue with my fellow Catholics on this site.  

    Thank you and God Bless!

  • drj81

    An excellent point and one of my favourite questions in a polite discussion is “…what do you see replacing Christianity ?”. The responses are not really up to much and hardly supported by any evidenece. There is a tendency to pick at the seams and shy away from the solid core.

  • Yorkshire Catholic

     Some of mine go — although bafflingly sometimes others claim to be able to see them when I can’t — and as they are equally innnocent, I suspect some sort of mechanical glitch — the ghost (or devil?) in the machine.

  • Yorkshire Catholic

     I don’t advocate discourtesy but Oldmeena and others are non-Catholics who intrude into a Catholic conversation uninvited and in a way which suggests they do not respect the wishes of a group of Catholics to have a discussion among themselves based on their common beliefs. If they were here to enquire and learn, that would be one thing but coming here to stick your hand on your nose and jump and down shouting “You idiots, there is no God,” is quite another.
         Do the secularist/atheist websites find they have a comparable invasion of regular Christian hecklers? I rather doubt it.

  • Nesbyth

    Very odd that your comment has disappeared. It’s still on my computer.
    However, this has happened to me in the past and I’ve “lost” some posts but not sure why.
    Probably something wrong with the Catholic Herald site? If they are properly deleted it usually says so next to your name.

    To edit is easy….first you post. Then when it’s up, there are two words underneath saying “edit”or “reply”
    You click on edit and it allows you to edit and when that’s done you click on “save edit” which will be at the bottom of your message, and it goes back up.

  • Nesbyth

    Most faithful Catholics are “bothered” and do not laugh at the Bishops’ statements; indeed one thanks God that they are prepared to stand up to the prevailing culture and be counter-cultural.
    Most people follow the “cultural flow” as lemmings do.

  • liquafruta

    It still doesn’t excuse abusive comments about exorcism et al. This is a public forum therefore you cannot forbid anyone their say. Just ignore what you don’t want to comment on and you will feel much better. Pax Christi.

  • Nesbyth

    I endorse your point about calling marriage Holy Matrimony because that is a sacrament of the Church and can only be between a man and a woman as they confer the Sacrament upon each other. It cannot be re-defined.

  • Nesbyth

    Here is your post which has disappeared from your computer.
    I’ve cut and pasted it from mine!
    No, it is not a simple tit for tat. It is a question of who is invading the beliefs and practices of whom. Catholics and Christians generally these days of course believe that their doctrines and teachings are true, but they do not inflict these by force on others in modern Western societies (except with regard to a few fundamental matters such as “thou shalt not kill” which they take to include abortion though much of modern society does not.) The politicians and administrators I refer to are much more invasive: they are trying to deny individual Catholics such things as the right to wear crosses, or the right to hold and teach their immemorial doctrines on sin, and the ‘secularisers’ have generally acted to discourage, obscure, or confuse traditional Christian beliefs. Listen to the BBC particularly the dreadful ‘Sunday’ programme

  • scary goat

     Yes agreed.  That would also differentiate between all the other “marriages” and Catholic marriage as well, for example state marriage where divorce and contraception are allowed, Islamic marriage which allows divorce and polygamy etc. 

  • scary goat

     Yes I have had completely innocent posts disappear before, usually at the weekend.  I think it is some sort of technical hitch.  When these things happen sometimes you find other errors like “like” won’t work.  Maybe they are not monitoring it as closely at the weekend and auto-pilot gets fuddled.

  • scary goat

    To be honest, I really can’t understand the comments suggesting that homosexuality is natural.  Even if people are not religious, isn’t it rather obvious just by observing nature, that certain equipment has a certain function?  We have moved so far away from nature in this modern world, sometimes it seems that people just don’t “get it”.  I suppose I will get called homophobic for this.  Oh well.

  • majorcalamity

    Interesting. Does this mean that people who are homosexual are unnatural? What can we draw from such an idea? That perhaps “God” has made some mistakes? Or do you share the opinion that homosexuality is an illness which can be “cured”?

    Surely homosexuals are every bit as human as the rest of us, including the “unborn”, some of whom will turn out to be homosexual. If they are human, and their sexuality is determined at birth (which is the established view of all the experts in this field) then their homosexuality can only be regarded as being natural. 

    Some religious people seem obsessed with the idea that our genital’s only function is to procreate. Not everyone agrees. Maybe “God” didn’t either. Perhaps “His” plan included homosexuality but you haven’t quite worked out why yet. I can anticipate all the Bible quotes already but please remember they were written by people with much less knowledge than we now possess. 

