Tag Archives: Marriage

5 Reasons the Kids-of-Gay-Parents Study Means Its Time for Gay Marriage Supporters to Revisit Their Assumptions

Re-blogged from CatholicVote:

One of the pillars of the argument to redefine marriage to be genderless has been that there is “no difference” in the outcomes witnessed between children raised by both their biological parents and kids raised by gay parents.

This has not been just a side argument, it has been one of the core arguments put forward by advocates of redefining marriage. It has become gospel truth for all the major national pro-gay marriage organizations, it is repeated over and over again by mainstream media, and was even part of the ridiculous ”findings of fact” issued by the activist judge who ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

Now all that could change.

My particular hope in all of this is that individuals who originally changed their views about marriage because of previous misleading research about child outcomes display the intellectual honesty to revisit their support of same-sex marriage now that we have more conclusive evidence to the contrary.

As Lauren Hoedeman helpfully reports on these pages, the New Family Structures Study by Mark Regnerus is the new gold standard when it comes to analyzing outcomes of children raised by a gay parent (or gay parents). It analyzes a far larger and more representative sample of kids who grew up in a household with a gay parent than every previous study on the subject.

Tying together strands found not only in the Regenerus research, but other research (including U.S. Census data) it is now pretty clear that gay parenting is a) extremely rare compared to heterosexual parenting and b) when it does take place, being raised by a gay parent (or parents) is a very destabilizing experience.

How rare is rare? Out of this study of 3,000 respondents, only two individuals said they were raised from birth-to-age 18 in a same-sex household (both of them in lesbian households, the study found no similar male-male households). This is not a sampling error, this is because the fact of the matter is that consistent same-sex parenting is just incredibly rare — less than half of one percent of children are being raised in a same-sex household, from the statistics I’ve seen.

How unstable is unstable? Adults raised by lesbian mothers had negative outcomes in 24 out of 40 measured categories. Adults raised by gay fathers had negative outcomes in 19 out of the same 40 measured categories. Some of these outcomes are drastically more negative (the Washington Times previews some of them here, for the rest of the statistically-significant differences, see the full study here), and exceptionally harmful, including the incidence of being abused by a parent or caretaker, or experiencing suicidal thoughts, etc.

So here are my 5 quick reasons why the new Regnerus study means its time for gay marriage supporters to revisit some of their core assumptions about the reality of gay parenting and how this reflects on the wider debate about marriage:

1. The Regnerus study is more comprehensive, larger and more illustrative than any previous study of gay parenting outcomes, and its methodology is sound.

The central question that gay marriage activists must answer is why previous studies, with far fewer participants and conducted in far less rigorous manners, should be taken as more reliable than the Regnerus study? Gay activists who are now criticizing the methodology of the Regnerus study (unsuccessfully, I believe) are the same voices who were perfectly happy to ignore methodological problems with the previous studies. Double-standard, much?

2. The Regnerus study notes that, for the vast majority of kids, being raised by a same-sex parent is an unstable experience which results in poor outcomes.

Why, if we are so concerned with child well-being (as we should be) should we regularize and equate with marriage these types of relationships and lifestyles that we now know to be far more unstable than a married husband and wife? How can gay marriage proponents continue to make the absurd argument that gay people will “save” marriage when they exhibit far less stability than the average married husband and wife?

3. The Regnerus study proves that thorough social science research simply hasn’t been done on same-sex parenting and child outcomes up until this point.

Why are gay marriage activists attempting to rush the rest of us to judgement before all the facts are in? Why not spend more time actually looking into the effects of same-sex parenting on the next generation before radically altering the nature of the institution which countless generations have found to be the optimal environment to raise children? Will gay marriage proponents cease attacking people who believe, in agreement with the best social science we now have available, that kids do best when raised by their married mother and father?

4. If gay people are “born that way” and this means they have a “right” to marry (which doesn’t follow) why does the Regnerus study find significant differences in sexual orientation based on family of origin?

If orientation is simply genetic (and not also based on environment, etc) why do children, for instance, raised by lesbians display such a higher likelihood of identifying as gay themselves? Shouldn’t the household they were raised in make absolutely no difference, if children are simply “born gay”, like we are constantly told?

5. If gay marriage is about being honest and open we need a lot more conversation about and research into the actual outcomes of kids raised in same-sex households.

Almost every cable news network and print publication in America, I would bet, has published news items and stories about the previous flawed research on same-sex parenting. Now they must carry out their equal responsibility and report on this study, or risk willfully withholding the truth from the American people, in a critical year when four states will vote on marriage and the issue could be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

So far the study is gaining traction, but it deserves more attention.

In the meantime, the burden is on us to get the news out far and wide.

Here is the link to the Regnerus study.

And here are some useful links on this topic:

Patheos.com: Q&A with Mark Regnerus about the background of his new study
Washington Times: Study suggests risks from same-sex parenting
Deseret News: Studies challenge widely held assumptions about same-sex parenting
Dr. Keith Ablow: Study finds host of challenges for kids of gay parents
The Corner: Kathryn Lopez interviews Regnerus on the reaction to his research

What do you think? Does this research make you re-think your support of same-sex marriage? Does it solidify your support for traditional marriage?

[Full Text] JOINT STATEMENT ABOUT “CATHOLICS FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY MN”

Taken from Selby Av side; 2006.
Image via Wikipedia

JOINT STATEMENT OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF ST. PAUL AND MINNEAPOLIS AND THE MINNESOTA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE, 9/29/11

A group calling itself “Catholics for Marriage Equality MN” seeks to confuse Catholics and the public about authentic Church teaching related to matters of marriage and sexuality. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) wish to make it known that this group does not speak for the Catholic Church, is not an agent or entity of the Archdiocese, MCC, or the universal Church, and has no authority to determine what does and does not constitute Christian doctrine and morality. The Archdiocese asks that Catholics avoid associating themselves with this group, and not be deceived by its messages, which are in conflict with the fundamental teachings of the Church.

