Equal Persons, Unequal Acts

ChelseaGay Marriage/Homosexuality, Homosexuality2 Comments

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.”

Read more.

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.

Read more.

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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2 Comments on “Equal Persons, Unequal Acts”

  1. So I notice you did not publish my comment on your previous post about chik-fil-a. My question stands, what if the owner decided that he would donate money to organizations that actively, arbitrarily, decided to prevent handicapped people from access to their restaurants? Would you be so quick to praise them for their “right” to deny people such as yourself the right to eat gross fried chicken? You are so wrong when you say “I’m not judging or hating anyone”. Yes you ARE JUDGING and HATING. And for that you fail. No one is saying that the owner of Chik-fill-A doesn’t have the right to protest against gay marriage. No one is saying you don’t have the right to join him. Just realize it makes you a hateful person. No amount of justification changes that my dear. Again don’t misunderstand me, you are free to judge and hate, just know that myself and people in the gay community can judge and hate you for it.

  2. Yes, I do not usually approve comments that contain personal attacks or insults.

    Dan Cathy never said he hated gay people or that his restaurant refused service or employment to anyone based on their sexual preference. Likewise, none of the charities he donated to try to prevent gay people from access to restaurants or any other place of business. All Cathy said in the interview that sparked this nonsense was that he supports the Biblical definition of the family unit. Period. So, your question has no relevance to the issue at hand.

    Yes, people were saying that Cathy doesn’t have the right to say what he said. The “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” was a response to certain public officials saying just that. Specifically, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino who said that a new Chick-fil-A that was planning to open in his town would meet with regulatory red tape meant to block its expansion based the owner’s personal beliefs.

    If you think that what either Cathy or I have said is hateful or judgmental, then clearly we have very different understandings of what those words mean. Just because I have a different opinion doesn’t mean that I hate you or anyone else. Rejecting a belief does not equal rejecting a person. I’m sorry you don’t see it that way.

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