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viewpoint

A Catholic case for same-sex marriage

| Friday, September 16, 2016

In yesterday’s Tocqueville lecture, Archbishop Chaput spoke of the implications of religious liberty for the Church’s teachings on marriage and family. Putting aside the complicated question of religious liberty in America, I would pose a different question: Why does the Catholic Church choose to defend a limited interpretation of its teachings on marriage? The teachings contain an important message about the intertwining of self and other that occurs in marriage, but in considering marriage closed to same-sex relationships, the Church loses sight of this core message about marriage. There is a Catholic case to be made for same-sex marriage.

In a 2011 interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Archbishop Chaput laid out the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage, as well as its opposition to same sex marriage. He defines marriage as “the faithful love of a man and a woman for each other, permanent, and for the sake of children … The Church does believe that human sexuality has a meaning in itself, that it’s about love and procreation … So a relationship between two people of the same sex is not in line with the teachings of the church and the teachings of the Gospel.”

As Archbishop Chaput indicated in his interview, the Church views marriage as both “unitive” and “procreative.” According to the Pontifical Council for the Family, these two characteristics can be understood respectively as “reciprocal self-giving” and “transmission of life.” The Church’s case rests on proving that same-sex couples are incapable of achieving these things.

I hope I’m not the only one to take offense to the idea that lesbian, gay or bisexual individuals are incapable of self-giving love. But don’t take my word for it — look to the example of the LGBTQ people who spoke up about the AIDS crisis, and ministered to those in suffering. Or to those who have spent late nights and countless hours helping students who are coming out to themselves for the first time, trying to overcome years of harmful messages. Self-giving love is something that one develops, and there is nothing in the lives of LGBTQ people that prevents them from doing so — but there is plenty to promote it.

In fact, the Catholic Church would also take offense to denying that lesbian, gay or bisexual people are capable of self-giving love. Many of its teachings encourage them to develop friendships full of this love. It does, however, believe that this love of theirs cannot be expressed through their sexuality.

It is here that we come to the supposedly irrefutable truth of Catholic teaching. Without a male and a female, you cannot make a baby. Without biology, you cannot be procreative. Case closed. However, an observer might notice that the Catholic Church officiates over marriages that do not meet this strict test. We allow the marriage of infertile couples, and we marry those whose child-producing capacity has long passed. We do this because we innately recognize that procreation does not only mean “making babies.”

To use the Pontifical Council’s framing, procreation means that out of a relationship, one creates new life. However, new life is not only the joining of a sperm and an egg but is created in the remainder of the act of raising a child, or in a mentoring relationship that leads a first generation student to college. It is in the care of creation that sustains our planet for the next generation, or in the care of a friend experiencing a renewal of life after a traumatic incident.

When the Catholic Church talks about procreation, it is speaking of the chance humans have to participate in God’s creation. It is the messy and imperfect earthly reflection of an ideal creator. The Catholic Church solemnizes and blesses the relationship of marriage because it helps cultivate the strength needed to carry out these actions. The concept of procreation is limited if it disregards the many other ways in which humanity participates in creation. The sacrament of marriage exists to solemnize a relationship that is expressly committed to the full range of procreation. It would be a shame to continue to argue that the ability to participate in creation is contingent upon the physical ability to make a baby.

I am not a theologian; I am simply a gay man who finds it strange that the Church cannot see the self-giving love and transmission of life in same-sex relationships that many of my friends, family and peers already have. Perhaps the heart of the teachings of the Church will one day shine through the centuries of homophobia laid on top of them. Until then, those of us who find ourselves at the intersection of faith and sexuality can simply pray and live our lives the way God created us, regardless of whether God’s Church recognizes it.

Bryan Ricketts

senior

Sept. 15

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • NDaniels

    “Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? And he said: [5] For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.

    [6] Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”

    What separates marriage from every other Loving relationship, is the ability and desire to exist in relationship as husband and wife. Marriage cannot in essence be and not be, existing in relationship as husband and wife simultaneously.