“Catholics for Marriage Equality MN” attempts to convince Catholics that they can be in good standing with the Church and oppose Church teaching about human sexuality and marriage, which centers on the complementarity of the sexes and the mutual self-gift of loving spouses in marital union. The group also misleads people by proposing a false ecclesiology that undermines the legitimate authority of the bishops and the Magisterium as the authentic guardian, interpreter, and teacher of the faith handed to the apostles by Jesus Christ.

The Archdiocese and MCC also wish to remind Catholics of the importance of showing loving support and solicitude to those struggling with same-sex attraction and condemning every instance of unjust discrimination against them. The Catholic Church desires that all persons enjoy the same basic rights consistent with their human dignity.

From the Catholic Spirit:

Group seeking marriage amendment defeat is not affiliated with Catholic Church

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Minnesota Catholic Conference issued a joint statement Sept. 29 explaining that a newly formed group called “Catholics for Marriage Equality MN” has no recognition from, nor affiliation with, the Catholic Church.

One of the group’s aims is to defeat a state constitutional amendment on the ballot in November 2012 that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

“The group misleadingly tries to convince Catholics that they can, in good conscience, support a state redefinition of marriage without undermining marriage itself,” the MCC, which represents the Minnesota bishops on matters of public policy, said in a Sept. 29 news release. “The Catholic Church, in keeping with Catholic teaching, reason and natural law, and in concert with many other faiths, strongly supports maintaining the current, traditional definition of marriage by voting ‘yes’ for the amendment during the November 2012 election.”

“Anyone can selectively piece together statements taken out of context from church documents or the writings of theologians to construct a religious worldview that suits his or her personal preferences,” Jason Adkins, MCC executive director, stated in the release. “But such a pick-and-choose cafeteria religion is antithetical to Catholicism. One of the most compelling reasons for being Catholic is that we believe in the faith given to the Apostles by Jesus Christ himself and handed on and safeguarded by their successors, the bishops.”

Adkins added: “It is the responsibility of the bishops in communion with the pope to uphold the truth as well as encourage and support all Catholics who are trying to live their baptismal promise of believing and trusting in our one, Catholic and apostolic faith. This is especially true in the area of marriage and sexuality, where the universal moral law and Gospel values are constantly under attack in American law and culture.”

Both the MCC and the archdiocese “stress the importance of respecting the God-given dignity of all persons, which means the recognition of authentic human rights and responsibilities, while pointing out that official Catholic teaching goes well beyond what Catholics for Marriage Equality MN’s website states,” the news release said.

“Homosexual persons are to be fully respected in their human dignity and encouraged to follow God’s plan with particular attention in the exercise of chastity,” Adkins said, reiterating Catholic Church teaching. He added that the “duty calling for respect does not justify the legitimization of behavior that is not consistent with moral law” for those with same-sex inclinations or heterosexuals, married or unmarried.

Same-Sex Marriage: A Novel Notion of Justice

Gay. But happy?

SOURCE: I~ARI Same-Sex Marriage: A Novel Notion of Justice.

By ROBERT R. REILLY

The extent to which people will go to advance their rationalizations for sexual misbehavior grows ever more amusing and ambitious, with consequences, however, that are less jolly. The ultimate level of absurdity has now been reached by the claim that justice requires the legalization of same-sex marriage. Consider the following two protestations.

Celebrating the recent passage of such a law in New York, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote: “I am the brother of a woman in a longtime same-sex relationship… This is a cause whose justness has long been apparent to me. The opponents have no case other than ignorance and misconception and prejudice.”

And when Edwin O’Brien, the Catholic archbishop of Baltimore, attempted to remonstrate with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Catholic, over his sponsorship of a same sex marriage bill, the Governor responded that: “When shortcomings in our laws bring about a result that is unjust, I have a public obligation to try to change that injustice.”

So now it is no longer tolerance, but the demands of justice that seem to require legally equating homosexual marriage with heterosexual marriage, something no other civilization in recorded history has done.

One does not get to make up what things are. If that were the case, then justice could be anything that one said it was.

But before justice can be enlisted on behalf of this cause, we should ask ourselves: what is justice? The classical answer to this question is that justice is giving to things what is their due according to what they are. In other words, to act justly, one must first know what things are. When one knows what something is, one then understands what it is for. The purpose of the thing then determines whether our actions toward it are a use or an abuse. This is where the matter of justice comes in.

One does not get to make up what things are. If that were the case, then justice could be anything that one said it was. That is what tyrants do. This would be arbitrary, and what is arbitrary is by definition tyrannical. It is based upon pure will, unguided by reason. Those who wish to base their freedom upon the supposed purposelessness of things should face the consequences of this view. What seems unmitigated freedom is, in fact, the foundation of tyranny.

Unfortunately, this solipsistic view of reality has reached high places. In the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey ruling, the Supreme Court opined that, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Well, actually not. The universe is already here. It has already been defined for us; otherwise, it would not be in existence. Our choice is not to make up the meaning of the universe, but to discern its meaning and then either conform ourselves to it, or revolt against it. The choice today is revolt. Igor Stravinsky once wrote, “The old original sin was one of knowledge, the new original sin is one of non-acknowledgment.” It is the refusal to acknowledge anything outside the operation of the human will — most especially “the good” toward which the soul is ordered. “The good” is what ultimately informs human justice.

The modern premise, so evident in the campaign for same-sex marriage, is that any pre-existing rational end constitutes a limitation on human freedom. Therefore, “freedom” requires the denial that rational ends inhere in things. Things are tabula rasa, blank slates upon which we can write anything we desire. Things, being purposeless themselves, only have the ends we give them by our will and choice. They serve whatever purpose we wish. This is a very dangerous teaching, especially as it affects the issue of justice.

As mentioned earlier, it is necessary to apprehend things as they are in order to act justly. A simple example suffices. If one does not know the difference between a man and a dog, one may end up treating a man as if he were a dog. This would be acting unjustly. Justice in no way pertains to how we feel about things but rather to what they are. In our anthropomorphic enthusiasm, we may feel that our pet dog is human. However, it would be absurd to pass legislation requiring the dog’s consent to its owner’s rule, because the dog is not human and is incapable of giving its consent. Dogs do not have free will. It is therefore just for men to rule over dogs.

