This should be an easy concept to understand: absolutely no one has the authority to change the Ten Commandments or the sacraments, which obviously includes marriage. These are divinely inspired and they stand for all time. In today’s parlance, God is the author and retains all rights, explicit or implied.
BILL BEFORE THE ILLINOIS STATE LEGISLATURE
What set my fingers to tapping on the keyboard this time was a news article about yet another legislative group which is being presumptuous enough to vote on legalizing “gay marriage.” In this case, the Illinois state legislature will vote on its bill before the next assembly is sworn in on January 9.1
A declaration was issued by “more than 250 Illinois clergy” who stated their support by for the bill noting that “fostering faith, justice and compassion is a key component of their jobs.” 1 (While my article is addressing how attempting to redefine marriage contradicts Scripture and Church teaching, I must also point out that they are incorrect in calling church leadership a “job.” Leading God’s flock is one of the three “vocations” [from the Latin “vocare” which means “to call” or “to summon”].2 That is why candidates for the priesthood go through a period of discernment involving not just study, but prayer, reflection and guidance from experienced priests and their bishop. The man and the Church must have a significant degree of certainty that he is being called to this life, not just wanting, to be.)
WHAT IS A VALID MARRIAGE?
Our human sexuality is a gift from God; thus, from the beginning of our existence we have been bound by His rules on this. Scripture and Church teaching have always been clear that sexual relations outside of a validly married man and woman are serious wrongs. Valid marriages are described in many ways. Here are a few:
1) Genesis 2:24 “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.”3
2) Mark 10:6-8 “But form the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife] and the two shall become one flesh.’”3
3) 1 Peter 3:7 “Likewise you husbands, live considerately with your wives, bestowing honor on on the woman as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered.”4
(Note: The term “weaker sex” refers to general strength differences, not implied inferiority.) All of the myriad of Biblical references to marriage describe a union of one man and one woman. “Same sex marriages” are not part of God’s design.
HOMOSEXUAL ACTS ARE SERIOUS WRONGS
Again, both the Old and New Testaments are clear and in agreement:
1) Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination.”3
2) Romans 1:25-27 “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshipped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.”3
3) 1 Corinthians 6:10 “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 3
Homosexual actions are “disordered behavior” (see next section). So, when the declaration supports “equality for same-sex couples,”1 it must be reaffirmed that the Church cannot grant equality between spiritually healthy actions and disordered ones.
CHURCH TEACHING IS CONSISTENT WITH SCRIPTURE
Paragraph 2357 of the Catechism includes this on homosexuality: “… It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law…” 5
This statement and the verses listed earlier contradict Rev. Kevin Tindell’s (New Dimensions Chicago and one of the Illinois clergy supporting the bill) assertion that “It has nothing to do with natural order…”1 With all due respect, it has everything to do with natural order, which God created from the beginning and which no human has the authority to change.
Rev. Tindell continued with, “and everything to do with support, family and love.”1 The Church does instruct us to support individuals with such inclinations. Paragraph 2358 of the Catechism states: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not neglible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. [“trial” meaning a challenge, not an experiment (my clarification)] They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they encounter from their condition.”5
“DISCRIMINATE” HAS TWO MEANINGS
Where well-meaning people may become confused is with the term “unjust discrimination.” In addition, what is often forgotten is that the word “discrimination” has two meanings, the now more popular legal aspect and the original definition.
Discrimination does not always pertain to matters of fairness. To discriminate can also mean to discern differences. The Church recognizes that differences in behavior are due to our fallen state as human beings. When a behavior falls outside of what Scripture says is acceptable, the Church has no authority to say “it’s OK” even though the secular world has rationalized it otherwise.
Likewise, “sexual orientation” may have become a protected legal issue when it pertains to things like housing and employment. However, civil law cannot make it apply to marriage because: 1) it is contrary to the entire concept of marriage itself and 2) civil law has no authority to define something not originating from that law.
