A conversation with my gay friend

The other day we got together with a friend of mine from high school named Andrew*, and his boyfriend, Tom. They moved out of state earlier this year, but a business trip brought him and Tom back through town recently, and we jumped at the chance to go out to dinner with them. This was one of the first times in a long while that we’d had a chance to sit down and talk with them, just the four of us. We caught up on life and work, Andrew and I clicking as well as we always have. I wore waterproof mascara because I knew I’d end up laughing to the point of tears, which, in fact, I did.

Then, when my husband and Tom went to pick up a round of drinks at the bar, Andrew had a question for me.

“So,” he said, grabbing a tortilla chip from the basket in front of us. “What do you think of gay marriage?”

The last time we hung out, this unspoken topic was not as palpably present as it was now. Even though our gay friends knew that we’d converted to Catholicism, nobody cared enough to bring up potentially controversial issues. But now, the mood in the world around us had changed. Throughout our country the issue of same-sex unions was being debated furiously; it had become a defining issue of our generation, and thus the average person was no longer allowed not to have an opinion about it. It was too weird to sit at the table, two orthodox Catholics and two men in a gay relationship, and not bring it up. We could no longer ignore the storm that raged outside the cloister of our friendship; the doors had blown open, and the rain had come inside.

I shrugged, trying to keep it casual. “I don’t think that same-sex couples getting married is the same thing as traditional marriage, if that’s what you mean.”

Andrew didn’t look surprised, but he seemed annoyed. “I didn’t realize you were a homophobe,” he said, only barely kidding.

“Oh, yeah, I’m terrified of you. I only hang out with you because you make the best dry martini in the world — but I’m trembling the whole time!”

“How can I hear your statement as anything but anti-gay?”

“I worry about what will happen to our society if everyone starts thinking that marriage is about any two people doing whatever they want. But that has nothing to do with being anti-gay.” I was afraid he was going to incur ocular damage from rolling his eyeballs back into his head so far, so I added, “Want me to explain?”

He folded his arms across his chest. “Sure.”

I immediately regretted my offer, wishing I’d promptly changed the subject to the weather, celebrity gossip, or any other subject inane enough that I could speak intelligently about it. I’m proud of being Catholic, and proud to stand by what the Church teaches. I converted to Catholicism in large part because I think that, through its moral code, it gives all humans a prescription for living a life of peace, in harmony with one another and with our Creator. I could not have converted to a religion that had doctrines that singled out one group of people in an unfair way, since it would seem illogical that an all-loving God would create such a system. But I knew I was going to have a hard time making my case; Andrew and I had such utterly different worldviews, it would be as if I were speaking through a distortion microphone that warps your voice and replaces every other word with random offensive phrases.

Before I could begin, the man and woman next to us caught our attention by gesticulating wildly in an animated conversation. They chatted happily over a shared plate of enchiladas, and each was wearing a wedding ring.

Andrew motioned to them. “You don’t think Tom and I are good enough to have what they have?”

“‘Good enough?’ It’s our insane culture that says that your entire life and personhood and soul are defined by your sexual attractions, not the Catholic Church. The Church articulates boundaries for behavior, not people.”

Andrew was still looking at them. They were in their late 20s, stylishly dressed, with golden summer tans. We could hear some of their conversation, and they seemed to be talking about a recent vacation. “I look at them, and I don’t see how what Tom and I have is all that different.”

“What do you see when you look at that couple? You see two people who really like each other, who decided to get married as a statement of lifelong commitment?”

“Yeah. Pretty much.”

“You’re imagining that they’re living life out of that Khalil Gibran poem, right?” I asked, referring to the famous verses that were read at a commitment ceremony we’d attended years ago. “The man and the woman each plan to do their own thing for the rest of their lives. There are no obligations on them outside of respecting one another and having fun. Is that about right?”

“Close enough. What is marriage if not a commitment? What else could it be about?” With that statement, Andrew had gotten to the core of the issue. This was the bulging pressure cooker where almost all of our culture’s misunderstanding roiled. I hoped I wouldn’t say anything that made it explode.

I tried for a silly analogy. “Have you ever looked backwards through binoculars?”

“Sure. Why?”

“That’s how I see our culture’s understanding of marriage: They’re looking backwards through the binoculars. They’re kind of getting it right, but because they have the thing flipped around, it’s going to entirely distort their view of things.”

Andrew sipped his drink. “How so?”

“Marriage is about new human life. All sexual morality is about new human life. From time immemorial, societies understood that people only respect human life to the extent that they respect the act that creates human life.” But when our culture embraced contraception, I continued, for the first time in human history, the sexual act was severed from its life-giving potential in the societal psyche. People began to feel like they had a right to the pleasure of the sexual act, without having to give a second thought to any new life that might be created. Not surprisingly, this tempted us to dehumanize those inconvenient lives that kept popping up out of the blue, and the destruction of newly conceived life became necessary in order for the “truths” of contraception to be upheld. As Pope Paul VI predicted back in 1968, the idea that we can and should exercise complete control over when new people come into the world could not be contained the realm of pregnancy alone, and an entire “culture of death” erupted as a result.

“Great soliloquy,” Andrew deadpanned. “So, umm, why is it that you don’t want Tom and I to get married?”

“Because marriage is about new human life. That’s what the binoculars analogy was about: Yes, marriage is about sex. But it’s about sex because sex is how new life is created — and, ultimately, it is an institution ordered toward protection and respect for new people.”

“So if you have a straight friend who’s infertile, you’d tell her she can’t get married either?”

“I said ordered toward. When a man and woman have sex they’re engaging in that sacred act that creates human life, even if none will be created in that particular act. It’s still sacred.”

“Okay, but for fertile couples, that sounds barbaric to say that they have to be trying to have babies all the time. Not everyone is as crazy as you guys.”

“That’s not what Catholics believe. Child spacing is perfectly fine, if done with natural methods. And the reason that natural family planning doesn’t lead to the same kind of cultural insanity as artificial contraception is because it’s a sacrifice-based system.”

“I’m not following. I don’t see why there’s any more sacrifice than with contraception — or, frankly, why it matters.”

I offered a brief overview of how NFP works, trying to avoid scarring Andrew for life with too many details about the signs and symptoms of a woman’s fertile time, and bumbled around to convey why abstaining during fertile periods is fundamentally different than artificially sterilizing the sexual act. “You don’t get to do whatever you want, whenever you want, even as a married heterosexual. All sexual activity must be ordered toward new human life, so there’s no, umm…” If there had been an awkwardness meter on the table, it would have exploded as I tried to elucidate this point without naming specific sexual acts ending in specific ways that aren’t licit in the Catholic worldview. I skipped it and moved on.

“Anyway,” I continued, “in this view you are constantly having to make sacrifices out of respect for what this act is all about: If you’re totally open to having kids, then there are the sacrifices that come with birth and raising children; if you’re abstaining during fertile times, you’re sacrificing. Infertile couples sacrifice by not using artificial methods like in vitro to force new life into existence. Gay men and women sacrifice by living chaste lives, as do people separated from their spouses, and people who are not yet married, or whose spouse has died. Notice that we’re all sacrificing, and that all of the sacrifices are about the same thing: love and respect for new human life, and specifically the act that creates new human life.”

“So you’re saying that gay men should never have sex?”

I hesitated. The way the question was phrased, to answer would make it seem like I see myself as some kind of moral authority. “I’m saying that every human being is called to make sexual sacrifices in the name of respect for human life. So, yeah, that would mean that a gay man would not act on his attractions. And would that be harder for him than for a single Catholic who hasn’t found a spouse, or for a person whose spouse has left him, for a married couple with a medical condition that’s not compatible with pregnancy — even for the average, healthy married couple who abstains regularly to space their kids? Honestly, I think it depends on the people. You’d be surprised at how much everyone sacrifices — not just people with same-sex attraction.”

“Great belief system you have there,” Andrew said. “Sounds like a barrel of laughs.”

“Andrew, you know me. You know how lazy I am, right?”

“Definitely.”

“And how weak I am? And how little fortitude I have in any area of life? Remember how I could never meet you guys for brunch because you met at eleven-thirty, and it was just too early to ask me to get up?”

“All true.”

“I have had to make plenty of sacrifices for this concept.” I told him about the DVT, my blood clotting disorder, the never-ending medical bills. “I’m not Mother Teresa in the streets of Calcutta or anything. A lot of people have it a lot worse than I do — ”

Andrew was laughing at me having used “me” in the same sentence with “Mother Teresa,” agreeing under his breath that, indeed, I am not Mother Teresa. I ignored him and continued. “Listen. Do you think that I would have gotten myself into a belief system that involves sacrifices if there weren’t a huge payoff?”

“What, does the Pope give you a pot of gold?” Andrew was on a roll.

“Ha, ha,” I said dryly. “Look, I can’t tell you what it would be like for you or any other gay man to live a chaste life. I have no idea what your sacrifices would be, and would never for a moment dream to tell you that it would be easy. But based on my own small experience, I will say this: When you get your sexuality in line with respect for human life, you get your soul in line with God, who is the Source of human life. And there is more joy there than you could imagine.” I told him about all the priests and nuns and monks who are some of the most joyful people I’ve ever met, pointing out that for thousands of years there have been large segments of society that live awesome lives without sex. I described some of the chaste single people I know who do more good for the world in a day than I do in a year. “Our society has forgotten entirely that it is perfectly possible not to have sex. Not only possible, but can even be a great thing.”

“I need a drink,” Andrew sighed, craning his neck to see if Tom and my husband were back from the bar.

“You’re not convinced?”

“You mean am I all anti-gay-marriage now after listening to your little speech?” Andrew look to the ceiling, as if appealing to the gods to help me with my ignorance. “Uhh, no.”

I didn’t expect that he would be; it certainly would have made for a weird dinner if Tom had returned from the bar to have Andrew say, “Tom! I just spent five minutes talking with Jennifer, and have decided that our love for one another would be most perfectly expressed in a chaste way! Let’s be celibate!”

“Do you at least believe that when I say that I don’t think gay marriage is a good thing, it’s not coming from a place of homophobia?” I hoped that my face expressed the depth of my concern for our friendship.

He didn’t respond right away. The silence that passed between us was palpable and heavy, as if the culture wars over human sexuality had become a physical thing that stood between us. Finally, a smile spread across his face. “You’re not homophobic. You’re just crazy, and have evidently joined an anti-sex cult!”

I laughed. “Okay. I’ll take that.” I started to make the case that Catholicism is actually quite pro-sex — so much so that it’s the only organization left in the world that demands that we respect it — but it seemed time to let the conversation drop.

The guys returned from the bar, and Andrew and I turned our attention to them. “What were you two talking about?” Tom asked.

Andrew didn’t miss a beat. “Jennifer was just agreeing with me that that shirt makes you look like you got drunk and raided Barbara Walters’ closet,” he quipped. This prompted a long and loud debate about Tom’s sartorial preferences, which would eventually end in our server announcing over our shouts and howls of laughter that the manager had asked us to please keep it down.

At the end of the evening — way too late, as always — we all exchanged hugs and promised that we’d do this more often. I watched Andrew and Tom walk away, holding hands, and prayed that I hadn’t done a totally terrible job of articulating my beliefs. I hoped that, if nothing else, he understood that there is no contradiction between me being a faithful Catholic and a close friend of his. I have converted to the religion of the crucifix, a belief system that promises joy in exchange for losing it all. Most people don’t want to sign up for that. I get that. I hope they consider it, for their own sake, since their lives would be better if they did — but it doesn’t change how I feel about them if they don’t. As the guys disappeared down the street, I hoped Andrew knew how much I loved him and Tom, and I hoped they still loved me too.

.

* Andrew and Tom’s names have been changed. Also, to save you from having to read thousands of words of hemming and hawing and talking around the issue, I have condensed our conversation, made both of us sound more articulate than we actually were at the time, and included elements of discussions I’ve had with other gay friends. In other words: This is meant to convey the gist of my recent conversations with dear friends who are gay, and is not meant to be a piece of journalism with precise accuracy as to how every word was spoken.

Oh, and I’ve done my best to express Catholic thought on these issues, but keep in mind that I’m a random woman with an internet connection, not the Pope. If I accidentally wrote anything that disagrees with what he would say, go with him, not me.

New here? Come say hi on Twitter at @jenfulwiler!



Enter the Conversation...

329 Responses to “A conversation with my gay friend”
  1. Nancy says:

    My husband just had a very difficult conversation with a relative about this same issue . . . It has been good to finally talk about it, but unsettling. Our relative seemed unable to grasp that his not speaking to us for three years (without ever having a conversation about what we actually thought!) was just as ‘Christian-phobic’ as he thinks Christians are homophobic, which was very painful. He said we’ve never done anything that was offensive to him, but he was trying to distance himself from any religious people.

    But, we recognize that he is SO wounded by all of the terrible things done and said by Christians that it is our job to keep reaching out in love. He may still not understand or agree with our religious beliefs, but at least he’s willing to talk again, for which we are very grateful.

    • Kelly says:

      I have lost touch with some dear friends, not because we have had any discussion, but because they have seen things I’ve written and/or posted, and made decisions about me based on that. I am constantly planning to write to them, but frankly, it scares me to do so, knowing I may either never hear any response, or hear one that beaks my heart. I care about my old friends and still love them, even though our paths have diverged just about as severely as is possible. I don’t think I could ever be as well spoken as Jen, even in patched-together bits.
      Kelly recently posted..urgent prayer request–update

      • heirsinhipe says:

        my experience has been that I must wait & pray until God presents an opening. when I returned to the Catholic Church from the Anglican Communion, I lost all of my gay friends & all except one heterosexual friend. I’ve sent Christmas cards & an occasional email & we’re friends on faccebook but only the 1 heterosexual friend comments once in a while & that’s always to disagree w/ me. I like & ever positively comment on anything I can on her posts but all I can do is hope, pray & wait. the interesting thing is that my non-gay friend is living w/ a married man (married to another woman). but at least she’s willing to be my friend, though we disagree on many things & she thinks we disagree on everything. all I can say is you needn’t agree w/ me in order to be my friend. good luck & God bless. it’s hard but, as Jennifer says, we live lives of sacrifice.
        heirsinhipe recently posted..When the World Came Crashing Down

    • Magdalene says:

      I think the distancing from religion is because deep inside, folks do not want to be reminded that the choices they are making are indeed sinful. No, they want to be confirmed in their choices and many are becoming more and more violent against those who will not go along with their sinful choices.

      But wrong is wrong even if the majority are doing it and right is right even if almost no one is. God’s natural and moral law stands and no secular entity can ever change it.

      • John says:

        I think you are very right Magdalene. I have spoken out on occasion and been battered and ridiculed because of it. But I don’t care because I won’t deny the truth even if its hard to say and hard for those to hear who just want to justify choices. You pick your moments but even then you can cop it. So be it.

        Thanks to Jennifer, a very great article.

        • Arben says:

          You deserve whatever ridicule you get for being a bigot, religiously motivated or not.

          I also like how you refuse to deny “the truth” when you don’t even have concrete way of knowing what the truth is, but I digress.

          • BL says:

            @ Arben
            Definition of Bigot- 1.intolerant person: somebody with strong opinions, especially on politics, religion, or ethnicity, who refuses to accept different views

            It seems to me that by the above Definition you are also a Bigot! Why is it that every time someone doesn’t agree with our religious Moral absolutes they resolve to name calling. How hard is it to just give your opinion, alone?

          • Arben says:

            To call someone who is intolerant of intolerance intolerant is pretty disingenuous, you know.

          • Sophia says:

            @Arben: You said, we don’t even have (a) concrete way of knowing the truth. This quote sums up much of what Faith is about for Christians: “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” – Stuart Chase (American engineer and economist)

            You’ve rightly said that we “deserve” the ridicule we get. But it is not for bigotry. You are wrong about that. Bigotry comes from a place of ignorance and intolerance (typically evident from the language of the accuser). Both characteristics which do not apply to Christianity.

            We are glad to ridiculed for speaking the Truth. For Christ said this: “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

            We don’t expect you to agree to what we say, but to hear us out without being too quick to criticise and at worst, just agree to disagree. No good ever comes out of name calling.

          • cne says:

            You get the truth from reading the Bible. Try it.

      • Barbieahayes says:

        Magdalene: Such a beautiful, true and simple reminder. Thank you for posting the adage. I would like to add that those who sin gravely, repeatedly and unrepentantly, are in the state of iniquitous sin (Iniquity) which is a clouding, a darkening of the mind, and which is allowed or ordained by God because of the blatant disregard for His covenants (see Romans 1:24). Many of them are possessed by demons because they have chosen to worship the creature and not the Creator (see Romans 1:25). It is hoped, by those of us who love these sinners, that they will reach their “rock-bottom,” where they will finally become humble enough to beg God for His mercy and forgiveness.

        • Terry Caturano says:

          Very thoughtful and faithful blog and I really appreciated the comments by Barbieahayes. The Great Commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus used the parable of the Good Samaritan to define what it means to love a neighbor, to be a neighbor–to show mercy, to support the healing process, to bring them to a place where they can receive care and nurture (the presence of God). We love those who are in willful and persistent rebellion against God by praying for them, sharing the gospel with them and remaining humble, for we too are sinners in constant need of the grace of God and the assistance of the Holy Spirit to remain faithful to Christ our Lord. But we must beware of our own weaknesses and vulnerability. We all want to be loved and respected, and we may compromise our witness in the attempt to win the approval or love of our unrepentant friends.

      • Denis says:

        I agree with mags

    • Barbieahayes says:

      Jennifer and Nancy:

      The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that under no circumstances can homosexual acts be approved (see paragraph# 2357 of the CCC). As devout Catholics/Christians, ones who know the truths and ones who believe in them and who try faithfully to adhere to them, you cannot remain “friends” with those who are in grave, unrepentant and repetitive sin because their minds are no longer their own. You can and must, as faithful Christians, admonish them (spiritual work of mercy) and pray for them. You can and should fast for them. But to remain friends is to lead yourselves into temptation to sympathize with (not for) them , to accept them because they will hound you unceasingly because it is their charism, if you will, to convert you, even to go so far as to use their wiles to make you feel guilty for not “treating” them as equals. (Even to refer to them as boyfriends is a cooperation in the evil). Read what the Magisterium has to say (see the following url):
      http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19751229_persona-humana_en.html.

      You will commit scandal (set a bad example and lure other innocents to do what you are doing) when your friends and strangers see you socializing (having fun) with them (see paragraph# 2284 of the CCC). The same-sex “couple” will expect you to attend their “commitment” ceremonies which, by the way, if you do you will be committing a grave sin for it will be participating in a heresy. Yes, the heresy is the belief by the “couple” that their same sex de facto marriage is equal to God’s “marriage.” You don’t have to believe it is equal to marriage but your participation nonetheless will be gravely immoral. The Magisterium tells us so (see the following url):
      http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_20001109_de-facto-unions_en.html.

      The same-sex “couple” will want your participation when they adopt children or have them lab-produced (for their own pleasure) and might even snicker with you that they will have a “cocktail baby.” But the Magisterium tells us that bringing children into the disordered relationship is doing violence to them (see the following url):
      http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html.

      The Magisterium also tells us that cooperating with the artificial production of a human person is gravely evil because the process “infringes [upon] the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage” (see paragraphs #2376 and #2377 of the CCC).

      Yes, none of us are the Pope. That is why we have Sacred Scriptures, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium to inform us. Learning is a constant process. I have learned that our association with grave sinners should be with ones who are willing to consider the Good News, to listen to the teachings of the truth, and to honestly consider their need to reform. In the situation where our loved ones are in deep iniquitous sin (grave matter, unrepentant and repetitive), it is best to leave them to God, where He will lead them, only with their cooperation, into a state of grace (without our interference in His ministrations). And we must be patient because sometimes it takes their entire lifetime on this journey to conversion. Sadly, many will not.

      • LYM says:

        I know Jennifer is very busy with all the replies she has received, and can’t post them all, as two of mine are still in the queue, but I hope this gets through – I am a 100% kind of Catholic, wholly loyal to the Magisterium, and what you are saying is completely the opposite of Christ’s example of dining with the most egregious of sinners.
        LYM recently posted..What causes breast cancer? Can we prevent it?

        • Marla says:

          Condoning her two friends holding hands, using so casualy the term “boyfriend”; it leaves one to wonder if she is condoning the behavior or just not willing to “sacrifice” the friendship…… I totally get what Barbieahally is saying.

        • R says:

          I just want to say I agree with that. Two men holding hands isn’t exactly a homosexual act.

      • Becky says:

        I am very grateful that many years ago, a good Catholic met me, and became friends with me, evn though I was deeply sinful, and did not repent of my sin for many, many years. Even after I joined the Catholic Church and began to learn of the great joy God has in store for me, even after I made my first confession, and many more, I did not repent of my greatest sin, that which kept me from giving myself completely to God. Through it all my friend was a true friend and I am sure that I would not be where I am today if she had taken the position that she could not be friends with someone as sinful as I was. My sin was (I pray that it is not self deception to speak in the past tense) much worse than homosexuality. My sin was the sin of the Pharisee, who did not go home justified when the repentant tax collector did. I was sanctimonious, I thanked God that I was “not like other men”. I can’t say that it was right for her to be friends with me. Maybe you are right that good people like Jennifer and my friend should not be friendly with sinners like the homosexual couple or me, but I truly hope that my friend did not do wrong in being friends with me, and I have the same hope that Jennifer’s friendship will be good for her friends also.

      • Lisa says:

        please quote the parts you are referring to, it is a very long page. I think stopping the friendship will prevent the gay couple from the opportunity to learn about Jennifer’s Catholicism. She has a chance to demonstrate the catechism’s call to love homosexuals and not discriminate against them. If they expect Jennifer to attend their commitment ceremony and child adoption celebrations, she again will explain in a loving way, why she will not support their behaviors.

      • Beeb says:

        Several years ago I gave up my friendship with a homosexual young man who was my dance partner. I am a female, and he and I were excellent dance partners together. He was a wonderful, sensitive and tender young man, and he was pretending to be straight for the sake of the dancing. When he finally “came out” to me I had to acknowledge that I could no longer be his partner. For me, it was for the exact reasons Barbieahayes explained: I could not remain friends because I knew I would be drawn into or asked into his circle of friends and be complicit in his error. It was extremely painful for me to end this friendship because I liked him very much. I also never found another dance partner, so I lost that too. This is the crucifixion we all face in choosing Christ and rejecting the world. It truly costs us, very much and very deeply. If you don’t believe it, you are trying to compromise with the Gospel. Jesus said; “He who is not for me is against me.” My dance partner was hurt and did not understand, but his boyfriend did, and saw that I what I was doing was because of my Catholic beliefs. I pray they both turned from the sin and decided to come to Christ.

      • Sophia says:

        @barbieahayes – Lym is right. What you quoted ad verbatim from the Catholic Church’s sources are right as well. It is the conclusion you drew from it that makes it incompatible with the Christ’s intention.

        Remember Christ’s commandments – love your God with all your heart, mind and soul. (And because of Christ we’re all children of God, gays included. Father God has no wish to see His children hating each other) And the 2nd, Love your neighbours as you love yourself. That’s exactly what Jennifer did. It is the Church’s position that we Catholics are able to clearly delineate between our hate for the sin but express love for the sinner.

        So hopefully you are clearer in understanding that in no way have the Catholic Church called upon Catholics to hate gays or any such nonsense like that.

      • Kelly says:

        So you have absolutely no faith in Christ that he could work through any of us to reach those in the darkness and bring them into the light? Isn’t that what Christ was all about? We “devout Catholics” are supposed to just sit in the corner with other “devout Catholics,” condemning the world rather than helping them? Christ, who constantly dined with and befriended sinners, was certainly not showing support for prostitutes and tax collectors, but offering them eternal life. He didn’t ignore them because he thought that befriending them meant he was in support of their life choices. Unfortunately, many people have a negative view of Catholics due to comments like that. The greatest of all commandments is LOVE.

  2. LuAnne says:

    I think you did a great job of articulating. It’s a tough thing to discuss, but it’s just right out there right now, and it’s hard to avoid.
    LuAnne recently posted..Catholic Woman’s Almanac – volume 2

    • Mark S. says:

      Completely agree. Saving the link to this page so I can reread and study. Feel so tongue-tied and this conversation and Jen’s points are really good!

  3. Saskia says:

    It does kind of sound like you’re assuming that all non-Catholic marriages, or non-religious marriages, or whatever depend on the “two pillars stand alone” model. They don’t. Life is rarely as black and white as you make it out to be. But I guess that’s something that comes along with orthodoxy. (I’m not slurring you here, really. Orthodoxy has to be black and white for it to work.)

    There is so much to disagree with here. But I can appreciate the fact that you are sincere in your beliefs, and honest about them as well. So that’s good. Perhaps one day we will reach a common ground–that’s something to look forward to.

    • rph2odgp says:

      Actually Saskia,within orthodox Catholic view, marriage is recognized as a natural institution. You’ll notice if you reread the post that Jennifer didn’t use a bunch of theological language to make her points but simply very basic language about the nature of sex. As a natural institution marriage exists as the primary way that new children come into a society and are properly formed. Thus society has a natural interest in protecting the institution of marriage for it serves the common good of society by bringing new members into existence and forming them to be contributing members of the community. Thus there is no problem in conceiving of a natural marriage among non-catholic or non-religious persons. However, within the Catholic Tradition Christ has elevated marriage to be a sacrament by which the spouses receive grace to engage in the sacrificial love necessary to make marriage the free, total, faithful, and fruitful commitment it should be. Apparently the orthodox Catholic position on marriage isn’t as black and white as you make it out to be. But I guess such a judgement comes a long with assuming things without asking first (sometimes you have to treat something as black and white in order to judge it wrongly).

      I agree with you that Jennifer’s efforts were sincere and honest, however I also believe they came from some difficult reflecting on the nature of human existence. And to you Jennifer, I particularly enjoyed your explanation of how within the Catholic worldview we are all called to sacrifice for the dignity of love and the sacredness of human life (including the act that renders human life). I plan on incorporating some of that language when dealing with this topic with my students (which is my all time least favorite topic to discuss because it is as you have articulated the most difficult for me to translate into the worldview of my students).

      • heirsinhipe says:

        the one thing I must note about your excellent post, it’s not w/i the Catholic Tradition but the Christian faith which is experienced in it’s fullness only in the Catholic Church (which includes non Roman-rite churches that are also in communion w/ Rome).
        heirsinhipe recently posted..When the World Came Crashing Down

  4. Barbara B. says:

    Your conversation will be a good guide for me when I’m faced with the same situation. Framing the subject in sacrifice, made our Church’s position easier to articulate.

  5. Thomas says:

    LuAnne , I wish most Catholics only knew how to articulate the Churches teaching, as well as you did in this lunch date. I also wish most would listen as your friend did, without cutting you off and giving you the chance to explain. Most who hate the Catholic Church don’t know or understand why they teach what they do. Great way to bring the faith out and plant a seed of thought. Christ said all man will be held accountible for every seed they spill. Tommy

  6. sarah says:

    I think you have articulated here so beautifully the reasons I ultimately chose not to join the Catholic Church. In brief, I don’t believe sex is about life. I believe it’s about love. Making love. Expressing love. Through which a child may be born, a manifestation of love. Or something else may be born – a poem, a trust, a devotion, a heart opened to oneself, an inspiration, or just pure and simple love for no other reason than love. (It’s actually why I believe so strongly in the sacredness of sex and marriage.) I guess I want to be part of a religion that focusses on love, not legalities and sacrifice. I still think Catholicism is exquisitely beautiful in so many ways. I thank you for helping me see the heart of the issue.
    sarah recently posted..it doesn’t matter.

    • mary says:

      How is that realistic?

    • anonymous says:

      Sex is about love. But my view of love is that without the potential for ultimate self-giving that could lead to life, then any sexual act is not love; it’s mutual masturbation, it’s using another person for your own pleasure, or using yourself to pleasure another person.

      Not that there is anything wrong with pleasure as a secondary good, but giving someone pleasure is not giving them love.

      • sarah says:

        I so completely agree with you :-)

        • Tim H says:

          You said: “I don’t believe sex is about life. I believe it’s about love”

          Anonymous said: “without the potential for ultimate self-giving that could lead to life, then any sexual act is not love”

          It sounds to me like you *disagree* with anonymous.

      • mary says:

        Seek up and Annette have expressed this far better than I could.

    • seekup says:

      I think the Catholic Church pretty much defines what love is clearly (it is sacrifice not “good feelings”)…. thus you have the clear reasons why people choose “not” to be in the Catholic church. They do not want to live out real love. They think love is “feeling good” and “good emotions” or “sexual pleasure”or worst of all “no struggle”. Therefore, until they actually let God who in their life (which contraception prevents), they will never know true love, joy and happiness.

      • Arben says:

        This may well be the most depressing thing that I have ever read on the internet.

        • JG says:

          It would be depressing for a hedonist, yes.

          • Arben says:

            There is a difference between a refusal to partake in the willful subjugation of natural and healthy desires and the edict to live only for such desires.