Likewise, no feeling can justify the enslavement of another human being, because a human being has the inalienable right to consent in his or her rule. This, of course, was the problem with slavery. Only the understanding of what a human being is allows one to make this vital distinction between the human and the nonhuman. It is something one knows, or does not (or refuses to acknowledge), with huge consequences. It is precisely the loss of this distinction upon which the practice of abortion is based.

Once we know what something is, we can know what it is for. Its purpose is within it. How does this pertain to the issue of the justice of same-sex marriage? It has to do with the procreative and unitive powers of our sexual organs. What are they for? Today, we seem to know what every other part of our body is for, except our genitals. This is a case of selective epistemological amnesia.

Sex has a natural purpose

In using or treating any part of our body, the critical question is: what are the ends to which the nature of the thing directs it, and is the action outside of, or within those ends? For instance, our lungs are for breathing. Breathing oxygenates our blood through the alveoli. If anyone suggested that our lungs are for imbibing water, they would be set straight in short order and informed that water in the lungs would lead to drowning and death. If they nonetheless insisted that water is good for the lungs and applied this teaching to themselves, they would soon be asphyxiated.

No one has really been tempted to do this. However, people have found a great deal of pleasure in smoking cigarettes. This has been shown to be a misuse of the lungs, because the tars and nicotine from the tobacco smoke cause lung cancer. Therefore, we can say with some confidence that the end or purpose of the lungs is not pleasure from smoking. The purpose of a thing cannot be fulfilled in an action which leads to its destruction. On the basis of this, the government has taken vigorous steps to dissuade people from smoking. Laws have been passed prohibiting young people from buying cigarettes and requiring the labeling of cigarettes as injurious to health.

However, no one today can publicly suggest that our genitals are not made for sodomy or even, without becoming the objects of obloquy, point out the health consequences of this unclean practice. Well before HIV/AIDS arrived on the scene, the life expectancy of practicing homosexuals was substantially below that of the heterosexual male population because of the deleterious health effects of this behavior. What things are have a way of fighting back against those who deny what they are and who act in such a way as if they weren’t.

So what is sex for? The purpose of sex is to make “one flesh.” Two becoming “one flesh” encompasses both the generative and unitive nature of sex. By nature, only men and women are physically capable of becoming “one flesh.” (Otherwise, the pieces don’t fit.) The end of sex is not simply pleasure; otherwise, any kind of sex that produces pleasure would be “natural.” That something occurs, or can occur, does not make it “natural.” Cancer occurs, but one would not say, by that fact, that cancer is therefore natural to, say, the lungs. Why not? Because we know that lungs are for breathing, and that cancer impedes and eventually prevents breathing.

A great deal of human ingenuity has gone into finding other uses for sex that go directly against its unitive and generative nature. Those who misuse its powers perversely are saying, in effect: We will take the pleasure, but not the thing toward which the pleasure is directed: the imago Dei. As Fr. James Schall has written (CRISISSense & Nonsense, March 1995), “Whenever we seek pleasure without it being grounded in what is right in the action in which it exists, we isolate the pleasure, the act, from reality.” Every act of coition presupposes the unitive and the commitment within which it must take place. And when it is not there, it is felt as a betrayal, a lie. It is followed by emptiness. There is something inherently false about sexual acts outside of marriage.

Only marital love can tame erotic passion

However, sex is a very strong passion, and it is difficult for anyone to contain. The only thing that can tame Eros and direct it to an end that can satisfy the sexual passion is love, which leads Eros away from death and, quite literally, toward new life. When a specific person is the object of love, no substitute will do. Love demands exclusivity, and receives it in marriage. The desire for oneness in marital union is also a thirst for fecundity. The wild and complete abandon of the marital act is a joyful affirmation of the possibility of more — in children.

In their souls, what people truly love is goodness. And when they love goodness, it is what they seek to serve. This is true with sex, also. Sex is directed to goodness by love. Love sublimates lust and restores the original innocence of sex. It is no longer self-seeking, self consuming, but self-giving and life-generating. It seeks the unity that is only available in “one flesh.” So it seems spousal love requires becoming “one flesh.”

This is not a matter of “who says,” but of how we are constituted by nature. Anything else is counterfeit. To make the counterfeit official, as in legal same-sex marriage, is to substitute the unreal for the real. If you cannot become “one flesh” with the person whom you love, that is nature’s way of telling you that the character of your love is not spousal, but something else.

Love has its proper expression according to its subject and object – sisterly love, parental love, conjugal love, the love of friendship are each distinct and are expressed accordingly. A child does not love its father with parental love, because the child is not the parent of its father. It may seem silly to state something so obvious, but this is what must be done when reality is being contested. It is just as necessary and obvious to say that two men, or two women, cannot become husband and wife because that relationship requires a person of the other gender. No matter how many times homosexual advocates say it, two flesh of the same kind is not, and cannot become, “one flesh.” Homosexual marriage is not, as some have suggested, “inclusive,” simply making room for another kind of marriage. Its legalization requires the denial of the true nature of marriage. Militant homosexuals are trying to conform reality to themselves, rather than conforming themselves to reality. They will say, no doubt, that their reality is that they are homosexuals. But that is no more persuasive than an alcoholic acknowledging the reality of his condition.

Abnormality and normality

Many who think that homosexuality is a genetic condition believe that this, in and of itself, justifies homosexual marriage. That is why a great deal has been invested in the argument over whether homosexuality is a genetic trait or learned behavior. This issue, however, is immaterial to the morality of homosexual acts. The same kind of argument could be made over alcoholism. There appears to be a missing chromosome – the Y chromosome – that predisposes certain people to alcoholism; others seem to acquire alcoholism through their behavior. In either case, drunkenness is no less evil because of an inherent predisposition to it. Likewise, sodomy.

