Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Catholic View of Marriage

I have become rather distressed by some conversations in which I have shared recently, particularly with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ’s own Catholic Church.  Unfortunately, it would seem that many of my Catholic friends have a misplaced sense of justice regarding the recent Supreme Court rulings when it comes to the oxymoronic term “gay marriage”. 

This is not simply my opinion, but rather that of the Catholic Church as taught by the Magisterium for over two millennia of its history that marriage is an institution and indeed one of the seven sacraments that was created by God and is only between a man and a woman.  Support for any other iteration of a union is not a marriage and is contrary to what God and his universal church clearly states. 

God gives us free will, but for one to be fully in communion with the Catholic Church, one must use that INFORMED free will and thus abide by the Church’s dogmatic and doctrinal teachings, even when one finds them to be difficult.  (Indeed, this is especially true when one finds them to be difficult.)

I am further distressed that many folks ascribe such horrible labels of “bigot” and “hateful” at me for following God’s teachings.  I am writing these things not out of hate for our gay brothers and sisters, but rather out of love for God and what he teaches us is right.  I have no malice or hatred towards any of my fellow men and women who have same sex attractions.  I have friends and even family members who are homosexual, and I love them dearly.  My purpose is not to condemn anyone, as that is not my place to do so.  I simply wish to educate my fellow Christians what their church has to say on this issue, so that they cannot claim ignorance going forward, or think that their is no difference in the conjugal love of a gay couple and that of a man and woman joined in a sacramental marriage.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states the following:

2392    “Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being” (FC 11).
2393    By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other. Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.
2394    Christ is the model of chastity. Every baptized person is called to lead a chaste life, each according to his particular state of life.
2395    Chastity means the integration of sexuality within the person. It includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery.
2396    Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.
2397    The covenant which spouses have freely entered into entails faithful love. It imposes on them the obligation to keep their marriage indissoluble.
Further, the CCC states:

2357    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. (2333)
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.
2359    Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (2347)
And lastly:

III. The Love of Husband and Wife
2360    Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament. (1601)
2361    “Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death.”143 (1643, 2332, 1611)

Tobias got out of bed and said to Sarah, “Sister, get up, and let us pray and implore our Lord that he grant us mercy and safety.” So she got up, and they began to pray and implore that they might be kept safe. Tobias began by saying, “Blessed are you, O God of our fathers.... You made Adam, and for him you made his wife Eve as a helper and support. From the two of them the race of mankind has sprung. You said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; let us make a helper for him like himself.’ I now am taking this kinswoman of mine, not because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that she and I may find mercy and that we may grow old together.” And they both said, “Amen, Amen.” Then they went to sleep for the night.144

2362    “The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude.”145 Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:  The Creator himself... established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment. They accept what the Creator has intended for them. At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation.146
2363    The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.
To have a valid marriage, one must be open to the sacrament and its unitive and procreative aspects of the union between a man and a woman.  Nature, and nature’s God has precluded this sacrament from members of the same sex, as the procreative aspects of the conjugal embrace are not possible in such a union.  The same sex couple acts contrary to nature’s design and God’s purpose of total and potentially life-creating giving of one spouse to another.    

Friends, if you are a Christian, especially a Catholic Christian, I urge you to pray upon this with an open and loving heart.  If you still choose to support gay marriage, just know that you are not in communion with your Church, which Christ himself established.  Yes, we should and absolutely must love and treat with dignity our gay brothers and sisters, just as we should strive to do with all people.  That does not mean we should be tolerant or supportive of actions that God and his church has clearly told us is wrong.  Indeed, as God’s word tells us in Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”  Let’s pray for each other and for God to grant us wisdom, love, mercy, and forgiveness as regards this exceptionally difficult issue.

Christ tells us that the greatest two commandments are to love God and to love our neighbor.  And indeed we must always strive to do so, but are we really loving our neighbor if we support them when they do something that God has said is wrong? 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Waning of Relgious Liberty in America

“Religious liberty as an ideal sounds lovely. But in the abstract, it has very little power. It has political force only to the degree that ordinary people believe and practice their faith — and refuse to tolerate anyone or anything interfering with their faith. The current White House has a clear track record of ignoring the traditional American understanding of religious freedom and interfering with the activity of religiously inspired organizations.  If lay Catholics accept that sort of government behavior without inflicting a political cost on the officials responsible for it, then they have no one to blame but themselves when they find that their liberties have gone thin.”  ~ Archbishop Charles Chaput

In light of the impending HHS mandate going into effect on August 1st of this year which will seriously infringe upon Americans’ first amendment right to the free exercise of their religion, I think the nation is about to see what happens when we do not vigilantly and vehemently guard and defend our unalienable God-given liberties as enshrined in the United States Constitution.  Archbishop Chaput is right.  It isn’t only up to the clergy to defend this and other constitutional rights; it is incumbent upon all Americans of every faith, or no faith at all, to speak out for the rule of law and hold our elected officials accountable when they vote contrary to our Constitution and liberty.  To not do so will only ensure that we will all eventually be shackled by the chains of tyranny.

As Archbishop Chaput further said in regards to our religious freedoms in general and the egregious, pernicious, and evil HHS mandate in specific, “If laypeople don’t love their Catholic faith enough to struggle for it in the public square, nothing the bishops do will finally matter.”  I pray that enough freedom-loving people of goodwill will indeed step up and make their collective voices heard, before they are no longer allowed to speak anymore.