Catholicism in a nation where gay marriage is legal

It is clear that same-sex marriage will become legal, at the federal level and therefore in all 50 States, sometime in 2015. When this happens, proponents will claim, not only that gay marriage is a true type of marriage, but that all contrary views are discrimination and hate. They will have a legal basis for compelling individuals, businesses, and perhaps religious organizations to treat gay marriage and its spouses the same as any other marriages or spouses. This presents a problem for the Catholic Church in the U.S.

We cannot and will not deny Christ by rejecting His teaching on marriage:

[Matthew 19]
{19:3} And the Pharisees approached him, testing him, and saying, “Is it lawful for a man to separate from his wife, no matter what the cause?”
{19:4} And he said to them in response, “Have you not read that he who made man from the beginning, made them male and female?” And he said:
{19:5} “For this reason, a man shall separate from father and mother, and he shall cling to his wife, and these two shall become one flesh.
{19:6} And so, now they are not two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Legally, Catholics have a constitutional right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech. But the current trend in American society is to label the minority view on any controversial social issue as hatred and discrimination. On that basis, the culture proposes that certain beliefs fall outside of our constitutional rights.

How can the Church respond? Same-sex marriages cannot be held in Catholic sanctuaries, and any Catholic priest or deacon who officiates at a same-sex marriage should be excommunicated and laicized. But when it is a question of the children of a same-sex marriage, the Church should take a mild and merciful approach.

{18:15} And they were bringing little children to him, so that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.
{18:16} But Jesus, calling them together, said: “Allow the children to come to me, and do not be an obstacle to them. For of such is the kingdom of God.
{18:17} Amen, I say to you, whoever will not accept the kingdom of God like a child, will not enter into it.”

In my opinion, the Church should baptize the children of same-sex couples, and should admit them to Catholic schools. We can certainly take the position that it is far from ideal to admit these children. The same-sex parents are then necessarily involved in their child’s school and classes. But we cannot pretend that we live in a purely Catholic society. The Church must interface with persons who are outside of Her good graces, for they are not beyond the grace of God. Admitting children to a school in no way compels the Church or the school to sin gravely. We can still teach the traditional teaching of the Faith.

Moreover, it may soon become illegal for schools to refuse to admit the children of gay married couples. Society will label this type of decision as illegal discrimination. Schools will be forced to admit them or close. Already some businesses are being forced to close because they will not offer products and services to gay weddings. This trend will only become more widespread and severe once gay marriage is legal across the nation.

Refusing to hire gay teachers at a Catholic private school might also become illegal. Certainly, the Church can never and should never refuse to hire a teacher based on their race or ethnicity. But now the issue of gay marriage is being framed (incorrectly) as the same type of immoral discrimination. The result will be that Catholic schools will have to hire some teachers who are gay and married to a same-sex spouse. This will make it difficult to teach Catholic doctrine on marriage and sexuality in such a school. Example is a powerful teacher, sometimes more so than words.

The main solution to this type of problem is for the Church to teach the truth ever more clearly. Even those faithful who readily accept Church teaching and who reject the errors of sinful secular society are poorly-catechized. They have little understanding of Catholic teaching on matters of faith, morals, and salvation. The faithful must learn and live the Faith. That is the solution to these types of conflicts between the Church and secular society.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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One Response to Catholicism in a nation where gay marriage is legal

  1. Francisco says:

    If same sex “marriage” becomes legal and if it’s treated equally as a normal marriage, between a man and a woman, then becoming legal in this country for immigrants will become very easy. An immigrant will just need a friend of the same gender who is a citizen, do the “legal” things for the homosexual “marriage” to be valid, live together as normal friends do and pretend they are “married”, get the papers and bingo!

    Nothing against immigrants who want to work honestly and succeed in the US, just saying that this can happen, becoming the new trend. It’s easy to find friends of the same gender who are willing to live together.

    Also, problems with this type of marriage will become more prominent a decade from now and beyond, disoriented children and teens who want to know who their real parents are, among other issues.

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