Of course, it is very hard to live with such predispositions, and profound sympathy and assistance is due to those who suffer from them. The worst disservice that could be done in either case, however, would be to encourage or participate in the celebration of the afflictions, as in “Gay Pride Day.” Why is “Gay Pride Day” any less absurd than an “Alcoholic Pride Day” would be? Both conditions exist as aberrations, as abnormalities in the light of what is normal by nature. To substitute an abnormality for normality destroys the distinction between the two, and closes off the path to recovery.

In moral terms, this would be analogous to substituting a cancerous lung for a healthy lung on the basis that we cannot tell the difference between them. Such a claim would obviously subvert medical care and would represent a huge injustice to cancer patients. Sodomy is the cancer version of coition. Substituting it for spousal intercourse on the basis that there is no difference between them is an act of injustice that will subvert marriage and the soul of the society that accepts it.

This makes richly ironic Richard Cohen’s and Governor O’Malley’s invocation of justice to advance a cause based upon the denial of the nature of marriage. They are, in fact, complicit in perpetrating fraud. “Thinking against nature,” wrote Irenaeus in Against Heresies (180 AD), “you will become foolish. And if you persist you will fall into insanity.” No one can say we were not warned. The path ahead to the asylum is clear, but in this case the asylum will be the entire society.

This article originally appears in MercatorNet.

Why your family is the way it is…

“The future of humanity passes by way of the family…”

A Family Manifesto: How to Read Familiaris Consortio

Joseph C. Atkinson

Pope John Paul II was a brave man. Speaking the truth in unstable and unfriendly countries, standing boldly against the popular demise of morality, traveling furiously even when weakened by sickness — no one could deny his courage.

But the pope did more than just model strength for us: He called us to it. His apostolic exhortation, Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World [1981]), was such a call. This papal document sets out the seemingly impossible mission facing every married couple and every family in the world today: It alerts us to the fact that “the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or in some way to deform it” and then reveals strategies for overcoming them. It shows a dying society the root of its problems and offers a renewed vision of human life, marriage, and family that will bring healing to a wounded humanity.

Given its urgent call to action, its sense of impending danger, and the fact that the pope himself called it a summa of the Church’s teaching on the family, it’s strange that this document has remained largely neglected since its publication 30 years ago. Why this reaction?

The answer lies in the fact that the teaching of Familiaris Consortio is incompatible with the secular belief system that has deeply affected our culture. The pope showed that there are two incompatible visions of reality. In presenting a biblical vision of man, he challenged the presuppositions of all secular rationalists (whether in society or in the Church) about the nature of man and woman, marriage and the family. In proclaiming “the plan of God for marriage and the family,” the pope called us all to a fundamental conversion, to the “acceptance of the Gospel.” Implied in this call is a conversion from the secular to the biblical view of reality. In this way, Familiaris Consortio stands out in the modern intellectual landscape as a sign of contradiction. While such signs are rarely welcomed, they are, nonetheless, a source of hope.

The Real Danger

Familiaris Consortio gives us a plan of action. First, it identifies the real and present danger: “At the present time, [there are] ideas and solutions which are very appealing, but which obscure in varying degrees the truth and the dignity of the human person…. These views are often supported by the powerful and pervasive organization of the means of social communication, which subtly endanger freedom and the capacity for objective judgment. Many are already aware of this danger to the human person.”

To respond to these ideologies, the pope constructed what is known as a “theological anthropology” — a view of the human person that respects his dignity by respecting his specific created nature. In the early Church, the very nature of salvation was threatened by the Christological heresies: A misunderstanding of Christ’s nature led inevitably to a misunderstanding of the nature of salvation. The Church fought vigorously against those early enemies of the truth. Today, the heresies that have arisen are not Christological but anthropological. Now, the very nature of man and our fundamental relationships with one another, as well as with God, are severely threatened. The pope’s construction of a theological anthropology was his answer to the modern heresies. Secular ideologies have systematically imposed their vision of reality on society. That vision has included a faulty egalitarianism, a reduction of all sexual differentiation to mere biology, and an understanding of the body and sexual relationships as merely instrumental. In this view, life is devoid of any metaphysical dimension (see the pope’s Letter to Families [1994]).

In contrast to these destructive “heresies,” Familiaris Consortio‘s vision of human nature is based on the revelational witness of Scripture and grounded in the theology of creation. Like the Lord Himself, it takes us “back to the beginning” (cf. Matthew 19:1-6). This alone can overcome the false views dominating our society; the enemy must be revealed and a response formulated.

The Enemy Exposed

At the heart of the flawed secular view of reality lies a false notion of freedom. This faulty view leads inexorably to a disintegrative and destructive understanding of the person. Speaking about abortion, divorce, contraception, and other depersonalizing practices, John Paul II astutely revealed their root cause: “At the root of these negative phenomena there frequently lies a corruption of the idea and the experience of freedom, conceived not as a capacity for realizing the truth of God’s plan for marriage and the family, but as an autonomous power of self-affirmation, often against others, for one’s own selfish well-being.”

This distinction is difficult for the secular mind to grasp. As with every age, ours has been seduced by the First Temptation, the temptation to reject creaturely obedience to God and replace it with the lordship of “self.” While this grab for power may initially feel liberating, it ends in the isolation of self-captivity. Familiaris Consortio exposes the truth about the autonomous, self-referential individual. In rejecting his dependent relationship with God, man becomes depersonalized and destructive. Only by a fundamental reorientation toward the Creator and the acceptance of the structure, meaning, and purpose of human nature as it is divinely revealed can man discover his true self. For this reason, Familiaris Consortio begins with a fundamental call to conversion and states that “the Church is deeply convinced that only by the acceptance of the gospel are the hopes that man legitimately places in marriage and in the family capable of being fulfilled.” But a sophisticated modern society finds the simplicity and humility required for such a conversion difficult to accept.

Image and Likeness

Every good battle plan has a strategy. Familiaris Consortio is no different, but unlike the elaborate designs drawn by generals past, its power lies in its fundamental simplicity. The apostolic exhortation shows that the answer to the modern crisis lies in recovering the theology of creation as a vital part of any anthropological discourse. The fundamental reorientation toward the Creator requires our acceptance of creaturely status. Only in this way can the vertical dimension to human existence be rediscovered.