    • enness says:

      We believe in a God who is the author of both life and love, and I would venture to say that the two are inextricably connected. We read that a married man must be prepared to love his bride as Christ loved His Church — that is, sacrificially, unto death even. Now that’s romantic, and we know that instinctively when we see an example; but that kind of love is sadly lacking in the world. We often settle for a McDonalds kind of ‘love': faster, less demanding, but blander. To love inherently involves risk and sacrifice, or it is not true love. But that’s also part of what makes it so exciting. In fact, here’s an article you might find interesting: http://www.ptm.org/01PT/JulAug/revenge.htm

      Sex was necessarily about life until our modern age, when we decided we with our technology were so much cleverer. Now we have sex without life, and life without sex. As the saying goes, “What could possibly go wrong?” Some took it for granted that this development was a good thing. Others did not. With the fallout we are seeing in our ailing and miserable society, disproportionately among the poor and minorities, the abortions, the rampant STDs, the broken homes, not to mention the broken hearts…I tend to agree with the others.

    • > “I want to be part of a religion that focusses on love, not …sacrifice”

      I would suggest that here is the crux of the issue. Personally, I’ve never known true love to exist without sacrifice.

      “Love….is seeking the good of ‘the other’, in preference to your own, even at the expense of your own happiness” – Jason Evert

      The above definition of “love” is what I try to use as a litmus test when I’m questioning whether or not my actions are truly loving or not.

      “The opposite of love is not hate, but use” – Pope John Paul II

    • Maiki says:

      But love is sacrifice. It is the gift of the self. “No greater love than this, to give up one’s life for one’s friends.”

      It is not mere feeling (which cannot be willed), it is the perfect action of the will, to love.

    • Kate says:

      If you are open to learning more about how totally awesome sex is (even in the eyes of the Church) buy the book Holy Sex (Popcak) – a great read, changed our marriage, totally eye opening.

    • Mark Y says:

      Love, properly ordered, speaks in the language of sacrifice.

    • Dylan says:

      You’re reducing love to sexual pleasure and setting up a false dichotomy between love and law; it’s not only illogical, its a cheapening of love. In fact, love is a real concern for the other’s good. The particular good of another’s sexuality has its particular end in the generation of another: the desire to become one flesh is perfected in the conception of a child from that act. Love must transcend the sexual act and it pleasures (and not, as you seem to think Catholicism demands, reject them), and it does this in the pro-creation and nurture of the child by its parents.

      Moreover, I think you missed the point of the language of sacrifice above. It was not to suck the joy out of life, but to point out that the joys are passing and cheap if they are directed inward (to the self or the relationship of partners) and are only love if they are directed outward (to the other in the relationship and the personal fruit of the relationship.)

  7. Brianna says:

    What an incredibly amazing post! Loved reading this. Such good food for thought for future conversations I may find myself in.

    I have had gay friends throughout my life, yet this has never come up. I’m thinking though that it would be a similar conversation with someone wanting to know why we don’t use contraception.

    Anyway, thank you so much for sharing! You are a good friend in not shying away from Andrew’s questions and engaging in this conversation in a clear, kind and honest way.
    Brianna recently posted..Not as grey as you think

    • Denis says:

      I don’t understand how this subject hasn’t come up with your friendship with your gay friends ! After years …..has your friendship been really Real ! ?

  8. Renee Lin says:

    “I have converted to the religion of the crucifix…”

    I am placing this statement on my mental coat-of-arms. Beautifully put, Jen!

  9. Emily says:

    Great post Jen; very well done. This is a very, very hard conversation to have, but I think this is useful for us all to read. I’m a part-time actress, so I know lots of people who are gay, and if they know I’m Catholic, it can be very strained. I found this helpful.
    Emily recently posted..Sometimes I think I’m more like Elinor when I see scenes…

  10. Deanna says:

    I think you did a great job. I recently had a conversation about this with a college junior at a baseball game. I think that the chastity point, no sex outside marriage is a good place to start with people who share that belief. There are many young Catholics who truly view the Church teaching as judgmental, homophobic, and out of touch. So I try to start with points we agree on and move from there.
    Deanna recently posted..Understanding, Surrender

  11. Theresa in Alberta says:

    Dear Andrew…
    May I respectfully mention to you the group called courage for those individuals who have same sex attraction…yes, it is catholic.
    Many people I work with are “gay”, and they know I am conservative catholic. I have no problem pulling up a chair with these individuals at a group meeting or at a coffee break and chatting about office politics or sharing a joke. I never scowl or ignore these individuals or look at them other than coworkers, never ever preach to them…. but it just seems to me they are always “on guard” around me, like they are “guilty”.

  12. Eugenia says:

    1)“Great belief system you have there,” Andrew said. “Sounds like a barrel of laughs.”
    2)“What, does the Pope give you a pot of gold?”
    3)”Not everyone is as crazy as you guys.”

    Just to copy and paste a few intolerant and snarky remarks from your friend, who exactly has the phobia here?

    • Gina says:

      That’s what especially impresses me about Jennifer’s responses. I would have taken that stuff personally and gone all sulky. So thank God that she was there and not me. I’m humbled by the grace and love she showed, and I’ve learned something from it.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler says:

      Perhaps tone doesn’t come across well in writing – Andrew and I always use a snarky tone when talking to one another. I wasn’t offended by those statements at all. If anything I toned down what he said. :)

    • Arben says:

      The difference is that Andrew isn’t using his “phobia” (what we normal people call “humor”, for what it’s worth) to try and legislate discrimination against the lifestyle choices of the author.

      It’s a pretty big difference.

      • Ismael says:

        That’s pretty much what I was going to say. Jennifer, It’s very clear that you are not homophobic. You seem like a very nurturing, good natured person, but the reality is that although you claim to love Andrew, your beliefs are at odds with his rights and happiness. Until gay marriage is legalized, Andrew and his partner will not be able to share in the thousands of legal benefits that come along with signing a marriage contract. You talk about sacrifice, well consider this. An ultimate, loving sacrifice would be the realization that although your belief does not accept homosexuality, the law does not accept your belief as the only one in the land. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to allow gay marriage withouth accepting the idea of homosexuality.

        • Arben says:

          Beautifully said. Kind, succinct, and spot-on in every way. Kudos to you.

          • TheresaEH says:

            Said with the greatest of kindest….”just because it is legal, does not make it beneficial”!
            The courts of America also voted in Jim Crow laws at one time :-(

        • If you want a decent idea of why there won’t be any mutual understanding of this issue anytime soon, look at asinine comments like Theresa’s. Gay Marriage is comparable to treating black people as subhuman with institutionalized discrimination?

          Do you even read your comments before you post them? IF you guys have any serious desire to “reach across the aisle”, you need to formulate better arguments than that

        • mary says:

          There are legal and financial detriments to a legal marriage.
          The legal and financial benefits are available through civil contracts.

        • Laura says:

          “An ultimate, loving sacrifice would be the realization that although your belief does not accept homosexuality, the law does not accept your belief as the only one in the land. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to allow gay marriage withouth accepting the idea of homosexuality” That makes absolutely no sense. I’d try to break it down and explain why it doesn’t but.. it just doesn’t, any of it.

      • Marla says:

        And notice the author will not respond to any statement that challenges her. Not so sure an actual conversation really took place. Me thinks she is committing the 8th commandment.

        • Dylan says:

          Ah, yes, and you the same in the form of rash judgement. There could be many reasons for her silence in regard to certain responses, not just the ones you make up in the privacy of your head (would that they stayed that way). Further, if her real motive were evasion, she could much more easily satisfy it by refusing to approve such posts.

    • I was thinking much the same thing.

  13. Amlovesmusic says:

    Jennifer, this post is beyond amazing. You’ve found a way to articulate everything I would LOVE to tell my gay friends. I have gay friends who are Catholic, and gay friends who are not….I haven’t had to have this sort of conversation with them, but if I do, I hope I will be able to at least give them a summary of this post. This sort of conversation is so hard for me to imagine having….I am in my mid-20s, so it’s definitely something people my age need to be able to discuss and understand. It’s such a delicate issue….it’s so hard to tell someone that they shouldn’t be with someone who makes them happy. Then you have to dive even deeper into what is the root of true happiness, and that message is one that most people today do not want to hear. You did a great job of hitting the key points without having to go too deep. Brava!

  14. mj says:

    i think this was beautiful. i know exactly how you felt having that conversation. its a pity that society wants to label one a homophobe as if thinking we have to submit ourselves to gods will makes you scared of gay men….

  15. Marie says:

    I am not part of the Catholic Church, but I am a Christian who struggles with the issue of contraception. That probably seems unrelated, but your responses to your friend have given me a lot to think about.
    Marie recently posted..Why I Am a Christian: Part 2

    • Jenny says:

      But it isn’t unrelated at all. Once you understand the core, the more difficult teachings flow out logically.

    • enness says:

      Marie,

      I’ve come a long way even from when I had my ‘Catholic awakening.’ Jenny is correct. There is a consistent logic to it. When you see it, it will be like having looked at your fingers your whole life, and finally realizing they are all part of the same hand.

  16. WhiteStone says:

    I’m not Catholic but as a Christian this was very interesting to me. Both from the standpoint of the Catholic viewpoint on sex and birth control (which I am somewhat familiar with) but also from the standpoint that I have friends who are gay. I really need to know how to answer your friend’s question should I ever be asked and be able to answer it in a way that is not perceived as homophobic.
    WhiteStone recently posted..How I Saved Many Neighbors (and their kids) From Catastrophe!

  17. Raymond Koepsell says:

    Very nice job articulating a difficult topic. Our absurdly PC culture, where anyone can dive into victim-hood at the drop of a hat, makes honest communication difficult. Kudos

  18. mfaw says:

    wonderful, beautiful post. I can just imagine Jesus saying to you, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

  19. Robbie says:

    I too have homosexual friends that have called me a homophobe. I have others that agree with the Catholic position. Here in California we have civil unions. I try to articulate the position of control of one’s sexual desires and even how older couples are called to be chaste because the husband has BPH and can’t have sex with his wife, or she has no desire d/t hormonal deficiencies that doctors no longer want to address d/t her age. Spacing children, being a widow or widower are examples of not having sex. In this society, we have gotten away from chastity and control of one’s urges and desires. Pax

  20. Patrick says:

    Awesome blog. I had a conversation with friends about this the other day. They were all heterosexual but because I am ardently Catholic they were trying to get my view. I kept uttering the phrase love the sinner but hate the sin. I couldn’t find the right words to articulate the Church’s view. Most people think that we sit in judgement and hate these people and we really don’t. Thank you for articulating the self sacrifice that we practice as Carholics so straightforward and with such understanding. I love your work. God Bless

  21. Jennifer, it sounds as if you acquitted yourself beautifully. More than that, you witnessed to the truth in love, exactly was we are taught to do. You planted a seed and can be sure that God will water it. What kind of soil it fell upon and whether or not it will bear fruit, you may never know, but well done!

    I nearly fell out of my seat when you referenced the Khalil Gibran poem, and I am about to follow the link and read your related post on that piece. I just heard it read at a wedding this weekend that was officiated by a woman who was a life coach. She read Corinthians 13 (she did not call it 1 Corinthians 13, mind you) as well. A young man sang “Ave Maria” just before a Buddhist monk friend blessed the couple for five minutes. As I listened to the vows of the bride and groom, and then listened to the toast by the best man and maid of honor, followed by more words from the bride and groom, it was clear that they had about the same view of marriage as your friend, and for that matter, most of the rest of modern society.
    Magister Christianus recently posted..In Loco Parentis

  22. This was enlightening. Honestly, this is why I continue to read your blog. I think it’s really important to get behind the declarations and really look at the why. So thank you for that.

    However, as a married heterosexual, I just celebrated on Facebook that the House of Bishops in the Episcopal Church just passed a resolution allowing same-sex blessings. It still has to go through the House of Deputies though. But could I put my position as eloquently as yours is? Probably not.
    Leanne Shawler recently posted..Joy Dare Monday: a restful week

  23. S.Mary Roberta Viano says:

    Thanks, Jennifer! I’ve had to stand up the same way with my younger son who’s declared himself gay and has been living with his partner for several years. They’re both good men (his partner is a doctor) and I love them both, but, like you, I’ve made it clear what I believe – what all my sisters here in the monastery believe. Both men seem to respect that, and I give the rest over to God in prayer.

  24. Kelley says:

    As a convert and a queer woman I have wrestled with these teachings and continue to feel conflicted over them. But as someone who has a habit of questioning everything I can offer a couple tips about how to discuss it with a queer person.

    First off… what is your intent? If it’s unsolicited and an attempt to ‘enlighten them’, it will probably do more harm than good to your relationship. Nothing pisses me off or hinders dialoge more than someone “shoulding” on me. As Jenn did when asked, explain the teaching of the Church and the reasoning behind the teaching. Then you aren’t “shoulding” on someone… you are just answering their questions by explaining the reasoning behind the teaching.

    And yes, there may be snarky comments, but you need to remember that those are coming from hurt. Many queer people have been hurt by people in the Church and treated as outcasts so don’t take it personal or as something to get defensive about. Listen to them with empathy and hear what their experience has been like. This will make a world of difference in opening up communication.

    • Susie says:

      Very true, Kelley. Is it okay to point out that Andrew was the one being confrontational? He asked the hot question, then immediately called her, an old friend, a name – homophobic – before even hearing her out. You are right about understanding people’s hurts and not contributing to them. But they should not cause hurts either. Society is being conditioned to believe that we who believe in traditional marriage are out to get gay people. This is very hurtful to us.

      • Kelley says:

        Susie… yes, Andrew was being confrontational, but consider what his intent might be for doing that. As I read it I saw it more as him ‘testing the waters’ to see if now that she’s Catholic she would reject him as a person and reject their friendship. As you can read in some of the comments on this thread, a number of people took issue with Jen maintaining that friendship, so his concern was not without merit.

        To be frank, queer people are treated as outcasts within the Church. I can completely understand why a queer person would want nothing to do with it. I can understand the resentment and hostility. I can understand why he would go into the discussion with his defenses up. I would want nothing to do with the Church myself if I didn’t happen to be drawn to it by the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I was NOT drawn to the Church by the community, that’s for sure.

        I read an article a few months ago that discussed this subject… http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?entry_id=4861

        • Scott says:

          “Queer people” are not treated as outcasts within the church. And neither are those who are re-married after divorce, those fornicating, those in love with porn, or those contracepting. Unless you go to one of the couple traditional parishes in a metropolis, you will never hear any preaching against these behaviors. The faith as lived in 95% of parishes is tolerant, harmless and nice. No one is EVER offended, except Christ…

          • Arben says:

            “Oh, it’s okay, guys. You’re not outcasts; we just think that whatever it is that you’ve done or however it is that you’re living is evil. No hard feelings.”

          • Kelley says:

            They are stigmatized… an example of what I’m referring to is how it’s automatically assumed I was referring to a sexual act, when in fact I was speaking about someone that happens to be queer. Flippant and uncharitable comments like the one Arben left are pretty typical and heard on a regular basis. So yes, I believe queer people are treated as outcasts by people in the Catholic community.

            The comments I’ve left aren’t arguing the teachings in any way. I was just presenting my perspective and experience. I also linked an article that seems to show I’m not the only one that feels this way.

          • LYM says:

            (not sure why this won’t let me respond to the right post)
            Kelley, I’m a 100% kind of Catholic, totally in line with the magisterium, and I’m gonna have to agree with you on this. The reason is that I came from the same kind of feelings you speak of. I have tried to “love the sinner, hate the sin” for years, but really just felt disgust when I saw a homosexually-oriented person. It has only been in the last year that God has granted me the grace to love these people the same as all the rest of us who are all also flawed in our own ways. We’re all drawn to different sins, have to fight different battles, and the cross Our Lord has chosen for you to shoulder does not somehow make you less beautiful in His eyes, and neither should it make you less beautiful in mine.

            Please continue to be patient with us, as we learn to love you, even while continuing to stand for the truth, which is what will bring the most joy to each of us. I think that in the next few decades, we will learn, as is laid out in an article written by a gay man (The Science of Gaydar), that there IS a component to SSA that is completely beyond the choice of the individual, that most ARE born with it, but that also, this is influenced by environmental factors in the womb (& beyond), and that these two compelling factors may lead us all to a totally different view on SSA in the future. Regardless, our approach must be kindness, friendship, & love, not judgment & harshness.

            IOW, standing for marriage to be defined as between one man and one woman IN NO WAY is opposed to loving, concretely, people with SSA. We “orthodox” Catholics would do well to meditate on this, frequently, until our hearts are changed.
            LYM recently posted..What causes breast cancer? Can we prevent it?

          • Ken says:

            What the Church teaches and how individuals act are often vastly different, Scott, also consider that as a gay Catholic I am automatically unable to receive two of the seven sacraments. By banning gay Catholics from a vocation to a religious order or to the priesthood, the Church is treating homosexual Catholics differently purely on the basis of their homosexuality.

          • LYM says:

            I’m gonna try this one again, since it didn’t get through when I posted it on Thursday.

            (not sure why this won’t let me respond to the right post)
            Kelley, I’m a 100% kind of Catholic, totally in line with the magisterium, and I’m gonna have to agree with you on this. The reason is that I came from the same kind of feelings you speak of. I have tried to “love the sinner, hate the sin” for years, but really just felt disgust when I saw a homosexually-oriented person. It has only been in the last year that God has granted me the grace to love these people the same as all the rest of us who are all also flawed in our own ways. We’re all drawn to different sins, have to fight different battles, and the cross Our Lord has chosen for you to shoulder does not somehow make you less beautiful in His eyes, and neither should it make you less beautiful in mine.

            Please continue to be patient with us, as we learn to love you, even while continuing to stand for the truth, which is what will bring the most joy to each of us. I think that in the next few decades, we will learn, as is laid out in an article written by a gay man (The Science of Gaydar), that there IS a component to SSA that is completely beyond the choice of the individual, that most ARE born with it, but that also, this is influenced by environmental factors in the womb (& beyond), and that these two compelling factors may lead us all to a totally different view on SSA in the future. Regardless, our approach must be kindness, friendship, & love, not judgment & harshness.

            IOW, standing for marriage to be defined as between one man and one woman IN NO WAY is opposed to loving, concretely, people with SSA. We “orthodox” Catholics would do well to meditate on this, frequently, until our hearts are changed.

          • JE says:

            Scott, I wish that your comment were more true. I think the love, empathy, and kindness towards homosexual sinners (and other sinners) in the church varies with regards to geographic regions. There are large regions of the country where the Church has publicly ridiculed the homosexual community and ex-communicated members of its Church. Coming from one of those communities, it was a breath of fresh air to be brought back to the fundamental teachings of Christ. I hope other regions of the US are kinder.

  25. That was really well done! I am so very grateful that you wrote this. I’ve been wondering how to explain Catholic teaching on homosexuality in a way that underlines the love of God, the sanctity of sexuality, and it’s life-giving element, but now that you have written something that is indeed eloquent, thoughtful, honest, and in response to two friends you love I can share you’re compacted for impact exchange. Thanks!
    Trisha Niermeyer Potter @ Prints of Grace recently posted..Because I Am Furniture

  26. Mark says:

    “I have converted to the religion of the crucifix…”

    I love this line! I give you credit for helping me deal with an issue I have always dreaded, dealing with marriage and a gay friend.

  27. Annette says:

    I got into a vigorous discussion with a co-worker (who is Lutheran) about this same subject. She stated she didn’t like the Catholic Church because it was against homosexuals who are “in love.” I mentioned that she was confusing sex with love and the Church was for love, we can love our family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. I also mentioned that she was confusing tolerance with acceptance. I can tolerate a lot of things because they are none of my business or that doesn’t mean I have to accept them.

  28. KyCat says:

    Your articulation of this issue is beautiful! You have mentioned it a little bit earlier and it has helped me more than you can know in my relationship with the Church. I have been a Catholic all of my life and I am in line with all of it EXCEPT this issue. It has been so difficult for me. Of course, sometimes it feels strange to have so much trouble regarding one issue in your religion that in no way touches your life, but I do. You’ve helped me to deal with it in a way that I can, while still having a difficult time with it. God and I talk about it often and I pray about it alot. Thanks for helping me to be as comfortable with this aspect as I can be at this time. (Other Catholics I know have just referenced Leviticus while wearing pants and in short hair and it has not helped.)

  29. Jennifer G. says:

    You’re awesome. What an articulate conversation. I’m totally back-pocketing what you said in case I’m ever faced with this situation. I completely admire your conversion and I absolutely love reading your explanations of complex Catholic beliefs. Please keep sharing.

  30. Michelle says:

    So, had the conversation gone perfectly, would Andrew and Tom have broken up afterwards?

    • Annette says:

      No, they wouldn’t have broken up, but they would have understood that Catholics can love homosexuals (and adulterers, fornicators, liars, and thieves, to name only a few fellow human beings) without being haters. Again, we can tolerate without accepting.
      Annette recently posted..After-birth abortion

      • Scott says:

        Don’t listen to Annette. Yes, read the lives of the saints who left sinful relationships (Saint Augustine and Blessed Charles De Foucauld come immediately to mind). Read the Gospel–“let the dead bury the dead”, “leave everything and follow me”, “whoever doesn’t hate mother and father for my sake…” etc.

        • Annette says:

          I may be wrong, but I don’t think Jen’s intent was to break up her friends relationship but to explain what the Church teaches regarding same-sex attraction, marriage,and contraception. If I used the Church’s teachings to determine if my friends were worthy of my friendship I would have no friends.

          I have news for you Scott, you and I are sinners. Everyone is. It is all kinds of crazy wrong to refuse to refuse to see Christ in the face of everyone we encounter. Annette
          Annette recently posted..After-birth abortion

          • LYM says:

            Yes, I think the goal of this conversation was to help Andrew realize that opposing gay marriage does not require one to be homophobic.

            As Kelley mentioned above, starting a conversation where you tell the other person what he’s doing wrong is useless. It will almost never work, and will usually do the opposite. But if a person asks, answer, and do so with charity, and realize that the best approach is usually to try to move the person from A to B, or M to N, or X to Y, but you will almost never get him from A to Z in a day. Present your point, respect his autonomy and freedom to analyze your point, and back off.

            If Jen could help him to consider honestly that one point in those five minutes, that would be a very important success.
            LYM recently posted..What causes breast cancer? Can we prevent it?

  31. Beautiful and very powerful! I hope to remember a good deal of it too to recycle. Thank you Jennifer.

  32. LPatter says:

    Thank you – again! – Jen –

    I had an incredibly real and moving dream about my (estranged) gay friends who are “married” and adopting kids last night – after college one basically severed their ties with anyone who would not endorse their lifestyle choices (and in my case it was presumed, not discussed). It’s been almost 10 years…I’d recently seen a facebook photo of them with another college friend and it brought back all the love and laughter etc, and in my dream I told my one (the non-estranging) how much I missed them.

    The climate in our country is *definitely* drawing out some amazing realities that have gone “under the radar” or too easily been shoved/ignored – personally, pastorally, doctrinally – and I so appreciate your having shared this snipet from your life as you attempt so authentically to integrate your beliefs in your relationships even in the most excruciating ways/moments. You did a phenomenal job!!!

    Please pray for us and my friends – all our friends – there are so many of them – that these ties not be severed – that we can all truly be the living stones of the Body of Christ that create an invitation to enter into His Truth – an invitation that might not be taken up until much further down the road – but nonetheless, one that undoubtedly will make an impression one way or the other. Having the courage to let love be sincere in the face of vulnerability is the challenge – your story reveals this courage in a deeply moving way. Thank you!

    (ps sorry for mixing scriptural metaphors, it is super late and well…yeah.)

  33. James48 says:

    Thank you, Jennifer. This is beautiful. Having lived that life myself, it was not as “gay” as they make it sound (much hurt, confusion, alcoholism, abuse, no matter how it gets spun), and I am so fortunate to have found my way out. I disagree with stopping at abstinence, since I think the problem lies in gender identity more than attraction. Meaning, if you aren’t comfortable being vulnerable as a woman, for instance, you decide to side with the men psychologically and then become attracted to women. The problem lies in the pain you feel as a woman, rather than the outcome of attraction. If we had better counsel available and discussed these issues plainly, rather than a push for acceptance of gay marriage, we would have more truly happy people out there living heterosexual lives.

    • Barbieahayes says:

      So well said and understood. It is very sad that we, as Catholics, have remained so luke-warm that we never did work en masse with the bishops to fight the governmental controls and medical associations which kept (and still keep) people stuck in their behaviors. The Church now has some wonderful counselors who specialize in therapy if only the patients would want the services. Most are “happy” to remain in the addictive and compulsive behaviors.

    • Blessed&Broken says:

      So true and well put James. God bless you.

    • Ken says:

      Both of my grandfathers naturally were born left handed. Both were forced to use their right hands to some extent, and both gained and lost much from the experience. I am also left handed, and can’t imagine myself another way. I’m truly happy for you, James, that your journey has lead you to a place that feels right. I can’t honestly fathom being anything but myself-left handed, Catholic, and gay.

  34. Shannon says:

    The thing that has bothered me about NFP since I first learned about it from you is the intent thing. If you intend to prevent contraception through abstaining at certain times, how is that fundamentally different from using other methods of contraception? How is a pillow barrier down the middle of the bed fundamentally different from a condom?

    Of course, your talk of sacrifice is compelling and makes sense to a point, but if “All sexual activity must be ordered toward new human life,” wouldn’t it then be sacrilege to have sex when you know that you are not fertile? And under this constraint, are not all sexual expressions besides conception-promoting intercourse also sacrilege? (Perhaps conception-promoting intercourse *is* the only sexual expression NFP/orthodox Catholicism allow?). If marriage is only about producing and protecting new life, shouldn’t couples determine their fertility compatibility before marriage and seek partners with the most auspicious ph balance?

    If sex in heterosexual marriage is allowed when both partners are 100% certain there is no chance of conception, why would that be permitted under your argument and not homosexual sex?

    And (as a Mormon I would have to be the last to point fingers about one’s faith’s historical record), but what about all the popes (and monks/priests/etc) with illicit children?
    Shannon recently posted..More (or less) baby

    • Barbara C. says:

      Shannon, the act of eating is biologically designed to provide nutrition for our bodies. That it is supposed to taste good is to encourage us to eat. However, we can choose to eat foods that aren’t good for us or to eat too much food even when our body doesn’t need it.

      Now, it’s a good thing to learn good eating habits such as which foods are best for us and to eat them at regular intervals and to even restrain from eating certain things at certain times and control our desires and cravings.

      This is what Church teaching and NFP do with sex. It teaches good sex habits. It makes us stop and think about when and why we are having sex. If we know we are fertile but we have very serious reasons to avoid pregnancy, then we abstain for a little while and control our desires and cravings until a better time.

      Using contraception is like telling someone who is at their perfect weight that they should take diet pills (hormonal contraceptives), vomit after every meal (use a condom), or get their stomach stapled (vasectomy/tubal ligation) so that they can eat whatever they want whenever they want and not have to worry about the biological ramifications, instead of expecting them to practice good eating habits and self-control in order to maintain their weight.

      • Arben says:

        This is absolutely absurd. You can’t just draw non-existent parallels and expect them to magically validate your points. Do you think that glasses are sinful, too? Wheelchairs? Medicine? Natural biology is an awful substitute for morality, and it’s especially bad for you when you consider the fact that many, many animals in nature participate in homosexual behavior.

        And if we *have* to stick to your nonsensical analogy, using contraception is more like a perfectly healthy person eating precisely whatever they want, enjoying the taste, and not suffering any negative health effects from it. Do you think that if this were directly possible with food, it would be evil?

        If you do, I have a question to ask you: Do you think that it would be evil because you would be giving up the sacrifice involved with eating tasty food? If so, I think that that’s an extremely good reason to take a good long look at your own morality, which must be one that values pain, sickness, and death more than peace, health, and life.

        • R.C. says:

          Arben:

          Your tone — although that’s a difficult thing to parse from online writing so I may be misreading it — suggests that you believe you’re the first person ever to think of these potential objections. I assure you, you aren’t; they’re asked-and-answered in the earlier stages of the conversation, after which the conversation moved on to other more difficult topics.

          In particular, the emphasis is not on “natural” in the sense you seem to be using the word. The emphasis is teleological: What is the fit and proper end of a particular biological function, of the human organism as an individual, and of human society generally?

          Once that is determined, if a society, individual, or individual biological function has been injured in a way that prevents the fulfillment of its telos, the ethical intent is to heal the function and to fulfill the telos, or, in the case of a particular biological power whose use is optional, to abstain from exercising that power only in pursuit of another use of time which is equally or more fulfilling of the telos of the entire human organism.

          So a human (which is to say: an organism normally able to walk) who is rendered immobile by an injury ought ideally to be healed so that their limbs can function properly. They don’t need to walk all the time, of course: They can sit down and develop websites for a living in order to feed their family, thus abstaining from the fit use of their legs in favor of an equally-or-more fit use of their mind, as a part of the pursuit of the telos of their time and life and skills. But when they do want to move around, it’s healthy to use their feet. It’d be unhealthy were they to develop a morbid dislike of feet and amputate their legs because they wanted to only walk on their hands for the rest of their lives.

          Likewise a human (which is to say: an organism that eats to repair its body) who is sick and unable to eat normally needs to be made well so that she can eat properly. If she’s nauseous, she needs to have less nausea; if she is bulimic she needs to be helped psychologically so that she doesn’t vomit her food or suffer from an unhealthy body image. If she has pica she needs to be helped so that she doesn’t feel urges to eat sheetrock and nails and dirt and other non-food items. If she overeats as an addiction she needs to be assisted to overcome that addiction. To the extent that technology can help heal the organism in any of these areas, it is beneficial because it assists the organism to be a healthy instance of the kind of thing it is and for the organism’s various functions to achieve their fit ends. To the extent that medical science is insufficient to heal or assist in any of these areas, she will simply have to bear that cross as best she can, and not indulge in morbid guilt when, despite her best efforts, she fails to control her bulimia or eating addiction or pica. There may be no perfect cure or perfect recovery in this life, with or without medical help. But it is not helpful either to endlessly beat herself up about it, or to “embrace the bulimia” by defining herself as a Bulimic and bulimia as perfectly normal.

          Likewise if a guy (which is to say: an organism who procreates by fathering children together with a woman who will raise them with him in a lifelong emotional unity) struggles with addiction to masturbation or pornography or with sexual dysfunction or same sex attraction or philandering or bestiality, these things get in the way of the healthy and proper exercise of his sexual powers in pursuit of their telos, their proper end. If medical science may in some way assist him in recovering a healthy expression of his sexual powers, then that’s all to the good. If not, then he may very well struggle with difficulties in that area of his life. It’s not helpful for him to beat himself up about whatever portion of that dysfunction he can’t control. On the other hand, it’s not helpful for him to embrace the bestiality or the philandering or the pornography as a normal and liberating thing, for these do not contribute to the telos of his procreative faculty, or of him as a human organism generally, or of the society of human organisms in which he participates.

          This is the framework in which the analogies drawn by Barbara C. make sense. It’s the implied background of any discussion of the topic. Of course wheelchairs and spectacles are morally licit; in some circumstances they may be morally obligatory: They assist an organism which in its healthy natural state can see and move about to see and move about in spite of a less-healthy state. They assist rather than interfering with the telos.

          Likewise technology which assists an infertile woman to become fertile. But you can see that technology which assists a fertile woman to become infertile is taking the opposite approach. Here we have a deliberate injury to, rather than a healing and perfecting of, a bodily power.

    • R.C. says:

      Shannon,

      I suppose we must ask why God created pleasures, and why He created different categories of pleasure for different experiences.

      Why does it feel good to take a deep breath? Why is it pleasant to eat a meal? Why is it pleasurable to make love? And why are they different kinds of pleasure, each with distinct flavors?

      I’m not sure what role pleasure would have served in an unfallen race, an unfallen world…a Thomist would know better about that, or a mystic.

      But in a fallen world, it’s a good thing we have instincts to drive us and pleasures to reward us. We need these things to remind us to do what’s good for us and good for others.

      If we were angels or “Vulcans” it wouldn’t be necessary. With perfect knowledge we’d know what was the right thing to do at the right time. With infinite processing-power we’d be able to calculate at any moment what was the highest-priority use of our time. We’d calculate the optimum time to take a breath, to eat a meal, to bear a child. Unfallen men and women would have that kind of mastery over their bodies. Not so with us!

      So God gives us drives and pleasures, and different kinds of drives and pleasures guide us to different kinds of actions. The catch, though, is that it’s a fallen world. Just as our bodies can get ill (through no fault of our own, or because we abuse them), so too our bodily drives and pleasures can get twisted (through no fault of our own, or because we abuse them). Once twisted, our drives and pleasures may prompt us to use them in illicit and unhealthy ways.

      This is confusing, though: If we can’t rely on our drives and pleasures to prompt only healthy, morally licit uses, how then can we distinguish between the healthy and licit, and the unhealthy and illicit?

      Well, we can’t make that distinction with perfect infallibility, because we are fallen. We make mistakes. Only an inerrant source (like the scriptures) or an infallible teacher (like what Catholics believe, albeit under limited circumstances, about the Church’s magisterial/prophetic office) can give us a sure, certain way to distinguish between the healthy and the unhealthy, the licit and the illicit use of drives and pleasures.

      But our fallibility doesn’t mean our intellect is useless. We can still draw analogies and reason our way to conclusions even without benefit of revelation…and then check our conclusions against scripture and the uniform teaching of the Church through time as a kind of “answer key,” to make certain our reasoning hasn’t gone astray.

      Applying this process to the question of how we use our pleasures and drives, what do we see?

      Well, breathing is pleasant. Taking a deep breath after holding one’s breath is also pleasant. But breathing ultimately has a telos, an “end,” a proper goal: It keeps us alive. Misuse of this faculty or twisting of the associated pleasures is clearly disordered. You don’t have to be a genius to conclude that, oh, I dunno, say, autoerotic asphyxiation or sniffing glue are misuses of this biological function!

      Likewise eating is pleasant. But eating is intended by God to repair our bodily tissues through nutrition. Friendship and conviviality and fun can come along with a meal, but they’re not the primary purpose. The drive of hunger and the pleasure of eating direct us to not neglect our bodily health. But this pleasure can be abused by those who overeat. And the drive can become twisted, as in the example of people who suffer from the disorder called “pica”: A damaged instinct drives them to eat non-food items like sheetrock and dirt and nails and whatnot. And of course people with bulimia get the pleasure of eating, or at least satisfaction of the drive to eat, but then separate it from nutrition by vomiting up the food before it can have its natural nutritive function.

      Still, we can tell, even with imperfect reason, that bulimia and pica and overeating are disordered. It is not immoral to abstain from eating for a time, as in the case of fasting, but if one does participate in this pleasure, it must be in a way that brings glory to God, not in a disordered way.

      What, then, can we say about sexual pleasures and drives?

      Well, the pleasures of the bedroom are directed first towards procreation: The perpetuation of the species and, please note, the population of eternity with immortal souls who will outlive the universe. This is a very serious and holy thing, not to be taken lightly!

      And the proper raising of children requires a stable family: A mother to mother them and a father to father them and, ideally, siblings to “brother and sister” them. Even grandparents and great-grandparents have a role in this ideal “womb” for the raising of a healthy human being. All other things being equal, this combination produces optimal formation and maturation of the whole person.

      Now sex has, during part of every month, the possibility of producing a child. But even when it does not, neurotransmitters and hormones exchanged in the exchange of bodily fluids produce bonding and trust and stable attachment, and even outside of coitus itself the pheromones and drives to affectionate behaviors caused by the hormonal cycle of the man and woman produce bonding and trust and stable attachment.

      In this we see that God has designed us not only to use sexual pleasure to procreate, but even the close affection of man and woman has been designed to form permanent families so that every child can be mothered and fathered and sibling-ed and grandparent-ed, for their own health and the maximum health of society.

      From our comparisons with other drives and instincts we have found that it is permissible to abstain from them, but that if we don’t, we must use them in a way that fulfills God’s intent and plan for them, and NOT in ways that willfully circumvents, contradicts, or corrupts His intent.

      Applying this generalization to sexual pleasures and to the hormones that produce family bonds, it is logical to conclude that we may abstain from sex for the glory of God, or we can have potentially-procreative sex for the glory of God, but that we may not engage in a sex act for the purpose of obtaining the pleasure apart from the proper end of that pleasure (primarily procreation, secondarily permanent family bonding for successful childrearing).

      A person who chooses orgasm by intrinsically non-procreative acts is therefore “stealing” pleasure: Obtaining it in a fashion separated from God’s intent for it, which does not glorify God. It is a circumvention of, or even a “hack” of, God’s design, not an honoring of it.

      So condoms, which generate pleasure at the expense both of procreation and the exchange of hormones and neurotransmitters to produce couple-bonding, defeats both the procreative purpose and the bonding purpose. It takes an opportunity to populate Heaven and to biochemically cement a marriage together on earth, and chucks it in favor of a quick fix of pleasure.

      And birth control pills, by interfering with the woman’s hormones and pheromones and behavior, likewise often reduce both female and male libido, and the affection between spouses. (Thus the nickname, “the divorce pill.”) And even were this not the case, it’s a way of willfully producing a bodily disorder (infertility), which is disrespectful of God’s design. It is intended to preserve the pleasure of the sexual act while circumventing the natural ends of procreation and permanent family bonding.

      We must grant that sex is not quite like any other desire or pleasure in the design of the human organism, and some analogies may be misleading. But the best analogy we can draw is probably between bulimia and contracepted sex: It’s one thing to eat something which, accidentally, doesn’t turn out to be nutritive. It’s another to vomit up that which would have been nutritive. Likewise it’s one thing to have sexual relations in a way that produces bonding and which only accidentally doesn’t turn out to be procreative. It’s something different to make it not procreative on purpose.

      And what of the use of sex for pleasure, or even for pleasure and bonding, between two men or two women? Well, there again, it is separated from the procreative possibility. You won’t ever, that way, produce children who’ll grow up in the company of their siblings, being fathered by a father and mothered by a mother and doted on by married grandparents for as long as they live. But that is what the human sexual drive and pleasure is directed towards, as we have already seen. And while we can always glorify God by abstaining from one pleasure in order to spend our time doing something else which glorifies Him, it is morally illicit to spend our time “hacking” the pleasures He gave us by pursuing them in a fashion willfully separated from their intended ends.

      Again, we aren’t infallible, and we must acknowledge that our human reasoning on such matters might fail us. How, then, do we error-check ourselves? We look at Scripture and the uniform tradition of Christianity (and, for Catholics, the Magisterial teaching of the Apostolic Deposit of Faith): Do these infallible/inerrant sources agree with our conclusions?

      As it happens, they do. We have to contradict or “interpret our way around” Scripture to argue that homosexual acts morally licit. But if we reason from God’s intention for sexual pleasure as I did above, we get answers which agree with Scripture, Tradition, and, for Catholics, the Magisterium.

      Until 1930, not a single Christian denomination taught that artificial contraception was morally licit. The vast swath of human moral teaching in general and Christian moral teaching in particular is against it. Either the Holy Spirit was on vacation all that time, or we, in our day, have messed things up as a culture.

      Given what you know about our culture’s level of sexual morality, which is more probable? That we, in our day, are the first generation of Christians whose sexual morality is sufficiently clear and uncorrupted that we are enabled to see correctly moral truths about human sexuality that were hidden from all Christian believers for 95% of Christian history?

      Or that our culture has become unusually sexually confused and debauched in the last 75 years, as a result of which we are falling uncommonly deeply into error on matters of sexual morality?

      Anyway, those are my musings on the subject. They weren’t initially convincing, even to me…I suppose because I was raised in this culture rather than a healthier and less sexually-confused one. But as time passes I find this line of reasoning increasingly persuasive. Perhaps you will, also.

  35. Shannon says:

    oops. That first “contraception” should be “conception,” and I can’t even blame auto-correct!
    Shannon recently posted..It’s supposed to be hard to climb mountains

  36. R.C. says:

    Thank you for posting the conversation. But I find the whole thing terrifying.

    If it were possible to be a Christian, believing that the teaching of the apostles meant a darned thing, and simultaneously believe that homosexual acts were morally licit, I would.

    But the evidence is unequivocal. It is not as if there was never homosexuality among the Greeks. Either the apostles were dreadfully wrong, taught significant error on a matter of moral truth, and included that error within the Scriptures (making the Scriptures also teach error), and the Holy Spirit failed to lead the Church “into all truth” for more than nineteen centuries (what was the Holy Spirit doing? was He away on a trip, or taking a nap?)…either that, or the apostles were right.

    But if the apostles are right, if Jesus meant it when He said to the apostles that “he who hears you, hears Me,” then I’m stuck coming up with some reason why homosexual acts are illicit.

    As it happens, I have a secondhand connection to a couple of supernatural events. Nothing flashy enough to convert Dawkins, but real enough. Jesus is God. Christianity is true. So whatever He taught the apostles is the truth from God’s own lips.

    Now either the apostles transmitted that truth successfully to someone, either in Scripture or in Sacred Tradition or something, or Christianity has been lost in the mists of time after that first century. But I have trouble believing that God, having preserved His truths from the time of Moses until Jesus, would then fail utterly to transmit His moral requirements to the world thereafter.

    I just can’t accept that. Therefore, I am stuck. Homosexual acts are wrong. I can’t, in my own intellectual power, see why or how, but they must be.

    This is terrifying, because it means I may have to tell a gay friend or colleague why, as a Christian, I am compelled to regard their sexual relationships wrong even though I am not the least bit homophobic. Think, for a moment, how impossible that is.

    I mean, what if you were an utterly non-racist person who enjoyed the company of your black neighbors, but had come to the conclusion that, as a part of your religion, you were morally required to use “the N word” in every conversation? It’s not a perfect analogy, but that’s about how bad it is. You’re not a bigot, but how demonstrate that to the people you know? The whole situation is untenable.

    And thus, terrifying. It makes my skin crawl to try to think about having a conversation like that, trying to explain to someone a teaching which seems to rub salt in their already existing wounds, all the while protesting that I’m not cruel, that I can’t help it?

    (Huh. “I can’t help it.” Is that the point of empathy between the orthodox Christian and the gay community. I suppose not; it’s not the same, except perhaps the feeling of helplessness.)

    I said that “I am stuck.” Well, it gets worse: Looking around the Christian world, I find only one Church teaching simultaneously that…

    (a.) persons who have same-sex attractions have all the dignity and value of any other human being;

    (b.) same-sex attractions are disordered but not, in-and-of-themselves, indicative of moral guilt by the person who has them;

    (c.) any discriminatory act which fails to accord to a homosexual person all his/her natural rights and equal protection under law is morally wrong;

    (d.) homosexual acts are morally wrong, as the apostles taught through the Scriptures;

    …and furthermore, that Church offers reasons why homosexual acts are wrong which, once understood, are logically consistent with one another, with Scripture, with what we know empirically, and with the rest of that Church’s teachings.

    That Church is the Catholic Church.

    Had the Catholic Church not taught what it teaches about contraception, of course, then its teachings about sex would be internally inconsistent. But it does teach it. And that’s a teaching where the Catholic Church is essentially alone in the world, even more alone than it is with respect to calling homosexual acts immoral while still respecting the humanity of those with gay tendencies.

    So I’m even more stuck than I thought.

    Not only can I not take the “compassionate” (and far more socially-convenient) view about homosexual acts because I’m convinced that the apostolic teaching is true, but, worse than that, I’m stuck with concluding that the Catholic Church is the only Church whose official apparatus is teaching Christian truth in the world today.

    I grew up Southern Baptist. Not Catholic-hating Southern Baptist, mind you, but still. It is NOT comfortable for me to have to become Catholic.

    But there it is. I hate being stuck.

    • nancyo says:

      You describe your struggle well; my prayers go out to you as you step closer to the Catholic Church.
      nancyo recently posted..Quick Takes: Random Links of Note

    • Chuck says:

      The RC Church is not alone in teaching what you have listed in the four points above (a thru d). The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod does as well as some other conservative Lutheran synods.

      • R.C. says:

        Chuck:

        You’re correct; good catch. And there are other congregations which do likewise, and I was aware of that, while writing that list late last night!

        I think what I had in mind was a grouping of (a.) through (d.) with the last item which is not given a letter: “…and furthermore, that Church offers reasons why homosexual acts are wrong which, once understood, are logically consistent with one another, with Scripture, with what we know empirically, and with the rest of that Church’s teachings.”

        Think of that as point (e.) if you will. I am not an expert on the Missouri Synod Lutherans, but do they also teach against artificial contraception?

        You see, the longer I think about it (even though I was, uh, not-disinterestedly opposed to this conclusion initially), the more I see morally-licit artificial contraception and morally-licit homosexual acts as mutually-reinforcing. I can’t see any way to have the one without the other. It is either okay to “hack” God’s design in order to obtain sexual pleasure apart from the childbearing and childrearing original intent of that pleasure, or it isn’t. So I see the Catholic Natural Law explanation as internally consistent. But perhaps the Missouri Synod Lutherans share the Catholic view on this topic?

        Likewise, it seems to me that the biological design for childrearing and bonding reinforces the teaching that marriage is to be permanently unitive, that divorce from a valid Christian marriage is a metaphysical impossibility, and that remarriage, sadly, is a form of adultery. I don’t like this conclusion in the sense that I’d like to be more compassionate/permissive towards those injured by a bad marriage, but the longer I think about it, the more it seems of a piece with the mystical union of Christ with His Church as mysteriously/sacramentally reflected in the bodily design of human sexuality.

        I’m not sure where Lutherans stand on divorce and remarriage, either. But so far as I am aware, it’s only the Catholic church which has united these things together in an internally-consistent, if very strict, morality and theology and ethic of human sexuality and marriage. So that’s the missing Item (e.) in my list which I was posting hurriedly and blearily, late last night.

    • Susie says:

      R.C. Be not afraid. You have lots of saints you can ask for help. How about Edith Stein? It was not comfortable for her to become a Catholic. It offended her Jewish mother and we hate to hurt those whom we love. She decided not to be afraid. She ended up becoming a Carmelite nun and dying in a Nazi concentration camp. Very brave convert.

    • Ed says:

      R.C.,
      Thank you so much for your honesty. I just wanted to offer you a bit of empathy and solace. As a cradle Catholic, I am always astounded when I meet converts who have rationally come the conclusions I have grown up taking for granted, although I must also admit that I stopped taking them for granted when I became an adult and started questioning everything. Like you, I have come to the same conclusion as the Church, and it is, indeed, an uncomfortable position in this world.

      I truly understand what you mean when you say you feel “stuck.” When I read Les Misérables, I was struck by a line (and I have never been able to find it since) in the book which says something to the effect of how the truth sets you free, but it is also the most terrible jailer in the world.

      I find myself so frustrated by the realisation that, really, the Catholic worldview boils down to “embrace suffering.” When I really get down to the heart of any matter with people who are asking about my faith and worldview, this is always what Catholicism ends up saying at its heart, and unfortunately, it seems that not many people have the grace or faith to accept this message.
      Ed recently posted..A Writer’s Declaration of Independence

    • heirsinhipe says:

      Dearest RC, you are only stuck to Christ: in Him & with Him. What is there better than that. You know He’s real so being stuck to Him is the greatest gift you could ever have.

      And if (when) He calls you to have a conversation w/ a person who is made in His image & is living out an attraction to (an)other(s) of the same sex, Christ will give you the words. Jennifer has already provided an excellent primer. You are obviously adept at using your mind & facing facts as well as truth. So all will be well.

      I’ll keep you in my prayers too.
      heirsinhipe recently posted..When the World Came Crashing Down

    • Arben says:

      R.C.: You seem to be a very intelligent person, and infinitely more importantly, willing to use what intelligence you do have to understand the world around you. If I had to put that kind of personality into one word, it would be “scientist.”

      You say that you’ve seen supernatural things. May I suggest that you re-examine these events, and try to come up with rational, natural explanations for them? Keep in mind that just because an explanation escapes you, does not mean that it escapes the real, natural universe. Do this honestly, willing to believe whatever evidence you do find.

      To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t think that you can ever be free of being “stuck” in your religious beliefs, should you choose to believe them. You’re intelligent enough–and like I said, willing to investigate very deeply–that you will *always* find contradictions in these belief systems, be they self-contradictory or contradictory with reality itself.

      Good luck, whatever you wind up doing. But please, please don’t legislate your morality against other people. Remember that if a very widely believed religion stated that interracial marriage was wrong in the last century, it still wouldn’t have been right to keep it illegal.

      • R.C. says:

        Arben:

        My own logic leads me to conclude that it is perfectly rational to assign supernatural causality not only to particular events in the lifetime of the universe, but to all events in the lifetime of the universe. Everything is a miracle, because the transcendent and eternal first cause of nature and of nature’s laws and of our ability to truly comprehend nature and its laws is not, itself, part of nature.

        That doesn’t at all prevent us being skeptical of any particular claim of miraculous goings-on. Quite the contrary. But it does place an unexpected physically observable event into a context defined by the character, even the personal style, of God.

        In that context, the supernatural events to which I alluded previously are merely two or three more physical events amongst all the innumerable other events since the Big Bang. Of course they can be explained in purely material terms; every physically observable event can precisely because it’s a physically observable event. If you go looking for your car keys only where the streetlight is shining, you can’t very well be surprised if you don’t find any keys outside the reach of the streetlight.

        So there is a sense in which the whole universe, at every moment, is miraculous. But the supernatural events which are notable are those natural events which are exceptions to the usual artistry of nature in which the artist’s signature is revealed. The signature is still written in nature and is observable as a natural event, just as the painter’s signature is still on the canvas and is even made of paint. But it doesn’t look like part of the painting: It stands out.

        I’m sorry to have to speak in such an analogy-driven way, but it is a failing of language, not of meaning. It’s a bit like the jurist’s joke on pornography: You may not be able to define it, but you know it when you see it!

        (This is why I have both philosophical and aesthetic objections to the Intelligent Design people. The philosophy tells us that even an infinitely pre-existent set of universal laws require a transcendent eternal first cause and constant sustainer…even a rational one. So to look for limited interruptions along the way without any sign of a relational or anagogical significance is not so much looking for a creator as looking for a very powerful space alien. But the aesthetics are just as bad: God the artist suddenly can’t distinguish between painting the painting and signing His signature. The whole painting becomes a repeated signature stamp like a tic or a spasm or a bit of pop art: God as Andy Warhol.)

        Anyhow, I thank you for the compliment of drawing a comparison between what I wrote before and the idea of a scientist-type personality. I lack the professional training, but I have a layperson’s attachment to many of the physical sciences. But I think logic extends beyond the physical sciences…and that leads me to reject your suggestion, although I’m sure you meant it kindly.

        I’ve tried to hold an atheist religion * — yes, that’s a problematic formulation, but I’m using it advisedly, see below — before now. But I know the contradictions in it and have eliminated it from personal consideration some time ago.

        I’m sure you feel that I eliminated it prematurely! You could be right, but at this point it’d be intellectually dishonest to try to return to that path.

        (I respect those who hold it, though: How could I not, since I was there previously, without guilt, and for respectable reasons? There may be atheists who are atheists dishonestly, but I certainly don’t assume that they all are. I wasn’t, at the time! But I would be, if I tried to revert, now.)

        * I just used the term “atheist religion,” but I don’t mean to get anyone’s goat by it. Perhaps “atheist worldview” is less controversial, but it fails to highlight an equivalence which I specifically want to draw, which is this: There is something in a person — at least, in any person leading an examined and thoughtful existence — which motivates his actions and beliefs when he is exhibiting his highest level of integrity, when he is not being a hypocrite. This “something” goes by various names: religion, philosophy-of-life, worldview.

        It generally consists of most or all of the following components: A cosmology, an epistemology, an ethics, a view of man, an approach to the problems of sin, suffering, and death, an opinion about existence and nature and supernature (if any) and their relationship, a set of practices which reinforce the preceding views in the person, and a set of practices which pass them on — memetically, if you like — to others or to successive generations.

        You may call this thing what you like. If you don’t like “religion” call it some Jabberwocky word, a “Slithy Tove” or a “Borogove.” Some folks obtain a name-brand Borogove like they were buying an Apple Mac or an Alienware gaming PC. Others — hobbyists, if you will — piece their Borogoves together using off-the-shelf components from various sources. In the end, it’s still a Borogove in that they’re hypocrites to their own beliefs when they act in violation of it, and they show integrity when they act in accord with it. The old libel that there are no atheists in foxholes is just an observation that atheists have a Borogove (religion, worldview, whatever) but that stressful situations or other temptations can show them to waver in it. Likewise I expect that the numbers of professing Christians drop under persecutions, despite the fact that the apostates, if they were really Christians, should have been unafraid of death, especially martyrdom!

        Anyway, that is the sense in which I have attempted to hold an atheist “religion” previously, but could not successfully integrate with what seemed true to me.

  37. JoAnna says:

    Shannon – sex during infertile periods is still ordered toward procreation, because the couple in question are not doing anything to deliberately render the act infertile (unlike with contraception).

    Spacing pregnancy is not inherently sinful, nor is the intent to space pregnancy inherently sinful. Motivation matters, and moral means to that end must be used.
    JoAnna recently posted..Two Cooking Successes!

    • Arben says:

      But we have *knowledge* that one is much less unlikely to get pregnant during certain times of the month. How is that any different from utilizing the knowledge that condoms are extremely effective in preventing pregnancy? Or the knowledge that hormones–totally natural–are the reason behind this, and by manipulating hormones–with natural substances–we can have more effective contraception?

      Your stance is not pro-life. It is anti-knowledge.

      • RK says:

        Actually, Arben, condoms are only prevent pregnancy 86% of the time, so they aren’t “extremely effective in preventing pregnancy.” Even contraceptive pills have a lower user effectiveness than the oft quoted “99.9% effectiveness.” I work in the medical profession and know many instances where women on contraception have gotten pregnant anyway. I even know of a woman with a tubal ligation getting pregnant!

        The problem with contraceptives/condoms,etc. is that they put they drive a wedge between the husband and wife who use them. There are dozens of studies that conclude that those spouses who use these popular methods of “birth control” are more likely to divorce. We modern humans seem to be too clever by half. Contraception use is promoted in order to enhance the sex life of the partners (Oh, by the way. Did you know that one of the side effects of hormonal contraceptives is decreased libido?) but in reality it ultimately separates them. Women on contraceptives are expected to be sexually available at any time. If the woman is unmarried, she is expected to be sexually available to any man who demands it. Sorry, as a discerning woman, I don’t see this as true equality. Also, those pills come with some pretty nasty side effects, such as stroke, pulmonary emboli or DVTs (clots in the lungs or deep veins in the body).

        On the other hand, those who use NFP have extremely low divorce rates (between 0 and 1%, compared with at least 50% divorce rate for the nation in general). Then man is trained not to see his wife as just another means of satisfying his sexual craving (in other words, his equal. Not a masturbation tool.) and learns to grow in true affection. The woman learns the same thing and never has to utter the complaint that her husband “only hugs and cuddles her when he wants to have sex.”

        Just because we have the knowledge to do a certain thing, doesn’t mean that it gives us the right to do it. For example, we also have the knowledge to inflict total and completely indiscriminate devastation through the use of nuclear weapons. Does that give is the automatic “right” to produce and use these weapons? Since Hiroshima, we know the horrors that nuclear weapons produce, not only at the moment of detonation, but the lingering effects years and generations down the line. None of those effects were positive. This same thing is now becoming apparent with the longtime use of contraceptives. Contraceptives are being proven carcinogenic again and again. Just look on WebMD. The ages of women being diagnosed with breast cancer are getting younger and younger, with women in their 20’s undergoing chemo and radiation treatments. These instances of younger breast cancer patients has risen alongside the common usage of the poison pills known as contraceptives. Coincidence? The answer is no.

        Scientific knowledge without rational, moral guidance is no benefit to mankind. History shows us this again and again. It brings to mind the methods of the science-hungry Nazis who used the excuse of “gaining knowledge” mixed with their evil mindset to produce more effective tools of mass murder. The desire for any kind of knowledge, as with any other good thing, MUST, MUST by tempered with solid ethics and genuine morality due to mankind’s sad tendency to pervert what is good in order to serve selfishness.

        • Arben says:

          Actually, RK, condoms are only 86% effective when you include the use by people who don’t know what they’re doing. Similarly, a new pair of scissors is less than 100% effective at cutting a piece of paper if the people wielding the scissors doesn’t know how to use them. Used properly, they are 98% effective–and that’s not *per use*, that’s, “Of 100 couples who have sex regularly, 2 will become pregnant over the course of a year.”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_birth_control_methods#Effectiveness_of_various_methods

          The point is moot, anyway. The point of my original post was not the efficacy of condoms; they were merely an example used to illustrate a point.

          (Also, note the top two methods in that table–5 in 10000 couples would get pregnant over the course of a year. Not bad, eh?)

          As for your claims, I want peer-reviewed studies by neutral sources, not old wives’ tales that are passed around in your social circles to vindicate your backwards beliefs. And really. Really?

          “Women on contraceptives are expected to be sexually available at any time.”

          Expected by whom, precisely? That is absolutely absurd and only an idiot would think that.

          “If the woman is unmarried, she is expected to be sexually available to any man who demands it.”

          This is even more absurd, and I can’t believe that you would actually state that. What on *earth* are you talking about?

          “Sorry, as a discerning woman, I don’t see this as true equality.”

          Sorry, but you have just shown me that you are far from discerning in any way whatsoever.

          I also want peer-reviewed articles about your claims about NFP’s relation to divorce rates. These are absolutely and completely unbelievable, and I would my own foot if they were anything but outright fabrications.

          More importantly, if the men you interact with need “training” to not use their wives as tools, you are interacting with the wrong men. To try and apply such a stupid generalization to the male populace at large is at best insulting and at worst dangerous. If these are the only kind of men that you know, you might try finding some other men. Do you think, perhaps, that when men are brought up in your belief system to believe that all men need training to keep them from being rapists/insatiable woman-hating monsters, that that might contribute to a rise in that sort of behavior in the men in your social circle?

          Another thing: My girlfriend is *not* a masturbation tool. Those are your words, not mine. Remember that. Neither of us is religious at all, and we use contraceptives. We have sex when we want to, not just when one of us wants it. We have sex because it’s pleasurable for *both* of us and brings us closer together, not out of some misguided sense of non-Christian unmarried misogyny. (By the way, it is possible for women to enjoy sex, if you weren’t aware. It’s not supposed to be a sacrifice for anybody involved, and if you view it that way, your sex life is probably awful.)

          I never made the claim that knowledge of a thing justifies its actualization. The entire first part of your paragraph is nothing more than a straw man argument.

          I’d like peer-reviewed studies that tell me about the carcinogenic effects of various contraceptives. I must admit, my favorite part is when you dismiss the coincidence of your made up correlation–clearly, you know nothing of science, and do not even have the tools to make such a dismissal.

          I can’t believe you’ve brought the Nazis into this. For what it’s worth, the vast majority of them were religious, and their belts even read “Gott mit uns” (“God with us”). Hitler frequently referenced what the Jews had done to Jesus as justification for his plans and eventual actions.

          You are grasping at straws.

          • Jenny says:

            Arben,

            You obviously feel strongly about this topic since you have responded to many, many comments. I disagree with you, but do not want to argue with you. I do want you to know that the World Health Organization classifies hormonal contraceptives as a Group I carcinogen. Group I means it is a substance known to cause cancer in humans. You don’t have to just take my word for it.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_IARC_Group_1_carcinogens

            If your girlfriend takes hormonal contraceptives, I encourage you to read the insert that comes in the packaging and look at the potential side effects and risks. You may want to discuss any concerns together and decide how to move forward.

            I was on the pill for ten years and will never, ever take it again. My health is too important.

          • 'Becca says:

            The correlation between NFP and low divorce rates, if true, is most likely explained by a LURKING VARIABLE, that is, a third factor which actually is more responsible for the outcome than the factor in question. This lurking variable is the belief that divorce is morally wrong. Catholicism and, to the best of my knowledge, all other religions that teach that artificial contraception is morally wrong, also teach that divorce is morally wrong. Therefore, it’s pretty obvious that people who are serious enough about the religion that that is their reason for practicing NFP, also would try harder to maintain a lifelong marriage than people who do not believe such religions.

            The carcinogenic effects of HORMONAL contraceptives are worth taking into consideration. I have not looked into this lately, but when I briefly took the pill 14 years ago both my doctor and the pill’s pamphlet told me that it increased the risk of some cancers. It makes sense that tinkering with hormones can cause cancer. However, I have never heard any claim that barrier methods of contraception cause cancer.

            What I think is funny about RK’s claim is that she doesn’t even hint at evidence that THE SAME WOMEN who took hormonal contraceptives are getting breast cancer, just notes a correlation over time. A lot of other things changed during that time. But I do think that the cancer rates of women who have vs. have not taken hormonal contraceptives should be compared scientifically; as with any drug, this is crucial information for making an informed choice about whether or not to use these drugs.

            I am Episcopal and do NOT believe that using contraception is a sin. To me the Catholic argument falls apart at the point of the leaping conclusion about the “proper” purpose of sex. God has created us with bodies that feel sexual pleasure in a wide variety of ways, not all of which lead to conception, and that use the biochemical reactions triggered by sex for pair-bonding, stress relief, and physical health maintenance as well as for procreation. I believe that procreation is just one of the “proper” purposes of sexuality. I believe that a pair-bond between two people of the same sex, strengthened by the sharing of sexual pleasure, is no less “proper” or loving or holy because it cannot produce a child.
            ‘Becca recently posted..A Different Party Favor–thrifty and earth-friendly!

          • Arben says:

            ‘Becca: Hey! You keep your science and basic knowledge of statistics out of this!

          • S says:

            Aiden, THANK YOU for making sense of this NFP madness — as you point out it’s all thinly-veiled misogyny — You rock! I wonder if these two gentleman will even bother remaining friends with the author after this; I wouldn’t be surprised if not.

        • RK

          I told myself I wasn’t going to contribute to this inanity, but since you’ve already brought Nazis into this discussion, I feel the need to point out that… they weren’t fond of homosexuals either. Homosexuality was illegal, homosexuals were arrested, persecuted, sent to the camps, and treated like everyone else the Nazis deemed inferior to their human ideal.

          Stalin, too, hated homosexuality and banned it and made it punishable with years of hard labor. Mao, too. So,you know, before you play the “oppressive dictator” card, do your research.

          • Naomi says:

            Ahem.
            Arben, you are just wrong. First, I can’t believe you seriously took wikipedia as your source, and in the same post, called for “peer-reviewed evidence”… Because lemme tell ya, wikipedia a reliable source is not.

            That being said, I will do you the favor of googling for you, and providing you with the aforementioned peer-reviewed studies which support the previous poster’s stances. Because I do research for fun, and like any sane Catholic, I’m fond of science.

            Regarding efficacy of condoms: http://www.sexedlibrary.org/index.cfm?pageId=788

            Regarding the efficacy of NFP, also called FAM or FAB by non-Catholics:
            http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/22/5/1310
            http://epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=nursing_fac
            http://www.nfp-nederland.nl/userfiles/poster%20esc%20nfp%20vlaanderen%202010.pdf

            If you compare all the studies in the two groups (the condom link is a summary of many studies), “perfect use” of condoms ranges between 97-98.9%, while “perfect use” of NFP ranges from 98-100% effectiveness.
            So if you want to talk about “perfect use”, NFP wins hands-down.
            If you want to talk about “typical use”, you first need to understand that using a condom would come at ANY time in the cycle, not exclusively during the fertile period. Method non-compliance in NFP has a statistically higher likelihood of pregnancy because if you ignore the fact that you’re showing signs of impending ovulation… you will more likely get pregnant. Studies on contraceptive use overall also don’t often account for that fact that sometimes, people just decide they don’t care if they get pregnant when using NFP, or that there are a multitude of different forms of NFP, with varying rates of effectiveness. For example, the sympto-thermal method has pretty darn near 100% effectiveness rating, with people who have used it for more than 5 years, while even with experience, the Two-Day method at perfect use is less effective, at about 90-95% effectiveness. Many studies don’t account for the variety of methods, and lump them all together with the “rhythm method” and “calendar method” which really, are not very good and not very scientific, and should not be lumped together with the sympto-thermal method, because science.

            Regarding hormonal contraceptives and breast cancer risk:
            http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196%2811%2961152-X/abstract

            Regarding divorce rates:
            Honestly, there is very little evidence existing.
            This study discusses different effectiveness ratings and how they relate, historically to the oft-cited “rhythm method” and does mention divorce rates, but those rates are from another study. http://www.jabfm.org/content/22/2/147.full It’s quite a fascinating read in and of itself, however.

            The one study most frequently cited was really not looking at divorce rates specifically, as an end in and of itself, but as part of broader context of family life
            (http://familiadelasamericas.org/inc/data/divorce_study_eng_wilson.pdf )
            This one doesn’t specifically discuss divorce rates, but rather, intra-couple relationship dynamics:
            http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1547-5069.2003.00171.x/abstract

            This one, too
            http://www.kirchen.net/upload/37213_ner_survey_2008_cathol_soc_sci_rev_int.pdf

            All that being said, however, further research is needed, because the data are not conclusive. I wonder who would dare to publish such data, though, because it’s already crazy-hard to get anything involving NFP taken seriously by peer-reviewed journals just because of the stigma associated with it, regardless of scientific rigor. When you still have people deliberately confounding the rhythm method with sympto-thermal without regard to the *significant* difference between the two, you really can’t have an intelligent conversation, can you?

  38. Barbieahayes says:

    Jennifer I really liked your articulate explanation of the Catholic teaching about the marital covenant with God of the unitive and procreative functions. What I think you did wrong was cause scandal by socializing with two men who are in a gay relationship. To me and to the Church you are affirming their sexual relationship. Each of these men are engaging in a sin which cries out to heaven for vengeance, one which several of the saints have referred to as the worst sin. Too, those who engage in homo-erotic behavior have darkened heart and minds which are closed to the truths.

    We are bound by Catholic teaching to admonish the sinner, but not to beset them. Yet to act around them as if what they are doing to each other is okay is really to validate them. Befriending the couple and continuing a relationship with them as good friends is like socializing with a man and his daughter who are in an incestuous relationship, or a pedophile and his young conquest. These behaviors are not just disordered but are against the natural and divine law.

    Yes, I know I sound judgmental; but we must remove from our fellowship all those who sin egregiously if they are not willing to repent and sin no more. And yes, there are degrees of sin; homosexual behavior is so intolerable to God that not only did He destroy cities whose people engaged in it but he also turned the minds of those who practice it over to the depravity. When people sin so egregiously, unrepentantly and repeatedly they incur a state of iniquitous sin which is that darkened mind that we see. Too, those who engage in homo-erotic behavior corrupt society and that is one of the reasons the sin is so egregious. We must never stand by and tolerate it.

    This is what the Church teaches, but much more compassionately than I could ever articulate (I admit). Something to watch carefully are the many priests who are soft on the sin because of their own particular proclivity for the behavior or because they are protective of priests in their order. These priests cloud the minds of the parishioners and teach us to be soft on the sin. They mislead for evil purposes.

    We cannot underestimate the damage that those who practice or promote homosexual behavior cause. If they do not change, we must remove them from our community and pray for them always. Prayer and fasting, the Church tells us, when practiced together do much to eradicate the demons that have attached themselves to these sinners.

    This information is pretty blunt, I know, but I have the lessons to back it up. God bless and thank you for your posts which I am certain are helping a lot of people to know and love the Church, the bride of Christ.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I wondered when someone would invoke the “sin crying out to Heaven for vengeance” line. I just converted from the left, and that part of Church teaching is the one huge thorn in my side. I love the way Jennifer has articulated here and elsewhere how the immorality of homosexuality is just part of the teaching on marriage. When same-sex attraction is construed as one of the many facets of concupiscence, and homosexual acts as part of fornication outside marriage, it makes sense to me. It’s a bitter pill to have to acknowledge that my many, many gay friends (I work in the arts) have no licit outlet for their desires, but I can see that it is a consistent teaching.

      But a sin crying out to heaven for vengeance? Really? I am friends with a gay couple, who are civilly married, who are some of the kindest people I know. They’re devout Anglo-Catholics and I am pretty sure they have never seen the inside of a leather bar. You’re telling me what they’re doing is damaging society way more than my single girlfriends who go out, get drunk and have one-night stands? I’m willing to accept that it is AS damaging but not WAY MORE damaging. The only way I can reconcile the crying to heaven for vengeance is to tell myself that the historical idea of “sodomy” was more akin to homosexual rape. Surely the rape of a boy by a man, or a younger man being pressured into a homosexual act by an older one through some kind of power imbalance, cries out to heaven for vengeance. That I can see. I know it’s heterodox but it gets me through the day.

      I think the strain of disgust and hatred for homosexuals in our society is at least as pressing a problem as that of gay people setting up households. I think there are many people in this country who are in grave danger of hating gays the way the Germans hated the Jews. Barbie, I know that what you are saying is deeply rooted in the Bible and Church teaching, and I am not saying that I think you are in this danger. I can’t know that. (I’m thinking more of all the people that posted horrifying anti-gay things on Oreo’s Facebook page recently: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/how-could-you-boycott-a-cookie) But your line, “If they do not change, we must remove them from our community” absolutely made my blood run cold.

      And the idea that Jennifer gave scandal by having dinner with her old friends instead of cutting them out of her life takes my breath away. By continuing to love them and presenting her beliefs honestly and compassionately, when solicited, Jennifer has probably done the most anyone can do to help them see the light and be saved.

      • Barbieahayes says:

        But being “kind” is kind of like being “luke-warm.” It is the actions that count in Catholicism; emotions are fleeting and not often based on truths. Excellent post! Thank you taking the time for insightful comments. We are learning so much from Jennifer’s column and each other.

        • Elizabeth says:

          Thank you in turn, Barbie. I do agree with you that “kindness” can be pretty much meaningless. I think I echoed something that I hear over and over again in secular justifications for same-sex marriage: “these are good kind people that love each other! how can you say this is a sin!” With the difference that I can say it’s a sin–I just don’t know what to do with the vengeance thing.

          • Barbieahayes says:

            Elizabeth, homo-erotic sex strikes at the root of God’s finest creation, the human person, because of its perversion of the procreative impulse, without which the human race would die. We may have darkened minds and hearts and may not see the sin. For that reason a cry goes up to heaven so that God “sees.” Genesis 18:20-21 speaks to this cry of vengeance. The Bible sources three more instances of the cry of vengeance: homicide in Genesis 4:10; oppression of widows and orphans in Exodus 21-23; and cheating laborers out of a just pay in Deuteronomy 24:14-15. Catholicism is so rich that I couldn’t possibly know every nuance about these sins. God has revealed to me (or will reveal to me in the future) everything I need to know for my salvation. I am content in that.

    • mary says:

      Removing form the community refers to excommunication, not defriending.

    • slan21 says:

      Fortunately i know not all christians are like you, but i think this is the kind of behaviour that makes many people see christians as intolerant bigots (sorry for the blunt words, but so were yours).

      Seriously, you’re blaming her for being nice to them ? For not shunning them ?
      If that’s what you religion of love is all about…

      • Sara H says:

        I find Barbieahayes comments to fall in the same camp of those that want to shun family or friends that marry outside the Church or live together (as an example). I don’t agree with these choices and it is not that we should lie to them about our feelings or about our belief system. It is not even that we shouldn’t reach out – especially to close family and friends – and try to explain the why of it in love. But, what reason would ANY sinner, any non-Christian/Catholic have to look into the compassion and love and greatness of our God and Savior if all they see is hatred and disavowing of those that we profess to care for…of those that we are bound to, often by blood? We believers are the first line in the war for souls in the world. We are the first that they observe (perhaps even before they care). Our actions must show that we attempt to live what we profess and we must educate ourselves to lovingly convey those things when asked.

        • Colleen says:

          Amen. And I have to ask this ? – what would Jesus do? He dined with prostitutes and thieves. He hung out with sinners of all kinds. I think love has to be the answer.

    • heirsinhipe says:

      @Barbieahayes: I think you’re wrong. unless we are willing to share the good news, as Jennifer did, those who are engaged in the error of sin cannot be reconciled to Christ & His Church. remember, “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.” (Rom 10:17) Andrew would not have heard the preaching or proclamation of Christ if Jennifer had been unwilling to spend time talking w/ him & answering his questions. she doesn’t indicate how Andrew & Tom were behaving w/ each other. for all we know there were just 4 friends having a meal & talking. Andrew may not accept the truth but he has heard it. he knows it would be right to live a chaste life as we are all called to do. in our day, it’s possible that no one else has ever told him that truth. as Ezek 2:5 says, “And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that there has been a prophet among them.” now Andrew knows.

      your comment that Jennifer would not dine w/ a pedophile & his victim is disingenuous. she might visit a pedophile in prison. why would she not share a meal & the Good News w/ a friend who asks her to do so even though he is caught up in that sin? that would not be loving God or living out her ministry to love as Christ loves her or even just to love her neighbour.

      but you’re right too, socializing w/ homosexuals can be scandalous. when I was a member of the Anglican Communion I’d attend the evensong & reception after the gay pride parade & even marched w/ my parish a couple of times (we wanted to convince gays not to go to the licentious party on the pier but rather to join us – it’s crazy from now but then, I pretended it made sense). once, I even attended the “blessing” of the “union” of two homosexual friends. it was not until I returned to the Catholic Church that I realized I had never really been able to convince myself that I was never okay w/ homosexuality & certainly God wasn’t. I also realized my participation had been scandalous & that the participation of other Christian groups including some Catholics was also scandalous because we were telling society that homosexuality was not only normal but something to celebrate as if it was a great accomplishment. pride comes either from accomplishment or is sin. there was no accomplishment, though we pretended as well as we could. but there was sin & it is scandalous to celebrate sin. similarly, it is scandalous to support “gay marriage” or allow homosexuals to teach children not because they may abuse them but because they don’t share the same worldview & parents are responsible to protect children from scandal. there are lots of potentially scandalous interactions but what Jennifer describes isn’t one of them.

      there is a difference between scandal & ministry. as Christians, we are always to “be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Pet 3:15) that is exactly what Jennifer did.
      heirsinhipe recently posted..When the World Came Crashing Down

    • Amanda E. says:

      Barbieahayes, aren’t we all sinners? Should any of us be socializing with any of us? Is that us affirming each other’s sins over and over and over?

      I think you speak with love, but I also think you’re dead wrong on this one.

  39. slan21 says:

    I can understand that conception of marriage directed towards creating new life. But then you add specific prohibitions (such as gay sex) that are thought as sacrifices that (somehow) make you more in line with God.
    That can make sense in your religious framework, and that’s why i have no problem with the Church not allowing sacramental gay marriages.

    But what about the civil one ?
    You can’t ask, through the State, gay people to commit sacrifices to get more in line with God (at least if you can accept to live with people who don’t share the same religion). And it’s not because you feel it’s not good that you should have the law enforce it : for instance it think cheating isn’t moral, but i’d never want a law against it. Legally forbidding something only because it doesn’t go along with your religious beliefs will make you look like bigots, and that will be deserved (and it won’t help you to convince people you’re right).

    That is, if you don’t want civil gay marriage, you should give non-dogmatic arguments against it, or you can’t expect people to accept them.

    • Barbara C. says:

      Anthropologically, marriage has existed to provide a stable environment for the procreation and rearing of children. Many studies show that children thrive best in an environment in which they have a mother and a father who are married to each other (especially if you look at the optimal neurological development of boys and girls).

      This is not to say there aren’t crappy heterosexual parents or good homosexual parents, but….all things being equal heterosexual parents are inherently more equipped to give a child completely what he or she needs to develop fully (and a part-time adult mentor of the “missing” sex in the family, while better than nothing, is not the same thing has having two full-time, live-in parents of opposite sexes).

      Since the family is the primary developer of the individual within society, we owe it to society to encourage the stability of the family unit by discouraging promiscuity (which often leads to single-parenthood), divorce, and other less stable family configurations for the greater good of society.

      • slan21 says:

        Ok, that’s the kind of argument that can be used (and debated over) against civil marriage.

        Just two remarks on it:
        – I’m not much aware of the studies you mention, the few ones i’ve came accross seemed often biased. I guess you agree we need statistically acceptable studies which shows same-sex parents is the problematic factor before considering the argument valid. If you have a good one, i’d like a link :-)
        – Assuming it is true that same-sex parenthood is statistically worse, we have to decide wether the law should forbidd it. I mean you have many situations that aren’t perfect but exist nonetheless. I’d say it isn’t worth the breach of individual rights, but that’s arguable.

        • Barbara C. says:

          It’s not so much that same-sex marriage is statistically worse, but it’s that having two parents of opposite sexes who are married to each other is better.

          For instance, if you read the works of Michael Gurian (who is not religious) about the neurological development of boys and girls you can see that each gender gets certain things from each opposite sex parent that is needed for proper development.

          If you read “You’re Teaching My Child What?” by Dr. Miriam Grossman you’ll learn that girls that have their father in the house are more likely to delay having sex because of possible pheromone interactions between father and daughter. There’s also many other interesting scientific facts about the lack of effectiveness of condoms in preventing the spread of certain STD’s as well as the physical dangers of the sex act used by gay men.

          This article from the NY Times talks about how many gay couples do not believe that marriage necessarily means monogamy: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/us/29sfmetro.html

        • Barbieahayes says:

          I believe we have lost sight of the fact that the Catholic Church does not change to fit the culture; the Church is supposed to influence the culture and keep the culture on track for She is the pillar and foundation of the truths of Jesus Christ. I am reminded that God is the author of civil government too. When politicians turned away from that truth, chaos in society ensued because of immoral behavior against each other. I have learned that when the Church changes to fit what society wants her to believe, she has failed in her mission and confused the people. The Church does not decide matters of faith and morals based on opinion polls; the Church decides on what has been revealed to her by the Holy Spirit and through her long tradition. If the culture needs correction, it is up to the Church, and her authentic teachers, the bishops, to bring that culture back on track. I believe we are where we are as a society, because we, the Church, have not been doing our job effectively. Tragically, we do have fallen priests and bishops who teach heresies and so we always have to take care in this day and age. But those priests do not comprise the teaching authority of the Church.

  40. DD says:

    I have a friend whose son is gay and since my friend converted to Catholicism, he has completely alienated his son. But he’s never even HAD a conversation about his son’s homosexuality. The son is very bitter and angry because his Dad accepted his lifestyle until two years ago after his conversion. All the father has done is push his son away and make him despise religion. I started to do some of the same things (I have many gay friends as I am a “recovered” lesbian), then realized I wasn’t being Christ-like by judging them. I need to love them but stand my ground. Thank you for this very helpful blog post!

    DD

  41. Jessica says:

    Dearest Jen,

    I’m proud of you.

    God bless you, and bless your friends.

  42. Becky says:

    “as if I were speaking through a distortion microphone…”
    That is so well said. That totally captures the feeling I have often had when speaking to some people.

  43. Theresa says:

    Dear Jen,

    Thanks for sharing. I am really hoping that it becomes easier for Catholics to articulate our position on homosexuality. What you said is a start but I have this itching feeling that there is more to say or a more effective way to say it so people will understand? Maybe I am wrong. I certainly don’t know how to say it but I am hoping with time we will be able to articulate ourselves better as a people of faith on this issue. But for where we are now, I loved what you said and think the most important thing for people to understand is that the Church’s position on homosexuality is a position that is better for society certainly but more importantly it is better for the individuals themselves. The Church’s teachings are an invitation to freedom, to living who we are meant to be in Jesus.

    Thanks again Jen!

    Theresa

  44. Ally says:

    thank you for sharing… very inspiring to see you unafraid to stay friends even if it means bridging conflicting beliefs–especially ones so personal. I was just reflecting on how I want to stay in contact with people in my life who are gay, but I am terrified of topics like gay marriage… but I don’t want to ignore them or anything I disagree with, just as I don’t want people to ignore the fact that I am a Catholic Christian to avoid conflict.
    I was really struck by your closing remarks “I hoped that, if nothing else, he understood that there is no contradiction between me being a faithful Catholic and a close friend of his. I have converted to the religion of the crucifix, a belief system that promises joy in exchange for losing it all. Most people don’t want to sign up for that. I get that.” Thank you again for sharing.

  45. Nancy says:

    Jen:

    This is a good conversation and your were brave to have it and brave to write about it.

    However…

    There’s a missing piece here and it’s the same piece that is generally missing from modern Catholic discourse on this topic. It’s a piece, though, that is practically impossible to raise with friends, for it will, indeed alienate them. I just want to get it out here, to make sure you and your readers understand it.

    The core of traditional Catholic/Christian and yes, even traditional Jewish teaching on this is the truth that sexual activity between two men or two women is a *perversion.* It’s a perversion of nature. It’s not what the parts were made for, not what they were created for. It goes further. For two men or two women to live as a “couple” is a perversion of nature – as God created it – as well. It’s not just that it falls short of the nice ideal set up in Genesis – it is that it’s a perversion and subversion of it.

    This is hard – perhaps impossible – to say. It may even be difficult to understand. But that’s it. There’s something tragically wrong with a man who feels he cannot relate to women as the opposite and complementary sex, and can only “partner” with another man. Honestly, it is why homosexuality was for ages classified as a form of mental illness.

    Start the screaming. I don’t care. I find it mysterious as do many of you, but the more I think about it and (yes) the more gay people I know – all of whom are nice people – the more I’m convinced of the truth of it.

    And there’s another commenter who’s got something else right -f rom a Christian perspective. If homosexuality is truly morally neutral, if it is the “same” as heterosexuality, then *all of Judeo-Christian revelation is WRONG.* There would be no “development.” It’s just flat-out wrong and the whole thing is a farce. If Jesus really wanted homosexuality to be legitimized and seen as a beautiful expression of human love, he would have said so – and frankly, if you think Jesus is Lord, but you think he – I don’t know – just sort of held back on this truth until the 21st century was ready to hear it – then I would think you would hate him for the painful impact Christian teaching on this had for 2000 years. If you, as a Christian, believe that homosexuality is a good, then you must, as a logical followup, believe that historical Christianity is a lie.

    • TDD says:

      You make a great point. St. Paul appeals directly to natural law in Romans 1 when covering the topic at hand. The gay lifestyle and its many inherent, disproportionate health and medical risks can be just as easily refuted with the Origin of Species as it can with Sacred Scripture.

      • LYM says:

        Mental illness is nearly always biochemical. Neurochemicals gone awry, hormones out of balance, gut dysbiosis wrecking the gut-brain axis – there are more causes today than ever of these, and the resulting neurological illnesses.

        I believe SSA (same sex attraction) is one of them.

        I believe most of those with SSA *were* born with it – but not conceived with it. Science is backing this up solidly. Google an article called “The Science of Gaydar” for some of the evidence.

        So what does this mean we are called to do as Catholics? I don’t think it changes anything. We were always called to love those with any kind of temptation to sin. We’re called to love those tempted to excessive alcohol consumption without condoning their indulging in that temptation. We’re called to love those tempted toward sex with minors without condoning their indulging in that temptation. We’re called to love those tempted to berate their loved ones (b/c of bipolar disorder, for instance) without condoning their indulging in that temptation. Regardless of the physical urge that is created by the neurological imbalance, we do the same thing – LOVE THE PERSON without condoning his indulgence in the harmful, sinful behavior.
        LYM recently posted..What causes breast cancer? Can we prevent it?

    • slan21 says:

      What exactly is a perversion of nature ?

      I mean, our actions are fortunately not always directed towards the survival of our descendants. Are art or pure mathematics or many other useless hobbies perversions of nature ? We aren’t slaves of evolution (i.e. morally good != usefull for survival), which doesn’t describe what ought to be, but what is.

      Homosexuality can be found in many animal species too. I don’t understand why its uneffectiveness towards the survival of the species makes it a perversion.

      Or why don’t you consider celibacy (of priests or of others) a perversion too ?

      • Arben says:

        He didn’t consider that because his magic book told him that it was okay, and not to think about it.

        I wonder whether this creature also considers all of the other things that his religion denounces as perversions and feels as strongly about those as he evidently does about this.

        • Steve M says:

          Arben – Why do you feel the need to be so condescending to Christians? Why even read this blog? Why take time out of your life to read so thoroughly and comment so repeatedly on this blog? Why be rude even? What does it gain you or the world? Do you think that snotty remarks are going to suddenly make someone see the light? It is bizarre and illogical that you are spending any time on this. You are free to not understand or agree with the teachings of the Church. Does this suddenly mean you also have the right to be rude to people who do? If you think you are changing someone’s mind bad news. If you are just entertaining yourself then that is sad but better this than out harming small animals I guess.

          • Elizabeth says:

            Thanks, Steve. I was thinking exactly the same thing. I actually think Arben might be considering coming home to the faith but is fighting the urge:)

    • It’s a true point, but here’s the thing. There is a time and a place. You have to meet people where they are at. God in His great mercy does not reveal His entire plan for our life the minute we make the adult decision to follow Him. If He did, we’d be totally freaked out at all we have to give up and all He’ll ask us to do.
      Loving and sharing the truth gently will bring people back to the faith. “They will know we are Christians by our love”. Telling someone “you’re living a life of perversion and sin!” is not really going to bring them back. Do they eventually need to understand the meaning of human sexuality in God’s plan? Absolutely. And will they eventually come to see that indeed how they had been living is a perversion? Most likely, yes.
      But are we doing God’s will, are we truly being His arms reaching out to His children when we come down on them with such judgement? no. Did Christ tell the adulteress she was sinner and living a life of fornication? No, He simply forgave her and said “go and sin no more”.

      I think Jen handled it perfectly: loving her friend and suggesting what he could do to live in God’s plan. Because honestly, we know when we’ve done something wrong – deep down, we all know. But what we are trembling with uncertainty about is whether someone could ever possibly still love us? That is where conversion happens…when a sinner is met with God’s LOVE.
      Theresa Martin recently posted..Breakdown of the Family–not when women left the home, but when MEN did…

      • LYM says:

        “We know when we’ve done something wrong – deep down, we all know. But what we are trembling with uncertainty about is whether someone could ever possibly still love us? That is where conversion happens . when a sinner is met with God’s LOVE.”

        Beautiful. Beautiful. So right on the money, I hardly know what to say.
        LYM recently posted..What causes breast cancer? Can we prevent it?

    • Mary says:

      I have thought of this, although I am still on the fence on this issue. What do all sexually deviant behaviors have in common (not polygamy)? The person is sexually attracted to an object or being with which they cannot produce healthy offspring. Being sexually attracted to your brother (if you are a girl) is deviant and considered so by our society because of the very real problems of consanguinity. Being attracted to a horse is a stupid waste of valuable energy….thus, why not consider it deviant to be sexually attracted to a member of the same sex? You cannot produce offspring with this person, so in a way, your arousal signifies a pathway gone wrong. Likewise heterosexual attraction to young children or the elderly.

  46. Jessica says:

    Back to add that this:

    I have converted to the religion of the crucifix, a belief system that promises joy in exchange for losing it all. Most people don’t want to sign up for that. I get that.

    . . . brings this to mind:

    Love is purified, increased and perfected by suffering. This means not only bodily pain, but crosses of all kinds. God sends everyone all the sufferings they need on earth to cleanse, strengthen, and perfect their love. But most people waste their sufferings. They do not want them, complain about them and try to escape them in every manner possible, even by committing sin.
    Baltimore Catechism, No. 2

    And I can’t help but toss this in – may none of us ever forget it when we are afraid to stand up for Truth – we know, because Christ told us, that if we are ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of us when we stand before the judgement of the Lord.

