Sunday, November 13, 2011
Defending Traditional Marriage (part 3)
Defending Traditional Marriage Part 3
In the first two segments of this series, in defending traditional marriage, I have not even touched on the issue of homosexuality, for a very important reason. We need to defend marriage from any attempt at redefinition. And my arguments have been given so that any secularist could agree with them.
However, since the issue of gay marriage is the one facing us now, our opponents will usually focus on the issue of homosexuality rather than on marriage. We will often be labeled out of hand as bigots. We will just have to accept that. Those who would call us names without honest debate must be prayed for, and treated with kindness, but we have no obligation engage them, I think. They are trapped in their own bigotry.
Of course, many on the other side are acting out of good will and compassion, albeit a little misdirected. They are concerned with the dignity of homosexual persons and unjust discrimination. As the document On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons demonstrates, these are important concerns for the Church as well.
So in order to respond to these people, we will have to examine the issue of homosexuality and inject our Faith into the debate. It should animate everything we do anyway.
Our motives should be clear: love of God and love of neighbor. If we keep focused on these, we will be fine. The first point is that we as Catholics absolutely defend the worth and dignity of every human person. No one’s status as an unborn child, a disabled adult, a homosexual, or even a condemned criminal, affects that person’s fundamental dignity.
The Church often comes under attack for calling same-sex attraction “disordered,” as if that means people who struggle with it are somehow defective. This is NOT what is meant. I have, in my past, struggled with an anxiety disorder. I was not at that time defective. I simply struggled to manage anxiety in a healthy manner like most people do.
Natural law makes it clear that sexual activity is ordered to the procreation of children. In every species this is true. Therefore anything that separates the two is disordered, which is one of the reasons for God’s condemnation of artificial contraception.
Our Faith shows us God’s beautiful plan for sex and marriage. Every violation is disordered, be it homosexuality, adultery, “open marriages,” polygamy, or divorce (though separations and civil divorce may at times be necessary).
Every temptation to sin is disordered, though temptation is not a sin. Same sex attraction is not a sin. Something only becomes sinful when we choose to act on it. Our temptations become sins only when we consent to them.
So saying someone is struggling with something that is disordered is simply to say that they are human. However, as much as we may want to avoid hurting people, we can’t be afraid of offending them. To spread the good news about God’s plan for sex and marriage is an act of charity, not cruelty.
We don’t have to endorse gay “marriage” or pretend that homosexuality is a product of God’s design rather than our fallen human nature. That doesn’t do anyone any favors. The Truth will set us free. All of us. If someone is cheating on his wife, he needs to understand God’s plan for marriage. The same is true for someone wrapped up in the homosexual culture.
Of course, we must always act with charity and see a person, not create an identity out of a behavior. And we must not pretend that someone’s homosexuality makes them less than ourselves. The truth is we have our own struggles that perhaps they can help with. We are children of the same Father making our way to the same Homeland and we must help each other get there.
We should know of resources like NARTH and the work of Dr. Nicolosi that have helped so many people overcome difficulties with same-sex attraction. There are organizations like Courage and Encourage that help people with these struggles and their family members live God’s plan for them.
If we can stop being afraid and be devoted uncompromisingly to the truth, we can offer real help to those who want it. But, of course, as in all things, our charity must know no bounds, because our loved ones need us to be in for the long haul. When I was in the darkest days of my anxiety, the people who loved me and were helping me didn’t get tired and quit on me. That is the only reason I overcame it. As our Lord said at the end of the parable of the Good Samaritan: Now go and do likewise.