Of course, in a society that worships “self,” it’s extremely difficult to recall people to this saner view of reality — the view that we’re not the creators of our own nature. Nevertheless, Familiaris Consortio unabashedly proclaims that only in his relationship to God can man (and hence marriage and family) ever come into fullness of being: “Willed by God in the very act of creation, marriage and the family are interiorly ordained to fulfillment in Christ, and have need of His graces in order to be healed from the wounds of sin and restored to their ‘beginning,’ that is, to full understanding and the full realization of God’s plan.”

Human nature, marriage, and family are not social constructs subject to manipulation for the advancement of specific agendas. Rather, they’re formed and informed by God’s loving plan and interiorly oriented toward Christ. We’re called to be faithful to this will — not to any political expediency.

In calling us to battle, the pope isn’t leaving us unarmed. Familiaris Consortio provides tools that effectively defeat the destructive hold that secularism has on the modern mind. The document’s implicit critique of rationalism is fully developed in Letter to Families. There the pope shows that at the heart of modern rationalism lies its rejection of the metaphysical dimension. “Modern rationalism does not tolerate mystery…. Rationalism provides a radically different way of looking at creation and the meaning of human existence…. What is left except the mere temporal dimension of life?”

In the destructive framework of secularist thought, human nature and human acts have only temporary, utilitarian value. Meaning, if attached to any particular phenomenon, is only subjective. Inevitably, in the area of sexuality, the “other” is quickly reduced to a mere object, and the dignity of the human person is lost. The deeper dimensions of the human person, the marital covenant, and the family are incomprehensible to those who think this way. The modern world, having lost the capacity to reject the self-centered secularist framework, has also lost the language of love. Familiaris Consortio counters this by insisting on our essential identity as creatures made in the image of God:

God created man in His own image and likeness…. God is love and in Himself He lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in His own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.

Man is free only insofar as he is faithful to his created nature. Ultimately, he can only know love to the extent that he realizes his relationship to God. The pope showed that at the heart of human nature itself is the vocation to personal love and communion, which is a reflection of, and participates in, the life of the Trinity. This is possible precisely and only because man is made in God’s image. Because of this, human relationships possess a meaning far beyond mere biology. Indeed, “the love of husband and wife is a unique participation in the mystery of life and of the love of God himself.”

Interpreting Reality

Part of our mission in today’s world is to recover the sense that there’s a profound symbolic dimension to the human person. The prevailing ethos is all against this. As Henri de Lubac noted in Sources of Revelation(1968), “If we said that our age repudiated… every kind of symbolism, we would still be stopping at appearances. What it does, rather, is to institute an anti-symbolism.” In contrast, Familiaris Consortioarticulates a profound hermeneutic of reality — one that allows for the intersecting of the physical and the spiritual. This hermeneutic is essential if the nature of human relationships is to be correctly understood. In reflecting on the meaning of the spousal covenant, Familiaris Consortio states: “Their belonging to each other is the real representation, by means of the sacramental sign, of the very relationship of Christ with the Church… the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross.”

This transcendent dimension to human life has been virtually eradicated by the dominance of scientific rationalism, according to which whatever is not replicable in a laboratory is not real. But human nature, relationships, and actions can never properly be understood as only biological phenomena. They carry meaning far beyond their physical or temporal dimensions. All human reality (and its valuation) is tied to what the pope called the inscribed “vocation to love,” which is, in turn, linked to the divine nature and reflective of it. All of this depends on man’s status as imago dei (the image of God), which John Paul II considered “the most profound truth of man.”

This is incomprehensible to the secular mind. True to its own flawed logic, this view has provided for the development and acceptance of an increasingly depersonalized vision of human sexuality, one that includes contraception, in vitro fertilization, abortion, same-sex unions, embryonic stem cell research, and the like.

Body-Persons

To counter this perversion of the human person, Familiaris Consortio confronts the dualistic tendency of our age by “going back to the beginning” and grounding our thinking in the original creative act. The anthropology the pope developed protects the essential dignity of the body and the human person: “In this way sexuality is respected and promoted in its truly and fully human dimension and is never ‘used’ as an ‘object’ that, by breaking the personal unity of soul and body, strikes at God’s creation itself at the level of the deepest interaction of nature and person.”

At issue is the value of the human body and its actions. Precisely because they have transcendent meaning, neither our gender nor our sexual relationships are without consequence. “Sexuality… is by no means something purely biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such.”

This is diametrically opposed to secularism’s valuation of the human person and his actions. Love worthy of its name must involve the totality of the person. As Familiaris Consortio states, “Conjugal love involves a totality…. It aims at a deeply personal unity, the unity that, beyond union of one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility.”

The nature of love, the nature of the human person, and the nature of marriage require the total engagement of our human nature and an openness to life. By reiterating these truths, Familiaris Consortio not only explicitly endorses Humanae Vitae, but also provides a cogent theological and psychological defense of it. John Paul II reminded us that the teachings of Humanae Vitae provide the way to engage our sexuality in a fully human manner. “When couples, by means of recourse to contraception, separate these two meanings that God the Creator has inscribed in the being of man and woman… they act as ‘arbiters’ of the divine plan and they ‘manipulate’ and degrade human sexuality — and with it themselves and their married partner — by altering its value of ‘total’ self-giving.”

Sadly, it’s precisely this cogent defense of the teaching of Humanae Vitae that makes Familiaris Consortiosuch a hard sell in a secular environment.

Male and Female

A second hard sell was the pope’s rejection of modern reductionist ideas about gender. Society wants to force a sexless humanity (and the ubiquitous generic “person”) upon us. In contrast, Familiaris Consortiodevelops the idea of incarnational reality — that is, the belief that the physical can be expressive of a spiritual reality and that these two realities are intrinsically bound to each other. In particular, the body can never be separated from the person. The body itself is expressive of the person and bodily acts affect the person at the most profound level of his being. Secularism’s rejection of this connection has left many wounded in their bodies and in their souls. “As an incarnate spirit, that is a soul which expresses itself in a body and a body informed by an immortal spirit, man is called to love in his unified totality. Love includes the human body, and the body is made a sharer in spiritual love.”

