With all that’s been going on with the Supreme Court deciding on DOMA and Proposition 8, I’ve been thinking a lot more about gay marriage and homosexuality in general in America. I am a Catholic who actually believes what the Catholic Church teaches, so you can probably guess where I stand on the whole gay marriage issue. It’s easy to sulk and get frustrated over the fact that the media hardly gave any real explanation of the pro-DOMA side (at least as far as I could tell), and that when they did, it followed the typical stereotypes (old guy holding a “Gays go to Hell!” banner or angry and frustrated Prop. 8 lawyer giving one sentence of explanation, followed by someone picking apart the statement for the next 3 minutes).
But I have to admit, I see good and bad on both sides of the aisle. As I’ve been listening to debates and reading material, even if I don’t agree with the idea of gay marriage rights, how can anyone miss the real anguish gay people go through? We, meaning Christians and the public at large, have treated homosexuals poorly. That’s just a fact. They’ve gotten bullied. They have been persecuted and killed. They are told, at best, that something they feel all the time and can’t get away from – that doesn’t seem to do them or anyone else any harm – is a disorder in them. I can imagine that being difficult for a gay person to swallow, even on a good day. As soon as somone who is a homosexual starts accepting that their same-sex attraction is a good thing, seeking the right to marry is the logical next step.
The side against gay marriage has surprised me, though, with how cogent and coherent their arguments are. They really don’t need to reference religion – at all – to back their side up. They have their reasons, and you can disagree with them, but in a world where ethics is becoming more and more subjective, it really is hard to look at what they say and condemnn them for being wrong. I say this after having read “What is Marriage?”,* a book that was originally an article written for the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, by Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, and Ryan T. Anderson. If you are passionate about the issue of gay rights or traditional marriage, you owe it to yourself to read it – even if only to understand more clearly why you disagree with the opposition,
One thing in particular, though, makes me really hopeful. And that is that, with all this talk of “marriage”, what has come to the surface is the fact that committed, monogomous marriage is really the best environment for children.** Both sides, as far as I know, didn’t argue against this point because there is just too much research to prove that children of two parents in a committed marriage relationship are better off than children of cohabiting couples, divorced couples, or step-parents. I’ve read articles on this even in Time Magazine, but it’s a point that I think needs to be continually reasserted. Marriage really does matter as the fundamental building block of society. It is the best way, the ideal structure in which to raise the next generation.
The debate has also unmasked the deeper desires of prominant proponents on both sides. There are those on the gay rights side who see this as only a stepping stone to de-institutionalizing marriage altogether – redefining it essentially out of existence – which would be disastrous for the next generation for the reason I mentioned already: kids need stable environments. On the other side, it’s unmasking those who really have no better reason to argue against gay marriage other than they feel God told them so. I can symphathize with that as a Christian, but this is not a Christian nation. If you don’t meet people on a level playing ground, starting with common assumptions and reasonable arguments, you can’t argue any point whatsoever.
But what has struck me most about both sides (of which, again, I’ll be honest, I stand in the pro-DOMA, pro-Prop 8 camp) is how they seek to paint themselves. And the big question for America to decide – not now, but 20, 30, 50 years from now – is which side is painting the truth. Gay rights advocates have clearly made this a civil rights issue – hence the title “Gay Rights”. They are the persecuted, the second-class citizens, the pushed aside and downtrodden among us who simply want their love for one another to be recognized like any heterosexual’s. The other side is painting this like another sexual revolution which, decades later, America still has conflicted feelings about.*** Did it liberate women or chain them? Did it open Pandora’s box with abortion or did it free them? I know this much: I worry for my daughter and the kind of “freedom” she’s going to have to deal with when she grows up – the kind of world the sexual revolution gave me to raise my family in. God help us.
But I’ve been talking a lot about what “America” needs to think through. What about an average Catholic like me? Where do I stand with my faith in the middle of all of this?
I can praise the things that are praiseworthy and speak against the things that aren’t. My children will be growing up side by side with other children who will have same-sex parents. I have already met and taught children of same-sex parents. I can tell my kids that these parents really love their kids and that they are doing the best they can as far as they know how. I can tell them it is always a good thing to have committed friendships with people, where we purpose to always be there for them and take care of them if they need us, and gay couples give that to each other. But, yes, I would tell them that practicing homosexuality is a sin, but that God would never ask us to deny something – even something that feels fundamental to who we are – if He didn’t have something far more wonderful to give us in return. And being a Christian is about crucifying the things in your life that you think you want, to gain the things that deep down you really need. I would tell my kids that we should pray for same-sex parents, that they would raise their children to be good as best they know how, and commend them to God’s mercy who wants everyone to join Him in Heaven.
I don’t know if that would please either my conservative Christian friends or my wildly liberal ones. But you have to do what you think is right. That’s at least something we can all agree on.
and a rebuttal to it: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/blog/philosophy/
***Just read this article to get my point: http://online.wsj.com/article/