JESUS WAS COMPASSIONATE, BUT NOT AN ENABLER
Often we hear of people’s desire to be compassionate to “gay” individuals and to invent a category of same-sex unions so that they may share the same legitimacy which heterosexual married couples have. While we are always called to love the sinner in his struggles, we cease showing true love to him/her if we also condone the wrongdoing. By enabling disordered behavior, we risk serious eternal consequences for all involved.
Jesus loved the sinner, but was intolerant of sin. We can recall the way He dealt with the scribes and Pharisees who wanted to trap him on the issue of the woman caught in adultery. The law at that time required for her to be stoned to death. Jesus, whose life and eventual sacrifice represented the New Law, refused to condemn her. He made His point firmly when he acknowledged the existing law’s penalty, but ordered that “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”7 However, while He forgave her sin, He also reminded her of the gravity of the wrongdoing by instructing her to “… Go, [and] from now on do not sin [any more].”8
WHAT IS TRUE COMPASSION AND TRUE LOVE?
The Church teaches that compassion should be in the forefront of our actions. When assisting a fellow human being with a challenge, we must do so in a way which respects the person’s dignity. However, the Church would be abdicating her responsibility if she ignored those differences which conflict with God’s design for the human race, His creation not ours. To suggest that homosexuality can be legitimized as a form of marriage would be as nonsensical as expecting the Church to disregard the Commandments regarding adultery and coveting thy neighbor’s spouse for those who have a seemingly uncontrollable desire for heterosexual activity with persons they are not married to.
Compassion means being supportive and not judging harshly when someone fails over and over despite sincere attempts at conquering a moral weakness. True love means a desire to aid the individual, without becoming an accessory to the weakness. For example, an alcoholic may have a genetic cause for his predisposition to drink excessively. Loving behavior would be to encourage him in his attempts to remain sober, not to give him a few bottles and say “I’ll pray you don’t hurt anyone.”
THE FAMILY IS AT STAKE, TOO
Rev. Tindell’s statement tried to associate the acceptance of homosexual so-called marriage with promoting the good of the family. This is not accurate if we understand the actual origin of the family and from whom it came. As Pope Benedict XVI said recently, “Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.”9
PROTECTING AN ALREADY INALIENABLE RIGHT?
Supporters of the Illinois bill also said, “The important thing is that the Religious Freedom Protection and Marriage Fairness Act protects religious freedom and guarantees that all faiths will decide which marriages should be consecrated and solemnized within their tradition.”1 How generous of the bill’s authors! However, as I recall, freedom of religion is already an inalienable right and, just to make sure, we have the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Perhaps the authors were hoping to distract the defenders of marriage from the illogic of the bill by pretending to add protection to something which is technically already secure (the infamous HHS mandate notwithstanding).
The state has no authority to redefine marriage or to dictate its terms as it did not create the institution. It regulates the secular legal effects of marriage insofar as they impact inheritance or if the man and woman decide to go separate ways. In other words, it handles the materialistic effects of marriage. However, marriage is much more than its tangible aspects. The inherent reason for marriage, its spiritual origin and commitment, is far beyond the state’s authority. Its interference on this level is as absurd as if it decided that gravity represented an unreasonable burden and should be banned from the universe.
The Church is responsible for administering the sacrament of marriage. However, it too, cannot redefine marriage. That is the domain of its creator, God Himself. Recognizing that His truths are eternal, then everyone might as well accept the fact that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This definition is reality: past, present and future.
1 – Hamilton JournaNews,12/29/2012, article by Manya A. Brachear, Chicago Tribune
2 – www.ablemedia.com, Latin-to-English site
3 – The New Catholic Answer Bible, Fireside Catholic Publishing, Witchita, KS, 2005
4 –The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Thomas Nelson & Sons, Camden, NJ, 1966
5 – Catechism of the Catholic Church, Liguori Publications, 1994
6 – google.com
7– John 8:7, The New Catholic Answer Bible, Fireside Catholic Publishing, Witchita, KS, 2005
8 – John 8:11, Ibid.
9 – Vatican.va, translation of the Pope’s message, 12/21/2012