Homosexuality, marriage and truth.
The family frog has been sitting in a warming pan for a long time. Its health and very life are threatened by no-fault divorce, contraception, sterilization, infidelity, abortion, and other societal evils like pornography and vulgarity. In Canada, the latest threat to the family is the campaign to redefine marriage so that it includes the cohabitation of homosexuals.
The attack on the family through the call for homosexual "unions" comes principally from the media, some judges, some politicians, some city councillors, and some homosexual groups.
In Ontario, three Justices of the Superior Court of Justice, unanimously ruled, in a Divisional Court decision released July 17, 2002, that the current legal definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is discriminatory, and ordered it be changed to include recognition of same-sex "marriage." The court said that denying gay couples the option of marriage is unconstitutional and a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The ruling was suspended for two years to give governments time to revise the definition of the term "marriage". Ontario Premier Ernie Eves answered that Ontario would not appeal; that is, it accepts the decree of the Ontario judges as final.
In the Toronto Star for August 4, 2002, there is an article with the headline: "Recognize same-sex marriages, Rock urges." We read that Canada's Industry Minister, Allan Rock, a nominal Catholic, says he will work with the government to push for the recognition of same-sex marriage. In Vancouver to attend the city's Gay Pride Parade on August 4, 2002, Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said that "allowing homosexuals to marry would strengthen the institution of marriage." The call for the "right" of homosexuals to marry has been supported by M.P. Svend Robinson, federal Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, and Amateur Sport Minister Paul De Villers.
The ultimate outcome is uncertain. Federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon said on July 29, 2002, that the federal government will appeal the decree of the Ontario Supreme Court. On August 1, 2002, Toronto city councillors voted overwhelmingly to request Martin Cauchon to abandon the federal appeal. On September 6, Justice Louise Lemelin, Quebec Superior Court Judge, echoed the Ontario decision by declaring that the opposite-sex definition of marriage is discriminatory and unjustified under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Prime Minister Chretien has said that a Parliamentary Committee will hold national hearings and study the way other jurisdictions are handling the issue.
The latest development, as of this writing, is that in a report from Life Site News dated September 17, we read, "In a written appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeals; the federal justice department has argued in favour of retaining the traditional definition of marriage as exclusive to heterosexuals."
In the present attack on family values it would be hoped that politicians, judges, homosexuals, and others would want the outcome to be based on truth: the truth about marriage, the truth about homosexuality, and the truth about homosexuals.
Is it true that homosexuals can marry? Justice Ian Pitfield of the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in October 2000 that any change in the definition of marriage requires a constitutional amendment because the definition of marriage, rooted in the common law, precedes the constitution. This reasoning is legally correct but profoundly inadequate. Marriage precedes common law.
Sadly, truth is often at the mercy of whim and wish. The first temptation, directed to our first parents by Satan, was to disregard a command of God because "You will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil" (Genesis 3:S). Now judges act as though they were gods. Some legislators who supported the June 1999 Parliamentary motion upholding the traditional definition of marriage now call for rejection of that motion. Are they gods who can change the nature of marriage from one year to the next? So we must ask in this matter the question which Pilate put to Christ: "What is truth?"
The truth about marriage
The first relevant truth about marriage is that it was instituted by God our Creator. God, not man, determined its essential nature. Man would need to be God to change it. There is a treasure of truth about marriage in the apostolic exhortation of Pope John Paul II entitled Familiaris Consortio, on the role of the Christian family in the modern world (November 22,1981). Again and again we are told that marriage is of divine origin. The document quotes Vatican Council II: "Since the Creator of all things has established the conjugal partnership as the beginning and basis of human society," the family is "the first and vital cell of society" (n. 42).
The second relevant truth about marriage is that it is not only a divine institution but a union of a man and woman, ordained by its nature to the continuation of the human race. Christ put it this way: "Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, so the two shall become one'? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Matthew, 19: 4-6).
So the truth is that marriage is of divine origin and between a man and a woman. There is not only the witness of Revelation but the witness of the major religions, of countless generations and societies. There is also the witness of reason, of the complementary nature of man and woman and the non-complementary nature of man and man and woman and woman. Revelation, tradition, and reason instruct us about the truth of marriage.
