28 June 2015

The SCOTUS decision...


With a decision handed to us by a slim majority, the Supreme Court of the United States has imposed a strange thing upon all the states; namely, that marriage licenses must be issued for those in same-sex relationships, and these relationships must be given equal standing with traditional marriage.

Of course, this settles the matter no more than the Roe v. Wade decision settled the issue of legal abortions. It will tear at the fabric of our nation for generations to come, and we Catholics will have to take our place at the front line of battle.

There are some preliminary thoughts about the SCOTUS decision which I have posted elsewhere, but have put together here.

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BY ANY OTHER NAME...

So a man can enter into a legal contract with another man and call it a marriage. A woman can enter into a legal contract with another woman and each state must recognize it. Call it whatever you want. Call it a marriage if you wish. But calling it by that name doesn't make it so.

The Supreme Court ruling has not affected the sacrament of Holy Matrimony one bit. In fact, the state's part in the sacramental marriage of a man and a woman has nothing to do with its sacramental nature. The only reason it is there is for the legal protection of the persons involved, including subsequent children. But that's not what makes it sacramental. It's not what makes it a marriage.

So enter into as many legal contracts as you want, homosexual men. Demand your legal rights, lesbian women. But what you will have is not marriage. It's simply a legal contract which the vast majority of you will probably want to break at some point anyway.

With their recent decisions, some of the Supreme Court justices have shown that they believe words have no meaning other than what they themselves decide such words mean. They have taken the word "marriage" and have applied it to relationships which manifestly are not marriages.

Saying that a cow is a horse doesn't mean you can throw a saddle on it and head off to the Kentucky Derby.

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AGENTS FOR THE STATE?

I think it is inevitable that Catholic priests will have to get out of the business of being agents for the state. After all, it's really for the sake of convenience that a priest signs the "marriage license" after witnessing a sacramental marriage. It simply means that the couple didn't need to take care of the legal part of things by going together down to the courthouse; we make it easier by taking care of the legal formality after the Nuptial Mass. But everyone should understand - signing the license isn't what makes it a marriage. The couple's free consent and exchange of vows before God and His Church accomplishes that.

I'm ready to give up my role as "state's witness" in this regard, and let the state do its own thing. In fact, it might help people come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony if we were to untie it from the "legal contract" aspect of things. Let's face it, all too many people see contracts as being easily broken -- and the state certainly has made it easy when it comes to the legal contract called marriage.

It was fine when the legal contract and the sacramental union were each considered binding, but having these two things hooked together in today's circumstances is rather like driving a car with patched, under-inflated tires on one side, and brand new, perfectly inflated tires on the other. It makes for an uneven ride, and eventually the bad side will cause undue wear on the good side.

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WORDS, WORDS, WORDS...

It's about words again, friends. Over and over the question is asked, "Will churches lose their tax exemption if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages?"

I cannot guess what crazy thing the federal government will try next, but if they try to take tax exemption away from churches, it won't be because of a refusal to perform a same-sex marriage. The government would be asking us to do some that is utterly impossible. It's not a refusal if you're being asked to do something that simply can't be done.

They might as well ask us to turn lead into gold. We're unable to do it.

What'll they do to us? Take away our tax exemption? If they do, it'll be for some reason other than that we're not alchemists.

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A POSTSCRIPT: It’s important to understand that God does not condemn an individual simply because of being a homosexual or lesbian. It is the action which is sinful. Every single one of us has particular sins which are temptations to us, and when we succumb to those temptations we have recourse to the confessional, where we may express our sorrow and repentance, and receive God’s absolution.

Also, not every homosexual or lesbian person is clamoring to enter a legal marriage. Those who are, usually have a political motive and wish to break down traditional values and culture.

There are some faithful Catholics who happen to suffer from this condition who are leading chaste lives, just as there are countless Catholics who are unmarried heterosexual persons, also leading chaste lives. The orientation is less important than the desire to live in accordance with God’s divine Will, with the help of the holy sacraments given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ.