It would seem that the very important subject of gay marriage is a topic that has not even yet begun to wane in its ascendancy. Indeed, there are many well-meaning folks that are trying mightily to make this into the new civil rights issue for our times. While I think that such comparisons are strongly misplaced, and frankly do an injustice to those good people of color that had to struggle and suffer to finally reach equality in their rights under the law, I can see cleverness in couching the debate in such terms. It is a debate that has even caused President Obama to reconsider his position on gay marriage and for him to state, unconstitutionally, that he will not have his administration enforce the Defense of Marriage Act that was passed in congress and signed into law back in 1996 under President Clinton.
The rhetoric from the pro-gay marriage side of the debate has become quite heated. Often times, an immediate and vociferous proclamation regarding one’s bigotry and hatefulness is issued if one does not agree and support the concept of gay marriage. Evidently it doesn’t occur to these folks or it is rather ignored that those of us that support and defend traditional marriage do so out of strong sociological reasons that support the concept that a family composed of a mother and a father is typically the very best environment in which to raise and support children. The fact that many people who think this way also do so because of a strong religious Christian faith only seems to exacerbate the matter. Indeed, many pro-gay marriage advocates and even many “enlightened” Christians think that God’s word is not necessarily eternal and on this issue it is antiquated. It is an anachronism to them accordingly.
I have been confronted by pro-gay marriage proponents that have used the fallacious logic that “Christ never said anything about same-sex marriage”. This argument is used as justification for some Christians to assume that Christ would not condemn such marriages, since they are still constituted in love. The notion is silly frankly. Christ also never explicitly said anything about rape, suicide, or pedophilia either. Surely, following such flawed logic, they are not implying that our Lord is just fine with those things too.
While I absolutely do not support gay marriage or condone homosexual acts, I certainly do not have any hatred or loathing for gay people. My thoughts on the issue, while having matured over time, have always been rooted in the same basic tenet that such actions were intrinsically wrong. People with same-sex attraction though are God’s children, just as we all are, and should thus be treated with respect and dignity.
I was very pleased to read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church had to say on the subject, as I found myself in complete agreement with the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium and thus Christ’s own teachings accordingly.
CCC 2357 states: “Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, *141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." *142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
CCC 2358: The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
So what specifically did Christ have to say about marriage? In the gospel of Matthew 19:3-12, Christ gives us His word on what marriage is supposed to be.
Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate." They said to him, "Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)?" He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery." [His] disciples said to him, "If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry." He answered, "Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it."
The people seemed to be amazed at what Christ told them regarding a valid marriage and how anyone who divorced and remarried was living in adultery. “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry!” (Mt.19:10 ) The fact that Jesus didn’t clarify or back-pedal means that they had obviously understood his meaning. Jesus knew that it would be difficult for fallen men to live by that definition of marriage, and yet he held firm. “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted” (Mt. 19:11).
Let’s look closely at what Jesus said next: “Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 19:12). The implications of Christ’s words are absolute then. A man’s ability to be united to his wife sexually is was what made him a candidate for marriage. If he was unable to achieve sexual union because of a birth defect, castration, or a vow of celibacy, than marriage was not his vocation.
Consequently it would seem that the foundation of Jesus’ whole argument is indeed biological. Unless “a man” and “his wife … become one flesh,” there is no valid marriage. For Jesus, and for anyone committed to His teachings, it is impossible to speak of a “Christian same-sex marriage.” Jesus’ words rule it out absolutely. The parameters for marriage between Christians, the parameters for a sacramental marriage, have been set by Jesus and cannot be changed. Indeed, as Christ said, “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away” (Lk.23:33).
*141 Cf. Gen 191-29; Rom 124-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10.
*142 CDF, Persona humana 8. [Rom.1:21-32, 1 Cor.6:9-11]