The truth about homosexuality
A compendium of the truth about homosexuality is given to us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 2357). We are told that Sacred Scripture presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, that tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are gravely disordered and that they are contrary to natural law.
For those who wish to explore the Scriptural teaching on homosexuality, the following are the principal texts: Genesis 19:14-21; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26,27; 1 Corinthians 6:9,10; 1 Timothy 1:9,10. Nowhere is homosexual behaviour presented as good or praiseworthy. It is consistently presented as a grave moral evil, worthy of death and hell. It should be sufficient here to quote one passage, taken from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans (1:26, 27):
"For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error."
Christian tradition confirms the evil of homosexual practice. It was consistently affirmed by the Fathers of the Church. Sodomy was considered one of those frightful sins which cry to heaven for vengeance, according to the ancient adage: "Clamat ad coelum vox sanguinis et sodomorum, vox oppresso rum, merces detenta laborum." This may be freely translated: "The voice of blood (murder) and of sodomy, of the oppressed, and of those labourers defrauded of their wages cry out to heaven." Sodomy was considered the blood brother of murder. Both crimes were directed against the preservation of the human race. As the Protestant theologian Roger Shinn observes: "The Christian tradition over the centuries has affirmed the heterosexual, monogamous, faithful marital union as normative for the divinely given meaning of the intimate sexual relationship" (quoted by Fr. John Harvey, O.S.F.S., in the booklet Pastoral Care and the Homosexual, page 14, published by the Knights of Columbus).
Nor was the evaluation of homosexual practice as a grave moral evil found only in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. All major religions and societies until this age have condemned it.
There remains the argument from reason. Human anatomy proclaims sodomy unnatural. The complementarity of man and woman, physically, psychologically, and emotionally, declares it. The very body cries out against it, for disease is much more readily contracted through sodomy than through natural relations.
In sum, the argument against the evil of homosexual acts is based on revelation, tradition, and reason.
Homosexuals are human persons
The truth about homosexuals is that they are human persons created in the image and likeness of God. For them Christ died. To them, as to every human person, are addressed the words of St. Paul: "You are not called to immorality but to holiness." Right pastoral care is always in accordance with the truth. Combining the truth about marriage and homosexuality, we must conclude that homosexuals are not called to homosexual "marriage" but to live lives of chastity and love of God and others, as are we all.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that men and women who have homosexual tendencies are to be accepted with "respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided" (n. 2358).
* We treat homosexuals with respect when we treat them as human persons with all the rights and obligations of human persons.
* We treat them with compassion when we encourage them to live their lives in accordance with their noble calling to chastity and virtue.
* We treat homosexuals with sensitivity when we show good will towards them, when we condemn all violence against them, when we avoid all derogatory remarks and labels, when we support them in all that is right and just, when we regard them as brothers and sisters in Christ.
On the contrary, we do not show "respect, compassion and sensitivity" towards homosexuals when we support laws that reward homosexual behaviour, or applaud the vulgarity and even obscenity of "gay-rights" parades, when we co-operate in imprisoning them in sterile, depraved and spiritually dead unions which call lust love. An excellent document on this matter is entitled And the Truth Will Make you Free, a Letter to Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, October 1, 1986).
Grave evils have grave consequences.
* When a society attacks the very foundation on which it is built, the nuclear family, one can predict with certainly the decline and fall of that society.
* Homosexual "marriage" would further demean fatherhood and motherhood and place an additional financial strain on parents raising a family.
* Homosexual unions are notoriously unstable despite the exceptions. The "marriage" of homosexuals would lead to an increase in divorce and litigation with accompanying financial and psychological problems.
* Homosexual "marriages" would not be the end of the deformation of marriage. It is certain that there would be pressure for the legalization of more bizarre unions. Mark Lowery, professor of moral theology at the University of Dallas, says: "If society were to give marriage benefits to homosexual persons then it could have to give the same benefits to any set of friends who so desired them" (Catholic Dossier, Vol. 7, n. 2, p. 13).
