February 17, 2005

Questions About Church Teaching on Gay Civil Unions

This post originally appeared at In Today's News on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2005.

Some conservative Catholics want a Constitutional ban on gay marriage because homosexual acts are considered intrinsically disordered (par 2357 of the CCC), and therefore a non-negotiable issue in politics.

Gay unions or marriages are seen as a departure from traditional marriage and a threat to the institution of marriage itself.

Here is a link to the Catechism on the Vatican's site.

According to the Vatican, artificial contraception is an intrinsically disordered act (par 2370 of the CCC).

Should the production or sale of contraceptives be banned under civil law, and the issue considered a non-negotiable political issue?

According to the Vatican, masturbation is an intrinsically disordered act (par 2352 of the CCC).

Should there be a legal remedy for those caught in the act of masturbation?

Should there be laws against the production and sale of pornography, and the issue be considered a non-negotiable political issue?

According to the Vatican, all of these sins fall under the sixth commandment: Do not commit adultery.

Included in this commandment is also the prohibition to remarry a different person after divorce.

These would seem to be more direct offenses against marriage.

Should there be laws with criminal penalties against adultery as well as for remarriage after divorce?

Paragraph 2351 in this section highlights that the sin of lust is a disordered sexual desire that intentionally separates sexual expression from the unitive and procreative dimension.

How does a gay couple intentionally separate sexual expression from the procreative dimension in a way that infertile heterosexual couples do not?

If deliberately separating sexuality from procreation is always wrong, why can married heterosexuals knowingly and deliberately engage in conjugal relations during a period of a women's cycle that is infertile?

There was an ancient Christian non-sacramental rite of adelphopoiesis uniting people of the same gender in an indissoluble bond as spiritual siblings.

Could this rite be restored as a recognition of committed same gender love, whether such a couple is having sex or not?

If the rite of adelphopoiesis were restored, could it be bestowed with benefits under civil law that mirror those enjoyed by married heterosexuals, such as inheritance rights, tax benefits, the ability to adopt, power of attorney and so forth?

Is giving one couple the exact same civil rights that other couples already enjoy really "special rights"?

There are far fewer passages in the Bible referring to homosexual acts than there passages supporting slavery. The historic context of these sparse references does not account for a possible unchosen and unchanging homosexual orientation (see my lengthy exegesis).

Is it possible that by avoiding anachronistic isogesis of the texts, the Bible simply does not specifically address the questions we ask today?

How is a gay civil union a greater threat to heterosexual marriage than an infertile couple or a couple practicing natural family planning?

Vowed celibacy in religious life is a non-sacramental gesture.

Though the model of sacramental marriage in Scripture and Tradition is always that it is between a man and woman, is there any reason not to celebrate non-sacramental unions where love, commitment, monogamy, and self sacrifice for another are present?

In recent years, a relatively new theological concept called complementarity between the sexes has been introduced by the Vatican. The idea is that the male and female complete one another.

If this theory is true, how does vowed celibacy fit into the theology?

Where does a hermaphrodite fit into the theology?

Why is vowed celibate life not considered a threat to heterosexual marriage?

Why are orphanages run by vowed religious less threatening to children than adoption by a same gender couple?

Aren't something like 80 to 90 percent of pedophiles and ephobophiles in the general population heterosexual married men?

Father Donald Cozzens has suggested that up to half of priests are gay.

If you could see into his soul, and saw that your own pastor is chaste but same sex attracted, would you think differently about gays?

Further, does a Constitutional Amendment violate the social justice principle of subsidiarity if the states can regulate marriage?

Could the promotion of economic justice do more to save heterosexual marriages than passing a Constitutional ban on gay marriages?

The Vatican condemns unjust discrimination directed at persons with predominate same sex attractions.

Why doesn't the prohibition of such discrimination forbid us to try to create legislation that would prohibit a gay civil union?

Saint Thomas Aquinas held the position that civil law only needs to enforce morality on issues where direct harm is caused to another in this life.

What harm is caused to others by permitting gay unions?

Non-infallible Vatican directives advise Catholic politicians to vote against legalization of gay civil unions out of fear that homosexuality would spread in society, somewhat like a disease (see text).

Does this theory of the origins of homosexuality make sense to most people?

How many of us believe our dominant sexual attractions were chosen or formed purely by society's marriage laws?

If marrying someone of the same gender is like marrying a dog, which of the two people is the dog?

How did encouraging monogamous commitment come to be seen as promoting a decadent life-style?

If people are born predisposed to same sex attractions, why did God allow this?

Did God create some people with same dominant same sex attractions?

If grace builds on nature, how do persons with natural same sex attractions live the graced life as gay people?

The Second Vatican Council acknowledges in GS 76 a legitimate autonomy of Church and state. In a representative democracy, Catholic politicians would seem to have some moral obligation to represent their constituents' interests.

If the majority of Americans favored gay civil unions one day, is there any principle of Catholic morality that would obligate a politician to vote against the consensus of his or her constituents on this issue?

Why did the organization called "Catholic Answers" include gay marriage with four right to life issues as one of only five "non-negotiable" political issues in the 2004 voter's guide?

Was this shameless promotion of Bush disguised as religious guidence?

Why was gay marriage non-negotiable on this list, while the "strict and rigorous" conditions for a just war in par 2309 of the CCC are negotiable?

Why was gay marriage on the list, but the Holy Father's and the USCCB's opposition to the death penalty was not on the list?

Was it homophobia that inspired support for Bush - an anxiety provoked by people who experience homosexual attractions?

What is the source of anxiety about homosexuality?

Is it merely the so-called "ick factor", and if so, should ugly heterosexuals be banned from marriage?

Are the arguments against gay unions any different than the arguments against inter-racial marriage?

Are we afraid we'll "catch it" if exposed to it too much?

Do we consider how anger and hate are the triggered by the same stimuli as fear and anxiety: the fight or flight reaction?

Even if the Church is right that gay civil unions should not be legal, in light of an unjust war, abortion, the death penalty, a growing gap between rich and poor, rising divorce rates, and so forth, should a Constitutional ban on gay civil unions really be a high priority and non-negotiable issue to American Roman Catholics?