    Same-sex sexual unions defy both Faith and reason.

    Love is ordered to the inherent personal and relational Dignity of the persons existing in a relationship of Love. (The Blessed Trinity) Every beloved son or daughter, from the moment they are created and brought into being at conception, has the inherent Right to be treated with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public.

    All of us have disordered inclinations of various types and degree, some more difficult to overcome than others; God desires that we desire to overcome our disordered inclinations, so that we are not led into temptation, but become transformed through Salvational Love, God’s Gift of Grace and Mercy.

    Men and women are designed in such a way that it is not possible to engage in same-sex sexual acts without demeaning our inherent Dignity as beloved sons and daughters. No one should be condoning demeaning sexual acts of any nature including between a man and woman united in marriage as husband and wife.

    Why not tell those men and women who have developed a same-sex sexual attraction the truth? It is because we Love you, and respect your Dignity as a beloved son or daughter, that we cannot condone the engaging in or affirmation of any act, including any sexual act that demeans your inherent Dignity as a beloved son or daughter. The desire to engage in a demeaning act of any nature, does not change the nature of the act. We Love you, and because we Love you, we desire that you will always be treated with, and will always treat others with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public. We will not tolerate the engaging in or condoning of sexual behavior that does not reflect the upmost respect for the human person.

    May God Bless our beloved sons and daughters who are struggling with a disordered same-sex sexual attraction, help them to heal their wounds, and guide them as they learn to develop healthy and Holy relationships and friendships, that are grounded in authentic Love, and thus respectful of the inherent Dignity of the human person.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=overcoming+same-sex+attraction&ie=UTF-8&…

    • Annette Magjuka

      LGBT people are not disordered.

      • NDaniels

        Annette, to assign personhood to sexual desire/inclination/orientation, sexually objectifies the human person, in direct violation of God’s Commandment regarding lust and the sin of adultery. Human persons exist in relationship as sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, not as objects of sexual desire/inclination/orientation. Every inclination that is not ordered to authentic Love, The Word Of God Made Flesh, is a disordered inclination.

        All of us have disordered inclinations of various types and degrees, some more difficult to overcome than others; God desires that we desire, to overcome our disordered inclinations, so that we are not led into temptation, but become transformed through Salvational Love, God’s Gift of Grace and Mercy, and develop healthy and Holy relationships and friendships that are grounded in authentic Love and thus respectful of the inherent Dignity of the human person. The fact that we have disordered inclinations, does not make us disordered people.

        • Alum

          All: NDaniels is a troll whose sole purpose is to prowl these forums and repetitively spam articles, particularly ones with an LGBT focus, with useless, sh*t-mongering and bigoted commentary that carry no weight whatsoever.

          Everyone: nothing to see here. Move on.

          • João Pedro Santos

            I would suggest blocking NDaniels. The comments section gets a way nicer view after that.

    • RandallPoopenmeyer

      Who cares what consenting adults do. If your God cared so much, it would have been in the ten commandments.

  • Annette Magjuka

    Thank you for your insightful letter. Your generation must keep speaking out so the church finally understands the harm it is doing to LGBT people and those who love them. It is wrong that the hierarchy demands the faithful to engage in explicit or implicit discrimination. This is against Catholic principles and must stop.

    • NDaniels

      Annette, no harm can come from the desire to treat all persons with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public, and not desire that we or our beloved, engage in any act, including any sexual act, that demeans our inherent Dignity as beloved sons and daughters.

      • ZW

        Historically, statements of “good intentions” have not been very effective guarantees of good outcomes.

  • João Pedro Santos

    What an ignorant and hateful comment.

    • NDaniels

      There is no Catholic case for same-sex marriage because in order to be Catholic, one must be in communion with Christ and His One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. This is not an ignorant and hateful comment:

      “Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? And he said: [5] For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.

      [6] Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” – The Truth Of Love, The Word Of God Made Flesh