  • Yorkshire Catholic

     Not true. It is not public in the sense of being a service commercially offered to everyone who wants to purchase it. This is a Catholic discussion about particular topics and the host organization can delete whatever it wants.

  • Yorkshire Catholic

     Thank Nesbyth, but that is the first one. i.e. what I referred to as ;tit-for-tat’. That one was about the general invasion. Then I realised that Meena herself was an instance of it–and made the points, roughly, which I later summarised when I said the post had disappeared. As it has.

    Anyhw water under the bridge now. Thanks.

  • JabbaPapa

    Basic biology on the one hand, sheer speculation on the other.

    I know what I find to be more convincing…

  • JabbaPapa

    It seems to be a combination of technical glitches and a particular moderator who works the saturday evening shift.

  • majorcalamity

    No-one argues about the biology. What is disputed is what conclusions can be drawn from it. Is it your conclusion that homosexuals are not part of the human  family? If not, and they are, how can the idea that their behaviour is not natural be squared with that? 

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Well, I’ll give you a straightforward answer (although the general tone of your questions plus the sprinkling of scare quotes (“God”) might suggest you’re not really interested in that):

    1) Of course, homosexuals are human beings or ‘part of the human family’ as you put it. Has anyone here suggested otherwise?

    2) Human beings are born with the stain of original sin. That stain can be seen particularly in sexual desire which has a tendency to be disordered. Homosexual desire is merely one type of that general disorder.

    (Your confusion is based on interpreting ‘nature’ as a purely statistical idea -what in fact generally happens- whilst the idea of human nature as used in Catholicism (and indeed most classical philosophy) is a normative one -what should happen. Even accepting -for the sake of argument- that sexuality is determined before birth- the idea that whatever happens at birth is always normal is as absurd in the case of homosexuality as it is in the case of a physical abnormality such as a hare lip.)

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    While I don’t think we should give up the fight for the correct view of marriage in general society -not least because of our duty of care towards non-Catholics- if (as seems only too possible) governments do force these measures through, I agree we need to start thinking seriously about how to distinguish Catholic understandings and practices from nu-marriage. And being careful about terminology (eg ‘Holy Matrimony’ as you suggest) is going to be part of this.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Well, if that is true -and I hope it isn’t- it only shows that the Church needs to do more to catechize its members. 

    ‘Gay marriage’ makes little sense even from a purely secular point of view, but from the point of view of Catholic theology, it’s utterly absurd.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Agree with you that the 50% divorce rate is a grave threat to marriage, but beneath that figure are two issues: a) the introduction of foolish divorce legislation (which the Church opposed at the time); and b) human wickedness in making use of that foolish legislation (which the Church also opposes but isn’t really the sort of thing you can conduct a postcard campaign about).

    Same sex ‘marriage’ is indeed only another nail in an already well nailed coffin, but it is both a further nail and one of fundamental importance because it finally changes the nature of marriage in positive (ie national) law from a stable procreative relationship to one based on romantic and ephemeral whim. 

  • Joe Zammit

    It was God, and no one else,
    who has created human beings men and women. It was also God who has made the
    institution of marriage as a union between one man and one woman for ever, with
    the inherent dual purpose of mutual love and procreation.


    This type of marriage can
    never be substituted by a pseudo-one.


    Two men or two women can
    never make a marriage because between them there can never be love but only
    lust. Love and lust are not the same. Love comes from God, unites the couple
    and draws them to him; lust comes from the devil, separates the couple from God
    and draws them to hell.


    Besides, a homosexual union can
    never bring about offspring because such a union is precisely unnatural. Nature
    is what it is and it will stay mum with those who abuse of it.


    So, a homosexual union lacks
    all the necessary ingredients that make a marriage, thus failing the marriage test



    It would be very
    unreasonable and foolish were a legislator to put a homosexual union on a par
    with marriage.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Well, wonder on! I don’t know how Paul would explain himself but I’d be ashamed if I’d devoted my life to a relationship that was trivial and fruitless as that embodied in same sex ‘marriage’.

    Natural marriage may start in unreflective lust (although I’m not sure even that’s true: the negotiation between the different personalities of men and women force a reflectiveness even at that early stage). But over time, the complementarity of men and women, and the creation of children (or the virtuous enduring of infertility) deepens the meaningfulness of the relationship. When you add to that the historical and theological associations of natural marriage, you find yourself inducted into a rich practice that makes its pursuit worthwhile and a true school for saints. 