    Jen, it is clear that you love and cherish your friends. They are blessed to know you.

  47. KelleyAnnie says:

    Jennifer, you did a darn good job of something I would never have tried to do. To put yourself out there was very brave. It is extremely frustrating to attempt to have the discussion that you did because of exactly what happened to you–as soon as you express disagreement, you are labeled a “homophobe” and told that you are hateful.

    This is something I struggle with on a daily basis. I can’t quite come to say that I think homosexuality is wrong or not. I keep comparing the struggle to the civil rights struggle and thinking that at that time, there were many many people arguing that people were less than and using the Bible to do it. Now we look back at that and wonder what people were thinking. I can’t help wondering if in 50 years people will look back at this time and think the same.

    I also consider the idea that being a Christian is usually constitutes taking a more difficult path and right now, the easier path seems to be just going along with the changing culture.

    I will say that no matter what I end up deciding is right according to my religion, I don’t equate my religious beliefs as needing to be reflected in legislation. There are lots of things I believe because of my faith, but I certainly don’t think they should be laws for all of society to follow. I think it’s my responsibility, not legislation, to share what I think is the better way.

    Still thinking…
    KelleyAnnie recently posted..Book Review: One Day

  48. Kate says:

    Barbie, please consider that you are asking more of Jennifer than Jesus himself did. Jesus was clear in his teaching about sin, but he broke bread and had friendships with sinners of all stripes while presenting his case and urging them toward His Father. In fact, what He did looks remarkably similar to what Jennifer did. Here are some documents on what the church teaches about treatment of gay people:

    http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/homosexuality/always-our-children.cfm

    From the Catechism:
    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. 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 may encounter from their condition.

    Cutting them off completely from Christian community, regardless of their beliefs or life choices, certainly doesn’t strike me as accepting them with respect, compassion and sensitivity. It sounds an awful lot like unjust discrimination, especially since it seems that you are making a distinction between their sin and others. Jesus and his Church do not ask us to excommunicate them. So why do some Catholics believe that we should?
    Kate recently posted..A Pilgrimage

    • Barbieahayes says:

      Dear Kate, please forgive my brevity here. I guess my posts were more inciteful than insightful, lol. Seriously, Always Our Children is a deeply flawed document and even our Pope, when he was prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, requested a revision. Many scholars asked for a retraction as well. However, before a reprint could be accomplished, the deviant LGBT groups grabbed it up and now include it as a reference to the Church’s acceptance. Sadly the document is still widely available. Two deviant Catholic religious were responsible for much of the content and both of them were severely censured by the Pope. I could go on but this forum may not be the right venue for further discussion of the document. I will try to address your other issues as time permits. Great discussions going on, though.

      • Kate says:

        Thank you for your reply, Barbie. I would be interested in citations supporting what you claim about the document. More importantly and regardless of your claims, though, is the fact that it *is* still part of the cannon of documents issued by the Vatican and stands as it is. As you can see, I found it on the USCCB site. For whatever reason, the Pope has decided that any issues he or the Magesterium could have with it are outweighed by the harm it would cause to remove or revise it. And to be blunt, I’m going to go with the Pope on this one. Not to mention that you did not address the language of the Catechism, which pretty clearly backs up the sentiment in the document and is, I would hope, a pretty irrefutable source of information about what it means to be a Catholic.

        The Church is pretty clear about what she asks of us. Going beyond that is of course up to you (and perhaps necessary if, for instance, you are avoiding a near occasion of sin), but please do not paint it as the view of the Church that we are all required to conform to. There is a reason that the Church chooses to speak or not speak about things. It reminds me of people who believe in and follow the teachings of Humanae Vitae but look down their noses at people who use NFP to space their children or don’t have (in their mind) enough of them, regardless of the fact that the Church has nothing to say about what “serious reasons” might mean. There is a place in the Church for discernment within the bounds of what she teaches. There should not be a bar for “Catholic enough” set by anyone or anything but the Church. People who put themselves in that position are treading a dangerous line.
        Kate recently posted..A Pilgrimage

  49. Laurie says:

    Thank you for having that conversation and for sharing the gist of it here. You are so right about the new culture forcing the issue. As I see it playing out in my own relationships, I am more and more at peace that God is allowing this issue to come to such a boiling point where we’ll all benefit from the soul-searching and prayerfully articulating our trust in God.

  50. Randi says:

    “I immediately regretted my offer, wishing I’d promptly changed the subject to the weather, celebrity gossip, or any other subject inane enough that I could speak intelligently about it. I’m proud of being Catholic, and proud to stand by what the Church teaches. . . . But I knew I was going to have a hard time making my case; Andrew and I had such utterly different worldviews, it would be as if I were speaking through a distortion microphone that warps your voice and replaces every other word with random offensive phrases.”

    Oh my goodness. This is exactly how I feel every time I’m called upon (usually by someone with a cocky smile) to explain why I stand with the Church on certain issues – especially regarding sexuality. It seems to me that your response was very patient and charitable, yet orthodox, which is how I’d always like to respond when I have to.

    I also liked the bit about the “religion of the crucifix.” That entire sentence really, really jumped out at me. Thank you for sharing this!

  51. seejay says:

    In my opinion, I do not think it is charitable to your friend, or others, to support the thought-engineering, but entirely false, notion of his being a “gay man.” The truth is something quite different.

    • florin says:

      Seejay- what are you talking about?! ‘The truth is something quite different.’ Tell us then what is your truth….

    • Arben says:

      florin says it quite well. Who are you to question somebody else’s lifestyle choices when they harm you precisely not at all, and who do you think you are to legislate their behavior?

      It’s especially ironic that you discuss “the truth” while ignoring the *objective* truth of homosexuality in nature.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_behavior_in_animals

      I suppose all of those animals came up with their own false notions of the truth, did they?

      • Miss Doyle says:

        That’s a bit offensive to homosexual humans to point to animals and their tendencies, don’t you think Arben?

        • Arben says:

          No, I don’t. Not in the slightest. Humans are animals, too–we are merely smarter. If some ignorant person tries to claim that homosexuality is not natural, nature provides plenty of counterexamples. This is in no way insulting whatsoever, and your accusation is disingenuous at best, and utterly stupid at worst.

          • Joseph Brown says:

            Chimpanzees eat their children; should we do that also, Arben? Dolphins bully each other. Should someone bully you, Arben? Not a single person here disputes the rare occurrence of homosexual behavior in some animal species. But, there are many things that animals do, that we as human beings do not, or should not, do. Unless of course, you wish Darwinian Social Evolution; it really is the only purely scientific socio-political view. For all of your storm and bluster, your arguments fall flat- you are obviously angry, unhappy and cynical, yet continually preach that your world-view is based on what makes you “happy”. How is that working out for you?

          • Arben says:

            I’ve already answered this asinine “argument” time and time again, even in the post to which you’ve responded. That you lack the reading comprehension to understand this is downright baffling.

            The fact that animals do something is by no means meant to be an argument that humans can do whatever animals can do and it’s morally fine. That is a transparently stupid argument, which is probably why it’s the only argument you choose to see. The actual point is that if animals engage in some sort of activity, you can *hardly* call it unnatural.

            The fact that you think that a scientist can only think of “social evolution” as the only reasonable political solution is evidence both for your short-sightedness and close-mindedness, and is really not worth responding to any further.

            You fail to explain why any of my arguments fall flat, save for that you’d like them to.

            I’m not–in general–angry, unhappy, or cynical. I tend to only be these things when I’m confronted with a huge group of people who want to use their worldview to oppress others. If I were on any other forum of bigots, I would also appear to be any of those adjectives. In the company of people who think rationally and are comfortable with their own sexuality and the sexuality of others, I am more than fine.

  52. florin says:

    July 10th: It’s obvious the writer is sincere and compassionate. Also, everything God created, He created with a purpose and for men to engage in sex with men or women with women is not the purpose for which our bodies were formed – human bodies were formed to fit each other. Just as a key was formed to fit into a lock and not into another key…it isn’t natural to use our bodies in a way they were not meant to be used. Homosexual men and women just like heterosexual men and women are tempted in many ways, not just sexual ways. A man who falls in love with a married woman is tempted to lure her away from her husband; an unmarried man/woman is tempted to have sex outside of marriage; but we can’t then decide that what we are doing is according to God’s plan because we want or need to do it. However, for the homosexual man or woman, it is more difficult because in the plan of God, they can never marry. The thing is that so many are taught through movie, tv, music, society etc. that the only way to express love is through the sexual act…while there are many, many ways to show love and caring. We need to pray for each other for the grace and the courage to follow God’s plan for our lives, no matter the cost – never easy, to be sure.

  53. seejay says:

    Florin, there is no “your truth.” There is only truth. “Gay” is not truth. It is a made up word used to mask behavior with “identity.”

  54. Mike says:

    Your friend is a pretty typical gay rights activist – all sarcasm, pure immature emotionalism and name-calling.

    • Arben says:

      That’s absolutely hilarious. You are part of a group that engages in systemic discrimination of a non-violent group of people, and the best you can do is to call those who want equal rights for themselves silly names.

      By the way, you might be tempted to respond with sarcasm, be emotional, and call people names if a majority of people in your country wanted to take away your rights because they considered you less than human.

      • RK says:

        Since when is marriage a “right?” I hear this comment very often from those who promote “gay marriage.” However, they never explain exactly HOW marriage comes to be a “right.” I’ve always thought of it as a vocation. It’s a path for some but not for others. Not everyone in every situation is suitable or able to carry out the mission of marriage. The word “matrimony” means “to confect motherhood.” (matri from the latin root “mater” meaning mother). This has been the basis of every surviving society in human history: the procreation of children who are brought up to be good citizens in the context of the stable family structure as a mini-society. (Historical note: “Gay marriage” was very common in ancient Rome, as well as contraceptive methods and infanticide. The emperor Nero “married” three men in his lifetime. It’s interesting to note that Roman society ultimately collapsed.)

        For this reason, those who are unable to engage in sexual intercourse cannot marry. Those heterosexuals who are impotent can’t fulfill the duties of matrimony and, therefore, can’t marry. Along the same line, neither two men nor two women can fulfill the procreative aspect of matrimony and, therefore, can’t marry. So upholding traditional matrimony isn’t the result of some purely “anti-gay” mindset.

        The other aspect of matrimony is the increase of the spouses love for one another. Can two men or two women have genuine love for each other? Of course, no one is denying that. But matrimonial love is more than just sexual feelings or emotions. A man and a woman, because they are different physically, emotionally, and psychologically, can enrich each other in ways that two persons of the same sex can’t. A man can benefit from gaining something of the natural emotional sensitivity characteristic of a woman, who can in turn gain something of the objectivity characteristic of a man. This is what true marriage is about: this emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental give-and-take that is fruitful in that 1) it makes both the spouses grow towards one another (because they are naturally so different) and 2) such love of the spouses for each other overflows into the procreation of children to whom the parents have a responsibility to raise to become productive and fruitful citizens of their own.

        So you see that marriage isn’t some superficial status change or a “piece of paper.” It’s a weighty vocation laden with benefits that have substantial responsibilities attached. Not everyone can do the job. As such, marriage isn’t a right.

        Besides, if marriage were a “right,”by whom is it conferred? By human beings? No, because we can’t give ourselves what we didn’t have to begin with. So marriage is not a “right” to be granted to anyone who demands it.

        If marriage were an absolute right, does that make single persons second class citizens? Does that mean that a man has a “right” to marry his sister? How about a woman marrying her niece? What polygamy? Why not let a father marry his 5-year-old daughter….or son?

        As for same-sex sexual behaviors in animals, they are performed in order to establish dominance of one animal over another, or else simply to provide sexual relief. Is Arben saying that the root motivation for the same behaviors in human beings is dominance or sexual relief? Pretty poor basis for a marriage, if you ask me.

        • Arben says:

          Since when is marriage a right? When it started being a legal issue, is when. I would never, ever try to force your church to accept something that it didn’t want to by means of law. That’s asinine. It’s nowhere near as bad, however, as trying to force your church’s views on the entire country, and it’s an even more egregious crime when most Americans don’t even believe in your particular, antiquated viewpoint.

          I know Latin, so you didn’t need to explain things to me like you did. Thanks, though. Regardless of what I do or don’t know, however, if you think that all concepts are forced to mean precisely what they meant in Latin, you have no understanding of linguistics and are clearly a fool. Not even Latin and Greek were self-consistent in their vocabulary. The fact that you are trying to justify your bigotry by relying on ancient etymology is refreshing, because it reinforces in my mind the fact that you have absolutely nothing to stand on.

          The rest of your views are antiquated, poorly founded, and steeped in tradition rather than logic. They are not worth responding to. I can only take solace in the fact that you and people like you are dying off in this country, and in the world, and that in not too long your belief system will be an entirely insignificant fringe. I take comfort in that.

          And really, we can’t give ourselves what we didn’t have to begin with? Do you realize how absolutely stupid that is? How are you sending this to me, by drawing in the mud somewhere? How are you alive right now? Did you pray that no plagues would occur, and that you would magically get better every time you got sick? Progress marches ever onwards, but you are left behind in the dust of your traditions.

          I will also comment on your absolutely horrendous questions that even a five-year-old could see through. There is absolutely no problem with consenting adults marrying other consenting adults. The fact that you don’t even grasp this simple fact is a strong indicator of your lack of mental capacity.

          Regarding homosexuality in animals, you are incorrect. As usual, you try to push your worldview into areas that you frankly do not understand, and probably will never understand, because you do not want to. You are not an animal behavior specialist, and you do not have any sort of authority on this issue. You are wrong, and there is no way around it. You can stick your head in the ground and say “LA LA LA, I CAN’T REEAADDD YOOOUUU” all you want, but that does not change the reality of the situation.

          Your last statement is reliant on a fallacious claim and is roughly as imbecilic as the rest of your post. You make a false equivocation and then denounce me for saying something that *you* said. For what it’s worth, sexual relief is a far better motivation for humanity than is a bunch of old, self-contradictory books making all sorts of unfalsifiable claims and supporting all sorts of atrocities.

          • ZZ says:

            Hey, Arben, no need for ad hominem attacks. The issue we should address is that their argument is utterly fallacious, not their intelligence.
            In this country, marriage is not a religious institution. Tax benefits, hospital visitation rights, et al, depend on the government knowing two people are married. An individual’s religion should have no say on others’ basic legal rights.
            You can think a gay marriage is spiritually empty if you choose. Nobody can stop you thinking things. But I don’t see how enforcing discrimination is Christian in any way.

          • Fin-tastic says:

            Arben,

            In many of your comments, you promote the false idea that progress is inevitable: Mankind is on a fixed upward trajectory. This idea informs your triumphalist attitude toward gay marriage: Since legal and cultural equality for gays is inevitable, the Catholic Church is doomed to decline and irrelevance if it doesn’t change its teachings on sexual morality.

            History is not linear. It’s cyclical: civilizations rise and fall; ideologies come and go; and economies grow and collapse. There is such a thing as “normalcy” and “the natural order.” Moreover, this natural order tends to reassert itself because unnatural orders are self-defeating. Marxists preached that worldwide socialist revolution was inevitable, but communism disappeared from the Earth because it goes against human nature. The sexual revolution could be self-defeating as well. In Russia, more than 60 percent of pregnancies end in abortion; as a result, its population is projected to shrink by 20 percent by 2050. China’s one-child policy will cause major problems when there are not enough young workers to support older retirees. The LGBT community has been suffering an epidemic of STDs for four decades. Aging feminists are despairing over their lost fertility because they were told as young women to put career ahead of family. After suffering the trauma of divorce as children, many young adults today take marriage more seriously than their self-absorbed Baby Boomer parents did. As children raised by gays enter adulthood, it could become obvious that they missed out by not having a mother or a father. Finally, religious conservatives have more children than secular liberals, and the child-bearing will inherit the Earth.

            Time will tell whether homosexuality will ever be seen as “normal,” but there is good reason to believe the Church’s teachings on sexual morality will outlast the sexual revolution. The Church has stood for more than 2,000 years. Think of all the governments, religions, cultures, and ideologies that have come and gone over that time. Despite all the persecutions against the Church and the scandals the Church as brought on itself, the Church is still here because it was established by Christ, who promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

            And if you’re so confident about the triumph of cultural and legal equality for gays, why bother commenting on sites like this? In your opinion, “Progress marches ever onwards, but [we] are left behind in the dust of [our] traditions.”

  55. I wish I could print this on a t-shirt so I could reference it daily. Alas, I wear a small and this is rather long. Ah well.

    But, let me just say, it’s posts like these that remind me (as if I ever forget) how brilliant you are!

    I am going to have to settle for memorizing this and spouting it out during dinner conversation as if it were my own ;)

  56. Lucas Hinojosa, Jr says:

    Wonderfully done. May the Holy Spirit give me as an exquisite defense of Church teaching.

  57. Amy R says:

    Report Card of Jennifer Fulwiler
    Social Skills:
    Sensitive, Kind to Others, Articulate – A
    Screamingly funny, too* – Extra Credit
    *If there had been an awkwardness meter on the table…”

    Thank you so much!
    I loved reading this, I totally “got” the snarky exchange and knew you weren’t offended…but am glad you weren’t snarky back, if that’s OK.

    Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
    Attributed to Plato and a slew of other greats.

  58. Mina says:

    That was really good. I also liked this article from First Things, which discusses how marriage is more of an “office” than a right. It was a little surprising to read that actually no one is supposed to be having sex except married people. I had never thought of that before.
    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2012/05/marriage-not-a-right-but-an-office/elizabeth-scalia

    • Gail Finke says:

      Mina: I find it astonishing that you are astonished to hear the idea that no one except married people is supposed to be having sex. Have you really never heard this before? This has been the norm in Christian countries for the past 2000 years, except for very recently, and is the norm in most other cultures as well. I am not amazed that someone would not agree with it, but I am amazed that someone would not know it. Or did you not understand that this is still what the Catholic Church teaches, and that many other kinds of Christians teach this as well? That would be less surprising, as people in the West have abandoned this notion wholesale in a very short amount of time. How we get that one back to normal is really a puzzle. However, I have no doubt that it WILL get back to normal, and that someday people will look on the rampant sexual license of the West as extremely bizarre. It’s simply NOT NORMAL, and what is not normal tends to end badly. I am afraid that if we cannot figure out how to fix it, it will be fixed some other way — through a major social shift due to a disaster or a war.

      • ZZ says:

        We are not a Christian country, as the US was founded on principles of religious freedom. Also, we have plenty of wars already.

  59. Mouse says:

    Interesting post. I think you were very articulate.

    Sometimes just getting someone to see that our viewpoint is sincere and reasoned out, not just “homophobia” is a triumph, because the “you’re just haters” attitude is so well promoted by the gay marriage lobby.
    I think your friend will think about what you said, especially since it’s you who said it, whom he knows not to be a hateful person.

    I wonder what would happen if someone dared, if it comes up again, to ask him if he can step back a bit and consider what the parts of the body are made for, and if he can see why sodomy would be a violation of the natural use of those parts? It seems to me that at some level people engaged in it have to sense that? But maybe I’m wrong, since the idea many people have is that human nature is whatever you want to make it.

    In my experience, some friendships do not survive conversion as the world views and practices become too far apart, even though you still care about the person greatly…especially if one came out of serious sin and a crowd of friends deeply involved in sin. It sure did for me, though slowly in some cases because my own growth was very, very slow in certain areas.

    It can be painful, and we each have to decide for ourselves what we feel the Lord would have us to do so that we can be loving and yet also not violate the Faith or give bad witness. The good news is HE IS WORTH EVERY SUFFERING. The joy of Christ more than makes up for the sacrifices.

    • Arben says:

      >the gay marriage lobby

      Yeah, just like the old abolitionist lobby, women’s rights lobby, and civil rights lobby, eh?

      You’re clinically insane.

      • Mouse says:

        Hmm, my reply to this seems to have disappeared. So I’ll try to recreate it: What would you prefer me to call it? Gay marriage advocates? That would be fine. You are aware that there are groups lobbying for gay marriage, though, right? And that they do put out PR to try to win people to their view, right?

        Anyway, God bless you. I don’t take your insult personally.

  60. Mike from SoCal says:

    This was a great dialog and read. I brought this issue up at my Catholic Church; the reasons for traditional marriage. In short, I was heckled by the leader of my confirmation class. But, I kept upbeat and did not whimper away. It takes guts to speak up on this issue. Ultimately all got ironed out– compassion and traditional marriage was agreed upon.
    My favorite person on this issue is Dennis Prager and your piece was a good one. The best part about it was that you blocked the myth of being a “hater.”

  61. Brian says:

    I think you need some more practcice, Jenny. Let me say that I am Catholic and agree 100% with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and same-sex “marriage,” but I think most Catholics sound really, really out of their depth when they talk on those issues. We need some more practice.
    Brian recently posted..A conversation with my gay friend

  62. Sarah says:

    If a couple is infertile than there is no chance that their sexual acts will create a baby…period. Not this time, not next time, not ever. The fact that their are male and female organs involved doesn’t make that act any more geared at loving life/trying to make a baby than a sexual expression of love between same-sex partners. If any couple is not at least trying to have a baby then they should be celibate by your logic.

    Your logic is flawed because part of your argument invalidates the premise that you built it on.

    I don’t think you want to be homophobic, but I think you are. No, you aren’t afraid of lgbt folks, but you are a bigot. Homophobia in colloquial terms also means that you are prejudice in your views and/or actions toward lgbt people. It’s like white people who think they aren’t racist because they don’t use the N word and they give soup to the poor black kids in the inner city at Christmas. In the next breath they make an argument that privileges their status. In short, you are rationalizing your prejudice to make yourself feel like you aren’t a homophobe/bigot, but until your actions and words speak of equality for all even your inaction or silence make you at least a tacit participant in the problem.

    It was sweet of your friend to look past the bigotry and remember the positive parts of your friendship. That is a real friend indeed.

    • Mouse says:

      She already addressed the difference between infertile couples and homosexual acts.

      But your comment does bring up a major point that very few people have the nerve to discuss, which is this: the sexual act of an infertile male/female couple is still a natural (normal) sexual act, whereas those between men/men or women/women are not, according to what even basic human reason shows about what the parts are for… There is no hate in that view, it is just a reasoned view that looks objectively at the human body and the purpose of the parts. And that is why the Church does not allow sodomy of a woman by a man either…

      • Megan says:

        All sexual acts, not just intercourse, are biologically natural. It is 100% obvious by your post that you are in no way an ecologist. Please look up the Bonobo monkey for the poster-child of non-intercourse biological sexual interactions between wild animals. If “human reason” says these parts are meant to be purely intercourse, then “human reason” is less evolved than primates. As for homosexual coupling/life mates, virtually every species of penguin has had homosexual monogamous coupling observed. Wikipedia has a list of hundreds of animals with observed homosexuality. Homosexuality, and the sexual acts involved in it, are as natural as heterosexuality. We are the only species on the planet that tries to reject something that is as natural as breathing to our species, and I refuse to believe that monkeys and penguins are more intelligent than homo sapiens.

        • Arben says:

          Careful, there. Once you bring science into this, everybody will know for a fact that you’re part of the Pro-Gay Anti-America Christ-Hating Science-God Conspiracy.

          (It’s really amazing how well these people can totally ignore the entire world around them, to the point where they make up facts about it and call their own beliefs “obvious”. Question for them: If they were so obvious, why did you have to get them from a book, and probably from your parents?)

          • Miss Doyle says:

            2 Problems with both of you:

            1. Humans and Animals are different.

            2. Look up Natural Law and get acquainted with it. Good news for both of you – it’s got nothing to do with religion.

          • Arben says:

            1. They are? Please, tell me how. I want a precise answer that I can verify.

            2. What does that have to do with anything whatsoever?

          • Mouse says:

            It’s too bad that you just assume that anyone who disagrees just got their ideas from a book or their parents. Actually I used to think almost just exactly that opposite of what I think today. My approach is to try to apply reason to these questions, as well as listen to what people say they experience, and of course to listen to what revelation tells us about what a Christian should believe and do. I think you underestimate other people.

        • Mouse says:

          I am aware of these things you note and had already pondered what to make of them, although some claim they are overstated and not as prevalent as some would like us to think. And I think the idea that there are long-term monogamous homosexual animal couples was shown to be a myth, but if you have a reference that is credible on that, you could share it and I will stand corrected. (Not everything on Wikipedia is correct!)

          Either way, we should be careful, as far as logic goes: the fact that some animals do something does not necessarily mean that it is normal for human beings to do. The gist of your point seems to be “wild animals do it, so why shouldn’t we.” Is your idea that we are or should be no different than wild animals? Some animals eat their own young. Is that normal for us?

          This is really a big difference between the different points of view on this subjct. Some folks believe human beings are no different than animals, just a little smarter (maybe!), and that it doesn’t matter what you do as it’s what you feel like doing, and anything one wants to do is normal as long as it feels “normal” to the person doing it.

          Others of us don’t take that view of human nature and the human body (actually I kind of used to, but changed my mind!). We believe there is a human nature and that some things are not in accord with that nature or are not the best thing for that nature.

          And aside from that, which comes from trying to apply reason to the question, we also have the teaching of Jesus about the sacred plan for human life and love, which forbids all sexual intercourse outside of one man/one woman lifetime commitment. The idea that following His teaching makes one insane or just a bigot is not a reasonable idea. I’m really not at all trying to upset anyone. But the fact is that he does speak to this point in his teaching that a man and woman become one flesh in marriage, which is to be for life.

          I don’t think these opposing points of view will ever meet up, but it would be nice if we could discuss without attacking people and calling them names, and begin to understand (both sides) that most folks are sincere. And some of us at least, on both sides, have thought about this a lot, even struggled with it, and have come to different conclusions.

          We could all just agree to disagree, but tempers tend to flare when the government or anyone else tries to force someone to participate in ceremonies that violate their faith (or get sued out of business if they don’t), or, on the other side, when people feel prevented from doing something they believe is their right. So we have to be careful with one another, even if we may be very challenging to each other sometimes.

          • Mouse says:

            Replying to myself – the part of the comment about some animals eating their own young…I do not mean to imply that that is the same category of activity as what we’re discussing, so please don’t take it that way – just an example that came to mind! – and forgive the long comment, above, didn’t know it was so long til it went up!

        • LYM says:

          Megan, you will be happy to know that the Catholic Church has never required that sex be limited to vaginal intercourse. Sodomy is proscribed, to my knowledge, but much is permitted, and even encouraged, so long as it is within the context of a “completed” act.

          The only animal behavior that is relevant is that which takes place in the wild, as captivity brings with it innumerable complications from the unnatural environment & diet. Nonetheless, what animals do isn’t 100% applicable to human beings in this field, because we are called to image God in certain areas of our life, and participating in the gift of the co-creation of human life is one of these sacred areas. Yes, we’re animals, and that means a lot about us that most people just don’t get, but at the same time, we’re animals with an immortal soul made in the image and likeness of the Creator of the universe, and that also has many implications that most people just don’t get.

    • Anne says:

      “If a couple is infertile than there is no chance that their sexual acts will create a baby…period. Not this time, not next time, not ever. The fact that their are male and female organs involved doesn’t make that act any more geared at loving life/trying to make a baby than a sexual expression of love between same-sex partners. If any couple is not at least trying to have a baby then they should be celibate by your logic.”

      That’s why she used the term ‘ordered towards.’ Also, I agree with Mouse. It’s difficult to find the nerve to point out the complementarity of our male/female biology. When I was in college (late 90s), you didn’t dare use this point in an argument. It was glossed over, like it was against the code, if you will, to even bring it up.

      Jennifer, thank you so much for writing this and capturing what it’s like to delve into this topic, especially publicly. This is no sound bite conversation. I am so sad for what seems like the thousands of people ready to give up Christianity, or at least change it to fit their needs, because they don’t like what it calls for. I pray your article will inspire people to read more about Catholic teaching on this subject. The faith is beautiful!! (I loved Christopher West’s lay writings on Theology of the Body.)

      • yes but says:

        Male/male anatomy is complementary too. Just sayin’.

        • Anne says:

          Hi, yes but:

          I imagine I know what you mean; I didn’t mean to sound naive in my post above. Just to be sure, I’ll clarify and write that males and females are complementary in a natural, puzzle piece sort of way. Nowhere on the body do two penises or two vaginas unite in this way, a way that can create new life. I think you know that though. I hope you’re not being disingenuous. :)

    • Gail Finke says:

      Sarah: Yes it does. Whether the organs work or not has nothing to do with what they are for and how they are meant to be used. This is a basic philosophical premise, not Jennifer’s opinion. You can learn to walk on your hands, but even if you do that is not what they are for. You can call people bigots for explaining a philosophical truth but you cannot make them actually BE bigots. There is such a thing as objective truth and you can’t change what a thing is by either using it differently or calling it something else or both.

  63. Bender says:

    Can someone please explain to me why I, a man, am not allowed to be a mother?

    Why does the Catholic Church think that men are not “good enough” to be mothers?