Fundamental to created human nature is gender; maleness and femaleness are not arbitrary but essential to identity. Any reductionism on this point perverts our conception of the person. As Eric Mascal wrote inMan, Woman, and Priesthood (1978): “We have come to look upon sex in far too superficial a way, as if there were a kind of undifferentiated human nature…. Humanity is, so to speak, essentially binary; it exists only in the two modes of masculinity and femininity, and we can only understand it by studying them.”

This led the pope to encourage the genuine advancement of both men and women, but never in a reductionist manner. A proper anthropology allows for, values, and protects the similarity and distinctiveness of each gender. He wrote, “In creating the human race ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity, endowing them with the inalienable rights and responsibilities proper to the human person.” But this never collapses into a homogenous interchangeability. Only by respecting the uniqueness and irreducibility of maleness and femaleness can we secure the positive and rich dynamic that is at the heart of gender. “All of this does not mean for women a renunciation of their femininity or an imitation of the male role, but the fullness of true feminine humanity which should be expressed in their activity.”

This is the great disease of the modern world: the rejection of the truly feminine. An adequate anthropology would prevent this. Similarly, the nature of maleness is unique, and the pope hinted at what this means: “In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family.” To lose the language of differentiation is to lose the language of love. Familiaris Consortio reveals that sexuality and acts proper to it are never only biological but are revelatory of both the human person and God’s relationship with man: “Sexuality… concerns the innermost being of the human person as such…. Their bond of love becomes the image and the symbol of the covenant which unites God and his people.” To nullify the value of the human body and its gendered specificity is not only to reject reality but also to diminish the way in which God’s salvific will is communicated to us. Screwtape himself could not have found a better means of attack.

Family: The Ecclesial Community

The attack isn’t only on the individual but on the context that brings the individual into integrated wholeness; it’s an attack on the family, which is the most basic and essential of human communities. The family must figure prominently in any authentic anthropology because man is never an isolated individual. As the pope stated: “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.” The attack against the family logically proceeds from modernity’s embrace of radical individualism, which pits the individual against any communitarian dimension of the person. Familiaris Consortio overcomes these destructive forces by discovering the original purpose and structure of the family. It urges “the rediscovery of the ecclesial mission proper to the family.”

Just as the incarnate soul can discover its purpose and meaning only in its relationship to God, so the communitarian aspect of man, embodied in the family, is only intelligible by its relationship to God’s will. “The family finds in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer not only its identity, what it is, but also its mission…. Family become what you are. Accordingly, the family must go back to the ‘beginning’ of God’s creative act, if it is to attain self-knowledge and self-realization in accordance with the inner truth not only of what it is but also of what it does in history.”

The modern attacks against the family will succeed if the transcendent nature of the family is not fully grasped. If the spiritual dimension of reality is rejected, and if, like the body, the family is merely instrumentalized, then it can and will be distorted and destroyed. But for Familiaris Consortio, this is a falsification of the nature of family. According to the pope, the true interior structure of the family is found in its relationship to the body of Christ, the Church. “The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of the ecclesial communion, and for this reason too it can and should be called ‘the domestic Church.’ …But it is through the Cross that the family can attain the fullness of its being and the perfection of its love.”

The family cannot be understood as a social phenomenon subject to manipulation; to understand it thus is to distort its nature. The true purpose of the family lies in its relationship to the Cross and the salvation that was bought there. Indeed, “the Christian family is grafted into the mystery of the Church to such a degree as to become a sharer, in its own way, in the saving mission proper to the Church.” Attacks against the person, whether in terms of the body, gender, or his corporate reality (in the family), are ultimately attacks on the divine plan.

We’ve been given a mission. Sadly, the secular mind (whether in society or in the Christian community) disregards it because it doesn’t fit with the values of the age. The late pope’s insistence on the authentic value of the body, gender, and family as constituted by God is unacceptable to this mindset. That’s why the first call in this apostolic exhortation is to conversion. Familiaris Consortio confronts us with one of the key spiritual struggles of modern times and asks what vision of reality will win out.

So, the question remains: Will we become what we truly are — families created to reflect and participate in the very love of God Himself? And will we love one another totally with a covenantal love, faithful until death, respectful of our fecundity, icons of Christ’s own self-sacrificial love?

A difficult mission indeed, but for the grace of God.

This article originally appeared in the December 2001 issue of Crisis Magazine.

EDITORS NOTE: I would like to thank insidecatholic for reprinting this (unfortunately) still timely article… I had not read it before. May souls and their families benefit greatly from it being found here on The Orate Fratres as well.

Catholic Clergy Support NOM Summer For Marriage Tour 2010 — How about you?

It’s a sign of the times when mounted police are needed to keep the peace on a tour supporting traditional marriage in America… Reports say pro-homosexual protest groups are outnumbering authentic marriage proponents. That hasn’t stopped Catholic clergy from participating. Honorable mention for clergy courageously standing up in defense of families goes out to Wisconsin Bishop Morlino who suffered some slings and arrows below:

Minnesota clergy participants also included Fr. Becker, Fr. Innocenti, and Fr. Colletti below…

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The next National Organization for Marriage (NOM) rally is at: 

August 1, 2010

2:00-3:00 PM

State Capitol

Des Moines, IA 50319

And the NOM website for other venues is found [HERE]. Support marriage and consider attending and calling friends and relatives…. NOM could use your support, and heaven knows, so could our families…

END OF POST

Prop 8: Federal Decision Pending on Future of Marriage

Federal Case to Overturn Prop 8 Goes to Judge

 

This from Bill May of Catholics for the Common Good Institute followed by story:

On Wednesday, I attended the closing arguments on the federal case to overturn Prop 8. You cannot get a good idea of what really went on from media coverage, so I have provided a summary and analysis on the website at http://www.ccgaction.org/index.php?q=marriage/CA/prop8trialclosingarg.