    When you compare that richness with same sex ‘marriage’ and its simple foundation on romantic love for as long as the fancy takes you, I would indeed be ashamed to compare the two.

    (I’m resisting the thought that you’re making the shabby move that anyone who disagrees with the same sex ‘marriage’ bandwagon is a repressed homosexual. You surely wouldn’t be that low, would you? Shame is a perfectly reasonable emotion to feel in the face of something immoral and beneath our dignity as imagines dei.) 

  • liquafruta

    I am implying nothing shabby as you put it. Marriage equality would not impinge on you so I can’t imagine why it would make you ashamed to be married. 

  • LEngland

                    I  believe  that  this,  and  manifold  other  evils,  emanate  from  the  post  1923  ComIntern  and  thence,  Frankfurt  School  of  Social  Research agendum.  Read  it. 

                    The  Jews,  apparently,  could  not  believe  that  the  Russian  Marxian  Revolution  had  not  swept  all  of  Europe  and  North  America  in  its  wake.  Perhaps  chastened,  following  the  ComIntern  the  Frankfurt  SoSR  set  out  to  ‘remodel’  Western  Gentile  society  into  a  type  that  could  be  better  managed  by  Supranational  Jewry. 

                    Thus,  we  see  the  InterNazi  inverse  implementation  of   Nazi  racial  Eugenics  whereby  the  Celtic/Nordic  strain  of  Caucasoid  is  attacked;  I  will  say  no  more.

                    Indeed,   there  has  recently  been  a  hate  campaign  against  redheads,  promoted  by  the  BBC  and  a  Guardian  lady  journalist,  amongst  others.

                    Open  borders.  Not  my  wish,  your  wish  or anyone’s  wish  except  for  those  trying  to  degrade  Britain’s  intellectual  pre – eminence.

                   There  is,  of  course,  much  more  to  say.  The  pathetic  attempt  to  make  up  new  meanings  for  old  words  is  characteristic  of  loony,  airheaded,  unrealistic  tyrants.
    We  know  what  words  mean  and  will  say  what  we  mean.  Same – sex  partnership  is  what  we  will  say.

                    The  French  will  not  take  any  s**t  from  that  inferior  and  malicious  little  world – hating  toad  and  neither  will  we  put  up  with  nonsense  from  ‘Call  me  R. Sole’.

                     So,  kindly  sod – off  Mr.  R.S.  Stick  to  your  remit  and  stop  annoying  people  who  are  more  intellectually  and  ethically  worthy  than  you.  There  are  millions  of  us.

  • majorcalamity

    Surely the suggestion that homosexuality is not “natural” calls into question what it is. If it is not “normative” human behaviour then what type of behaviour is it.

    Your idea that human beings are born with the stain of original sin might satisfy Catholics, but sounds like an excuse to others, who don’t share such beliefs. 

    In my view every human being deserves to be considered “normal” and their behaviour as “natural”. That includes all races, all religions, those of no religion, those with disabilities and, of course, those with a homosexual orientation. That is not to say that because that behaviour is “natural” it can always be accepted, because if affects others, it cannot be. Some behaviour has to be restricted. However between consenting adults all behaviour is “natural” and ought to be tolerated by others. To try to impose views about pro-creation and family, just because of a religious belief, is seeking to try to set a major section of our human family apart from the rest of us.

  • cephas2

    No thanks.

  • drj81

    Another very good point. Why not use this term for marriage? That can’t be re-defined surely.

  • TheBlueWarrior

     One can think of all sorts of behaviors and inclinations exhibited by members of the human family; but just because these behaviors exist, it doesn’t automatically follow that they must be considered good or positive manifestations of natural law. 

  • majorcalamity

    Ah, that old Catholic myth, “natural law” surfaces as a contribution to the debate. I am not seeking to examine human frailty, for that exists beyond doubt. I am trying to establish whether Catholics regard homosexuality as within that general description. 

    If homosexuality is felt to be a frailty then I think that says much more about you, and your faith, then ever it does about homosexuals.

  • majorcalamity

    You are of course entitled to your opinion, but are, in mine, very wrong. Real love can exist in all sorts of relationships and not just between one man and one woman.

    Christians in general, and Catholics in particular no longer own the right to define marriage. that belongs to all of us, as represented by our wider society given expression through our elected parliament.

    Why can’t you be satisfied with the opt outs being generously allowed to you? Why do you wish to impose your views on others? Why cannot you be satisfied to call your marriages as “sacramental marriage” and let everyone else be happy?  