    If you really believed in equality, you would support men being mothers.
    Bender recently posted..Catholic Moral Teaching on July 4

    • Arben says:

      “Mother” is a well-defined term, but it doesn’t have any real legal meaning or importance. “Marriage”, on the other hand, does. LGBT people aren’t looking for equality in the eyes of your religion–they understand that it’s so backwards that that will never work–they are looking for equality in the eyes of the law, which you are denying them.

      • Mouse says:

        I have a question for you, and I’m not trying to provoke, I actually want to know:

        In your view, does equality mean that those who believe marriage can only be between a man and a woman have to be silenced, or even forced to act against their beliefs? For example, in NY the law says you can marry a same-sex person. But do you think it’s fair if, say, a Christian minister would be forced to perform those services against his faith? Or a Muslim printer who owns his own business should be forced to print homosexual magazines or wedding invitations? And how does that work with religious freedom?

        In Denmark they are already forcing ministers to do ceremonies whether they agree or not. Some would like to force that same kind of approach here. This is where the matter gets really tricky. My view is that it would violate the 1st Amendment.

        Also, you might be more persuasive if you stopped insulting others and their religious views!

        • slan21 says:

          We’re not really talking about ministers because we want civil marriage for gay people, what you do in your church doesn’t really concern me.

          As for the question, would you accept that i refuse to serve black people in my restaurant because of my religion ?

          • Mouse says:

            Of course I don’t think anyone should refuse to serve black people in a restaurant. And I do not think anyone should refuse to serve gay people in a restaurant either, or transgendered people, or Catholics, or Muslims, or Jews, or poor people, or rich people, or whatever. It’s not even the same category of question.

            If you want to ask a parallel question, the parallel question would be this: Is it right to refuse to marry black and white mixed couples? And if not, then why do I think it’s ok to refuse to marry same-sex couples? And let me answer that for you:

            There is nothing unnatural about marriage between a man and woman of different races. It’s still a normal, natural marriage – one man, one woman. So it is wrong to refuse to marry them on the basis of disparate race.

            But there is something unnatural about same-sex unions. And because of that, it also violates religious beliefs about God’s plan for marriage, and in the Christian faith, it explicitly contradicts the Bible, so to force a pastor to marry same-sex couples violates his religion. So it is ok to refuse to marry same-sex couples, because it is not actually marriage…it may be some kind of union, but it is not the same thing as marriage between a man and a woman.

            By sharing this, I do not wish to hurt anyone, and I certainly don’t hate anyone. I do believe it is the truth though…there is a categorical and serious, real difference between marriage and the union of same-sex persons.

            Now, you may say that you do not care what we do in our churches, and I’m glad to hear that, but not everyone feels that way. There are others who want to force people who do not agree with same-sex marriage to marry them, or to host their events on Church property, etc. They say so openly, and they have already sued in some cases. And that is not right. It is one thing to say that you want to do something in your own spiritual community. It is another to harass those who disagree.

        • Arben says:

          Equality, in my eyes, is equality under the law. Your church can feel free to not marry anybody it doesn’t want to marry, and I can feel free to call you backwards and illogical, but I would never try to legislate my beliefs onto private actors, which seems to put me in a different class than most of the people here.

          I think that businesses should be free to refuse whomever they want for whatever reasons they want, discriminatory or not. People should also feel free not to do business with people that they see as bigots of any sort.

          I might be more persuasive, yes, but I don’t think that people who believe that their eternal salvation depends on the subjugation of a group that they don’t truly care about is open to much change, anyway.

          • Mouse says:

            Hi. I’m writing in a hurry, so I hope this comes out right.

            I’m glad to hear you’re not one who wants to legistlate against private actors. Unfortunately, as I mention in my reply to slan21 above, not everyone feels that way. Already Christians are being sued, as private actors, over these kinds of matters, and already losing in some cases, so one can see why some of us are very concerned.

            I think you may misunderstand where we are coming from, since you call us people “who believe that their eternal salvation depends on the subjugation of a group that they don’t truly care about.”

            First of all, we’re not trying to subjugate anyone. People on both sides of this issue are trying to influence society to follow what we believe are the best ways to organize society. That is not “trying to subjugate others.” You may feel that our idea of what makes sense has the RESULT of subjugating you; we disagree…we are not interested in subjugating anyone. To say that we are trying to subjugate others is assumes that we have malice in our hearts. That is not true, just as your desire to see gay mariage a reality is not founded on malice. Maybe there are some homophobic nuts out there (and believe me, they embarrass us when they claim to be Christian), and guess what, there are some homosexual nuts out there who are making death threats to anyone who publicly speaks for traditional marriage and so on. But for the most part, that’s not where any of us are coming from. We just have dramatically different views of how to live and how society should be regulated.

            And we certainly don’t think our eternal salvation doesn’t depend somehow on subjugating a group of people (which of course we are not trying to do anyway). What on earth makes you think that? I am responsible for what I do, not what others do, or whether we get others to do something or not. If someone tries to force us to violate our faith, we have to refuse (for example, a pastor who accepts jail rather than violate his faith)…but that’s not the same thing at all.

            And we care about all people, every single one on the earth. I guess you think that we only care about you if we agree with you? But actually we care about everyone, and not just that they would do what we think is right, but just because they–you–are created by God in His image and likeness, and therefore every single human being is of equal value and dignity just by being a human being. That does not mean that every action or choice is ok, but it does mean that we must love and respect everyone, even those we disagree with, even those who persecute us. For example, I care very much if in having this discussion I injure you, even though I am only saying what I really believe is true…in fact, I thought about it a great deal the other night after reading these posts. That is not at all to “toot my own horn” – I have plenty of horrible faults. It’s just to say that, maybe you really don’t realize that some of the people you disagree with really are motivated by concern and care, not malice.

          • Mouse says:

            Oops, big typo above where I say “we certainly don’t think our eternal salvation doesn’t depend somehow on subjugating a group of people” Obviously I meant that we certainly DON’T think our salvation depends on that – !!

  64. Brett says:

    Perhaps the best thing I have read explaining and defending our beliefs about marriage.

  65. seejay says:

    Arben animals also eat their feces…wait I’d better stop there…

    • Arben says:

      Congratulations: You are an idiot and have missed the point entirely. If something happens in nature, I’ll be damned if you think that you can legitimately claim that it’s not part of what you think is “the objective truth”. Your version of reality is clearly in conflict with the world around us, and making idiotic snide comments isn’t helping your case.

      “Reality is that which, when you stop believing it, doesn’t go away.”

      • seejay says:

        Arben, load up the other barrel of your ad-hominem-ator:

        Animals also eat their young…er…better stop again….

      • JoAnna says:

        Natural law =/= things that happen in nature

        http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-law-ethics/
        JoAnna recently posted..Two Cooking Successes!

      • Mouse says:

        You know, what makes me sad about these discussions is that they degenerate into name-calling or provocation. I think it has got to be possible to have mature, calm discussions. We should really try. Sometimes very sincere people disagree seriously. But it doesn’t have to be hateful. We should be trying to understand each other, not just flipping out because others disagree with us, or intentionally being sarcastic with each other. And I mean people on both “sides”. Ultimately, we have to try to love each other, even if we seriously disagree, and may even disagree about what can fit in with being loving or not!

  66. Miles says:

    God bless you Jen!

    One point though that I would like to share with you and your other readers:

    Above you say: “Child spacing is perfectly fine, if done with natural methods.” I realize you were in a conversation about a separate, albeit related, matter, but that statement is not entirely correct.

    Pope Paul VI put it this way in paragraph 10 of Humanae Vitae:

    “With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.

    Responsible parenthood, as we use the term here, has one further essential aspect of paramount importance. It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter. In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society.

    From this it follows that they are not free to act as they choose in the service of transmitting life, as if it were wholly up to them to decide what is the right course to follow. On the contrary, they are bound to ensure that what they do corresponds to the will of God the Creator. The very nature of marriage and its use makes His will clear, while the constant teaching of the Church spells it out.”

    Perhaps a more accurate statement would be that child spacing is fine if done naturally, for serious reasons, and with due respect to the Will of God, moral precepts, and the teaching of the Church.

    Thank you for sharing your conversation and God bless!

  67. Jason says:

    This was a fantastic read…thanks for this. It’s always so hard to articulate one’s beliefs in situations like this, but you did it. Kudos – and well-written.

    Jason @ Ascending Mount Carmel
    Jason recently posted..Meet Father Benedict Croell, O.P.

  68. Jen says:

    I only wish I could be so brave- my brother is currently not speaking with me because he believes I cannot love him if I don’t love his lifestyle choice. I’ve tried to explain myself, poorly, and have left it alone for a while. Hopefully one day soon we will be able to have a conversation like you did and I will be able to articulate myself in a way that he may not agree with my opinion but at least recognize that my love for him as my brother has never changed.

  69. Loren says:

    Reading from the thread, I’ve noticed that only a FEW have mentioned this sentence:

    “I have converted to the religion of the crucifix…”

    which I truly believed would explain and resolve the crux of the issue.
    I agree with ya’ll that this is an extremely mind-boggling, personal, and sensitive issue to bring up in a conversation. I myself am a gay individual. See, just even mentioning this fact made it so very hard for me but it is the Truth and the Truth will set me free. I will try NOT to comment much on this topic because Mrs. Jennifer Fulwiler had succinctly conveyed it in the article already. BUT one thing I do want to share with you all, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is that one needs the Holy Spirit to guide and help you. However, one MUST be open for the Holy Spirit to actively work in you. And the first thing that a gay person could start to be opened to the Holy Spirit is to ACCEPT the fact that being “gay” is a “CROSS” just like being “Unemployed” right now is a cross for a lot of people. Since it is a CROSS, expects difficulties, hardships, SACRIFICES, losses, REJECTIONS, and the list goes on. When I was in a gay relationship, I was happy to a point, yes, but I was always “RESTLESS” on top of societal pressures. My family was orthodoxly catholic so I knew that I would die with this truth w/o opening the can of worms. Ultimately, whether gay/heterosexual, we all desire an abundant happiness in life for that is the purpose of God for his creatures when He created the universe. When seeing things from the light of the CROSS and the Holy Spirit, my perspectives on things radically transformed, NOT just on the issue of gayness. I tell ya I’m addicted to this NEW LIFE in the Cross now and I am very content with life. St. Augustine has beautifully spoken for me is that, “Lord, you have created me in your image; my Heart is RESTLESS until it rests in Thee.” I always tell myself “GOD Gathers” and “SATAN Severs relationship”

  70. THANK YOU. You have articulated this well and it is such a landmine in our culture; we cannot pretend the idea doesn’t exist anymore… sometimes I long for the days of anonymity of opinion! But you have done an excellent job here… thank you…
    Theresa Martin recently posted..Breakdown of the Family–not when women left the home, but when MEN did…

  71. Jim Chandler says:

    Jennifer,

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time and I was a litttle aprehensive about reading this one. I also read a lot of theological blogs and by far I can say this was one of the best on the subject.

    Thanks much.
    Jim Chandler recently posted..Links for 1/6/2012

  72. Kevin Fox says:

    Thank you, Jennifer, for having the conversation with your friend and for having done your homework on Church teaching. I heard you on Relevant Radio this morning and got to my computer to read your post asap. Thanks for having the courage to be a friend and speak the truth. You encourage me, and I hope others, to do the same.

  73. Cathy says:

    Jen, I don’t know if you’re still attending to the comments on this post, but if you are, I have a few observations and questions. First of all, I should say that I’m glad for the tacit but crucial messages your post conveys to other Catholics, namely, that our faith does not automatically compel us to sever ties with people who don’t share our beliefs (and that it positively does compel us to preserve love and intimacy wherever we can), and that it also does not ask (or even invite) us to confront others with what we perceive to be their errors or failings. The fact that you 1. continue to treasure and nurture this friendship and 2. wait for an invitation to explain your beliefs is an important and necessary example. The other important thing I want to say is that I’m sincerely glad for you and Andrew that you have each other — you each show tremendous grace and compassion in a situation where it would be all too easy to respond with anger and hurt.

    Okay, so that said, I still read this post (and the ensuing comments) with a feeling of mounting frustration, and I hope you don’t mind if I try to pick apart what’s bothering me. The first thing isn’t really your fault, but the post does seem to invite it: it’s the outpouring of congratulations for your forbearance and tolerance of Andrew, matched by little to no awareness of the extraordinary tolerance and forbearance he and his partner have shown by continuing their relationship with people who regard their love and its expression as wrong. That’s not a theological point, just a social one: it’s simply obnoxious of we Catholics to presume that gay people will or should be moved by our willingness to extend basic courtesies to them, and we really really ought to try and stifle that response, even in our conversations “amongst ourselves,” as it were. Okay, now the more important sources of discomfort. First, there’s the bit about “our insane culture” insisting on reducing people to their genitalia and their sex drives. that’s a bit I see/hear a lot in the conservative Catholic blogosphere (“We *really* respect you, which is why we won’t label you “gay” — just “someone who struggles with “same-sex attraction”), and I wish people would drop it. It’s a willful misreading of what the queer and gay pride movements are all about, and equivalent to a white person expressing irritation that black people are “obsessed with race.” Like white people with regard to race, straight people have the privilege of treating sexuality as either significant or insignificant to our identity as we please. And many of us, by the way, treat it as pretty significant — we identify as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers — so it’s lame of us to pretend that gay people are the one’s making it all about sex. It’s not all about sex, but surely we can all agree that love and desire and intimate bonds are no trivial part of our selfhood — your own “About” section lists your marriage and children under “Vitals,” right at the top of the page; I wouldn’t dream of writing to you to say that you’re insanely reducing yourself to your sexual urges. Moreover: when you possess an attribute that has, for centuries, been used to denigrate people and justify abhorrent forms of violence against them, reclaiming that attribute as a positive element of your identity — or, at least, as a non-shame-inducing element of your identity — is simply a matter of self-preservation, a necessary (and perhaps temporary) step on the way out of a history of terror and disgust. As this very comments section suggests, we are not yet past the time when, for a good number of straight people, the fact that someone is gay *is* the signal feature of their identity. Asking gay people to move on before the culture has is absurd — and I don’t mean to imply by that that asking them to move on at all is okay.

    Second, as Saskia pointed out above, your description of secular marriages, straight or gay, as “a lifelong commitment … with no obligation outside of respecting each other and having fun” creates a straw man that’s all too easy to denigrate. Sure, for some (plenty?) of married people, gay or straight, that may be the idea, but there’s no reason that Andrew and Tom couldn’t have a relationship that goes well beyond that, incorporating mutual self-sacrifice and self-giving and a generosity that flows outward into the world — think of the extraordinary witness of fidelity and compassion that the AIDS epidemic has created within the gay community, for instance. It drives me simply batty when conservatives defend “traditional marriage” by contrasting a perfect ideal of a straight family to a weak caricature of any other sort of relationship, and that seems to me what you’re doing here. We have to do better than that.

    You’re on firmer ground, of course, when you say that the crux of the issue is children, but there, too, I was troubled by the conclusion that led you to. Identifying the church’s teaching on gay chastity with its teaching on the chastity of religious or single straight people or married straight people is an understandably popular rhetorical move, and justifiably so, in so far as it seeks to represent Church teaching as a whole, redressing the crude imbalance of a view like Barbie’s, above (gay sex is *the* unforgivable sin). But it’s also a problematic move for a few reasons. First, in so far as it allows straight Catholics to soothe their troubled consciences about the profound suffering of gay people in our communities — or even justifies their irritation at gay people who dare to register that suffering — it’s a cop-out. Imagine how those of us who practice NFP would feel if gay Catholics began showing up on NFP support blogs and telling us to stop whining about the stress of unplanned pregnancies because everybody’s got problems. The fact that everybody suffers is both undeniably true and a singularly unhelpful response to any individual suffering — and the fact that Catholics are so quick to play the NFP/single-straight-people-can’t-have-sex-either card when talking about the Church’s stance on gay people suggests to me that we’re unwilling to confront — and unwilling to share — the sufferings of gay Catholics. Second, it’s misleading, since the degree of deprivation Catholic teaching imposes on gay people simply *is* more radical than what it imposes on straight people: the fact that particular married couples or unmarried straight singles may face enormous sacrifices in adhering to Church teaching doesn’t, to my mind, alter the fact that gay people face a distinctively difficult burden. (And we can’t say, out of one side of our mouths to married couples, “NFP is *so* awesome and the only way to have really fulfilling sex!” and, out of the other side of our mouths to gay people, “Your lifelong celibacy is just like NFP, which also really truly sucks!”) Pretending that we’ve all got the same challenges isn’t respectful or persuasive. The crux of that burden is, of course, the church’s teaching that same-sex attraction is “intrinsically disordered” — to my mind, this phrase is akin to the blood libel passages on the Jews: no matter how minutely and carefully we parse it, it is likely to poison our attempts to combat our reputation for homophobia, just as the blood libel poisoned efforts to combat our reputation for anti-Semitism. The Church teaches that something is distinctively *wrong* with gay people — the Church may, of course, be right, but to the extent that this teaching leads folks outside it to claim homophobia we can hardly pretend they’re crazy.

    Look, I don’t even know what I’m trying to convey to you, except that I think we Catholics OUGHT to feel uncomfortable about our Church’s teachings on homosexuality. Doesn’t mean we have to dissent from them, but it does mean that, to the extent that thinking about this stuff leads us to your realization — We have embraced a religion of the cross — that realization ought to lead us to consider exactly how nailed we ourselves feel.

    • Arben says:

      To put it succinctly: Thanks for writing such a great post. Hopefully, if she is still reading these comments (and I can only hope that she is), your shared background will help to enlighten her more than might otherwise be possible.

      • ZZ says:

        I think it’s important to mention that marriage bestows legal privilege outside the spiritual component and all the implications of that, but this post is lovely. Thank you so much for putting it here.

    • Kelley says:

      Cathy… you made some excellent points in your comment. As a gay person and a practicing Catholic I have attempted to convey some of these messages to others and explain that in the Catholic community gay people are stigmatized and treated as outcasts. When someone responds by trying to tell me not to label myself as “gay” it’s quite obvious to me that they can’t hear me and are completely missing my point. They assume I’m speaking about the ‘sex act’ and they couldn’t be more mistaken… I’m speaking about the person.

      What is really perplexing to me is that I’m not even debating the teaching and yet I am met with such hostility. I avoid using the term “homophobic”, but I can see why someone would use that term for reasons such as the Vatican approved ministry to gay people being a 12 Step model. I love the Church, but I find these things extremely disheartening.

    • LYM says:

      Cathy, I appreciate your thought-provoking, kind post. To address a few of your points:

      – You are very astute to point out that we’re not some kind of hero simply because we’re nice to someone who is different. We’re, as Catholics, EXPECTED to show selfless love to all people. At the same time, I know that I personally would “be moved by [the] willingness to extend basic courtesies to” me, by those who disagree vehemently with me. I have loved ones who despise me because I am 100% Catholic, even though I have sought to show nothing but selfless love to them all the time. They assume I hate them, and if they were to make an attempt to try to continue with me the kind of wonderful relationship that Jennifer & Andrew have continued, yes, I would indeed be very moved by that show of good faith, even in the basic courtesies.

      – You are absolutely right on that, whenever we learn better how to treat or regard others, we must show that constantly, even in conversations “among ourselves,” even in the privacy of our own hearts & minds. This goes for every person, Catholic or no, in every topic, from moral behavior to what foods one eats or the extent to which one practices ecological conservation.

      – I do also agree that homosexual orientation is more than merely genital attraction, and “homosexual” really is the whole person. Our hormones really do affect practically everything about us. I had an emotional breakdown one beautiful afternoon hiking in the woods when I realized that if I were the anomaly and suddenly were offered the “treatment” of being restored to the norm (in my hypothetical world, this would mean acquiring SSA instead of OSA), it would change everything about me. I see this in my own life as hormone restoration for other purposes dramatically affects my minute-by-minute behavior, thoughts, words, & feelings. It really encompasses the whole person. I can’t imagine the pain it would involve to consider changing that. It certainly isn’t merely about choosing not to have sex from here forward.

      – At the same time, that doesn’t mean that the Christian/Catholic effort to avoid reducing people to their sex attraction & acts isn’t noble and important. Your distinction is a good one, but shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bath water.

      – Your focus on the struggles of those who identify as homosexual is … well honestly, I’m so moved by it that I’m wordless… Without any eloquence at all, I can simply say it’s right on. This is a heavy, heavy cross. While my heaviest cross is nowhere near so burdensome, I help myself to empathize by thinking of it – that is the cross of an eating disorder. I don’t want this ED. I pray daily for it to be lifted. I can give into it, with all the negative consequences, or I can battle it minute by minute (and yes, that is what is required to succeed). It is NOT a choice; it is NOT a character flaw; it does NOT come from a low sense of self-worth or a screwed up childhood. I do see a way out of it – working on my diet & hormonal status have made it so that I no longer have to battle the temptations every second or minute, and made it so that I have respite between temptations that sometimes last months at a time. I do have hope that I will be free some day – but I also know that the standard “treatment” is useless, and that most people have to choose between battling it every second of the day or just giving in to it. Doctors can’t help them. Modern medicine doesn’t understand the cause and has nothing to offer those of us who suffer from these kinds of EDs. And so, in my limited way, I can see the path of those afflicted with other kinds of temptations they never asked for. I can see the terrible choice between constant battle against what their bodies & minds are asking for, and just going with it – because no one sees any other option. And so my heart is absolutely torn apart with compassion and love for those with SSA. I have found myself taking the sacrifices I make for my own battles and offering them up for those with SSA. I can’t directly change them; I can’t directly change their minds or take away their struggles; but maybe I offer myself up as a gift to the Father, and let Him use that as a prayer to give them the grace they need to do His will and bear their own crosses.

      – Touche’ on the NFP double-talk; I had the same thoughts. :) NFP is nothing like lifelong abstinence and feeling like a sore thumb everywhere you go. The celibacy of priests & religious is much more similar, I think, but there is still the fact that more people in the world still respect priests than respect homosexuals.

      – I do not at all feel uncomfortable with the Church’s teachings on homosexuality. I do feel uncomfortable with the lack of whole-hearted acceptance of the people who find themselves in a homosexual inclination, and I feel uncomfortable with our current lack of understanding of the causes and effects of SSA. I feel very uncomfortable with the daily struggles that most of our homosexual brothers & sisters must live with, both those caused by the SSA and those caused by homophobia. This is along the same lines of the discomfort I feel with the struggles that must be borne by those struggling with urges toward pedophilia, alcoholism, binge eating, anorexia, serious tics, drug addiction, rage, and more. Most people in these boats didn’t ask for their physical & mental compulsions, daily beg for the compulsions to go away, and constantly face a choice between nonstop battle or giving up and accepting themselves as they are, fat/drunk/abusive/etc. and all.

      God bless you, and I cannot tell you how much this whole post & the comments on it have touched me today.

      • Cordelia says:

        LYM and Cathy – Excellent points! Thanks for adding your thoughtful voices to this noisy combox…

    • jason taylor says:

      Cathy, it is absolutely not a “cop-out”. Many single straight people won’t be able to get married. Ever. It is not clear how they are all that much better off.

  74. Rstevens says:

    With regard to the sex crazed society: Very well stated that we all are required to make sacrifices. Artificial Birth Control has paved a Direct path to Death. It has led to “Artificial Sex”, meaning it becomes void of return. It becomes more disordered and selfish by sending a loud clear statement that sex is and always has been for pleasure, and that children & Life are a burden…an unwelcome sacrifice.
    The Catholic Church is 100% right in it’s stand against artificial Birth control. Because society did not listen, we are suffering massive amounts of sin, disease, divorce, and death!

    • slan21 says:

      And society won’t listen to you in the future too.

      What you’re telling, all the superlatives and expressions (direct path to death, sex-crazed society, suffering massive amount of sin…), sounds like completely crazy assertions to me. Let alone the concept we all have to happily make sacrifices and suffer “for the greater good”. I don’t know wether we live in the same world.

      And you should read Cathy’s comment right above yours, it’s refreshing to read that from a catholic around here.

  75. Faith says:

    Love this post! Thank you so much. I can’t tell you how much I’ve benefited from reading it.

  76. Katherine says:

    It is a very difficult subject. My brother is gay and wants to “marry” a man and adopt children. I tried to converse with him via email but he wouldn’t even respond to some of the things I said because he said they were too “insanely” or “outrageously” offensive to respond to. I never used a slur, expletive or anything derogatory. I was simply trying to explain my and the Church’s beliefs. (The comparison to gambling seemed to particularly offend him, but then, so did everything.) I told him he was far too easily offended and questioned whether it would be best to end the discussion. He never replied after that. It greatly informed my view of “being offended” and the way so many people today seem to a) think they have a right to not be “offended” and b) how and why people do get so easily offended just because someone disagrees with them (it seems very insecure and immature to me).

    He is cordial enough when we see him but he has taken to “liking” any and every article I share on FB in defense of traditional marriage, yes, including this one. I don’t think he has changed his mind. I think he does it with some idea of spite or sarcasm. He “liked” your article but didn’t bother to “like” a funny picture I shared with his name included.

    The whole subject is difficult but it is all the harder when either side can’t calmly, rationally and respectfully speak and listen. It seems easier for people to throw words like “homophobe” around than actually consider the other person might have a real rational behind their beliefs.
    Katherine recently posted..Emotional Irrationality

    • Arben says:

      “I never used a slur, expletive or anything derogatory. I was simply trying to explain my and the Church’s beliefs.”

      The leader of the KKK could write an eloquent, profanity-free piece on why whites are great and the other races are destroying society, but that wouldn’t make him any less wrong nor any less of a bigot. The fact that you used “nice language” to denounce your brother doesn’t magically absolve you from all guilt.

      Similarly, the fact that you were just trying to explain your and your church’s beliefs means very little to them. If I wanted to marry a non-white person but my sister were in the KKK, I wouldn’t take much comfort from the fact that she was just trying to explain her and her organization’s beliefs. Belonging to a big group of bigots does not provide a legitimate excuse for bigotry.

      “(The comparison to gambling seemed to particularly offend him, but then, so did everything.)”

      Of course it did. You compared a fundamental part of his personality to something you believe to be a sin. If he sent you an email out of the blue calling you a Kool-Aid drinking cult-following moron, you just might be offended, too. He might just be trying to get you out of the destructive cycle of the church, but by making a complete mockery of something that defines you as a person, you probably aren’t going to feel super fantastic about his “advice.”

      “I told him he was far too easily offended and questioned whether it would be best to end the discussion.”

      Far too easily offended? His sibling is belittling him as a person. If you can’t see why that might offend someone, you might want to re-examine yourself before you go heaping blame on your brother.

      “It greatly informed my view of ‘being offended’ and the way so many people today seem to a) think they have a right to not be ‘offended’ and b) how and why people do get so easily offended just because someone disagrees with them (it seems very insecure and immature to me).”

      Your brother does not believe that he has a right not to be offended. Your brother believes that he has a right to be treated with respect and love by his sister, and you are falling far, far short of what kind of person he expects you to be.

      It’s not a matter of being easily offended, as I said before. You are attacking the core of his being, and you are so short-sighted that you don’t even realize or understand why this might be a big deal to him. This is prototypical myopia.

      By the way: Do you see how absolutely ironic it is to claim that his offense at his sister’s dismissal of his feelings is “insecure and immature”? You’re the one who has stopped unconditionally loving your brother because a magic book told you that his choices are evil, even though they have no victim. You’re the one who is trying to force your views onto other people, even your own brother. You’re the one who can’t stand to see two people who love each other be allowed to be happy together because you’re not comfortable with it. How can this not be exceedingly clear to you?

      “The whole subject is difficult but it is all the harder when either side can’t calmly, rationally and respectfully speak and listen.”

      As a white male, maybe I’m speaking out of my zone of experience, but I’m willing to bet that it’s a lot harder to be calm, rational, and respectful when much of the country–including your own family–thinks that you shouldn’t be allowed to be happy, and is willing to go so far as to legislate it. Maybe you two could actually have a reasonable conversation if you realized that your viewpoint does *nothing* for your brother but hurt him very deeply and very genuinely.

      “It seems easier for people to throw words like ‘homophobe’ around than actually consider the other person might have a real rational behind their beliefs.”

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that Catholicism *is* homophobic. It does not like homosexuality. If it wasn’t homophobic, this article and these comments would never exist. The problem is that you do not want to be labeled as a homophobe, but you want to keep your label as a Catholic. I do not think that you can have your cake and eat it, too: Either homophobia is wrong, and so is Catholicism, or homophobia and Catholicism are both objectively good and true stances to hold. Make your choice.

      Lastly, there is no legitimate rationale for being a bigot, *especially* towards your own brother. You are destroying your relationship with him and pushing him out of your life (I know that you don’t see it like that, but that’s the truth) because of some opinions that you found in an old book. You are making the decision–for both yourself and him–to remove the mutual respect and love and understanding that a brother and sister should have.

      I urge you to make amends with your brother before it’s too late.