Charles Cooper did a great job of getting key points into the record that should make it very difficult for the Judge to do anything but uphold Prop 8. Having said that, the decision could go either way. If Prop 8 is overturned, it will be immediately appealed.

I have provided clarity on the most compelling arguments, which should be helpful to you in explaining what happened to friends and family members.

As you will see, a bad discussion on this case could completely remove the definition of marriage from the realm of political debate, just as Roe v. Wade created a constitutional right to abortion. This case will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court and could affect the entire nation.

As I noted at the end of the article, conversations between attorneys and the judge highlighted the great amount of confusion there is about what marriage is, and its relationship to children and parenting.

The debate is complicated by many factors, among which are the promotion of alternative families in which depriving children of mothers or fathers is considered normal, redefinition of motherhood and fatherhood as roles rather than biological realities, artificial means of procreation through IVF, and children unwittingly being reduced to objects for adult fulfillment rather than gifts of equal dignity. The fight to protect and promote marriage between a man and a woman cannot be divorced from these factors.

This continues to highlight the need for training large numbers of people in the new and very effective techniques that have been developed in conjunction with the Stand with Children strategy to promote the centrality and integrity of marriage for children and society.

***********************************************************

SAN FRANCISCO, June 16, 2010 – The message delivered to Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker by Prop 8 proponents during the closing arguments at the trial to redefine marriage in San Francisco was clear. The voters have overwhelming authority and rational reasons for defining marriage between a man and a woman. The voters’ decision to pass Prop 8 cannot be overturned unless the plaintiffs negate every single claim of state interest for promoting the uniquely pervasive institution that channels procreative activity into a stable relationship.

Judge Walker noticeably stiffened in his chair as Charles Cooper, lead counsel for the defense, further stated that even if he concludes that every claim made by the plaintiffs is true, he could still not rule against Prop 8 unless he found that all of the rational reasons for protecting marriage were false. “It is a judicial tsunami they are asking you to sail into.”

Plaintiffs’ counsel claimed that people who voted for Prop 8 could only have done so “through irrational or dark motive, some animus, some kind of bigotry.” After citing myriad U.S. Supreme Court cases going back to the late 1800’s that affirmed the public interest in marriage, Cooper responded by telling the judge that the plaintiffs’ charge was “a slur on 7 million Californians It’s a slur on 70 of 108 judges who have upheld as constitutional and rational the decision of voters and legislatures to preserve the traditional definition of marriage.”

Over the course of his closing argument, Cooper was masterful at weaving in pertinent legal authorities that are not only important for this judge’s deliberations, but are most critical to have in the record for appeals likely leading to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Roe v Wade of Marriage?

At the end of his argument, Cooper took the opportunity to urge the judge to let the debate on marriage continue by upholding Prop 8. Cooper’s words were more significant than one might imagine, because if Prop 8 had failed, — or if the judge decides to overturn it and his decision is upheld –, it would be legally discriminatory to even argue that marriage between a man and a woman has a higher value to society than same-sex relationships.

As the plaintiff’s counsel rose to rebut Cooper’s argument, Judge Walker seemed to turn pensive and asked about detrimental consequences of “constitutionalizing” social change and taking it out of the “political realm,” effectively ending debate. He obscurely referred to the example of the Roe v. Wade case, without mentioning it by name, and the resulting polarization. Roe v. Wade overturned every restriction on abortion across the country and ignited shock waves that are still reverberating 37 years later. Walker suggested that overturning Prop 8 could lead to the same kind of situation that has “plagued our politics for 30 years” and could be dangerous for the future of the same-sex “marriage” movement.

Plaintiffs argued that because of discrimination against homosexuals the must be treated as a protected class requiring a stricter standard be used since the plaintiffs contention is that Prop 8 discriminates against this class of people. Cooper pointed out that for homosexuality to be a “suspect class” under the equal protection clause of the constitution, homosexuality must be immutable.

Evidence provided during the trial by one of the plaintiffs’ witnesses is that about two-thirds of lesbians change their sexual orientation at least once over the course of their lives – contradicting the immutability claim. The judge responded that discrimination based on religion is protected and religious beliefs can change, but Cooper reminded him that protection of religious beliefs is covered by the first amendment guaranteeing religious liberty creating the basis for equal protection clause.

The performance of former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olsen, the attorney who presented the closing arguments for the plaintiffs was somewhat surprising for someone who has argued a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. His arguments seemed very general and to be more directed toward repeating campaign-style rhetoric than legal argument. This plays well with gay “rights” communities and with the media, who enthusiastically applauded when the plaintiffs’ legal team was introduced at a closed press conference following the hearing.

Olsen argued that procreation has never been a condition for marriage and therefore it cannot be about procreation. There is much procreation taking place outside of marriage as less people are getting married and more people are cohabitating. Marriage has changed over the last 30 years, he claimed, and is breaking down on its own attempting to demonstrate that it could not be adversely effected by permitting gays and lesbians to marry. If the state’s interest were to channel people who procreate into marriage, there would be no no-fault divorce laws that channel people out of marriage. New York is the only state without no-fault divorce and it is expected to adopt it soon.

Olsen tried to equate restrictions on same-sex “marriage” to attacks on the dignity of blacks in past marriage laws, and a contention contended that withdrawing same-sex “marriage” rights contributes to stigmatizing gays. He referred to the fact that 18,000 same sex couples married during the period from May 2008, when the California Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act passed by the voters in 2000, to the date of passage of Prop 8 that November.

For some reason, Olsen felt it important to draw attention to testimony by Dr. Nancy Cott of Harvard about how slaves were denied marriage and somehow linking this with bans on interracial marriage. Olsen continued to misrepresent court decisions striking down interracial marriage barriers as a redefinition of marriage to bar racial discrimination against adults in loving relationships. Cooper, on the other hand, pointed out that the right to marry in those cases assumed marriage between men and woman as the justices pointed out was “fundamental to the existence and survival of the human race.” He noted that these restrictions “grew out of . . . white supremacist theory,” meaning these laws were about eugenics – racial purity and the procreative nature of relationships between men and women.