  • scary goat

     ” and their sexuality is determined at birth (which is the established view of all the experts in this field)”

    Hmmmm, are you sure about that?  I’m not.  And “experts” of yesterday’s current thinking are today’s outdated thinking, and that will also be the case in generations to come.

    No one is saying homosexuals are not human….of course they are.  What is in question is whether their behaviour should be viewed as “natural”. Human beings have many behaviours which are considered “undesirable” for the sake of the common good.  Isn’t jealousy a natural emotion? Does that mean we can steal from our neighbour who has some possessions that we crave? Isn’t anger a natural emotion?  Does that mean we can beat the poop out of someone who has offended us?  The instinct to seek sexual gratification is strong in human beings….and in some circumstances maybe this leads people into homosexual acts.  This makes it “natural” in so far as we are all inclined to do wrong (sin) for our own self interest.  It doesn’t mean it is “natural” in the sense of “oh well, that’s ok, it’s my right to do that”.

    And no-one is preventing consenting adults doing whatever they like in private.  That is between themselves and their consciences (or their god).  What people are objecting to is the “normalization” of these behaviours as a “right” and the implications for the education system if we are to be forced to teach this to our children because of discrimination laws. 

    As Jabba said above, biology over speculation.  Simple biology dictates that male/female procreative sex is “natural”.  Yes, we know human beings are complicated creatures.  It’s not simple.  We all have our “complications” in different ways, but that doesn’t make it right.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    If homosexuality is not normal, it is abnormal. Simple. (Or unnatural if you prefer.) 

    As far as the rest of your comment is concerned, you need to distinguish between four things things: a) legal prohibition; b) legal support; c) moral prohibition/support.

    You claim that all consensual behaviour should be tolerated. For the sake of argument, let’s concede that. That means that so far as a) is concerned, homosexuality should not be legally prohibited. (And I know of no one in the Church currently arguing that it should be.) The question b) then arises as to why the state should support a particularly type of homosexual behaviour: same sex partnerships. I see no reason offered for this and I can conceive of very few good reasons why the state should be involved in supporting romantic, sexually attracted couples. Can you? (The case of natural marriage is of course different: the state has a clear interest in supporting the proper procreation and education of the next generation.)

    That leaves c) and d). I have yet to hear any convincing reasons offered why an inability to find the opposite sex attractive should be considered anything other than a regrettable failing. I’m quite prepared to tolerate such a failing, but until you provide convincing reasons (and not just ones because of some secular ideology) for believing such a trait to be a good thing, I see no reason morally to encourage it.

    On your claim that between consenting adults, all is natural…

    Really? You can’t think of anything that some people might consent to somewhere that is harmful to human nature? (You obviously don’t get out much.)

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Because in the eyes of the law (and apparently the majority of British citizens), it would change the nature of marriage from a long term procreative partnership to a short term romantic entanglement. I should be ashamed to be thought to be indulging in any such thing.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Perhaps you’d like to explain why natural law is a myth? (Since it clearly isn’t, you must be making some interesting mistake here that perhaps we can put you right on.)

  • liquafruta

    It still says more about you than the people trying to regularise their relationships. Your care is about your own feelings and not theirs. You are of course entitled to your opinions.

  • majorcalamity

    This is a more thoughtful and less emotional approach which I will try to replicate. 

    Yes, I am sure that the experts are much more likely to have it right than wrong. As any hypothesis is capable of being disproved (even religious belief) one should never claim certainty, or of knowing the truth! In this case the old prejudices have been replaced with a more enlightened approach. which I believe to be correct. 

    I am glad that you accept that homosexuals are part of the great human family, that what they do in private is their business, and can be regarded as natural.

    I agree that emotions are also a natural part of human behaviour and that some need to be regulated for the common good. The point is though that these are only important if they actually affect anyone else. If they don’t, why are they the concern of anyone but themselves?

    I believe that the “marriage is only designed for pro-creation” argument is entirely spurious. My wife and I cannot have children. Which is fine, because we don’t want any children. Should we not be married? Or the elderly couple who are past child bearing age, or even beyond having sex? What is important is the relationship, and not it’s composition. A homosexual relationship is normal for them, and for all those, like me, who has no problem with it.  

    I have no problem with the idea that you will have to teach your children what are the generally accepted standards of society, especially if you are a teacher. Nor do I expect you not to tell them that your personal opinions are different. Most of us have jobs which require us to suspend our personal opinions of something, at one time or another. Too many Catholics believe that their children are their sole responsibility and, in effect, they are an extension of themselves and that they own them. Too often do they speak of “another little Catholic” being born. It’s not right. We all have an interest in every child who is born, irrespective of their parent’s background. You would no more want a radical Muslim having total control over their child would you?