      • Katherine says:

        Arben,

        I can see that this is a very personal subject for you. I don’t know what you have been through but you have made several very incorrect assumptions about my brother, myself and our correspondence. I have never been disrespectful or unloving towards my brother. I’ve never asked him to seek therapy to become a heterosexual. I’ve simple explained I believe he should live chastely. He could call me just about anything I wouldn’t be offended. Disappointed and perhaps hurt, but not offended. I have full confidence in what I believe and so no matter what anyone else says. I am not attacking the core of his being and his being is much more than who he is attracted to. All I commented on is my belief with regards to marriage and sex outside of the marital union of 1 man and 1 woman.

        Everyone desires happiness but it is not so simple as simply giving everyone whatever they want. Unless I am mistaken, legislation to defend traditional marriage only became prevalent in response to the push for legislation for “gay marriage” so I don’t see how you can complain about traditional marriage legislation when you want the opposite legislation?

        My viewpoint might hurt my brother. That is true. But my beliefs are what I believe to be true – I don’t believe them just to make anyone feel better. I don’t devote my life just to making people feel better. I live according to what I believe to be true, whether it is easy or not, whether it feels good or not. Many things in life don’t feel good but are good. Ask any woman who has been through labor.

        “Homophobe” means “Fear of the same”. The Church doesn’t fear or hate homosexuality. It simply does not approve of acting on the sexual attractions of those who are homosexual. I am no more afraid of you than I am of my brother. My only fear is for the salvation of his immortal soul, which I believe to be in grave danger. I don’t know on what basis you call me a bigot. My brother visits regularly, for Thanksgiving, Christmas and when he wants to get away from the city. He eat with us, goes to movies with us and plays with my children. I am sorry for the pain you are in but I really think you are writing from personal pain and anger and projecting into assumptions about me and my brother. Yes, it hurts him that I do not approve of his lifestyle and would not attend any “gay wedding” he might have and, if that pushes him out of my life I am sorry for it, but I cannot dictate what I believe to be true simply because it is not easy.

        My belief is far more than “some opinions” from “an old book.” The Bible is a foundation for it yes, but it is joined by 2 thousand years of tradition, years of personal study, personal prayer, reflection and meditation, and, indeed, even personal experience. It is not so easy to discard as an “opinion” from an “old book.”

        Again, I’m sorry for your pain and hope you find peace. God bless.
        Katherine recently posted..Emotional Irrationality

        • Andres says:

          You certainly act according to you beliefs. That is good. The problem is that you beliefs don’t reflect reality.

  77. Larissa says:

    I had to read this, go away, come back and read it again. Ultimately, I agree with your response. After all, he asked your opinion and you very respectfully gave it to him.

    Some of the people who’ve commented on this post? Well, I can’t say the same for them. I take issue with the idea that homosexuality is a sin better or worse than the sin of having sex outside of marriage.

    Also, not sure if you touched on this but what are your thoughts on civil unions? Do you see this as the same as marriage?
    Larissa recently posted..Studying, Sans Books

  78. Seashore says:

    You do a great job of expressing yourself in a difficult conversation. Thank you for stressing the great relationship that you have with Andrew and that he has with you. Just because you disagree about somethings doesn’t mean you can’t agree about a lot of other things and even work together on some issues.
    Thanks
    Seashore recently posted..The Our Father- Give us this day our daily bread.

  79. Faun says:

    I am just so happy that those of you who are the loudest are not in the majority. I realized that just because you pontificate – pun intended – your orthodoxy all over the internet – doesn’t mean the rest of us who are cradle Catholics aren’t rolling our eyes at you.

    Real Catholics choose on the side of love and understanding. When in doubt, choose love.

    You acted in a hateful manner toward your “friend.” With friends like you…etc. etc.

  80. Loren- you are a BRAVE person- I bet that you will be the type of person God says “well done, good and faithful servant” to

    it might be a ‘chicken and egg’ issue- but I think if the heterosexual community practiced more morality, chastity (even in marriage!), and modesty- it would be a bit easier for people with SSA to practice chastity
    priest’s wife (@byzcathwife) recently posted..just because ‘Priest’s Wife’ is curious…take this survey, please!

  81. Michelle Falco says:

    Jen,
    Thank you again for another great article. Your clarity is a true blessing. I will admit I started to skim through comments, so if my point has already been made I apologize. Many people commenting, who are obviously in disagreement with the Catholic point of view, keep talking about how we shouldn’t fight against gay marriage because everyone doesn’t believe as we believe and we have no right to push our beliefs on anyone. Doesn’t everyone – Christian, Muslim, atheist, etc., vote their conscience? Don’t their beliefs color the way they see any given issue? We can do nothing other than vote in a Catholic way because it is simply the way we see the world.

    God Bless

    • Arben says:

      “Doesn’t everyone – Christian, Muslim, atheist, etc., vote their conscience? Don’t their beliefs color the way they see any given issue? We can do nothing other than vote in a Catholic way because it is simply the way we see the world.”

      Doesn’t everyone – racists, fascists, murderers, Nazis, rapists, et c., vote their conscience? Don’t their beliefs color the way they see any given issue? They can do nothing other than vote in their own ways because that is simply the way they see the world.

      I have news for you, Michelle: Being in a group of a large people who all believe something doesn’t make it right to enforce your beliefs on other people. The fact that you have beliefs–congratulations, by the way, on such a difficult and complex accomplishment–does not give you any sort of right to oppress anybody else.

      Do you think that if the majority of Americans thought it was right to outlaw Catholics from practicing their religion, that that would be just fine because they couldn’t help but see the world the way that they do?

      Your argument holds precisely no water.

  82. Christy says:

    Hey Jen-I know you have a million comments, but I just wanted to let you know I really appreciated this and thought you did a terrific job in explaining the Church’s position. Its the tragedy of our age that modern society completely rejects the fact that one can hold two ideas at the same time i.e. not being homophobic but at the same time not supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage. Its an extreme world we live in.
    Christy recently posted..Homeschooling and the Integrated Life of Mom

  83. Steve M says:

    What else should the author have done. She stood by her beliefs and her love for her friend. She did not preach to her friend but answered and honest question that would otherwise have created a wedge between them. If everyone is a sinner which is part of our Faith, which ones are we supposed to shun? If a sin is actually harming another then we have a duty to protect the innocent. If someone has homosexual desires and is unable to overcome those desires and live a celibate life then they are really no different than a man who repeatedly cheats on his wife or a person who refuses to care for their elderly parents. The goal is to crowd as many soul sinto Heaven as possible. We need to live in love for everyone else and watch for the timber in our eye first. Don’t be rude and unkind. Be loving and respectful.

    • Arben says:

      “If someone has homosexual desires and is unable to overcome those desires and live a celibate life then they are really no different than a man who repeatedly cheats on his wife or a person who refuses to care for their elderly parents.”

      [******] In what way is that the same *at all*?

      [Edited a bit for content by me. :) -JF]

    • Barbieahayes says:

      All homosexual relationships harm society according to the Church. Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, outlined several areas of major concern. I have provided an excerpt from the document but the whole paper is a must read to learn what the Church teaches about the damages and violence caused by the deviant lifestyle.

      http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html.

      (Excerpt): In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection. As experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.

  84. Rose Marie Doyle says:

    Thank you, Jennifer, for such an excellent explanation of the Catholic/Christian view of sexuality and how it relates to gay sex. Bringing in a reality, often unmentioned in our modern culture – the Devil – I want to say that same-sex attraction, just like “coveting your neighbor’s wife” is a work of Satan’s clever deception. If the temptation goes unchecked, “because it’s natural” or whatever satan-inspired reasoning, one becomes trapped in this lifestyle. Then, they are conscience-bound to justify it and even to spread it. Watchful parents can nip such a temptation in the bud if their child gives any indication of such inclinations or unclear thinking by explaining that this isn’t God’s design and that we who are not that smart must trust His wisdom and live by it. St Peter tells us to “Resist the devil and he will flee.” However, some temptations require a lifetime of resistance and special strength from God. Let us keep those in prayer who struggle with this problem.

  85. Ginny says:

    Jen,

    Thank you for articulating this. I will definitely have to bookmark this for future re-pondering. I have gay friends, and the whole “Catholic thing” has been the white elephant we’re avoiding sometimes. You’ve given me some idea of the words to use to talk about this. In response to those saying thre’s a little two-faced quality about NFP! Not really. NFP means that you do have to abstain at times (no fun, but rewarding in emphasis on non-physical closeness), but that you can remain within the Church and plan your family naturally, with God, not against Him. A lot more respect for human life with NFP, and a lot more thought for marriage and each other than just popping a pill.
    Ginny recently posted..Doubting Thomas – Which Side of the Coin to Look At?

  86. Cool Cats says:

    I do not relish those conversations, and yet it’s so important that we do our best and stick them out, like taking a math test except instead of a good grade you’re aiming to not misrepresent the way, the truth, and the life. Ah! So much pressure!

  87. Ken says:

    Thank you for your binocular view, Jennifer. Let me take the analogy another step, and continue the conversation just a bit further. With your permission, I’ll step into Andrew’s shoes for a minute- well not exactly, I don’t even know what a dry martini is- but you get the picture. So, take out those binoculars of yours again, and turn them around. You look through backwards, and what do you get? A wider view. Sure, everything’s smaller, and there’s more to sort through, but you can’t focus on one thing, and that’s sometimes needed. Better yet, take those binoculars away from your eyes, and you can do your own focusing while still seeing the whole landscape.

    When I look at a Catholic wedding ceremony, I see 5 specific places where each consenting individual says, in essence, “I do”, and only one of those “I do’s” mentions being open to new life. When I look to Mary and Joseph, the prime Catholic example of a married couple, I see a couple that Catholic tradition tells us completely abstained from sex. When I look at marriage in the Bible, I note relatively few mentions of marriage that relate specifically to the sex act. When I look to our saints, I find few who were married, fewer still with children, and a large proportion of married saints that specifically lived chaste marriages.

    The wider and deeper understanding deals with the complete commitment and giving of oneself to another individual. An understanding of marriage with an openness to new life as its central foundation is laying on a shaky foundation. An understanding of marriage as an openness to life has the sex act as its center. Through focusing on the commitment and respect of the relationship that commitment creates through marriage, new life can be a wonderful and sacred side effect, but focusing on the sex act in a marriage trivializes the relationship, and doesn’t allow for the commitment needed to make the sex act sacred.

    As a gay male, it is that commitment that I seek. That understanding that I can give away myself completely, and expect that in return is something that the words “civil union” can never provide. The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual attraction is not a sin, but that acting upon that attraction is sinful. I can honestly say that living chastely would be a trivial matter to me were I able to live in a chaste marriage, and that I would be just as open to new life in my relationship as Our Lady was in hers. It would take a miracle for me to bear a child, but then Mary knows all about that.

    I guess what I’m saying is, life is sacred, I get that, I respect that, and I wish it were in my vocation to have some share in that miracle. I know that focus has been in the media a lot lately, but the Catholic Church’s obsession with sex is taking its toll on an understanding of marriage that is so much deeper and broader, and has never been centralized around sex.

  88. efrique says:

    > Marriage is about new human life. All sexual morality is about new human life

    In which case, infertile people shouldn’t be allowed to marry, right?

  89. efrique says:

    [followup on previous comment]

    Sorry, I missed the ‘ordered toward’ bit the first read through.

    How is an infertile couple having sex any more ordered toward reproduction than any other people who can’t reproduce? They know they can’t reproduce. Just because it’s more *similar* to people who can?

    What about people utterly incapable of sex? They can’t get married?

  90. Barbieahayes says:

    The Church requires more from us than we are providing regarding homosexual relationships. Pope Paul VI approved this document on faith and morals. I provide a short excerpt but the full text is at the following url:

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19751229_persona-humana_en.html.

    (Excerpt): At the present time there are those who, basing themselves on observations in the psychological order, have begun to judge indulgently, and even to excuse completely, homosexual relations between certain people. This they do in opposition to the constant teaching of the Magisterium and to the moral sense of the Christian people.

    For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God. This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.

  91. Fanoffoucauld says:

    Thanks for the courage and for sharing. I have lost friends and have trouble when discussing this very thing with my young adult sons.It is always my desire to express the love intended by the Catholic faith and myself.You did a great job.It sounds like your friend was vey generous too.I pray he looks on others that share your belief with the same charity even he if does not agree.God less you.

  92. Amy says:

    Jennifer, I totally agree with your post, very thought-provoking. The way you explained sacrifice is right on. I have six children and have tried to live an unselfish life, but it is very hard sometimes when I see other people (sometimes other Christians) totally living for themselves, seemingly having a stress-free and fun life. However, I know God wants us to daily follow Him by serving others, more specifically for mothers, by caring for and training up our children. It is encouraging to know that I’m not alone. You and other moms are busy doing the same thing I’m doing. God bless you and your family.

  93. Kallah says:

    God bless you for your courage.
    As a young catholic adult, this is truly the hardest and most counter-cultural aspect of my faith right now, for me.
    I am inspired by the grace and the perseverance you had in trying so hard to “speak the truth in love”.
    I think it’s powerful that you didn’t just avoid that conversation or his friendship.
    I really think as Catholics we have to do what you did – patiently and LOVINGLY trace the arguments back to the source – the views of love and the dignity of the human person, and the calling we all have to sacrifice all kinds of “natural” sexual desires (meaning many people have bizarre passionate/lustful desires) for the greater good, and out of respect for our bodies and for others. You hit the nail on the head!
    I also think its a great witness that you didn’t treat him like something to be “changed” or someone disordered. I think we need to sidestep the confusing and irrelevant questions of “why are some people inclined to homosexuality” and all of the “nature vs nurture” arguments that our well-meaning Protestant brothers and sisters Get sidetracked by so easily (not unlike the “evolution vs creation” debates – whereas the Catholic Church in her infinite wisdom says “that is totally irrelevant. What matters is God is the author of life – whether He created using a Big Bang or using clay, just focus on Him being the creator”)… We as Catholics in America tend to forget that the Church doesn’t waste time on a useless debate over the nature of
    Homosexuality’s origin!… Instead, like yourself, we must remember that the Church is compassionate and the Church is so consistent – with all forms of lustful temptations.
    Sorry for the long comment when you have a bajillion. I just am so grateful you spoke out about this with such absolute clarity and love. I hope to do the same next time I am in this situation myself.
    Kallah recently posted..Vanity of vanities and Bumble and bumble

  94. Joy says:

    I have skimmed the comments and would like to suggest a couple of books: God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door, and Giant Killers. The second one is by a man who felt different even as a little boy, and how he found freedom in Christ-(and is an outstanding musician).

    Thank you Jennifer for opening up the conversation. It IS hard to talk about honestly and lovingly and with a good understanding.

  95. Ute says:

    As a faithful Catholic I trust that the Church’s teachings about sexuality, including homosexuality, are true and right. I also think that people with same sex attraction are born this way, and that it is not something they can change. It’s easy (and correct) to say that they are called to chastity like everybody else. And yes, everybody else struggles with chastity at times too. But, it sure sounds unfair to bar people with SSA from ever enjoying their God-given sexuality. Straight people at least have the hope that some day they find a spouse, or that the circumstances that require abstinence from them will change. So, I think the whole controversy boils down to the question: why are some people fated to a more miserable life than others? To carry a bigger cross?
    Whether it is gay people, or people who can’t conceive children naturally, or people with terrible diseases, or people born in countries with famine and wars… Some people on this earth have lives that are harder than others, and it seems that God sometimes plays favorites and sometimes places bigger burdens on innocent people. I know that God doesn’t will suffering, He only permits it. And I can accept my own sufferings because I know that Jesus took on the cross for me, and that we live in a fallen world. But I know that as a straight woman with children who lives comfortably, I’m one of the luckier ones who have it easy(ier). I don’t really know what to tell the not so lucky ones, other than that I don’t think it’s fair either.

    • slan21 says:

      I don’t think it’s exactly the same thing talking about infertility, diseases, famines and wars on the one hand, and homosexuality on the other hand.

      The first ones have indeed to suffer, and they unfortunately can’t do much about it. But chastity for gay people is a cross religion puts on their back, that they can throw away if they want to (and they do). I don’t think it’s fair to call it fate.

      • Andres says:

        I don’t think you know what you are talking about. Love-shyness and imposed chastity and lack of intimate contact deprives people of a biologically grounded need. I assure you it can be an enormous burden.

        How much you need different aspects of life to feel satisfied and experience meaning depends on your specific brain architecture. What is true for you is not true for others, and how much people need intimacy varies a lot in the human population.

        You are welcomed to interpret this with your teleological tunnel vision. But be advised that you are lacking knowledge in evolutionary biology and cognitive sciences.

        In other words, the view that all people can and should sacrifice their preferred form of sexuality for their mystical interpretations is provincial. People find what is meaningful in life in different ways and you know nothing about the genuine diversity there is in this area.

  96. Rose Marie Doyle says:

    Thank you, Jennifer, for such a well articulated and lovingly spoken reflection on the Catholic position on gay marriage. What is rarely brought up, even among Christians, is the role of Satan in the current redefining of what is natural sexuality. I believe Scripture offers an explanation (Genesis 3:1; Exodus 20:13; Matthew 24:24; Romans 1:18ff; 2 Thessalonians 2:11, and many other places) that shows same sex attraction can be comparable to “coveting your neighbor’s wife” – a temptation offered by Satan, and which can be spiritually “hereditary.” If one is convinced, through the subtlety of Satan, that such an attraction is perfectly “natural,” and therefore, “good,” he/she can become entangled in it like an addiction. The Church, with the guidance of Sacred Scripture, has determined that sexual acts between people of the same sex are contrary to Divine and natural law. Therefore, it is instructive to investigate the Scriptures – God’s gift to correct our faulty human knowledge and reasoning – and the Church’s interpretation, for a correct understanding of this issue. From personal experience, a prayerful and watchful parent can nip in the bud such a tendency in a child. We also need to be diligent in prayer for those wresting with the temptation of SSA to enable them to resist this temptation (James 4:7).

  97. Marc W. says:

    Here are some points I think that need to be considered when discussing marriage – gay or not:

    First some facts that most people can agree on:

    1) Homosexuality has existed for as long as man has walked the earth. It is even written about in the bible.

    2) Homosexuality can, and never will be able to produce children through the naturally occurring sex act within the bounds of the “homosexual relationship”. Of course, they can produce children through a proxy, or by having heterosexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex – but that is not inside the bounds of the homosexual relationship.

    3) Marriage, in its religious (and ORIGINAL) definition, comes from the bible (also the Torah, Koran, Hindu & Buddhist texts – in fact, marriage is a part of EVERY religious culture and is always seen as a HOLY ceremony between – guess what: a man and a woman!). In Christianity, God created marriage so that a man and a woman could unite as one being, and produce offspring. Sex in and of itself is not a sin (as many would have you believe) – except that to God it is a sin if you have it outside the bonds of matrimony – because He created marriage for man and woman. He did NOT create marriage for animals, He did not create marriage for a man and a man, nor did He create marriage for a woman and a woman. For a man to have sex with another man, or a woman to have sex with another woman, is a sin – because that sex act can never produce offspring naturally and God only blesses those things that are “natural” – that is: They either naturally create or exist – since homosexuality can NOT create naturally – therefore it is a sin. (Quick aside here: Couples who are for some reason infertile, in practice have all the right parts to produce offspring – it’s just that their parts don’t work. Gays do NOT have ALL the parts needed to produce offspring – no matter how much they want to – so they NEVER WILL produce offspring – therefore, they can’t get married.)

    4) Marriage, as far as political reasons, exists because the Government wanted to be able to recognize the union of two people, and tax them.. that’s right – tax them… There are fees, and licenses, and a host of other things that the government gets by allowing you to “get married”. Additionally, in return for those taxes, the government bestowed certain rights on those it “married” – such as a right to inheritance, a right to send you offspring to government schools, a right to certain “privileges” that only married people can have. Marriage, in the political arena, has also made it expedient for certain things to be allowed, or not allowed: For example – if you are not blood related, you might not be able to visit someone in the hospital – but if you are married to them, well, that trumps blood relations in the government and hospital’s eyes and you can visit them. If you want to insure your spouse’s life or health, you have a right to do that. If you want to buy property, you have a right to jointly own that property as one entity.

    On a side note: the government can not “marry” you in God’s eyes. The government can only marry you for tax purposes, so the correct term for a government marriage is “Civil Union”.

    Finally, homosexuals claim that they want to be able to “marry” their partner. There are two reasons for this (and many will disagree with point b) below).

    a) They want to be able to have all the rights and privileges that straight married couples have (gays want a civilly recognized union).

    b) Many (though not all) have an “anti-religious” viewpoint, and this is a way for them to stick it in the eye of the churches. They believe that “God” has no right to define marriage (even those Homosexuals who are religious believe this to some extent or they wouldn’t support it).

    c) Finally, most (though not all) homosexuals are atheists, or agnostic. The reason for this, is because religions (all true religions) teach that homosexuality is a sin, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that marriage is for producing offspring. Because no one wants to have pointed out to them on a daily basis that their way of life is a sin, most people will abandon whatever upbringing or teachings they may have had in regards to this subject, and instead become atheists or at a minimum agnostic, instead of doing the hard choice and looking at their life and figuring out how to live it in a way that glorifies God. In other words, they take the easier way (the wrong), instead of forcing themselves to take the hard way (the right).

    Since we are on the subject of atheists: Here’s another even more will disagree with: Atheists are slowly subverting the homosexual movements for their own agendas. Most atheists are usually “pro gay marriage”. The reason they support gay marriage: because they want to undermine religion in any way possible. Most atheists will deny this – but if you look at how they act, the true “believers” will scream you down if you even try to bring up why religion is right (I used to be an atheist, so I know what I’m talking about here). Atheists secretly see marriage, since God decreed it as between “man and a woman”, as against the very core of what they believe – that is – that there is no God. When you tell an atheist that you are married, secretly/subconsciously, they resent you because a real marriage, can only happen in God’s eyes. Since they don’t believe in God, marriage (real marriage) will never happen for them. Nothing would suit the atheist agenda MORE than to make a mockery of religion and force churches to “recognize” something that is a direct sin against God. I think many atheists will deny this… but for many others, esp. the hardcore “religion must be banned” types, they’ll probably openly admit this. Therefore, atheists are using the “gay marriage” movement for their own purposes, and homosexuals are allowing this to happen (mainly because they are atheists themselves).

    Originally, back in the 70’s, when the whole “gay marriage” movement came about because of the hippies “lets be tolerant of everything” beliefs, most gays were happy with the term “civil union” so long as it bestowed the same government rights on them that straight “married” couples had. I have nothing against this term. You want to shack up with some one who’s the same sex as you, well, that’s not my business. You want to be able to pass on your estate, have visitation, and put them on your insurance – because you “love” them… That’s fine too. Your union is only being recognized by the state, and it’s granting you rights (under the government only) that any two people should have provided it is taken with the seriousness that such a union should be taken – face it, if you’re going to have a “union” with someone, and then leave them two weeks later for another someone, then you shouldn’t be allowed to have that “union” under the government. Regardless of whether you are marrying someone or creating a legal union, it should be carefully considered, because not only are you getting rights to them and their property, they are getting rights to YOURS.

    While I said that using the term “union” is ok for gays who want to “be married”, I believe that using the term “marriage” is NOT – this is because: 1) it IS an attack on the religious institutions that created it, 2) it is subversively being used by the atheists to push their agenda 3) Marriage can ONLY happen between a man and woman. Gays want to use the “marriage” term because many gays are atheists, and they want the rights that a real marriage can bestow on them – but what they refuse to admit, is that a real marriage can produce offspring naturally – something they will never be able or have the potential to do.

    I’m sure there will be many who now read this post and think I’m a homo-phobe (far from it – I’ve had many friends who are gay, and as I said, a civil union is fine), or that I’m a religious crackpot (nope – I’m actually very tolerant of others beliefs so long as they don’t try to force their views on me as the only view that’s right), or that I’m anti-atheist (well – got me there – but that’s because I used to be one – born and raised that way! so I know how wrong they are – but that won’t suffice for most of you that think that), or that I’m anti-government (yep, I’m against government being so big that it regulates what should be a strictly religious matter (marriage) and legislates what others should have a right to if they’ve seriously considered the ramifications (civil union) which is really a “states’ rights” issue and not a federal issue.), or finally, that I’m anti-gay marriage (yep – but that’s because gays can’t MARRY (BUT they can have a union – but the states need to pass that – not the FED.) So all you haters who can’t think for yourselves, let the bashing begin!

    • slan21 says:

      Since it’s open for bashing (you’ll offer the other cheek afterwards ?)… i’ll be nice :-)

      I don’t think many people want more than civil union, and if you don’t want to call it marriage, that’s fine by me (though i don’t think such a vocabulary issue is important at all). My only concern is equality regarding the features that come with civil unions.

      What you said about atheists is interesting. It’s true there is quite a focus on gay rights, you can see that on blogs such as “friendly atheist”, and obviously because the opponents to gay rights have always been under a religious banner. I think it’s a bit unfair though to say they’re pro gay marriage “only to undermine religion” : religion left, they have not many reasons to oppose it, and they just do it more vehemently because their enemy on the subject is religious people.

      I would’nt defend marriage indeed, it’s a bit of an old fashioned institution inherited from religion. In fact i’d prefer civil marriage to completely disappear, since it shouldn’t that much be a state concern (and i’m a bit anti-government too). But since it probably won’t soon, i just want people to be treated equally regarding the law.

      And please avoid the “i was an atheist, i know what you think” thing, which mostly leads to straw man arguments. There are many reasons to be an atheist, and if you were one for the same reasons as me, you wouldn’t
      be a catholic now ;-)
      Damn, i was a catholic, raised that way, and i don’t implicitly tell you that i understand what you think and why, because i was like you years ago and now i’ve gotten smarter…

      Feel free to bash back !

      • Marc W. says:

        slan21: Actually, I’m not Catholic (I’m technically a Baptist, but am actually more nondenominational in my belief), so it is highly unlikely that you are smarter than I am because you became an atheist :)

    • charles says:

      Marriage in the Bible involved a man and multiple women, slaves, and even family members. Your whole argument is VOID

  98. Hi Jen!

    Thank you for writing this. This is a teaching that I, too, have troubles articulating and it’s great to know that I am not alone! It’s almost like you get caught between a rock and a hard place trying to balance emotionally supporting those with SSA and at the same time, understanding the Church’s teaching on the subject. This is a difficult subject to talk about with close friends, but thank you for placing it here, on the Internet, for the world to see.
    Karianna@Caffeinated Catholic Mama recently posted..Fluffy Wishes Giveaway and Twitter Party!!

  99. Annonymous says:

    A very interesting read, and thank you for the note of journalism. Please note this comes from a place of respect and humility. I applaud your charisma and courage in sharing your beliefs not only online but in a calm and loving manner to a friend of the LGBTQQAA community. I think you are a bit flawed in some points.
    Marriage is about joining in a committed and loving union with the person who you will work tirelessly to get through the gates of heaven. 1601 “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”84 While a gay couple can not procreate entirely of their own accord (just as a infertile couple can not) they can still work for the good of their spouse and the education of the children they raise. While I realize the catechism has much more to say on marriage this is the go to “definition” clause.
    Your statement about contraception and the enjoyment of the sex act is also historically inaccurate: “But when our culture embraced contraception, I continued, for the first time in human history, the sexual act was severed from its life-giving potential in the societal psyche. People began to feel like they had a right to the pleasure of the sexual act, without having to give a second thought to any new life that might be created.” I will grant you since the introduction of the pill and the condom people engage in sex acts far more than they should and that, especially in this culture, the act of intercourse is not respected. However abortions have existed since the time of the early Egyptians and I’m sure you are aware of the orgies that occurred in BC cultures including Mesopotamia.
    One thing not addressed in your conversation is the law of marriage. America has a separation of church and state. I do not begrudge individual churches or denominations or the Catholic Church not allowing homosexual marriages in their PRIVATE institution. However, marriage, outside of church, is a legal or PUBLIC matter that private institutions are trying to control. The founding fathers wanted separation of church and state for a reason, but people seem to have forgotten that; mostly the conservatives of this country which are so quick to hail the founding fathers as use them as support.
    I will not use this as a soap box or a time to defend gay relationships, gay right, or even the inaccuracies of seeing homosexuality as wrong but I did wish to speak my mind at least a little bit. Thank you for your time.

  100. Melanie says:

    I am speechless. You are amazing! Love you and love your dear heart and your smart mind! You make me want to be a better person

  101. random reader says:

    I hoped Andrew knew how much I loved him and Tom, and I hoped they still loved me too.

    At least be honest with yourself if you can’t be honest with the internet. What you expressed here is not love but the vilest form of hate possible. You tell them to sacrifice for some ridiculous hope of eternal life that you know perfectly well is a lie and yet what do you sacrifice? Not so much as your convenience. You get to keep having “guilt free” sex, you get social approval, you get to consider yourself a liberal for having “gay friends”, all the while taking away their rights. This isn’t love, it’s selfishness and hatred.

    • Anonymouse says:

      Dear random reader (from one of tyhe family to another)
      1) I trully don’t think she hates them, in fact she was willing to risk her friendship for the (in her eyes) betterment of her friend. The opposite of love is NOT hate it is indifferent. So while she may have been hurtful t her friend, which I don’t think she wanted to be, I would not say she was unloving or hateful.
      2)While she does have a easier road as a married strigth woman, do not kid yourself that her life come without hardships. We all have hardships it is the human condition.
      3)She honestly believed in the promise of eternal lfie and happiness and wants thatfor others especially her friends, so i think that is where she is coming from.