* Homosexual "marriage" would result in a further deterioration of sex education in schools. Children would be taught that homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality. They would be more easily seduced into homosexual experimentation. Children reared by homosexuals have their own set of problems, including the absence of a mother or father.
* Most clergymen licensed to witness marriages would refuse to assist at homosexual "marriages". This would result in a new conglomerate of confrontations. It would be more difficult to uphold the essential distinction between sin and sinner. Condemning homosexual behaviour would be more likely interpreted as a form of "homophobia."
* Above all else is the spiritual havoc which homosexual "marriage" would bring upon society in general and homosexuals in particular. There would inevitably be a lessening of already low standards of morality and a further loss of the sense of sin.
* Homosexuals themselves would be victims. Caged in a legal prison, those who wished to extricate themselves to live lives of chastity would find a new obstacle in their path.
Finally, all must face God in judgement. Judges, lawyers, and politicians who participate in the campaign to legalize homosexual "marriage" must answer for it. Catholics in the public forum, who ostensibly call Christ Lord and His Church mother and teacher, but scorn divine precepts, sin grievously. They speak from the valley of spiritual death. Should they not heed the words of the prophet Ezekiel: "But as for those whose hearts are devoted to detestable abominations, I will bring down their conduct upon their heads." Nor is this said through lack of love or concern for all. As St. Paul said: "Have I then become your enemy by preaching the truth?"
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms
It would be ludicrous if it were not tragic to see federal ministers, provincial judges, and city councillors claim that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms demands a change in the definition of marriage. They are, in words from Shakespeare, "Bidding the law make curtsy to their will, hooking both right and wrong to the appetite" (Isabella in "Measure for Measure"). One recalls the threat of dire punishment predicted by the prophet Ezekiel for the prince of Tyre: "Because you are haughty of heart and say 'a god am I'." Now we have a multitude of princes of Tyre claiming the prerogative of changing divine law. There is no right to vice, and freedom is not denied when wrong is restricted.
There are worse sins than those of the flesh. One of these is the wilful rejection of truth. Christ said of those places which rejected the message of truth given by His apostles: "Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgement for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town" (Matthew 10:15). The truth about marriage is an eternal truth, beyond the decree or whim of judge or parliament.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, if faithful to the truth, would not grant benefits to homosexual behaviour. Its right interpretation would recognize that for homosexuals freedom is the right to live in chastity, free from the cage and restraints placed upon them by contracts which bind them in an unnatural union. The Supreme Court ought to recognize that for God, and universally recognized tradition, and reason, it is an Inferior Court.
There is a clear and present danger in Canada to the family, the capstone of our society, through the campaign to legislate the "right to homosexual marriage." Surely the strongest action is in order.
Already there is a wholesome reaction from some groups and individuals. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has promised to defend the traditional definition of marriage by invoking the notwithstanding clause if the Supreme
Court of Canada allows same-sex "marriage". Some members of parliament have declared their opposition to homosexual "marriage". Among those are Liberal MP Tom Wappell and Liberal MP Dan McTeague, and many members of the Canadian Alliance. We need far more Liberals and Tories to speak out.
Among groups fighting the attack on marriage are Campaign Life Coalition, RealWomen of Canada, Priests for Life, and St. Joseph's Workers on Life and Family. This could be a major project for the C. W. L., the Knights of Columbus, and all pro-life and pro-family societies. The Catholic press and indeed the press of other denominations can play a major role. Catholic Insight, The Interim, and others are already active.
Most important of all would be a strong and united intervention from our bishops. In the Letter of the Holy See to Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (1986), we read: "In assessing proposed legislation, the bishops should keep as their uppermost concern the responsibility to defend and promote family life." Already, through the CCCB, they have written urging an appeal to the decision of the three Ontario Supreme Court judges. Their continued intervention is vital. We look to them for leadership and we pray for them. But much more should be done by individual bishops in rallying the faithful.
Finally, we as individuals can do our part. St. Augustine says that "prayer ascends and mercy descends". If enough pray and offer suffrages enough, the present threatened attack on the family will be forestalled and truth will prevail. [dagger]
Msgr. Vincent Foy's last article appeared in our October 2001 edition. He is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto.
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|Date:||Nov 1, 2002|
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