Confession: I did not go to Chick-fil-A last Wednesday. But I did have a long conversation with my very liberal grandmother about homosexuality/same-sex marriage when it came up. Does that make up for it?
A couple of articles related to this whole mess that I want to draw your attention to, if you haven’t seen them already:
First – JoAnne K. McPortland gave the best explanation of legal marriage that I think I’ve ever read:
“marriage is in no society a universal human right. For the state, marriage is a privilege, like driving or voting. It comes with attendant rights and responsibilities. To be married in the eyes of the law, you must meet certain requirements and be free of certain impediments. You must request the state’s permission to exercise this privilege by applying for a marriage license, just as you must secure a driver’s license or register to vote. If you are interested in legislation to extend the privilege of marriage to couples of the same sex where that extension does not now exist, whether it is called domestic partnership or marriage, you (and Jeff Bazos and Howard Schultz) are free to lobby for that, to pour money into campaigning for it, whatever—just as Dan Cathy is free to lobby against it and to pour money into campaigning against it. What you cannot do is make a privilege into a universal human right, no matter how hard you close your eyes, cross your fingers, and wish. In terms of religion, of course, marriage is more than just a privilege—it’s a holy rite. That’s not a right, either, though by claiming a universal human right to marriage you may hope to be able to sue churches and synagogues and mosques and temples into according you “special rites.”
Then, over at Catholic Lane, Dale O’Leary goes where many marriage defenders fear to tread:
Of course they are human beings with all the rights of other human beings. The problem is not that the people aren’t equal, but that the acts aren’t equal. Those defending marriage don’t like to get explicit, but sometimes it is necessary. The intimate acts engaged in by two people of the same sex are not equal to the marital union. Those acts do not unite two persons in one flesh in an action in which each participates with their full personhood as male or female. A man engaged in sexual union with a woman is acting as a man, a woman as a woman.
The acts engaged in by two persons of the same sex are acts which one person does to another, not with the other as equals. To be graphically blunt, homosexual acts engage the genitals of only one of the partners at a time. The acts engaged in by two persons of the same sex, even if engaged in by a male/female couple, would not consummate a marriage.
Said à la Jerry Maguire, “I LOVE GAY PEOPLE!!!” And I want them to have all the rights that every human being is entitled to. But, as JoAnne points out, marriage is not a right and even if same-sex couples should ever be granted the privilege of marrying under the law, the Church could never allow or recognize it because their “marriage” could never be consummated, as O’Leary explains.
Sometimes I think this debate is too heavily emotionally charged for anyone to have a rational conversation about it. Not that meaningful dialogue doesn’t happen, but by and large, it seems that people spend too much time making noise, not arguments, and refusing to actually listen to each other. Brandon Vogt and Theresa Noble have some helpful suggestions for both sides to consider as we move forward in this debate.
The best advice I can give you is this: remember that you’re dealing with people, not issues, and meet them where they’re at. When I talk to my grandmother, for instance, I have to keep in mind that our difference of opinion is shaped by two completely different world views. So, even though we can have a calm, rational conversation about things like same-sex marriage and even (sometimes) abortion, and she understands that I’m not judging or hating anyone (especially her), I have to accept (and expect) that nothing I say is going to change her mind about things. That’s not really my job, anyway. My role is just to proclaim the truth in charity and pray that Christ will show her the way.
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