Olsen tried to argue that precedent for overturning Prop 8 could be found in the Lawrence v. Texas decision that overturned a law criminalizing private sexual behavior. He argued that marriage is also a private behavior. Cooper countered that Lawrence focused on a criminal statute, not a statutory privilege created by the state. Further, Cooper cited Crawford v Board of Education, a 1982 California case in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the rights of voters to pass an initiative to reduce state requirements for school busing to the federal standards. The national standard for marriage established in the federal law (DOMA), and by 40 states that have adopted marriage protection amendments or legislation, is that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Olson also pointed to Romer v. Evans, a Colorado case on an initiative amending the state constitution to ban all legislation at any level of government that would provide any protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. The U.S. Supreme Court found that there was no rational reason to adopt something so broad and overturned it on that basis. Cooper pointed out that is not the case in California. Prop 8 is very narrow and there are clear reasons for retaining the traditional definition of marriage, which the plaintiffs have not refuted.

Cooper further cited a New York Court of Appeals case upholding marriage and the Lofton v Florida upholding a ban on gay adoptions by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Both courts cited common sense alone as being sufficient as rational reasons for adopting the laws. No one knows how long it will take Judge Walker to arrive at a decision. It could be a couple of weeks or it could be several months. There is no deadline.

As a closing note, conversations between attorneys and the judge highlighted the great amount of confusion there is about what marriage is, and its relationship to children and parenting.

The debate is complicated by many factors, among which are the promotion of alternative families in which deprived of mothers or fathers is considered normal, redefinition of motherhood and fatherhood as roles rather than biological realities, artificial means of procreation through IVF, and children unwittingly being reduced to objects for adult fulfillment rather than gifts of equal dignity. The fight to protect and promote marriage between a man and a woman cannot be divorced from these factors.

This continues to highlight the need for training large numbers of people in the new and very effective techniques that have been developed in conjunction with the Stand with Children strategy to promote the centrality and integrity of marriage for children and society.

  

Please support this effort with a tax-deductible donation to Catholics for the Common Good Institute.

    Or simply mail a check to:
    Catholics for the Common Good Institute
    P.O. Box 320038
    San Francisco, CA 94132

Our Lady of Guadalupe our patroness and guide, pray for us.

For the Common Good,

Bill May
Chairman, Catholics for the Common Good
415 651 4171
415 738 0421 (Fax)

Denver Archbishop Chaput: Children of lesbian couple case in Boulder

“If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible..”

Archbishop Chaput

Catholic schools: Partners in faith with parents

by Archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput

Denver news media have reported in recent days on the case of two children of a lesbian couple in Boulder.  The couple was informed by Sacred Heart of Jesus parish school that the older child, whom they were enrolling in kindergarten for next year, would be allowed to attend kindergarten but would not be able to continue into first grade the year after.  Their younger child would be welcome to finish preschool, but not continue into kindergarten.   Many have wondered why.  Sacred Heart of Jesus parish has borne the difficult publicity surrounding this issue, but archdiocesan policy was followed faithfully in this matter, and the policy applies to all Archdiocese of Denver schools.

Some background is important.  Then we’ll turn to the human realities involved.

Catholic schools began in this country in the early 19th century.  Catholics started them as an alternative to the public schools of the day, which taught a curriculum often hostile to Catholic belief.  In many ways times have changed, but the mission of Catholic schools has not.  The main purpose of Catholic schools is religious; in other words, to form students in Catholic faith, Catholic morality and Catholic social values. 

We take great pride in the academic excellence of our schools as well.  The reason is simple.  A strong, well-rounded academic education helps to create mature citizens who contribute to the wider community.  It’s also true that some of our schools exist as a service outreach in largely non-Catholic communities.  Many of our schools also accept students of other faiths and no faith, and from single parent and divorced parent families.  These students are always welcome so long as their parents support the Catholic mission of the school and do not offer a serious counter-witness to that mission in their actions.

Our schools, however, exist primarily to serve Catholic families with an education shaped by Catholic faith and moral formation.  This is common sense.  Other religious traditions do the same according to their beliefs, and at a heavy sacrifice.  We need to remember that Catholic families pay twice for a Catholic education: through their taxes, they fund public education; then they pay again to send their children to a Catholic school.  The idea that Catholic schools should require support for Catholic teaching for admission, and a serious effort from school families to live their Catholic identity faithfully, is reasonable and just.

That’s the background.  Now to the human side of a painful situation.  The Church never looks for reasons to turn anyone away from a Catholic education.  But the Church can’t change her moral beliefs without undermining her mission and failing to serve the many families who believe in that mission.  If Catholics take their faith seriously, they naturally follow the teachings of the Church in matters of faith and morals; otherwise they take themselves outside the believing community. 

The Church does not claim that people with a homosexual orientation are “bad,” or that their children are less loved by God.  Quite the opposite.  But what the Church does teach is that sexual intimacy by anyone outside marriage is wrong; that marriage is a sacramental covenant; and that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman.  These beliefs are central to a Catholic understanding of human nature, family and happiness, and the organization of society.  The Church cannot change these teachings because, in the faith of Catholics, they are the teachings of Jesus Christ. 

The policies of our Catholic school system exist to protect all parties involved, including the children of homosexual couples and the couples themselves.  Our schools are meant to be “partners in faith” with parents.  If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible.  It also places unfair stress on the children, who find themselves caught in the middle, and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church.

Most parents who send their children to Catholic schools want an environment where the Catholic faith is fully taught and practiced.  That simply can’t be done if teachers need to worry about wounding the feelings of their students or about alienating students from their parents.  That isn’t fair to anyone—including the wider school community.  Persons who have an understanding of marriage and family life sharply different from Catholic belief are often people of sincerity and good will.  They have other, excellent options for education and should see in them the better course for their children.

Editor’s note:  Please see the comments of Father Bill Breslin, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish at http://www.archden.org for additional perspective.

SOURCE