A Catholic Case For Same-Sex Marriage


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Friends Jeannine Gramick and Frank DeBernardo from New Ways Ministry had an excellent Valentine’s Day Op-Ed in The Washington Post. In one of the most well prepared (both theologically and sociologically) essays I’ve read, they make the case for marriage equality:

This month in Maryland and the state of Washington, an extraordinary dynamic is playing itself out:  Two Catholic governors are prodding legislators to pass bills legalizing same-gender marriage. Like Govs. Andrew Cuomo in New York and Pat Quinn in Illinois — whose states recently legalized same-sex civil unions — Govs. Martin O’Malley and Christine Gregoire are acting against the strongly expressed opposition of their church’s bishops.As Catholics who are involved in lesbian and gay ministry and outreach, we are aware that many people, some of them Catholics, believe that Catholics cannot faithfully disobey the public policies of the church’s hierarchy. But this is not the case.The Catholic Church is not a democracy, but neither is it a dictatorship. Ideally, our bishops should strive to proclaim the sensus fidelium , the faith as it is understood by the whole church. At the moment, however, thebishops and the majority of the church are at odds. A survey published in September by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 52 percent of Catholics support marriage equality and 69 percent support civil unions.Those numbers shouldn’t surprise people who are familiar with the Catholic theological tradition. For example, Catholic thinking dictates that we should use the evidence we find in the natural world to help us reach our conclusions. Many Catholics have reflected on the scientific evidence that homosexuality is a natural variant in human sexuality, and understand that lesbian and gay love is as natural as heterosexual love.

In forming our consciences, Catholics also consult scripture and our theological tradition. Here, again, there is little firm reason to oppose marriage equality. The Bible presents us with a marital landscape that includes polygamy, concubinage, temple prostitution and Levirate marriages (in which a man is bound to marry his brother’s widow.) Jesus disputed the Mosaic law on divorce, saying that what God has joined man must not separate, but this dictum was modified in the letters of St. Paul.

When we see the manifold changes that marriage has undergone throughout history, many Catholics wonder why our bishops believe that heterosexual marriage in its current 21stcentury state is a matter of divine revelation.

Those who delve into the theology of marriage will encounter the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo, who articulated what Christians have come to call “the goods of marriage.” These are enumerated in contemporary terms as partnership, permanence, fidelity and fruitfulness. Same-sex couples demonstrate all of these attributes just as opposite-sex couples do, unless one defines “fruitfulness” narrowly as the ability to procreate. But many heterosexual couples cannot or choose not to procreate, and the church marries them anyway.

English: St. Augustine of Hippo

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The deeper one looks into the church’s core teachings, the more one realizes that the bishops are not representing the breadth of the Catholic tradition in their campaign against marriage equality. Nowhere is that more true than in the area of Catholic social justice teaching.Catholic social teaching requires that all people be treated with dignity, regardless of their state in life or their beliefs. It upholds the importance of access to health-care benefits, the protection of children, dignity in end of life choices, and, most importantly, the promotion of stable family units. Marriage equality legislation would be an obvious boon to same-sex couples and their children in each of these areas, yet the bishops are spending millions of dollars opposing it.

Brilliant. If you’re a pray-er, these two deserve all you can give them.

Full story here

6 comments on “A Catholic Case For Same-Sex Marriage

  1. Alex Haiken says:

    In light of your post above and since I speak and teach on this topic, I thought you might find some of the posts on this site (link below) of particular interest. Feel free to surf the “Archives” page for links to more.

    -Alex Haiken
    http://JewishChristianGay.wordpress.com

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  3. Michael Cole says:

    Paul Melanson has an excellent response to Gramick and DeBernardo at La Salette Journey: http://lasalettejourney.blogspot.com

    • An “excellent” response in which he calls Gramick “imbecilic” and “should be fitted with a straightjacket”? He says nothing of Frank DeBernardo, so I’m guessing he’s just attacking the woman- in Old Catholic misogynistic style.
      I wonder what he’d say about Catherine of Siena or Theresa of Avila- dissenters who have significantly shaped the face of the church? I suspect it would be something along the lines of “Sit down and shut up, woman”.
      The point is this: the Spirit is a-movin’. That’s some theology that can’t be refuted. But I don’t think the Spirit is responsible for the ones using name-calling and propped up theology.
      Sorry.
      Oh, and the Melanson reaction is here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/a-catholic-case-for-same-sex-marriage/2012/02/13/gIQAl4cwDR_story.html

  4. [...] A Catholic Case For Same-Sex Marriage (dgsma.wordpress.com) [...]

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