    We have a national curriculum and it has to be followed, even by so called religious schools, which I personally would scrap tomorrow given the chance, along with the right to home school, other than in very exceptional circumstances. That though is probably another discussion!    

  • scary goat

     Well, again, I can’t explain for Paul and Lazarus and I don’t feel exactly the same way, but I can see where they are coming from. It is because the Catholic understanding of marriage has a beauty, depth and meaningfulness that you can’t find anywhere else.  It’s a bit like renaming fish-fingers as salmon.  Then if you say I had salmon for supper no-one knows any more what you mean by that.  I am an ex-muslim convert to the Catholic faith.  I know what “marriage” means in the Islam and I know how it made me feel, and I know what the Catholic Church means by “marriage” and it aint the same.  Nothing is the same as what we understand marriage to be.  We love our understanding of marriage. Anything else just doesn’t qualify.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    In terms of shame, of course it is about my feelings in response to my actions. (Care about one’s one flourishing is a key part of the virtue of practical reason.) 

    I am of course also extremely concerned about the common good, but the appropriate emotion for that is not shame but (eg) fear. And I do indeed fear for the future of this country and others if same sex ‘marriage’ is in introduced.

  • majorcalamity

    As I don’t want to repeat myself perhaps you would read my reply to “Scary Goat”. It answers most of the points you raise. To homosexuals, and to many others, their homosexuality is perfectly normal. Unlike you I see no over powering reason why it should affect morality, and no reason either to encourage or discourage it. It’s a personal matter. 

  • liquafruta

    Thank you for replying so nicely and in a measured fashion. I have experienced what you mean about marriage in Islamic Countries as I worked in The Arabian Gulf for many years and you are quite correct that the two definitions of marriage are quite different. I suppose what I am asking is whether you as a Catholic could now extend sympathy, love and charity to those seeking to establish what you enjoy within their own loving relationships before their Heavenly Father. That is what I am writing about but I, and thankfully many other practising Catholics think similarly and I feel that I must express these opinions in the interest of showing publicly what some Catholics think. God bless you as you follow your spiritual path which has led you into the arms of your loving shepherd who cares we are assured in holy scripture without exception for all of His sheep. Dominus est pastor meus, non egebo.

  • liquafruta

    I don’t think that I have ever been snide in any of the posts I have made here but if you feel that I have then I regret causing you any discomfort.In other countries where marriage equality has been brought in the sky has not fallen in and the world keeps turning as it always did. I respect your opinions but I just have a differing point of view.

  • majorcalamity

    Sorry Lazarus but I have debated “natural law” so often with Catholics that I very much doubt that you could add much to my knowledge, and am quite sure that you would not be able to “put me right”.

    Natural law is merely a theory. Actually it is a general term covering a collection of theories. None are fact.

    I reject them all because I reject the concept of a “God” as the source. I believe that our morality is a consequence of evolution. If you can include an evolved inborn understanding of right and  wrong as the basis of a “natural law”, then we might find some common ground. Every Catholic I have ever discussed this with wants to insert “God” into the equation, so I won’t hold my breath.  

