Gay Marriage and Other Things That Our Parents Don’t Want to Hear About
A regular reader of this blog mentioned that the Catholic church disapproves of gay marriage, homosexuality, and abortion. Because I’m a Catholic, I thought that I should say something about it.
I recognize the authority of the church to set its doctrines. As a Catholic, I try to follow those doctrines in my own life. At the same time, we live in a pluralistic society with people of many different faiths, and even some people who claim to have no faith.
I would not have an abortion, but I don’t believe I have the right to tell anyone else what decision she should make about it. If a friend asked for my opinion, I would offer it to her, and would encourage her to consider all of her options. But the choice would have to be hers.
As for homosexuality, I go to a women’s college where I have gay friends and classmates. I also confess to having a crush on MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow, but a lot of people feel that way about her. 🙂
So though I recognize the authority of the church, I don’t think it necessarily extends to people who aren’t Catholic. I also think it’s unrealistic for the church to say that gay people should be treated with love and respect, but that they can’t express their love for each other:
Homosexual persons are to be fully respected in their human dignity and encouraged to follow God’s plan with particular attention in the exercise of chastity. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, section 228)
It’s easy to tell someone else to live like that. But it does not seem to me as if it respects their human dignity.
As for marriage, it can mean different things. The church has a perfect right to say that it doesn’t allow gay marriage. But there are other places to get married. There’s civil marriage, and marriage in other religions that permit gay marriage. So because we live in a pluralistic society, I support legal recognition of gay marriage at the same time as I realize that the church can limit Catholic marriage to heterosexual couples. I wish that the church supported gay marriage, but it’s not up to me.
One member of my family takes a different viewpoint, saying that gay marriage simply isn’t “marriage” as it has been practiced throughout history. So he supports civil unions that are just like marriages except that they can’t use the word “marriage.”
Where I think he goes wrong with that argument is that a society should try to embrace as many of its members as possible. Our laws should not single out some social groups as less deserving of full rights than others. Society and the law shouldn’t push some of our people off into a corner because they’re gay, have red hair, or are Muslims. Access to marriage is part of including them in our society.
Some people who I respect will disagree with me, but that’s what I think. If I’ve made a mistake somewhere, I’ll be thankful for any correction.
Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.
"Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door."
-- Emily Dickinson
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