      I will give you she is misinformed, misuided, naive, and following a (in my opionin) flawed faith [but then again what faith isn’t?] but that doesn’t make her hateful. Calm yourself and realize people don’t always do and say things to attack others whn thy have a difference of belief or opinion. Also you’ll notice she was mostly talkign about the sex act and the SACRED marriage right. sex aside I think that is hermistake SACRED marrige (ie in a church) and CIVIL marriage should have only one thing in common (if a chruch allows a marriage then you can turn in a certificate and not have to go to the justice of th peace also).

  102. M says:

    Although I am an episcopalian, I enjoy this blog and find it thought-provoking. However, when the topic veers into the Church’s teachings on sexuality, I feel like I’m visiting another planet. There is a certain logic and even beauty to these teachings, but when I step back and look at the big picture, I don’t find any basis for these teachings in the gospel at all. Was Jesus really concerned with the minutiae of women’s fertility tracking calendars? Was Jesus interested in rules about which sexual acts are forbidden within a marriage? Even in the teachings of St. Paul I don’t find a clear or consistent teaching on sexuality, within or independent of marriage. I think these rules and laws about sexuality are alienating the faithful within the church, alienating Christians of other denominations, and distracting from more pressing matters, like serving the poor and working for social justice.

  103. Jen says:

    I think you did a great job expressing your views. So many times today we don’t speak up of how we really feel. That attitute of let other do what they want has filtered down so badly it’s harming our minds and children.

    What a great and loving response. You showed your friends love by explaning it to them.

  104. Benedict James Wee says:

    As a gay catholic man who is in a committed relationship with another catholic gay man, I want to say that I am with you on the gay marriage issue, as well as acknowledging the sacredness of sex.

    It is sad that our society is built upon selfish people who can only think of their own happiness and not see the devastating effects they have on the world.

    I pray that “Andrew” isn’t too quick to judge you based on your beliefs and continues to be a close friend (seriously, we are an awesome people to hang around with. I’ve always believed that gay people bring the happiness of God to everyone with their jokes and eye for the arts).

    God Bless.

  105. Recently I came across your essay, and partly because if it, I was inspired to write a response – http://knightofnothing.blogspot.com/2012/07/catholics-and-gay-marriage.html. Best wishes.

  106. David says:

    I would be very interested to hear Andrew’s take on this conversation. Also, I’m left with a question: do you believe that Andrew and Tom love one another? I ask this because it seems odd that the question didn’t come up in your conversations with Andrew and your other gay friends on this topic. How do you answer that question, if it does arise? Because it seems that, at the core of Catholic beliefs, such genuine feeling is not possible; it’s a manifestation of an “intrinsic disorder” to be overcome rather than a source of joy and comfort.

    It would be an extraordinarily uncomfortable question to ask or answer, I’d imagine. But, based on your clear (and, I sincerely recognize, gentle as possible) articulation of your beliefs, it seems like there’s only one possible answer. And it would take a remarkable person to hear their friend say that their love for their partner of whatever duration isn’t real, no matter how strenuous the efforts to the person saying it to frame their “truth with love.”

    • JoAnna says:

      I’m sure they do love each other. But as Jennifer explained in her OP, marriage is much, much more than two people who love each other making a commitment.

      I love my siblings and my children but I’m not allowed to marry any of them.
      JoAnna recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday – July 20, 2012

      • David says:

        With all due respect, I think that kind of comparison manages to trivialize both familial relationships and romantic ones. Love for siblings and children (presumably), wonderful and universal as those things ideally should be, doesn’t have a romantic component.

        This kind of gets to the core of what I was trying to ask Jennifer. If one can believe that romantic love and commitment exist between two persons of the same sex can exist, then turn around and tell them that their love and commitment is essentially irrelevant in the grand design (a cross to bear and overcome, basically), it would take an extraordinary ability to compartmentalize on the part of a gay friend to identify any love in that on the part of the Catholic friend who delivered the message.

        I’m always struck by the laudable Catholic notion of recognizing the dignity of all persons, as it gets thrown around a lot, usually right before the persons in question are told that they shouldn’t seek any sort of civil protections for their committed relationships or that they’d be better off adopting a lifetime of celibacy. I think it’s useful to remind Catholics that their definition of that person’s dignity might differ rather substantially from that person’s own definition of what constitutes their dignity.

  107. Frank says:

    This is perfect. Its great to see someone so humble and yet so courageous in confronting friends. I have been in a similar situation, with my atheist girlfriend who just couldnt reconcile her understanding of our society, relationships and sex with my liking her and wanting to spend time with her without out wanting sex.
    I have likewise had similar conversations with friends (some also gay) and its great to see im not the only one struggling with being a good public Catholic while maintaining friendships with those who disagree with me and our lifestyle choices.

  108. Kris says:

    Thanks for taking the bare and loving the Church enough to be educated and your friend enough to “speak the truth in love”

  109. waywardson says:

    Jennifer has slightly misunderstood Catholic sexual teaching, as have most of the posters on this thread.

    The “ONE RULE” is not the BASE of Catholic sexual teaching, it is the APEX. This is a common misconception.

    Intentionally sterilized intercourse is contraception. This is “intrinsically evil” CCC 2370.

    Naturally sterile acts are masturbation. “The does not demonize masturbation, nor does she trivialize it” YouCat 409. These are disordered, but the catechism lists mitigating factors. CCC 2352.

    Self-masturbation is inherently selfish and self centered sexuality leads nowhere. YouCat 409.

    Homosexual masturbation also is contrary to the marital relationship and only further entrenches the partners in their disorder.

    Marital masturbation is a bit more complex. It may be an act of lust or it may be an act of disordered love. These are somewhat unitive, but not at all procreative.

    Often such activities are about mutually giving pleasure as opposed to using each other for pleasure. Such activities may be a relatively minor sin under the circumstances.

    The reason why I address this is because some couples commit all sorts of OTHER sins to avoid marital masturbation, which really isn’t that bad of a sin. If strict abstinence is straining your relationship or causing you to be uncharitable or causing you to use your sexuality outside of the marriage, you may want to reconsider the best course of action.

    Of course, couples should put forward their best effort to live the Church’s teaching.

    I have written more about the subject here.

    http://realcatholicloveandsex.blogspot.com/2012/06/honeymoon-series-part-9-nfp-on-your.html

  110. Lisa says:

    would love to know if there is a ministry that helps gay people give up their lifestyle when they realize it is God’s call to do so, help them live as celibate friends, support them with the difficult parts, giving up a shared home, platonic ways of communicating, financial assistance, etc.

  111. Bill Foley says:

    from Bill Foley

    May I suggest a natural argument vs same-sex acts and so-called “marriage” between two persons of the same sex.
    The basis is THE PARTS DO NOT FIT.
    This applies to the psychological, emotional, and spiritual aspects—three areas in which a man and a woman do fit. This is why a child needs a father and a mother so that he/she can experience complete, normal development under the fullness of masculine and feminine characteristics.
    The other facet is the physical dimension. The sexual/generative parts of the male and female bodies do fit, THEY ARE MEANT FOR EACH OTHER LIKE A LOCK AND A KEY, and this fit is IN ACCORD WITH NATURE. This natural fit also follows a natural purpose, namely, the generation of a human life. The sexual/generative parts of two males or of two females DO NOT FIT and do not fulfill the natural purpose of generating human life.

    • waywardson says:

      An over focus on PARTS misses the point. (The obvious answer to “the parts don’t fit” is “you just aren’t creative enough”.)

      Besides, unmarried heterosexuals fit together just fine, yet fornication is still a sin.

      And saying “married couples can’t do that either”, really isn’t going to win many people to the faith and misses the point of marital chastity.

      Resorting to sexual stereotypes to justify heterosexual relationships doesn’t work either.

      My neighbors are lesbians. One is very feminine, the other very masculine. I am not the world’s most masculine guy, while my wife is a bit of a tomboy. Different couples mesh in different ways.

      All Catholic sexual teaching must be understood in the context of a full understanding of the sacrament and vocation of marriage. Use of our sexuality which is consistent with marriage is proper, use of sexuality that is inconsistent with marriage is disordered. The degree of disorder is directly proportional to the degree of the inconsistency.

      A married couple, umm, using their parts incorrectly, is disordered because the couple should be ONLY be using them correctly, but there are aspects that are consistent with marriage, especially if the couple is doing so in a loving way and using them properly would not be responsible under the circumstances (i.e. the couple should be abstaining). It is a sin, but it is not the worst sin in the world. It should not be demonized or trivialized.

      A same-sex relationship, however, is fundamentally INconsistant with marriage. Therefore, the same activities only serve to keep people in disordered relationships. The downside is greater and there is little to no upside.

      The Church calls us to chastity in marriage or chaste continence. Both are positive goods, although neither are easy. Homosexual relationships are neither and will keep people from realizing the benefits of either one.

  112. waywardson says:

    This is the correct answer to those with homosexual orientation.

    Josh Weed chose to follow his Mormon faith (which is identical to the Catholic Church’s position on this) and decided not to pursue his homosexual desires and pursued the love of his best friend in marriage. The attraction comes from their mutual love, not any disordered desire.

    http://www.joshweed.com/2012/06/club-unicorn-in-which-i-come-out-of.html

    Similarly, us heterosexuals must also choose to put aside our disordered desires for all members of the opposite sex–including our spouse.

    This is not because gay sex is “icky” or “not open to life”, but because we are called to so much more than homosexual relationships can give.

    His case is an unusual one, but we are all called to do much the same: Put aside our disordered desires and follow the truth.

  113. Need to share says:

    Jennifer’s post on this timely topic should be read with an open mind. Listen to what she is saying. For someone with a closed mind, their arguments are rushing out of their mouths in protest. Please re-read everything she wrote. Listen to what she is saying. She is trying to show her pals that she loves them so much she wants to point the way to the TRUTH that our bodies are NOT ours…..they belong to Our Creator, the one TRUE GOD, who gives us the greatest gift of our sexuality and places in our souls the innate desire to love and be loved…..then when sin entered the world, mankind said NO to God….I will do this MY way because it’s easy, when we should desire to become holy, and recognize in humility that God is God and we are not. Souls are at stake here, our eternal destiny is at stake here. Jennifer is trying to lead her pals to Our Creator, the One TRUE God. That, is the real reality. God bless you, Jennifer. I am praying for you and for your friends, may the Holy Spirit bring them JOY in conversion to understanding what TRUE LOVE is all about.

  114. Lorelei says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! I laughed. I’m glad that you and your friends are able to discuss that sort of thing and hear one another out regardless of your differences. I am for gay marriage, but it is helpful for me to understand why other people aren’t. I am bisexual (or more accurately I suppose I would consider myself sexually fluid) and if I had went a different path and had wanted to marry a woman, it breaks my heart that people believe that it would have influenced marriage as a whole. I don’t think that the wants or needs that I would have had with a woman would have been any different than with a man. Ultimately when it comes down to it though I think there is very little we can do to influence the opinions of others on the subject. It’s a passionate one. What we can do in the mean time is listen.
    Lorelei recently posted..spread that love

  115. Maria says:

    I’m curious, Jennifer, did you consider inviting your friends home for a family dinner with your children?

  116. x says:

    The issue here is there is a difference between marriage and sex that people aren’t looking at. The Bible tells us that in the beginning people weren’t married. They were together and they procreated. As society became more evolved marriage was only around for protection and legitimacy, but we are in an age where marriage is about love. About loving someone so much that you want them by your side for the rest of your lives. If marriage was just about sex then gays wouldn’t need to get married, we can just have sex, but marriage today is about loving someone and wanting to ensure that they won’t struggle throughout their life and in case of your passing they will still be cared for. I think more people need to sit down and read through relationships in the Bible and realize that it is clearly not about procreation but as Paul said it’s the path someone must take who can’t control sexual urges. Sex is not a sin. Sex within marriage is biblically condoned, not just for procreation sake. Once people get that then you can truly love your gay friends who you are claiming aren’t good enough to have a holy union.

    Truly though, it seems Catholic’s tend to be the “sex-craved” individuals. I’m not saying all Catholics go out and about doing whatever to whoever, I just mean that by your post it seems your idea of religion is based solely on sex. Why is it that when a straight couple is introduced to someone then they’re seen as loving each other but when it’s a gay couple people see it as them sleeping together? I think those who are so opposed to gay marriage for reasons such as you stated have this instant thought process to go to the negative or sinful things they can find in people (not purposefully of course) and not see a pure expression of love that may be presented to them.

  117. Amanda says:

    Loved it. Thank you.

  118. Grace says:

    You did an excellent job explaining the stance of the Catholic Church and gay marriage! Keep up the good work.

  119. Fin-tastic says:

    Jennifer,

    It’s nice that you can be friends with a homosexual, but you fail to mention the most divisive part of the debate over gay marriage. It’s not the “anti-gay” religious view that ticks off the LGBT community; it’s the political opposition to the legalization of gay marriage. They say, “Practice your own religion and believe whatever you want. But you want to DENY me the FREEDOM to marry. You are IMPOSING your beliefs on society.”

    Once this argument is breached, the discussion inevitabely explodes. Because let’s face it: We DO want to deny gays the freedom to marry; we ARE imposing our beliefs on society. In my experience, it is nearly impossible for an orthodox Cathlic to be friends with a homosexual unless they agree to never discuss the issue.

  120. Andres says:

    Do you realize that there are countless of other views about the nature, purpose and meaning of sexuality around the world? The Hindus and the Buddhists have a very different conception of what you express here. Now, their religion is just as supported by reason and evidence as yours. So perhaps you might benefit from realizing that you cannot impose a particular view to the rest of the world, lest you’d accept having to comply with whatever morality people of other faiths or lack thereof have. You view is fine, if it helps you, if it makes you feel connected to God. But keep in mind that you are not the only one claiming to understand how the man-God relationship works! In fact, many people who have genuine mystical experiences have very different ideas. Why not let people decide how they approach the divine? And let them to decide whether they think the divine has anything to do with sexuality.

    • Josh says:

      An objective truth must exist; not every truth can be subjective, or else there is no truth at all, and in my experience the Catholic Church has, by far, the great logical, spiritual and philosophical evidence and strength to back up its claims.

  121. Melissa J. says:

    What a well articulated post. Thank you!
    Melissa J. recently posted..One More Day!

  122. Anna says:

    I think this is very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  123. Rachel says:

    I am deeply saddened by the comments I read on your blog post. If marriage were only about sex, I wouldn’t want any part of it. I am a very happily married woman, and there are so very many different pieces to the complete love I feel for my husband. Neither one of us believe in divorce, and we keep our marriage as our top priority, because when something is this beautiful and special, you treat it differently and ensure no harm can ever come to it. We are deeply in love, and have a loving and enjoyable sex-life. However, our marriage is about many things. It’s about having someone constantly by your side through everything that life throws at you, and having my best friend with me always. We both have some health problems, therefore requiring compromise and sacrifices all the time. We gladly make each and every compromise and sacrifice, because our love and our marriage is real and special. I do not go around telling people who choose not to get married that they will never be happy (even knowing I have found endless happiness in being a devoted wife), or that they are immoral. I do not condemn anyone for believing differently than I do. To say that any one way is the only “right” way is a very ignorant and cruel thing to do. Why can we not all just accept one another? Why does there have to be this constant battle between everyone? If you don’t believe in birth control, don’t use it. If you don’t believe homosexuality is OK, then don’t be with someone of the same sex. It’s as simple as that. I applaud anyone trying to cement their commitment to the person they love. It is a beautiful thing when two people choose to forsake all other people in favor of each other. Saying others can’t do something because it is against your beliefs would be the same as saying no one else can eat donuts because you are on a diet, or can’t drive a car because you can’t afford one yourself. I have given myself completely to my husband, and could not be happier. And all your statements about my happiness, love, and marriage not being “true” will not change the validity of my love and marriage.

  124. joe says:

    Wow, Jen, you love your friend so much that you’re willing to deny him equal civil marriage privileges! What a great friend. He’s so lucky to have you supporting him like this.

  125. peter whalen says:

    Today -The feast of Saint Anthony the Hermit – in 1982 my mind shattered upon awaking – a very long painful psychotic journey began – after twenty five years i began to write again. I am a Lay Carmelite and president of the Legion of Mary in my parish – I have been in a coma – near death many times and at seventy go by cane, My life was a long weakend -ending in JOY. Peter Whalen

    REJOICE WITH ME

    Rejoice instead in the measure that you share
    In Christ’s suffering. When His glory is
    Revealed, you will rejoice exultantly
    (1 PT 4;13)

    Pity me not because I lost my mind,
    Wandered the streets in a psychotic fit-
    Lived where I could, ate what I could find ;
    Was for years and years the village idiot –
    Nor feel sorry that I was no longer clever,
    Sobbed hysterically a decade and a half ,
    Nor let your heart break because I was a beggar –
    That I traveled through life a psychopath-
    Feel not anguish that I thrashed in locked wards,
    Was abandoned in ways I could not say ,
    A poet with a frightful loss of words;
    A sad gay man learning how to pray.

    Rejoice with me
    Jesus paid my frightful price –
    Took me to Him – Into HIS Mystical Body –
    That we shared in life the same tormented cry;
    He had walked in His Way the same streets as I –
    Insane – I was never at a total loss ;
    I KNEW the Blessed Mother choose my Cross
    In Her maternal love for me and for us all;
    THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION –
    Conceived In LOVE such a Holy Cross for me;
    Through Mary Jesus was someone I could serve –
    She knew it was the Cross that I deserved
    And so did I – for over a quarter of a century
    I stood with Her at Calvary – a wretched sentry
    With the Communion of Saints, and Saint Kateri
    Till Easter came for me-

    Having carried my cross – He Now Carries me
    But new Crosses will come until the end-
    And If SHE ASKS I will carry the old cross I did again
    And I will sing to Her – in praise of all that has been done
    That we might all carry our Crosses for Her Son-
    And I will gladly sing – that it never be forgot
    That we pity only those that do not .

  126. Eugene Wong says:

    Impressive.

    It’s hard to bring about change, but I think that I learned something from the conversation. Although we can never pressure them into changing beliefs regarding homosexuality. We can change their beliefs about us. He has to place you in the “crazy” category to make sense of you. If he wants to maintain the relationship, then he can’t really call you homophobic. This puts pressure on him. It indirectly forces him to change his views. Over time, it forces him to question what he has been told.
    Eugene Wong recently posted..Making Progress With Hosiery Gift Site

  127. Ashley says:

    Problem is with your personal religion and beliefs system your forgetting to obviously be in depth.

    Let alone stand your ground or with scripture and or use any other means to express Gods Feelings on It Not Just Your Own; No Offense, You Did A Bad Job Of It On The Note: Catholics And Christians Scripturally And Based On Our Seperate Religion And Faith- Both Agree Without Repentance A Person Commiting Homosexual Sin Is Not Aloud In Heaven.

    If Your Going To Argue / Or Say Why You Love Someone That Is Very Opposing To You On Many Levels Even With A Religion And Faith Based Reasoning.

    You Have To Be Consistent.
    You Should Of Used Political And Scientific Reasoning And Proof And Most Of All Biblical Scripture That Supports What Ever Standing You Have –
    And Yours Leans Towards Against Same Sex Marriage But You Seem To Support Same Sex Lifestyle In General – – –

    By Your Lack Of Scriptural Noting In Your Reasoning For Why Same Sex Marriage Is Wrong On Any Level In The First Place Even If Man Lawfully Ordains It As Okay etc.

    I Think Your Argument Stood On Quick Stand As A Catholic
    I Notice This With Most Of You.

    You Seem To Have An Argument/ Belief Based On
    The Opinion Of Same Sex Marriage Is Wrong, Something About Abstinence Of Sex, Reproducing To Keep A Balance Sustained Of Human Life Continuancey And That’s It.

    No Scripture That Homosexuality Is Not Tolerated Ever Or Accepted By Christ Or In Heaven.
    And You Didnt Describe Or Make Any Legit Other Standing Prinicples That Are Concrete Enough To Change And Stand Up After Any Criticism.

    I’m Not Going To Give Pointers
    I’m Just Saying Your Argument Or Reasoning For Your Beliefs On This Topic Didn’t Stand, That’s Why There Wasn’t A Change In Thought Process Or Outlook On Anything Related To This Lifestyle To Make Him Want To Change. You Had No Impact.

    I’m An Ex Homosexual
    I Don’t Support Anything On This Lifestyle
    But I Don’t Hate Or Have Homophobic Attitudes Because Im A Christian And The Fact I’ve Been There Done That Lifestyle etc.

  128. Jade says:

    First of all, I think it’s clear that you’re not a homophobe, but a loving and caring friend. However I see so much of my former evangelical self in your views. I used to belong to a conservative evangelical Anglican church and believed as you do about homosexuality, albeit without the Catholic-specific beliefs about the theology of the body. But I didn’t want to believe this way! I believed this way because of the guilt heaped upon me about what would happen if I did not, but deep down I honestly had no problem with homosexuality – but did not want to compromise my own salvation. If that is you, do not be afraid – God loves everyone and I believe, saves everyone. Homosexuality is no more a sin than having brown hair. It is perfectly possible to be a faithful Christian and to be OK with homosexuality and marriage equality. I am now a liberal Anglo-Catholic (I would actually love to be a Catholic but do not believe in the authority of the Pope and magisterium which is, um, a problem for Catholics). My priest is gay. I am bisexual, yet God is still calling me to the priesthood (and yes, I am female). Has it not occured to you or any of the other Catholics here that in fact the Holy Spirit is speaking of God’s love and acceptance for LGBT people and marriage equality, but the Catholic church is just not listening? I do believe that ++Jefferts Schori, The Episcopal Church and other parts of the Anglican Communion (and others such as the ELCA and Methodist churches) are called to speak prophetically on love and justice for the LGBT community and others. The magisterium does NOT have an exclusive hotline to God that we don’t have. The Holy Spirit is indeed causing mischief.

    This might seem like a negative comment – it’s not supposed to be. In your post I could clearly see the love you have for your friend. I haven’t read the rest of your blog (I will do so) but you are obviously a loving person. I just pray that the love God has for LGBT people AND their relationships (such as the eunuchs mentioned in Isaiah and Matthew, and Jesus’ blessing of a gay Centurion and his servant-lover) would be shown to you. I too am a convert from atheism to Christianity (and Anglo-Catholicism is functionally very similar to Catholicism, we love the Saints and Our Lady too for instance), we seem to have some things in common.

    Have a blessed rest of Holy Week and Easter.

  129. Emily says:

    To keep my comment short and sweet: you’re not required as a Catholic to think a same-sex union is the “same thing” as a traditional marriage in order to grant it the same civil rights.

  130. Suzy Smith says:

    You sadden me. I have been married for going on 15 years and not a single act of sex between my husband and myself will ever bring forth a child.

    Sex is about more than procreation, it brings a couple together in a way that nothing else can. It is an intimate and loving act between any two people who love one another.

    I was raised Catholic, remained in the church for many years, but the way gays and lesbians are taught that they are wrong, that they should not be allowed the same rights as you and I, is one of the reasons I left the church.

    Any two adults should have the right to make what is a legal contract, at least in the US, with one another. Marriage gives more than 1000 rights to couples. These rights shouldn’t be reserved for hetero couples.

    Your religious beliefs shouldn’t be able to take away the rights of anyone else. Religion has no place within the law. Your religion shouldn’t be able to deny rights to me, and mine.

    Now, I know the one thing religious people bring up is that churches will be required to marry gays, but that is not true. A minister/priest/pastor can say no to any coupe who approaches him.

    In fact, that happened when my husband and I were planning our wedding. We lived together prior to marriage, the pastor we approached refused to marry us. That was fine, we went elsewhere and found someone else to do so.

    Since church and state are supposed to be separate here, how does allowing two men, or two women affect you? Why should two legal adults be disallowed to have their relationship made legal?

    Why can’t they inherit property without being taxes, like you and your spouse would? Why can they be denied the right to visit their partner in the hospital? Why can’t they file federal taxes in a join manner?

    Seriously, there is no logical reason. There just isn’t.

  131. DavidM says:

    Me: ‘Gay marriage’ is pure nonsense.

    Tom: “I didn’t realize you were a homophobe.”

    Me: You think I’m a homophobe? Please explain.

    Tom: “How can I hear your statement as anything but anti-gay?”

    Me: Tom, you don’t know me, but please be aware: I dont’ suffer fools gladly. Isn’t it obvious that ‘anti-gay marriage’ is different from ‘anti-gay’? Can you explain how the former is supposed to entail the latter? Are you aware that there are plenty of intelligent, articulate gays who oppose ‘gay marriage’?

  132. Matt says:

    Poor Andrew and Tom, they deserve better than you, Jennifer. As revealed in your last paragraph, you ultimately have no respect for them or any non-Catholic. You arrogantly believe that their lives are inferior to yours when you say “their lives would be better if they did” sign up for exactly what you “signed up” for. Of course, you’re entitled to any belief you hold, but the hubris you show is repulsive. Moreover, if you have to tell your friends that you’re not a homophobe, well maybe you are. If everything gay is so sub-standard in your worldview, why associate with gays at all? Considering your arrogance and hubris, maybe it’s because you see your “friendly” proselytizing as another punch on your ticket to heaven?

  133. dear Jen
    Great stuff. I’m in the U.K. The U.N. promotes gay mariage in Europe too, because it’s preparation for the New World Order.
    What liberals don’t see, is that accepting ‘gender attachment disorder’ as totally normal, will bring great changes in society.
    If gay ‘marriage’ is enshrined in the Law, the restraint will be off. It will become a politically incorrect offence to say that heterosex is normal, and homosex is a perversion of the sex act.
    Hence teaching about gay sex will be compulsory in schools. Teachers will not be allowed to say heterosexuality is the norm, children will be told they can choose to be gay or straight.
    All this will be reflected in the media, where gays have a powerful influence, and where writers are searching for new angles. Films, plays, magazines, will embrace this licence and there will be pressure to include gay/lesbian couples, gay/lesbian sex scenes. The seduction of straight people by gays, break-up of families for gay affairs, teen gay/lesbian frolics, bisexuality, it will all become normal entertainment.
    If you brain-wash people to accept all this, then it will translate into everyday life – we see it already in the cities. Teenage boys will be especially vulnerable, and parents will wonder what the boys are doing with the boys. And what the boys are doing with the men..
    The break-up of family life has promoted the causes of ‘gender attachment disorder’, i.e. failure to bond with the same sex parent, and seeking attachment elsewhere. Do absent fathers and working mothers explain this? Feelings of homosexuality from childhood, are caused by failure of the baby to bond with the mother.
    (In Britain, it was always acknowledged that gay men were produced from the private boarding school situation.)
    The next interference from the U.N. will concern INCEST. Journalists tell us that the U.N. is already looking at the topic: they want incest between consenting adults, and with consenting children, to be permissable.
    Thank you for listening! Chris

  134. Sarah says:

    What about people who don’t agree with you that this is the inherent social contract? Maybe your gay friends didn’t sign up for the same agreement you did. Yet you are still imposing your beliefs on them. The laws of human beings are so small compared to the laws of God, I think any wise person would be the least restrictive to their fellow human beings. Not allowing them to marry doesn’t help them in any way. It’s so unfair to make people who aren’t doing anything illegal abide by your rules. I just can’t imagine!

  135. bobby says:

    My husband and I are both Christians who love God, see children as a blessing and have a happy marriage. We’re not yet ready to have children(but plan to start within the next year),so must we just not have sex until then? How is that good for a marriage? Where in the Bible is this?

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  139. Lynne says:

    <3 If only I could memorize everything you said and then carefully recall it at opportune moments. I love that you had the guts to have this conversation. Not that it's going to make much difference at this point in the history of our nation, but the book One Man, One Woman: A Catholic's Guide to Defending Marriage has some surprising insights (and isn't exclusively appealing to Catholics). It's more about the psychology of SSA and the realities of same-sex partnerships that belie the public perception. It's a good read.

  140. pat says:

    Good article

  141. Denis Jackson says:

    Saw you on uk ewtn this morning , impressed somwent on website and have just read all ! ! Comments on gay issue ! This would make a great book !

    Terrific stuff! God bless and keep you. And your husband Joe .

    I don’t think we ve totally figured out the gay , ssa thing properly yet . I think , for instance that men can experience ssa , but not go for the genital bit . There is so much evidence that love and deep friendship between same sex can be so fruitful, but not sexually, (sensually , yes. ) If we are to live as God intended, mystics, spiritually enlightened , then deep friendship between people of same sex is not a problem .

  142. Pam says:

    Jennifer, I have been listening to your conversion story from Lighthouse Catholic media which is wonderful and came to take a look at your blog. I also noticed you haven’t come back to the NCR since you had some trouble during your pregnancy and wanted to make sure you were ok. It sounds like you handled the situation well but I wonder if you are encouraging the sin by meeting them as a couple. You obviously know Andrew from younger days and it would seem for the good of his soul you might want to meet him alone for the same reason we wouldn’t go to a gay union or a wedding of a divorced Catholic who had no annulment. Our support helps the sin. You did however speak up, but I don’t know if you could continue to have dinners with them and not be complicit in the sin.