  • scary goat

     Ok, I’ll have a go at this.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to insert God into this at some point, but for your benefit I will try to keep Him as an “optional extra” rather than the basis of the argument.  “Natural Law” surely is just another way of saying the Laws of nature.  (In a Catholic sense we use this related to moral law). So can you overturn the laws of nature? No.  We can interfere with nature to some extent….but even then only within what nature will allow.   We can discover things….we don’t need to leave people to die from simple bacterial infections because we know how to treat it with anti-biotics…but still anti-biotics will not cure a viral infection.  We can change he meanings of words…but does it actually mean anything?  If we decided that in the name of equality we will call night day as well, we can do that….but it doesn’t alter the movement of the earth.  It won’t stop it from getting dark.  So what about evolved morality?  Well, to some extent yes.  It seems to me that conscience is a bit like intelligence.  The spark is there…..but it needs education to flourish.  (where that spark came from is another question…I would say from God…you might say it evolved.) I did wonder in my musings whether God might have pre-programmed us all with a conscience and that might be enough and we don’t need religion. I rejected that view because I see that different people’s consciences work differently.  There is no common standard.  I also noticed that people (including myself) are very adept at moulding our consciences to fit what we want.  We are very good at making excuses to make almost anything acceptable if it’s what we want to do. Why do muslims accept polygamy?  (although actually most muslim women don’t).  etc etc. So, in our negotiations, how do we define what is good/bad/indifferent when people have different standards?  This is the problem of relativism.  If it’s all just down to “opinion” how can we have a clear notion of right and wrong? So the Church appeals to natural law (amongst other things).  It’s just how things are.  If a male sexual organ fits into a female sexual organ and the result is producing offspring, isn’t that simply how nature intended?  Even the rules of the Church which are based on Scripture, I find that you can “double-check” it by applying your own natural law.  How can we decide, for example who is right between Islamic marriage laws and Catholic marriage laws? By looking at the pain caused to  women and children by divorce and polygamy. Pain is a natural emotion.  Whether natural emotions were pre-programmed in by God or whether they evolved, they have a place in moral law.  Again, apply this to modern liberal western views.  Whoop-de-doo free sex?  3 generations on I see women and children (and men) suffering the consequences.  You only need to look around to see that.  We have got to a stage where we don’t know the rules of the game, so how can we even be expected to play, let alone win?  We need a common moral standard.  We can’t do it on our own. “I want” is not a moral standard. In searching for moral standards I found the Catholic Church’s teachings to be the best there is. You may not agree with the Church, so look at nature, evolved or whatever.  Isn’t nature what we are? How can we be something different from the natural laws that govern us?  I would have thought that to the atheist who believes that nature is all there is, natural law would be the law they look to? 

  • whytheworldisending

    “Jews were losing their jobs, their businesses….    ….People wonder; how is it that we didn’t do something. We didn’t run away. We didn’t hide. Well things didn’t happen at once. Things happened very slowly, so each time a new law came out, or a restriction, we said, ‘Well…just another thing. It’ll blow over.’ …And the next restriction was that the Jew cannot walk out on the street without the yellow star. We heard that in Germany they had to wear the yellow star before they were taken away, and in Poland they did that… so at that point we were worried.” …… “I couldn’t imagine that they would just take out people from their homes because they are jewish.”…. “We really wanted to believe…and by then the whole European Jewery was already in camps… We didn’t know.” (Shoa – The Last Days: 8m30s to 14m35s)

  • JabbaPapa

    Marriage is not about “love”, not as you are implicitly defining it — it’s about family.

    Two men are biologically incapable of producing offspring together.

    Why should they have any need for institutions and infrastructures designed for the safeguard and protection of something that they are totally incapable of ?

  • JabbaPapa

    I reject them all because I reject the concept of a “God”

    In other words, you disagree solely on the basis of your own indoctrination and prejudice.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    As I suggested below, you really should get out more. If you’ve found Catholics who think nothing can be said about ethics without reference to God, then you simply having been talking to the wrong sort of Catholics. Certainly (and I suspect this is where you’re getting confused again) no Catholic would claim that you can get a complete understanding of how we should live without ‘bringing God into it’, but that isn’t to say that we can’t do quite a lot of work without immediate reference either a) to God as legislator or b) God as a source of revelation. The whole point about a reference to natural law as the basis of ethical thinking is that it allows that human reason, reflecting (particularly) on human nature is able to achieve true ethical conclusions.

    Now of course you’re quite right that this general insight is worked out in detail in a variety of different approaches. (Which makes it even more surprising -if one were to take it as anything more than empty rhetoric- for you to describe natural law as a ‘myth’.) But centrally, all these theories regard human nature as being capable of being harmed and benefited and investigate these harms and benefits.

    You know all this, of course. You’ve told us that. But given that you’ve read modern Catholic philosophers such as Robert George, John Finnis, Alasdair MacIntyre, or non-Catholics working in neo-Aristotelian ethics, why does it seem that we need to start from such a low base of knowledge as you’re displaying here? If you know it all so well that you don’t even have to read the elementary introduction I suggested in the (non-Catholic) Stanford Encyclopedia, why are we still talking about ‘myth’ and God as a source?

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    1) Nothing you have said here or above has any implications for same sex ‘marriage’. So can I assume you’ve conceded that it is indeed a silly idea and we’ve moved on to discuss homosexuality?

    2) On homosexuality, you are floundering between the claims that there is simply no such thing as morality (so anything goes) and the claim that in fact homosexuality is not dysfunctional. I’ll take this up above in more detail, but the fundamental issue here is between those who have given up rationally thinking about what, given the sort of creatures we are, the best sort of human life is; and those, like the Catholic Church, who take this question seriously.